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  1. #21
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    I think saying that a game story doesn't work because you can always reload and try again or try something different is like saying a story in a book doesn't work because you can always stop reading and never see the end. That doesn't really make sense to me. The narrative in a book isn't any less a story because you don't bother to read the whole thing.

    The issue is that game stories have quite a different dynamic to traditional stories. Lajos Egri, in his book The Art of Dramatic Writing, distils our ideas about theme, meaning and the moral of the story into one idea that he calls the 'premise'. Basically the premise (in Egri's terminology; not whatever else we might mean by the term 'premise') is a statement that the story is a process of demonstrating or proving. I spent a lot of time about a year ago sweating about how that applies to an interactive situation that might or might not demonstrate this statement. In the end, I realised that it doesn't. To me, the 'premise' of a game is not a statement, but a question, and the process of playing the game is a dialectic process by which the player can answer that question. It's true a lot of (all?) games don't capitalise on that, but I think not many people have even realised it yet. But in that sense, exploration of the story themes and those glimpses of alternative outcomes that are not part of the final actualised narrative (e.g. when you die, which isn't part of the 'real' story, rather than rescuing the princess, which is) are essential for contextualising and giving meaning to the path through the story.

    So the problem is that we judge game stories on the level of traditional stories, and we assume that anything that is not 'saved' into narrative memory (e.g. by reloading) is not part of the 'real' story. That makes sense in that that's what game stories by and large try to be, but we need to get away from that if game stories are to be what they should be.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tikey View Post
    Well, to be honest, I don't expect a KID being interested in the story in fallout. They're kids after all and Fallout games tend to be more mature in its content, that's why this article is missing the point, the only thing I get from it is that kids are still kids.
    Yeah. I usually like the guy's articles but this one was just pointless. It was made to look like it said something but no, pointless.

    It doesn't surprise me kids aren't interested in the Fallout or GTA story and just want to shoot shit. There are many many adults now that also only want that. I have both The Witcher 2 and Red Faction "blowing shit up just 'cause-geddon" installed and play them when i feel in the mood for either.

    So what does that have to do with anything? This had nothing to do with kids. Some people like FPS and some like strategy games. Some also like to mix things up just like almost nobody watches just one movie genre for example.

    All games aren't the same genre, they don't need to have a certain formula to them.

  3. #23
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    Being a Old School gamer, I disagree with the article.

    Things like savegames has made possible games like Morrowind.

    Being forced to play Ghost and Goblins or Morrowind, what game could give you a more deep and lasting experience? Morrowind.

    We don't need to see a "Game Over" screen every N seconds. I know this is bad for these people that want pure Challenge from games, but challenge is only of the zillions of things a game can give use. People that want challenge and only challenge sure can find his games.

  4. #24
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tei View Post
    We don't need to see a "Game Over" screen every N seconds. I know this is bad for these people that want pure Challenge from games, but challenge is only of the zillions of things a game can give use. People that want challenge and only challenge sure can find his games.
    Challenge is interesting, because it seems to be deeply polarising. "Challenge is great!" "No, challenge is shit!"

    I'd tend to agree with you that what's important about challenge is not whether it's good or bad, but whether it's essential or unnecessary. And that depends not only on the player, but also on the game itself.

  5. #25
    Activated Node Sproutmask's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alez View Post
    All games aren't the same genre, they don't need to have a certain formula to them.
    Absolutely. There's room in the world for different types of game that are enjoyable in different ways. I agree with Thegooseking that games can often be held back by either their approach to story and narrative, or the players' expectations. If I've understood Thegoose's point properly, something like Deus Ex would be an example, where in choosing from the different possible endings, the player is answering for themselves whether they believe that the technology of the gameworld will ultimately save or doom us.

    Player death is also, to me, something that provides an element of suspense akin to the more passive experience of watching a film or TV show or reading a book, not quite knowing if the "hero" will make it through to the end, and helps the player invest in the experienced by giving them something to lose. Of course there's much debate around how severe the penalty for death should be in a game - for some people, only the threat of roguelike permadeath provides enough of a thrill, where others would simply find this frustrating and unfun. Once again it's horses for courses - for example, I like World of Warcraft precisely because the consequences of a cock-up aren't exactly devastating and so I find the game relaxing at those times where I don't feel up to taking something less forgiving. Other times, that's not enough and I want the stakes higher.

    I suppose the problem for many games, especially AAA titles is that inevitably there is pressure to come down on the side of forgiving gameplay (low-stakes player death) and a more linear narrative that doesn't want to involve the player in a dialect with the story. It's the same risk-averse attitude that means that you don't get many big-budget films that are prepared to tackle a complex premise, or provide a downbeat ending (although Asian cinema is comendably different from Hollywood in this regard). The frustration for some players then, is that you very rarely see AAA production values married to a risky approach to the game - something like the Witcher games or Deus Ex would be the honourable exceptions here. And that certain genres or approaches become neglected or even abandoned altogether - witness the many debates about what an RPG may or may not be these days, or that 2K exec's half-baked comments about turn based games (and strategy games more broadly by implication).

    That's my current take on it, anyway.
    There is nothing more powerful than a bad idea who's time has come...

  6. #26
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tei
    I know this is bad for these people that want pure Challenge from games, but challenge is only of the zillions of things a game can give use. People that want challenge and only challenge sure can find his games.
    I also think some games use "challenge" as a crutch to extend lifespan, especially when they include random segments where the difficulty suddenly ramps up for no apparent reason and just as quickly drops down again. Some of the GTA games liked to use this technique. I can't agree with the people who think games should just be as ridiculously challenging as possible, completely unforgiving, unless they're supposed to be simulations in which case it's an entirely different story.

    Sure, there's a sense of achievement in completing a ridiculously hard game, but I don't think a game being "hard" qualifies it as a good game.

  7. #27
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus ColOfNature's Avatar
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    Super Meat Boy. As ridiculously challenging as possible, completely unforgiving, hardly a sim. I hate that game. I love that game. I defy anyone to say it's not a good game by any objective standard.


  8. #28
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    I think Super Meat Boy is a perfect example of a challenging game that is good.

    I have not pass from the first screen, so buying that game has ben 100% wasted money for me. but watching videos of other people playing I can appreciate a classic, probably one of the best game if not the best, of his genre.

  9. #29
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    I think one of the things that makes Super Meat Boy work as far as challenge goes is the purity of the challenge. It never pretends to be doing something other than presenting a challenge. In a sense, what's good about Super Meat Boy is not only its challenge, but its honesty.

    Dressing up challenge in some other clothing, though... I wouldn't say it doesn't work, but it only works so far. The classic example is the boss battle. Game developers seem to analogise the boss battle in games and the epic showdown in drama, and... it doesn't work like that. It doesn't work like that because the epic showdown isn't the greatest challenge the hero of a story has to face; the greatest challenge is the preparation for that moment. Game dynamics (at least in challenging games) require that the biggest challenge be at the end, while story dynamics require that the biggest challenge be closer to the end than the beginning, but not at the end (usually at the end of act 2 in a three-act structure). Challenge and dramatic tension can both work well in games, but conflating one with the other doesn't really work, and I'm not sure they work well together.
    Last edited by thegooseking; 16-07-2011 at 02:46 PM.

  10. #30
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    For me whether challenge or a steep learning curve is great or not has more to do with whether the mechanics of what you're doing are fun and rewarding in themselves. I'll quite happily spend my time figuring out something like Portal challenge maps for example, because what I'm doing along the way feels fun and even failure usually gives some indication on what I should be doing. Likewise I enjoy setting challenges for myself in games (stealthing the harbour assault map in Crysis for example) because I'm the one setting the challenge and not some douchebag game designer who's trying to get between me and my fun.

    Difficulty in the form of pixel-perfect jumping puzzles, bosses with zillions of HP and extreme timed reactions can go to hell as far as I'm concerned.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tei View Post
    Being forced to play Wizardry or Morrowind, what game could give you a more deep and lasting experience? Wizardry.
    Yes.

    Permanent death has little to do with the depth of a game. Just like you can pick out a game with less depth than Morrowind, I can pick out one with more.

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    Yes.

    Permanent death has little to do with the depth of a game. Just like you can pick out a game with less depth than Morrowind, I can pick out one with more.
    It's different in a party-based game. You're missing the point. It's not permanent death so much as permanent game over that's the issue.

    There's nothing wrong with permanent death, but it caps the length of your game somewhat, and hence also caps the depth of the game and development of the character. If you're playing a game and spend 30 hours exploring the world, changing the world, developing a character and relationships, then boom, game over. All your progress is wiped, the world is reset to how it was 30 hours ago and you have to start again from the top then a) no-one would bother and b) it's awful design.

    Hence games with permanent death don't generally run that long or deep, as the consequences for the player would be hugely annoying.

    As for Super Meat Boy: spent half an hour on the demo, no interest in going back. I'm not shit at that sort of game by any means, I love the Mario games and often find myself plugging away on levels on those time and time again but the game earns it by introducing the mechanics slowly and actually teaching me the game, rather than saying "just keep trying this until you don't die".

  13. #33
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    But Morrowind isn't deep. It just contains a lot of content. Games with a lot of depth tend to favour things like permanent death. See roguelikes, for example. Games with lots of content don't, as you gain most of the enjoyment from the content and not the mechanics and thus having to repeat everything isn't enjoyable at all.

  14. #34
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Xercies's Avatar
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    I think Super Meat Boy and VVVVV show that you can have challenge without the permadeath/go back to the start routine(Super Meat Boy is a little different, you have to go back to the start of the level but the levels are sometimes small so that isn't to much of a problem) I think this should be the way forward, because that is the right kind of challenge.

  15. #35
    The grinding thing is really irritating. Grinding is bad. However, not being able to explore or go to a certain area because there are bad guys there who are too powerful is absolutely fine.

  16. #36
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    What annoys me about the grinding thing is that it's just not true. Western RPGs started to move away from requiring grind before JRPGs even got started. Grinding is actually something the Japanese liked about the really really old western RPGs and basically became a feature for the whole genre in Japan. If you grew up playing Final Fantasy (which the author of the article says is his case) then sure, you were used to grinding. But by that time, we (over in the west) had tonnes of RPGs that had no level grinding whatsoever.

    Console gamers grew up with grind heavy JRPGs. PC RPG players grew up with plenty of games without much grind. Saying that modern gamers don't like the idea of having to grind is silly because plenty of gamers back in the late 80s hated grinding too.
    Last edited by Wizardry; 16-07-2011 at 06:39 PM.

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