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Wavinator

No Tragedy Please, We're Heroes

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Writers stroll were game designers fear to tread... Assumption: Games that include life elements (like Fable, the old Imperium Galacticas, or The Sims) can't handle elements of personal tragedy if they apply to the player unless said elements are part of a fixed story. Reasons: 1) Almost no game gives the player an out-of-story emotional tie to the game, a reason for dealing with emotional elements; as a result, any negative emotional event that affects them personally are considered meaningless. Nothing affects gameplay, unlike with combat, where losing half your health may be a big deal. 2) Personal tragedy is messy, and therefore makes a gamer more squeemish than a good beheading or bullet-riddled corpse. This means any gameplay around it has to deal with dozens of factors people consider unpleasant. 3) It's different when it's happening to you. If you strongly identify with your character you don't want them going through hardship. 4) Cultural bias: Tragic elements, while cathartic to witness in others, in the West (especially America) often hint at some sort of incompetence or deficiency. If your wife leaves you or your child's a druggie, you did something wrong. Conclusion: Fiction has free reign where game designers dare not travel. Agree? / Disagree? Why?
Consider this gaming scenario: You're an immigrant to a new life of adventure on a fantastical colony world. You get a lot of adventuring freedom, and one aspect of the game involves building up home and hearth. You go through some bragging / wooing / questing gameplay to attract a mate, the game's timeframe skips, you get some appropriate in game options to raise a family (think genetic engineering). Midway through the game, you've spent so much time away from home that your spouse decides that they're leaving you. They can't take the abandonment and worrying. They're ARE taking 1/2 your treasure and the two kids. Oh, and they've taken up with your arch rival. Gameplay-wise, it's a non-starter. Why? Because as a hero, nothing emotionally messy is supposed to happen to us. This becomes silly emotionally if it doesn't affect your character or stat; or it becomes formulaic if it does ("send spouse x units of flowers to prevent divorce...") Am I right?

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This is a question if wondered myself and the conclusion I've reached is that games are about gameplay and the story is merely a back drop placed in which the game takes place. The game is rarely tied to story in any real way. It triggers various scenes and may shape the current level but ultimate the story seldom exists beyond the scope of tying the end of the current level into the begining of the next one. Further the story is general inconsistant and disconnect from the gameplay. I can't count the number of times a game has allowed me to destroy whole armies with my invcible band of warriors only to have one die in a cut scene from an attack that wouldn't merit a healing potion if it occured in battle. Or how in FFIX the evil queen can use summon monsters to destry entire cities and yet those same summon monster can't be kill an enemy in battle. Its those sort of inconsistancy that lie at the fundamental seperation of a game and its story. How to keep the gameplay and story in synch without alienating people? How do you get the player to accept that they don't have unlimited time to complete a task and how do you keep the gameplay able with time limits on events? With a massive amount of additonal scripting?

The difficulty with the scenario you've presented is how do you keep the player coming home to take care of the family? When at the same time the game demands they continue moving father and father away with no need to return anywhere?

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Original post by TechnoGoth
Or how in FFIX the evil queen can use summon monsters to destry entire cities and yet those same summon monster can't be kill an enemy in battle.
Dude, the queen obviosly has a hugeass Magic stat, while poor little Garnet has like 10. :D

Now, its my opinion that fiction in games is a great place to mix up the gameplay by thowing these moments of uncertainty at us. Surely, taking away your wife, 50% of your resources, and your two kids is a shitty situation that everyone will try to dodge if there was a game element for it. However, it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say that fiction has no place in gaming just because a few bad situations were written before. Also, it ignores all of the absolutely great situations that have occured.

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I think that the player is disinclined to suffer the consequences of somebody else's poor judgement or performance, even if it's their character who's at fault. I'm always disappointed when my character gets captured in a cutscene and all my guns get taken away. I was hoarding that shotgun ammo all through the last level, and now some miniboss just took it away from me? I didn't screw up, so you shouldn't mess with my achievements.

If, on the other hand, I botch my extraction rendezvous, trigger an alarm, and get mobbed by top security forces, then I'm rightly boned. If I could surrender then, rather than dying, Iid be willing to tolerate the loss of some equipment if it meant a chance at surviving and/or infiltrating the base via a clever jailbreak.

If my son joins a gang and my wife gets addicted to opium, then it's either a game problem or a story problem. If it's a game problem, then it's my fault and I can try to fix it. If it's a story problem, then I watch it in a cutscene and wait to see how it resolves itself.

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I have a short and sweet post. I would have to say it depends! With the Sims, I played it only once, and on my first time, the wife was cooking in the kitchen, the stove caught on fire and then she burned up. The husband and child were mourning. That was pretty freaking depressing for me. I was like *blah* and haven't played since. This is probabally some weird 'exception' to your otherwise correct statements, but I would have to say it all really does depends on the user. We can't tell who will connect with who.

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Original post by Drew_Benton
We can't tell who will connect with who.


I think this is the biggest problem.

In a book, you're reading about someone. I, the reader, feel depressed if his lover dies because I can empathise with him.

In a game, you're playing someone. I, the player, will not feel depressed if his (read: my) lover dies because I did not fall in love with her.

Basically, if I came up to you and told you "You love Anna very much. She died yesterday." you probably wouldn't care. However, if I came up to you and told you "I love Anna very much. She died yesterday." you'd probably feel sorry for me.

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The key word here is immersion.

If I'm just playing for the gameplay, a burning death of my whole in-game family is just a game element. Ok, my character lost half my fortune and some NPCs (notice the highly nihilistic approach). Big deal. The game is still fun to play, so there's nothing to worry about.

If, on the other hand, I'm really immersed in the game world or the pre-written plot of the game to the degree that I have become the character, so to speak, and then my in-game family dies an agonizing burning death, it will hurt me as well.

It is similar to the problem with horror. Horror isn't about startling the player, as it is manifested in most games and movies. It's about making the player (and indeed the player, not the player character) doubt his sanity. It's about making the player feel truly insecure. True horror requires a lot of immersion.

I'll go as far as to say that in some cases non-plot tragedy as a result of emergent behaviour can make the player have stronger feelings than the plot-based tragedy. You can be immersed in the game world or you can be immersed in the pre-written plot. If you are immersed in the game world and not the plot and then a cutscene comes in and tells you your family was just massacred, it really kills the immersion. It all depends on why are you playing.

So I say it can be done, but requires a lot of immersion and that immersion must not be broken (e.g. with lousy UI etc.). And the player must want to believe — immersion can't be forced.

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I was playing one of the first Wing Commander games, and was fairly far along. Cut scenes allowed me to interact with the rest of the crew, and I came to be-friend them (in some wierd video-game-immersion way.) I liked them, I cared about them. When we went on missions, they would throw off comments and insults to the enemy, further giving them some personality. They would help me out, and I would help them.

And then Maniac died. Wiped out by an enemy Capital ship. Some would say he deserved it. He was cocky, pompous, and so full of himself. When the capital ship appeared on our scanners, he took off, eager to take it on all by himself. We had been seperated during our battle with some smaller fighters, and he was much closer to it than I was.

I ordered him back until I could reach it with him. It was suicide to go toe-to-toe with it alone. He ignored me. I was hitting full afterburners, watching helplessly as the battle played out in the distance. I kept shouting at him through the radio to pull back, but he wasn't about to retreat. No, not him.

As I got closer, I could see the captial ships guns pounding into his armor. I finally got into range, and was about to position my ship between his and the enemy to cover him for a few shots. Let my shields absorb the blows. With me in range, the captial ship would have to divide it's attention and I could hopefully spare Maniac an untimely death.

No such luck. Just a few more seconds away from him and his ship blew apart in a puff of fire.

I screamed at him. He was so stupid, so arrogant. Just a cocky kid. But he didn't deserve to die. I took out my frustration on the capital ship, sending every missile I had into it, flying circles around it firing my weapons over and over.

But nothing was going to crack those shields, and my own were gone. Scraps of armor were being shredded away, systems started to malfunction. I had to get out of there... no matter how bad I wanted to destroy that ship, it wasn't going to happen.

I flew back to my carrier, beaten, broken, and cursing Maniac. And then we had the funeral, where his empty casket was left to drift into space.

Of course, I could never fly another mission with him again, and as reckless as he was, he was one of my favorite wingmen. I missed him...

Until Wing Commander IV came out. :)

***

Okay, so my point of all this is just that this was an in-game tragedy that affected me emotionally, as a player, yet made perfect sense within the context of the game. The rest of the game I had an even deeper hatred of the Kilrathi, and every ship I destroyed was accompanied with the thought, "That one's for Maniac, you bastards!"

I associated with the in-game tradedy, and I thought it was great - but it wasn't part of the "story" of the game. It wasn't a scripted event. That battle could have gone entirely differently.

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Original post by TechnoGoth
This is a question if wondered myself and the conclusion I've reached is that games are about gameplay and the story is merely a back drop placed in which the game takes place. The game is rarely tied to story in any real way.


But is this a symptom or an underlying principle? (that is, a problem or a "this is a way it should be")

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How to keep the gameplay and story in synch without alienating people? How do you get the player to accept that they don't have unlimited time to complete a task and how do you keep the gameplay able with time limits on events? With a massive amount of additonal scripting?


Yes, exactly. There are so many factors of flexibility that make up gameplay that just aren't present in story.

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The difficulty with the scenario you've presented is how do you keep the player coming home to take care of the family? When at the same time the game demands they continue moving father and father away with no need to return anywhere?


Someone here once said that the best reason to do anything in a game is because you want to. So how do you make them want to go through this? You can use inducements or punishments (carrot or stick).

In a case like this, the "family building" would have to be tied to boosting the exploration as a strategy. That's *ahem* easier said than done, though.

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Original post by Inmate2993
Surely, taking away your wife, 50% of your resources, and your two kids is a shitty situation that everyone will try to dodge if there was a game element for it. However, it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say that fiction has no place in gaming just because a few bad situations were written before.


Maybe I'm being too harsh. But as you write it, isn't the situation to be avoided? If so, that's exactly my point.

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Also, it ignores all of the absolutely great situations that have occured.


Examples?

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
I think that the player is disinclined to suffer the consequences of somebody else's poor judgement or performance, even if it's their character who's at fault. I'm always disappointed when my character gets captured in a cutscene and all my guns get taken away. I was hoarding that shotgun ammo all through the last level, and now some miniboss just took it away from me? I didn't screw up, so you shouldn't mess with my achievements.

If, on the other hand, I botch my extraction rendezvous, trigger an alarm, and get mobbed by top security forces, then I'm rightly boned. If I could surrender then, rather than dying, Iid be willing to tolerate the loss of some equipment if it meant a chance at surviving and/or infiltrating the base via a clever jailbreak.


You still consider this a loss, though, right? Something that, for instance, you might replay to avoid? See, if the game puts you in this situation, even if it's all due to your gameplay, can't you curse the designer for foisting this on you (and I mean even in a freeform universe)?

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If my son joins a gang and my wife gets addicted to opium, then it's either a game problem or a story problem. If it's a game problem, then it's my fault and I can try to fix it.


Let's assume it's a gameplay problem. What happens if it's so far down the road that you can't do anything but consider it a lost cause and rebuild? The game doesn't kill you, but because of inattention, you can't mend it.

Alternately, there's the philosophy that says that you should be able to recover no matter what.

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Original post by Drew_Benton
I have a short and sweet post. I would have to say it depends! With the Sims, I played it only once, and on my first time, the wife was cooking in the kitchen, the stove caught on fire and then she burned up. The husband and child were mourning. That was pretty freaking depressing for me. I was like *blah* and haven't played since. This is probabally some weird 'exception' to your otherwise correct statements, but I would have to say it all really does depends on the user. We can't tell who will connect with who.


Would you say you quit playing because, basically death is depressing, or because the game didn't allow you to do anything about it that would raise the depressing loss? (For instance, you could take the New Orleans funeral approach and celebrate a person's life, which would be a difference in philosophy and therefore the game's underlying social / psychological model)

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Original post by Way Walker
Basically, if I came up to you and told you "You love Anna very much. She died yesterday." you probably wouldn't care. However, if I came up to you and told you "I love Anna very much. She died yesterday." you'd probably feel sorry for me.


I love this example because it strikes right to the heart. This, along with the Wing Commander examples, really show how important it is to get the player in the right mood.

That, btw, presents a pretty nasty problem for a freeform game like The Sims because you can't guarantee what mood the player will be in. Even if you set a timer that said "no tragedy until X minutes in the game" you'd need some way of detecting emotional attachment (like a mouse with a galvanic skin response unit!)

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Original post by Taolung
Okay, so my point of all this is just that this was an in-game tragedy that affected me emotionally, as a player, yet made perfect sense within the context of the game. The rest of the game I had an even deeper hatred of the Kilrathi, and every ship I destroyed was accompanied with the thought, "That one's for Maniac, you bastards!"

I associated with the in-game tradedy, and I thought it was great - but it wasn't part of the "story" of the game. It wasn't a scripted event. That battle could have gone entirely differently.


Okay, I should have made an exception for combat tragedy. Good point.

I can't really explain it right, but what I'm trying to get at involves more mundane tragedy. A combat death is embued with honor, nobility and even dignity in our culture.

Imagine, OTOH, that you have an in-game spouse that's away on a scientific mission that's lost. For some time, you don't know if she's dead. Then you get confirmation, and your character goes from worry to grief.

You can't avenge an accident or fate. Even if the story (stealing from Babylon 5) later reveals that this was all part of a plot, which you CAN avenge, it's a tough sell in the interrim.

In general, this ties in with an idea I've posted about before, that it's VERY hard to make setbacks palatable. I keep exploring this idea because I'm curious about the limits of drama, and this looks like a high barrier.

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I think that the kind of game you are playing makes a difference as well. Its kind of hard to be affected emotionally when a Sim dies in a fire. The game is too rediculous anyway to really care about the characters. But more important is the overall game itself - you are not playing as a character, you are kind of like a god. The UI takes you out of the game somewhat - this doesn't just take you out of the characters, it kind of removes you from the whole of the game. I'm not suggesting an alternative (I like the Sims), but different strokes...

If you wanted to make a game that would really connect with the player, you have to, as has been said, really immerse them in the game. In an RPG, this is difficult because its the little things that add up. In Wing Commander, the insults and chatter make you picture the other characters more and increase the immersiveness of the game. But in an RPG, esp. games like Morrowind, and Fable, some things can really detract from the immersiveness. If you have actions that you would like to take during the game, like build a campfire and roast a hunk of meat, and you can't because its built into the game, its another reminder that this isn't real. Also, menus, dialog boxes and LOADING SCREENS are a jarring interruption to the flow of the game. Reading the postmortem on Black and White gives a good example. When they made Dungeon Keeper, the large toolbar really took you out of the game. When they created Black and White, they managed to avoid almost any obviously out-of-game objects such as menus and toolboxes. This really helped me immerse myself in the game.

I'll stop now.

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I think part of the problem is the games we're so used to playing. For example, playing FFX, I "know" that Yuna isn't going to die at the end, at least not simply by summoning the final aeon, etc. So there's no emotional issue there because I simply don't believe it can happen. It's just not real. But when Tidus finds out about it, I feel bad, because I can relate to what it's like to have not know all along and I cringe looking back at how awkward some of the things he said were. Simply put, it's believable, and I can relate. And I think that's the key, is not to make the situations overly dramatic, just to make them believable. When your sim dies by catching on fire while cooking, that's just a little ridiculous.

Also, I think the most powerful gameplay moment I can remember is when Aeris dies in FF7. Why? Because they killed a main character. Somebody I actually used significantly, somebody that had a real effect on the story, just died. It's just like it real life, the closer you are to a person, the more their death affects you, and in game terms, controling a character defines closeness in a way. And it was messy. All the time you may have put into training her, just wasted. I feel like I've invested something in her, some personal touch and effort, and that's what makes it important.

So I guess that's the two things I would say matter. First, the situation has to be absolutely believable within the game universe. Secondly, I have to have developed a closeness of some kind. Really, these are the same things required of a fiction writer. I think you have to realize that not everyone will get into the game in the same way, and otherwise write good fiction.

tj963

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Original post by silverphyre673
I think that the kind of game you are playing makes a difference as well. Its kind of hard to be affected emotionally when a Sim dies in a fire. The game is too rediculous anyway to really care about the characters.


Would it be fair to say that because the game doesn't start off dramatically, you don't really have a cause to expect drama? Sims aren't in any sort of epic story. Would that make a difference, do you think?

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But more important is the overall game itself - you are not playing as a character, you are kind of like a god. The UI takes you out of the game somewhat - this doesn't just take you out of the characters, it kind of removes you from the whole of the game. I'm not suggesting an alternative (I like the Sims), but different strokes...


It's interesting to contrast this with RPGs. In many, you have a god's like control scheme and you get the same effect, in my book. You lose some character identification if you don't always see and directly control your character.

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If you wanted to make a game that would really connect with the player, you have to, as has been said, really immerse them in the game. In an RPG, this is difficult because its the little things that add up. In Wing Commander, the insults and chatter make you picture the other characters more and increase the immersiveness of the game. But in an RPG, esp. games like Morrowind, and Fable, some things can really detract from the immersiveness. If you have actions that you would like to take during the game, like build a campfire and roast a hunk of meat, and you can't because its built into the game, its another reminder that this isn't real. Also, menus, dialog boxes and LOADING SCREENS are a jarring interruption to the flow of the game. Reading the postmortem on Black and White gives a good example. When they made Dungeon Keeper, the large toolbar really took you out of the game. When they created Black and White, they managed to avoid almost any obviously out-of-game objects such as menus and toolboxes. This really helped me immerse myself in the game.


Some interesting points. I think that at some level, even if you can't do lots of little things, like chop down trees or dig a ditch, gamers push that aside and accept that they're within a limited universe. But the point about not reminding them of this, either with restricted gameplay or visuals, is a good one.

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I'll stop now.


No, please continue! I'm obsessing about this idea... [lol]

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Original post by tj963
Simply put, it's believable, and I can relate. And I think that's the key, is not to make the situations overly dramatic, just to make them believable. When your sim dies by catching on fire while cooking, that's just a little ridiculous.


Hmmm... actually, that's a good point that kind of refocuses the discussion. I've been thinking about the combat deaths in Wing Commander mentioned above, and it's true that they were believable due to the setting. OTOH, The Sims is actually supposed to be ridiculous because humor's a big selling point.

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Secondly, I have to have developed a closeness of some kind. Really, these are the same things required of a fiction writer. I think you have to realize that not everyone will get into the game in the same way, and otherwise write good fiction.


Can you get this closeness, do you think, just by leveling up a generic character that you customize (speech, clothes, habits, quirks)?

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Hmm... I keep hearing "immersion" and I'm not entirely sure what that means. It seems to mean something like "forgetting you're playing a game". That can be good, but I don't think that's what's needed here. I think "immersion" as "immersed in these peoples' lives" is more to the point. When I'm immersed in a book or movie, I don't necessarily forget I'm reading or watching. I am totally interested in what's happening to these people.

I think the Wing Commander example is great. Why? Because, between missions, you weren't playing the game. What were you doing? BSing with your "friends". You got to know them "outside" of the game. Thus, when they die, you don't just lose a "wing mate", you lose "that cocky SOB" and miss his antics. Basically, the biggest part of the loss is not game play related.

Now that I think about it, I think Wing Commander had a good formula. Well defined periods of down time between the action where you get to know the people you're fighting alongside. And I think that could transfer well to other game types if you're a little sneaky about it.

Another method that could help would be to define the barrier between "character" and "player" a little more distinctly. Make it feel a bit more like those Lone Wolf books I used to read. You controlled his actions, but they were still his actions and it was still a story about him. Maybe an episodic game would do well for this?

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Original post by Way Walker
I think "immersion" as "immersed in these peoples' lives" is more to the point. When I'm immersed in a book or movie, I don't necessarily forget I'm reading or watching. I am totally interested in what's happening to these people.


Hmmm... that is a great distinction. This, of course, requires that the game world draw these people's lives out in more detail, as note with Wing Commander-- something that normally (?) doesn't happen in gameplay.

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Basically, the biggest part of the loss is not game play related.

Now that I think about it, I think Wing Commander had a good formula. Well defined periods of down time between the action where you get to know the people you're fighting alongside. And I think that could transfer well to other game types if you're a little sneaky about it.


What I immediately wonder is whether or not gameplay could be made that specifically focuses on downtime. In WC, for example, you BSed around cards. Could you be playing cards AND occassionally choosing text options. I've never seen this before, and I wonder why.

[qutoe]
Another method that could help would be to define the barrier between "character" and "player" a little more distinctly. Make it feel a bit more like those Lone Wolf books I used to read. You controlled his actions, but they were still his actions and it was still a story about him. Maybe an episodic game would do well for this?[/quote]

Yes, I think this works if that's an option, but not so much so if you want your player to be the main character.

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Original post by Wavinator
Consider this gaming scenario: You're an immigrant to a new life of adventure on a fantastical colony world. You get a lot of adventuring freedom, and one aspect of the game involves building up home and hearth. You go through some bragging / wooing / questing gameplay to attract a mate, the game's timeframe skips, you get some appropriate in game options to raise a family (think genetic engineering).

Midway through the game, you've spent so much time away from home that your spouse decides that they're leaving you. They can't take the abandonment and worrying. They're ARE taking 1/2 your treasure and the two kids. Oh, and they've taken up with your arch rival.

Gameplay-wise, it's a non-starter. Why? Because as a hero, nothing emotionally messy is supposed to happen to us. This becomes silly emotionally if it doesn't affect your character or stat; or it becomes formulaic if it does ("send spouse x units of flowers to prevent divorce...")

Am I right?


It could be done. The example above is how I see a game like Fable handling it. In other words, the wrong way. A bad game would have you send flowers at regular intervals, and come home all the time, or a window would pop up saying "Your wife has left you." and that would be that. A good game could actually achieve a genuine level of tragedy by involving it in the game's story, if only as color dialogue.

You're a young adventurer. Upon reaching a new town you find a young woman and instantly fall in love with her. But this girl won't get hitched to just any adventurer who can swing a sword. You visit her every time you come back to town. You send her letters filled with poetry and presents from faraway lands. You meet her parents. After many months (let's say 10 hours of gameplay time), she finally agrees to be your wife. After a grand ceremony and several years of living together you've been graced with two kids (we'll assume some accelerated time like Fable does).

Now, one night after some dragon slaying you find that the town is under attack and that most of the buildings are on fire (a random event perhaps). You rush back to your house to find your family being menaced by goons. You fight valiantly but they manage to brutally murder your wife and one of your kids (a better player might be able to save their whole family). A player will most likely be attached to their wife and kid after spending so many hours of the game with them. A good game will not cheapen their deaths by just playing it off. It has to incorporate it in to dialog options and gameplay choices. Your adventuring companion attempts to console you and you can blow him off, or weep like a little schoolgirl, or whatever. You have to explain to your remaining child why his mother was killed and why you have to leave him to take revenge.

The emotional impact of events like Aeris' death only work because of the investment a player has in that character. That only comes by building up countless hours with said character. You can't go the Fable route. In other words, no marriages after only flexing a few muscles. No multiple wives in every town you come across. No easy deaths or divorces that have no impact on dialogue options. The one sticking point is in saving and reloading. A game that wants to have realistic emotional impact will likely have to have a non-traditional method of saving.

So, yea, I disagree. A game *can* handle elements of personal tragedy outside of cutscenes and fixed storylines, but it has to give a player time to get invested, not present the tragedy cheaply or in a cheesy manner, and has to give the player enough options to role-play it in the manner they see fit.

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I still say it's the same thing. Involvement with the character.

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Can you get this closeness, do you think, just by leveling up a generic character that you customize (speech, clothes, habits, quirks)?


Well, as much as you can get attached to a set of statistics. In this case, it's more like a creation, a work of art, rather than a character. I have yet to see a game where the gameplay really establishes character. There needs to be some story, some character development, and so if this isn't provided by the gameplay, then the story has to provide it. And so it's the combination of "closeness" or involvement plus a believable character and story.

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A player will most likely be attached to their wife and kid after spending so many hours of the game with them.


It depends I think on whether that element of character development is there, or whether getting a wife and kinds was just another quest. Working hard to get a new and and working hard to get a wife can be exactly the same thing in gameplay terms, and that alone doesn't generate a very significant attachment. In fact in a situation like that, I'd probably feel equally attached to my bow and my wife. Now, for the fun of it, let's say you gave the bow a personality. Made it a talking bow and whatever. Now I would likely feel MORE attachment to the bow that my wife.

tj963

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Original post by Wavinator
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Original post by Inmate2993
Surely, taking away your wife, 50% of your resources, and your two kids is a shitty situation that everyone will try to dodge if there was a game element for it. However, it seems like throwing the baby out with the bathwater to say that fiction has no place in gaming just because a few bad situations were written before.

Maybe I'm being too harsh. But as you write it, isn't the situation to be avoided? If so, that's exactly my point.
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Also, it ignores all of the absolutely great situations that have occured.

Examples?

I'm probably just agreeing with you, but lets take Final Fantasy Tactics (PS1), since it features both.

When Delita's sister Teta died, I tried throwing a pheonix down at the corpse on one of my replays. Didn't work. It shouldn't work, the story is hinged on Delita's tragedy.

Now try any situation when a dead character hit the three turn limit on death.

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Another good example of attachement is Knight of the Old Republic (both I and II). In each one, the player gets the opportunity to invest some time in learning the background of his/her companions (you also have the option to blow them off).

After playing for a while, I do tend to become attached to certain characters in the game. I remember when the female Jedi is captured in the first one, I felt deeply frustrated and wanted to cut through the door to get to her. Moreover, my choices as a players affected my interaction with her as well as her demeanor. She could be saved or cast down at the end of the game.

Now that I think about it, having an effect on the NPC's behavior can become a good way of making the interesting and getting the player more involved in the story (even the non-RPers might get a kick out having the NPC's look up to them for something they did (and had a choice in doing!)).

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