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MTT

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There seems to be a lot of games out there with stories that get really boring really fast . What happens in that they try to get the whole story across in the back-story and then give you that one main mission to accomplish through the rest of the game. “Lord Krogdor has stolen the jewel of power and has used it to summon the evil armies of the world, if you do not smash the four crystals held at the corners of the world to destroy the force field barrier that protects his fortress and then destroy him then the entire world will fall to his power.” This is something that I might expect to see in a game (yes I did exaggerate a bit). I hope you can see the problems here. At this point the player knows how the story starts, ends, and what will happen in the middle, and knows that any other twists that are thrown in the story will be insignificant because it will all come together in the end. Any chance for any exciting story has been crushed. A player trying to figure out what will happen next is the driving force in the story aspect in the game, so revealing their final goal at the beginning of the game is probably a bad idea. You have to let the story slowly evolve, this way plot twists and things like that actually feel interesting. The PERFECT example of a great story in a game is mafia (this is seriously such an awesome story that if you haven’t played this game you should do so immediately. I never knew that games were even allowed to have a story this good). The back-story of this game is basically that you are a taxi driver. An interesting point here is that at this point I have no idea how this game is going to start, end, or the kinda things I will be doing in the middle. This leaves room for plot twists, an interesting story to develop, suspense, but most importantly the desire to know what will happen next. In the next part of the story I basically get thrown into the mafia and have to do some things to help the family out. Right now the general goal of the game is gain some respect by doing some big jobs, each job can have its own little plot which all ties into the big picture, instead of every mission being about completing the final mission (like going to each dungeon and smashing the crystals would be), the missions can all be different feeling and lead up to what will happen next. As the missions go on, the story develops further and further (the missions actually feel like you are driving the story forward, instead of doing some filler quests until you complete the final goal). A story has to keep evolving from start to finish, otherwise the player will feel uninterested.

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There are two basic kinds of stories, journey stories and reactive stories. In the case of a journey story the characters set out with a goal in mind, maybe its to destroy the evil god of destruction, or rescue the beautful princess. Either way the story is not so much about the destination but the journey. The character and npcs evolve and grow along the way. Friendships and rivals form, obstacles are overcome and they cope with tragedies beyond their control. So that by the time they reach their goal they have grown and evolved a great deal then from when they began, there maybe more or less people then you left with and in the end the story was less about beating the evil god of destruction then it was getting to the final battle.

While a reactive story is about dealing with each new obstacle that crosses your path. The characters don''t have an ultimate goal in mind they simply deal with each new situation as it comes. The story deals with the coping of those situation and how they tie in the larger story that is unfolding. Usually it more difficult to tell how far into the story the characters actually are and what the final outcome will be.

Neither one is better then the other, its all in the telling. I''ve seen both used in books and games, and seen both done well and well and done terribly, its all a matter of the detials. The real problem is the lack of quality writing, most games tend to lack any story beyond a few sentance tying the next objective into the end of the current one.

-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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How many times have you watched an action movie, and even though you know for a FACT that the bad guy will get his ass kicked by the good guy at the end, you still find yourself watching the movie. The reason is that you want to find out HOW they get to that final goal.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
quote:
Original post by MTT
and knows that any other twists that are thrown in the story will be insignificant because it will all come together in the end. Any chance for any exciting story has been crushed.

A player trying to figure out what will happen next is the driving force in the story aspect in the game,



Yeah, suspense / mystery are probably good tools for keeping bright players interested in a game.

One way to do this is to either set up a ''starting goal'' which leads to a plot twist which shows that there is more to do. Ie. Rescue princess. You rescue the princess and find out that there is a plan to kill the king. You save the king and ... So that each goal leads into another part of the story.

Or to have a game where the player is sent in to investigate and find out what is going on.

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i donno if this is entirely relevant to the topic but has anyone ever played xenogears?

That game kicks ass. You go through the first disk and it just seems like ok, this game is ''aight. They''ve got mechs and stuff i guess that''s ok. The plot doesn''t seem too interesting. And then suddenly and without warning: BAM! Fucking huge plot twist punches you in the face. Everything you may have thought was true turned out to be a lie. What you thought was at first a poorly or lazily developed story actually makes sense all at once. For me, at that very instant, xenogears went from an average RPG to the best RPG on psx.

I wish there was someone here that has played that game all the way through. I donno if this type of thing falls in one category or the other or if it''s its own thing.

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I tend to agree with the first poster, to a point. Storytelling in games is improving a great deal, and I believe that advances in technology have driven that change. It''s no longer the case that you have to tell the game''s entire plot in the manual because the computer you''re programming has 16k of memory and you''ve got to try to fit the actual game into that. The popularisation of CD as a storage medium meant that developers could pack their games full of pre-rendered FMVs, and graphics technology is now so advanced that we get loads of in-engine cutscenes.

These advances have allowed developers to use increasingly complex methods of storytelling - still nothing hugely complex, but better than it used to be. Certainly these days it''s rare to get a plot-based game where there isn''t some kind of twist or development as the game progresses (if anyone can think of one, though, I''d be interested to hear it.) I can''t imagine playing a modern game where I know the entire story at the beginning and nothing changes throughout - I get the feeling it would bore me to tears.

Boolean wrote:

quote:
How many times have you watched an action movie, and even though you know for a FACT that the bad guy will get his ass kicked by the good guy at the end, you still find yourself watching the movie. The reason is that you want to find out HOW they get to that final goal.


True. However, I''d rather see something like The Usual Suspects, which tells us the ending first, then goes back to the beginning, and still manages to have a huge twist. A game that took the storytelling form of that film would be incredible.

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quote:
Original post by Alf_Fly
I tend to agree with the first poster, to a point. Storytelling in games is improving a great deal, and I believe that advances in technology have driven that change. It''s no longer the case that you have to tell the game''s entire plot in the manual because the computer you''re programming has 16k of memory and you''ve got to try to fit the actual game into that. The popularisation of CD as a storage medium meant that developers could pack their games full of pre-rendered FMVs, and graphics technology is now so advanced that we get loads of in-engine cutscenes.



I disagree with technology improving storyline. I think it does the opposite and they are in opposition with each other. I suggest you read this article

Dogma 2001: A Challenge to Game Designers
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&q=dogma+2001

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You disagree entirely with the notion that improved technology can help improve storytelling in games? To me, that sounds like saying that the invention of recorded sound didn''t improve cinema.

I mean, don''t get me wrong; I believe it''s entirely possible to tell a gripping and involving story with minimum technology. In fact, my favourite game of all time is Photopia by Adam Cadre, a freeware text adventure (although some might argue that Photopia isn''t really a game since it only provides a simulation of choice rather than any real choices). But in my personal opinion, a storyline delivered in a series of on-screen speech bubbles by a low-res, 4-colour sprite would almost certainly lack the impact of a storyline delivered in a fully-voiced, real-time rendered cutscene with cinematic camera effects, post-image processing and orchestral soundtrack. A good story isn''t just dependant on the quality of the plot; it''s also dependant on the way that the story is told.

It would be naive to say that the industry doesn''t still have a lot to learn about storytelling. The move towards "cinematic" games - in other words, games with massive, non-interactive cutscenes - is to me less welcome than games like Half-Life, which take a relatively flimsy plot and deliver it in a way only possible with an interactive medium such as gaming. But I would still argue that methods of storytelling have improved, and that these improvements have been driven by advances in technology.

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