Finished the game but still confused

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Finished the game but still confused

Postby Christian Walther » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:51 am

So I finished Obduction yesterday, having experienced a bad and a good ending. I very much enjoyed the game, even though I found the puzzles pretty easy, up until before the end. But the end itself left me frustrated and confused. The distinction/decision between the bad and good ending seems non-obvious. Also, I feel like I’m still missing half of the story.

I am describing my experiences here in hopes of comparing them with others’ and figuring out how much of this is by bad design and how much is my own fault. I have not read anything else in this forum section yet, just in case there might still be spoilers – I’m half expecting other people have asked the same questions already; if I can find answers without spoilers somewhere, please direct me.

I was ready to blow up the bleeder and couldn’t find anything else to do anymore. I did have some suspicions that letting C.W. go on with his plans might not be the best idea, but since he urged me to do it, I hadn’t seen any conclusive arguments against it, and most importantly there was nothing else to do, I went ahead and did it. And indeed, there was the bad ending. Bummer. So I started over from the saved game and spent hours re-exploring every nook and cranny of the four spheres, re-read all the texts I found, but still didn’t gain any new insights nor find anything else (other than two clues to earlier puzzles that I was glad I had missed the first time around, because if I had had them, the puzzles would have been much too easy). Still the only thing left to do was blow up that bleeder, which didn’t seem right not only because it had led to a bad ending but also because of the fire it had started (was there no less violent way of switching off that machine?). What I would have liked to do was enter the chambering area, where apparently the pods were being thawed (judging from the steam), and talk to Farley, who seemed the most knowledgeable and trustworthy person around. But that area was closed off and all my attempts at reopening the doors failed. So, finally, out of frustration at not finding any alternative, I went ahead and blew up the bleeder again, this time pulling the battery plug before, even though I didn’t have high hopes that that would change anything, because surely C.W. would just plug it right in again before starting his machinery. And lo and behold, that was the good ending. Meh. How could I have known?

Was there any way I could have known
  • that activating the tree with battery power would swap the sphere back into the same time as we see outside of Mofang (which is clearly undesirable)?
  • that C.W. would not check his plug on the way to the tree?
  • that letting the tree activate without battery power would swap to a good place/time? And all four spheres together, at that?

I could have guessed at all those with some probability, but was there a way of learning for sure that I missed?

I would have liked to end this game with a sense of achievement, of having correctly applied everything I had learned and having made the right decisions. Instead I didn’t get to make any decisions (there was only one thing left to do – with a possible small variation that seemed insignificant), and all I got, even in the best case of hitting the good ending first, was a sense of luck of having made the right guesses. Surely that can’t have been Cyan’s intention?

Also, I still have some rather large questions on my mind that I was expecting to get answers to before the end, but didn’t.

  • Why are the Mofang attacking their neighbors?
  • How are they attacking? (Is the dodecahedron that I disabled in Maray a bomb and the attack consisted of swapping these into the neighbor spheres? I still need to try what happens when I approach it without disabling it before. Probably a very bad ending. I do want to try that Mofang seed-swapping device though, it looks much more elegant than the human and Villein ones…)
  • What happened on the day of the expected attack? Apparently things didn’t go as planned, but what was the plan and what happened instead?
  • How long ago was that? (Probably C.W. told me some time and I forgot.)
  • Where are the Mofang now? I didn’t see anyone in Mofang. Were they killed by a part of the “return to them whatever they send to kill us” plan that had worked?
  • Was the destruction on Earth outside Mofang the Mofang’s doing? (Probably not, I don’t think they had a way of leaving their sphere, otherwise we would too. It was probably the humans’ doing, and what the abduction collectively saved us from.)
  • Where did the swapped Mofang parts in Kaptar and Maray come from? I didn’t see any Kaptar or Maray parts in Mofang.

Again I can make some vague guesses at all those from the information I have (except the first, which remains a big mystery), but is there a way I could have learnt any of this from the game with certainty? (If the answer is “yes”, please don’t say anything more specific than “yes” to any of them, I would like to find it on my own.)

Would C.W. have told me any of this if I had visited him more often? I deliberately avoided talking to him for most of the game (between before unlocking the cell membrane and before blowing up the bleeder), because I suspected he would give me hints on what to do, and I didn’t want any hints, I wanted to figure out stuff on my own. And when I did visit him at the end, all he did was urge me to blow up the bleeder. I’m going to try this next time I play.

While I’m ranting, another minor thing that confused me was that I have no idea how I opened the door behind the injured Villein. I could find no way of opening it, and then suddenly at one point I returned and it was open. The Villein had said “222” to me and I was not sure what to make of that. I did at one point verify that pod 222 contained Josef, as recorded in the notebook (he had not been abducted by the Mofang to construct their Fake-Josef). Was that what opened the door?

And speaking of him, what, from an OOC, game-design point of view, was the point of Fake-Josef? The existence of his video messages would have made sense if later I had had to make a decision whether to trust him or not, but there was no such decision. And he didn’t give me any useful clues either. Was that one of the parts of the game that was planned but removed?

Okay, now this all probably sounds very negative. That’s not what I want to express, don’t get me wrong. I did enjoy the game, it is for the most part awesome and of the Cyan quality I was craving for. I’m just confused by how my first play-through ended, and, to get some sense of closure, trying to get that confusion cleared up. Writing it down already helped to some extent. Maybe some things will clear up on their own when I play it a second time, which I will certainly do, if only because I want to play it in VR after playing it on the screen.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Mac_Fife » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:29 pm

Christian Walther wrote:While I’m ranting, another minor thing that confused me was that I have no idea how I opened the door behind the injured Villein. I could find no way of opening it, and then suddenly at one point I returned and it was open. The Villein had said “222” to me and I was not sure what to make of that. I did at one point verify that pod 222 contained Josef, as recorded in the notebook (he had not been abducted by the Mofang to construct their Fake-Josef). Was that what opened the door?

Yes... ish.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I believe only the injured Villein can open door, vocally, because there is no control panel for it (maybe it was where the Mofang sphere now is). I think he wants you to see the real Josef, before going out to find the body of fake-Josef and misunderstanding what has happened - fake-Josef has been trying to convince you that the Villein are evil. So once you've pulled up the right pod, he then assumes you will work out that the body is a fake, as were the messages from "Josef", and that you will continue with the task, so he opens the door for you.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Christian Walther » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:22 am

Okay, I guess that’s a plausible explanation. Thanks. Of course I had worked out that “Josef” was a Mofang fabrication long before, from the incongruity of what he said with what everyone else said, from his grammar mistakes, and from the red shimmer occasionally seen on him. Plus the body outside had a Mofang arm holding a Mofang weapon, so it would have been quite hard to mistake him for the real Josef… but maybe the Villein didn’t see that because he was facing the other direction.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby wstrohm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:58 am

"Fake Josef?" Huh? "Fake Josef's body?" Huh? "Red shimmer occasionally seen on him?" Huh? Thought the black plastic screens were Hunrath or Villein designs (seen first in the mine cart and later in Maray). If the screens and "projectors" were Hunrath/Villein technology, why would the Mofang have been able to manufacture a "fake Josef," and even if they did do a good CGI job on those messages in Maray, why would there be a "fake Josef" physical body anywhere? HUH? And if so, where the heck is it? I saw only Villein and Mofang bodies. (Mac version)
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Magic88889 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 11:53 am

As you go through Maray, you are confronted a few times on the Villein screens by Josef. He keeps telling you how everyone is trapped, and that the Villein are evil and if I remember right, eating them. As you approach the end of the world, you see a battle taking place. Rushing to get there you find a wounded Villein on the ground with the number 222 on screens. Looking up that pod, you learn it's Josef's pod. Going to the pod viewer you see that Josef is safe in his pod, as is Farley and everyone else. So who was that on the screens? Why did he tell you they were not safe?
When you go back, the door is opened, and on the ground outside you see what appears to be Josef, dead. If you then hit him with the blue beam, his true nature is revealed, a Mofang.

If you remember from the notes in Farley's house about the Mofang, you see that they are shapeshifters. And if you think about it, if they can impersonate people, what must it have been like to live there? The fear and suspicion of everyone around you, that they might actually be the enemy. It adds a lot a credence as to the extreme measures the others took to secure everything.

It is, of course super easy to tell that the man on the screens was not actually Josef. The faint red shimmer seen occasionally, and the odd speech patters kind of give it away to the observant viewer (remember that the Mofang never really mastered human speech). Then of course he's telling you things that flatly contradict what you've read elsewhere.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby wstrohm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:15 pm

Dead body outside the pod area shimmered, walked right "over" it before I later hit it with a blue beam, but never recognized it as a "fake Josef," just thought it was a dead Mofang. (Maybe the shimmering blocked my view.)

Josef's speech always had a weird accent; thought he was just more stressed out on the Maray screens. Never noticed him "shimmering" on those screens. Played the game twice, never thought there was a "fake" Josef. Thought the "pods" might indeed have been "storage for food" although also could have been for protection from the Mofang, but never figured out which. Seemed strange those folks would have voluntarily gone into stasis.

Why would a "fake Josef" be outside the pods during a Mofang attack? i.e. why look like the prey when you are a predator?
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Christian Walther » Sat Jan 07, 2017 3:20 pm

It’s interesting to see that there are people who completed the game understanding even less of the story than I did. I’m not sure whether to be glad or concerned about that…

It is explained in the game what the original purpose of the pods was (or, at least, can be reasonably inferred from the information given).
[Reveal] Spoiler:
I don’t remember where exactly. Probably either the species description, or Farley’s journal, or possibly both, mention that the Villein traveled through space, conserved over long time spans, in search for new worlds to inhabit.


wstrohm wrote:why look like the prey when you are a predator?

To move unnoticed among the prey? Seems common enough that German even has an expression for it, “wolf in a sheep’s pelt”, does that exist in English too?
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Magic88889 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 4:42 pm

Look at the body again before blasting it with the blue beam. It looks like Josef. And while yes, English clearly isn't Josef's first language, the fake one on the screens is really, really bad at times. Given it was explained that the Mofang never quite mastered English grammar, it's kind of a dead giveaway. And there is at least one screen where he has the red shimmer. It's easy to miss, though. Only lasts for a second if I remember right.

And I thought the pods purpose was pretty clear, to keep everyone in a same place until they could execute the seed swap plan and bring everything to the new world (or whatever happened at the end there). Clearly not for food. For crying out loud, there are a lot of Villein in there. Or did you think they're cannibals? And the books? Are those food too? If you read the Mayor's journals, he clearly mentions wanting space for those archives, to 'save' them.

And for the Mofang looking like Josef? Makes for a pretty easy way to try and gain access to the pods and kill everyone. The Villein on guard duty would think he was Josef, let him in, and everyone would be killed. Of course, the Villein clearly wasn't fooled. But it makes sense for a shapeshifting species that isn't all that different physically that humans to use subterfuge as opposed to violence to get things done.


Again, I thought that most of the was pretty clear. You did read ALL the notebooks, right? Because that's where the real story is, same as any Cyan game.


Christian Walther wrote:Seems common enough that German even has an expression for it, “wolf in a sheep’s pelt”, does that exist in English too?


That would be 'wolf in sheep's clothing' in English. Same idea though.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby wstrohm » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:07 pm

And the books? Are those food too?
What books? Did you learn the Villein number system to the point that you looked in ALL the pods? And some had books? I only looked at Josef in 222 and Farley in 194.

My take on the "fake"Josef on the Maray video screens was that Josef and the others were surprised when they got there and were taken by the Villein, who lived under water and were storing the humans for food. (But then, I thought that WAS Josef.)

I did read all the notebooks, but I did not infer from any of them what the "seed swap plan" was. I did understand that the Hunrathians thought they were going to Maray to be safe, but other than that reference on the paper (in underground Hunrath) addressed to Farley to do a task before "being podded," I saw nothing about a plan, other than how to do battle with the Mojang by timing the seed swaps precisely. And I still don't know what that was supposed to accomplish. Did they do it correctly? Where was the seed that was supposed to be in that "swapper" machine in Kaptar, where the dead soldier lay? And what was the bathroom scale all about? And what was that seed supposed to do? So many unanswered questions... I guess I'll have to play it once again.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Altairien » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:36 pm

wstrohm wrote:I did read all the notebooks, but I did not infer from any of them what the "seed swap plan" was. <snip> Did they do it correctly?

Ponder...
  • Mofang device warning
  • The "seed swap plan" as described in the War Room Documents. Pay particular attention to the Trigger Task.
  • The swap device in Kaptar.
    - Where did the dead Mofang come from and what action could've killed it by severing it?
  • How do the Arai beetles and the Polyarchs on Kaptar interact with each other?
    - How would the scale be utilized by the Kaptar Remainer? What is the scale connected to?
  • Note: On Maray, you encounter the Mofang device they swapped in. This device is unexploded.
  • Note: C.W. reports that nothing happened where he was stationed. Hunrath never had a Mofang WMD swapped to it.
  • The state of the Soria sphere.
The answer:
  • The Mofang swapped a WMD from Soria to Kaptar.
  • This caused the paired seed device in Kaptar to simultaneously swap to Soria with the Kaptar Remainer.
    - Actually this was an
    Arai beetle under Polyarch control.
  • This Remainer followed the simple instruction to drop to the scale after the swap.
  • This action immediately activated the seed device so it would swap back to Kaptar.
  • The Mofang died attempting to stop the swap back to Kaptar because...
  • This action (the swap back to Kaptar) returned the Mofang WMD to Soria.
  • Soria and the Mofang remaining there were destroyed by their own WMD.
  • Bottom line: Yes, they were successful.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby andys1376 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 8:50 pm

Hi Christian-
Was there any way I could have known

that activating the tree with battery power would swap the sphere back into the same time as we see outside of Mofang (which is clearly undesirable)?
that C.W. would not check his plug on the way to the tree?
that letting the tree activate without battery power would swap to a good place/time? And all four spheres together, at that?

I don't think there is any definitive way to know those things. I think that was by design - that it isn't an obvious choice. It is possible, though, to deduce that your best available option is to disable the bleeder without proceeding with the battery plan.

Here are the items in your second list that I think you can learn with near-certainty:

  • How are they attacking?
  • Where are the Mofang now?
  • Where did the swapped Mofang parts in Kaptar and Maray come from?
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Magic88889 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 9:01 pm

wstrohm wrote:
And the books? Are those food too?
What books? Did you learn the Villein number system to the point that you looked in ALL the pods? And some had books? I only looked at Josef in 222 and Farley in 194.


Not every pod :D . But I did go through the manifest to look at a few things. I mean, Rand was in there! And yes, a few were labeled "book". So I checked them out. There really was no need to actually view the associated pods (although I did), but the manifest clearly points out that some were used for storage, as well as saving everyone but the Mofang.
I think on my first play-through I jotted down the number of about 8 pods to check out. And yes, I did learn the Villein number system fairly well.


Going back to Josef. I'll admit when going through Maray the first time, I just thought something was off with Josef. And I somehow missed the one where he has the red shimmer. So it wasn't until I saw the real Josef in the pod, and then something else dead on the ground that it clicked. On subsequent play-troughs is was really obvious to me that the Josef on the screens was not the real one. So much so I don't know how I missed it, considering it was one of the more unusual abilities of all the alien races in this game.

As for the plan, it was left kind of vague. Like the people writing thins down were doing it to discuss something that everyone already knew about. So no, there was no detailed description of the plan, just subtle hints. Combine that with the speculations on the purpose of the whole seed system, that should have been enough that by the end, you should have figured out that CW's "battery" plan was probably the wrong way to go.
As for success: even if you didn't arrive, and CW carried out his battery plan, all those on Maray would have been saved. Hunrath would have been trapped with Soria, but the three "friendly" races would have survived.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Christian Walther » Sun Jan 08, 2017 3:40 am

Thanks for your explanation, Altairien. That confirms some of my conjectures. However, it seems like your entire reasoning hinges on knowing that the Mofang dodecahedron is in fact a weapon of mass destruction capable of destroying an entire sphere. And the only way of learning that is to activate the one left in Maray, i.e. going through a bad ending. Have I got that right? Seems a bit strange game design to require going through a bad ending to understand the whole story.

andys1376 wrote:Here are the items in your second list that I think you can learn with near-certainty:

How are they attacking?
Where are the Mofang now?
Where did the swapped Mofang parts in Kaptar and Maray come from?

Thanks, I’ll keep a lookout for these next time. The first two are pretty much covered by Altairien’s explanation, although that doesn’t totally count as “learning from the game” in my book – I obviously meant “learning from a successful (good-ending) play-through of the game”. My best guess for the third would have been “from their hidden underground bomb factory”, but that would be hard to confirm (unless that factory is actually accessible and I just missed it).
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Mac_Fife » Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:08 am

Well, in Hunrath you quickly come across several identical notes/posters warning you to stay clear of anything that shape. You maybe don't get an idea of the scope of the weapon, but some of the documents suggest the scale of an attack, although there may not be anything that allows you to directly conclude that an attack might consist of a single weapon. Placing the weapon close to the tree is probably deliberate, to maximise its effect on the sphere.
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Re: Finished the game but still confused

Postby Altairien » Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:37 am

Christian Walther wrote:However, it seems like your entire reasoning hinges on knowing that the Mofang dodecahedron is in fact a weapon of mass destruction capable of destroying an entire sphere.

I came to that conclusion after swapping to the Soria sphere from Hunrath.

  1. I knew that only a single weapon per sphere was involved. That's all the defense plan allowed for. (I concluded the extra Remainers in Maray were additional layers of protection against a possible conventional attack. Remember, Maray contained all the other "souls" in the pods. They needed that added protection.)
  2. Given the evidence, I knew that a weapon had been successfully swapped back to Soria from Kaptar.
  3. I immediately noticed the difference in the condition of the Soria sphere when compared to the actual Soria planet (you see it all around Hunrath). It looks melted. Destroyed. This was emphasized when viewing the world outside the of the Soria sphere.
  4. I ran across a location in the Soria sphere that appeared to be ground zero of such a weapon.
  5. I saw the condition of the Soria tree (half destroyed).
It's then that I realized that a single weapon really had the capability to take out an entire sphere.
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