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Ketchaval

People like gameplay not "writing"?

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Tying in with Wavinator's thoughts on genre (ie. multigenre games), I've noticed that one of the "problems" with the game buying audience is that they don't seem to be as interested in the writing (ie. word-building / character building as seen in character lines, voice acting, character design, level design, level design, plot, story and themes). As they are in the gameplay. If someone says that the world has fantastic characters, level design and general quality, but that the gameplay is only average I don't think that it will interest someone (at the moment) as much as a game with fantastic gameplay but only average writing. Sad but true. Why is this? It is partly because gameplay is what you do, and people rely on 'fresh' gameplay to keep the experience new, and obviously if the gameplay is really bad then it is going to be a hassle and tedious to play to get to the quality. Its like having a pretty frame round a dull painting. However, this may be partially a function of age. As players get older they may become accustomed to the tricks that level designers pull off to keep things new, and start to be more interested in the rest of the experience. Personally, I know that I've been looking for more games where the quality of the characters/world-design/etc pulls me in. Obviously the best of all worlds is to have both top quality gameplay AND excellent "writing" (in all senses of the word.). Note:Genre in games is (at least) two-fold, there is the genre of gameplay and the genre of the setting and plot. EDIT: This isn't to say that quality "writing" is bad, it helps to immerse the player in the world, and drive them on, indeed I doubt that Half-Life would have been as popular if it didn't have the whole "just another day at work" beginning with the interactive microwaves, the "buy you a beer after work", and the likeable? scientists / barneys. If it had been a simpler presentation of the story (ie. you are a space-marine Strogg are attacking), I doubt it would have been as influential. I welcome better writing / character-building / world-building. Another issue is that of, yeah I can see the story.. but WHAT do I actually do in this game? Ie. A matter of communicating the structure (substance?) of the experience. [Edited by - Ketchaval on June 6, 2005 8:15:14 AM]

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Well I tend to look at it like this - If I want good writing, a well designed setting, good character development, etc. then I'll go see a movie, or perhaps read a book. Games are about interactivity, and that puts a lot of the focus onto gameplay.

Personally I think we could do with some better designed (and more detailed) settings, and characters who's background and dialogue have been filled out by quality writers, but it's still less important than gameplay.

Gameplay is the cake. Quality writing is part of the icing, or perhaps a nice drink you can have with it. [wink] It's sometimes very hard to develop a good setting and story that can acount for all the actions a player might take, and it's very annoying when a viable options is taken away from me as a player to preserve the setting or storyline - there are exceptions as with everything, and it's certainly something to experiment with and find the right mix, but it's my feeling that gameplay needs to stay the main focus.

I do very much want to see more thought put into storyline/setting/characters/etc however.

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I also agree. I don't skip the cutscenes the first time around; the story and setting is a very nice embellishment but I'm there to play, not to look around.

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I agree too. Sorry for the redundancy. ;) I think complaining of gameplay taking precedence over story or writing in games is a bit like complaining about not being able to do much except sit and munch popcorn during a movie. Each form of entertainment has its own niche to fill, and while I heartily approve of the cross-breeding that does go on, I think that people know roughly what they want when they choose which form to buy, and the makers of that form need to respect that choice.

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Quote:
Original post by superpig
I'm there to play, not to look around.


Do you mean that you are there to play not sit passively and watch?
Or do you mean that you aren't that interested in the setting?

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Quote:
Original post by Ketchaval
Quote:
Original post by superpig
I'm there to play, not to look around.


Do you mean that you are there to play not sit passively and watch?
Or do you mean that you aren't that interested in the setting?


Ah, good question. If the gameplay weaves exploration of the environment and discovery of the story into gameplay, then it can work; the Myst games are the primary example (solving puzzles requires an understanding of the game world and events that transpired in it before you arrived). I'm definitely not there to sit and watch passively.

However, that said, I'm lying. I just finished Half-Life 2 this afternoon, and I greatly enjoyed the cage-train sequences in the final chapters - might as well be a non-interactive movie, but the emotion and tension that the rest of the game had built up made them a payoff rather than an irritation. I was finally getting to see what was inside this thing that had graced the skyline for the whole game, and was finally getting to see the spawn place of the enemies I'd been fighting.

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I think you are reversing the frame and the picture. You play games. Therefore game-play is the goal. The rest is just a pretty setting. This is why there are games with truly zero story:
all card games
tetris
bejeweled
tag

Talk about zero story- Those have it! That doesn't mean they are not fun. I think the key word there is fun. People play games to have fun. If it is not *fun* (crappy interfaces are a pain and not fun) then it is not a good game. If the story is not there, you still have the gameplay.

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I'm in the middle on this topic. Some games provide a good distraction but have little or no story. I like those because I can just have some fun with the controls or the general idea, like Tanks.

My favorites, though, are games with an interesting story. I played games like Freespace and Wing Commander to see what the rest of the story held. Sure, the gameplay was good but I wanted to see the story develop. I play Final Fantasy games to see what kind of wacky story they decided to put in this time. Building up my characters can be fun, but it's just so I don't hit any obstacles later on when I'm trying to advance the plot.

For me, if a new game doesn't have a good, immersive story I'm not buying it. I want a story I can get lost in, with characters I'll care about for my $50.

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I think game writing is so bad on average that people like me who really care about writing rarely find a game well written enough to be worth buying, and so do not currently make up a big market force in gaming (but might in the future if writing quality improves).

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