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Nothing wrong with a good story.


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#41 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 11:26 PM

A problem with that may be, people often reread their very favourite books ?

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#42 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 29 September 2000 - 11:46 PM

Good point Ket

I think that non-story games probably have more potential for replay value, but that doesn''t have to be so. I used to play a text adventure game called Zyll just about every day of my life for about a year or something. It was not exactly non-linear in the sense that many things changed each time, but it did allow for the player to explore things in whatever order you wanted.

I think most story-based games (especially the more recent ones) don''t offer a lot of replay value, but that doesn''t mean that it has to be that way.

"'Nazrix is cool' -- Nazrix" --Darkmage --Godfree

#43 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 01:03 AM

Thoughts on Final Fantasy 7 read as a (Comic) book.
As good as Final Fantasy 7 is to "read" (I enjoyed it as a Comic Book where you could read the story for 1-2 hours a night if you did the game bits right.)

I think that it FF7 too long so it is mildly less exciting to replay ie. several hours until you get to the exciting bit you want to Read
NOTE 1. How about having a chapter system where you get passwords to skip to the start of a chapter ? Like flicking through a book. A save system wouldn't work as well, because people would lose their save games and then not want to play through the game to get to their favourite bit.

Gameplay. Whilst the first time you play a FF7 type game with that sort of battle system I think it is fun, because the combatants make you improve your strategy to defeat them. (Okay I don't like games that have powerful creatures that kill you, but in this context it was fun to reshuffle the materia (spells) between the characters), but on replaying it you will be able to kick the creatures ***** because you know the best strategy. Which makes it easier to "read" the story, but less fun to fight.

Edited by - Ketchaval on September 30, 2000 8:05:18 AM

#44 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 06:23 AM

Good point Ket, but I think that if games were as well constructed as a good book, they''d be just as easy to pick up a while after you finish them and play through again.

The big problem with story based games as I see it is that their gameplay is generally not capable of standing on its own without the story, and thus becomes very tedious the second time around (if not the first). I wait for the day we see a game that has both a gripping story and finely tuned and very enjoyable gameplay so that the one compliments, not detracts from, the other.

#45 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 07:24 AM

Shinkage,

If you think about it Final Fantasy 7 etc, and other epic "storybook" games are as long as a Charles Dicken''s epic book, but the content that they actually deliver is more like a very slowly read comic book (Ie. V for Vendetta / Sandman).

#46 Forneiq   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 08:07 AM

I''d just like to point out that although the linear and non-linear parts of games are at different levels, all the games you have mentioned have both linear and non-linear aspects.
Even Quake (which I see is being championed as non-linear, non-story based) has linear elements. Can you get to one level without beating the last? Can you somehow avoid getting the key or flipping the switch or whatever you have to do to go farther? Are there any alternative methods to open doors, raise bridges, etc? Although you can do anything you want between opening the door, etc, eventually you have to open it before going farther.
Is this not linearity rearing its ugly head?

Where is your freedom to make a difference? Do your actions in one level even effect the next level? Or once you beat a level all your meaningful, important decisions are erased?

Even in CRPG''s you can decide what you will do between plot points. It is just that eventually you have to go rescue the princess or whatever.

The fact is, a game can only have so much interactivity given the current state of the industry: AI, writing, memory storage, etc.

I do realise however, that in most cases, designers could do better and give players more choices, but they cannot as yet offer complete freedom.

#47 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 02:03 PM

quote:
Original post by Forneiq

I''d just like to point out that although the linear and non-linear parts of games are at different levels, all the games you have mentioned have both linear and non-linear aspects.
Even Quake (which I see is being championed as non-linear, non-story based) has linear elements. Can you get to one level without beating the last? Can you somehow avoid getting the key or flipping the switch or whatever you have to do to go farther? Are there any alternative methods to open doors, raise bridges, etc? Although you can do anything you want between opening the door, etc, eventually you have to open it before going farther.
Is this not linearity rearing its ugly head?



I''ll give you that Quake is not entirely non-linear in this respect. But I think this is a matter of degree. Once you get past that bridge or door, the enemy encounters will be anything but linear, especially if you vary your actions. Heck, in games like System Shock the enemies might not even be in the expected place!


quote:

Where is your freedom to make a difference? Do your actions in one level even effect the next level? Or once you beat a level all your meaningful, important decisions are erased?



Not entirely. Play through without once saving and you''ll see what I mean. Your health varies, your ammo varies, and because of this how you interact with the enemies and environment varies. It''s quite a different game to face a boss monster with 10% health and a handful of bullets than it is armed to the teeth.

Now it is true that you *always* have to face the boss monster. So if you want a better example on non-linearity, I offer: A botmatch in Unreal, or a game of Civilization.



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#48 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 30 September 2000 - 02:18 PM

quote:
Original post by Shinkage

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.



Hahaha! Okay, now I''m thoroughly confused.

If you loved Civ, one of the most story-less, replayable, non-linear games in existence, then I''m at a loss for understanding how we differ. This game just *drips* with player choice. Can you imagine what the game would be like if it were linear? In fact, if you want to see an example, look at the somewhat disappointing Age of Wonders.


quote:

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


I posted a thread awhile back about finishers vs. escapists. Some people just want to finish a game and move on to the next, and others want to replay the game through and through. (Nothing wrong with either one, just an observation)


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#49 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 01 October 2000 - 05:35 AM

quote:
Not entirely. Play through without once saving and you'll see what I mean. Your health varies, your ammo varies, and because of this how you interact with the enemies and environment varies. It's quite a different game to face a boss monster with 10% health and a handful of bullets than it is armed to the teeth.


You see, to me this sort of "variety" is completely meaningless. I dare you to cite ONE SINGLE GAME that does not provide at least as much non-linearity as having to deal with character's health.

quote:
If you loved Civ, one of the most story-less, replayable, non-linear games in existence, then I'm at a loss for understanding how we differ. This game just *drips* with player choice. Can you imagine what the game would be like if it were linear? In fact, if you want to see an example, look at the somewhat disappointing Age of Wonders.


Your point? A single example of a game that is good and entirely non-linear does not make for solid proof that non-linearity is superior. In fact, Civ seems to demonstrate more than anything that what makes a game good is how well the game is designed. How tightly it's made. Age of Wonders wasn't bad because they added linearity, it was bad because it just wasn't a terribly good game. It didn't have that special something that was present in Civ.

quote:
I posted a thread awhile back about finishers vs. escapists. Some people just want to finish a game and move on to the next, and others want to replay the game through and through. (Nothing wrong with either one, just an observation)


I'd say that, again, this depends entirely on the game. Nobody wants to play a crappy game over and over again, but some of the most hardcore "escapists"--the ones who play games through and through--can be found playing Final Fantasy, a decidedly linear game. Again, it has nothing to do with whether the game has a plot or not, it has to do with how well constructed the game is and, if it does have a plot, how well it is written and delivered.

Edited by - Shinkage on October 1, 2000 12:37:24 PM

#50 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 01 October 2000 - 10:37 AM

I think that Final Fantasy 7 is good fun to make your way through again. This may be because it uses the available techniques to make it "if not immersive - ie. You don't believe that you are there , but believable - but it gives the feeling of a window into another world, watching another character"

It has great graphics (resolution aside), and good music which combine to make give a good impression of the world that they are simulating. Who can forget places (scenes) like Cosmo Canyon and the campfire discussion (even if you don't remember the text dialog) ?

I certainly wouldn't cite Quake as non-linear, if anything Fallout 2 is relatively non-linear. And you don't even have to complete the main objective, until you get bored with the rest of the world. It neatly ties in the player freedom to a controllable ending which also incorporates some of the important things that the player has done, and the ability to provide Closure (an ending?) to the story.

Edited by - Ketchaval on October 1, 2000 5:40:57 PM

#51 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 01 October 2000 - 08:51 PM

quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
A problem with that may be, people often reread their very favourite books ?



Erm, problem? That''s the point I was trying to make!
You play the game once, and you loved it. You feel like playing it again, and you do so, but somehow, you changed your playing speed by a few milliseconds, and now the outcome is different.
Imagine re-reading your favorite book and finding it has changed in the meantime!
The easiest way to avoid it would be to either rip out the interactivity after the first time, and be left with a "game movie", or simply store all the events that have taken place when you finish, and allow the PC to "replay" it as a demo.



People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
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#52 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 02 October 2000 - 03:43 AM

Ah sorry, you didn''t seem to be saying that, it was appeared you were saying that you could make a game with no replay value, and just have it for the story : But that would make it really dull to play through the story.

MadKeithV Quote:
" 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?"

#53 MadKeithV   Moderators   -  Reputation: 971

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Posted 02 October 2000 - 04:02 AM

Hm, I still read that quote as saying "after you have played it once, you have a really good book." It''s a good game the first time, and then you don''t re -"play" it, but just watch the events again, because "playing" it again might reveal the places where you had less choice than you thought you had.


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

#54 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 04 October 2000 - 10:01 AM

quote:
Original post by Shinkage

You see, to me this sort of "variety" is completely meaningless.



Okay, I think this is a matter of taste, and beyond that we can''t argue.

quote:

I dare you to cite ONE SINGLE GAME that does not provide at least as much non-linearity as having to deal with character''s health.



I don''t understand. Are you asking for an example of a game that provides more than character''s health as a non-linear factor?

quote:

Your point? A single example of a game that is good and entirely non-linear does not make for solid proof that non-linearity is superior.



To me it''s not a question of superior. It''s more a question of to which side of the continuum something lies: rigid, non-mutable, linear... or fluid, changable, non-linear. I don''t consider electronic stories or story-games lower forms of entertainment. I just don''t consider them real games. We disagree here, which is fine.

quote:

In fact, Civ seems to demonstrate more than anything that what makes a game good is how well the game is designed. How tightly it''s made. Age of Wonders wasn''t bad because they added linearity, it was bad because it just wasn''t a terribly good game.



Hmmmm... this I can debate you forever on. The core of the game they were emulating was: Master of Magic, or Civilization. The thing that makes these games excellent is the godlike freedom they bestow upon you. In my mind, Gods don''t follow constrained paths. They go where they please. This sense is somewhat at odds with story.
I think AOW failed to appreciate this, failed to give you enough choice. Because the game was infested with prescripted sequences (in an effort to tell a story) they took away the strategic detail and turned it into a mission based game. Now I''m sure this works for some, but it kills the spirit of being your own emperor, so to speak.

quote:

I''d say that, again, this depends entirely on the game. Nobody wants to play a crappy game over and over again, but some of the most hardcore "escapists"--the ones who play games through and through--can be found playing Final Fantasy, a decidedly linear game. Again, it has nothing to do with whether the game has a plot or not, it has to do with how well constructed the game is and, if it does have a plot, how well it is written and delivered.



When they play over and over, what effect do you think a plot that they''ll eventually know like the back of their hand has? I can only imagine that they''d get to the point where they ignore the plot, no?

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#55 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 04 October 2000 - 01:07 PM

quote:
I don''t understand. Are you asking for an example of a game that provides more than character''s health as a non-linear factor?


I am asking you to provide an example of a game that does not provide at least as much non-linearity as character health. If I''m not mistaken you cited it as an example of what makes Quake non-linear.

quote:
Hmmmm... this I can debate you forever on. The core of the game they were emulating was: Master of Magic, or Civilization. The thing that makes these games excellent is the godlike freedom they bestow upon you...


Yes, this is true. It was a God game of that same sort. What I disagree with is the fact that making it more linear made it worse. What made it worse was *changing* it at all. I am completely unconvinced that Civ could not be done well with a plot. As long as the gameplay elements are compelling in their own right, then it would do fine. Problem with AoW is that the GAME itself just wasn''t designed as well as Civ was. What you DO in the game just doesn''t capture that same quality that made Civ such a classic.

quote:
When they play over and over, what effect do you think a plot that they''ll eventually know like the back of their hand has? I can only imagine that they''d get to the point where they ignore the plot, no?


Sure, I wouldn''t doubt it. Now remove the plot and see how many of them would have gone through it more than once, if at all... Not many I''d wager.

#56 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 06:51 AM

quote:
Original post by Shinkage

I am asking you to provide an example of a game that does not provide at least as much non-linearity as character health. If I'm not mistaken you cited it as an example of what makes Quake non-linear.




Darn it, I'm still not clear on what you're saying. You're asking for an example of a game where non-linearity gives you what?


I cited Quake as an example because the combination of movement and resource management gave you interesting decisions to make. This is on the microcosm that is the current level you're playing. Move, duck, dodge, jump, turn, etc., etc.

I don't know of any highly linear "game" that gives you that many choices. Usually, it's "watch movie, click to continue." Sometimes they get really bold: "watch movie, make choice that has no impact, click to continue" (Wing Commander 3)

quote:

I am completely unconvinced that Civ could not be done well with a plot. As long as the gameplay elements are compelling in their own right, then it would do fine. Problem with AoW is that the GAME itself just wasn't designed as well as Civ was. What you DO in the game just doesn't capture that same quality that made Civ such a classic.



So you'd add a plot to Civ. This I've got to hear. What would the plot be? How would you remove / limit gameplay to impose narrative?

The only way you could possibly do this would be to destroy the game as it is. Let's assume that the plot has to be significant: That means that it has to affect world events (because that's the scale of this game). That then means that you have to invalidate player decisions at some point.

With linear narrative you have no choice! You can't, as a plot event, visit aliens or the drama of global cooling upon the Earth without completely screwing up the game! Why? Because it's a balanced contest where equal competitors pursue victory through decision making.

Your narrative would amount to random events, and many strategy gamers turn them off. Why? Because they interrupt this even contest of strategic thought and choice.

In a game like civ, narrative can do one of two things: Play second fiddle to the actual game, and be as minimal and ancilliary as the text sequences in Alpha Centauri or the movies in Tiberium Sun. Or, you screw up the game by imposing non-player made events that come completely from outside the system. (This == BAD)

quote:

Sure, I wouldn't doubt it. Now remove the plot and see how many of them would have gone through it more than once, if at all... Not many I'd wager.


No, then you'd probably attract the X-Com / Jagged Alliance crowd, which is fine by me.



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Edited by - Wavinator on October 5, 2000 1:53:32 PM

#57 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 11:11 AM

Wavinator, we seem to have irreconcilable differences in our basic understanding here. I''ve put what I''m saying in the simplest terms I can, so at this point I guess it just comes down to the fact that we both disagree.

I guess my real problem is that you keep saying that what plot does is bad, but havn''t really said why. Well, needless to say I disagree, but I suppose that''s as far as we''re going to get with this.

#58 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 05 October 2000 - 12:16 PM

Yeah, we should both get awards for "Longest Thread Created By The Fewest People"

Oh well. Draw.

I actually thought the example of trying to provide a plot for civilization was the "coffin nail" in this argument, because it can''t be done without the results I noted above.

As a final note, I''d still like to know what your solution would be, though. Can you show me it''s not impossible? I''ve posted a separate thread on this.

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#59 Gollum   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 10 October 2000 - 08:33 AM

Just to jump in at the last minute, here are a couple of ideas...

- What if you had a game with NO choices that affect the action? What if all you could do was run around in 3D and watch things unfold? I could imagine a superbly detailed battle sim, ranging over lots of territory, with feints and surprises. Running around JUST WATCHING that would be fun, and more fun than, say, TV. And plenty of people watch TV, right?

- Now, let''s say that we want more control over the action. We can take a realistic, coherent world with certain starting conditions. There may be three ways the main conflict can turn out, and several subplots with different possible outcomes - maybe thirty or fifty different permutations. But does that mean that you only make thirty or fifty CHOICES during the game? No. It just means that many of your choices - "Do I walk right of left?" "Do I climb over that wall or walk through the door?" - don''t affect the larger plotlines of the world. You get freedom of choice, and you still restrict plot in a way that allows the author(s) (the game developers) to control meaning.

So, I think the gamer can have her choices, and the developer can have her control as well. Think about it - in real life, you have much more freedom of choice than in any computer game, ever. You have thousands of choices a day. But 999 of them will not affect the major themes of your life, your community, your nation, etc.

In short, I would say that all of the small choices a character makes ADD UP (through a built in and hopefully hidden point system) to larger "tendencies", and that these tendencies can drive the big events in certain limited directions. That''s not the only kind of game out there, but it''s certainly a viable mix of stort control and personal freedom.

Unless you think that which spoon you use to eat your cereal in the morning is a matter of "story".... ;-)

- gollumgollum

#60 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1565

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Posted 10 October 2000 - 09:55 AM

quote:
Original post by Gollum

Just to jump in at the last minute, here are a couple of ideas...

- What if you had a game with NO choices that affect the action? What if all you could do was run around in 3D and watch things unfold? I could imagine a superbly detailed battle sim, ranging over lots of territory, with feints and surprises. Running around JUST WATCHING that would be fun, and more fun than, say, TV. And plenty of people watch TV, right?



I wouldn''t have a problem with this, and it could be very entertaining. In fact, there''s a shareware program someone made that simulates the history of a section of space, with dozens of races interacting over thousands of years. But I wouldn''t call such a thing a game. Entertaining, yes... but game, no.

quote:

- Now, let''s say that we want more control over the action. We can take a realistic, coherent world with certain starting conditions. There may be three ways the main conflict can turn out, and several subplots with different possible outcomes - maybe thirty or fifty different permutations. But does that mean that you only make thirty or fifty CHOICES during the game? No. It just means that many of your choices - "Do I walk right of left?" "Do I climb over that wall or walk through the door?" - don''t affect the larger plotlines of the world. You get freedom of choice, and you still restrict plot in a way that allows the author(s) (the game developers) to control meaning.



This seems to be the traditional compomise designers of level/quest based games go for. I think it depends __GREATLY__ on how much impact the plot has on the player. If you have plot tightly coupled with player actions, then I think this could be problematic for all the reasons I''ve described in this thread (namely, invalidating the player''s decisions). However, if you have plot rolling along as part of a rich background, and it''s impact on the player isn''t arbitrary and overbearing,, __THEN__ I think you have an awesome compromise.

quote:

So, I think the gamer can have her choices, and the developer can have her control as well. Think about it - in real life, you have much more freedom of choice than in any computer game, ever. You have thousands of choices a day. But 999 of them will not affect the major themes of your life, your community, your nation, etc.



True, but I don''t think we want to be nobody / everyman when we play games (by and large). We want to be the hero that slays the dragon, or the lone defender of Earth, or the winning coach, or the brilliant military conquerer. Being Joe Average can be cool, but it''s not the archetype I see played out as much in game.



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