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Nothing wrong with a good story.


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#21 Buster   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 18 September 2000 - 10:29 AM

Quake 3 had lots of story!

It was about the epic struggle of man deciding between the shotgun or the railgun.

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#22 ahw   Members   -  Reputation: 263

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Posted 18 September 2000 - 11:12 AM

LMAO
ACtually, there was a short paragraph in the Doom games, I think it would be called flavor text rather than actual *story*.

Now I would agree though, that quake can offer some pretty dramatic moments of tension ...
"Am I going to make it to the next big health pack", or this famous scene where your comrade is trying to cross the field towards the enemy base, and get shot by a sniper. Then the doc try to rescue him and get shot as well, and the crying ... ooh the crying... or was that Full Metal JAcket ... mmm... OK.

To camp or not to camp, that is the question.

#23 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 18 September 2000 - 02:50 PM

quote:
Original post by ahw

LMAO

To camp or not to camp, that is the question.


Hahaha! "Whether tis'' nobler in the mind to get a headshot, or to suffer the rockets of outrageous fortune!!!!"

I''ve heard it said that the stuff that you do in a game may make for story, but it''s rarely a very interesting story. ("Then I went to the Catacombs, but Bugsy died, so she had to restart in town. Then Cuddles PKed her for no reason. Then I got health...")





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Just waiting for the mothership...

#24 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 21 September 2000 - 05:40 AM

quote:
How can you say this? This is completely illogical. Every choice you make in these story-less games changes the game. Therefore they are meaningful within the context of the game as a system.


Great, I''d be doing something meaningful in an abstract and meaningless system. Plus, it''s not even true that what you do in Quake and Tetris change the game. Kill some person in Quake and they respawn seconds later. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has changed in any significant way. Score a couple rows in Tetris and what happens? The blocks just keep on falling EXACTLY like they did before. Wow, that''s meaningful for sure...

I''m going to make a wild guess here and say that you''re extremely intrigued with the upcoming game Black and White? It seems to be just along the lines of what you want. Perhaps The Sims as well? Both these games exemplify what you seem to think is needed in games. To be honest though, I find The Sims quite boring and I''m really not terribly interested in Black and White. Fallout 3 though? Can''t wait.

quote:
Finally, I''ll charge you with answering the reverse of #2: Don''t rely on slippery, entirely subjective notions of what is and is not fun. What''s fun about taking away choice from the player in a game? (I suspect it''s more fun for the writer than it is for the player, btw.)


I don''t think I''ve ever said that a game with a story has to be linear or take any choice away from the player. In fact, I think games with stories are the only medium in which any choice can be given to the player at all. Like I pointed out above, how much choice does it take to mindlessly blast something in quake or score yet another row in Tetris? None. This sort of game is inherently devoid of choice.

With a story though it becomes an entirely different matter. You are presented with the choice between saving your wife or preventing the destruction of a city. What do you do? Now that has meaning. That sort of choice can be made to affect the rest of the game. I will agree, though, that this sort of choice must be central to the development of such a game. Stories need to revolve around this kind of "nodal" point (to borrow a word from William Gibson). You choose to save your wife, and the city is wiped off the face of the planet. I''m sure it''s obvious how this can impact the rest of the game.

quote:
Here''s the crux of our difference: You seem to have no problem with a game that would play like a David Brin or Ian Banks novel but as a result give you little say in guiding your experience. This to me would be anathema. Without substantial choice, this would not be a game, and shouldn''t bother to call itself such. Electronic story with ocassional mouse clicking would be more appropriate.


No, that''s not entirely true. I''d like to see a game that plays through like a David Brin or Ian Banks novel, but remains completely interactive and impacted by the actions of the player. This requires what seems to me to be a whole new form of writing--perhaps it could just be called non-linear writing--where the bulk of the narrative work lies on these nodal points where the story changes and the interaction between them.

Combine this with fun and engaging game mechanics and it seems to me you have the best of both worlds. Obviously though, the mechanics would have to be tightly linked with the narrative in order to not seem out of place.

I''m not sure if I''m making any sense here...

#25 ahw   Members   -  Reputation: 263

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Posted 21 September 2000 - 09:37 AM

Wavinator : you jsut reminded me of a serie of comic books called "Chroniques de la Lune Noire" (chronicles of the Black Moon) that is entirely (as far as I know), based on a campaign (that is, a serie of several scenarios, all linked) of AD&D.
ERrrr, how can I put that simply ... it''s the perfect example of what powermaxing is, it''s "dungeonesque" to the bone, oooh the pain. If you judge it on a literrary point of view, it''s not very interesting (jsut like you described), but if you see it as a scenario of RPG, then it really whoops llamas a$s
Actually they even made a RTS of it...
Just to say that you can make a ''correct'' story out of a crap game (I don''t have a really high opinion of the AD&D system, so I am totally biased).

youpla :-P

#26 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 21 September 2000 - 10:19 AM

quote:
Original post by Shinkage

Great, I''d be doing something meaningful in an abstract and meaningless system. Plus, it''s not even true that what you do in Quake and Tetris change the game. Kill some person in Quake and they respawn seconds later. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING has changed in any significant way. Score a couple rows in Tetris and what happens? The blocks just keep on falling EXACTLY like they did before. Wow, that''s meaningful for sure...



I''m not talking Sophia''s Choice or saving the universe!!! You''re focusing on capital ''M'' meaning again, Shrinkage.

Your choices are meaningful because they change a system of interacting parts (which is the core of a game). Tetris: Wait for the L block? Where to put the T block? Can you move the I block over in time?

Quake: Dodge? Direct attack? Jump? Turn? Anyone behind? Go for the superhealth? Railgun or rocket launcher? Stay or go?

Can you see that you have a wealth of choices here? This is what a game is! A restrained narrative can not now, nor will it anytime soon, provide these choices.

quote:

I''m going to make a wild guess here and say that you''re extremely intrigued with the upcoming game Black and White? It seems to be just along the lines of what you want. Perhaps The Sims as well?



Bzzzzzzt! "I''m sorry, thanks for playing. But as a parting gift, we have this lovely consolation prize: A sample from Wavinator''s game library, including Unreal! Starcraft! Alpha Centauri! And one of those rare nonfantasy RPGs, the awesome Fallout 1 & 2!!!!!"

quote:

Both these games exemplify what you seem to think is needed in games.


What?!?!? Explain this, pls!

quote:

To be honest though, I find The Sims quite boring and I''m really not terribly interested in Black and White.
Fallout 3 though? Can''t wait.


Uh, we agree here, so where the heck are we still disagreeing?


quote:

In fact, I think games with stories are the only medium in which any choice can be given to the player at all. Like I pointed out above, how much choice does it take to mindlessly blast something in quake or score yet another row in Tetris?



Haven''t checked those links, eh? Waddarya afraid of?
Here''s Greg Costikyan:

"What does a player do in any game? Some things depend on the medium. In some games, he rolls dice. In some games, he chats with his friends. In some games, he whacks at a keyboard. But in every game, he makes decisions.

At every point, he considers the game state. That might be what he sees on the screen. Or it might be what the gamemaster has just told him. Or it might be the arrangement on the pieces on the board. Then, he considers his objectives, and the game tokens and resources available to him. And he considers his opposition, the forces he must struggle against. He tries to decide on the best course of action.

And he makes a decision."

The choice/decision is valuable and valid within the context of the game as a system of interacting, changing parts. It''s a game because the player can change things.

Here''s Costikyan again on why games aren''t stories:

"Again and again, we hear about story. Interactive literature. Creating a story through roleplay. The idea that games have something to do with stories has such a hold on designers'' imagination that it probably can''t be expunged. It deserves at least to be challenged.

Stories are inherently linear. However much characters may agonize over the decisions they make, they make them the same way every time we reread the story, and the outcome is always the same. Indeed, this is a strength; the author chose precisely those characters, those events, those decisions, and that outcome, because it made for the strongest story. If the characters did something else, the story wouldn''t be as interesting.

Games are inherently non-linear. They depend on decision making. Decisions have to pose real, plausible alternatives, or they aren''t real decisions. It must be entirely reasonable for a player to make a decision one way in one game, and a different way in the next. To the degree that you make a game more like a story -- more linear, fewer real options -- you make it less like a game."

quote:

With a story though it becomes an entirely different matter. You are presented with the choice between saving your wife or preventing the destruction of a city. What do you do? Now that has meaning.


No it doesn''t. Not anymore than does getting a headshot in Unreal. Both are, as you said earlier, "pushing pixels around."

...that is, unless you''re willing to concede that meaning only exists in the context of the game as a system. Then saving your wife has meaning, because it changes the game. It alters the game as a system. (And so too does getting the sniper rifle in Unreal.)

quote:

I''d like to see a game that plays through like a David Brin or Ian Banks novel, but remains completely interactive and impacted by the actions of the player. This requires what seems to me to be a whole new form of writing--perhaps it could just be called non-linear writing--where the bulk of the narrative work lies on these nodal points where the story changes and the interaction between them.



Okay, do you really understand from a technical standpoint what you''re asking for? Do you understand the plot branching problem? Depending on your branches and nodes you end up with an exponential number of plotlines to write!




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#27 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 26 September 2000 - 10:35 AM

First off, yes, I'm am aware that designing the kind of game I would most like to see is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. That doesn't mean it can't be my "ideal" game.

Ok, now, you say that games such as Quake and Tetris give you a plethora of choices, such as what move to use, or where to put a block. What I don't understand, is why you think these choices can't exist just as meaningfully within the context of a narrative? They do not seem to be in any way mutually exclusive things. You're talking about how the actual mechanics of the game play out and I'm talking about the broad direction the game goes in. There is no reason a game can not play through an epic story line and not provide the EXACT same gameplay mechanics you are evangelizing. Just think of the actual story as a sort of layer on top of the gameplay mechanics, and not something that is or should be manipulated by what you do in the game. I don't know if this makes sense...

I concede that meaning in games is in terms of the gameplay system. I suppose getting a sniper rifle can constitute a "meaningful" action in the system of Unreal. The extent of that meaning, however, is very limited. What happens when you die? Everything goes back to the way you started and the game goes on just as it has since it started. Very little actually changes significantly in the long term. It does, however, have short term meaning. Perhaps this is a very important distinction--short term vs. long term meaning.

You keep on referring me to those links like if I read them I would be speaking and thinking differently. I did not read completely through all of them, but the simple fact is that I simply did not agree with what what they said. Just because they're there doesn't mean I have to take them as truth or in any way integrate them into my views on the subject if I disagree with them.

Just noticed, my handle is S H I N K A G E not S H R I N K A G E. Please

Edited by - Shinkage on September 26, 2000 5:37:38 PM

#28 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 26 September 2000 - 11:40 AM

Shinkage (True Shadow, I believe?) is right. There was a Tetris Plus released for the playstation, and though it sucked, it had a narrative worked in.

The Marathon series from bungie was a rather plot-rich FPS. The nature of these games does not preclude narrative by any means. The only obstcale to improvement by the presence of a narrative is the poor quality of game writing, which has pretty much always been there.

#29 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 26 September 2000 - 04:50 PM

Yes Landfish, yes! This makes me happy

PS Heh, let's see if I can get this right the second time. Shinkage, in the context from which I get it, can mean New Shadow or True Shadow I believe. If you're interested in that context, e-mail me so we don't clutter this up with uselessness

Edited by - Shinkage on September 26, 2000 11:54:04 PM

#30 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 12:09 AM

So what are you saying, on what level & to what depth do you want this linear story?

Do you want the player not to be a participant in this story, just watching it, in this case what sort of gameplay do you envisage?

What would be the point of putting a sort of story to tetris, how would this be shown? What would you have Cut Scenes showing fighting blocks? You would need a password system anyway, so that people could continue the story from last bookmark .

(BTW Black & White does share elements with Fallout, ie. it has little moral scruple / quests that you find ie. a farmer prays to you for help because the starving villagers are stealing his pigs! So do you punish the farmer for being greedy, let the villagers get away with it- thus encouraging thieving!, ignore the situation, kill them all etc. and all via direct interaction! Also depending on whether you are a good / bad god, you have to eventually defeat a god which has the opposite scruples to you ie. bad/ good, talk about personalisation of story / gameplay.It looks to be a very good game.)



There is a guy in the South village called Tony, he's a Ninja.

#31 ahw   Members   -  Reputation: 263

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 05:20 AM

/OFF TOPIC/ Shinkage, maybe you should tell everybody what the name means... from my search on it, I was hesitating between "Shadow of death", and "the other side of truth" ... guess I wasn''t too far.

#32 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 08:41 AM

quote:

Just noticed, my handle is S H I N K A G E not S H R I N K A G E. Please



Doh!!!! Arghhh!! Blast it, I do this all the time. I swear, if there was some RPG stat called "Chance to Correctly Pronounce Name: xx%" mine would be negative! (You should have seen how I was mispronouncing Landfish''s nick... Lungfish, anyone... )

Shinkage. Got it!

quote:

First off, yes, I''m am aware that designing the kind of game I would most like to see is, for all intents and purposes, impossible. That doesn''t mean it can''t be my "ideal" game.


K, just making sure.

quote:

Ok, now, you say that games such as Quake and Tetris give you a plethora of choices, such as what move to use, or where to put a block. What I don''t understand, is why you think these choices can''t exist just as meaningfully within the context of a narrative?



I think we''re finally close to understanding one another. Just a hitch, tho'': If you can''t change something, you have no choice. I think what you''re talking about is a case of a game with a story in it. You can change the game parts, but the story moves you ultimately in the same direction. You play awhile, then you stop interacting and watch a movie or scripted sequence.

There''s nothing wrong with this. Fallout uses this system. The problem I have with this varies to the degree that you can''t change your overall experience. If you''re stuck with playing the game parts without being able to impact the overall experience (story or setting), then you''re having two seperate experiences: one interactive, the other passive. However, if, like in Fallout, you can affect the overall experience (e.g., kill the Ghouls & take the waterchip vs. trying to find a common solution, etc.) then I think this is great. This is where branching plotlines comes in full.

quote:

There is no reason a game can not play through an epic story line and not provide the EXACT same gameplay mechanics you are evangelizing. Just think of the actual story as a sort of layer on top of the gameplay mechanics, and not something that is or should be manipulated by what you do in the game.



Okay, the devil''s in the details: What are you doing when you''re playing? At some point story melds with gameplay. Why are you killing Foozle? Who took the Sword of Slaying you''re looking for? Why are you breaking into the Dragon''s Lair?

If you have story completely immutable and seperate, then why is it in the game? If you say to motivate the player, or to give context and importance to his actions, then we''re back to square one: Making decisions which have no impact is pointless. You might as well be watching a movie and occassionally clicking your mouse.

quote:

I concede that meaning in games is in terms of the gameplay system. I suppose getting a sniper rifle can constitute a "meaningful" action in the system of Unreal. The extent of that meaning, however, is very limited. What happens when you die?


The enemy side gets the flag. You have to go out naked and find the Flak Cannon. Your rep goes down. The other side is one step closer to winning the match. Your tactical plans are ruined.

I think this is very meaningful and long term.


quote:

You keep on referring me to those links like if I read them I would be speaking and thinking differently. I did not read completely through all of them, but the simple fact is that I simply did not agree with what what they said.



Okay, I wasn''t sure because you''d made no specific comment / reference to them. This is some very sophistocated work, and I pointed to it because they''re the writings of some pretty smart people in the field. We don''t have authority figures (thank god!) but I think it would be foolish to ignore the expert work of people who have come before us. (If you''re gonna be a trendbreaker, at least be able to articulate what trends you''re breaking and why! )

BTW, if you know of any links that analyze this issue from your perspective I''d be happy to read them! (I''m always looking for a well argued counter-perspective!)



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#33 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 08:52 AM

quote:
Original post by Landfish

There was a Tetris Plus released for the playstation, and though it sucked, it had a narrative worked in.




The fact that it sucked wouldn''t have anything to do with the fact that story had no relation to gameplay, would it? I mean, c''mon! You''ve got to __WORK__ to make Tetris suck!



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#34 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 12:32 PM

I'll say simply that you aren't exactly the first to mispronounce my name here. Not by far...

Wavinator, I keep on reading through your argument and keep on failing to see your connection between how a completely linear plot can negatively impact gameplay. As long as the plot is well constructed and fitting to what the player is doing, there's absolutely no reason that it should be a bad thing. The actual gameplay mechanics aren't affected by it. Take Halflife for instance. I'll say up front that I don't think its plot was particularly interesting, and only somewhat well executed. It was, however, much more than had ever been accomplished in an FPS before that point though. The actual gameplay in it, however, was completely independant of plot. The only reason plot existed was to provide some sort of suspension of disbelief as to why you were blasting your way through hundreds of enemy creatures. My question is, would Halflife have been a better game had they removed the (obviously) completely linear plot from it? My thought is no...

Just because there is ONE element of a game the player can not affect, does NOT make that element bad. As long as there remain elements that can be affected that can stand by themselves, nothing is lost to elements that can not be changed. You seem to be operating under the assumption that there is some rule stating that EVERY aspect of a game MUST be COMPLETELY interactive, and this simply is not true. I see no evidence, either speculative or proven, that would indicate this.

quote:
If you have story completely immutable and seperate, then why is it in the game? If you say to motivate the player, or to give context and importance to his actions, then we're back to square one: Making decisions which have no impact is pointless. You might as well be watching a movie and occassionally clicking your mouse.


That's just incorrect. Why might I be as well just watching a movie? Perhaps this statement is true if ALL the game contains is a linear plot with no interactive elements, but otherwise your conclusion is incorrect.

quote:
This is some very sophistocated work, and I pointed to it because they're the writings of some pretty smart people in the field. We don't have authority figures (thank god!) but I think it would be foolish to ignore the expert work of people who have come before us.


I have gathered one thing from those links you posted that directly relates to this debate, and that is that they all claim games are fundamentally non-linear. Actually, fundamentally seems to be a good word to use here. Looking it up, I get some good synonums--basically, mainly, primarily. Not one part of the definition, however, says COMPLETELY. And that is the point I am trying to make. There is no saying that a game need be COMPLETELY non-linear.

Edited by - Shinkage on September 27, 2000 7:36:31 PM

#35 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 27 September 2000 - 11:29 PM

Shinkage,
Didn''t it suck in Half-Life when you couldn''t save the characters being attacked, when the scientist hiding in the bin didn''t get out and follow you when you had killed all the dogs, and when there was only ONE path to the surface.

#36 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 01:26 PM

No, I don''t recall thinking it sucked particularly. Not that I would be against them having programmed the scientist to get out or making more than one path to the surface.

#37 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 28 September 2000 - 08:49 PM

Perhaps I can bring the middle ground to the discussion here:

I consider a game with a solid, well-written, but entirely linear story, like a Tetris game with exceptionally well-rendered blocks and lovely backgrounds. You can''t affect it, it''s just "there", but it does make a difference in how you perceive the game.
A game with no story then ( and this is a big step for me ), would be like tetris with really basic blocks and no backgrounds. It''s the same game, and it''s still fun, but it doesn''t have the same "Ooooh!" value. That''s why HalfLife worked - it was just fluff, but no-one had ever spent that much time on the fluff in the FPS genre.
Plus, a story is probably more emotive and tightly connected to the game play... you might not be able to save the scientist, but it makes you feel that "if only you''d been that bit quicker, you might have helped him!". The story drags you in with PERCEIVED interactivity, to put that menacing stare on your face the next time you blast one of those aliens to kingdom come ( "THAT''s for the scientist, you bastard!" ).
Only, replaying the scientist scene will ruin the suspension of disbelief, when you find out that you really couldn''t have saved him at all, nomatter how good you are. So perhaps we should be talking about LIMITING replay, and not increasing it .

Also consider half-life with full story interactivity. You start the game, and manage to stop that reactor thing from exploding. End of game.
Not very interesting...
The Half-Life universe is built around certain events unfolding that you CANNOT prevent... it''s going to be very hard to find a way to make games that don''t have any "impossibilities".


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~

#38 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1825

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 08:10 AM

Shinkage,

Just a quick question: Do you play any games that have replay value? If so, which ones and why do you like them? If not, why not?

I thought I''d ask before I post anything else.

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#39 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 10:08 AM

The only games I play with replay value are those that involve some level of real thinking. Anything like Quake or Tetris just simply gets real boring real fast for me. That whole "Gee this tunnel looks familiar" thing just drives me crazy.

Civilization II. That game I would play again and again for hours on end. Crazy replay value. The nice thing about that game was that the setup would be entirely different every time you played it (random maps and placement) so two different games could unfold drastically differently. As hard as I think though, I can''t recall another replayable game that I actually enjoyed the 10th or 20th time around.

Personally, I''d rather go through a game just once and really have an experience with it.

#40 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 09:22 PM

Shinkage, I think I''m with you on that last statement...
I think it''s the "Save game/Reload" that brought out the interactivity weaknesses in the Halflife storyline - if that had not been possible, it might not have been so obvious.

Perhaps, all this talk of replay value works only for games that are simple, with no story? I''m thinking, a strong story-based game, that you can play ONCE, and then you have a really good book?


People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~




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