Story telling in games

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by Mobius1aic, Jun 12, 2011.

  1. Mobius1aic

    Mobius1aic Quo vadis?
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    After making a way tol long and OT post about story telling in the Halo 4 thread, I think we should have a thread on the influences, merits, techniques, reasons for, etc of story telling in the gaming medium.

    So setting some ideas in motion, what things do you guys enjoy the most about a story? The way it's told in terms of perspective, the characters themselves, the plot? How do you think even the best stories in gaming could be improved to produce better gameplay or just plain better story telling? I think this generation has been very good to us in delivering awesome characters. The field of great enigmatic characters is certainly more flooded than ever, but I'm welcoming of it.

    For starters, about two months ago, I first found out about a service called Desura. It's a program that works and looks very similar to Steam, however it's emphasis is on independent games and modding, being a Steam like portal to launch mods for games. I happened on a Far Cry mod that bills itself as an interactive version of Shakespeare's The Tempest. Unfortunately, the mod didn't work correctly with my Steam version of Far Cry, but it set me in motion to read about the original work by Shakespeare as I had never heard of it until that point. While I couldn't experience the mod correctly, I was enamored by the use of a game to tell an old story. More or less, stories are built around gameplay, as it is king of course. But we have gems like Uncharted and Mass Effect, that are built around both.

    Fascinatingly the second Far Cry title is heavily grounded in Joseph Conrad's classic Heart of Darkness. While people seem to hate the game, I am quite fond of it, especially for the antagonist only known as the Jackal, who is very much like the antagonist Kurtz in Heart of Darkness. For me, it was his character that really drove me to continue on with the story, not the gameplay (which despite flaws, I think was actually quite decent). It's the characters and stories in so many single player games that drive me to continue playing. As long as the gameplay is "good enough" I continue on, trying to get to that next cutscene or big piece of the plot. Plainly I'm drawn to characters these days more than anything, but it's the plot they are involved with that makes the characters who they are I think as well.
     
    #1 Mobius1aic, Jun 12, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 12, 2011
  2. snarfbot

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    it kinda depends on the genre, in an adventure game for instance the story is what keeps you engrossed in it. so it really has to be pretty inspired. for fps's pretty much any old cliched story is fine imo as long as the game mechanics are good.

    for instance, the original doom, a great game, pretty much no story whatsoever was actually in the game though, except for the tiny bit of text at the end of each episode. but it didnt really need a fancy story, you had to get off the moon base and there was only one way to go.

    i think alot of times these days games that dont really need a huge convoluted story end up getting one shoehorned in to the detriment of the actual game.

    kurt vonnegut wrote a list of rules for good fiction, most of which can be applied to videogames. you can view them here http://www.novelr.com/2007/11/15/kurt-vonneguts-8-rules-for-writing-fiction

    i also like the website tvtropes, theres some very good reads to be had there and plenty of humor.

    so yea, games have come a long way but they still have a long way to go in terms of storytelling.
     
  3. Pressure

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    With regards to this topic I think we are, more often than not, stuck between a choice of story-telling and replay-ability.

    If the game is driven by a lot of story-telling, it usually means the outcome is on a set rail and as such has fairly low replay-ability (a finite set of routes one can take) compared to various genres that focus more heavily on multiplay.

    Which brings about the question of value. Ars technica had an article about gaming lengths and the psychological effect it have on the player (perceived value if you will). The story-telling really has to be epic and really great if the game is less than 10 hours and seem like a worthwhile investment.

    We rarely see epic stories like "Day of the Tentacle", "Monkey Island" and similar games these days and the 'hardcore' crowd is usually stuck at multiplaying games with an infinite amount of variation (thanks to the human factor). Which in essence means that the perceived value of multiplayer games with little to no story has more value to the average gamer because of less time needed to invest into it (casual gaming).
     
    #3 Pressure, Jun 12, 2011
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  4. patsu

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    Depends on the role of story telling, MMO story telling can be driven entirely by players.
     
  5. nightshade

    nightshade Interwebz Hijacker !
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    There are three types of Story telling that I like the most:

    1) When everything is in first person mode but the camera is partially scripted for cutscenes or special story events...exactly like how Crysis 2 did, imo no FPS game ever came close to this. Its an evolution of Half Life 2 story telling.

    2) Character driven experience with branching side stories and back stories about almost everything in the universe, gives the world a very cohesive feel as nothing seems out of place since there's a reason for everything....Mass Effect would be the perfect example of this.

    3) Uber cool cutscenes, tons of philosophy and grey motives with lots and lots of twists enough to overwhelm anyone with information about the game universe...this is Metal Gear Solid I'm referring to here, and its my favorite type. :p
     
  6. Mobius1aic

    Mobius1aic Quo vadis?
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    That's probably why I don't feel cheated by games like Uncharted, Prince of Persia 2008, and Mafia II. They are fun in there own right and the story and pacing is very well done, so the overall experience in the end is great despite being relatively short.
     
  7. Sigfried1977

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    I really liked the story telling in Demon's Souls. Nothing is forced on you, a big portion of the story is told through environments and gameplay, and there is plenty of stuff to take in if you take your time to just listen and look close enough.
     
  8. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
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    I have read your comment up to the words "game universe" and thought "Metal Gear Solid". Then you wrote the same game.

    I think MGS is the closest thing we ever got to a novel in gaming. Sometimes it went so deep that not everyone understood it especially when people expect games to be nothing morethan just games. MGS2 was the greatest victim of that. But it blew some people away. Hideo Kojima is well read in various subjects and he showed it in the series.
     
  9. orangpelupa

    orangpelupa Elite Bug Hunter
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    story telling thru gameplay but also can be "read" easily. Like the story in Child of eden is told from gameplay and easy to "read". sorry dont know the right english word ...

    cutscene also can be good if it not detach the gamer from gaming experience.
    i dont like when i play a game,feel like playing game. But suddently there a long video played make me feel like watching TV.
     
  10. tuna

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    If you want a "novel in gaming", go play Policenauts...
     
  11. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
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    Not sure if I understood what you are trying to say with that comment
     
  12. tabs

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    I like the story to emerge from the gameplay, which is why I like team based multiplayer games. Here we are all part of the story. It might be the same context every time I play, but the decisions and directions can be different. I can't be arsed watching people on screen nattering away about some crap I don't care about. Emotionally I am easily engaged when there are objectives to be accomplished and people around me helping or hindering their progress.

    The trouble with the above sentiment though is that I'm not sure what I like really can be defined as "a story." It feels like one at the time, but if documented it probably wouldn't make for great reading after the event.

    From an outsider's perspective (never played it), EVE Online seems to have some great stories, worthy of publishing. I'd read a book of that stuff.
     
  13. tuna

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    Policenauts is more "a novel" than MGS.
     
  14. Nesh

    Nesh Double Agent
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    Didnt play it although I wanted to. So I cant comment. If is more " a novel", then probably MGS comes second
     
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