Posts Tagged ‘story’

Far Cry 5 has the worst endings in all of gaming history

Far Cry 5 has a bad story in the same way that the bubonic plague has a bad bacterium. It is, by a considerable stretch, the most abysmally written narrative in AAA gaming. Not just in how it so idiotically interrupts you in the middle of other scripted missions to force you to play through hideously badly written enforced semi-playable cutscenes, but in every word uttered by every character from start to finish. And wow, does it reach its subterranean nadir when it comes to the finish. It is time to drape yourself in spoiler warnings and embrace the volcano of awful that is Far Cry 5’s ending. Read the rest of this entry »

Far Cry 5’s interrupting story ruins everything

I have very much enjoyed the Far Cry series, most often despite itself. Far Cries 3, 4 and Primal (why is everyone forgetting poor old Primal?) have all occupied me for countless hours, provided enormous amounts of entertainment in their kleptomania-inducing maps, and always done so despite everything it thinks is so compelling about itself. Far Cry’s self-belief in its own abysmal stories is always so grossly apparent, like a strutting buffoon bursting into the bar and looking around, confused, when every man, woman and animal doesn’t immediately throw themselves at his feet. So then he starts loudly demanding people throw themselves at his feet. And when they don’t, runs around putting his feet as near to people as he can and declares to the room that this counts. Oh Far Cry.

Unfortunately, this time out things have gotten a lot worse. Far Cry 5 – to run with the previous analogy – barges up to you, grabs you by the collar, and throws you down onto the ground by its shoes, screaming “MY FEET! WORSHIP MY BLOODY FEET!” Which is to say, engaging with its godawful cutscenes has become less optional. Far Cry 5 has the most egregiously bad imposition of its story. Read the rest of this entry »

Games Are The Ideal Place For Telling Great Stories

There are some who have argued that games just aren’t the right medium for telling stories. Pointing out that scant few games have ever produced literary works comparable with other forms, the suggestion is that gaming just isn’t a suitable place for such narrative experiences. But this argument is entirely flawed, failing to understand that gaming is home to a completely new form of storytelling, and one that is perhaps more potent and powerful than any other.

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Maybe Games Just Aren’t For Telling Great Stories?

During all of the recent conferences for the forthcoming consoles, a refrain is repeated by all involved. When they boast of their new technology, their graphical improvements, their breakthrough achievements, it always seems to be said that it will provide enchancements in storytelling. New ways to connect emotionally with the player. “To tell stories in a far more powerful way.”

I’m fascinated that this is the angle they choose. Not just because it’s the most disingenuous, but because it seems like it’s the last thing their core audience appears to care about. It seems like trying to sell a speedboat based on its lovely coffee holders. Yes, it has coffee holders, but most people are buying it because it goes fast over waves without sinking. Who of the Modern Warfare generation is buying games for their groundbreaking ability to tell stories?

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Garriott Says We’ve Not Mastered Storytelling

He's lived on the moon.

Interviewed in the latest episode of Game Theory with Scott Steinberg (below), Lord Richard Garriott of Britain explains that as far as game narratives may have come, be believes they’re still falling far short of those in books and films. He says,

“I don’t think we’ve yet mastered the techniques of true interactive storytelling.”

You can see the full interview, along with contributions from Charles Cecil, Jane Jenson, Bob Bates and others, in the third episode of this new series, this time focusing on game narrative. Oh, and I have a little rant, too.

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The Longest Journey – A Retrospective

Arcadian docks.

My earlier post about story reminds me of a piece I wrote for PC Gamer a few years back, looking at The Longest Journey, and its lasting effect on me. There was never room for my full thoughts then, and the full length ‘director’s cut’ version has sat on my hard drive since. Clearly Dreamfall has been released since, telling us more about April Ryan, and another retrospective is due for that. Meanwhile, here’s the full-length version of the original piece.

“Mystery is important. To know everything, to know the whole truth, is dull. There is no magic in that. Magic is not knowing, magic is wondering about what and how and where.”

The Longest Journey almost vanished away unnoticed, another obscurity ranted about by a few, but never reaching any acclaim. In the mire of pre-millennial adventure gaming, it could so easily have been drowned by the density of its peers, ignored by pessimism, never given the chance it so strongly deserved. How it was joyously liberated from this fate is mysterious. And in mystery, there is magic. In The Longest Journey, there is magic.

As a point and click adventure, The Longest Journey already defied conventions, ignoring the genre’s desperately floundering attempts at “catching up”. Developer and writer Ragnar Tørnquist and his team at Funcom understood that “catching up” was meaningless – they had a story to tell, and a world in which it needed to be told, and so this was the game they made. The natural instinct to say how it recaptured the adventure’s previous glory is strong, but this just simply isn’t true. Adventure gaming had never been as glorious as The Longest Journey – it hadn’t ever even come close.

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GCDC: Stories Vs. Games

GCDC provides another interesting debate, this time on the subject of story in games. Specifically, that games shouldn’t even try to make them more complex, as they’re simply no good at it. Say the writers of stories in games.

Find her. Save her.

Bethesda’s Ken Rolston and adventure veteran (and man responsible for the frattish Spellcasting series in the early 90s), Bob Bates, both agreed that, “our inability to pay off on all the choices that there should be available. It’s so difficult to make a genuinely complex dramatic choice,” in the words of Rolston. Which is, essentially, an argument against non-linearity in games. Which I strongly argue is a good thing.

In the world of storytelling, non-linearity has only ever existed as a novelty, perhaps a choose-your-own-adventure, or idiotic stunt on the BBC to let viewers call in and “decide” what happens next. But books, television and film have always survived rather well without letting the consumer dictate the story for them. Frankly, if you’ve got a story worth telling, the last thing you should be doing is letting anyone else get in the way. Games find themselves in a more awkward position, as progression becomes rather dependent on the player interacting in some way. And for most elements of a game, from killing to constructing, this interaction is necessary. But leave the story in the hands of the storyteller.

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