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Is story important in games?


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Poll: Do YOU care about stories? (60 member(s) have cast votes)

Is story-telling important, or do you just want to skip to the game?

  1. I want to feel immersed in the game, story is critical (32 votes [53.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 53.33%

  2. A good story is nice, but I don't really care too much (22 votes [36.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 36.67%

  3. I ignore the stories (4 votes [6.67%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.67%

  4. I wish they'd just skip it, if I wanted stories I'd watch TV or read a book (2 votes [3.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.33%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 d000hg   Members   -  Reputation: 754

Posted 20 January 2014 - 04:29 AM

It's going to be genre specific, but I'm interested in what the community think about the importance of a game having a story. I personally don't really care, whether it's an FPS or RTS I just want to play the level rather than go through some (usually trite) backstory.

 

From a game-making point of view, creating animated cut-scenes is way beyond my means so I'm looking for a way to avoid needing stories, since a wall of text is pretty dull.

 

I was thinking about that old classic Dune 2, and how the story was virtually non-existent beyond setting the game in the Duneiverse at the start. I like that, but do most game players want to see a story about why you're shooting 4-armed zombies, or what the turban-wearing terrorists have done do deserve being assassinated?



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#2 Wooh   Members   -  Reputation: 628

Posted 20 January 2014 - 05:07 AM

It's all about the genre. I think most games should have a story. The story is very important in point-and-click/adventure and RPG games. It's less important in platformers and RTS games but it needs at least a little story to motivate what we are trying to accomplish. Same with FPS in single player mode but in multiplayer no story is needed.

#3 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1556

Posted 20 January 2014 - 06:12 AM

In the old days, all you needed was

"Girlfriend is kidnapped, go save her" .


 Reactions To Technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

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#4 d000hg   Members   -  Reputation: 754

Posted 20 January 2014 - 06:25 AM

In the old days, all you needed was

"Girlfriend is kidnapped, go save her" .

That's what I was thinking. :)



#5 Madhed   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2994

Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:46 AM

The way the story is told is more important than the story itself.



#6 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 9933

Posted 20 January 2014 - 08:25 AM

The poll is fatally flawed since it does not include an "it depends" option.

 

"The Last Of Us" demands story.

"Tetris" should never come anywhere near story.

GTA games demand story.

Sudoku games should never come anywhere near story.


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#7 d000hg   Members   -  Reputation: 754

Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:03 AM

I don't even think GTA "demands" a story. It requires a series of missions but I have no interest in watching cut-scenes or following the story which gives rise to the missions... I just find the fun doing the mission. I'm interested if I'm typical or atypical in this regard - are the stories in games as important as the stories in porn films?



#8 Waterlimon   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2574

Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:12 AM

I personally prefer games without story, because if there is a story i will simply want to complete it as quickly as possible, since i see completion of the story as the goal. Although the story might be enjoyable and make the game last longer, it tends to feel like a grind of sorts too, taking so long to complete.

 

Maybe it would help if i didnt have such an important role in the story, such that my own actions dont drive the story but merely direct it or similiar.

 

Also story based games seem limited to me, while more sandbox/pure gameplay ones usually are somewhat neverending. So id rather play a game where the focus is on the non-story part.


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#9 Shippou   Members   -  Reputation: 1556

Posted 20 January 2014 - 11:37 AM

Here is a case of good story that saved a very dull game: BioShock

If you have the time, read the book. It's very good!


 Reactions To Technologies:
1. Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
2. Anything that's invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

- Douglas Adams 2002


 


#10 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4936

Posted 20 January 2014 - 12:24 PM

I don't even think GTA "demands" a story. It requires a series of missions but I have no interest in watching cut-scenes or following the story which gives rise to the missions... I just find the fun doing the mission. I'm interested if I'm typical or atypical in this regard - are the stories in games as important as the stories in porn films?

The stories in porn are as terrible as possible, and the whole reason I read steamy romance novels instead - if porn movies had actual good stories I would watch them.  I haven't played GTA V yet, but any given MMO or something like Skyrim is comparable - there is nothing inherently interesting to me about traveling across the map or slaughtering enemies.  Those kind of games rarely contain the gameplay I actually like. (puzzles, tactical battles, time management, and building things)  But I love MMOs that have good quest stories and I played Skyrim for 300 hours because I wanted to find all the pieces of story associated with each dungeon and the main plot line.


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#11 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2088

Posted 20 January 2014 - 01:59 PM

+1 for "it depends"

  • If I want to mindlessly slaughter wave after wave of enemies, then a story isn't necessary.
  • If I want to immerse myself in a world and be enriched by my experiences within that world, I'll be expecting a good story.

I might want either type of game depending on what mood I'm in.

 

Story can be a good way to give the player a reason for doing what they're doing. Especially when what they're doing is kinda repetitive. For example in an RTS, given two levels with the same units and same opponents but with different parts in the story, as a player I might feel as though I have a new motivation for completing a level and not immediately recognize that the developer has actually done a minimal amount of work.



#12 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4420

Posted 20 January 2014 - 01:59 PM

I always enjoyed GTA's stories and characters. They're really well done, like, every single one of them.

 

If GTA didn't had that it would be a pretty crappy sandbox IMO.


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#13 d000hg   Members   -  Reputation: 754

Posted 20 January 2014 - 02:22 PM

I personally prefer games without story, because if there is a story i will simply want to complete it as quickly as possible, since i see completion of the story as the goal. Although the story might be enjoyable and make the game last longer, it tends to feel like a grind of sorts too, taking so long to complete.

 

Maybe it would help if i didnt have such an important role in the story, such that my own actions dont drive the story but merely direct it or similiar.

 

Also story based games seem limited to me, while more sandbox/pure gameplay ones usually are somewhat neverending. So id rather play a game where the focus is on the non-story part.

 

That'd be interesting, a game where there is a proper story which you are part of, but you really don't have much impact how it turns out. You're a general who wins all his battles but you still lose the war, etc - like real life in other words!



#14 Oberon_Command   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1906

Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:23 PM

 

I personally prefer games without story, because if there is a story i will simply want to complete it as quickly as possible, since i see completion of the story as the goal. Although the story might be enjoyable and make the game last longer, it tends to feel like a grind of sorts too, taking so long to complete.

 

Maybe it would help if i didnt have such an important role in the story, such that my own actions dont drive the story but merely direct it or similiar.

 

Also story based games seem limited to me, while more sandbox/pure gameplay ones usually are somewhat neverending. So id rather play a game where the focus is on the non-story part.

 

That'd be interesting, a game where there is a proper story which you are part of, but you really don't have much impact how it turns out. You're a general who wins all his battles but you still lose the war, etc - like real life in other words!

 

 

The "Silent Hunter" series' career mode worked a little bit like this. In SH3 for instance you played as the Germans. No matter how many ships you sank, WWII would still end with a victory for the Allies.



#15 Tutorial Doctor   Members   -  Reputation: 1630

Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:41 PM

Nope. Chess has no story, uno has no story. Perhaps in story games stories are important, and should be expected, but games don't have to have a story.

They call me the Tutorial Doctor.


#16 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19665

Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:01 AM

Your poll says: (in my interpretation)

  • Yes, 100% important.
  • No, I don't care.
  • No, I ignore them.
  • No, I hate them.

That's rather slanted towards the answer you are probably wanting to hear. wink.png

Story does matters to me, but not is not "critical". So I can't vote "Critical", and I can't vote, "I don't care".

 

World matters alot more to me than story does, but story is important too (because story reinforces the world, and I care immensely about game worlds - not just the level design, but the background lore and more importantly (to me), the atmosphere). However, this entirely depends on the game. Tetris doesn't require a story. Halo does.

Halo without the story would be alot less interesting to me.

 

So, in answer to your question, "Is story important in games?", the answer is a clear:

  1. Yes, story is important.
  2. For some games, it's less important.
  3. For other games, it's entirely not important.
  4. For still other games, it's a hinderance.
  5. For some players, it's less important.
  6. For other players, it's entirely not important.
  7. For still other players, it's a hinderance. 

Are you making a game (the majority) where story is important or at least partially important? Are you targeting players (the majority) to whom story is important or at least partially important?

 

Not every player is fanatical about story (I'm not), but most players probably at least expect and enjoy a good story.

But if a developer is just going to slap in a crummy story, just to have "something", that might be worse than nothing, depending on how it turns out and depending on the genre of the game.

 

Let me flip the question on you: Is music important in games?

A game does not require a story, but yes, stories are a very important part of (most) games.

 

A game is not just (Music + Gameplay + Art + Story). The story influences the whole, the music influences the whole, the art influences the whole, the gameplay influences the whole. Games are more than the sum of their parts.

That said, some games lean more towards art than gameplay, some lean more towards story than gameplay, some lean more towards gameplay than story, some lean more towards music and art than story. 

 

For FPSes, because FPSes often have a bit of focus on the environment (world), because it's first-person, story helps color the environment.

For RTSes, because they are more decision-focused, stories (to me!) aren't as important in that genre.

 

pghh.png

 

If you're having trouble coming up with a story, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Would your game benefit from having a story?
  2. What kind of story would most compliment your gameplay?
  3. What limitations does your budget/gameplay/art put on your story?
  4. How can you work within those limitations to convey a story?

 

Story doesn't have to be delivered through cut-scenes. It can be entirely non-verbally delivered through graffiti sprayed on the wall, for example. Or a single-sentence displayed on-screen the beginning of every level.

 

It can be a simple story without being a poorly done story. Complexity does not equal good writing. Lord of the Rings: There is a evil wizard who is raising up an army to take over the world. He's trying to get the Ring of Power that the weak hero has. The weak hero has to destroy the ring of power by bringing it to the location the evil wizard happens to be sitting ontop of. There's substories occurring at the same time, focusing on different locations (Gonder) and people (the other hobbits, Aragorn, etc...), but the main story is what I mentioned.

 

The core of most good stories are human-focused. Human to human interaction. Human to environment interaction. Human self-interaction. Human growth. Human exploration. Character development. Redemption, destruction, drama, slaying personal giants, being defeated by giants, being saved by an enemy, being backstabbed by a friend. Need some dramatic situations to get those creative juices flowing?

 

One key to some types of story-writing is asking and answering questions. You ask the player/reader a question ("Who are these shadowy sub-human horsemen trying to stop Frodo and steal the ring?"), and you answer it ("The ring-wraiths are 9 human kings who were given rings of power by Sauron, that Sauron tricked and now controls, and who are twisted by darkness and willingly enslaved."). Then you ask another question, and later answer it. Layer multiple questions together, so while there are one or two big long-term questions, there is also a continual asking and revealing of smaller short-term questions. Curiosity.

 

Another key to driving stories forward is continual conflict. Trying to rush to acquire X before the <bad guy>, trying to rush to stop <bad guy> from doing Y, fleeing from <person A>, chasing <person B>, fighting <person C>, and so on. Action, tension, and conflict. Doesn't always have to be physical, but there does need to be the possibility of the good guys losing conflicts here and there, creating more tension for the next conflict.

 

In a different thread, I mentioned Story Spines, and I think it may help you here as well. Story Spines help a little when you can't think up a story, but they also help when you already have ideas and just need a structured way of viewing them to analyze your existing story from another angle.


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 21 January 2014 - 12:11 AM.

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#17 Felix Ungman   Members   -  Reputation: 1036

Posted 21 January 2014 - 01:12 AM

"Is story-telling important, or do you just want to skip to the game?"

 

According to wiktionary, a story is "a sequence of real or fictional events; or, an account of such a sequence".

 

In a game the evens are generated by the players actions and the rules of the game, and in one sense, story-telling is just the presentation or rendering of those events to the player. Chess definitely has a story (i.e. the abstract battle between two armies), and even Soduku (i.e. the player as an explorer in the world of latin squares).

 

But I think you are using the word in a more narrow sense, meaning some kind of theatrical backdrop to the game. In that case, I would say that it is critical that it resonates with the game itself.


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#18 alnite   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2112

Posted 21 January 2014 - 05:31 AM

Obviously, it depends on the genre of the game.  A game like Tetris doesn't need stories.  As a matter of fact, I find it quite annoying if they tried to fit in a story into a puzzle game that obviously no need of a story.  Bejeweled need no stories, but if they started with lame background story like some princess-was-kidnapped-and-we-need-to-gather-some-jewels crap, then stories may, IMO, degrade the experience of the game.

 

Having said that, some games use stories to create alternate or multiple endings -- imposing moral choices to the players.  Back a decade ago, this would have impacted me.  I really took these choices personally.  What would I have done if I had been in a similar situation?  These moral choices would matter to me and I saw them as reflections of my personality and moral standings.  Nowadays, I don't care because I know it's just a game.  I would actually choose the opposite of my moral standing just to see what the game has to offer for choosing the forsaken path.  In Mass Effect, for example, I chose to be as much of a dick as possible.  I didn't get to beat the game to enjoy the outcome of my misguided choices, but it certainly annoyed my friends.

 

So, I ignore stories.  I don't care who's missing, or whom we are looking for, or what the goal was.  I skip cutscenes (unless they are pretty).  Even if I had watched and listened to the entire story, I wouldn't develop the emotional connection to it, a.k.a I didn't care.



#19 d000hg   Members   -  Reputation: 754

Posted 21 January 2014 - 08:48 AM


Let me flip the question on you: Is music important in games?
Nope, I always turn it off immediately :)

#20 Servant of the Lord   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 19665

Posted 21 January 2014 - 02:32 PM

 


Let me flip the question on you: Is music important in games?
Nope, I always turn it off immediately smile.png

 

So, because you happen to not care that much about music, do you think your customers would be annoyed if you shipped a game (like a FPS) without sound? sad.png

 

Sound is more than just a set of drumbeats - background music sets the mood (strengthening the atmosphere), ambient noise enhances the world (strengthening immersion), your footsteps convey game information (what material you're standing on), enemy footsteps convey game information (the approximate nearness and direction of enemies and allies), enemy gunshots convey game information (danger), your gunshots reinforce cause-and-effect (combined with gun kickback and muzzle flash, gunshot noises help remind and strengthen the idea that your actions affect the world. It reinforces the feeling that you have power-to-influence your surrounding).

 

The different parts of a game strengthen and reinforce each-other; they aren't (unless done badly by the developer) isolated from each other. Depending on the nature of the game, the strengthening from one part (sound or story or graphics) may not be as necessary as in another game, but that doesn't mean story (or sound) isn't important, in general, to the majority of games. smile.png


Edited by Servant of the Lord, 21 January 2014 - 02:33 PM.

It's perfectly fine to abbreviate my username to 'Servant' rather than copy+pasting it all the time.
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Of Stranger Flames - [indie turn-based rpg set in a para-historical French colony] | Indie RPG development journal

[Fly with me on Twitter] [Google+] [My broken website]

[Need web hosting? I personally like A Small Orange]





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