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tieTYT

Story Overrated?

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I''m a little disappointed to actually have to question this. But it seems to me that the majority of the gaming world when given with a choice between freedom and good story truly prefers freedom. Now this is to be expected with a fighter, with a sports game, with a FPS, but with a RPG? I always considered a RPG''s entire function to be to deliver a story in an interactive way. This is the whole reason people don''t mind dealing with a less interactive battle system. At least that''s what i figured. But it seems like all the most popular RPGs make choices that weaken the storyline. Things like non-linearity is my biggest gripe mainly. Having so many characters that they can''t possibly all be developed is another. Makes me think a good story is overrated.

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Good story isn''t overrated, programmers just happen to be total dweebs.

Take "RPG". What do most RPGs consist of? Battles. Some dialog, some dialog games, then more battles. Maybe if the RPG was built around objectives other than killing everything - seduction, humor, debate, whatever - the value of writing and story would be apparent.

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Good story isn''t overrated, programmers just happen to be total dweebs.

Take "RPG". What do most RPGs consist of? Battles. Some dialog, some dialog games, then more battles. Maybe if the RPG was built around objectives other than killing everything - seduction, humor, debate, whatever - the value of writing and story would be apparent.


But i don''t think this has to do with programmers, it has to do with the customers. It just seems the majority of people consider a battle system to be as important or more than a story. Irrelevant side quests, too. FMV for gods sake! I personally would be perfectly content with a crappy interface but a memorable story, but to me it feels like the rest of the population would rather have a good interface and a crappy story.

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quote:
Original post by tieTYT
But i don''t think this has to do with programmers, it has to do with the customers.
Well, here''s (the rest of) my logic: Today''s programmers were yesterday''s customers, and today''s customers will be tomorrow''s programmers. While influenced by the state of affairs, once grown they serve to perpetuate the status quo. Isn''t it telling that battle hasn''t changed much since Castle on monochrome PCs?

quote:
I personally would be perfectly content with a crappy interface but a memorable story...
Then read a book. I demand quality end to end, and there''s nothing more offensive to me than some "artiste" attempting to impose upon me some poorly constructed work in the name of "authenticity". This is what I hold against auteur directors, and it''s exactly what I would hold against any fool who suggests that, in this day and age, I use my imagination to make up for his total lack of production values.

I can''t stand crappy interfaces, but I can''t stand crappy stories either. That''s probably why I don''t play RPGs; the stories are sub-par and cliched and do not take true advantage of the interactive element. We often posit "solutions" - cross some IF writers with game designers! - but the truth is that we have no answers. This is experimental stuff, and you''ve got to take some risks and see what comes of it.

Call me when y''all pull yourselves together. I''ll be playing Madden and Live in the meanwhile...

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Most games are made for the majority.
Some are made for the minority.
That seems logical to me. There''s really no point in "blaming" anyone for this, because it''s far from being a fault.

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It seems the way things are going, people are striving to make commercial RPGs more and more realistic (media-wise). Look at, say, Final Fantasy X for instance: everything is voice-acted, the graphics are stunning and quite immersive, the music is very high-quality... But all that media leaves very little room for open-endedness.

Take Final Fantasy 7, for instance. In this game, you can get two optional characters. The ending is fully pre-rendered as a video (150-some megs on the game CD). Some people have complained that the two "hidden" characters were not visible in the ending video, nor did they play a part in the ending. At all. The reson for this is obvious: since they may or may not be there at the end of the game, 4 videos would have to be rendered (one without the characters, one with character 1, one with character 2, and one with both). Which would mean 600 megs. Which wouldn''t be feasible.

I still think it''s highly possible to have a good storyline and keep a solid amount of openendedness. Give the player more choices, don''t just let them go from point A to B because you think that''s how the story should turn out. The kingdom of Oran doesn''t have to invade Shilan if the player ends up succeeding in throwing them off-course. The player doesn''t have to pass through the Ancient Cave to get to the Lost Continent if they can persuade the old mechanic to fix their airship. Yes, there should be points where the story has to unfold, but it shouldn''t be impossible for the player to make a difference.

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quote:
Original post by RuneLancer

I still think it's highly possible to have a good storyline and keep a solid amount of openendedness. Give the player more choices, don't just let them go from point A to B because you think that's how the story should turn out. The kingdom of Oran doesn't have to invade Shilan if the player ends up succeeding in throwing them off-course. The player doesn't have to pass through the Ancient Cave to get to the Lost Continent if they can persuade the old mechanic to fix their airship. Yes, there should be points where the story has to unfold, but it shouldn't be impossible for the player to make a difference.


Well i think to have a good story and open endedness just don't work together. They're in direct opposition in fact and a balance has to be made between them. Instead of asking, "Why can't the game just change dynamically?" you should state how such a thing could be achieved. It doesn't make sense. To have a good story it has to go from point A to B to C to D. To make it possible to go from A to D means that your story has parts in it that don't really affect the game (B and C). If you're full of A's to D's, this means your story is full of crap that doesn't mean anything. That's not a good story.

To go from A to D to C means the story wouldn't be in order, and i can't think of a good story where you can switch the middle with the end and it's still good. To achieve that you'd need a story that does not depend on order. That is not the sign of a good story.

And to go from A to E to F to G means you're writing twice as much storyline for a single game.

So, i'd agree that your idea would be the preference in a perfect world, but to pull it off your story has to be so generic and shitty that it's ok to skip scenes, the order of it doesn't matter and it's easy to make two different versions of it. A story that has these qualities can't be much of a story. But maybe i'm just not seeing it your way.

[edited by - tieTYT on April 15, 2004 2:48:40 PM]

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I think there''s an appeal to creating your own story through a series of experiences. A great, linear story is always effective when coupled with fun gameplay, but there''s also a market for players on the other end of the spectrum who want to have an entirely unique experience. Generalizations that one way or another simply cannot be done well are undeserved.

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quote:
Original post by BrentBarrett
I think there''s an appeal to creating your own story through a series of experiences. A great, linear story is always effective when coupled with fun gameplay, but there''s also a market for players on the other end of the spectrum who want to have an entirely unique experience. Generalizations that one way or another simply cannot be done well are undeserved.


Obviously there''s an appeal to creating your own story through a series of experiences. I agreed with that already. You saying it can be done without even providing a potential way to do it is undeserved. At least i provided an explanation of why it can''t/shouldn''t be done.

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