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  1. #1
    Network Hub Namdrol's Avatar
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    Dev Shawn McGrath Lays Down Some Smack: storytelling in games is worthless

    SM: Mass Effect attempted it, and people praise it. Itís horrible. Itís horrible because the choices that you make are so meaningless and people say, ďOh, but itís getting to a point where the whole galaxy is going to change based on your decisions,Ē and I say, no, thatís impossible, thatís an NP-hard problem, thatís a computer science problem where ďthat problem is not computable.Ē


    Itís just a waste of time. Iíve read a lot of science fiction. The science fiction in Mass Effect is not something I would consider even passable for a high school paper. Itís horrible. But if you put in a game then itís praised for being so great. Itís especially so because in the context of video games, stories are fucking awful.


    So attempting that is a worthless endeavor. Games are really fucking awesome. We can tell stories through entirely interactive ways, with no text.


    Q: The fact that games are bigger than movies and books these days Ė as far as the breadth of content Ė what do you propose to change it, or provide as an alternative?


    SM: Oh, I donít give a shit. Thatís a stupid number. Itís a meaningless metric. It means large corporations have made a whole bunch of money. That reflects nothing on the actual art form. Zero.
    My kinda guy...

  2. #2
    I don't see how some guys opinion on what constitutes good science fiction is relevant in general. Especially if all that guy's got to his name is an upcoming PSN arcade game Dyad.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus b0rsuk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gray Guardian View Post
    I don't see how some guys opinion on what constitutes good science fiction is relevant in general. Especially if all that guy's got to his name is an upcoming PSN arcade game Dyad.
    It's relevant because I agree with him. That should be enough. He could be anybody, a personal attack won't make his points more or less relevant. It tells more about you than him.

    A good game makes a story, not the other way around. Everywhere outside computer "games", you'll be treated like an idiot for suggesting games are for storytelling. Try to tell a story during a football match. Even Game Masters in pen&paper RPG games - which have many similarities to telling a story - know that it's futile and ultimately harmful to force a story on players. A good GM should be able to take the story off the track if it makes sense, if players decide to try something interesting but unexpected.

    Don't confuse entertainment software with games. Sim City is not a game - not according to its own creator. He offers a ball as a comparison. A ball is not a game. You can do many things with it, but you need to set your own goals. Only then it becomes a game. Minecraft is not a game, not any more than LEGO is. LEGO is not terrible and neither is Minecraft, but they're not games.

    And don't mess with Science Fiction. The term has science in it, meaning there's an expectation of rigour, methodology, and honesty. It has to be plausible. If you want to set a story in the future because you like lasers, explosions and cool effects - and you keep inventing things like wormholes to get pesky physics and distances out of the way - don't call it Science Fiction. Science Fiction is not for people who dislike science. Call it Space Opera, or, if you prefer a more neutral term - futuristic. Both of these terms are widely recognized so you don't lose anything.
    pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by b0rsuk View Post
    A good game makes a story, not the other way around. Everywhere outside computer "games", you'll be treated like an idiot for suggesting games are for storytelling. Try to tell a story during a football match.
    A good game can make a story, but you can do it the other way around too. A good football match generally does have a narrative to it. Indeed, from what I've seen, the most 'exciting' football matches are those with strong narratives. The 'boring' ones are those without one. Sure, in that case, sport creates story. But there's nothing intrinsically wrong with doing it the other way round. Friday Night Lights is terrific and uses the mechanics of American Football to create certain dramatic moments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    It's easy. Games are games.
    Fair enough. Would you also argue that dance is dance, and therefore any dances that attempt to tell a story are equally stupid? Likewise music is music, so narrative in music is dumb? And painted art is art, so telling a story through that is silly? And don't even think about putting a bunch of illustrations together and calling them a comic book and pretending that has a story, because we're only there to look at the pretty pictures right?

    And hell, why do books get away with special treatment? Prose is prose right? We're there for the elegance of semantic construction, the beauty of a well-formed paragraph, the evocative descriptions and the smart, witty dialogue. Don't go putting a fucking story in it! That's ruining the purity of the written word! If you want a story get someone to tell you one! Books are for pretty combinations of words!

  5. #5
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    His reasoning boils down to "I didn't like it, so nobody should try."

    He's full of shit.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    His reasoning boils down to "I didn't like it, so nobody should try."

    He's full of shit.
    That's what the reasoning of all reviews boil down to too, I liked it/I didn't. I agree with him though, the Mass Effect games are very mediocre titles with high production values and meaningless romance.

  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane View Post
    That's what the reasoning of all reviews boil down to too, I liked it/I didn't. I agree with him though, the Mass Effect games are very mediocre titles with high production values and meaningless romance.
    I don't give a shit that he didn't like it.

    I give a shit about the (il)logical leap between "I didn't like it" and "nobody should ever attempt this," because the only response to that is, "who died and made you King Asshole of Douchebagistan?"

    I liked Mass Effect. It was very moving for me. But even if I didn't, I can appreciate that they made a three-part game with an epic arc where things you did in the first two games were referenced repeatedly in the second two.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane View Post
    That's what the reasoning of all reviews boil down to too, I liked it/I didn't. I agree with him though, the Mass Effect games are very mediocre titles with high production values and meaningless romance.
    No, good reviews do more. Everyone can have some stupid opinion, but I value opinions that are well reasoned inifnitely more. I agree with the guy, but he hardly gave any reasoning behind his opinion, which makes his opinion immediately dismissable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    His reasoning boils down to "I didn't like it, so nobody should try."

    He's full of shit.
    This is a horrible misinterpretation of his logic. He does make the observation that all game stories are complete shit, but I don't think he'd be opposed to a good game story. I read him as suggesting that the industry shouldn't bother with that, though -- it should focus on doing what it does best: interactivity.

    From his perspective, which I think is the right one, a game company trying to implement a good story while preserving solid interactivity/gameplay is like a non-English speaker trying to write fiction. Possible, but not playing to strengths.

  10. #10
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgetownhoya View Post
    This is a horrible misinterpretation of his logic.
    It is very difficult to misinterpret "So attempting that is a worthless endeavor."

    And quite frankly I call into question his sci fi credentials, considering that sci fi was considered for a very long time - and in some places still is - to be incapable of being good literature.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    Additionally as Nalano said and SirDavis demonstrated, if you watch a trailer for a game and you can't figure out what it's about (lets say red dead redemption) then you're a moron. You must be assuming everyone is a moron.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    And Nalano said other people would fill in the blanks, not that'd you immediately recognize it as a game. The only moron is you sir.
    Did you just namedrop me on both sides of the argument?

    Da fuck, guys. Da fuck.
    Last edited by Nalano; 01-12-2012 at 09:13 PM.
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  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgetownhoya View Post
    This is a horrible misinterpretation of his logic. He does make the observation that all game stories are complete shit, but I don't think he'd be opposed to a good game story. I read him as suggesting that the industry shouldn't bother with that, though -- it should focus on doing what it does best: interactivity.
    Interactivity as the storytelling resulting from a response to a player action? So like there being choices presented to the player and the game responding to those choices? Interesting..because that just about sums up exactly what games do.
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  12. #12
    Network Hub Namdrol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by georgetownhoya View Post
    This is a horrible misinterpretation of his logic.
    welcome to the internet.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Small time dev makes stupid statement, gets attention.

    News at 11.

    Also this is beyond stupid

    Itís horrible because the choices that you make are so meaningless and people say, ďOh, but itís getting to a point where the whole galaxy is going to change based on your decisions,Ē and I say, no, thatís impossible, thatís an NP-hard problem, thatís a computer science problem where ďthat problem is not computable.Ē
    So the story is bad because the choices you make are meaningless? As opposed to the choices I get with most sci-fi books which are, continue to read or stop reading. Sure in the long run the choices are meaningless, but that alone doesn't make a story bad. Is the story in Deus Ex bad because my choices are meaningless? The Walking Dead? Bastion?
    Last edited by Jesus_Phish; 29-11-2012 at 01:14 PM.

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sabrage's Avatar
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    Oh, it's one of Phil Fish's friends.

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    And if you're going by what he says, I'm assuming you hate the Mass Effect story too? Granted, the ending was crap, but I really liked the way the whole "cure for the genophage" moved from the first game to the third.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathPig View Post
    And if you're going by what he says, I'm assuming you hate the Mass Effect story too? Granted, the ending was crap, but I really liked the way the whole "cure for the genophage" moved from the first game to the third.
    Yeah, the Genophage thread was the best thing about the ME series. It was legitimately good sci-fi. The reaper storyline notsomuch.

    I think this guy has a point but is overstating the case.

  17. #17
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    Full article: http://dorkshelf.com/2012/11/28/game...shawn-mcgrath/

    He has a point: that mixing interactive play with a linear narrative can be awkward. But he conveniently ignores the fact that other mediums have been doing non-linear narratives forever.

  18. #18
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    So the jist is, stories in games are crap except in my games because my games are new and don't follow a traditional format.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Who?

    10 char
    Why yes you're right I'm deliciously evil

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    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Rauten's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Who?

    10 char
    Exactly.

    10 char

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