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September 01, 2014, 05:48:05 PM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreative (Moderator: John Sandoval)Question of the nature of game writing
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Muzz
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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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« 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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« Reply #20 on: February 18, 2013, 05:29:39 PM »

In general, the reason is because of limited budget. You can't make a long story when every line of dialog costs a lot of money. The simpler the game, the longer the story can be.
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« Reply #21 on: February 19, 2013, 03:59:25 PM »

When I was a kid I got stuck in Secret of Evermore several times. I was very young then. In particular there were points while playing when I felt overwhelmed by the danger and challenge of progressing. Similar as when playing my first 3D shooters I was scared to try too many times because the experience of losing was too much. Not just the losing, the scale of the loss was too much, like a rejection from a female when you aren't used to it. The event was significant and personal. You roll it over in your mind and it dominates you.

Some challenges took months of time away from the game until the courage bubbled back up, letting me think, "yes I could do that!" Then I would play the game with vigor and glory. The story and the mechanics linked together. The boy was lost in the woods, I was lost in the woods. The boy was overwhelmed in the jungle by raptors, I was too. We both got labyrinth-ed by the swamp maze, lost in the dangerous area, intimidated.

Now it's more like: challenge, irritation, success, or something. Games have a harder time re-enforcing their stories with mechanics for me now because those two things affect me differently. The stories are less meatier because they are being told to me through the writing and such while the mechanics are this system that I solve. They don't join forces to engage me in the world in the same way because I can "see the matrix" in the mechanics.

As a kid the mechanics can be just as huge as the story because you are a kid. They are this mysterious thing that you are learning about as you play. As you get older that mystery is lost. You find narrative in the nuances of a fighter or a platformer. But these nuances are a lot harder to tell a story with, because game writing hasn't evolved enough to complement it, and/or because game design hasn't evolved enough to match the story with them.

For example when I was a kid making simple story decisions like running into a towns person in LttP - making her scream and call the guards - I took them as a massive choice. I didn't know what the consequences would be and felt the same way I would have felt if I was there in the game, or at least some comparable degree of that. Now I just see the towns person as some nothing. "Oh, I'll trigger a guard." No story/narrative, just mechanics. Cold. I'm not immersed by the story in the same way as the mechanics. The design is too simple to fool me now.

The complexity of choices in Mass Effect in a purely mechanics-based system? Trivial. As a story item? More complex. Even then the choices were dumbed down to fit the regulated design: "good/evil/neutral." As a mechanical player you are thinking: "What are my paragon points? What do I think the devs would consider to be evil based on what has happened so far?" As a narrative player you are thinking something else. There is a conflict between the two. The narrative impact of one element is artificially limited (writing), and the other is underdeveloped (mechanics).

I think the lack of "meaty writing" is a state-of-mind, a reflection of how current gaming feels to us. Though that's all that matters anyway.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 04:47:52 AM by Graham. » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: February 19, 2013, 08:15:17 PM »

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. 

Yeah, the business guys do have to keep the developers from exceeding budget. There's probably two profitable points - really early (the casual game approach) and with excessive details (the epic world approach, e.g. Blizzard, Bethesda, Final Fantasy).

Maybe a few spikes in the middle, but I think it's more that half-assed details don't add any value to games.

Agree with Graham though, that as time goes by, there's an 'inflation' of details. Back then, shooting a guy in the leg and having him tumble/fall on that leg was special. Headshots were a new thing. Having grass blow in the wind was special. These days, all that stuff is unnoticeable, and even leads up to higher expectations/disappointment.
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« Reply #23 on: February 21, 2013, 07:09:32 PM »

I guess I derailed the topic with the subject of difficulty. I guess my real focus is, I wonder if people can make games with more gameplay and longer story line than the average game. What if someone can create a game that revolutionizes the subject of gameplay length? A game that has a story line that extends so far that it makes the games we play now look like 5 minute stories?

An even crazier thought, what if someone were to create a story line that was seemingly endless, and add new episodes onto the story line that the developer would release once he's finished with it (like a continuous DLC pack)?
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« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2013, 08:16:02 AM »

You kind of dodged the point. The "feeling" of length can be improved with better told stories. You can extend them, sure. I would. Doing so has a cost. The main deterrent is money. Writing game stories is hard.

Proc-gen is the way to go. Or, failing that, you can do continuous DLC. Many games do something like that. Sam and Max was episodic. You bought one piece of the story at a time, like it was a DLC-only game.

Skyrim has people putting in 100 hours. How much story do you want? You mean better story for 100 hours? 500 hours? You need to go proc-gen for that. That should be obvious....
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« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2013, 01:32:11 PM »

You kind of dodged the point. The "feeling" of length can be improved with better told stories. You can extend them, sure. I would. Doing so has a cost. The main deterrent is money. Writing game stories is hard.

Proc-gen is the way to go. Or, failing that, you can do continuous DLC. Many games do something like that. Sam and Max was episodic. You bought one piece of the story at a time, like it was a DLC-only game.

Skyrim has people putting in 100 hours. How much story do you want? You mean better story for 100 hours? 500 hours? You need to go proc-gen for that. That should be obvious....
Interesting. Define exactly what you mean by proc gen? (assuming you mean procedural generation)
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« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2013, 01:47:13 PM »

Yes. Or you could think about having a huge budget, or more talent writers or whatever.
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