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Impossible

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

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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at an AI level, maybe the solution is "story-sensitive" NPCs, ie npcs that can tell their own story AND position themselves as part of the player''s story, under various conditions. Eg chess pieces that know their own individual goal/s, and the overall strategy. IMO a unique game language would be necessary.

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I don''t think a unique language is necessary for that, C\C++ can pretty be used to develop any kind of program that can run on a computer, with varying degrees of efficiency. A different way of designing games is necessary however.

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Games can be used as a medium for story telling, but they can be used just as well as a medium for story *creation*. Or they can be competitive, sport-type events(Street Fighter 2 and on, Q3, UT, Starcraft, War3, et al. Bemani games could also be considered part of this category, with the ability to freestyle in their dancing ones.) In fact, I think a lot of game design problems result from attaching the game to a story that, by having been carefully and intentionally planned beforehand, can''t change direction.

There are two ways I have seen to try to alleviate the game-chained-into-story problem:

1. More story, more choices, more endings. This is a headache to create, and the result is still a game locked into the story, but with choose-your-own adventure aspects every now and then.

2. Expanding the game world and letting the player do lots of things besides following along with the story. If done right, it''s very satisfying to play this kind of game(subquests, choosing which enemy to fight or item to get next, and exploring the world all fall into this category.)

If you give the player enough to do, and simulate enough things about the world in sufficent detail and scale, then the gameplay starts to take over the story, and from there it''s just a matter of keeping things lively and giving the player sufficent clues to follow along to the plotted end so that they aren''t frustrated trying to "beat" it. Funny how everyone "beats" games, like we played them for a prize or something.

With games that act as mediums for competition, good game design lies in how much complexity the game may be played with without making the game too difficult to learn. It''s the same for every game previous to video games - sports and board games like Chess or Go. With video games, usually one strategy is dominant for a while(rushing, using a particular character over others, choosing a certain weapon) but if the game is designed well, people eventually find a counter-balance, and so the play of the game changes over time. However, players will argue ferociously over whether some aspects of the game should be banned from competition because they''re too unbalanced or not, and that''s always bad for the game.

Making the world furry one post at a time

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
But lets look at some additional examples. Quake 3 vs. Half-Life -- which one is going to be remembered in the long term?

If you compare Quake with Half-Life rather than Quake 3, I expect you'll find Quake will be remembered longer.

quote:
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.

I say you're very biased. Bias is fine, but don't put it forward as fact. You're saying that Tetris can never be as good as Baldur's Gate, for example.

quote:
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.

I hope you don't truly believe that people will be talking about No One Lives Forever for longer than they talk about Doom. You will be very much mistaken, I'm afraid.

quote:
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.

Have you considered that some people are fed up of picking up what they think is going to be a great game, and finding out it's just some interactive movie where you're dragged forcibly through some linear sequence of events giving you little opportunity to shape your own fate? One other important issue is that a good game with a bad story is still likely to be a lot of fun to play. A good story in a bad game is very unlikely to be much fun when played on the computer. And I think the original post was a very valid complaint about the designers who think the game is all about the story, when there are 101 other important factors even in a story-driven game.

For example, 1 of my favourite games is Thief. I like the story in that and I agree with you that it really helps the game. But what most people remember about it is that it added new dimensions to gameplay. The whole stealth aspect, the reliance on audio as well as visual cues, the inability to take much damage raising the danger stakes, weapons used as tools rather than different ways of dealing damage, and so on. These were all far more significant factors than the story, as my time hanging out at the TTLG forums seemed to show. The story was important, but the gameplay was paramount. And that's what I believe this thread was about (although I could be wrong) - don't just think about the story, think about how you're going to present your story as a compelling gameplaying experience. Otherwise, go and write the book instead.

[ MSVC Fixes | STL | SDL | Game AI | Sockets | C++ Faq Lite | Boost | Asking Questions | Organising code files ]

[edited by - Kylotan on July 31, 2002 12:22:50 AM]

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Impossible-
You''re one of the minority I think then if you like to play for the experience of it rather than the competitive aspect of it. That''s kind of my point really...not that competition is bad per se, but that it''s being mis-used by the majority. How many people here have experienced trying to play online and getting thoroughly pounded on by vastly more experienced players...who didn''t even really give you a chance to learn? It''s people like that....who get off on beating people that scare many people away from multiplayer games.

As for game setting being different than game story, very true. But they are related. You can tell an epic tale of love, conspiracy and adventure....but if you set it in prehistoric times, most people are probably going to yawn and go, "I''ll pass". Conversely, you can have a really unique and interesting game world and setting...but if you don''t have a storyline to hook the player''s attention, or at least good gameplay to grab the readers interest, then what good is it?

I''m not against gameplay of course...but to me if you weight too much in favor of gameplay, then what you have is a sport. Maybe not even a competitive sport, but something that you just go through the motions (archery or darts for example). Loads of people like sports, I happen to not be one of them. But I think the biggest argument for story driven games is that there aren''t enough of them out there. And like I mentioned, computer games are the only form of entertainment media that allows you to step into an interactive storytelling session. Why neglect the ability to do that if that is one of PC games unique assets as an entertainment medium?

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System Shock 2 would not have been as fun without the great progressing story. The story was simple but very effective.

Some games becomes twice as fun with a good story!

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Kylotan-
I actually think most game development companies think the other way....programming technique and gameplay is more important than story. But again, there is the semantics of "what is a game?". To me, a "game" without story or background is more akin to a sport, whereas story-based games are more like interactive fiction. When you think about it, most games (professional level) try to take the player to a different world...an escape really. When you think about it, other than deathmatch shooters and sims, most games at least attempt to put forth a world, if not an outright storyline in which the players can immersive themselves in and enjoy.

Let me give you a better example. Look at Mechwarrior 4. The game was alright, and by mech sim standards it was pretty good. Lots of eye-candy, lots of neat tactical features to play with (though I thought Heavy Gear2 was a bit better myself), and overall a pretty good game. But what REALLY makes the game fascinating is if the player digs a little deeper into the game world that MechWarrior is set in. If he does (and many do after visiting fan websites that link it to the FASA stuff), then WHAT the character is fighting for suddenly becomes less cliche. Even in the board game of Battletech, I found a lot of shortcomings, but the game world was so riveting, I had to come back for more and read the books and get the games. That''s what GOOD storytelling and game world can do.

A game that is just a game...i.e, structured rules to achieve an objective can be very enjoyable games. But you will never get goose gimples from them. You will never be motivated or inspired by them. And it will not elevate the art medium in the minds of the mainstream about the potential it has. For fun, hey, I''m all about good gameplay, but I think story and game world has been neglected far too much and for far too long.

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quote:
Original post by Dauntless
Impossible-
You''re one of the minority I think then if you like to play for the experience of it rather than the competitive aspect of it. That''s kind of my point really...not that competition is bad per se, but that it''s being mis-used by the majority. How many people here have experienced trying to play online and getting thoroughly pounded on by vastly more experienced players...who didn''t even really give you a chance to learn?

Yes, competition is good, but experience is also good. Otherwise there wouldn''t be any difference between FPSes, that is, things like levels, weapons, game types, etc. wouldn''t make much of a difference. And getting your ass kicked a few times is part of the experience .
quote:
Original post by Kylotan
Have you considered that some people are fed up of picking up what they think is going to be a great game, and finding out it''s just some interactive movie where you''re dragged forcibly through some linear sequence of events giving you little opportunity to shape your own fate? One other important issue is that a good game with a bad story is still likely to be a lot of fun to play. A good story in a bad game is very unlikely to be much fun when played on the computer. And I think the original post was a very valid complaint about the designers who think the game is all about the story, when there are 101 other important factors even in a story-driven game.

Damn straight...

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quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
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.


I disagree that the stories themselves in Half-Life and Deus Ex were compelling, I don''t think they were very interesting or terribly original. What was compelling (and I think this is hugely important) is that the stories were well woven in with the gameplay.

Think about it. How many cutscenes were there in Half-Life? The closest it had was the initial train ride, the brief part where you''re being carried around by a couple of grunts, and the ending train ride. Did you get lame pre-level briefings, or watch an FMV of an experiment going horribly wrong and you being transported elsewhere? How about a satellite being shot into orbit, a gigantic tentacle monster being burned by a massive rocket engine? No, you experienced all those moments interactively, in the first person, forcing you to take an interest in the plot because it had a direct effect on gameplay. Deux Ex did similar things to make the story and gameplay intertwine.

Oh and NOLF was fun but way overrated.

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I agree with you in part.
My experience as a player says that I enjoyed Broken Sword better than Broken Sword II, just because the story in Broken Sword is much better than the one in broken Sword II.
But of course, if you have an exelent story but a bad gameplay, you have a bad game.

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When I started reading this thread I thought "Well, story... duh", until I started thinking about it. I do have to admit that I didn't read much of the posts here.

Thinking about it, I started running through the most successful games... Doom, Quake, The Sims, Sim City, Myst, 7th Guest, Civilization, Final Fantasy, Everquest, etc... I realized that even the games on that list that had great story had great gameplay. Only Myst and Final Fantasy actually had an engrossing story.

Everquest? Sure, the story is there... is it worth bothering with? Not for 98% of the players. The Sims? There is no story other than the one that you make up as you play along. If you don't make one, then there is no story necessary. Myst and 7th Guest were heavy on story, but they literally had to be for the people who were playing the game, the challenge of the puzzles were what everyone played the game for though. Without the puzzles, there is no Myst or 7th Guest. Final Fantasy is probably one of the few exceptions. People crying when a character dies, gameplay was still there though. Not exciting, but the gameplay is definitely still there, though it does take a backseat to the story in most of the FF games.

I listed 9 games, only 4 of them had storylines worth mentioning and one of those isn't even worth mentioning beyond giving it lip service. The one thing that all 9 had going for them is gameplay.

Engrossing gameplay is obviously much more important than an engrossing story. Sure, the person will sit there for 12 hours a day for the story and only 4 a day for gameplay, but after the story is finished, the person who plays 12 hours a day will probably not play it anymore while the person playing 4 hours a day for the gameplay will continue to play for months, perhaps well over a year (look at any of the FPS or strategy games out there today).

To rephrase what someone else said:

You make an awesome story with crappy gameplay and nobody will ever get far enough into the game to learn the story. They'll quit playing out of frustration long before they care about the story, unless they just naturally get completely engrossed by stories that they know nothing about.

[edited by - solinear on August 1, 2002 11:48:55 AM]

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quote:
Original post by adventuredesign
The game is definitely about gameplay, but we should consider that story and gameplay may not be so distinctly separate units,

...

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.


Good points. Regarding motivation, however, I actually think that this becomes merely a matter of preference. Causal flow can be maintained by a good player understanding of game rules and well defined victory conditions. When the goals tap into some natural human desire (power, control, recognition) and the game rules make the path to this challenging but apparent, the player is motivated to keep playing I think in ways that story alone can not match.


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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.



This I don''t agree with. As the toolset expands, I think player creativity will expand with it.

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If the players were such great storytellers, they would be making a living writing stories.



Not necessarily. A perfect comparison would be the legions who make it their hobby to create worlds, plots, and characters for tabletop role playing games. By and large, these people don''t write. They tell stories in a medium they find more rewarding and less difficult than lone writing itself.

Players who are self-actualized while playing (e.g., persue their own goals and are comfortable with unstructured play) may be the same. They likely find the solo process of writing unrewarding, and enjoy having an established environment that allows them to make a direct impact.


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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.



You might be right, but my money''s on a more reactive environment not necessarily devoid of story, but where story is peripheral to reactions that the player can provoke in the game world. The reason I think this is because humans are meaning making machines. We will draw logical and emotional connections where none exist, as long as the pattern we are considering is diverse enough. I think that enough detailed reactive elements form a pattern which by itself satisfies our inate need for meaning (which stories often supply).

The SIMS seem to be an example of what I''m talking about.

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Is somebody going to pay me for this?


Nope. Welcome to Game Design, where as in all art you''re only appreciated after you''re dead. (LOL, just kidding... )



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Original post by Anonymous Poster
Half-Life is already (and STILL!) considered one of the greatest games of all time.



I bet that has more to do with the environment, the incredibly reactive Special Forces AI, the unique monsters, and the spontaneous and sometimes startling events that happened as you play. Half-Life''s story could have been written on the back of a cereal box: "Aliens invade a military base. A lone hero in a powered suit is the only hope, but he finds that even his government opposes him. He fights through level after level, discovers that his government triggered the invasion, but nevertheless kills the leader of the invasion."


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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.


I understand this, but keep in mind there are many ways for people to anticipate ''what comes next.'' Level and empire building games, scavenger hunt games, and games which substantially vary game rules and force / inspire a change in play style can also do this.


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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.



Agreed. I think that if game stories weren''t so puerile I''d enjoy them more. But I personally can''t play a game which emphasizes what often turns out to be an unsatisfying, juvenile story but vastly limits gameplay. (Hate to say it, but NOLF so seemed to be turning into this that I didn''t even finish; I thought the sniper gameplay, for instance, was just abominable)


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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


Sure about this? Both the excellent Thief and System Shock were so successful that Looking Glass went out of business (not a direct correlation, but still...). Last I heard, most of the hardcore expansion was related to shooting aliens, terrorists, and all the high end hardware needed to handle it.

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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.


Unfortunately, I can offer similar criticism about story addled designers who force us to sit through their cutscenes, spend more effort on CG than on game rules, and fail to grasp the essential concept of choice. As to capital A Art acknowledgement, I''d rather the planet freeze over than have academics and aesthetes invade a realm that''s supposed to be fun, and drag along with them the tons of tedious and pointless baggage, debate, and analysis that seems to come with their trade. I was estatic to see Hollywood utterly fail to create "Siliwood," and warmed my hands at the bonfire of junked FMV games.

A game without a story doesn''t have to be mindless, and a game with one isn''t necessary "mindful."

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Original post by Dauntless
Kylotan-
I actually think most game development companies think the other way....programming technique and gameplay is more important than story.

Oh, certainly. But this thread began with the words, "A lot of people on these forums seem to think story as the main point of the game." Maybe it''s a legitimate backlash against the companies you mention, but I agree with the (implied) position of the original poster Impossible that some ''game'' ideas posted here are little more than a backstory, which does not a computer game make.

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