Jump to content
  • Advertisement

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Impossible

The game, more about the gameplay, or the story?

This topic is 5827 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

A lot of people on these forums seem to think story as the main point of the game. When you read people's ideas for games (on the forums), you usually get a bad cliched story instead of interesting gameplay. I personally think it's a better idea to watch a movie or read a book if you want a good story, and play games for the gameplay aspect. Don't get me wrong, I still think games should have stories, I just think the gameplay (interactive portion) should be fun before the story is good, and a game with good gameplay can completely stand on it's own without any story at all. Am I the only person that feels this way? Should games be primarily a (linear) storytelling media and gameplay come second to a good story? [edited by - impossible on July 29, 2002 1:42:41 PM]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Game play supercedes story, but a good story lends a large helping hand to gameplay.

Would you like to play a crappy game, with an amazing story? Or would you rather play a really fun game, with no story?

Tetris, Mario Brothers, Sonic..all of these had weak stories, but their gameplay was fantastic. These are all older examples, but there are plenty of modern games that fit the criteria.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Games are games first and foremost. I understand story can be an important aspect to a game like an RPG, but if it isn''t a game, then it is just a story.
Gameplay comes first. Story is only necessary if it helps gameplay. That is why I don''t like review sites that include story in the ratings. Sometimes a story isn''t necessary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The game is definitely about gameplay, but we should consider that story and gameplay may not be so distinctly separate units, each requiring individual treatment, when we could consider them linked game aspects that can have a synaesthetic effect on each other, improving both aspects, at least for games in the future. Some games in the past have been very successful financially and from a gameplay aspect also. These games required little story, yet there were distinct interstitial linear narrative exposition points in these games (either by cut scene or text or some other method of exposition like a mission briefing or NPC dialogue) that contributed to reinforcing player motivation by maintaining contextual causal flow, or to introduce new cause for the player to desire or care to continue play.

In the future of games, just as in other entertainment mediums, the audience wants more. In some current games, relegating the player to creating their own quests or missions is fine for now, but players will eventually run out of ideas worth persuing as their personal story creating skills become taxed. Eventually, the player will lose interest, and simply quit playing with as much motivation as they had previously.

If the players were such great storytellers, they would be making a living writing stories. In the future, in the quest for the holy grail of the legendary mass market game, in order to hook massive numbers of audiences into the game, you are going to have to plant the hook to land that fish somehow, and traditionally for wise reasons, that hook has always been a dramatic one. Dramatic as separate and distinct from fantastic or highly imaginative. Dramatism has technical storytelling requirements, and in case nobody noticed, you can make a tall pile of money from a great story. This is simply because great stories, or even good ones, for that matter, are some of the best culture humans are capable of appreciating. Appreciating culture is just a perception''s width away from buying the book or movie ticket. Good stories are some of the best culture we have.

Games are in a unique position from all other mediums to take advantage of this hook from mass media culture appreciation and use it for all it is worth in interactive non-linear ways. For me, I see a well crafted story as an opportunity to devise more interactive levels because the linear structure of a well crafted story gives you every possible expositionary plot point along the way to the end of the game, and you can find more game to fit into the story that way. The larger the size of the story, the more plausable levels you can create and not run into what a game can run into, and that is a level that does not move the cause the player got hooked on in the first place to participate to the point of spending money on the CD and scheduling play time thereafter via action that yields progress towards a goal. If the goal of the game is to obtain some fantastic goal after several levels of challenge via the tools of our trade, such as puzzles, tricks, traps, clues, foos, bosses, environmental devices and so on, then there was no need for much of an underlying story in terms of depth and characterization and subplotting. The more levels that you pack into your game, without underlying depth and complexity and characterization to give causal reason for them to exists, except for another environmental design with slightly altered challenges and a few resources to get to the next level which might get you closer to the goal or the conflict that was stated in the beginning of your game, then you are just not taking advantage of all the benefits the interweaving of these two tools can have for the benefit of the player.

Stories were essentially invented so generational wisdom could be passed with little degrading. Games were invented for learning before academics as a process was formalized. The two go hand in hand, and serve each other well, and not should be considered one as more important than the other. but as two tools that only the mediums of game can show the best of both. Mass market games will not become a reality until story is properly used as the hook to bring in the multitudes of non-core gamers into EB or SoftEtc. This is an opportunity, not a dillemma or competition of valuation.

Of course, you''ll need to be a good writer to tell a good story, but that is just another skillset. As if we don''t have enough to do already. According to some great writers, great writing comes from great experiences.

Is somebody going to pay me for this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Story per se is a "false god" created by mass production.

In the beginning, the telling of the story was just as important as the story told.

Games return us to the telling of the story, in a sense; however, they typically do so at the expense of sharing the story told, which is also part of the original purpose of storytelling.

Movies allow us to share a story; unfortunately, the audience is unable to influence the story being told the way
they could once try and influence the story-teller.

Technology still has the capacity to return us to the "shared" telling of the story, but it will have to change radically to make this possible. Games like Neverwinter Nights are part the way there, because they require a storyteller to be involved, but such games still operate in a limited medium.

In the end, it will be up to someone like me to make a lot of money and develop a game/story console system that is fundamentally sound based and group oriented.

Money per se is a "false god" too, however, and I''m not about to waste my life chasing it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmmm.... Looks like two people side with me (for the most part) and the other two are very pro story (for the most part.) DeClavier seems to fall into the "games are stories" category that inspired this post. Adventuredesign''s (long) post emphasized story as the glue that holds the gameplay together. I personally don''t think that linear narrative is where games should go and most designs should be more simulation\emergent style as opposed to heavily scripted. If done correctly you don''t really need a set, scripted story in the traditional sense. You would have a background and sets of possibles events, but the actually events would that place nonlinearly and in different context (effectively creating a completely different storyline.) I guess it''s basically Elder Scrolls style gameplay vs. Final Fantasy style gameplay. I wonder if these two types of games will split from each other and become different mediums (involved simulations vs. interactive stories.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I tend to prefer story over gameplay mainly because as I mentioned in my post about games being a means or an end, I think players think to much about the goals of a game, and not enough about immersing themselves in a game world/story. I thinkt the advantage that computer programs have over books and movies is precisely that they can tell such a more immersive story.

This point has been argued before, but what really is a game? Is it a sport? Is it a competition? Is it a simulation? Is it just something you do to escape? It is all of the above and more. What may be a "game" to you may not be a game to someone else. I personally hate sports, but most people tend to view them as games.

When you think about it, if all you want is gameplay, then why not just play chess, backgammon, mahjhong, go, mancala, poker or countless other classic "games"? We play computer games almost precisely because they are supposed to have a story...something other games simply can not do. Not sports, not card games, not board games, not even the real thing of whatever it is you are trying to simulate.

Even something as rudimentary as Quake3 has a game setting. But what makes shooters more or less popular is in great deal determined not just by the gameplay, but whether the game world is something the players would be interested in.

I think the point that really needs to be asked is: Why do people play games? To escape? To compete? To learn? To have fun? All of the above? Once you find that out, you''ve found your target audience, then you base your gameplay and game story around that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I totally agree! Whenever people post something like "Great Game Idea!" It ends up being a story and not a game idea. It bugs me. . . I usually don''t think up a story until I know what kind of game I want to make. In fact, half the time I end up thinking up how the game''s camera should work before even thinking of a story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
[This is a long post. If you like, skip to the VERY LAST PARAGRAPH and you will get the most important element of what I have to say.]

Well, I''m not going to say that story-less games don''t sell. Unreal Tournament, for instance, which has a very weak story and focuses primarily on immediate action/gratification in a fast paced multiplayer environment, is a very popular game. Even Tetris has its followers.

But lets look at some additional examples. Quake 3 vs. Half-Life -- which one is going to be remembered in the long term? Half-Life is already (and STILL!) considered one of the greatest games of all time. Why? Because the story was very compelling. Deus Ex -- a story driven game through and through. There is so much stuff in that game to just explore and learn on your own, that perhaps isn''t necessary to gameplay at all -- but it helps you to build the designer''s world in your mind.

Games, to me, are about setting. I mean, I might have fun running down pointless corridors and shooting at aliens for a little while, but whats going to keep me going to the end? For me, its a desire to see what happens next. Its learning more about this vast world the designer has created for ME to explore. Its learning about the characters and figuring out what role they all play.

I say "Bravo" to AdventureDesign, who stated essentially that Story and Gameplay are not as far removed as everyone seems to think. The VERY best games will ALWAYS be the ones that take a good story and build the gameplay based on that -- and make the gameplay fun. Good story-based gameplay is about letting the player explore something greater than him/herself.

I love to explore the strange new worlds and environments supplied to me by a good designer and his/her team. Exploration and story-progression are the two main reasons I play games, with instant gratification being a secondary concern.

I''m sure its a matter of personal taste. After all, some people really do prefer the gameplay of Doom, Serious Sam, and Quake 3 over Deus Ex, Thief, and No One Lives Forever. But these games are the ones that have gone down in gaming history as classics, and it has very little to do with game critics or technology -- it has everything to do with these games being something that haunts you even when you''re not playing it, something that grips at your core and stays with you for weeks to come. These games make you think, they make you wonder, they make you FEEL like you''re really playing in a living, breathing world that has purpose and life and substance. Doom and Serious Sam make you feel an adrenaline rush, but when thats over, I start to get sick of pounding the fire button and start to wonder if its ever going to end.

There''s also the argument that audiences want more. And boy is that ever the truth -- the videos games industry is expanding, and I GUARANTEE you its not because more folks are suddenly finding they have an interest in blowing up aliens. Its because they are finding games like Gabriel Knight III and No One Lives Forever and Thief and Baldur''s Gate and so forth, that almost literally draw their players into the story and present a substantial environment, unique/motivated characters, and a story that outlasts even the players own involvement, as if the player were just placed into a world that happens around him/her regardless.

Games are about gameplay, that I won''t argue with. Games, above all else, must be fun. But lasting gameplay should be built on a solid story foundation, or it''s going to be very short-lived, and rightfully so. Gameplay and Story are part of the same process, one should not precede the other.

[Last Paragraph]
Frankly, I have to say that I get "p****d off" when people like you start whining that gameplay should scrap the story. Its people like you that are hurting my favorite hobby''s recognition as an art-quality medium for story-telling as good as film and even novels, if not better in many ways. People are always going to make your mindless shoot-em-up games with no plot and no motivation, so quit hurting the rest of us by whining that some of us want something a little more substantial.

Brian Lacy
Smoking Monkey Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@smoking-monkey.org

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
I tend to prefer story over gameplay mainly because as I mentioned in my post about games being a means or an end, I think players think to much about the goals of a game, and not enough about immersing themselves in a game world/story. I thinkt the advantage that computer programs have over books and movies is precisely that they can tell such a more immersive story.

Setting isn''t story, and there is no reason gameplay has to be extremely comepetitive. In most games (even highly competitive ones) I play for the experience, not to prove I''m the best. I think interesting gameplay leads to a better experience than an interesting storyline (even though having both is always good ) If you look at a game like Civilization for example, there is no prescripted storyline, but the gameplay creates a pretty interesting sequence of events that if given a little more color could be a decent written storyline.

When I refer to gameplay, I simply mean "the interactive portion of the game," story implies non-interactive or semi-interactive events (cutscenes, most dialog, other stuff that doesn''t require much more involvement than reading\listening\watching.)
Decent movie and book storylines tend to be a lot more involved and interesting than even the best game storylines, and at this point if I want a story I''d much rather watch a movie or a book than play a game for it.
quote:
Original post by Dauntless
When you think about it, if all you want is gameplay, then why not just play chess, backgammon, mahjhong, go, mancala, poker or countless other classic "games"? We play computer games almost precisely because they are supposed to have a story...something other games simply can not do. Not sports, not card games, not board games, not even the real thing of whatever it is you are trying to simulate.


Well, computer and video games offer a brand of gameplay that can''t really be reproduced in a boardgame or a sport, even without the storyline.
quote:
Original post by Anonymous
Frankly, I have to say that I get "p****d off" when people like you start whining that gameplay should scrap the story. Its people like you that are hurting my favorite hobby''s recognition as an art-quality medium for story-telling as good as film and even novels, if not better in many ways. People are always going to make your mindless shoot-em-up games with no plot and no motivation, so quit hurting the rest of us by whining that some of us want something a little more substantial.


Was that a reply to me? I never said that games shouldn''t have storylines. I love NOLF and Deus Ex and plenty of games that have storylines. Those games also have very strong gameplay as well. Once again, I wasn''t saying that games should not have storylines, I just think that games are not primarily a storytelling medium, and there''s nothing wrong with that. Music often tells a story, and so can painting or sculpture, but a song of painting that doesn''t isn''t considered to be better or worse than one that does.

I guess my thoughts on gameplay vs. story a similar to Adventuredesign''s, maybe leaning more toward gameplay. Another thing that kind of disturbs me is the idea that gameplay just encompasses "mindless shoot-em-up." Taking the standard "kill the monsters" style gameplay and tacking a story on to it, even if it''s a pretty good one, doesn''t necessarily justify games as an "art-quality" medium.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!