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The story in games these days are lacking....


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Showing 51-75 of 135 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2012 7:29:01 AM PDT
Hey says:
But there are plenty of games that are written by just one person. How would that be different from a single author of a novel? What about movies too? The end credits for films are gigantic but if you're a fan of Auteur Theory, then it's still the director's voice coming through in the film. Couldn't the same be true for video games?

Posted on Nov 2, 2012 1:08:44 PM PDT
I think we can all agree now after much discussion that "The story in games these days are lacking.... " is a statement without merit.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 7:50:11 AM PDT
R. says:
@ DVvM

"Interactivity can only serve to undermine storytelling."

All storytelling depends on interactivity.

"Because when a creative work is finished before the person who experiences picks it up, then the person experiencing it can only get in the way of the story that the creative force behind the work wanted to tell. ... If I'm playing 'Anna Karenina: the video game' I wouldn't be willing to throw the protagonist in front of that train, which undermines that story."

That would be a subversion of authorial intent (which has no inherent connection to quality) rather than a subversion of storytelling. But it wouldn't really be that either because the creative force in your example is intentionally undermining an existing story in the interest of potentially telling a new one. If there really is someone in the world who builds great video game narratives only to be frustrated when players alter them without permission, that person's problems aren't caused by a failing of the medium. There's no rule against forcing players to experience specific plot points in a particular order, and even in open world RPGs where events can be triggered in various sequences or bypassed altogether, those story elements are purposefully constructed in a modular fashion and hopefully woven tightly into one of a few possible overarching plotlines.

As far as implicit inferiority of the medium goes, I prefer to think that we just haven't mastered it yet. It's not easy to tell a story by building a potentiality and then handing that jumble of parts to unknown collaborators. That's a weird process. The games that mimic the overall narrative rigidity of other media tend to have the most refined stories (not that there aren't some awful games that try to ape cinema); but early movies were much like stage plays, and early written stories were much like spoken ones. No one knows at this point what the form can't do well.

Posted on Nov 3, 2012 8:02:21 AM PDT
HorizonBrave says:
You need to play more JRPGs

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:07:31 AM PDT
Kin-foot says:
Not many JRPGs on the big consoles. Even those can be iffy. Only so many "chosen ones" or "boy with amnesia" stories I can take.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:51:24 AM PDT
M. Stifler says:
'Only so many "chosen ones" or "boy with amnesia" stories I can take.'

I lol'd at that. So true.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 1:50:33 PM PDT
HorizonBrave says:
Then games are not for you then .. everyone and their mom wants to be a hero.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 2:38:16 PM PDT
I disagree. I think interactivity can be great for storytelling. The difference is that you are taking part in the narrative. That can actually make it MORE powerful.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 3:08:49 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 3:13:20 PM PDT
DVvM says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 3:22:33 PM PDT
"not that there aren't some awful games that try to ape cinema"

You're talking about Metal Gear Solid, right? =)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 6:00:49 PM PDT
Okay, I see what you mean about interactivity being independent of the quality of the story. That said, interactivity can't make the story worse. And interactive games can still have great stories.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 6:37:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 6:46:52 PM PDT
DVvM says:
Well, I think that the way in which interactivity can hurt storytelling is that whoever is crafting the narrative wants to make as as good an experience as it can be and thus won't necessarily include plot points which are difficult or unlikely for the player to play "the right way" (i.e. the way that maximizes the entertainment value thereof.)

Think of it in terms of a play or a movie. There are some roles that any competent actor can manage, and there are other roles that if handed to a mediocre actor turn out terrible and other roles that are transcendent in the hands of a world class actor. I mean, it's easy to play Macbeth, it's very difficult to play Hamlet.

So the end result is that if you're making the story for a video game, you tend more towards the Macbeth "it's hard to screw this up too bad" school of thought, and less towards Hamlet... as a result, you don't bother making a video game Hamlet since a game that only the "best" of players will enjoy (and they will enjoy it thoroughly) is simply not marketable.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 6:45:03 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 6:46:44 PM PDT
Deevs isn't doing a great job explaining.

There are three elements in relating a story to an audience (four if you have a live medium, such as the players in a play or a storyteller)--the story itself, how the story is told, and the audience's reaction to the story.

What interactivity often impacts negatively is the second element. If you give a player freedom, generally he'll spend at least some time actively working against any and all perceived systems in place--be it the "law," which is what makes games like Grand Theft Auto popular; or the ruleset of the game (everything from finding broken combos to working against the physics of the game); or the story itself, seeking out the least linear path through the story he can conveniently find. He may not do these things immediately, and of course different people do it to different extents (some not at all), but in general by the time the story is over, he'll have worked against it. We push against boundaries in order to learn them. It's not only human nature, it's the nature of every animal that can learn.

In addition, most games' interactive portions actually interrupt the story simply by being there. Slogging through random encounters in Final Fantasy, running through levels in Sonic 2006, sneaking around in Metal Gear Solid, killing your enemies in Half Life 2... typically, the more interaction gameplay requires, the more the story gets forcibly shunted to the side in the meantime.

There are means of implementing interactivity that don't interfere implicitly with the story (the obvious example being visual novels), but taming the player's desire to push his limits is more difficult. I would posit the possibility of using interactivity to enhance storytelling on the whole is possible--I could cite specific instances where it has likely been used to improve how the story is relayed to its audience--but to my knowledge, it's never been done competently throughout the entire course (or even the majority of) any single story within any single work.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 6:46:15 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 6:51:32 PM PDT
DVvM says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:38:10 PM PDT
Okay, that makes more sense.

Posted on Nov 3, 2012 8:49:47 PM PDT
Heavy Rain?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:51:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 8:54:07 PM PDT
DVvM says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 8:56:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 8:57:28 PM PDT
I'm curious as to why Heavy Rain's story was bad. I've heard so many negative things about it. I have to admit that I find David Cage's comments to be hilarious, though. I also heard Heavy Rain suffered from poor translation, amongst other issues. Still will at least try his new game.

Posted on Nov 3, 2012 8:57:47 PM PDT
castlevania lords of shadow?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 9:00:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 9:15:10 PM PDT
DVvM says:
It's kind of hard to get into it without spoilers, but you know how M. Night Shamylan movies are bad what with 1 or 2 dimensional characters, rushed relationships, awkward foreshadowing, outright deus ex machina, glaring plot holes, failed attempts at cleverness, and ridiculously implausible plot twists just for the sake of having a plot twist?

M. Night Shamylan would think Heavy Rain's plot is ridiculous.

If you judge it as a game, it's perfectly cromulent. It's entertaining, and engrossing. If you judge it as a work of fiction, like the film David Cage wishes it was, it's just ludicrous.

But here's a general spoiler. One of the characters whose shoes you fill in this game ends up being the killer. You can read this character's mind throughout play, and this character's psyche, as revealed to the player, is completely implausible as the psyche of a serial killer (expressing genuine sympathy for others, referring to "the murders" and "the boy who disappeared", explicitly hoping that it stops raining soon when rain is actually the killer's weapon of choice, etc.) When under your control this character works contrary to its own desired ends as a character (for example saving the life of a witness who could incriminate the killer.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 9:03:22 PM PDT
Ouch.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 9:05:44 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2012 9:10:48 PM PDT
Well, M. Night Shamylan bores me to tears, so if Heavy Rain is the third rate version of that guy's movies (I only saw the Sixth Sense, and even I didn't really like that movie), then Heavy Rain sounds like a joke.

Personally, I'm not a fan of stories that hang their hat on twisty narrative, cheap suspense, etc and not much else (See: Inception, The Usual Suspects). I'd rather enjoy a very simple story that more than makes up for it with rich characters and meaning.

PS: Obscure Simpsons-popularized word!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2012 9:18:56 PM PDT
DVvM says:
Well, it's actually telling to compare it to a Shamylan movie, since, for example, when you go back and watch "the Sixth Sense" (his good movie) while aware of your twist, the movie does work. Nobody except the kid who can see dead people ever interacts directly with the character who is revealed to be dead.

If you go back and play "Heavy Rain" once you know who the killer is, the twist absolutely does not work. The events leading up to the twist very much serve to undermine the plausibility of the twist.

Heavy Rain deserves praise for attempting to tell a story. It also deserves derision for failing to tell a good one.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2012 11:07:39 AM PST
Gmon says:
Well, technically, all the people the killer helped had nothing to do with his motivations, and the empathy he showed to his victims was because their parents couldn't pass his test. As for "the murderers", well, he only says that, but never thinks it. The rain thing was just him wanting better weather, so it being used as a weapon has nothing to do with why he wanted it to go away. How are any of the characters one dimensional, have any form of bad foreshadowing, or dues ex machina's?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2012 7:48:56 AM PST
R. says:
@ Christmas Johns

"... most games' interactive portions actually interrupt the story simply by being there."

You create that interruption yourself by mentally separating gameplay from story. In Half-Life 2, the plot revolves around a guy who's become a source of inspiration for a despondent population, and your actions are what inspire them. Killing your enemies doesn't force the story aside; it's a major plot point. As Gordon Freeman, you're the guy who can take down a Combine gunship single-handedly. The narrative depends on your gameplay making him into kind of a big deal.

Storytelling in any form is always an interactive experience. The way you've divided it into three parts neatly illustrates a common pitfall to both game designers and critics. It's a mistake to view games in general as having "interactive portions." In this context there is no distance between "how the story is told" and "the story itself." Likewise, "the story itself" and "the audience's reaction" can't exist individually as steps of the storytelling process. If you give the player a great deal of freedom, as in your GTA example, that freedom will simultaneously impact "the story itself, how the story is told, and the audience's reaction to the story." You can't say a player "worked against" a narrative that was shaped by whatever the player did.

The underlying misconception in your argument is that there exists an ideal version of THE STORY placed on a pedestal by THE CREATIVE FORCE, and the only possible outcomes of interactivity are that the audience either allows the narrative to proceed "correctly" or interferes with it. Video games will always fail if you judge them that way.
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Discussion in:  Video Games forum
Participants:  43
Total posts:  135
Initial post:  Oct 31, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 8, 2012

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