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Wavinator

Civ w/ story, $50

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This is a spinoff the the endless argument Shinkage and I have been having about narrative in games. So I have a group exercise for ya''ll worth a free game: How could you impose narrative on the game Civilization using today''s technology and still keep the fundamental essence of the game? How would you put a story in Civ? For those that don''t know, btw, Civilization is a strategy game that spans some 6000 years of history. In it, you start as the ruler of one city and acquire other cities through expansion and conquest. You manage resources like population, happiness, production, and money. You also build military and construction units to develop your empire and fight off or conquer rivals. You can research technology ranging from the wheel and sail all the way up to space age inventions like the jet engine and laser. You also have to manage relations between yourself and other civilizations. The game is essentially a balance between growth and defense. Games typically are played on randomly generated continents. Enemy behavior varies based on how you build, and this, combined with the terrain and your personal growth and defense decisions make no two games exactly alike. Any takers? I say it can''t be done with significant impact (I''m not just talking interrupted cut scenes that have little relation to gameplay). Requirements: Game is still as replayable as the non-narrative version. Story significantly impacts gameplay. $50 US dollars to the soul that can solve this unsolvable problem. -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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Maybe I am not understanding your qeustion properly. But what would be the problem in having reports of events in a narrative manner. "and so we fought bravely to defend the city of Kiev, but the hordes of Mongols overwhelmed us with their tanks. You see, we only had horses ..."
Same for changes in regime "So this is how king Wavinator died, and the People took the power!"
yada yada... The way I see it, you could add a lot more narrative content without really modifying the game itself. Because the narrative could be totally "flavor text" (like in Magic the CCG).

But maybe I twist your question in the way you *didn''t* want me to go ?

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No $50 for you, ahw!

You can explain game elements with no problem, but that's not what I'm talking about. You can also put ancillary story, like Alpha Centauri does with it's intermissions about Planet and it's consciousness. But that's not what I mean.

Some folks have cited games like Panzer Dragoon or Final Fantasy 7 as excellent examples of story. My contention has been that when a game has story, the requirements of narrative must diminish gameplay in some way. It's a tradeoff, and the amount you do it varies with the genre. (Highly for adventure games, a bit less for RPGs, very little for arcade games...)

My belief is that the more you make a game like a story, the less you make it a game. Now, to me Civ is the epitome of game: Tons of significant choices, almost every decision meaningful to the game, lots and lots of replay value.

So, if that's the case, and my contention is correct, then as soon as you put a deep, engaging story using today's technology, you destroy the experience of Civ.

--

BTW, ahw, I took the thespark.com test and it said I was an Artist: "Although you are an introvert, your dominant ideas lead you to assert yourself often--especially through your work"
Haha! Totally true, and hence the offer to buy somebody a game if they can show me where my viewpoint's wrong.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

Edited by - Wavinator on October 5, 2000 11:01:46 PM

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Guest Anonymous Poster
i never could get into civ, it just took to damn long to play. After about 2 hours i would just turn on cheats and speed through. But even then it took hours to finish, gawd i hate that. There needs ot be a happy medium, not as slow as turn based strategy games, but not as fast paced as star-craft type games either.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
@##$#@ @$$@%@$ @$R@$@ @$%$@%$@R @$%@%@^^%$@ @$)%()(@ #$%(*#!!!!!!!!!!

I just spent like 20 minutes typing a decent reply, and then accidentally pressed the clear button.

@%$%%#^^%#$!!!!

There goes my chances for $50 this week.

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@##$#@ @$$@%@$ @$R@$@ @$%$@%$@R @$%@%@^^%$@ @$)%()(@ #$%(*#!!!!!!!!!!

I just spent like 20 minutes typing a decent reply, and then accidentally pressed the clear button.

@%$%%#^^%#$!!!!

There goes my chances for $50 this week.

Dare To Think Outside The Box
_____________________________
|____________________________|
http://www.inversestudios.com

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One more time, in the abridged format...

The gist of my last post is that the first thing you would need is a character. For instance, the player could be playing an immortal who takes control of all these empire across this 6000 year period (he can do that, he''s immortal). If you have character, than you have a perspective through which to tell a story. Now, an important thing to point out is even the games with the best stories, have only moments of story and moments of gameplay, FF7, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Fear Effect (my personal game of the month) are all like that. Think about it, most games have an opening setup sequence, then some gameplay, then more story, then more gameplay. FF7 for instance, the first part is them on the train (story), Then go through the mako reactor (gameplay), then they escape and regroup (story). When you think about it, there isn''t much gameplay during the story, and isn''t much gameplay during the story. So how do you get the two to merge, mainly by properly balancing gp and story. In civ, perhaps the first section of story would come before gameplay, and the story would be built dynamicly as the game progressed. As you defeat enemies and defend cities, you gain allies and enemies. Perhaps the story could be told at the same time as gameplay (with vouice over) as to not disrupt the flow of gameplay. With a game like Civ, the key would be to have a whole lot of scenarios. Most of the things the player does should have a potential effect on the gameplay, and gameplay should probabkly on stop when the player would be asked to make a really vital descision (or maybe not, no one said making decisions as an immortal emperor was easy). What might also be coolis if the different events of the story where transcribed into a chronicle of some type, so when the player was finished they''d have an actual story to read over, it would be kinda neat. At any rate, that''s about the general gist of what I wrote, story could be involved, but it would have to be as dynamic as the gameplay, and couldn''t be obtrusive to the game play. Sounds to me like it would be one cool game.

Dare To Think Outside The Box
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I have a very simple answer for you. Civ already tells a story. Not only does it tell *A* story, but the most epic and sweeping of stories. What story is this you ask? It tells the story of the technological and social development of mankind throughout an alternate history. In a way, Civ is actually very linear. You have to get X technology in order to get Y technology. This technological tree always develops in the same broad fashion. Just because the game does not use TRADITIONAL narrative devices (i.e. characters, dialogue, etc...) does not mean it isn''t telling a good story.

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Some folks have cited games like Panzer Dragoon




No no no, Wav. Panzer Dragoon SAGA. The first two were *okay*, the last one was freaking great!

Anyway, my best guess would be to place some emphasis on the lineage of rulership. Kindof a Romance of the 3 Kingdoms thing. A lot of society-wide politics come down to groups of two or three people and their personal motivations. Viola, it doesn''t cut back on gameplay because it has a direct bearing at all times on your society.

This kind of intrigue could last for generations, and certain personality traits might be passed on to offspring, or even the reverse! The lack of this kind of personality is really the only thing that prevents me from playing these games... You add a tiny bit of roleplaying (no, like REAL rolplaying, not FF) at pretty much expected intervals, give guidelines for performance (i.e. make it game-like) and then let the player experience the consequences of his diplomatic screwups, and reap it''s potential rewards... Sounds like fun (and story) to me.

BONUS, there are only like a dozen archetypal political intrigues, so you could just wire it in to certain personality types and scoioeconomic situations...

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