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06-12-2012, 09:33 AM #241- If the sound of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" makes you think of Kharak burning instead of the Vietnamese jungle, most of your youth happened during the 90s. -
06-12-2012, 05:53 PM #242
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?
man, relax. shooting the shit on forums is supposed to be fun and relaxing, it's not a game.
Last edited by Namdrol; 06-12-2012 at 06:26 PM.
06-12-2012, 06:26 PM #243
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).
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?
edit: I suppose part of my prejudice comes from the fact that I grew up on pnp rpgs, sports, and snes/nes videogames. 'Game' has real emotional connotations for me, and that makes me want to keep that word separate from the non-interactive pandering stuff in many videogames.
Last edited by Namdrol; 06-12-2012 at 06:34 PM.
06-12-2012, 08:26 PM #244
A game must be replayable. If it's not replayable - you wouldn't like to play it a second time despite the fact that it's well-made - then it's some sort of linear media. Probably a form of storytelling.
06-12-2012, 08:42 PM #245There is a difference between having a familiarity with the systems and rules of a game, and knowing how a story ends.
Put another way, predetermination and mystery are not irreconcilable. Technically, in any real mystery the event already happened. Do we, as players, experience less mystery simply because the author knows what's up? Simply because the outcome is "linear?" I don't think so. As a first-time player I don't know what's going to happen next in Mass Effect. I might have guesses and I might never be surprised, but that's not becasue the game follows a script it's because I've heard a lot of stories and I've noticed patterns. Rather than "what happens at the end" being a universal mystery in my gaming experience I find that "what do you do next" is both the more interesting and more universal gaming mystery. That's what makes games interesting and unique to me.
Note, too, that the rules limit possible outcomes. You won't be ending a game of football victoriously waving the flag you stole from the enemy's base. What makes it a game is, that limitation. That structure. I agree that agency is important, but I feel that unstructured play is much less game-like than overly-structured play. That rules and mechanics are at the heart of games.
Speaking of agency, you agreed that the ability to make mechanical decisions--even binary ones such as win/lose--contributes to player agency. You then said that games like Mass Effect are still games but that their story does not contribute to their being games. Let's look ME's story in terms of agency. You get to influence the entire plot arc. Your choices change the life and death of major NPCs in addition to your own life and death. You can lose not just the game, but the series if Shepard dies in Mass Effect 2. The game gives you a chance to lose not just mechanically (no no, that's not how it happened, says the Prince) but fictionally.
Now let's look at unknown outcomes in Mario. A second-time player doesn't encounter any unknown outcomes. Would you say, then, that Mario is not a game the second time you play it? That trying to do it faster or a second time isn't gameplay? Let's look at Mass Effect and Alpha Protocol one last time. A second time player can still encounter unknown fictional and mechanical outcomes. A player has both mechanical and fictional agency. A complexity of the games allows for a greater establishment of player-set goals which means the last of your criteria is easier to meet should the pre-set challenges be insufficient.
Before I stop I'd like to revisit something. About rules and mechanics being at the heart of games. It sounds like something you might agree with and perhaps it seems out of place since I'm arguing against calling things less-game-like simply because they seem focused on the non-mechanical. Here I'll borrow from the MC's principles in the RPG Apocalypse World. As either player or MC you are limited to certain "moves" that have mechanical effects. You can stretch them quite a bit, but they still create limits. Two of the MC's principles, though, are
• Make your move, but misdirect.
• Make your move, but never speak its name
You say "So you let off a full clip? Well, you put a lot of holes in a lot of places and maybe you hit one of them through the wall it's really hard to tell on account of there being a wall in the way and a lot of dust from the shooting. You going to reload or pull out your sidearm? Thought so. Good idea ... except it's not there. Some asshole must have nicked it earlier. Probably Meatball back at the market. He's always eyeing people's shit. Better reload quick."
It's not just about the rules and structure limiting your experience. It's about the rules and the structure fine-tunning your experience. Having an elaborate plot with long cut-scenes doesn't serve the experience in Mario. But In Mario, you aren't seeing the explicit mechanical picture, you're seeing misdirection. You're seeing a colorful world of moving things and spinning coins and turtles. You get visual cues like pipes on screen rather than text on screen saying "Press down here to maybe find secret tunnels" or animations instead of pop-ups saying "dodge in 2.3 seconds". You get attacked by Goombas not bombarded with slow moving circles. That misdirection? It's part of the gameplay.
It's part of what makes Mario a good game. The game signals mechanical occurrences and rules in clear, entertaining ways rather than in convoluted and boring ways. This is what I meant in earlier posts when I went on about how silly it was to pretend gameplay doesn't involve visuals, audio, story, etc. Games don't need misdirection to have good gameplay. But misdirected gameplay is still gameplay and the misdirected play is what defines the experience, not the underlying nuts-and-bolts.
Edit: Shortened parts without changing the meaning (I hope). Also, as a P.S: I don't expect to convince you the way I define games is correct or that you're wrong because we disagree. But I see inconsistencies in your definition that I want to understand.
Last edited by gwathdring; 06-12-2012 at 09:01 PM.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
06-12-2012, 09:09 PM #246
P.P.S Speaking of Apocalypse World, there's an RPG that is entirely about narrative. We're not playing for XP or for the sake of rolling dice--there are other systems for when we want to do that. But there are still unknown outcomes, the players still have goals (system oriented and otherwise), the players have agency, there are rules that shape/structure the experience, and the players have a lot of fun. Stepping away from low-prep games that encourage seat-of-the-pants GMing, the FATE system is another that cares immensely about storytelling (the Fate-point system exists to reward fictional establishment and the aspect system smoothly mechanizes fictional ... well aspects without requiring extensive rules for everything D&D style). But again, despite narrative focus (this time with prepared sessions that require things like stats for major NPCs and thus at least a roughly predetermined plot) FATE games manage unknown outcomes, fun, player-driven and system driven goals, and rules that provide structure to the experience.
I actually like your definition a lot. I don't understand how you're implementing it such that narrative is necessarily separate from gameplay or such that a game can't be good as a game if it has sub-par rules/mechanics so long as it's good at meeting the other criteria and has really good mechanical misdirection.
Last edited by gwathdring; 06-12-2012 at 09:13 PM.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
06-12-2012, 10:26 PM #247
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The story itself is only not a part of the game if it is put into cutscenes or the player has no choice.
06-12-2012, 11:20 PM #248
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This is the plot of ME3 in a nutshell:
Sheppard says: Im risking everything to build a Crucible and im not sure what it does...
06-12-2012, 11:26 PM #249
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Just pushing the button to the next reward:
Whether They Love or Hate Story in Videogames, Gamers Agree: Games Are Boring
God of War and Twisted Metal developer David Jaffe recently caused a small controversy by calling narrative and gameplay two great tastes that don't mix, like "chocolate and tuna fish". His recommendation is that developers ought not bother with a big story in their games unless the game's core feature is that it tells a story, like Heavy Rain or the entire genre of interactive fiction.
Naturally, the topic is a controversial one, and internet commenters argued both for and against Jaffe. I noticed an interesting trend, though, that even those who argued against Jaffe seemed to be acutely aware that modern videogame gameplay is repetitive, onerous, and not in itself interesting. From the comments section of the above article and others:
Oh right. Games shouldn't tell anything resembling "linear" stories. Guess we should throw KOTOR out then huh? What a waste right? Because it's not just randomized fetch quests like you get in most MMO's that aren't connected to the main story in any meaningful way.The recurring theme here is that both players for and against Jaffe are quick to point out how tedious and uninteresting gameplay is. Gameplay alone, as it stands today, is not memorable, worthwhile, interesting, or fun. Not for the popular blockbuster games of today. If you were to strip the story away from these AAA blockbuster titles, there would be nothing left except "Go here, kill X of Y, and bring me the MacGuffin." I certainly can't argue with that!
Is that what gamers want? If so could you please hold this pistol for me? Ok now shoot me in the temple please?
SO basically this guy wants all games to be go there and kill x many ala WoW?
[heavy sarcasm] Mass Effect 3 would be great if it was just like Call of Duty, don't you think? [...] They would all be so much better without a gripping storyline to push the game forward. Yea, I just want a little objective marker on my radar that always says "Go Here"...
What I can and will argue with is the conclusion that, because the gameplay is tedious, the best solution is to dress up these bland games with fanciful stories. I can see how, with a limited frame of reference, this solution seems reasonable. Imagine that you lived in a world where every game was a re-theme of Monopoly. You would rightfully insist that all gameplay is boring and tedious, consisting of endless dice-rolls and meaningless piece-moving. Your favorite games would be those mutant forms of Monopoly which you found most appealing - Cthulhu Monopoly, Steampunk Monopoly, Monopoly: Knights of the Old Republic. You might write blog articles about the importance of forms of Monopoly which had characters you cared about, or praise an indie monopoly printing which replaced the central metaphor of "money and capitalism" with one of "the meaning of life given the inevitability of death." And so on.
However, we live in a world where not every game has to have the same mechanics and the same, limited dynamics. It is possible to make a game that is, in itself, fun to play. We don't have to spend our whole lives playing Monopoly, because there's also poker, football, fencing, Pictionary, chess, water polo, and paintball. The alternative to Mass Effect isn't Call of Duty - it's making a single-player FPS where the player has something more interesting to do for once than hide behind boxes and trade bullets with stooges.
For one, I won't buy/play a game without a good story. If there's no cocaine pellet after pushing the button, there's no incentive for this rat to push the button again.This quote is most illuminating because, aside from the comical implication that a copy of David Copperfield would be like a kilo of pure Colombian blow, the commenter also unknowingly emphasizes the emptiness, simplicity, and tedium of AAA studio gameplay: a button press, a unit of busywork to be performed so the player can get his reward. Why this guy doesn't save himself $60 and a lot of effort and just watch all the Mass Effect cutscenes on youtube is beyond me, but then again, the rising popularity of internet "Let's Plays" suggests that people are doing exactly that.
The problem is clear: the games that developers are making today, the systems of rules and values and challenges that the player is able to interact with, are dull as rocks. Videogame developers aren't using interactivity to deliver fun - they're using the interactivity to establish a series of time-consuming hurdles for players to jump through so that they can get their next snippet of story or their next level-up.
If the game you've made is so tedious that it would not be worth playing without the periodic reward of story, you need to rework your game. Similarly, if you have a story that is so thrilling as to be worth trudging through an hour of meat-grinder gameplay to catch a five-minute glimpse of it, maybe you should discard the game entirely and just make yourself a movie. Or if you're Bioware, just make one of those Japanese choose-your-own-adventure books that ends with a sex scene.
07-12-2012, 02:55 AM #250
Hmm. I agree that dressing up bad mechanics in "fanciful stories" (or for that matter, good stories) shouldn't be seen as a way to sell boring mechanics to an audience that isn't interested. But I don't feel like that's what's happening here. I don't think most developers sit down and make a game they think their audience wouldn't be interested in and then throw a pleasing story over it. Two important points, I feel, are the one I made about misdirection further up in the discussion and the idea of emergent properties.
First of all, there's dressing a boring game in fanciful stories, and there's misdirection. Mario wouldn't necessarily be a bad game with different or minimalist art assets, but those assets make it more pleasing and can sometimes be used as part of the mechanical package. Sound, visuals, and story can all be used to integrate and communicate the mechanics of a game to the player. Especially when systems are very complicated, having a way of introducing them to a player that makes them seem less complicated can be essential to the experience. All of this is misdirection; adding things to the bare-bones mechanics to make the game more than a bunch of robotic code.
The other related point is that good games sometimes can't be reduced to their basic mechanics because the make use of misdirection and emergent properties. Think about it this way: the rules for jumping up and down in Mario would be viewed very differently if you couldn't control the side-to-side motion of the character (not just the side-to-side motion of the stage). Just so, taking each individual mechanic out of a game and analyzing it for quality can be interesting and useful, but it can't tell you whether or not the whole package makes for a good game. Sometimes, simple mechanics are made interesting by context. Look at table-top RPGs. Ghost/Echo is a two-page Cyberpunk RPG with no prep and no character creation that requires 4d6. If I disassemble Ghost/Echo as a game in which players roll dice when the GM tells them to and allocate those dice to either their character's goal or an impending danger, it sounds dull as rocks. What makes a game of Ghost/Echo sing isn't the mechanical package alone, but rather the juxtaposition of the slick mechanics and an interesting fictional context for them to be taking place. If we tell a boring story, the mechanics are boring. If we tell an exciting story, the mechanics create tension and drama and uncertainty that improve the story, causing things to occur that we don't anticipate and allowing us to craft fiction that surpasses our abilities as improvisational story tellers.
I'd similarly like to note that chess is an odd example to choose as proof that games should be judged on their raw mechanical merits--a lot of players find chess boring and difficult to sink their teeth into. One issue with chess is that chess isn't always challenging for new players. Playing against someone with a significantly different amount of experience with the game usually turns it into either a cakewalk or a wrestling match with a brick wall. Neither of these is challenging, or for many players, engaging. Chess really sings when you meet your match--someone at least close to your ability level. Then you end up testing your knowledge of the game as well as your ability to think tactically.
Fictional context, competitive context ... these are things outside the scope of the mechanics. This is what you bring to the table. Just as TF2 is boring if all the other players do is stare straight up at the sky, some game mechanics don't work without proper external context or ample misdirection. There are games I can enjoy in a purely mechanical sense ... I don't think these games are more game-like or inherently better than many of the games I can't. Mechanics that don't stand on their own aren't necessarily bad mechanics--they're just mechanics that don't stand on their own.
I also think even mechanics that do stand on their own reduce to "pushing a button to get the next reward." If you don't find tactical intrigue rewarding, then moving your bishop in chess isn't rewarding. How compelling and exciting mechanics are depends entirely on your perception of their outcomes. Misdirection and fictional backdrop can create a sense of attachment and engagement with the mechanics just as competing with your friends or enjoying tactical intrigue can create attachment and engagement with chess. Calling one frivolous and the other awesome is rather irrational.
In essence, nothing is fun to play all by it's lonesome. Fun is constructed in your head; there's nothing a game can do to be fun for everyone who plays it short of having some sort of psychic power over the player. I don't find the design of Chess especially compelling, myself; I enjoy playing it against people who are my equals but in general I think it's too complex a game for what I get out of it and it's so damn difficult to get players up to speed. There are other games I can play that challenge me without requiring a years of practice to catch new players up to my level or to catch me up to the level of my friend Lucas.
Last edited by gwathdring; 07-12-2012 at 07:40 PM.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
07-12-2012, 07:43 AM #251
07-12-2012, 09:06 AM #252
While the main dragon story in Skyrim is pretty cliched I do enjoy some of the side quests and just wandering around exploring the world and I enjoy being able to roleplay my own character and make my own story. A lot of games "story" is just "watch some B-movie level CGI cut scenes and maybe make some superficial choose-your own adventure style choices that won't really effect the game's ending because we want all the players to see our expensive cut scenes.
As you can probably tell I dislike that kind of "storytelling"
Some of the best stories I've ever experienced in games are in things like Civilization or Europa Universalis which give you no pre-made story but plenty of tools to create your own.
07-12-2012, 10:52 AM #253
I've played hundreds of games and tbh I rarely ever go back and replay them unless I'm particularly motivated to explore them (ME1, DX, AP, DA2, PS:T spring to mind). In fact there's a frightening low % of players who ever even finish games: -
If barely 10% of people finish titles, how small a % bother replaying them? So why is it the case that games must be replayable?
07-12-2012, 10:58 AM #254
Games don't have to be replayable. Books don't have to be re-readable and moves don't have to be re-watchable. You're just making amazingly silly statements now. People are perfectly able to play a game once through and enjoy it.
By your logic, then Assassins Creed 2 for me is not a game because I couldn't even bare to finish it.
07-12-2012, 11:48 AM #255
That only 10% players finish games - if this number is true - is a statement of the sorry state of "game" industry. They have degenerated. Many modern "games" are simply crap and not fun to play. The article quoted above, the one with Gay Monopoly, says it much better than I can. Just because some "games" are newer than others doesn't mean they're better.
07-12-2012, 11:56 AM #256
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07-12-2012, 11:59 AM #257- If the sound of Samuel Barber's "Adagio For Strings" makes you think of Kharak burning instead of the Vietnamese jungle, most of your youth happened during the 90s. -
07-12-2012, 12:01 PM #258
And if we want to go by your definition of what makes a game vs what makes a puzzle, all games are games because they all have lose conditions. Thanks to save states and passwords we can reset those lose conditions so we don't have to slog through hours of the game again, but every game has a lose condition for the player and a win condition for the computer. The win condition for the computer is the players character dies and they hit the game over screen.
07-12-2012, 12:07 PM #259
I have no desire to get into the game industry. The industry is rotten, and working in it I would be executing someone else's ideas. Probably ideas of someone in a suit and/or a marketing department.
I can make games in my spare time. I made some maps for DooM and Quake 2, a gameplay mod to Hexen, Neuroshima Hex(boardgame) etc. You can find my ideas in games like Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup (for instance Inner Flame spell, amulet of Guardian Spirit, rebalance of dracionians). I have lots of ideas of my own, but even when I make something it's not going to be something you would enjoy. A hint of things I find interesting can be found here: http://boardgamearena.com
And here (the comment is not mine):
I think one of the very interesting things about modern single-player game development is that it creates exceptionally expensive content designed to appeal to everyone and be played exactly once for 8-10 hours. As anybody who plays European board games will tell you, making a game (read: the body of rules, the mechanics and dynamics) is cheap - all you need is creativity and a lot of playtesting. AAA videogames are entirely different, though - millions are spent on voice acting, scripting, graphics, etc. This is why I'm excited for moderate-budget games like Bastion that can publish interesting and challenging gameplay with a budget lean enough that it doesn't have to sell to absolutely everybody.
Last edited by b0rsuk; 07-12-2012 at 12:17 PM.pass
07-12-2012, 12:13 PM #260
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Further to that, puzzles surely aren't all linear. Hell, linear puzzles are the boring ones. Most good puzzles offer either a few different solutions, or at least few different paths to the same solution. A Sudoku with only one path to the solution is boring as hell.
A game is a competition between 2 or more sides, it's a challenge. If there's only 1 solution to a "game", what you've got is a puzzle. A story is a story, not a game. If a game can be beaten in exactly the same way each time, it's a very crappy game and only mathematicians would care about it.
Many modern "games" are simply crap and not fun to play.