HeathMember Since 11 Jan 2012
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Posted by Heath on 17 August 2012 - 03:07 AM
I don't really think games are a great way to tell a story in the first place, precisely because video games are very self-centered as a medium, and a really good story can have a lot of mundane things. I've never felt that I was being "dragged" through a good story, only through a stupid, pointless one. A good story, crafted by a human being, also has a point, and the best ones always have to be digested more than once, and enjoyed almost every time. A good story also usually has multiple roles, and even the main character's role can be pretty "mundane" compared to what you'd expect in a video game. (For example, Michael Corleone only kills 2 people himself in the Godfather, and the most hot-headed Corleone who gets the most action, Sonny, also gets murdered half-way into the story in a very big way. So neither character would be very fun to play. It's also funny how this generally self-centered medium usually requires a love of violence to be interesting.)
I've also been told that an interactive story puts more importance on me and puts me in the story and it's all me me me. (A recent ad for Halo 4 that I saw in a movie theater (!) was similarly egregious about this.) So? Why would I want that? I'm not all that interesting, and it's not like I'm going to save a fictional world anyway, or even enjoy wrecking it.
Yes, data can be generated. That's no surprise. But in the history of all randomly generated data, it's always been pretty easy to tell that it was generated, because the data repeats after a while whatever you do. You still need to hire artists and writers to fill in the blanks and give the algorithms something to work with, and at some point, you might say to yourself, "Boy, I wish there was an easier way to do all of this..."
Posted by Heath on 01 March 2012 - 12:13 AM
I like this advice. Like I said, if I try only to entertain myself, I'll go on for years and I know it. It'll drag out and I'm never totally satisfied with it (which is ironic).
Tip: Making a game only for your onw enjoyment never works. If you want to finish it make it for other people to play and enjoy (or for money or for whatever other external reason not directly related to you). In a long run sitting in front of TV is more enjoyable all the time, while making games has also the dark hours sometimes you have to survive, if you are doing it just for entertainment then of course you will always quit in the middle when you encounter the first obstacle.
If I'm writing something for someone else, I'm much more pressed to get something done. And I'll very probably still enjoy it. In fact, one of the few open source games that I would call "complete" was Abe's Amazing Adventure, which was made for its author's son as a present. I always thought that was cool when I heard it.
Posted by Heath on 29 February 2012 - 02:11 AM
- Every time I see a "chosen one" story, I personally always think of Life of Brian. What's funnier? Being the messiah, or being the guy who was born next to the messiah?
- You don't know who you are? You don't know who you are?! Oh dear Brian does this cliché get to me.
- I don't see a game, per se, just a setting. I also don't see any goal or focus for this game. I'm sure you have one, so what do you have in mind?
- Who is the main character, and who is the mayor? You could very easily take what you have and turn this into a Bourne Identity sort of thing, it just might not be as interesting without some spin to it, because that storyline and much of its elements ("He's an elite spy and he doesn't know who he is") are so played out now. If I were you, I'd start by not even making the main character a male at all. Make her a female, and now she is the missing piece to something. Just for starters.
- You should know that starting a project from a story or setting has some implications for the direction of the project that you wouldn't have if you had started it, for example, with a gameplay idea. But either way, you really need some sort of goal or focus for the project, just so you can direct your blows without hitting air, so to speak.
- You're writing this in C++ and you're just learning the language. Beginning programming then? That also has certain implications. Keep it simple, okay?
Posted by Heath on 28 February 2012 - 01:27 AM
I definitely feel like my interests rise and fall with each week. One week I'll be totally interested in comic books -- Oh I'll scour through my copies of The Dark Knight Returns and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way and maybe end up with a few semi-interesting sketches that would need a lot of work before being called a finished product. The next week, I'll move onto writing a story, and I'll read something like The 90-Day Novel and maybe end up with 5 pages that interest me much more than the sketches I drew the week before. And the next week, I'll look for some game ideas, possibly in the comic book and story ideas I had previously considered. And maybe the week after, I'll remember the car in my carport and look for parts online to restore my old VW bug.
This is so because it's all a hobby, and I'm really just entertaining myself. Looking back, I have done this practically all my life. My childhood was spent much like this. So, call me a lover, call me a dreamer. Maybe one day I'll find that rainbow connection..... Oh, also I have a banjo I play once in a while.
Posted by Heath on 12 February 2012 - 11:58 AM
What if the other settlements are just indigenous groups on this planet? That way you keep their fear of technology and some view that the player is a god, but then why exactly does the player need to leave?
Posted by Heath on 09 February 2012 - 10:21 PM
Posted by Heath on 06 February 2012 - 09:58 PM
I agree with a few reservations you'll probably understand. Also please understand from the get-go that I've never played PS:T.
With those that say that role playing games, or games in general *require* combat in order for it to *work* are severely limiting themselves with such narrow-mindedness. There are so many different ways games can offer challenges, or breathtaking experiences. It is by far not limited to combat.
The amount of combat in PS:T is still relatively very small, but yet it still *feels* padded out, only because of the clunky D&D mechanics, and in turn, feels less enjoyable. A different approach would likely have kept the level of immersion more consistent throughout the game. That is all I'm really saying.
I do not want to play an interactive movie, and I also believe quite firmly that there are much subtler ways to branch a story than to explicitly do so. More cumulative approaches can also be used, and as an example, there's a part of FF7 where Cloud Strife gets to go on a date with someone else in his team. That person is whomever the player has been nicest to up to that point; it could be Aeris or Tifa, but it could just as easily be Barrett. There's no score or any sort of indication at any point to show how you got this outcome, that's just the way it went and it was based on your actions (which in this case, granted, were answers given to dialogue boxes). The general idea can be applied more broadly to how a story cumulatively evolves based on the player, as opposed to explicitly branching the story at arbitrary points.
Now why don't I want to play an interactive movie? Because I don't care how many branches the story could follow. I really don't. You have to make me care, and if you don't, I'll just wish it were an actual movie and come to resent the mechanics. It'll also suffer from something a movie does not, because in a movie, I can skip to any point I wish.
Now, more subtle, cumulative, interactive evolution of a story could be interesting. It's not like you have to "choose path A or path B". But there's a lot more to consider, and just the same as above, you have to make me care. If the story is just binary like that, then even more-so, you'd have to convince me why that's very interesting. And if this venture sounds overwhelmingly complex, you as a person or a team lead would have to consider that, too.
Anyway. That's what I have to say about an interactive story. Now about combat.
I agree with you that combat (especially an in-depth, intricate battle system) is not necessary to portray conflict, but it is part of the video game status quo.
- Each Zelda game, for instance, has been just as much a mythical adventure game about fighting monsters as it also has been an adventure game about using tools to solve problems and overcome seemingly difficult obstacles. (I really wish Zelda would advance that aspect instead of the former, also; do something sort of like Dark Cloud and let me build tools!)
- Flower on PS3 demonstrates very well how evil, ugly, violent darkness can be portrayed apart from beauty and light without any characters whatsoever. Your character is the wind, and your inventory is a bunch of flower petals that you pick up. Instead, it's a very visual story that plays on beauty and ugliness and color theory, and indeed it also plays on what intellectual concepts come to mind as you play this game. That evil, ugly, violent darkness, we come to realize, is very much an every day part of our modern lives.
- TheMonkey Island games don't let you "fight" anyone, but the status quo concept of combat in video games is humored by "Insult Sword-fighting" which is still awesome. As for the story, there's definitely a protagonist, there's definitely an antagonist, there's definitely a love-interest, and there's definitely a number of MacGuffins to keep things going (much like Zelda, for that matter, though the love-interest in Zelda is always either implicit or non-existant).
- And then there's Ico, in which you don't run around with a massive weapon, but you carry a 2x4 and occasionally you fight shadows with it (which always seems far more tense in that game than shooting a truckload of demons in Doom). From there, it's a game of visual storytelling and puzzle-solving around this girl you must take with you in a gigantic castle. Perhaps the player could sympathize with the main character in being alone in this big, old, dark dungeon, cast out because of something that makes him different, and how the one friend he has in the world can help him move forward just as well as make his life a little difficult at times, and that might just be enough to move the player along.
Posted by Heath on 28 January 2012 - 12:27 AM
- Simplicity (add complexity only where you must)
- Compactness (that is, you can hold it in your head and play the game without looking up too much in a manual so often)
- Discoverability (fun=discovery, no?)
- Least Surprise (Eric S. Raymond says "In interface design, always do the least surprising thing")
- Extensibility (hey, it's fun to hack and mod and see how the game's software works.)
- Diversity (there is no one idea that is greater than all other ideas, so being a little liberal and eclectic can add spice to an otherwise dull dish... or how many space marines that fight space aliens in space am I supposed to care about these days?)
Posted by Heath on 27 January 2012 - 11:41 PM
I understand that it's games as a business. The butcher, baker, and candlestick maker all want their share. For just that reason, one cheap platform to rule them all won't happen, evenif it would be nice. Instead, people pick favorites, they divide themselves into "camps", and the kings of the marketplace vie with each other to conquer all under heaven intact, or at least a good chunk of it while they can. Yada yada yada.
Ashaman73 is correct in that most of the reasons for this are to do with the business side of game design. Not just with the designer/publisher but also the retailers and hardware manufactures. At points it can improve the game (e.g. not making console players face off against PC players in an FPS) and there are companies trying to work around it to an extent (the Witcher 2 Enhanced Edition which was just announced is a nice example of a secondary release that still rewards original purchasers).
The issue of platform segregation will evaporate as cheaper more powerful and portable hardware appears to the point you will only ever need one device that can do everything. Sadly some of the other issues (like special deals at certain retailers) are largely here to stay (unless only one company comes to dominate completely which would result in a much worse situation).
Anyway. I haven't actually commented on the original premise of this thread. That's because I really don't see one true way here, or how either method being discussed is orthogonal to the other. But let's discuss one of my favorite video game heroes, shall we?
Megaman has had dozens of sequels and spin-offs. There were 6 Megaman games on NES alone, and that was over a span of about 4 years. They all looked much the same, but each added little things. For instance, Megaman 2 was more playable than the original, you could slide in Megaman 3, and in one of the others you could charge your buster for the first time. However, it definitely got repetitive and "degraded" after Megaman 3. (Megaman 2 is still one of my favorite games ever. )
Now, of course, you had all these sequels for the simple fact that you couldn't just connect your NES to the Internet and download the latest episode of Megaman off Steam or what-not. So this could be viewed really either way: Was Capcom making expansions and incremental changes or completely new sequels with each game? They sure looked the same. They sure scrolled and tiled and animated the same. They sure sounded the same, except maybe the music. And considering that they were probably written in 6502 assembly, it's understandable if the code didn't change all that much or if only small changes to the core design were ever made. It could thus be said that the first true "sequel" to Megaman, as opposed to an expansion, may have actually been Megaman X, and then Megaman 7 when that was released.
The fact that the NES Megaman series went on for 3 more "expansions" after Megaman 3, and that I really can't find anything memorable in them except charging a gun ("Whoa, we got a badass over here!") means that the game did start to degrade with each "expansion", as the OP said. It would've been perfectly fine to move onto other things. Ah, but here we come full circle. Because why did Capcom keep expanding this game? Business.
Yes, business can be responsible for some really silly things. It itself is a strange game. (One could argue that) the only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
Posted by Heath on 18 January 2012 - 09:15 PM
Now that is a fantastic post.
Chess is about an even battle between 2 players who each have hundreds of possible moves at any point during the game. What makes it interesting is the huge number of possible moves our inability to analyze them all.
Mario is about having good timing and reflexes. Players find it fun because they see their skill level go up as they progress in the game and need precise timing of their jumps.
The thing with RPGs and character progression is they usually come together. RPGs are usually simple. You have some choices, but it boils down to 1~3 obvious choices. This gets boring after a while because the outcome is determined by the stats and RNG, not the player's ability to analyze complex situations or the player's ability to time button presses. To compensate, the player is given rewards in the form of items and level ups. Take any roguelike and remove loot and levels. This would be a very boring game.
If your game has the complexity of chess, then you could do without any form of character progression. You provided complex turn examples, but that doesn't mean the game has the complexity of chess. When the player understands the game mechanics, if he's left with an obvious action chain, it becomes as simple as a roguelike where all you do is mash the direction key until that "k" disappears, but with extra tedium thrown in. If there are still lots of interesting things you can do at that point, the game should stay fresh. This could be by having a bunch of flow changing abilities, using the environment during combat or something else that prevents having an optimal action chain at any point.
Maybe I'm off-topic now and I apologize for that, but you could also analyze Street Fighter along these lines, because it's theoretically simple to pick up and play, but complexity is soon discovered as players refine their timing, combos, etc. However, there are no level-ups. Ryu is Ryu no matter how long you have been playing.
You could also contrast Borderlands to Quake, because in Quake, the only way to advance is to pick up better weapons, armor, and items, which you can also lose just as easily. In Borderlands, you do all that, but all that equipment can also advance, and you also earn money from missions and loot on the ground. The rewards were frequent, but with such a large, free-roaming, geographically spread out game as Borderlands, it would've been really boring without all that. Just as if it were a rogue-like.
Posted by Heath on 16 January 2012 - 09:54 PM
So, low-level opponents should have a roughly equal chance of winning against high-level opponents (be they players or NPCs) via tactics provided by your sight-and-sound mechanics. By sight-and-sound in a roguelike, do you basically mean that some textual/graphical hints are displayed on the screen to show you what you could do to make, say, a good swing at your opponent?
I do understand having a character improving their ability to swing a sword after swinging it a thousand times and all, but I don't see how the scale bends the way it does in some games. Sneezing at sewer rats you fought early in the game shouldn't be enough to slay them now simply because you've killed a hundred of them.
Posted by Heath on 14 January 2012 - 04:03 PM
That sounds irritating, especially for a shooter.
I camed up with with this. What if, instead of controlling your character directly, you control you character trough feelings? For example, in a boss battle, where boss "opens" for fire rarely, you have to build up patience and build down anger etc.?
I don't want to say immediately that controlling a character indirectly through an interface of push-button emotions sounds like a bad idea. But whatever the genre, it sounds irritating because instead of an interface that works 100% of the time as you wish, your character may instead only do what you want some of the time. But perhaps there's a place for it somewhere.
Posted by Heath on 11 January 2012 - 01:50 AM
One of my favorite books now, even though the author is a little long-winded at times, is Debt: the First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. For once, the author looks at the history of money and debt not from the perspective of an economist, but from the perspective of an anthropologist. It changes everything, and makes wildly more sense. A few highlights:
- Again, money is as old as mankind. The author quotes from Buddhist vedas throughout the text on ideas of debt.
- Money is a measurement, a quantification of an obligation. A debt is nothing more than a financial obligation.
- Currency is an IOU, and that's all it ever is or ever will be. That's why even when the state quits minting coins or printing cash for whatever reason, people will still make up "tabs" or stocks or some other device to measure their debt. (Scots used nails at one point for this.)
- For that reason, "credit" isn't a new concept. While the most quintessential example of money in people's minds is probably gold coins, credit in all its forms is the purest form of money there is.
- The idea that money is as old as man also forces us to question a few things: How and why does money influence morality? Think about it for a second. If you saw me in front of my house and a tow truck was repossessing my car, how would you view me? "Oh there goes Ben, not paying his bills!" I'd be humiliated. But if your car was repossessed, how would you view the lienholder who ordered so, or the tow truck driver who was taking it? You would loathe that company and yourself for not paying. Clearly, if money is a quantification of an obligation, this leads to some rather peculiar, and even inconsistent, views towards debtors and creditors.
Picture a role-playing game. Make it whatever setting you wish. What if your character is in debt? What if he can buy someone else's debt and become their creditor? What if our hero gambled a few too many rupees and at the most inappropriate time had to engage in a fight with legbreakers, perhaps spoiling a mission underway? What if our hero could lend money to a builder so he could build his house, and in return, we are welcome to stay there overnight whenever we want, plus we eventually get paid back with interest? (He's a really generous builder. )
(Also, anyone ever wondered why, in the Legend of Zelda, Link would lose rupees by shooting arrows? What, was he using the rupees as arrowheads?? If so, awesome, and could regular stone/bone/metal arrowheads then be used as IOUs? Just curious. )
What if our hero could go into town and buy someone's debt, perhaps his own creditor's? That might lead to a confrontation as well, and not necessarily a physical one. Viscerality isn't only manifest in physical violence; it is deeply rooted in finance as well.
Maybe it doesn't have to be the singular focus of the game, but think of the extra dimensions this could lend to a game. Or indeed, what if it was the focus of the game? What if our hero's people had been virtually or actually enslaved by a foreign empire, they fought and won their revolution, and now they are impoverished by a crippling debt which that empire laid upon them which was recognized by other sovereign powers, and it's inescapable due to compound interest and diminished GDP? Well, what if?
Debt is a fascinating concept to me, and maybe this is implemented somewhat in an MMO that I don't play (because I don't play any) so let's hear it. What do you think?