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  1. #221
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    That was probably a bad example but I'll try to explain. The issue I have with game like Mass Effect is that they are transparently a linear narrative with limited gameplay inserted between the expositions, which to me is a pretty pointless game. At least the System Shock method actually integrates the narrative with the game-play in a more coherent manner, even requiring a level of detective work.
    'Detective work' being pressing the exposition button on the audio logs?
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  2. #222
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    And just to be clear, this is the bit in the OP that I agree with wholeheartedly:

    I don't see the need to entirely do away with text (or exposition), but the issue is both the quality of the stories/writing and the total lack in imagination in how they're told (generally). My comment about going and reading a book isn't just to say that the story could be told better in book format (though it quite possibly could), but that you could go and read a good book instead of the tripe that passes as story in most games.

    3 posts. I think I might have got carried away there :)
    I could also read a tripe book. I've read lots of them. You can critique the general state of games and I can critique the general state of fiction until we're out of breath. Dismissing attempts to tell meaningful story in games because you perceive past attempts to be failed is an utterly boring way to treat the medium and probably problematic in some other ways, too.

    In the very words you quoted: "We can tell stories through entirely interactive ways, with no text." Did the guy who said that not listen to himself? Story in games isn't just the things you exposit and write down. It's told by actions and mechanics and gameplay--some of which can be explicitly narrative in nature. Often, story-telling through play is augmented with story-telling through exposition, cut-scenes and what-have-you ... but their existence does nothing to discount either a game's credible game-ness nor it's attempts to tell story through play.

    I'm also curious; why is "linear story" problematic in Mass Effect (quality of the fiction aside; I'm speaking structurally)? Or ever for that matter? It is the most common sort of story and can be quite compelling.
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  3. #223
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    'Detective work' being pressing the exposition button on the audio logs?
    Finding the logs, I suppose?
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  4. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    But wouldn't both of those be better categorised as Interactive Fiction or a Visual Novel. What exactly makes them game-like?

    If a game tells a worthwhile story in a way that is is genuinely not possible in another medium then I think that is fantastic! But it is not representative of the current state of game stroy-telling.
    You could call them something else, doesn't really matter. There's other examples like 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors which clearly have heavy game elements. And something like the story-telling system in Don't take it personally... could easily be grafted on to a Persona game.

    You're right, there's not many games that do this sort of interesting stuff, and the ones that do are so focussed on story they often do that to the exclusion of anything else. But you could easily link those story-telling mechanics with more 'gamey' mechanics. Say the logs you find in Analogue could easily be dotted around rooms in an FPS, Bioshock-style, than just clicked from a screen. Yet still interlink in the same ways.

    But the originally linked post and some of the posters here are dismissing the idea of even exploring these avenues, because it's 'not what games do best'.

  5. #225
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    Finding the logs, I suppose?
    Still, hardly 'detective work' really.
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  6. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Still, hardly 'detective work' really.
    Agreed. That was more a suggestion on how it could be improved than how it actually works.

    I'm also curious; why is "linear story" problematic in Mass Effect (quality of the fiction aside; I'm speaking structurally)? Or ever for that matter? It is the most common sort of story and can be quite compelling.
    Because IMO while linear story works well in non-interactive media the fact that the player has the illusion of agency ruins what makes it compelling in those mediums. No longer is the viewer/reader an external observer of events happening to other people that they clearly cannot have an impact on, they are now supposed to be a pivotal character in the story but they don't actually have any control over what happens. Or at best very limited control. This completely ruins any involvement I have in the story (clearly others disagree about this though).

    I guess giving the player agency in a linear story might be analogous to breaking the fourth wall.
    Last edited by baboonanza; 05-12-2012 at 04:37 PM.

  7. #227
    Dan Pinchbeck summed it up the best when he said. It's a few hundred people discussing whether games can be a narrative, while 6 billion people look on and yawn. I've already played many games that have fantastic stories that embrace the medium, that couldn't be done through any lesser format. I'm guessing most of you have too otherwise you probably wouldn't be on this forum.

    He was also right when he said, don't compare us to films. Films are fucking awful, 90% of them are entirely generic and derivative, if games are in their infancy then great, because films are mature medium and the overwhelming majority of them are terrible. Whereas games are always innovating, even things that don't appear to be, such as Call of Duty.

  8. #228
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    Agreed. That was more a suggestion on how it could be improved than how it actually works.
    We already have puzzles in games.

    Because IMO while linear story works well in non-interactive media the fact that the player has the illusion of agency ruins what makes it compelling in those mediums. No longer is the viewer/reader an external observer of events happening to other people that they clearly cannot have an impact on, they are now supposed to be a pivotal character in the story but they don't actually have any control over what happens. Or at best very limited control. This completely ruins any involvement I have in the story (clearly others disagree about this though).
    How much agency do you really have as Gordon Freeman? Or in System shock 2? Even a sandbox game like Syrim has a fixed narrative.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
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  9. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    We already have puzzles in games.
    The idea in my head was a game where the story the player ends up with is based on the limited information they find in the environment, potentially causing different players to come up with very different versions of it. Something like a detective game. Anyway, only an idea.


    How much agency do you really have as Gordon Freeman? Or in System shock 2? Even a sandbox game like Syrim has a fixed narrative.
    Very little, but those games work because the gameplay is compelling not because the narrative is particularly interesting. I've never heard anyone say they played Skyrim (or even Half-Life) 'for the story'.

  10. #230
    Network Hub Namdrol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gwathdring View Post
    If so many more games, and so many more of the big-budget, big-selling games are not story focused, I'm scratching my head as to your belief that the game industry is so focused on story based games.

    Also, given how sketchy digital sales numbers are at present ...

    P.S. How are you deciding that a game is "about" gameplay?

    Additionally, by way of example: Half-Life 2 is very much a game about shooting things.

    But things like Mass Effect? Half-Life? These have ambiguous status as games to you? Please explain.
    I totally forgot about digital sales...opps.

    Thats right, the industry is focused on it. Looking at, for instance, Hitman: Absolution square has said that they want to make that franchise into a big Gears of War/COD thing, with big time sales. What that apparently involves is gutting the Hitman gameplay & marketing towards dullards who like shooting nuns and sending death threats to women with small boobs and hairy legs. http://www.gamesindustry.biz/article...otches-the-job

    Here is how Skyrim was seen by Bethesdahttp://www.gamesindustry.biz/article...-the-marketing:
    The Skyrim team also saw their basic mission as expanding the potential audience. They felt that Skyrim's weakness was being a single-player fantasy roleplaying game. First, all the best-selling games lately seem to be multiplayer games, so how could Skyrim compete with that?...

    Second, they worried that fantasy might be seen as too strange or weird for Call of Duty players. Pete Hines, VP of PR and Marketing for Bethesda Softworks, noted that they decided to focus on the aspects of the character that were independent of the genre, his heroic nature and the gritty, realistic tone underlying the story. The game really had a modern, cinematic take on fantasy, and that's what they felt the marketing campaign had to transmit to the consumers.
    Let that sink in: Skyrim's weakness is that it is a snigle player fantasy game.

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    “By the way, the videogame white male with short dark hair/eyes/stubble isn’t used to emulate an ideal, it’s chosen to cause minimal offense,” said Sawyer on Twitter. “It’s the Toyota design method applied to characters, elevating compromise to a goal. most people saying ‘well i don’t hate it’ = good.

    “To be clear, characters don’t usually start out that way. Devs try to make unique characters and get worn down by frowny faces. And the designs get trimmed and molded back into the same guy you’ve seen 10,000x before. Everyone shrugs and that’s considered success.”
    It is about a way of making games that is focused on broad appeal and not doing anything to turn the vast majority of players off. And because most people don't like frustration, don't like losing, don't like learning...in short most people don't like games. And since the whole raison d'etre for corporations is to sell as much stuff to as many people as they can, they are going to focus on mass appeal gameplay.

    As for how I am deciding a game is about gameplay, I don't have any real rubric. It just seems self evident that The Sims, Minecraft, Starcraft, Diablo, etc are gameplay based. Whereas things like Uncharted, etc are story based.

    As for Half-life, I couldnt finish those. Mass Effect? I only played 1&2, and the gameplay was terribad. The selling point of those games was "you are the hero in an epic story and only you can save the whole universe from Charlie Sheen's dad and the evil Bug Monsters from Space!." So, it was pretty much a choose your own adventure with very little choice. That can still be fun or whatever like with the Walking Dead, but I really cannot see any good gameplay in Mass Effect. obviously, ymmv.

    edit: I was just thinking about what I enjoyed the most in GTAIV. it was the driving and the flying, they did a good job with that. What did they change for the gtaiv dlc? what did people complain about the most? Driving. I'm 99% sure GTAV will have more of a saints row 3 type driving, cuz you know people don't actually like losing, learning, mastering, etc.

    edit #2: and I just wanted to re-emphasized that 'story telling in games is worthless' as it relates to actual gameplay. As far as making money and giving a lot of videogame players fun, it is valuable.
    Last edited by Namdrol; 05-12-2012 at 06:54 PM.

  11. #231
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    It seems self evident to you that people enjoy the Sims because of the gameplay not the story. But what is the gameplay of the Sims? Is it pushing buttons? Is it micro-managing the lives of a bunch of simulated humans? Is it observing and influencing the stories of a collection of characters? All of the above? Something else?

    What is your reason for dismissing story as play? It's fine if you though Mass Effect was bad. How good an experience it was is a different issue than whether or not it was more or less of a game. You maintain that story is inherently un-gamey and that gameplay is somehow clearly distinct from story. I would appreciate a better explanation of why you feel this is a reasonable assertion when in games like Mass Effect a major mechanical part of the game is the clicking of conversation options and the manipulation of the high-level story through conversational options. Perhaps it is very bad at doing this, but it's still doing it. Perhaps it's a choose your own adventure with third-person shooting and some character advancement mechanics--that makes it a choose your own adventure game rather than a choose your own adventure movie on account of it making use of the fundamental tropes of games.

    I'm at a complete loss here. Even ignoring games like Mass Effect, story can be told entirely through mechanical interaction. The Sims is a good example--there's no planned narrative, but you craft a story as you play and a lot of players really enjoy the Sims for the stories it gives them to tell. A lot of people enjoy the episodic experience of play rather than just the rough mechanics of play. Think about how much of the community is dedicated to found adventures, to swapping stories about game experiences. That's story. Sure, a lot of it is also dedicated to "pure" mechanics. To shooting better and shooting faster. But these sides of gaming coexist; it would be foolish to ignore either of them as part of some crusade against the putrification of games through narrative emphasis.

    Finally, let's look at Minecraft again. What is the gameplay of Minecraft? Is it placing blocks? Digging blocks? Crafting things? Tinkering with the sandbox? Exploring? Experiencing? Accomplishing grand designs? What is the fundamental Minecraft experience and what makes you certain it is devoid of story-telling, or more fundamentally mechanical than fictional? In a game with few pre-set goals, what drives player achievement? You aren't mechanically rewarded for building a massive pyramid of glass. You aren't mechanically rewarded for anything except hoarding items, crafting items, and killing things ... but that's not what Minecraft is most well known for as far as I can tell. It seems to be known for the building and the exploring and the freedom. Again, in such context ... what makes up the play and how are you so certain story has nothing to do with it?

    Look at any game you think is too story focused, and any game you think is utterly locked into gameplay focus. Then ask yourself what is play in that game. What the player does. What players (not just yourself) find fun and engaging about the experience. How you are allowed to interact. Whether or not non-mechanical elements indirectly affect player actions and to what extent. Be especially careful about what you consider non-mechanical--conversations are mechanical in Mass Effect; you can call them awful and boring and false choices all day, but they are fundamentally connected to the mechanical design of Mass Effect. Keep coming back to that. What is play in this game? I think you'll find that fictional involvement, narrative, story-telling, emotional and sensory experience (the sorts of things often belittled in games that go to the extremes of CoD) are fundamentally connected to play in games traditionally considered less linear or more mechanical or more "game"-like.
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  12. #232
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by baboonanza View Post
    Very little, but those games work because the gameplay is compelling not because the narrative is particularly interesting. I've never heard anyone say they played Skyrim (or even Half-Life) 'for the story'.
    I haven't heard many people say they play Skyrim for the plot, but I've heard a lot of people say they play Skyrim for the stories. For all the little adventures and weird situations they get into. Whether they're private or shared with gamer friends, or shared with anyone who'll listen a lot of Skyrim players collect stories and value them heavily.
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

    You ruined his point by putting it in context thatís cheating -bull0

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    I agree with this guy. The only DEV with the balls to come out and say that the quality of story-writing in games is beyond bad. You can find better fiction on fan-fic forums...

  14. #234
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    1) You can't lose The Sims.

    2) You can't lose Minecraft.

    3) The appeal of Starcraft, along with all other multiplayer games, are the other players. A victory is sweet because you beat somebody. A loss stings because somebody beat you.

    4) If you're pulling out white male protagonists as good forward-thinking design, you're really arguing against your own point. If you're listing Bethesda's marketing department leading their design mantra, you're really arguing against Bethesda.
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  15. #235
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post

    4) If you're pulling out white male protagonists as good forward-thinking design, you're really arguing against your own point. If you're listing Bethesda's marketing department leading their design mantra, you're really arguing against Bethesda.
    Would you settle for a black male protagonist associated with being "gangsta"? That's pretty forward right? RIGHT??

  16. #236
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jesus_Phish View Post
    Would you settle for a black male protagonist associated with being "gangsta"? That's pretty forward right? RIGHT??
    I'd prefer the right protagonist for the story they're trying to tell. I remember Prey, which on the whole was quite hokey, but at least the dude's identity was an integral part of the game.

    Either way, however, relying on stereotypes or tropes is the other side of the same coin. They pick relatively non-descript white dudes in games where you have an option because they're seen as "default," devoid of identity, which implies that every other option is defined by its demographic. As such, all Black men are gangsters, all Black women are sassy, et cetera. In this format, nerdy Black women would be seen not as independent characters, but as inversions of their tropes.

    Point being, it's that point of view which destroys characterization, and that point of view is thus the problem.
    Last edited by Nalano; 06-12-2012 at 12:02 AM.
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  17. #237
    Network Hub Namdrol's Avatar
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    @gwathdring

    -Never played the sims, so I'm just guessing.

    -Story is play, but it isnít gameplay. (see below)

    -Mass Effect is a game, but the story part is faux gameplay because it already has been written, the outcomes are known. Yes, itís true the customer doesn't know, and he/she might feel like they have real agency, but they donít.

    -Why is minecraft a game? Well, this is what I think a game is:
    • Must be fun (unquantifiable) otherwise it is work
    • Must have rules and structure
    • Outcome must be unkown
    • player has real agency, i.e. affects outcome
    • Must have challenge and/or conflict and/or goal, this does not have to be part of the rules, player(s) can create their own within the rules and structure of the game


    Minecraft qualifies. This is just my definition though. I suspect yourís is different.

    -Play? Iím not sure why you use this word, but play is different than gameplay. Play (to me) is any recreational fun activity. Sure ME is play, as is singing karoke, or dancing, or eating nachos with friends. Games are play, but play is not necessarily a game.

    @Nalano
    1) ?
    2) ?
    3) ?
    4) ????

  18. #238
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by namdrol View Post
    @nalano
    1) ?
    2) ?
    3) ?
    4) ????
    1), 2), 3)

    Quote Originally Posted by namdrol View Post
    it is about a way of making games that is focused on broad appeal and not doing anything to turn the vast majority of players off. And because most people don't like frustration, don't like losing, don't like learning...in short most people don't like games.

    [...]

    as for how i am deciding a game is about gameplay, i don't have any real rubric. It just seems self evident that the sims, minecraft, starcraft, diablo, etc are gameplay based.
    4)

    Quote Originally Posted by namdrol View Post
    let that sink in: Skyrim's weakness is that it is a single player fantasy game.

    j.sawyer on why all heros look the same: [...]
    You speak of wanting to maximize the gameplay aspect but marginalize story. That's Bethesda in a nutshell. Nobody gives a flying fuck about the story in Skyrim, because it's that bad, and Bethesda knows it. Their answer? Double down on the mediocrity and hope that multiplayer gives their game a much-needed narrative shot in the arm.



    You can rehash the age-old argument that started when Will Wright showed up on the scene, and people called his games "toys" instead of games. Who the fuck cares?
    Last edited by Nalano; 06-12-2012 at 12:26 AM.
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  19. #239
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Namdrol View Post
    -Never played the sims, so I'm just guessing.
    How about 'not guessing' about a game you've never played and presenting it as an argument in future then? Sims is pretty much zip about game play as there's no win condition (as rightly pointed out by Nalano) it is all about generating your own interactive narrative. You make your Sims and you control their actions (though they possess the ability to operate autonomously if you just want to watch what they get up to unsupervised) . What you don't control is the actions of NPC AI in the game world and opportunity events that may arise as a result of your Sims social associations.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 06-12-2012 at 02:25 AM.
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  20. #240
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    The outcome must be unkown for it to be a game? Is it not a game the second time you play simply because you know all the enemy positions and how all the weapons work

    "player has real agency, i.e. affects outcome"

    Hmm. But do you affect the outcome of Minecraft? I mean ... you feel different, sure. But does the game care if you built a scale replica of the Acropolis, a giant phallus or nothing at all? Similarly, think about how a player alters the outcome of games like Breakout, Tetris, Pacman and Mario. These are not story-centric games. But does the player ever get to dramatically change the outcome of events other than Win/Lose, Die/Not Die, Collect All The Stuff/Collect Some of the Stuff? Because if those sorts of affects count as "real agency" then there's plenty of that to go around in story-centric RPGs as well as Guns+Conversation games like Mass Effect and Alpha Protocol.

    As for your comments about play and gameplay, I've been using the words interchangeably in this context. I meant to considering those things I called play part of gameplay. I don't see much point in bickering about the finer details of play versus gameplay because if we're defining an entire medium based at that sort of fine resolution we're going to run into a lot of problems. Broad categories like "game" should have fairly granular measures in my mind and distinguishing between play-that-isn't-gameplay-even-though-it's-in-the-context-of-a-game and gameplay doesn't strike me as granular enough for the scale of your statements (gameplay is more important than narrative, gameplay is the most essential element of games, etc). If I can point out a sizeable number of titles that are nearly universally accepted as games that are founded on concepts and styles of play that mismatch with your requirements for something being a game or play being gameplay ... there's probably something wrong with your definitions.

    If it looks like other things called games and it shares core conceits of things called games that are considered unique to games and it's sold as a game and it's made as a game and it's bought as a game ... what else is there?
    I think of [the Internet] as a grisly raw steak laid out on a porcelain benchtop in the sun, covered in chocolate hazelnut sauce. In the background plays Stardustís Music Sounds Better With You. Thereís lots of fog. --tomeoftom

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