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SouperSteve0
06-09-2012, 10:02 PM
Next semester I will be taking some kind of writing class. Though, this writing class is based on video games. The big project that will be the final is to write an essay on a game's story in the same way that someone would write an essay on a book.

I don't have any directives such as "look for a theme regarding X" or anything, I get to choose what I write about, including the game.

Here is where I ask for your aide rpsers. Can you think of any games that actually have a plot/story substantial enough that it could be thoroughly analyzed?

Herzog
06-09-2012, 10:17 PM
Planescape:Torment

SouperSteve0
06-09-2012, 10:28 PM
Planescape:Torment

Just read the wikipedia article on that. It does seem pretty cool. The play between immortality and mortality in the game is interesting.

Nalano
06-09-2012, 10:33 PM
Pick any western RPG ever and the theme is pretty much always the same: Fighting against death itself.

Dr.Honeyslut
06-09-2012, 10:34 PM
Try a little sex and death in Silent Hill 2.

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/07/the_aberrant_gamer_sundering_the_mind.php

Kaira-
06-09-2012, 10:40 PM
Try a little sex and death in Silent Hill 2.

http://www.gamesetwatch.com/2007/07/the_aberrant_gamer_sundering_the_mind.php

God damn, beaten to it. This and Planescape would've been my suggestions, and both can be easily analyzed to death. Of more recent ones I'd guess you could say Dark Souls, but it may be too vague and spell too little out to be analyzed properly. Maybe.

Wednesday
06-09-2012, 11:00 PM
As a lit grad, what I would not suggest is picking the most obviously "complex" narrative and jumping on it. You'll end up waffling about events and not doing much close analysis. Perhaps you should pick a thematic or critical approach first and then pick titles around that.

What I would suggest is that you don't just do games that you enjoy, simply because you enjoy them. I once put Battlestar Galactica in a multi-format essay and it was by far the worst thing I did all year.

Try choosing games which approach narrative from an interesting position. That is to say, pick games about which you will actually be able to write something.

Fanbuoy
06-09-2012, 11:00 PM
I don't have a contribution right now, but I want to point out that Planescape: Torment is a classic and perhaps a too obvious example. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but perhaps you want something a little less expected? Sorry, I don't want to be all pessimistic..

EDIT: I realize it probably isn't acceptable as it isn't a pre-written story, but some of the best stories I've encountered in gaming are from Crusader Kings 2. If it's somehow within the limitations that would be a kick-ass take on the assignment.

EDIT 2: Some ideas:
*GTA IV - While the story isn't its strong point IMHO it does try to convey one and it's definitely analyzable.
*The Fallout series
*Any game based on a book, such as Metro 2033 or the Witcher games.
*Haven't played, but seem likely to work: System Shock, Alan Wake, L.A. Noire and Max Paynes.

Kelron
06-09-2012, 11:34 PM
Human Revolution would be a decent choice. Its themes aren't exactly subtle, but there's quite a lot going on there. The main thing that draws me to it is that your actions while playing relate to the theme of the story, it sounds obvious but it's surprisingly rare in gaming. There's also lots of obvious angles you could explore such as parallels with real world prejudice or fear of technology.

Tikey
06-09-2012, 11:40 PM
Gemini Rue has a strong subject and deals with some themes in some clever ways.

It even has a commentary mode detailing the thought process.

SirKicksalot
06-09-2012, 11:48 PM
Far Cry 2. Obviously it's inspired by Heart of Darkness, to the point where the final stretch forces you on foot through a fetid jungle section called Heart of Darkness where the villains lurk. But the perspective is reversed - you're a goon indulging in the madness. Africa is hell on Earth. The buddy system and its brutal end are very interesting. I'm sure there's a lot to say about the procedural narrative and player agency. There might be more to say about the technique than about the content, but if oddities like Dictionary of the Khazars can be the subject of deep analysis, so can Far Cry 2.

Casimir Effect
06-09-2012, 11:49 PM
Planescape is the best choice I can think of, however it is quite a long game and you really do have to explore as much of the game as possible in order to truly get every part of the story.

Games I'd suggest for a less daunting task would be Dreamfall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamfall:_The_Longest_Journey)(or The Longest Journey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Longest_Journey)); NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mask_of_the_betrayer) (a complete, very good Let's Play of which can be found here (http://lparchive.org/Neverwinter-Nights-2-Mask-of-the-Betrayer/)), which is often regarded as a spiritual successor to Planescape but a whole lot shorter; Deus Ex: Human Revolutions could also work well; or perhaps Bastion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastion_%28video_game%29), which many enjoy the deliberately-minimal story of.

EDIT: FarCry 2 could also be really good for it, as mentioned above, but much of the story comes from the player experiences and not from the in-game world.

pakoito
06-09-2012, 11:57 PM
Stanley Parable on breaking the 4th wall and human choice. This one is almost a freebie.

Kadayi
07-09-2012, 12:05 AM
Spec Ops: The line

Passable game (my recommendation is play it on easy), but it does some quite interesting things in terms of narrative and your role as the player guiding the experience plus there's a lot of developer interviews out there about the games story line.

Hensler
07-09-2012, 12:12 AM
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or 3.

fiddlesticks
07-09-2012, 12:13 AM
Planescape is the best choice I can think of, however it is quite a long game and you really do have to explore as much of the game as possible in order to truly get every part of the story.

Games I'd suggest for a less daunting task would be Dreamfall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamfall:_The_Longest_Journey)(or The Longest Journey (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Longest_Journey)); NWN2: Mask of the Betrayer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mask_of_the_betrayer) (a complete, very good Let's Play of which can be found here (http://lparchive.org/Neverwinter-Nights-2-Mask-of-the-Betrayer/)), which is often regarded as a spiritual successor to Planescape but a whole lot shorter; Deus Ex: Human Revolutions could also work well; or perhaps Bastion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bastion_%28video_game%29), which many enjoy the deliberately-minimal story of.
All of these are great choices. Planescape: Torment is really the quintessential example of video game storytelling and worth a playthrough even if you're not going to pick it for your project. It focuses heavily on human nature and the way our actions influence our environment. I'd also add Knights of the Old Republic 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars:_Knights_of_the_Old_Republic_II:_The_Sit h_Lords) to the list, which was written by the same person as Torment and deals with similar themes. Though for an extensive analysis you'd probably have to play the first instalment as well. And speaking of Human Revolution, the original Deus Ex (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deus_ex) might also be worth a look. It's less focused than its sequel but it draws from a ton of literary sources and thus can be analyzed in a lot of different ways.

If you want something horror-oriented that isn't Silent Hill 2, System Shock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_Shock) and its sequel are worthy choices. If you're looking for more recent examples, there's Bioshock (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bioshock) and Bioshock 2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioShock_2), both of which deal with major political ideologies (libertarianism and communism respectively). I'd say their execution is somewhat clumsy in parts, but sometimes analyzing flawed storytelling can be just as insightful as analyzing good storytelling.

Edit: Or if you want to be creative, explain to your teacher how the Half-Life series is really a satire of the English Civil War with Gordon Freeman representing Oliver Cromwell.

Wheelz
07-09-2012, 12:55 AM
Spec Ops: The line

Passable game (my recommendation is play it on easy), but it does some quite interesting things in terms of narrative and your role as the player guiding the experience plus there's a lot of developer interviews out there about the games story line.

I +1 this suggestion. My understanding is that it's pretty much "Heart of Darkness": The Game, it has a fairly "against the grain" type plot, and it should be relatively easy to analyse.

SouperSteve0
07-09-2012, 01:07 AM
Stanley Parable on breaking the 4th wall and human choice. This one is almost a freebie.


But isn't that more about looking at a game itself

db1331
07-09-2012, 01:24 AM
I've not yet played it, but isn't To the Moon said to have a good story? I have clue on how well it would take to analysis, however. I'd also second Dark Souls, but there is so much that is just complete speculation that it could be a nightmare to write about.

Also, it was on consoles, but I rather liked the story of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West. Spoilers: It takes place in a post-apocalyptic future (think cities overgrown by jungle). The short of it is, the few surviving people are living on the run, hiding from a group of sentient robots who are rounding them up into big ships and taking them who knows where. After fighting your way through hundreds of robots and reaching their home base, you find out they are actually being controlled by an old man, who has been rounding people up to plug them into a virtual reality (the Matrix) in order to end their suffering in the wasteland. He even offers you the chance to be linked up to it and see for yourself that he only means well. It turns out it's beautiful, almost heavenly. Just as you are enjoying watching families play in a park, birds flying overhead, etc., your partner pulls the plug and destroys the machine, for everyone. She looks to you and says, "I did the right thing. Right?" I honestly wasn't sure if she had or not. It's one of the few games I've finished where the ending really stuck with me for weeks after I stopped playing.

Anyway, supposedly the game is a retelling of this 16th century Chinese novel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journey_to_the_West

chopper
07-09-2012, 01:25 AM
Far Cry 2 is an interesting one, but I'd have to recommend Deadly Premonition (though you'd have to get an Xbox to play, the horror).

By far the most successful 'naturalistic' story in videogames, I think.

SirKicksalot
07-09-2012, 01:38 AM
Also, it was on consoles, but I rather liked the story of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West.

That game is a fucking masterpiece.

db1331
07-09-2012, 01:41 AM
That game is a fucking masterpiece.

Ain't it though? I expected to get flamed for even mentioning it on here. So many people seem to have hated it. I don't know what's wrong with them. It was actually the first game I bought when I got my PS3. I'm suddenly reminded I never played the Pigsy DLC. I need to remedy that...

AlexClockwork
07-09-2012, 02:17 AM
Hum... The whole story of Binary Domain might not be interesting to analyze, but the part about "what is human and what is not" does have some interest...

Also, any Christine Love's game.

Berzee
07-09-2012, 03:35 AM
Bastion is nice. Got yer genocide, apocalyptic situations, self-sacrifice, time travel conundrums among other things. Other possibilities that seem suitably literaturey:
-- Winter Voices
-- Stacking (being the only game I've ever played that's mostly about child labor)
-- Mask of the Betrayer (plus a ton of other religion-related options here (http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?1693-Religion-in-computer-games-is-a-bit-funny-sometimes))


I was trying to think of a good story which is actually impacted by the interactivity in any way that's more complex than simply "branching story" or "a story that's told to you as you fight some guys" -- but I haven't thought of any/many yet. =)

SouperSteve0
07-09-2012, 04:00 AM
Bastion seems as a damn good choice. I've played through it once already. It's short enough to play through it multiple times, the story isn't too deep but still has some mature themes. Though I feel the crux is that it isn't quite deep enough to draw meaningful parallels and compare/contrast.

Berzee
07-09-2012, 04:06 AM
I feel the crux is that it isn't quite deep enough to draw meaningful parallels and compare/contrast.

Same here. =\ At least not until we invent a Bastion. =P

It did give me a bit of a think about when I should try to unmake history and reverse mistakes or when I should accept what's happened in life and look ahead -- and about how even what seems Best For Everyone may make your favorite people sad -- but yeah, not sure if I could wring a whole paper out of it, myself. ;)

hamster
07-09-2012, 04:14 AM
Is it really a good idea to write an essay on video game narratives/themes?

r3dknight
07-09-2012, 05:25 AM
Bible Black is pretty good for its views in Theology and Romance, and how the lines can blur between worship or straight up domination. That and Sengoku Rance for the accurate portrayal of Japan during their civil war times for its brutality and well-drawn caricature of the important figures during those era.

RakeShark
07-09-2012, 06:12 AM
Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath.

A classic example of the reluctant hero. Endangered cultures. Invasive species. Denial/Acceptance of identify. Environmentalism.

Plus it's an Oddworld game, that's a bonus.

hamster
07-09-2012, 06:44 AM
Bible Black is pretty good for its views in Theology and Romance, and how the lines can blur between worship or straight up domination. That and Sengoku Rance for the accurate portrayal of Japan during their civil war times for its brutality and well-drawn caricature of the important figures during those era.

Just googled bible black. Well done.

r3dknight
07-09-2012, 06:50 AM
On a more serious note: Arcanum - a fantasy RPG with a rather unusual setting. What if Magic cannot co-exist with the rise of technology? And how does it change several Kingdom's fate?

A rather terrible gameplay and bugs saved by a well-crafted world and well-written plot that grips you till the end.

Rest in Peace, Troika.

Kadayi
07-09-2012, 07:58 AM
It's short enough to play through it multiple times, the story isn't too deep but still has some mature themes.

I think the ability to play through a game multiple times fairly rapidly is an important aspect, which is why picking a long game like PS:T might not be such a great idea tbh, if you're on a deadline.

Alexius
07-09-2012, 08:39 AM
Psychonauts (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychonauts)? Overall plot is simple but sub-narratives are brilliant, deep and rich on symbolism.
(Mentions of NWN2: MotB made me think about essay on heroism gone wrong based on NWN2 and Immortal Defence.)

r3dknight
07-09-2012, 08:43 AM
Just googled bible black. Well done.

http://i.imgur.com/cuYAp.gif

ado
07-09-2012, 09:44 AM
Analyzing just the textual story of a game or a film is a fool's errand. To truly grasps the core of a complex piece of storytelling that is primarily soaked in visually and aurally you need to analyze all aspects of it. Why? Because these mediums ARE visual and aural mediums and tell stories primarily through tone, visuals, sound and performance. Ideally none of it is in the text, but all is on the screen happening in front of you while also layering juicy and delicious subtext for you to ponder over for days after you're done with it.

That's why I object when people say that Planescape: Torment is a great example of storytelling in games. It's not, it's probably the worst example you could find. Which doesn't mean it's not a good story, it's actually a pretty damn good story with great subtext, but for a videogame it is told in the worst possible way.

For my money if I had to name one single game that has a great story and great storytelling it would undoubtedly be Portal.

Superficially the plot* is barely there in Portal. In fact it doesn't rear its head until you're well in to the second half of the game. But what the game does wonderfully in the meantime is build up the setting, the tone and atmosphere, the nemesis and your conflict with her. Then through the art design itself you get very complex subtext that can be pondered over for days. The design of the portal gun. The oval portals. The companion cube. The cubic design of the chambers.

The oval shape represents the feminine, hence the portal gun being shaped almost like a uterus, shooting round holes. The cubic is the male. Hence companion CUBE. Hence the world being in boxy design; it is a man's world after all. This further points to a archetypal clash between a malevolent mother figure and your escape from her smothering embrace. The constant struggle between the superego and the ego. Then what is the id? The turrets of course, with their dimwitted but lethal innocence and halfway role between you and the mother. A sibling figure?

The concept of "test subject" in a "test" watched over by a sinister designer. It's a deconstruction of a videogame as well. But what else is every videogame but a complex obstacle course for the player to test himself in? There is SO MUCH to ponder over when this game is concerned.

Masterpieces don't come often, and they are such because of unity of the elements that they employ for a singular purpose. So it is indeed a fool's errand to consider one element without considering every other, especially in a medium that shouldn't care to tell you a story in it's text, but should care to tell you a story on every possible level it can achieve.

Now the fact that you are doing this for a writing class means nothing, because all these ideas and concepts are worked out in the writing phase. In most cases before the "script" is even started.

*People seem to often confuse "plot" with "story". A plot is just one element of a story, and for my money it's the least important one. Basically it's just there to get you from point A to point B.

fiddlesticks
07-09-2012, 10:27 AM
On a more serious note: Arcanum - a fantasy RPG with a rather unusual setting. What if Magic cannot co-exist with the rise of technology? And how does it change several Kingdom's fate?
I forgot about Arcanum, that's another good suggestion. Not only is the central conflict between magic and technology interesting, it's also a brilliant parody of society during the Industrial Revolution. Not to mention it has one of the most memorable video game villains.

r3dknight
07-09-2012, 10:34 AM
http://scodal.com/a/saved1/talkingegg.gif


Urf. Ugh. Feels like I've been strained through someone's bowels.

Jesus_Phish
07-09-2012, 10:46 AM
On a more serious note: Arcanum - a fantasy RPG with a rather unusual setting. What if Magic cannot co-exist with the rise of technology? And how does it change several Kingdom's fate?

A rather terrible gameplay and bugs saved by a well-crafted world and well-written plot that grips you till the end.

Rest in Peace, Troika.

And off I go to replay this game again. Such a great game despite all it's warts and boils.

I agree with what was said though about not just analysing a story of a game. Analysing the story is missing the point of it all. You might as well just analyse a book or movie (or whatever books/movies the games draw from). EG: It's pointless to look at the story of Metro 2033 the game as it's basically the book made game.

You'd be better off finding a game were the mechanics of the game are crucial to the story. Unless of course you're lecturer just want's the very story analysed, in which case he's probably going to get a lot of papers that read like wikipedia articles.

Portal is the obvious choice for a game whose story is told almost entirely through the mechanics of the game. The "story" wouldn't be nearly as effective if you read it in a book or watched a movie about some chick escaping her test subject life with a magic gun.

ado
07-09-2012, 11:55 AM
Urf. Ugh. Feels like I've been strained through someone's bowels.

Yea it's a blob of different ideas just vomited out on the page. I might actually write up a proper analysis of Portal one of these days.

b0rsuk
07-09-2012, 12:25 PM
Planescape: Torment, the only downside is that it's a bit too obvious.
Hint: To maximize the chance of getting every bit of information in the game,
- make your mental stats as high as possible (Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma). They influence your dialog options in a big way.
- take as many companions as possible, in particular Morte and Dak'kon because you can learn interesting bits of history from them
- don't focus on the main quest, look for side quests - there are tons of them.
- each of 3 classes you can pursue (mage, warrior, thief) triggers different memories at different stages of the game.

Point&Click games tended to have good story. I liked Beneath A Steel Sky (free). I heard Monkey Island, Syberia, The Longest Journey, Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle are good.

NathanH
07-09-2012, 01:10 PM
I wouldn't do Planescape or any other dialogue-tree game, it'd be a lot of trouble to get all the dialogue in-game, and reading dialogue trees out-of-game is not easy. I don't even know of a good dialogue-reading tool for Infinity Engine games. It can be tiresome to find a particular quote in a dialogue-tree game.

hamster
07-09-2012, 01:25 PM
Yea it's a blob of different ideas just vomited out on the page. I might actually write up a proper analysis of Portal one of these days.

That...wasn't a parody?

fiddlesticks
07-09-2012, 01:40 PM
Remember Clarke's Law: Any sufficiently advanced literary criticism is indistinguishable from parody.

ado
07-09-2012, 01:55 PM
That...wasn't a parody?

No, my initial reply to this thread was not intended to be a parody. Of course, you are free to read it as one if you wish to do so.

Heliocentric
07-09-2012, 01:58 PM
Pick any western RPG ever and the theme is pretty much always the same: Fighting against death itself.Examples? I'm coming up blank.

hamster
07-09-2012, 03:30 PM
think his point is that western RPGs are all hack & slash.

TomxJ
07-09-2012, 03:46 PM
Why not go down this route?

Missle Command and Narartive (http://www.penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/narrative-mechanics)

imo less is more. Another great point Jim made at a lecture i was at few years back was [Paraphrased] "look at space invaders it could just be any old game. But call it "Space invaders" and you have an instant narative. The Blocks are now invaders, from space. The game is now a story."

Tom j

Nalano
07-09-2012, 04:17 PM
think his point is that western RPGs are all hack & slash.

No. I'm saying all the big bads are either

- Demons from Hell (bent on destroying all life)
- Elder gods/ancient dragons (bent on destroying all life)
- Megalomaniacal wizard/lichs (bent on destroying all life)
- Unfeeling automatons (bent on destroying all life)
- SOME GREAT PURGING EVIL WE HAVE SEALED AWAY FOR FIVE THOUSAND YEARS (bent on destroying all life)

In just about every epic RPG, the ultimate enemy is death itself, expressed in various avatars. Examples: The Bioware catalogue. The Bethesda catalogue. The Interplay catalogue, when it's not simple dungeon runs. Hell, Bioware loves this idea, and in a lot of their games you spend a significant amount of time dead, trying to undeadify yourself.

Shooop
07-09-2012, 04:46 PM
The Silent Hill series (up to 4).

There are entire summaries going up to 50 pages about how the games blend actual mythology and the psyche of the characters in the game on GameFaqs. And they're fascinating.

In 1, the god the cult worships is an incarnation of Samael - "poison of god." 2 has already been covered as being about James' guilt and frustrations with his incapacitated wife. 3 continues the themes of 1 but adds the theme of duality (Heather is Alessa). 4 is about Walter's childhood phobias and the theme of birth (the water prison and dogs being things he was frightened of and his belief that Room 302 is his mother).

SirKicksalot
07-09-2012, 04:53 PM
You can also analyse Starcraft 2 or especially Diablo 3! That should be fun.

Vandelay
07-09-2012, 05:56 PM
Ado is completely right in my mind (think someone else said something similar too); a game like Planescape might be the pinnacle of depth in gaming, but that doesn't mean it would work well as the central discussion point of a literary essay. Same goes for most point and click games, which generally won't integrate the gameplay with the story.

Braid is probably a good choice, although will be picked by everybody. Same goes for Bioshock. Something unique might be a game by Ice Pick Lodge. Despite owning both Pathalogic and The Void, I've not played too much of them, but they seem to fit what you might want. Almost poetic dialogue (although, lots of translation issues), symbolic characters, and stunning art that feeds into the story of the environment and the inhabitants would give you plenty to discuss. You could even reference the excellent RPS article by Quinns, if you went with Pathalogic.

Sparkasaurusmex
07-09-2012, 06:32 PM
I think the reason Braid was created was probably so uni students can analyze it.

Voon
07-09-2012, 06:53 PM
Bastion is a pretty good choice, for starters. And Planescape: Torment as well as The Longest Journey are probably the most obvious choices if we're talking about story.

You could look into the Fallout series, which is about survival in a nuclear wasteland.

Hypernetic
07-09-2012, 07:31 PM
@OP: I'd have to go with Bioshock, the utopian idealism of Rapture and the inevitable downfall of it's society work pretty well for an analytic paper.



No. I'm saying all the big bads are either

- Demons from Hell (bent on destroying all life)
- Elder gods/ancient dragons (bent on destroying all life)
- Megalomaniacal wizard/lichs (bent on destroying all life)
- Unfeeling automatons (bent on destroying all life)
- SOME GREAT PURGING EVIL WE HAVE SEALED AWAY FOR FIVE THOUSAND YEARS (bent on destroying all life)

In just about every epic RPG, the ultimate enemy is death itself, expressed in various avatars. Examples: The Bioware catalogue. The Bethesda catalogue. The Interplay catalogue, when it's not simple dungeon runs. Hell, Bioware loves this idea, and in a lot of their games you spend a significant amount of time dead, trying to undeadify yourself.

What about Fallout?

Nalano
07-09-2012, 07:33 PM
What about Fallout?

You're living in the afterlife. That's why nobody much cares for a Fallout where civilization is back on its feet.

Hypernetic
07-09-2012, 07:35 PM
You're living in the afterlife. That's why nobody much cares for a Fallout where civilization is back on its feet.

Yeah, but your not some predestined hero in most Fallout games. Like in NV, you are just a courier. You aren't DRAGONBORN! ascending the mountain to save the universe and time itself from a dragon.

You don't fight death itself in NV. I mean if you consider fighting for survival to fall into the category then pretty much every game ever fits into your classification.

Nalano
07-09-2012, 07:42 PM
You don't fight death itself in NV. I mean if you consider fighting for survival to fall into the category then pretty much every game ever fits into your classification.

One of the major criticisms of NV was that it wasn't epic enough. The previous ones, you were staving off some cataclysm. New Vegas... not so much.

SirKicksalot
07-09-2012, 07:43 PM
Yeah, but your not some predestined hero in most Fallout games. Like in NV, you are just a courier. You aren't DRAGONBORN! ascending the mountain to save the universe and time itself from a dragon.

You don't fight death itself in NV. I mean if you consider fighting for survival to fall into the category then pretty much every game ever fits into your classification.

You fight for survival against thirst and a mutant army in F1 and against starvation in F2. F3's "find dad" plot is hijacked by the Enclave's extermination project.

Hypernetic
07-09-2012, 07:45 PM
You fight for survival against thirst and a mutant army in F1 and against starvation in F2. F3's "find dad" plot is hijacked by the Enclave's extermination project.

That's just like your opinion man.


One of the major criticisms of NV was that it wasn't epic enough. The previous ones, you were staving off some cataclysm. New Vegas... not so much.

Exactly.

Koobazaur
07-09-2012, 07:48 PM
Frankly, thank god for that. Am I the only one who's kind of sick of the "YOURE THE HUMANITY'S LAST HOPE" in practically every single game :| actually being a nobody or a grunt feels somewhat... refreshing.

Nalano
07-09-2012, 07:54 PM
F3's "find dad" plot is hijacked by the Enclave's extermination project.

We do not talk about F3.

Feldspar
07-09-2012, 08:00 PM
Bastion does look like a good choice, the main character's lack of a father figure drives him to meaningless destruction (come on, it can't just have been me who loved to whale on the scenery), and his solitary habits lead him to a disconnection with society. When disaster falls he feels duty bound to rebuild, but why would he rebuild something that essentially failed him in the first place? Add to that xenophobia and racism, a surrogate father figure with his own intrigues, a platonic love interest and a brother-figure who is just as confused as the protagonist, serve with a side salad of as much Freud as you think you can get away with.

A university friend of mine once told me that the secret of a good English essay was having as many euphemisms and Latin phrases for sexual organs as you could, without being crude or silly. Saying the main character's obsession with weaponry appears a tad sexually homophillic or autoerotic is in, saying that wandering round with a massive hammer makes him a total cock-jockey is out.

fiddlesticks
07-09-2012, 08:34 PM
There's also the part in Fallout 2 where you end up fighting the Enclave because they literally plan to kill every human being on the planet. That sounds pretty final to me.

I don't think it only applies to RPGs though. Survival is a powerful motivator so fighting death (literally and figuratively) happens in a lot of games.

Casimir Effect
07-09-2012, 08:54 PM
Frankly, thank god for that. Am I the only one who's kind of sick of the "YOURE THE HUMANITY'S LAST HOPE" in practically every single game :| actually being a nobody or a grunt feels somewhat... refreshing.

Right there with you. I'm so tired of always having to save the world/land/region, which makes most JRPG plots annoying. I much prefer more personal stories with a less cataclysmic bent, like The Witcher 2 or Torment.

Dr.Honeyslut
07-09-2012, 10:53 PM
I've never played it, but The Path might be worth considering.

SouperSteve0
08-09-2012, 02:07 AM
I don't know how much of leeway I have in using gameplay mechanics as additions to story. I think I could pull some off, such as the way the portagonist does X or whatever, but missle command definitely wouldn't fly. That just seems like I'm completely bull shitting it. Only some of an essay should be bs, not all of it.

I think stories that stray away from standard rpg fare are much more interesting to analyze and to read about. My professor will probably be getting tons of Zelda papers and rpg papers anyways, can't hurt to actually have my prof enjoy the paper.

Mohorovicic
08-09-2012, 08:37 AM
There's also the part in Fallout 2 where you end up fighting the Enclave because they literally plan to kill every human being on the planet. That sounds pretty final to me.

Now now, it was only the North America.

Voon
08-09-2012, 08:44 AM
We'll never know. Maybe they do plan to do that to everyone unless they're "pure" like them

b0rsuk
08-09-2012, 09:55 AM
Games are fundamentally not about story. The better a story in a game, the less game in it. Quite the opposite - a game is something that makes a story. For example "I got the short end of the stick during the Exploration phase. It turned out my part of the universe is completely isolated from the rest. However, I grabbed the elusive Wormhole Generator tech and what looked like a backwater solar system turned out to be an impenetrable fortress ! I was able to attack other players without the fear of retaliation, and save money on defenses."

To make story and immersion better, developers often sacrifice interaction and decision making, and player freedom, fundamental parts of a game. A graphic novel (Choose Your Own Adventure) might be called a game, too. You might find an piece of software that contains a good story - but will it still be a game ?

Mohorovicic
08-09-2012, 10:01 AM
Thank you Captain Obvious.

ado
08-09-2012, 01:19 PM
Thank you Captain Obvious.

Better to be obvious than completely useless.

But yea I agree with the notion that story is secondary in games. If the fucker plays great then it matters little how shit the story is.

DaftPunk
08-09-2012, 02:01 PM
I got perfect series for you op,MGS :p haha

deano2099
08-09-2012, 02:17 PM
Games can be about story, and they're still completely valid as games. Especially as there are games that tell stories that could only be told in that medium. Taking a dogmatic view that 'games are never about story' is silly. In the same way there are films that are about story, and there are films that are about cinematography, and films about spectacle. There are amazing books with awful stories but brilliantly nuanced writing, and vice-versa.

Hypernetic
08-09-2012, 04:49 PM
I got perfect series for you op,MGS :p haha

Yeah, but one sheet of paper with the word "nano-machines" in the center of it wouldn't make for a very good paper.

r3dknight
08-09-2012, 05:45 PM
We do not talk about F3.

Hear hear. I only know we detonate a city within minutes of entering the wasteland, just because some dude in a fedora tells us to and pays us a thousand caps.

Lives are cheap.

Koobazaur
08-09-2012, 06:26 PM
A fellow poster from Through The Looking Glass Forums (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/forum.php) Aerothorn has recently finished his book you may find relevant - A Mind Forever Voyaging: A History of Storytelling in Video Games (http://books.google.com/books/about/A_Mind_Forever_Voyaging.html?id=f5RetwAACAAJ). It's not published yet I think, but if you search around I think he may have put an online copy or snippets somewhere? In any case, some of his threads that asked basically what you are asking for you may find useful:

Historically Important Game Narratives (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=132584)
A History of Narrative in Video Games (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=132053)

Hope this is helpful!

Fanbuoy
08-09-2012, 10:55 PM
A fellow poster from Through The Looking Glass Forums (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/forum.php) Aerothorn has recently finished his book you may find relevant - A Mind Forever Voyaging: A History of Storytelling in Video Games (http://books.google.com/books/about/A_Mind_Forever_Voyaging.html?id=f5RetwAACAAJ). It's not published yet I think, but if you search around I think he may have put an online copy or snippets somewhere? In any case, some of his threads that asked basically what you are asking for you may find useful:

Historically Important Game Narratives (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=132584)
A History of Narrative in Video Games (http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?t=132053)

Hope this is helpful!

Wow, that was some great reading! Thanks!

Hensler
09-09-2012, 12:14 AM
Hear hear. I only know we detonate a city within minutes of entering the wasteland, just because some dude in a fedora tells us to and pays us a thousand caps.

Lives are cheap.

Only if you choose to.

Voon
09-09-2012, 08:17 AM
Hear hear. I only know we detonate a city within minutes of entering the wasteland, just because some dude in a fedora tells us to and pays us a thousand caps.

Lives are cheap.

And I can't see why that the person paying us couldn't do that himself, considering nobody would ever fucking notice you or anybody planting the bomb on to that err... bomb.

Ritashi
10-09-2012, 09:49 AM
To continue the side-debate that's been running, I think that it's very clear that games can be a storytelling medium. Games can tell you a story while you're playing them, and in such a way that you could not get the same experience from simply watching a movie or reading a book. Portal is often cited as an example of this. However, I think that games are far less of a storytelling medium than they are a story creation medium. You'll notice that when people talk about stories in games that are really unique to games, they are usually phrased as a story that you are then telling to someone else. Your particular story, the story that comes from you personally playing the game, is a unique creation. You can tell it to someone else, but in the moment of playing it for the first time you were the one to actually create that story. You created the story by playing the game. Had you not played the game, that story would never have existed. Hell, why do you think Let's Plays exist? Because people want to watch the stories that people have created. That is drastically different from the way we understand other storytelling mediums, such as literature and films, to function. Watching a movie or reading a book does not create a new story; you might interpret something differently, and it might impact you differently, but the story is the same. Every truly interactive game causes these stories to be created. It is vital when examining video game stories that we do not attempt to treat them like novels or films, because they are not like those mediums. Instead of examining the story that a game ostensibly tells (by which we mean those aspects which are shared by all, or many, of the stories that players create while playing the game), we should examine the stories that the game allows us to create. We cannot talk about a singular story of a game without losing everything that makes it a game as opposed to a film or book.

To the OP: I don't have a game recommendation for you, but I do have a recommended approach. Don't just look at the basic "story" of a game. Games go so much deeper than that. Instead, write either about a particular story or set of stories that you created by playing the game, or that you saw other people create (via watching Let's Plays or such). When you play the game in question, look for those stories. Look for the themes you find in the stories presented by the game in the process of being played. I said I didn't have any game recommendations, but I actually just thought of one. Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I've never played it through completely, so I don't know how much depth you can find within it, but I do know that it forces you to create your own stories in interesting ways. You'll find yourself running in fright from monsters you know, rationally, aren't there. You'll want to sit in the shadows, but do so for too long and your sanity will slip. You'll start seeing things that aren't there, hearing things, even having seizures. So you'll force yourself to stay in the light, even though you know it leaves you exposed. You'll long for the darkness even as you fear it. Your particular story, the rooms you explore, the mysteries you uncover as you begin to understand what is happening to you, the times you hid from nothing, too paralyzed by fear to even go out and check; that story very well might have some literary significance. It is an amazing horror game, worth playing even if you don't write on it.

Also, I should note that your professor probably doesn't care about anything I've written. Your professor probably doesn't understand that games are not just glorified movies, and he probably wants you to write about them in the same way you would a book. In that case, good luck, because you'll be hard-pressed to find a game that can stand up to a half-decent book in terms of the depth and meaning of the story on that level. You might want to check out Alan Wake though; although I've never played the game and by most accounts neither gameplay nor story was that great, it has amazing promise as a really interesting story. I know this because my only direct exposure to it has been from a crossover fanfic (with My Little Pony, oddly enough) which was absolutely brilliant, continuing on after the end of the story of the game and using the mechanics introduced by the game's story to great effect.

Mohorovicic
10-09-2012, 10:26 AM
And I can't see why that the person paying us couldn't do that himself, considering nobody would ever fucking notice you or anybody planting the bomb on to that err... bomb.

The real question is why the fuck would you build a town around an unexploded nuclear bomb. Or, if the town was there when the bomb fell, why wouldn't you go very, very far away very, very quickly.

BillButNotBen
10-09-2012, 12:29 PM
If they haven't been mentioned already, then
- PoP: Sands of Time has a nice structure that you could analyse.
- Braid: Everyone has analysed it already.
- Bioshock: it's already an analysis of a book's story.

It kind of depends on whether you want to analyse a great story (then you're down to planescape), or you want to analyse the way a game tells a story (be it a good story or not). PoP's basic story is pretty generic, but the way it frames it is interesting and probably only could work in a game.

Nalano
10-09-2012, 12:50 PM
The real question is why the fuck would you build a town around an unexploded nuclear bomb. Or, if the town was there when the bomb fell, why wouldn't you go very, very far away very, very quickly.

See, this is why we don't talk about FO3.

BillButNotBen
10-09-2012, 02:12 PM
The real question is why the fuck would you build a town around an unexploded nuclear bomb. Or, if the town was there when the bomb fell, why wouldn't you go very, very far away very, very quickly.

Cos they were Rock 'Ard?


They were dangerous days - a businessman who happened to bear a close resemblance to Tegart was shot dead by separatist militants who mistook him for the detective they hated and feared.


He liked to keep a defused bomb on his desk as a paperweight - a reminder of the dangers he faced and the enemies he pursued.


When he threw it across the office one day in a fit of annoyance, it exploded - it hadn't been properly defused after all.
Tegart, it is reported, found the incident amusing. It's the way of history that we can't be sure that whoever else was around when he threw it took the same view.



http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19019949

Voon
10-09-2012, 03:30 PM
The real question is why the fuck would you build a town around an unexploded nuclear bomb. Or, if the town was there when the bomb fell, why wouldn't you go very, very far away very, very quickly.

Touche. But then again, it's probably just Bethesda trying to make cool shit while they threw sense out of the window, so yeah.

NathanH
10-09-2012, 03:37 PM
I'm not sure how you can play any Fallout game without first deactivating your bullshit detector.

Nalano
10-09-2012, 03:49 PM
I'm not sure how you can play any Fallout game without first deactivating your bullshit detector.

See, there's bullshit like two-headed cows and then there's bullshit like building a town around an unexploded bomb.

NathanH
10-09-2012, 03:58 PM
See, there's bullshit like two-headed cows and then there's bullshit like building a town around an unexploded bomb.

It makes perfect sense. Nobody is going to try to conquer your town because you'll just blow them up. Sure, it's mad, you'll die too, but you're living next to an unexploded bomb, you're clearly mad and can't be trusted to act rationally.

It's the same type of bullshit as the entire premise of the vault project, or the "I'm an evil mastermind!" <don't be silly> "fair point, I guess I'd better kill myself" conversations.

fiddlesticks
10-09-2012, 04:11 PM
Now now, it was only the North America.

You're right, there aren't. But we don't need them. We have a release system that will spray the F.E.V. toxin straight from the vats to the outside atmosphere. The jetstream will take care of the rest. Global saturation within two weeks.
The quote is somewhat ambigious, I admit, but to me it indicates that the FEV toxin would affect everyone in the world who had been exposed to radiation. Not that only killing off everyone in North America is any less evil, of course.

Nalano
10-09-2012, 04:22 PM
It's the same type of bullshit as the entire premise of the vault project, or the "I'm an evil mastermind!" <don't be silly> "fair point, I guess I'd better kill myself" conversations.

The vault project - ie vaults being used as social experiments - was a pisstake on 50s cold war scientific projects. As for convincing an AI to commit suicide, it was interesting in FO1 and stupid in FO3, largely on the quality of the writing.

YourMessageHere
14-09-2012, 11:08 PM
This is an interesting thing to have a class in. If it were me, I'd go at this in the opposite direction - not find whatever games have really good narratives and decide on one to analyse, but rather, ask what can be analysed most thoroughly, what has most critical mileage, and find something that fits that.

Me, I'd be pretty tempted to talk about stuff by Valve, specifically Half-Life or Portal games. After all, what we're talking about here is not dialogue, it's all the ways the game is crafted to tell the story. Perhaps more to the point, lots has been said about this, and if this is a University thing, it's all about the references; that's where the marks are.

However what I think I would do is talk about GTA (and maybe other Rockstar games), and how their form of storytelling is tied to a movie-based interpretation of narrative. I could talk about iconic, ostensibly realistic city settings used both as a hook by promising to let players explore them and as a setting for missions; about use of pre-existing genre to leverage audience expectations; about how mission structure and story in GTA games is entirely linear and totally at odds with the free-roaming world; about how the tendency of films to relocate in sequels is mirrored in gradually opening playing areas; about how the game uses and mixes humour and violence in a way probably derived from Action Comedy films, but since both are there at the same time, it can take on a rather more flippant and sociopathic tone. There's loads to say about narrative relative to GTA.

Plus, I could compare and contrast GTA games with loads of other stuff - and remember, nobody said you had to be positive, just sufficiently analytic and insightful to make a point well. For example you could say how the success of GTA games, and in particular their narrative style, has affected games generally and the perception of game narrative in particular, meaning game narrative has come to resemble film narrative quite closely despite the medium perhaps being better suited to other, more open conceptions of how to tell a story. And of course you could contrast the GTAs with actual movie tie-ins and talk about the difference between being 'like a movie' and being 'movie-like', or you could contrast them with other open-world games that aren't so married to making the game like a film, like Crackdown (basically freeform, I believe) or SR3 (no pretense of seriousness or realism at all, basically more like a dream than a film).

Drinking with Skeletons
14-09-2012, 11:57 PM
Y'know, I think Red Dead Redemption is a great example of this, especially since you can easily extend the critique to include how the gameplay supports or undermines the thematic content (I think it undermines it, myself).

I'd also say you could use it to examine the concept of the unreliable narrator (compare John Marston's view of his past and himself in general with what you can pick up from other characters) as well as some themes regarding fathers and sons.

If you have a 360 or PS3, it's worth looking into.

postinternetsyndrome
15-09-2012, 12:03 AM
Don't know if Dear Esther's been mentioned yet, but there's probably something you could write about that and it's randomized narrative that was created explicitly not to make sense.

Mohorovicic
15-09-2012, 06:14 AM
It makes perfect sense. Nobody is going to try to conquer your town because you'll just blow them up.

Who was talking what about bullshit detector?

RakeShark
15-09-2012, 10:18 AM
Nuclear doomsday deterrence only works when you have a dead-man's switch. Megaton was indeed sitting on a bomb, but they weren't using it in such a way for deterrence and defense. It was just sitting there, and no-one had a clue as what to do about it. Till a vault-suited vagrant comes along with a 30 mechanic skill and arms the damn thing in plain sight, while the worshipers just kneel there and pray to their wish-fulfillment.

I also agree with Nalano as far as the computer suicide in FO3, but not for the same reason. When Malcolm Motherfucking McDowell is your villian, Malcolm Motherfucking McDowell deserves a glorious death worthy of Malcolm Motherfucking McDowell.

Mohorovicic
15-09-2012, 04:06 PM
Till a vault-suited vagrant comes along with a 30 mechanic skill

25.

But then he puts on an engineering suit and it makes him pro enough to rig a nuclear bomb