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Estok

When a story should be a game

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What are some signs that a story should be kept as a story instead of a game? What are some signs that suggest otherwise? A story should be a game when it has: - many possible endings - different interpretations - multiple perspectives - decision points leading to equally developed plots - exciting, playable actions How do you decide whether a story is suitable to be made into a game?

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Hmmm well you could make the game a bit linear and follow the a story YOU want to tell rather than a story you want them to choose.

The thing is that the game must have 1 ending and 1 ending only and no matter who beats the game they will go through the same things and experience the same things.

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Good game stories:
- have only one viewpoint character (at most two)
- require the main character to personally fight enemies, participate in contests, solve problems, and generally do wish fulfillment/adventure/mcguyver/strategic activites
- show the character's progress by his personal improvement (via stats, equippage, new magical or physical abilites, more cool customized appearance)
- the main character is victorious in the end, or at least solves the big problem and can now take a rest
- have a variety of well developed npcs that the player can choose how to act towards



Bad game stories:
- have multiple or omniscient pov
- require the player to act accorting to a particular moral philosophy
- require the character to court a specific NPC or be the deadlyenemy of a specific npc
- portray the main character giving up or killing himself (good luck getting players to cooperate)

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Just a few questions Sunandshadow about what you consider would make bad game stories:

You said that omniscient pov was bad for game stories. What about the instances in games where an enemy was listening to you talk around the corner, and you are shown that the enemy was there at the very end of your conversation? Is that not an omniscient pov?

Dealing with the fact that you said that a player won't accept killing themselves. Remember a game called Planescape they required you in some instances to kill yourself (or at least that would enable you to get back to somewhere easily can't remember if required for quests). But also, in the storyline I'm creating the main character does kill himself (probably going to do that in a cutscene =P) but that death isn't the end of the game, rather its about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way into the story (might post the overview for the story in the next month or two for some feed back).

One last point dealing with the moral code issue, but in the Final Fantasy series (From Mystic Quest through to FFX) you have to abide by the moral structure that the game allows you to follow. You the player don't make those decisions really. I for one really do enjoy those games.

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Quote:
Original post by Terlenth
Just a few questions Sunandshadow about what you consider would make bad game stories:

You said that omniscient pov was bad for game stories. What about the instances in games where an enemy was listening to you talk around the corner, and you are shown that the enemy was there at the very end of your conversation? Is that not an omniscient pov?


Well the definition of omniscient pov that I usually go by is that all characters' thoughtsare available to the narrator. I would call your example "close third" because it's showing something physically close to the main character. What I really should have said to be clear is, Don't make a game that requires the player to roleplay more then two characters because there isn't enough time for the player to get into each role, and it breaks immersion into the game world when the player is thinking things like "Gee, how did all character A's items get in character B's inventory when we switched perspectives?" and "Wait, I've been Crono all along haven't I? But he's not in the party anymore - who am I now?"


Quote:

Dealing with the fact that you said that a player won't accept killing themselves. Remember a game called Planescape they required you in some instances to kill yourself (or at least that would enable you to get back to somewhere easily can't remember if required for quests). But also, in the storyline I'm creating the main character does kill himself (probably going to do that in a cutscene =P) but that death isn't the end of the game, rather its about 1/4 to 1/2 of the way into the story (might post the overview for the story in the next month or two for some feed back).


I haven't personally played planescape, but is it really death if you're using it as a means of transportation, or if, as in your project, the game continues afterwards? I wouldjust advise you that a gamecontaining suicide will probably be rated Mature, and you better not give the player the choice to kill himself because hewon't do it if it seems like a real death - you would have to make it an fmv or something.


Quote:

One last point dealing with the moral code issue, but in the Final Fantasy series (From Mystic Quest through to FFX) you have to abide by the moral structure that the game allows you to follow. You the player don't make those decisions really. I for one really do enjoy those games.


While I like the FF series, I always thought it's heavy moralizing about self-sacrifice, environmentalism, and the evils of science were rather obnoxious. Crono Trigger and Cross, Wild Arms, Phantasy Star, Harvest Moon - they all at one point or another made me feel alienated or trapped in my role, which is exactly the opposite of the way a role-playing game should be making the player feel, which is free, adventuresome, and wish-fullfilled (don't think that's a word, lol).

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Those were some interesting points. I always thought that having the player play multiple roles was a good idea, but now I am starting to have second thoughts.

Quote:
Sunandshadow:
- portray the main character giving up or killing himself (good luck getting players to cooperate)


I guess this is not to be taken literally, but more the idea of betraying the player. Is that alone the line of what you meant?

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Thanks for the info Sunandshadow, helped clarify a couple of questions that just sort of occured to me. Also, just one last question, but rather than giving a character a specific quest you would prefer the game to allow the path that the character goes by him/herself? How so do you mean?

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Quote:
Original post by Estok
Those were some interesting points. I always thought that having the player play multiple roles was a good idea, but now I am starting to have second thoughts.

Quote:
Sunandshadow:
- portray the main character giving up or killing himself (good luck getting players to cooperate)


I guess this is not to be taken literally, but more the idea of betraying the player. Is that alone the line of what you meant?


Multiple roles - my simplest statement on the issue is that all the games I've played where I got into the story and identified with the character most deeply had only one playable character (and this chracter was visible on the screen). Examples: Vagrant Story, Sanitarium, Woodruff and the Schnibble, Harvest Moon. In writing terms this means close third person pov with optional interior monologue sections in first person.

Betraying the player, yes - basically requiring the player to do something in the game that the player thinks is a bad or stupid idea, and wouldn't do naturally, but only does after he figures out that _the game is requiring him to do it_, and naturally his immersion is broken when he thinks about this action not as a logical next step in the story, but as a mechanical solution to the problem of "What do I need to do to get the game to continue?"

Related to this is the problem of putting opinions in the main character's mouth that the player may not agree with, like I was talking about with the imposed moral code. Like prejudice for example - there ae certain ways in which you could arrange to have the main character be prejudiced against some other faction or race in the game, but you have to set it up carefully. You can't have the player be shocked by what the main character is saying, because again, it breaks immersion.


Quote:
Original post by Terlenth
Thanks for the info Sunandshadow, helped clarify a couple of questions that just sort of occured to me. Also, just one last question, but rather than giving a character a specific quest you would prefer the game to allow the path that the character goes by him/herself? How so do you mean?


Did I say that??? Hmm maybe I implied it. I suppose so. Let's look at two versions of the same scene.

Version 1 - You have just slain the first Big Baddie and rescued the first Princess. The princess says to you, "Now go to Razelfrazel Swamp and get the Foozle of Whatsits, you will need it to rescue my sister.

Version 2 - You have just slain the first Big Baddie and rescued the first Princess. The princess says to you, "Oh I hope you can rescue my sister as well! Please be careful, the wizard was taunting me by saying, 'Mwahahaha no one will ever rescue her because no one knows the secret of Razzlefrazzle!' He was talking about the great wizard Razzlefrazzle, but there is a Razzlefrazzle Swamp east of here where the wizard used to live - maybe someone there knows something...

So in both cases the player has just been told where to go next, but the seond example is less mechanical and more suspenseful because the player doesn't know exactly what he's looking for, or what he's supposed to do when he gets there. Gamers like to be challenged to think, make them figure out from context what they should do and the best method by which to do it.

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