For me, good writing is good writing is good writing. I don't really care how it's delivered so long as it makes me interested. I can watch cut-scenes, read journals, listen to conversations/audio logs, have it conveyed though the personality of an NPC, whatever, if the content is good then I don't care how I get it, I'm just glad that I am.
For me a lot of the problems in games arise from the gameplay not fitting the exposition rather than the other way round to be honest. The usual complaint is that the narrative detracts from the "game", "I want a game, not a story" etc, but the games we play have barely evolved in terms of what you do-shoot people, jump on things, drive cars, talk to people, direct little men around. In isolation most games feel to me like they did about 15 years ago merely in terms of how they play. New genres, such as we hoped would be heralded by the likes of Bloodlines, have not really been forthcoming at all.
It's the context around why you do things and how this is realised that has struck me this year in my personal gaming. I've played SR3, Bioshock, Psychonauts, Trine, the Witcher 2, XCOM all for the first time this year and it's their attempt to communicate ideas which has really been what's struck me about them rather than their bare mechanics. Or rather, how well this communication has helped to turn the gameplay into far more than the sum of it's parts. It doesn't have to be communicated through graphics either, any element of gameplay can be used for it, but without those ideas they would be very boring.
I have always played games to see my fantasies realised, rather for pure gamey fun, and in that sense things are very healthy in gaming just now as far as I'm concerned, and as a medium for this it's unmatched.
This is reminding me of the thread on Deus Ex: HR that ended up being certain people arguing that the absence of good writing/characters was in fact evidence of good storytelling. I should get out of here before I get sucked in!
PS: Dishonored had a terrible story and average(at best) writing, still an enjoyable and good game.
Disregard my previous post, I just discovered that you DO get acknowledged for acomplishing a certain mission no-kill style. Sorry, Dishonored.
And I just did a mission which is pretty much Life of the Party, so why complain.
I wouldn't say the writing is terrible, because a lot of backstory and subplots were written that flesh out the world if you just pay attention.
The dialogue, however, was terrible. It was not helped by almost all characters having plastic faces- in fact, the only character I ever saw show facial emotion was Emily.
I gotta say that I'm nearing the end of the game and my opinion has greatly improved.
For me, the criticism "bad writing" is like "immersion-breaking": it's usually a non-term to try to make the opinion "didn't really like it" appear more objective.
Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.
So I finished the game with a low chaos rating and I liked how the game mentions the fates of different charachters according to how you interacted with them. Still I find it hard to see how 'saving the queen' is suppose to solve the problems of Dunwall, since it's the monarchy that's on top of the system of opression. Corvo should have joined the Republican faction, instead of the Loyalists :)
This Escapist article on Dishonored's writing in relation to what 18th and 19th century English gentlement thought of honour is a must-read. If nothing else, you will learn something. He says that although the pistol duel as depicted in the game is extremely uncharacteristic of gentleman culture, how Corvo is treated by the Loyalist is actually very apt for a man who is dishonoured. If the developers did incorporate these relations intentionally, that's damned impressive.
This Critical Intel column is the best thing to appear on the Escapist since Extra Credits.