The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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Ack
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Re: Environmental Storytelling

by Ack Fri Oct 29, 2010 12:21 am

alienjesus wrote:
flamepanther wrote:
J T wrote:It does? I never knew that. That's a very cool idea. How does it do it?
It watches how far or close you tend to keep from the NPCs, what type of places or objects you choose to investigate, and how obsessively you watch your health. I had heard at one point that your character confronts his problems more directly if you tend to attack enemies rather than running from them. However, doing some quick research on it just now, I'm not sure whether this is true. It would be pretty cool if it is.


I've heard of this feature in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but not SH2. Maybe you have them confused. Shattered Memories also alters the appearance of other characters to correspond to how you act.

I've not played either, so maybe SH2 does do it too.


No, he's right. One of the factors which contributes to the ending you get is how often you get hit and how reckless you are willing to be with lowered health levels. Investigating certain side areas also affect the ending, and I believe the number of enemies you kill in the game influences the choice. While it's considerably more rudimentary than Shattered Memories, the idea is definitely there.
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alienjesus
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Re: Environmental Storytelling

by alienjesus Fri Oct 29, 2010 11:30 am

Ack wrote:
alienjesus wrote:
flamepanther wrote:]It watches how far or close you tend to keep from the NPCs, what type of places or objects you choose to investigate, and how obsessively you watch your health. I had heard at one point that your character confronts his problems more directly if you tend to attack enemies rather than running from them. However, doing some quick research on it just now, I'm not sure whether this is true. It would be pretty cool if it is.


I've heard of this feature in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, but not SH2. Maybe you have them confused. Shattered Memories also alters the appearance of other characters to correspond to how you act.

I've not played either, so maybe SH2 does do it too.


No, he's right. One of the factors which contributes to the ending you get is how often you get hit and how reckless you are willing to be with lowered health levels. Investigating certain side areas also affect the ending, and I believe the number of enemies you kill in the game influences the choice. While it's considerably more rudimentary than Shattered Memories, the idea is definitely there.


Thats pretty cool. I always thought Silent Hill's brand of horror was scarier than the likes of resident evil because it was so psychological. Unfortunately, that still doesn't make me a fan of the genre.
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Re: Environmental Storytelling

by MrEco Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:28 am

For me, I see no problem with cutscenes. As long as the voice acting and writing is good than even a 20 minute long MGS cutscene doesn't break my attention from the game or force me out of the immersion. However, I will also say that environmental storytelling can be cool too. An example I would like to compare and contrast with is Bioshock and Bioshock 2. For me, Bioshock had bad environmental storytelling because of all those audio diaries. They showed up everywhere constantly breaking the pace of the game for me because I kept having to stop and pick up these things and then cautiously walk around listening to them and trying to not get ambushed by splicers while the audio track itself is distracting me from possible threats. On top of that they almost never had anything interesting to listen to because they were almost always about stupid red-shirt background characters that I have no interest in whatsoever. Also, they were never closely related. One audio diary would talk about character A and his problems while another one would talk about character B and his completely different problems. It never felt like Bioshock was telling a consistent backstory for itself. Meanwhile the actual story of the events of the game itself were always told in the regular way of in-game characters just talking to you. Meanwhile Bioshock 2 started off with one audio diary of this guy trying to find his missing daughter. Then a few minutes later another recording of the same guy with an advancement in his little background plot. And then another. And another. Bioshock 2 had successfully gotten me interested in the story of this random and unimportant character because it stayed consistent with the audio recordings. It placed them just far enough away from each other that they weren't constantly breaking the pace either. Sadly, Bioshock 2 didn't keep this up for long. Within a few hours it seemed to go back to the "random snippets of uninteresting info" style that Bioshock 1 loved so much. It also stopped bringing up mention of the guy and his missing daughter for quite a while until pretty late into the game. But by then it had been so long since I had heard of the events around this character that I found it much harder to care. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

tl;dr version:
Basically what I'm trying to say is that I find cutscenes and such to be the preferred way of story telling because environmental story telling is often very all over the place and isn't structured well enough to tell a consistent and powerful story. However it does show the potential of being able to in the future.
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Re: Environmental Storytelling

by Gamerforlife Sun Oct 31, 2010 9:29 pm

MrPopo wrote:
Gamerforlife wrote:
Ack wrote:I think a mix of the two work very well. A continuous plot with a beginning, middle, and end works for us because that is how we as human beings perceive stories. So a game plot needs those points.

But the difference between a video game and a film, book, or story is the interactivity of the world. Yes, sometimes it's as limited as a quick time event, where a single button press may decide the course of the plot. In Resident Evil 4, quick time events decide if you live or die. In Heavy Rain, the quick time event takes a much more drastic turn. Consider the middle ground in Mass Effect 2, where quick time events can alter the story, but they are far fewer than Heavy Rain and aren't nearly as rigid as RE4's instant death. In all three situations, your interaction affects what happens, though it's only a limited button press.

Some games go in a different direction, such as Silent Hill 2(definitely a title that deserves being mentioned in any thread about environmental storytelling). As we know, Silent Hill 2 went so far as to use the monster design to detail specific themes related to the plot. Or take environments like in Psychonauts, where level design is setup in such a way to convey characters' mental states.

Honestly, I think we see quite a bit of innovation. The biggest problem I see is that some developers get too caught up in the action to think about it. But even then, there should be a subconscious effect on both the developers making the game and the players, much like the writer of a novel who unknowingly implants certain themes and the reader who unknowingly picks them up.


You mentioned Mass Effect 2. I just have to say that is the best use of quick time events I've yet seen in a game. It's simple, intuitive and the focus is not on figuring out which button on the controller you need to hit, but on you make a split second decision that effects the story. In this way, it feels like a natural extension of the game and not a cheap gimmick like practically every other game that uses them today. I've been playing ME 2 again recently, so this stood out. I also have to say, ME 2's storytelling is on a whole other level compared to some japanese rpgs out there. God, it makes Final Fantasy 13's story seem like something for toddlers.
I think ME2's convo interrupts were the best thing to happen to the RPG genre. How many times have you gotten pissed at a villian monologuing and wanted to go "Why can't I just shoot this guy while he's distracted?" Well now I can. It makes the whole experience more dynamic.


Totally agree, it's really a brilliant system. With the original game, you only controlled the words coming out of Sheperd's mouth. Now you can actually make him TAKE ACTION during story sequences. I loved it. I have my gripes about some other aspects of the game though, but overall it was a great sequel. The many ways your choices affect the final mission was VERY cool
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