The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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Jmustang1968
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Jmustang1968 Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:53 am

ZeroAX wrote:
Jmustang1968 wrote:I think it can be done well. Mass Effect is a good example for me as you play out an epic space opera. You always feel like it is flowing and a part of a bigger picture.


I would say Mass Effect is a HORRIBLE example of video game storytelling. Huge text datalogs and cut scenes galore. There is very little world building by itself.

I would say Minecraft is very good at abstract story telling. It's a very personal game, so it's a very personal tale. You just can't share it with others.


The datalogs aren't the story, but are just extra filler for the world and backstory if the audience wants more.

The interactive dialogues, exploration, and cutscenes all come together to form the story.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by BogusMeatFactory Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:22 am

General_Norris wrote:
Luke wrote:But you also have games such as Myst which both tell and make a story.

What does Myst have? A story? Narrative? It doesn't have much of a plot and it's very abstract so I'm not sure how to describe it.


Myst is the story of a dying race of people and a society that collapsed under the weight of their own hubris. About a man who attempts to make right their wrongs and the mistakes he makes along the way.

You need to play them all. They are truly engaging in strange and amazing ways. Every game after the first is filled with meticulously crafted details that you can easily miss and at times, will most definitely be missed until you complete the majority of games. Playing URU after helps a lot as well, as the game really dives into the society of D'ni and is probably one of the most well crafted and engaging worlds I have ever experienced.
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MrPopo
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by MrPopo Thu Jun 13, 2013 11:28 am

RPS did a follow up mostly echoing the points we've been making here:

http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/06 ... ore-156305
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Erik_Twice Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:50 am

BogusMeatFactory wrote:You need to play them all

I do, I liked the first one very much and I know Riven is better.

What I meant was: How do you call when you go from one puzzle to the other? When you solve them just because they are there what do you call that? It's strange to call it a "narrative".
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by BogusMeatFactory Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:12 am

General_Norris wrote:
BogusMeatFactory wrote:You need to play them all

I do, I liked the first one very much and I know Riven is better.

What I meant was: How do you call when you go from one puzzle to the other? When you solve them just because they are there what do you call that? It's strange to call it a "narrative".


With Myst it does tend to be just puzzles. You are doing a collection quest much like the old school text based adventure games.

With Riven, I would say that the goal really was to find Gehn and trap him, get Atrus' wife back and get the fuck outta there fast! A lot of the puzzles dealt with understanding what Gehn has done with his time there, get your book back and get caught.

In Myst III, the puzzles are a lot more simplified, traps created by this guy over years that you have to solve and overcome to get to him. It seemed pretty forced, which is why I never really liked the third. I never felt that the focus was supposed to be on the brothers and more about the D'ni society. I can blame it on Ubisoft.

In the 4th, the puzzles really are about what the brothers were doing in their plot and following the trail of clues that would eventually lead to them. In that instance, the puzzles were a lot more story driven, even though the Sting song and trippy acid dream were just out of this world awkward. You had drive in the game though, understanding what was a puzzle and what was a clue to the puzzle were laid out pretty clearly with the memory-necklace-thingy. They built the game very well and was surprised at how well they could incorporate the puzzles into the story.

With Myst V, the puzzles were really about the D'ni, understanding who they were, their behaviors, their culture and the crimes and hubris they may have been a part of. The puzzles themselves just shed light on the things they did and engaged you into their world a lot more. It was developed by Cyan worlds and, like with URU, you can see that the whole focus was on D'ni and its society. With this game, they utilized those puzzles to make a point. There was morality involved, insight and details that may have been irrelevant to the true goal (getting the tablets), but were incredibly relevant on the overarching themes of the game. That was what made it so great.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Key-Glyph Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:19 am

Dylan wrote:I would argue that games aren't bad at storytelling in general, they're just not that great at traditional storytelling (I think a lot of people are getting at this). The problem with storytelling in games is that very often it tries to mimic other forms of storytelling like literature and film without realizing the inefficiency of that structure for a medium like gaming.

I completely agree. Any game that requires you to replay a length of the story from different characters' perspectives is a great example. I'm thinking of something like Sonic Adventure, or Resident Evil 2. If Sonic Adventure were a movie, it would follow Sonic's storyline and only tell us everything we "need" to know about E-102's backstory through an Amy dialogue dump when she happens to cross paths with our protagonist on the Egg Carrier. If Resident Evil 2 were a book, you'd have chapters alternating between Leon and Claire, which is a totally different experience from completing a playthrough from one perspective and then having lots of "Ohh, so that's what was simultaneously happening elsewhere while I was embroiled with [that event] with [my A Scenario character]" during a second run through the exact same timeframe.

There's also the fact that movies and books generally have an accepted "truth" to their events -- an irrefutable core story presented to the audience. Even if multiple characters remember and/or portray events differently, there's still the belief on the audience's part that there is a canon version of "what really happened" buried somewhere underneath it all -- even if that canon exists solely in the creators' minds and the rest of us are left guessing. By contrast, in a video game you can have different permutations of events play out from different perspectives and/or in different playthroughs and have them accepted as equally true or valid.

I also think the "optional information" aspect of video games makes for a really interesting device. If there are sidequests, items, or documentation that are not essential to the main plot but bring greater insight into things, then a player's understanding of the game is directly related to how they go about playing it. With a movie you can't choose to ignore evidence or details presented to you, because the medium has absolute control over your progress. This effect can be accomplished with a book, but only if you choose to skip pages. Even if a video game's plot is entirely on rails, discovering a particular optional transmission in a game like Mass Effect can make you call into question where your sympathies lie or what you've been lead to believe in an indirect way that a book or movie cannot without doing so actively and purposefully.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Despatche Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:42 am

Bump. It's already been covered countless times by now, but I guess I've got some words too.

You can do all kinds of neat storytelling with video games. The problem is that big developers don't want "video games", they want some bizarre interactive movie/novel hybrid-thing that tries to remove the "game" part as much as possible. And/or, perhaps, a bunch of would-be "directors" and "authors" see gaming as a way to get their work out there without necessarily competing with "real" movies and novels... strange as that all sounds.

Related, I think people misunderstand exactly what a "video game" is to a certain extent. It's not one single medium that's "better" or even "different" than any other, it's actually a giant hybrid medium that includes many others. It's similar to film and television in this "package" sense; the "mastery" of both is that you have to have people who can focus on many things instead of just one, or already-focused people that can work together. However, "video game" is separated from film and television, and "multimedia/interactive <x>", because of the "game" at its core... it's a very important core!

I feel like the "many-talented individuals" approach works better for video games and perhaps multimedia/interactive <x>, while the "connected groups" approach works better for film and television, but maybe my thoughts are colored by the manpower that is generally considered for both. There are a lot of great examples of those approaches being swapped.
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by IrishNinja Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:00 pm

for years, verbose JRPGs were enjoyable but made me feel the medium didn't work for heavy stories...finally playing Planescape Torment a few years back made me reexamine that, though. some VN's too, though a few might consider that genre cheating i guess?
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Violent By Design
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by Violent By Design Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:13 am

It isn't so much the games, but the people who write stories for video games don't know how to make a good story. They just try to make the equivalent of popcorn flicks.

And no, citing examples where crappy authors or hollywood writers writing plots for video games doesn't work either.

And to be honest, I am pretty sure most writers who come from other fields, assume people who play video games are idiots, so they dumb down their stories. I'm almost positive of it.



Here's why stories in video games suck. It's because they're not about anything. They have plots, but do most video games have morales?

I feel like most games that have "good plots", are just that; plots. They have twist and turns, people die, maybe they have some type of fanfare - that's great and all, but there's more to writing a story then going from point A to point B. There has to be a underlying theme, true character development (most games don't have this), plot defining moments (game series don't have this because they need to make sequels, so nothing feels definitive) and of course some type of statement from the author, a social commentary or a stance - and again, most games just do not have that.

When ever a game does try to "say something", it's usually just done so bluntly that it is hard to take seriously (ie, Metal Gear Solid when they literally say war is bad).


I think more video game storywriters need to take risks, and hope they can write something that is sublime, rather than spelling out everything for their audience. That's really the biggest thing holding video game stories back. Big elaborate plots aren't what's missing, they've been around for ages, subtlety is the next step.
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BogusMeatFactory
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Re: Maybe games just aren't the medium for truly great stori

by BogusMeatFactory Sat Apr 12, 2014 10:11 am

Violent By Design wrote: Big elaborate plots aren't what's missing, they've been around for ages, subtlety is the next step.


I agree with everything you said, but this sentence in particular is what stands out as being the most important. Subtlety is something a lot of games have never gotten a grasp over. You immediately know who the bad guy is, what the goal is and how to reach the goal. The majority of the time, everything is laid out as plain as day. Some games do a better job at being subtle. Games like Shadow of the Colossus come to mind as you understand your characters motivation without any words telling you why, but it is the mysterious forces motivations that leave you wondering. Not to mention as you progress in the game the more horrible you feel for doing what you are doing, yet no words tell you that what you are doing may be wrong.

Does every game need to be a masterpiece in storytelling? Not at all. Lots of games fit lots of roles and I feel there is a place for the various types of games. Variety is the spice of life.
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