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Reduce the use of "hummingbirds on the back of the neck​" metaphor

A topic by Grognard1815 created 87 days ago Views: 448 Replies: 10
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One little nitpick I have with the writing is that when Asterion, P or Storm (IIRC) are anxious they're often feeling "Hummingbirds" pecking on their neck or spine.

I started to notice this metaphor crop up again and again until it became almost a personal meme, which made me feel that some of the instances could be replaced with something else.

If there is any thematic significance to the hummingbirds I didn't notice it, it's not something someone would say where I am from (butterflies in the stomach?) but that may be because there are no native species of hummingbirds here :)

Because there are anthro characters in this world any animal metaphor does also run the risk of being taken literally, could there be a sinister hummingbird mythical plotting their demise?

In all seriousness it's a cute metaphor but I would personally reduce how often it crops up, or make it so only one character experiences anxiety in this way, unless the purpose was to show their parallel journeys?

Developer (1 edit) (+3)(-1)

Let me make a quick check on the script..

There are 29 instances of the word "hummingbird" used in the game.

Welp, we will have to rewrite a lot of those instances. I feel like there are one or two recurring phrases that are used way too heavily. Thank you for pointing it out, we saw a bunch of responses like this on the survey. When we get back to writing after our break we will address these.

Feel more than free to suggest more lines that you think might be overused.


Just as a suggestion? don't remove them completely, having both asterius and storm refering to migraines (or whatever they're supposed to be...) the same way actually ads a bit to their parallel stories. 


And now I must sow a mischievous seed, that of TINTINNABULATION!  A word I learned from Sir Jacob Collier that refers to ringing bells and looping layers of swarms of sound. I can only pray that this word appears at least once. Here's a sound bite I'm thinking of, timestamped at 10:16 : 


No worries, I'm glad to be helpful!

There is a second thing actually, it's not really a question of overuse but a possibly confusing repeating line.

Asterion feels an iron ring in his neck during his darker periods, and then can eventually overcome this feeling. The first reference I recall is when he arrived in the Underworld for his trial after his original death.

The thing I found a bit confusing is I'm almost certain Asterion was beheaded by Theseus, and that is stated in the game at some point.

I wasn't sure to start with if the iron ring was the pain memory of the severance, a Frankenstein like feature holding his head on, or simply a feeling of constriction in his throat due to his anxiety and fears. There are some actual magical rings in the game so if it's only a feeling it could be stated differently for clarity of this issue?

Could just be me over thinking everything to the nth degree though.


[Spoiler warning]

I don't think you'd get far prodding this issue with the devs; I'm pretty sure this neck 'sensation' is significant to the story and is something that they would have us discuss amongst ourselves. To answer your question though, I believe it is different/more than just Asterion's mental hang-ups. The scene where Asterion has a seizure has this:

Asterion laughs, and yet his throat constricts to choke him halfway through. A [ring of fire] burns around his neck. An unfamiliar pressure wells inside his chest-- expanding outward, like a star about to burst, until it becomes unbearable. He opens his mouth to cry out, and that's when he feels a hand brushing against the [burning collar] which threatens to strangle him.

This was during a playful moment with the master-- I doubt that it was triggered by remembering a traumatic memory. This is when we notice the birthmark too. Now you should see why the devs wouldn't want to touch this matter at all. 

You are correct that Asterion was beheaded by Theseus though, and I also connect it to his first moments in the Underworld. The use of 'ring' and 'collar' is probably just an artful way of saying 'all around the neck'. It's also markedly different by being some sort of searing pain rather than some physical object. I've treated it separately from the tightening/constricting throat sensations, as these are just common literary expressions. Could be wrong though, just my two cents on the matter.

I don't think you'd get far prodding this issue with the devs; I'm pretty sure this neck 'sensation' is significant to the story and is something that they would have us discuss amongst ourselves. 



Repetitive reuse of key phrases is a feature of Homeric and Epic poetry that is being used here to invoke that spirit.


…I read your comment before finishing my playthrough. I never finished reading the Odyssey and am totally uneducated on Homeric poetry, but you contextualising repetition in the game this way really improved my appreciation as a reader—thank you!

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Finally got to play some more and noticed a couple of things:

  1. Two passages of extended metaphor around the three-act structure, which was mildly distracting the second time but not majorly.
  2. I feel really shy saying anything critical of MH because the writing and attention-to-detail are already, like, 3σ above the mean for VNs in general.

So I'm on my second playthrough now (still amazing yay!) and I noticed that the first time Asterion uses the metaphor he explains it a bit, which sort of makes it make more sense in its repetition, but I will see if I keep noticing it coming up in shorter sessions rather than over a weekend.