All of the talk about the Lodge mission reminded me of something you can get from Hong Kong’s special addition.
Hong Kong actually has the option to turn on “developer commentary” for more or less every area in the game. What this means is that, at the beginning of most maps, there is a dialogue option on a random object that will spool up several minutes of developers who worked on this map or related elements talking in detail about what went into a specific mission, character etc. It’s fascinating stuff that I wish more games bothered with, but probably best to save for a second playthrough because they’ll spoil the fuck out of any mission that they’re talking about (the menu to enable this warns you about this when you enable it). Or you can do what I did the first time, and just temporarily reload a save from the beginning of the level as soon as you finish each mission.
Anyway, the first one of these talks about how feedback from the Lodge mission as well as the opening of Dragonfall shaped a lot about how they handled the opening of Hong Kong. Not so spoil things too much by going into specifics, but originally that game opened up with you going on a run, things going south very fast in a way you can’t control, and the character you spend most of the game looking for just being taken from you out from under your nose.
How this relates to those Dragonfall missions is that one consistent point of feedback about both the opening of Dragonfall and the Lodge mission is that things go really wrong in a way that the player cannot correct and it made a lot of players feel bad and incompetent. They don’t want people to feel like superheroes all the time, and in the case of the Lodge while that mission is super frustrating I think it works to good effect, but they wanted to sell the urgency of that initial situation in Hong Kong without making the player think they were a terrible at this right out of the gate.
Dragonfall is a fantastic game, but I narrowly prefer Hong Kong over it. The UI is massively improved on the leveling screen, mechanics are tightened, I love the visuals, and it’s really interesting in contrast how they very deliberately went for such a different feel with your crew and especially your fixer. Kindly Cheng was deliberately created to be the “anti-Paul Amsel”. The way you achieve the best ending is also feels great. Not to mention the post-campaign, where the map designers just had an excuse to go wild with the tactical difficulty ramp-up and a “moral choice” at the end that might be my favourite one in any game, despite having only highly personal stakes on the line.