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T O P I C
What's the Franko, Botcho?
January 19th 2003, 14:19 CET by deadlock

I have been a regular at PlanetCrap for a number of years now. In that time, we have discussed many many many wonderful things. Again and again, over and over, ad nauseum. However, one of the more interesting subjects that we touch on is the capacity of modern computer games for telling a compelling, interesting tale. With, like, proper character development and shit.

I think we can all agree that games up until now have been largely devoid of any real depth. Storylines tend to be simplistic, characters one-dimensional and thematic variation very thin on the ground, the latter generally revolving around some kind of future dystopia. Or Nazi monster chicks in leather. I think we can also agree that games have a capacity to be so much more.

What I would like for us to do in this thread is explore videogames as a medium for story-telling. Here are a few questions to kick things off...

What are designers doing right?

In this category, you've got Deus Ex, Anachronox, the Metal Gear Solid games, any number of RPGs etc. None of these games are perfect examples - Deus Ex, for example is set in a pretty much cookie-cutter future dystopia, albeit a very well realised one, thanks to the huge amount of background story that was added. The Denton brothers aren't the most multi-dimensional characters either; though you could argue that, in the case of JC, that's a good thing since it lets the player impose more of their own personality on the game.

What are they doing wrong?

Do I really need to expand on this? Duke Nukem? Quake? Almost every game ever created?

Finally, Do we even want games with deep, meaningful plots?

The aforementioned Duke Nukem and Quake didn't exactly suffer, gameplay-wise, because of a lack of meaningful plot or deep characters. People remember Half-Life's plot as being a lot better than it was, thanks to the fact that it didn't give you a lot of time to actually think about it. Ico, my current obsession, is beautiful in it's simplicity, both aesthetically and plotwise.

So, over to you - agree with what I've said here? Disagree? How much importance do you attribute to a game's plot?
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#1 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 14:19:30
erictcheng@hotmail.com
First post!

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#2 by Jamiekin
2003-01-19 14:26:36
Games should come with a novel...

I have a crocodile down my pants.
#3 by Funkdrunk
2003-01-19 14:33:36
jflavius@bellatlantic.net
Starseige came with a novel.  It was the greatest combination backstory, game and documentation ever released, IMO.

In terms of story unfolding during the course of the game, the high water mark is Planescape: Tourment.

However neither game sold very well.  Which is a comment on the gaming audience moreso than the quality of either game.

Funk.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.  ~Henry L. Mencken
#4 by Matt Davis
2003-01-19 14:41:26
http://looroll.com
I miss the old Rainbird Games, such as the Magentic Scrolls series, and StarGlider too.

#5 by Matt Davis
2003-01-19 14:42:47
http://looroll.com
Umm, to elaborate they used to have loads of stuff in the box with the game, most had story books and lots of silly extras that only made sense once you were deep into the game.

#6 by Dethstryk
2003-01-19 14:50:35
jemartin@tcainternet.com
Yeah, well.. one of the Leisure Suit Larry games came with a scratch-and-sniff thing. Extras can be, uh.. yeah.

#7 by Ashiran
2003-01-19 14:51:17
First post!

We all feel sorry for you.

Like Funk said I don't think the problem so much lies with the developers but more with the majority of the gaming crowd having the attention span of a goldfish.

#8 by Gunp01nt
2003-01-19 15:06:14
supersimon33@hotmail.com
This isn't exactly the first time we've had this discussion, is it? The conclusion drawn everytime is already drawn in post 3. EOD.

Actually, I don't know anything about the ladies either. Wait! I mean, I do! I mean... WGHT! JHGT! Yes I'm Awesome!
#9 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 15:08:23
erictcheng@hotmail.com
We all feel sorry for you.


Hey, I'm no longer a "First post!" virgin... It wasn't as satisfying as I thought it would be.

Monolith did a great job with the two No One Lives Forever games. They gave Cate Archer a personality.

And oh yeah, here's my mandatory "Metal Gear Solid" sucks.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#10 by Jamiekin
2003-01-19 15:12:49
I wouldn't put Metal Gear Solid 2 in the 'what are designers doing right' category, in regards to story.. I don't mind a good story, but the entire scenario with MGS2 was too silly..

I have a crocodile down my pants.
#11 by Gunp01nt
2003-01-19 15:15:19
supersimon33@hotmail.com
that, and MGS2 was more of a realtime CG movie than a game.

Actually, I don't know anything about the ladies either. Wait! I mean, I do! I mean... WGHT! JHGT! Yes I'm Awesome!
#12 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 15:43:42
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Finally, Do we even want games with deep, meaningful plots?

I think this is more to the point.  Why do people harp on about deep story lines in games?  Why do they want that?  Why not just have fun within the games universe and leave the story telling to movies and books?

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#13 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 16:03:36
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Why not just have fun within the games universe and leave the story telling to movies and books?


Yeah! You tell 'em, Warren. I mean not that Unreal tried to tell a coherant story with those PDA logs...

From the Resident Evil Online trailer it looks like more like a movie (still with the horrid voice acting) than a persistent online game...?

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#14 by zimbardo_ugly
2003-01-19 16:06:00
zimbardo_ugly@hotmail.com
Yes, but shouldn't the story be one of the primary tools for describing the game universe?

.i lu doi ringos.star. xu do puku'aroroi dunli dopecaku leni virnu li'u
.i lu go'i co'i le pamoi se morji be mi li'u
#15 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 16:06:17
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Yeah! You tell 'em, Warren. I mean not that Unreal tried to tell a coherant story with those PDA logs...

Your point?  That's not even CLOSE to the kind of story that people bleat on about.

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#16 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 16:07:28
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Yes, but shouldn't the story be one of the primary tools for describing the game universe?

To play Devil's advocate ... why?  Games are a visual medium.  Why not express the universe through visuals rather than making the gamer wade through hours of cut scenes and reading novels on their game huds?

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#17 by Gunp01nt
2003-01-19 16:24:04
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Why not express the universe through visuals rather than making the gamer wade through hours of cut scenes and reading novels on their game huds?


so what needs to be agreed on first, is what 'story' actually means. It's a term people have been using freely since the 90's, but IMO it seems they are mixing up the 'background' story ("A secret underground research lab is invaded by aliens. You must save the day"), and the storyboard (being the progression of the story inside the game: scenes, happenings...).

IMO it's very possible to tell a story inside a game (like in Half-Life, the scenes make up of a story, albeit not a very solid one).

I would like to have a little more story-driven gameplay, because it helps with the immersion into the game. A real story to follow and discover will also raise my attention for the game, and will get me back into it just to figure out the plot.

remember that games as a storytelling medium are relatively new. Up until 1997, games were mostly 'shoot everything in sight'. The definition of 'story' back then was: the background information, situation layout, main character.
I read a monthly magazine back in the day where games were also rated on their background story. And it helped the game if the setting and characters were original, even if the actual gameplay was no different than any other game in its genre.

"Since most elephants don't comply with the AGP 2.0 specification, we recommend that God does a product recall on all elephants"
#18 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 16:30:48
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Your point?  That's not even CLOSE to the kind of story that people bleat on about.


My point is essentially what you wrote next:

To play Devil's advocate ... why?  Games are a visual medium.  Why not express the universe through visuals rather than making the gamer wade through hours of cut scenes and reading novels on their game huds?


The stories in Unreal were interesting in the beginning but as the game dragged on (I found the game was about ten levels too long) there were a lot of unnessary sub-plots/stories (Eg. the log of the female survivor whom I thought I may meet up only she turns up dead without even a corpse to show for it).

Half-Life's overall plot/story is simple: aliens from another dimension invade earth (Doom anyone?) but it was immersion that made it so memorable. The game didn't have a single cutscene (unless you count the intro tram sequence) where everything is told through Gordan Freeman's eyes.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
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#19 by Matthew Gallant
2003-01-19 16:31:40
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
To play Devil's advocate ... why?  Games are a visual medium.  Why not express the universe through visuals rather than making the gamer wade through hours of cut scenes and reading novels on their game huds?

Not sure what you're trying to say here; cutscenes and books are as visual as anything else.

"Is the internet making people less intelligent?"
"You mean like how video cameras cause thrown objects to hit men in the crotch?"
#20 by Matthew Gallant
2003-01-19 16:34:16
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
remember that games as a storytelling medium are relatively new. Up until 1997, games were mostly 'shoot everything in sight'.

That's what I get for reading one of your posts.

"Is the internet making people less intelligent?"
"You mean like how video cameras cause thrown objects to hit men in the crotch?"
#21 by ...an ethereal being...
2003-01-19 16:45:43
Games are a visual medium.  Why not express the universe through visuals rather than making the gamer wade through hours of cut scenes and reading novels on their game huds?


Expanding on the visual medium idea, I think that games can have an atmosphere or mood about them that conveys the game universe very well.  Doom, Alone in the Dark, and ICO are some examples that come to mind.  Others, such as System Shock and Thief have personal logs, emails and/or cut scenes that further the storyline, but they tie together with the environment very well.

What is disappointing is when the visuals feel flat or generic (Metal Gear Solid).  It seems to drain the story line of it's vitality.

Read, Understand, Post: Choose any two.
#22 by Hugin
2003-01-19 16:49:26
lmccain@nber.org
Well, I don't think "story=Reading lots of stuff or being subjected to endless cutscenes".  It mean the game is situated within a narrative framework. All games have story, it's all about relative complexity, depth, coherence and presentation.

The whole "games are visual" is silly.  Movies are visual, and yet some of them manage to sneak story in there.  It's a matter of getting the story to further gameplay, instead of hindering or interrupting it.
#23 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 16:52:53
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Not sure what you're trying to say here; cutscenes and books are as visual as anything else.

Sure, but you must see what I'm saying.  Let the world express itself through it's architecture and presentation ... let the player SEE what's happening rather than reading about it.  A picture is worth a 1000 words and all that.

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#24 by Gunp01nt
2003-01-19 16:57:01
supersimon33@hotmail.com
MattG:
That's what I get for reading one of your posts.

care to explain why?

"Since most elephants don't comply with the AGP 2.0 specification, we recommend that God does a product recall on all elephants"
#25 by Matt Davis
2003-01-19 16:58:39
http://looroll.com
What all this really boils down to is entertainment.

If the game isn't entertaining in some way (fantasy, emotionally, whatever) then theres no point in playing it. Some people want massively immersive stories, plots and characters and some people just want to shoot at anything that moves.

Its very similar to the movie industry except the profits are generally better, you get your independant developers that have small faithful following and rely on word of mouth for people to seek out the 10 stores in the country that have it in-stock and then you have your blockbusters that everyone plays because they heard it was good fun.

#26 by Marsh Davies
2003-01-19 17:00:01
www.verbalchilli.com
Warren -
Why do people harp on about deep story lines in games?  Why do they want that?  Why not just have fun within the games universe and leave the story telling to movies and books?


Because... it's more fun? Personally, anyway. I enjoyed Quake, and so on at the time of course, but now I've seen that telling a story is possible, thanks to Deus Ex, I see no reason to go back. I find all the purchases I've made since then to be very lacking, indeed. I like the discovery, the immersion and being part of a story, in a way that you can't be in a movie or a book.

#27 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 17:01:39
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
What I'm saying could be summed up by the opening of Half-Life.  They could have displayed a few screens of text telling you that you were taking part in an experiment that went horribly wrong, opened up a portal and now aliens are invading Black Mesa and started you off from there ... but they used the medium (an interactive game), to let you experience that yourself.

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#28 by piedere
2003-01-19 17:01:44
crew.occ.be
Each game has it's public, and while many of us may want to see a game with a nice story behind it, i also see that games like chess en tetris still remain incredibly popular.
#29 by Caryn
2003-01-19 17:03:26
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
A game with an engaging story line is important to me -- I'll still enjoy games like the Quake series, where the story was just something to explain the setting, but I want to see more games that tell a story that makes me want to play through it more to see it unfold.

Hugin hit it on the mark: "story" shouldn't always be "cutscenes only or reading lots of stuff". I think so far we've seen a lot of that because developers are still trying to find a way to mesh the story with the gameplay. If you have a plotted out story that you're trying to tell, you really have to tie up your gamer for a minute or two in order to tell it, otherwise he might wander off to go shoot things and miss the plot point you're trying to convey.

Still, there are ways to do this. One thing I liked about Wolfenstein was the soldier dialogues; every so often you'd come up to a corner as you were sneaking through a level and you'd hear two German soldiers talking. If you stayed there for a minute, they would say something that would give you more information. I liked the way it naturally introduced story elements into the game without taking control away from the player.

"I felt that I was inhabiting some kind of interdimensional nexus where the sum total suck from this and all other universes crossed paths." - Terata
#30 by Neale
2003-01-19 17:15:07
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
I thought I had something really good to add on this topic. I don't. Sorry.

I'm working on a totally evolutionary FPS. It is in no way going to advance the genre in terms of plot, storytelling mechanics, or interactivity. Instead, you get to blow the shit out of lots and lots of baddies with a variety of weapons, preferably with a smile on your face. As long as it's fun, the storyline (there is one, but it's almost secondary to the gameplay) can bugger off.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#31 by nothing
2003-01-19 17:17:41
I like games that have kind of an outline of a story, and allow me to use my imagination to make up the rest.  Doom and Half Life were kind of like that.  I'd rather make up 70% of the storyline myself than be dragged along like in Resident Evil or the Final Fantasy games.

The world makes me go tharn
#32 by Marsh Davies
2003-01-19 17:20:59
www.verbalchilli.com
Neale:
As long as it's fun, the storyline (there is one, but it's almost secondary to the gameplay) can bugger off.


Maybe I won't be getting your mod then :) The storyline is the fun for me... Which is probably why I don't play many games. Mayhem focused games like Serious Sam are the epitome of all I find totally uninteresting.

Caryn - Heh, I found the dialogue to be very disturbing in NOLF: I'd listen to an amusing conversation between two goons about self-determination and morality... and then have to kill them.

#33 by Caryn
2003-01-19 17:23:38
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
Marsh:

Caryn - Heh, I found the dialogue to be very disturbing in NOLF: I'd listen to an amusing conversation between two goons about self-determination and morality... and then have to kill them.


See, to me, that's great stuff. :)

"I felt that I was inhabiting some kind of interdimensional nexus where the sum total suck from this and all other universes crossed paths." - Terata
#34 by Greg
2003-01-19 17:31:56
Gunp01nt,

If you say no game prior to 1997 had a story, then you must've not played any games before 1997.

BEWARE THE CTHULU MOLE!
#35 by deadlock
2003-01-19 17:33:24
http://www.deadlocked.org/
Ashiran:
Like Funk said I don't think the problem so much lies with the developers but more with the majority of the gaming crowd having the attention span of a goldfish.

I'm not trying to highlight this as a 'problem', I'm basically asking the question 'how important is story to a game?'

Warren has gotten what I'm trying to get at. Should the designers be worried about telling a compelling story, or should they be concentrating on making a fun game? If the game is good enough, will you even care how good the tale is?

As for MGS2 - I included that as an example of what designers are doing 'right' not because of the merits or otherwise of the tale that it tells, but because it contains a huge amount of backstory, plot and character development. OK, so all of that backstory, plot and character development would make the writers of 'Eastenders' green with envy, but it's still a solid example (pardon the pun).

But at the end of the day, I'm not trying to come down on either side, I just want to provoke a discussion. If you feel that it's important for a game to tell a story then why? If you feel that it's not that important or that it can be obtrusive, then explain that as well.

What themes could - or should - games explore? Should a game like Medal of Honour just dump you at Normandy to fight the Nazi hordes or should it give you some kind of historical, ethical and moral context to frame your actions in (something that Deus Ex did to a certain degree)?

there's stains on the carpet and crap on the pavement
----
glue
#36 by Gunp01nt
2003-01-19 17:36:11
supersimon33@hotmail.com
Greg:

I didn't say there weren't any games with a story, but storytelling was mostly limited to adventure games. Games like Command & Conquer had some sort of a story, but back then the 'story' was more of an interlude between missions.

Games like the Wing Commander series were an exception back then, although I always think of WC's 'between-missions-stuff' as an FMV adventure game inside a space flightsim.

"Since most elephants don't comply with the AGP 2.0 specification, we recommend that God does a product recall on all elephants"
#37 by Neale
2003-01-19 17:48:09
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Marsh:
Maybe I won't be getting your mod then :) The storyline is the fun for me... Which is probably why I don't play many games. Mayhem focused games like Serious Sam are the epitome of all I find totally uninteresting.


There's a storyline, but it's not a big twisty, evolving thing. The game itself should keep you wanting to see what you're going to be facing next, what kind of environments you're going to be fighting in, what new weapons you're going to get.

It's certainly got more plot than Doom/Quake/Serious Sam, but the gameplay is the important part, not the story.

For reference - the mod is just a primer more than anything else. I'm mainly referring to the actual commercial game set in the same universe that we're following up with.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#38 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 17:50:11
erictcheng@hotmail.com
Heh, I found the dialogue to be very disturbing in NOLF: I'd listen to an amusing conversation between two goons about self-determination and morality... and then have to kill them.


At times I felt sorry for those goons. I listen to one HARM guard to his buddy about his mother-in-law or a female ninja asks another female ninja about dating, and there's a sense of sorrow that I have to kill these nameless/facless NPCs. I never had any game before give me that awkward sense of hestitation to kill evil bad guys.

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
IMDB Entry
DVD Collection
#39 by Caryn
2003-01-19 17:52:52
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
deadlock:

Warren has gotten what I'm trying to get at. Should the designers be worried about telling a compelling story, or should they be concentrating on making a fun game?


Why not do both?

Admittedly, that's kind of a facetious answer -- it's difficult to do one well without the other being subpar. But I don't think they need to be mutually exclusive.

If the game is good enough, will you even care how good the tale is?


I think there's a place for the Serious Sams and there's a place for the Deus Exs -- there will likely always be an audience for "forget the story, just let me shoot stuff" games.

I don't think developers have to make some kind of branching decision when they sit down to flesh out the game and say, "okay everyone, do we want out game to have great gameplay, or do we want to tell a great story?" I don't think they actually do this, but I imagine that somewhere early on in the design process a group-subconscious decision gets made to focus on either the story (lots of cut scenes, lots of reading material) or the gameplay (story gets told in the opening cinematics, the rest is secondary) because there doesn't seem to be a good way to mesh the two. Like I said before, if you want to tell a good story, you can't do that when your player is running off into another room and bypassing it -- you have to keep them captive with a cutscene or something similar. And if they're going to bypass the cutscene, you need to make sure the gameplay is good enough to sustain itself without the story. It's all a balance that developers are still trying to get right, and one thing that makes it difficult is the split in the audience -- some don't care about story, some do. If your game does one better than the other, you lose something.

If we want to tell a good story in our games and we make that decision that we're going to make the player care enough about the story that they want to see it unfold, then we need to find ways to do that without the generic "level/cutscene/level/cutscene" format. I don't think anyone knows what those ways are yet or we'd see them happening, of course.

"I felt that I was inhabiting some kind of interdimensional nexus where the sum total suck from this and all other universes crossed paths." - Terata
#40 by Neale
2003-01-19 17:57:53
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Caryn:
 That's the problem we faced. I hate cutscenes with a passion. Anything that drags the player out of the actual gameplay (apart from level loadtimes - not much we can do about that) just feels wrong, hence our decision to go for gameplay over story. Any plot advances can be done as between-level loading screens, or audio updates during a level (like having a commander radio you a new objective)

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#41 by Matthew Gallant
2003-01-19 18:04:10
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
As long as it's fun, the storyline (there is one, but it's almost secondary to the gameplay) can bugger off.

It seems like I keep going back to this example, but a game like Magical Drop III puts the lie to that statement. The characterization in that game adds so much to it. It's a good puzzle game, but it's got a unique personality that puts it far above puzzlers that are more generic. Same goes for fighting games. The storyline and characters make those games. If they didn't, you wouldn't need anything more than one model and a bunch of mocaps from different fighting styles. Super Tetsujin Bout 2003 would differ very little from Super Mokujin Bout 2002.

I mean, would you say that games don't need music, or an interesting art style, or any number of extra touches? A lot of things you wouldn't realize how important they are unless they were completely absent.



Warren, I was just giving your semantics a hard time. I'm still not sure if you've actually reversed your position on books in games or not, though. You said you're playing Devil's Advocate.

"Is the internet making people less intelligent?"
"You mean like how video cameras cause thrown objects to hit men in the crotch?"
#42 by Warren Marshall
2003-01-19 18:06:51
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Warren, I was just giving your semantics a hard time. I'm still not sure if you've actually reversed your position on books in games or not, though. You said you're playing Devil's Advocate.

I know, I was just going with the flow.

On books in games ... if they carry the entire plot, that's bad.  If they carry background information that is optional to read, that's OK.  It's still not great, but it's acceptable.

Put on your two step shoes, lose the blues and dance like it's year zero.
#43 by Neale
2003-01-19 18:25:05
neale@pimurho.co.uk www.pimurho.co.uk
Matthew:

The storyline and characters make those games.


Obviously, I'm not totally bereft of all storyline - there's a backstory, and all of the characters are developed in terms of background, personality etc. What I mean is that there isn't a large, overarching storyline a la Deus Ex. You get given the backstory and an objective, then go forth and decimate.

I mean, would you say that games don't need music, or an interesting art style, or any number of extra touches?


Of course not. However, a storyline that drags the player through the game isn't necessary in my opinion. The gameplay should stand up for itself in this type of game. Some games will concentrate on telling a highly involving story via the main character and game events, but that's not what I'm doing.

You can't derail this train of idiocy, Shadarr. Not even with a big fat cow of logic on the tracks. - Bailey
#44 by Scott Miller
2003-01-19 18:48:00
scottmi11er@hotmail.com
Quick thoughts...

o  I much prefer to play the story, rather than be presented the story.  This is perhaps the biggest innovation that Half-Life brought to the FPS genre.

o  Games are about interactivity--doing something within the gameworld--and most stories in games are non-interactive.  That's why the gamers that hate cut-scenes, etc., hate them.

o  The non-interactive stories we're seeing in games are usually boring, which doesn't help matters.  Better stories would help us tolerate non-interactive story presentations.

o  The best stories are about characters, the way they change, and the way they change the world around them.  Most game writers don't understand this.  (Or, plot doesn't provide drama, characters provide good drama.  This is why big action movies can still fail if their characters don't have an arc.  For example, in Star Wars, five characters have a life-changing arc.  In Phantom Menace, only one character had an arc, and it was a character no one cared about, Jar Jar.)

o  Unless execution is perfect, non-interactive story presentation hurts immersion.  That's why it's much better and safer to push forward the story within the interactive gameworld whenever possible.

A lot more to this, gotta run, wife calling me!

"One of the most difficult tasks people can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games..." -- C.G. Jung
#45 by Foodbunny
2003-01-19 18:49:31
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
I wouldn't play an RPG with little to no story.  I wouldn't play an adventure game that was the same way either.  However, I'll play a FPS with no story as long as it has online team-oriented game play, but that online mode will be the only part I play.

I like story.  I like being a part of someone else's story.  If it's a choice between middling game with a great story and great gameplay mechanics with nothing else, I'll honestly probably go for the great story.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#46 by Eric T. Cheng
2003-01-19 18:58:33
erictcheng@hotmail.com
I wouldn't play an RPG with little to no story.


But what about Japanese console "RPGs" (I use the term loosely) that are very linear and are essentially interactive movies?

Kilt Wearing Pixel Pushing Monkey Boy
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#47 by Foodbunny
2003-01-19 19:02:00
foodbunny@attbi.com http://www.foodbunny.com
It depends on if I'm interested in what their characters are doing.  I don't mind cut-scenes, I don't mind really lengthy cut-scenes, and sometimes I just want to be told where to go and what to do for my next reward.  Skies of Arcadia is one of my favorite games and the storyline is very linear.

It won't have any impact on DNF.  Nothing really does.
#48 by chris
2003-01-19 19:10:58
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
This will probably invalidate everything else I'll ever say on this site, but:

I agree with everything Scott just said.

To expand: I'm not going to be able to play any more games in the Serious Sam style. I simply don't have the patience for games that don't engage me on both the story-telling level and the more visceral gameplay level. People can talk about how thin Half-Life's plot was all they want, but that doesn't really matter; the presentation was the single best that the FPS world has ever seen, and that made it engaging for hundreds of thousands of people.

Deus Ex has cutscenes and in-game literature, and I think they'd do well to trim both in the sequel and focus more on scripted sequences, but fortunately the ones in the first game are executed well enough that I can tolerate them. The cut-scenes are usually fairly brief, and the in-game literature is thoroughly skippable. It just provides background information on the world, as should be the case.

GTA3 also tells plenty of story, without too much of it getting in the way of playing the game.

The bar's been raised way up in the past couple of years. Thus far, only the RPG world has consistently been able to deliver games with interesting stories. The games in the FPS genre that do are isolated flukes. Hopefully that'll change... because if it doesn't, then it really doesn't matter what the game is, it's still essentially Quake 2 in prettier clothing.

-chris
#49 by Bailey
2003-01-19 19:19:07
Re: Resident Evil Online

If the communication method is, as I can only suspect, similar to that of PSO, the game looks great. Going through an RE game with three other people would be a hoot, though a full-length RE would likely be too long for that sort of thing. Maybe if it had 8 1-hour missions, or somesuch.

Cheap, but not as cheap as your girlfriend.
#50 by Bailey
2003-01-19 19:28:15
chris

To me, there are few things more offensive than playing an FPS and having to stop and read a book or PDA or whatever in the middle of a mission. Especially if there are about ten per level, and it's fairly important that I read all of them.

Scott brought up some valid points, but these are the same points they rehash every year at the GDC. For all the discussion events and round tables with these self-same bullet points, few people seem to be applying them on a regular basis.

Cheap, but not as cheap as your girlfriend.
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