Control Your Bladder – Bathrooms & Design in Control

### Control Your Bladder – Bathrooms & Design in Control

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Hi, I’m Jessie Faden, Director of the Federal Bureau of Control. I am completing my homework assignment from @"Jaffe"#205 et al from the Podcast. As a public service, I will help you identify the closest bathroom if you are in the FBC’s Manhattan headquarters which is nicknamed “The Oldest House”.

Welcome to part two ([part one was on Final Fantasy 7 Remake](https://forums.insertcredit.com/d/432-the-toilets-of-final-fantasy-7-remake)) in my series of video game bathroom reviews. I started playing _Control_ in February of 2021 after it was one of the PS+ subscription games. I very much enjoyed my time spent with _Control_. If I were to review it, I would say that the game is a well-done AAA narrative shooter with some extremely uneven difficulty spikes which made it incredibly frustrating at times. Maybe don’t be as stubborn as I am. Turn down the difficulty on the boss fights and I think you’ll have a great time.

But this isn’t a review of the game. This is a survey of the Oldest House’s washroom facilities and how they are used to impart mood and level design on the game and the environment.

Let’s proceed deeper into the Bureau.

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OK, maybe that was too deep.

## FBC Lobby Bathroom

One of the first bathrooms you encounter is the off the main lobby. I remember it being at the top of the foyer.

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It’s clean, it’s functional, it’s utilitarian. The bathrooms throughout _Control_ have actual architectural sense in their placement and features. They appear frequently in the game making the environment feel more realistically built for humans rather than game-touchers. Unfortunately, there is no specific iconography for defeating one of the Hiss by ripping a toilet out of the floor and hurling it at your enemies Half Life 2 style. But yes, you can rip a toilet out of the floor and use it to defeat the Hiss.

## Safe Room Bathrooms

Throughout the Oldest House there are federally standard safe rooms that displayed uneven levels of keeping their occupants safe from the Hiss’ invasion. They also do a bit of narrative work based on what is or isn’t disturbed. The rooms are designed to be sheltered in for what seems like a week or so, and have lots of shelf-stable food, emergency supplies, and a utilitarian stainless-steel toilet. The PS5’s raytracing power is demonstrated better off the FBC’s toilets than it ever was in those _Spider Man_ puddles.

I also like the way the sink and toilet are one integrated unit for ease of installation, repair, and water fixturing. One drain. One cold tap. This displays a high amount of thought by the art direction and the level designers.

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Here’s the archetypical example and one of the first ones you encounter located off the lobby of the Central Executive wing. I’m not sure it’s going to be easy for the Hiss-infected man floating 6 feet off the ground to use the toilet, but it’s there if he needs it.

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Here’s another example elsewhere in the game. I appreciate that the occupants moved some shelving around to create a privacy screen.

## Generic Office Restrooms

There are many bathrooms throughout the game in of office areas and cube farms. Control has a lot of AAA features and big upgrade trees for your powers. You need to get things like “Astral Blips” and “Hidden Trends” in order to unlock your full potential as a para-utilitarian and they are often hidden in bathrooms. The bathrooms are also a way to hide the narrative text and audio recordings that are how the backstory is conveyed. It’s all very AAA and System Shock. Even though it’s a trope, the reports about how you should under no circumstances speak to the toaster and the bickering interdepartmental memos are well written and a highlight of the game for me.

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Here's a standard example. You’ve got the bathroom. You’ve got a treasure chest wedged in one of the stalls. Three stalls to cause you to have to open, or shoot, or psychically blast each of them open to see where they hid the goodies in this one.

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Here’s another example. This one has the chest outside of the stall itself and cleaning supplies are stored in the stall next to a toilet which we know is frequented because the lid is up. Pretty sure this is the janitor’s toilet.

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The developers refined this game design technique in the Alan Wake DLC levels. I had to shine a light at this stall to burn the oozy shadow to reveal the treasure chest (which I am pretty sure had more of the same in it).

The bathrooms themselves are well-integrated into the broader level design.

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They are unobtrusive, but it’s also indicated that there is probably something fun in there for you to go check out with signals like Lockdown Lights. Again, they have Real Architecture. Note that you can potentially see the sinks when the door to the office area is open, but you can’t see the stalls.

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Looks like someone has been doing some reading! I can’t wait to see which policy I’m going to get briefed on!

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Please do not use the bathrooms stalls as your personal offices or for storage!

## The FBC HQ Cafeteria Bathrooms

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Attached to either the cafeteria (or at the bottom of the cavernous R&D atrium), this is one of my top bathrooms. They are separated from the main social area by a wall and the walls are covered with greenery. I have been in environments like this and I think it did a great job of conveying space.

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Since this is a larger area, this men’s room has urinals. I also think this bathroom is too big even for the size of area it serves. There’s a lot of wasted space and I don’t think there’s as much privacy in it. I do love the copy/paste job on the right most privacy screen which is up against the wall. I don’t think that one would have been installed in the real world. The coffee cups and tissue boxes on top of the urinals are also a nice touch. This does actually happen in large office environments where personal items are left behind in the liminal space between finishing going pee and washing your hands.

## Bathrooms As Filler Art

Because you encounter bathrooms in _Control_ pretty frequently, there is a fair amount of asset reuse. I think this is a good thing as it adds visual consistency and reinforces a sense of place. The lockdown Safe Rooms are another example of this (and they also happen to have toilets).

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Here are two examples which show superb re-use of the same art asset. One has doors. One doesn’t. The space feels different because of the exterior texture work and geometry. I tried to get a few examples of the differences between the men’s and women’s facilities, but it was a year ago and I thought I did a better job. Do note however that on the right-hand side of the men’s room there are sinks where there is another set of stalls in the women’s room.

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Good sinks in this bathroom. Nice marble planters which make it feel fancier than it is what with the painted cinderblocks. Maybe a bit too low to be comfortable, and they’re not ADA compliant because you can’t roll your wheelchair under it, but I like the plants. This reminds me of an airport bathroom.

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Here’s another specific example of asset re-use with the same sink fixturing. The consistency in the bathrooms with minor changes reinforces its sense of place. The federal contractor that built FBC’s Manhattan office’s just backed up a huge truck full of identical sinks one day. There are small differences here in the plants which feels natural. The plants died and someone replaced them with different plants. The lighting is in a different spot. First aid set dressing is in a different spot. Again, I think this is thoughtful.

## Unisex Bathrooms

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There are a few unisex bathrooms in the game. These were presented in the game without comment, integrated into the environment and totally normal. Good job being thoughtful about how to handle this Remedy Entertainment.
These are also more realistic than they needed to be which is a compliment. This bathroom has a large open floor plan with sinks in the middle. There are stalls only. I can see this existing in reality.

## Conclusion

_Control_ has a final bathroom to find and it is tied to an achievement. The Board (which is an off-camera character that calls you and lives in the astral plane) has its own washroom! I didn’t personally find it because after I completed the Alan Wake DLC episode (which was super hard) I felt like I was done with the game and didn’t go do the Foundation DLC episode where it appears. I did look it up on YouTube for you so you don’t have to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoJ0bEb91hM

I’ll leave you with one last paranormal conspiracy. In the hallway of the spooky interdimensional hotel, the doors are designated with symbols instead of numbers.

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Can’t wait for _Control’s_ Dreamcast port!

Is one of those difficulty spikes the boss in the panopticon? That was the jail/storage place right? I've been stuck there a good while and pretty much forgot about difficulty levels maybe I should bump it down so i can continue on with the story.

@“thebryanjzx90”#p56978

Yeah, that’s one of the big spikes. Just the normal randomly generated enemies in that area are really tough. The semi-optional boss in the same area ||the fridge|| is super tough just because of the fact the enemy is “up” and the instant-death holes it punches in the floor are “down” and you can’t see them. My other big wall was the security chief much earlier in the game. I probably spent 45 minutes of playtime just retrying that guy. Turn it down and move on. I promise nobody will know or care… at least on this forum.

the oldest house has enough toilet facilities to accommodate every person* in the building getting simultaneous diarrhoea on bring your kid to work day, which seems like the kind of thing they would be prepared for.

*aside from the aforementioned lack of accessible facilities. do better, shady paranormal government agency!

i love it, thank you very much

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@“antillese”#p56964 The FBC HQ Cafeteria Bathrooms


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Attached to either the cafeteria (or at the bottom of the cavernous R&D atrium), this is one of my top bathrooms.

Same. Excellent post

VERY GOOD, I‘m glad to see the followup. The only unfortunate thing about the bathrooms in control is that they don’t really have anybody using them (because of the nature of the game), so you don‘t get to see them in their true element. That said, I still need to actually play the game - I was told (by tim) not to play the PS4 version, so I’ve been waiting!!

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@“exodus”#p57088 they don’t really have anybody using them

Well there's that guy that's floating in the lockdown room! Having hyper-specific bathrooms sounds like a _Yakuza_ thing, but I haven't played any of them. It seems like a _Yakuza_ way to get quests or have weird encounters with eccentric people.

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@“exodus”#p57088 I was told (by tim) not to play the PS4 version, so I’ve been waiting!!

You've been told by me too. I haven't played the PS4 version because I was fortunate enough to get a PS5 early, but based on the load times on the PS5 (which are substantial), and based on what I've seen on a comparison video, you shouldn't play it on a PS4 if you have options. PS4 Pro sounds like the "base" requirements. And the ray tracing and the haptics on the PS5 are legit cool.

I did just get a PS5 so I can check out these bathrooms pretty soon!

And hyper-specific bathroom stuff was featured in your FFVIIR writeup, that's what I was thinking of! Dude crying over the bowl, etc. they should've put a couple more floaters in there I reckon.

By the way, this writeup is currently making the rounds at Remedy with a number of nice comments from folks who worked on the game. Hooray!

https://twitter.com/EltempeLD/status/1491484898410090501

Thanks to Brandon for bumping this. It's been fascinating to see the response from the environmental artists and designers.

https://twitter.com/masao_ogino/status/1492213136308543489

This is so great and a wonderful choice because I did make note while playing Control that there were A TON of bathrooms. Glad you're getting some appreciation from the devs!!!

I just remembered that Astral Chain has some pretty elaborate bathroom content. I didn't get very far in the game, but each level has a bathroom for you to find. The bathrooms in Police HQ are pretty good.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XvQBcB80yA