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October 25, 2014, 08:44:57 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreative (Moderator: John Sandoval)Question of the nature of game writing
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Muffinhat
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« on: February 12, 2013, 07:06:58 PM »

This may sound a bit naive as a general question, but why is it that current generation video games today appear to have a shorter story line? When I spent my childhood playing games like Super Mario, it took me months just to get through the entire story line; the levels were challenging, and actually required putting time into (plus, I was really slow at beating games). Nowadays, there are often games that appear to have shorter and easily beaten levels that take no real determination as well as a lack of time consuming obstacles (mainly current generation shooters, but there are other game genres that have this issue). Some game franchises have decently time consuming story modes, but I feel that the story line had much more potential for a longer plot, digging deeper into the game's world.

So the basic question here is: why can't the story in games just be... well... longer?

What is the main roadblock that developers face that prevents them from expanding their story? Strict time budgets? Money? Simple absence of creativity?

What do you think?
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John Sandoval
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 07:10:16 PM »

super mario brothers had a long and involving story

i'm gonna stop you right there and say no, it didn't

unless you're mistaking story for actual gameplay (which you seem to be doing in your intro paragraph)
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 07:13:59 PM »

I guess I mean gameplay as well as story. Excuse me if I wasn't being specific.
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2013, 07:35:04 PM »

Because it's a corporate trend to go for formulaic methods now. The music industry does it. The games industry is following.

Story is not really in the formula, so people forget about it. Unless you're making Japanese games, where focus on story is higher than on gameplay.
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2013, 07:39:48 PM »

probably the biggest reason is time constraints and budget; the graphical improvements brought by modernity also brings more labor intensive art assets and increased development periods. it takes way more work to make final fantasy xiii over vi, for example.

but whatever you may believe about 'modern gaming', there are still very 'meaty' games, from both a story and gameplay perspective. there are just a wider variety of games now (esp with the introduction of mobile gaming), to cater to a wider variety of audiences (suprise, not everyone has hundreds of hours to sink into a final fantasy anymore). so the meaty ones seem less prevalent, but there are still just as many being made today. persona 3/4, dark souls, and so on.
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« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2013, 08:19:19 PM »

maybe this is partially because our tastes change. when I was a kid and got FF6, what else was I going to play? that's all I had... with a story anyway.

now I need a game that satisfies all of these needs, and I play story games for a bit then get tired of them - like Bioshock, Assassin's Creed etc. I used to beat Deus Ex and Skies of Arcadia in 3 days each. that's what it took. 3 straight days. and now I play for a bit, and try to force myself to play, and what? I can't do it. I have other things to do. fucking responsibility....

anyway. I can't tell if games have changed or just me. FF13 is long, but it felt short. I never felt any meat. same with Ass Creed. I was always waiting for the story to start. I didn't find either game terribly immersive - the menu was the most engaging part of FF. I just want to forget life for 2 days - you know, without alcohol - and the games don't let me do that.

it's like games are trying so hard to cater to everything, that so much of what they give is so generic, that the story doesn't feel like a story, even though there is one, and has all this dialogue and everything. for example, english voices in FF. fuckin hate 'em. I fuckin hate 'em. I hate everyone! goddamn. ... argh. that symbolizes the focus on the mass, and not on me. ... I think it's harder to create games for older people that immerse than it is for younger, at least with modern game design knowledge, but like, we also have a shift in design values. I think both things are true.

the most immersive thing I played in the last year was my 2 day near iron-man of Minecraft, first time playing, with a wicked playlist jamming through my sweet headphones. the year before that it was FF7/8. holy shit.

I had some good experiences with LttP, and a few hours of Fear, and some with Halo 3/4, and a monstrously good run through Modern Warfare 2, but those were short-lived, and under special circumstances.
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« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2013, 08:31:49 PM »

Because long, drawn out linear storylines don't work for every game. Also, AAA games have absurdly inflated budgets. They can only afford a few hours of content, then rely on the multiplayer or achievements, various difficulty settings, niches to explore, etc to pad out the game's value.
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2013, 08:37:20 PM »

Makes since. Makes me wonder what would happen if someone were to put the time into making a game with good long game play, as well as an extensive story line. It would be interesting to see a pretty lengthy game.
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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2013, 09:00:27 PM »

some games are lengthy.... I am trying to make one.

these are industry growing pains. we'll get there, for sure.
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« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2013, 02:02:09 AM »

Now that I think of it, the first game design 'textbook' I read had this philosophy where it discouraged details. Details were expensive... every little addition needed time and money and programmer/designers were expensive. Details were unbalancing, especially if mixed with the game mechanics.

Unless they could justify that those little details would noticeably improve the game or somehow add more income, the safe move was to not add them. Since an AAA's main priority is income/growth, why waste money on easter eggs that few will see?
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2013, 05:59:42 AM »

story is easter eggs?
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Muz
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« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2013, 07:44:15 PM »

I mean flavor/details, if done right. Fallout 2 is a great example of how easter eggs can make a game more fun. Also stuff like the Red Alert 2 installer. Hard to find that stuff in an AAA game these days, except from something like Blizzard which prides itself on details.
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2013, 03:04:07 AM »

main reasons:

1. you are an adult now, not a kid. so it doesn't take you as long to finish a game, because you aren't as stupid

2. today you look stuff up on gamefaqs. you couldn't look stuff up on the internet in 1985. i remember getting stuck at various 'sticking points' in a game that i could never solve because there was no way to get the answer. those don't exist anymore because every game has a faq or at least an online forum that you can look at to get through the sticking points

3. games were generally harder in the nes days than today; this was done to make up for their lack of content in other ways, and gradually over time the variety of players has expanded, casualizing the industry

i think people tend to overemphasize 3 and underemphasize the importance of 1 and 2, though. i think a lot of 'games were hard when i was a kid' actually boils down to 'i was worse at videogames when i was a kid', because, for example, objectively speaking, super meat boy and vvvvvv are *harder* than any platformer i played as a kid
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2013, 05:34:55 AM »

A game should not be longer than it has too. I don't really know what you are talking about because I still find lots of lengthy games. I'm looking over at my collection of 360 games and the fact of the matter is that most of them probably take 20+ hours to beat. The industry has become more reasonable when it comes to game length and most importantly pacing. I'm pleased that we are heading in that direction.
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« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2013, 06:59:36 AM »

i think the point (probably for the OP, but definitely for me) isn't purely how long it takes to get through the game, but how easy it is. if you can get through those 20 hours with little effort then what's the point: it's just a 20 hour movie. games should challenge you. you should have to fight your way for every inch of those 20 hours to advance the plot, not just breeze along and put in the required time. nes games, if you were good at them, took maybe an hour or two to beat. but getting to that point took months of effort and starting and dying and going back to the beginning. when was the last time an AAA game even made you start back at the beginning?
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« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2013, 07:17:04 AM »

Just my 2 cents on stories.

I feel that the best stories to tell in games are ones that thematically or style wise you could not tell better in any other form.

Interactive stories are one way we can do this, but then there are also other ways.

Take the game home-world for instance, i feel that you could not tell that story with the mood and atmosphere it did in a movie. You could make something using the same universe, but movies and linear watching experiences for the most part require us to follow characters, which home-world does not, it instead follows an entire race of people. Something i have never seen successfully seen done elsewhere.

Another example is flower. Which is an abstract story about a flower, a subject that would be too boring in another medium but is just right in a game.

Also Asuras Wrath. It may have been essentially a quick-time based story, but fuck did those quick time elements add to it. It made it feel fucking powerful.
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ஒழுக்கின்மை
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« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2013, 08:05:15 AM »

Just my 2 cents on stories.

I feel that the best stories to tell in games are ones that thematically or style wise you could not tell better in any other form.

Interactive stories are one way we can do this, but then there are also other ways.

Take the game home-world for instance, i feel that you could not tell that story with the mood and atmosphere it did in a movie. You could make something using the same universe, but movies and linear watching experiences for the most part require us to follow characters, which home-world does not, it instead follows an entire race of people. Something i have never seen successfully seen done elsewhere.

Another example is flower. Which is an abstract story about a flower, a subject that would be too boring in another medium but is just right in a game.

Also Asuras Wrath. It may have been essentially a quick-time based story, but fuck did those quick time elements add to it. It made it feel fucking powerful.

sure, but what does this have to do with the topic? he wasn't asking what's the best kind of stories to do in games, he was asking why older games took longer to play through the story than newer games -- not every topic about stories on tigsource has to be about whether or not games should have stories or what kind of stories they should have
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« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2013, 08:48:23 AM »

Yeah sorry, should have read the topic more thoroughly :/
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Evan Balster
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« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2013, 08:51:17 AM »

Writing topics?  Outside the writing forum?  Shame on you guys, the writing forum needs more love.  Beg
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« Reply #19 on: February 18, 2013, 03:28:18 PM »

Quote
(mainly current generation shooters, but there are other game genres that have this issue).

Current generation shooters exemplify everything I seek to avoid as a player and as a developer. (Too much emphasis on graphics, too linear, too cliche, too much first person view, too much focus on violence) I would avoid them if I were you, except to use as a reminder of what not to do, and of why the world needs your original game.

Now that I think of it, the first game design 'textbook' I read had this philosophy where it discouraged details. Details were expensive... every little addition needed time and money and programmer/designers were expensive. Details were unbalancing, especially if mixed with the game mechanics.

Unless they could justify that those little details would noticeably improve the game or somehow add more income, the safe move was to not add them. Since an AAA's main priority is income/growth, why waste money on easter eggs that few will see?

Not surprising to hear, sadly. Art is about details. An artist would rather obsess over details than to drop them in the interest of profit. That might be the point at which one stops being an artist and is simply an entrepreneur. 
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