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A game made solely to tell a story


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#1 zeybey1   Members   -  Reputation: 464

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:09 PM

I was watching a Let's play on Youtube today where one of the players said they would probably like Final Fantasy 9 more if it was only a story. While it was said somewhat jokingly, it got me thinking. Would it be possible to make a game that was barely based around fun gameplay and more based around the story and artistic features of the game? Instead of having any sort of big and complex combat system to play throughout the game, you would have smaller minigames and puzzles spread thoughout, some of which could be optional. The game would be more like watching an anime or movie than actually playing a game

My ultimate question is, in a story-to-gameplay balance, if you made a game that was almost all story, could you still make that game really immersive and fun, or would it seem smarter to just watch a movie/read a book?

Of course, you could have gameplay elements and exploration that would make a mostly-story game meaningful. Like what if between sections of a game, you could visit old towns and see how they've changed over the span of what has happened, or make it so the player has to emulate things that the people in the story would do(like rapidly press a button when a protagonist has to do something hard and physical). Games like 'To the Moon' and 'Farenheit: Indigo Prophecy' are somewhat like this, but I'm still curious about if you could go even further in the direction of pure story.

Thoughts?

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#2 Hodgman   Moderators   -  Reputation: 28468

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:17 PM

Have you played Dear Esther?

#3 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17677

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:29 PM

Interactive Fiction is a lot like what you're describing.

#4 zeybey1   Members   -  Reputation: 464

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:29 PM

Have you played Dear Esther?


Just looked it up. Pretty interesting that someone has tried this before, thanks


Interactive Fiction is a lot like what you're describing.


Somewhat, I was thinking more about using graphics and sounds in it as well though

Edited by zeybey1, 07 December 2012 - 11:34 PM.


#5 jbadams   Senior Staff   -  Reputation: 17677

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Posted 07 December 2012 - 11:44 PM

Interactive Fiction is traditionally text based, but more modern incarnations do make use of graphics, sounds, animation, etc. and are highly related to the adventure genre. Games like MYST are very much a graphical "choose your own adventure" with some simple puzzles thrown in.


So yes, it's certainly an approach that can work if you've got good enough writing to draw your "player" in to the story and world. Posted Image


You could also borrow another idea from the world of children's stories: pop-up and play books have small interactive features which aren't crucial to the story but can be amusing to play with. This could be ideal in a smart-phone or tablet based "game" where the player experiences a story and can "play" with small features in each section -- tapping to make a character dance, or a firework detonate, or similar. Mixed with simple choices (which way to proceed), dialogue choice, and some simple and relevant puzzles you could do quite a lot to help keep your "player" engrossed in and involved with the story as it unfolds. Posted Image

#6 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4670

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 01:51 AM

Somewhat, I was thinking more about using graphics and sounds in it as well though

Visual novels are commonly less interactive and more like a comic book with sound. And, ugh, I know there's a Chinese or Japanese word for a piece of software that emulates the storytelling technique where a board is used as a backdrop to stick still images of characters to while the story is being told... can't remember what that was called, but the concept was quite similar to interactive stories and visual novels.

At some point though you have such little interactivity that you are better off straightforwardly making a movie, whether it's a machinama or animation or what, so you can use the unique strengths of that medium.

Edited by sunandshadow, 08 December 2012 - 01:52 AM.

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I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#7 Prinz Eugn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3553

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 03:15 AM

Yeah, I think a game made only to tell a story isn't really a game anymore.

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#8 Acharis   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3438

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 05:12 AM

You could go pretty far in the story direction (visual novels, IF, point & click adventures).

But, in the end a game is about making decisions (or at least about an illusion of making decisions), if there are no decisions to make, it's not a game.

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#9 lawnjelly   Members   -  Reputation: 429

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 05:27 AM

Sure you can do this. There is a continuum between zero user choice audio visuals, say a 3d movie like toy story, and full free choice games. A lot of game artists also work on movies.Posted Image

When there's no user interaction, there's a lot of shortcuts you can take. Objects may only need to be built with one viewing angle for instance. You don't tend to need physics representations in the same way. And the whole thing can be prerendered with smoother curves and effects. On the other hand the detail expected tends to be higher for movies.

A lot of games have scripted elements. This would be more akin to a movie sequence. Game designers have to choose how scripted a game is (which is good for storytelling), and how much choice there is. Sometimes it can be difficult to force the intended story without giving the player the impression that the game is linear.

As the others say, there is a cutoff point, where your game is so linear, that you might as well make it pre-rendered or a movie, so you can take advantage of those techniques.

#10 Luis Guimaraes   Members   -  Reputation: 231

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:05 AM

See for yourself:

http://www.kongregat...lante/immortall

Edited by Luis Guimaraes, 08 December 2012 - 08:08 AM.


#11 TechnoGoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2642

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 08:32 AM

So far the best combination of story telling and game play I've seen is in The Walking Dead by Telltale games. They did an excellent job of combining puzzles solving, time pressured decisions along with having no right or wrong choices, just choices. For instance in one scene you have to decided whether to leave try and save a young boy you just met or the man who saved your life earlier on.

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#12 Broadleaf   Members   -  Reputation: 153

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Posted 08 December 2012 - 12:52 PM

Myst series, The longest journey, Rayman raving rabbits (little story but a lot of minigames), Stupid Invaders (that one was something =)), GBA Summon NIght Swordcraft story, classic adventures like broken sword 2. Can't remember more right now.

#13 Blind Radish   Members   -  Reputation: 355

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 12:19 PM

Short answer is YES.
A game only needs to be interactive in some way.
You can tell an interactive story.

It might not be fun, but it doesn't have to be.
Some movies are fun, others are not, but they are still good.
Its the same with books, obviously.

It would be a movie where you control the pace of the plot and can explore what's changing around you at your own pace.
You don't even need puzzles - in fact that might seem tacky.
Is that what you wanted to create?

Also, here is a lovely link on the theory you're unaware you're hinting at.


Edited by Blind Radish, 27 December 2012 - 12:28 PM.


#14 Paul Franzen   Members   -  Reputation: 333

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

Another shout-out for visual novels. They're not all totally linear; games like Hatoful Boyfriend, as ridiculous as its premise may be, is all about playing it again and again, making different choices each time and watching the story unfold in different ways as a direct result of your choices. 


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#15 Dan Violet Sagmiller   Members   -  Reputation: 896

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:13 PM

It would be a movie where you control the pace of the plot

 

 

Sounds interesting.  Perhaps actually having the game there, but also being able to bring up a game menu, and in it have the option "Skip to next Plot Point."  then the player can stop playing that section, and they will immediately move on to the next section, with the story continuing.  Then give the player 2 options when the story telling is done, "Back to game mode" or "Skip to the next Plot Point".

 

And finally, you could have an option at the start of the game to just do "Story Mode (No Game Play)", where it skips all game play.

 

 

 

Yeah, I think a game made only to tell a story isn't really a game anymore.

 

 

But I think Prinz makes complete sense.  If all the options are taken away from the player, and they don't do anything except click continue, then its just a story, not a game.  The player needs something to do, something to play, or its not a game.


Edited by hpdvs2, 02 January 2013 - 01:15 PM.

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#16 Legendre   Members   -  Reputation: 965

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

A long time ago, books were adapted into adventure games (with music, sound and graphics) that were meant to tell the story of the book. Those were great fun, but unfortunately, not made anymore. My favorites were:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Companions_of_Xanth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Gate

 

There were also "Shannara", and Terry Pratchett's Discworld.



#17 Blind Radish   Members   -  Reputation: 355

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 01:57 PM

Sounds interesting.  Perhaps actually having the game there, but also being able to bring up a game menu, and in it have the option "Skip to next Plot Point."  then the player can stop playing that section, and they will immediately move on to the next section, with the story continuing.  Then give the player 2 options when the story telling is done, "Back to game mode" or "Skip to the next Plot Point".

 

 

LINK

play it through and you can go back and change things.


Edited by Blind Radish, 04 January 2013 - 01:58 PM.





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