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Momento style storytelling in videogames...

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Ok this is just a thought that popped into my head, what would you think about a game that had a storytelling style like Momento? If you havent seen Momento, the story literally goes backwards scene by scene.How could it be adapted to gameplay? What might be some ways to change things in gameplay this way? Lets try to just play around with the idea, since this is a new way of storytelling try to avoid applying the prejudices developed from playing/writing games and come up with something truly original.

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In my opinion, something like this would have to be mostly story-driven because shooting/fighting most of the time would detract from the story. You'd have to have lots of cut-scenes where something happens to the player and the player gets just way confused (because they don't know the whole story yet), then slowly as they progress (backwards) in the game, they learn why they were in that particular situation, how they got there, or why someone said <this>, and so on.

For example: the opening scene could be the main character crying as he clutches his dead wife or son in an alley. Then he could say something like, "Why didn't you tell me? WHY?!"

So basically, you'd have something confusing at the beginning that would compel the player to continue in order to find out what his wife/son didn't tell him. Like I said, this would involve many cut-scenes with story/dialogue, but of course you can also throw in some third-person shooting or whatever (but only a little).

You'd also have to have a lot of captions that say: "Two weeks earlier", "5 hours ago", "1 year before now", etc. so the player can keep track of the time-frame.

If you have a good story that doesn't make any sense until the player gets to the end of the game, where they then see the initial event that set things in motion, then this game would work.

Hope that helps.

[edited by - omega147 on November 12, 2003 10:28:58 AM]

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Yes i agree with what you are saying, so it could get somewhat confusing. There would have to be alot of story moments like you said so i think this would be perfect for a point and click Adventure game that has died off in the recent years. (grim fandango foreva!!11!)

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The great limitation on such a game is the absolute need for a concrete story from beginning to end. Determinism on that scale can be a little tiresome for a player. Memento benefitted from novelty and a pretty good story, and while the story was being told we were gaining access to character profiles. The whole point of Memento was to find the "why" as opposed to the "what". In this day and age, players like very much to have at least the illusion of choice in games, and "backwards" storytelling kills that. It has potential, if the writing is good, but it''ll be more story than game.

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Another thing is, the story must have an unexpected... beginning. Otherwise, it would be too predictable what triggered the events you''ve already seen and wouldn''t be much fun. But that can become hard to do - write a story backwards with an unexpected beginning, though I think if done right would be a killer concept.

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I think the best way to actually write this kind of story would be to write a story (normally, beginning to end) with a surprise ending. However, you would make the beginning rather unusual. Then you simply tell it backwards

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I agree with SnakeHunta. Most every story has something at the beginning that explains or leads to something in the end. So if you just do practically any story and tell it backwards, it would work.

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Plus it''s hard to make the player forget things. ;D

But on the storytelling side, it depends on How you tell the story. All this talk reminded me of Max Payne 2. But you know, the funny thing about that game is that I found the action parts boring and I just wanted to see what happens next. Like in a movie.

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Thanks for all of the input guys. Ill go about writing it and see what i can come up with. I think it would be intresting to have more than one beginning, that sounds kind of complicated but hear me out. For example, lets just say the guy in our game has the same problem with remembering things as the guy in momento does.
We could stick him in a very open situation,like for example his wife being killed. Maybe his best friend killed her, maybe it was a accident or maybe he himself killed her. All you know is that she died, and maybe you are given a certain amount of leads that hints at who it is,but the outcome is still the same. The only thing that changes is the events leading to the ending. But then again it would kind of defeat the purpose of having the ending first, eh not so easy thinking backwards. What do you guys think?

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It doesn''t have to depend on memory issues. One way I envision such a project working out would be a series of prequels. You get the dead bad guy at the end, naturally, but it''s the first level, so you start up the game and you''re standing in the guy''s castle, everyone else is dead, and you''re toe-to-toe with jerk-face. A few witticisms are exchanged, and the fight is on. It''s actually a pretty easy fight, since it''s the first level, and when it''s done your guy says something corny like, "My people... you are avenged."

Level 2 is in the castle, with hordes of baddies getting acquainted with your axe. You fight through the whole place, and wind up toe-to-toe with the bad guy. Pleasantries exchanged, end of level.

And then you start level 3, which is set about a week earlier, and you''re in a town full of zombies. you chop and hack your way through them, and at the end you see a particularly freaky zombie. Your character reacts unusually to this one, but you chop it to death anyway. As it''s twitching slows and the pool of black blood spreads around it, your guy drops to his knees and weeps uncontrollably, promising vengeance for this evil.

Level 4 is the day before that. You are with a cute girl (who looks uncannily like that last zombie from level 3... hmm...) and having a good time, but then you are attacked by the bad guy, who turns out to be some kind of evil necromancer, and since you recognize him as a bad guy, you take a shot at him. He retaliates by zombifying everyone in your village, especially your lady friend, and you get out your axe and get ready for violence.

Now, that''s four levels, pretty simple, just to give you an idea of what I mean. You could even have level 2 be the first level, and after you meet bad guy, your character says, "Now, Necrodude666, I will exact my vengeance for your terrible crimes against my people!!!" and it flashes back to the zombie level right there. So that after you meet Necrodude666 in the earliest installment, it flashes back to the future, where the boss fight takes place.

Again, I''m just showcasing the potential of the writing style. Meeting your character as a man who has already been through a crucible of suffering, not really understnding why he''s fighting, and learning about it as the game progresses is a good feature. Also, there''s that "Holy crap!" moment when you realize that the boss of the last level was your old girlfriend. The character knows it, but the player doesn''t. It kills a little of the immersion, but it''s a really neat storytelling technique.

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