Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

What makes briefings / journals work?

This topic is 4809 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

Why do players accept briefings, after action reports, and mission / quest logs? You might think this is a silly question, but have you ever noticed that briefings and journals provide a huge amount of bang for the buck? Expository text relates to you events that you can't see or expect to see, and gives context for what you do see. This seems to me an extraordinarily cheap way of adding content to a game. But why do players accept it, when the drive is toward more realization of all aspects of the virtual fantasy that a game is? Is it because we implicitly accept an accounting of events, without expecting them to be fully realized, simply because it relates to limits we live and accept in real life?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Why do players accept briefings, after action reports, and mission / quest logs?

You might think this is a silly question, but have you ever noticed that briefings and journals provide a huge amount of bang for the buck? Expository text relates to you events that you can't see or expect to see, and gives context for what you do see. This seems to me an extraordinarily cheap way of adding content to a game.

But why do players accept it, when the drive is toward more realization of all aspects of the virtual fantasy that a game is? Is it because we implicitly accept an accounting of events, without expecting them to be fully realized, simply because it relates to limits we live and accept in real life?

Well, the limits we have in real life is a very real point. A ton of what we learn about is from other sources, very rarely do we get to actually be at an assasination attempt or any more mundane event. That is the entire existence of the media, relaying events that we ourselves could not witness.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Why do players accept briefings, after action reports, and mission / quest logs?

Cause they exist in real life.
What happened Wavinator, you're throwing us a softball here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Why do players accept briefings, after action reports, and mission / quest logs?

Cause they exist in real life.


Wait a second, though! Consider that there are many things that exist in real-life that we don't accept in games. Waiting, for instance. That something exists in real-life doesn't automatically mean that it'll be acceptable in a game.


Quote:

What happened Wavinator, you're throwing us a softball here.


[lol] Don't worry, I have an ulterior motive!

What I'm feeling for here is the boundaries of acceptability. If I tell you your character is injured, you're unsatisfied. You expect to see the injury. Yet if I tell you that robbers quietly broke into your house and kidnapped your only child or pet dragon, you'll accept it without me having to show you a surveillance tape.

This seems to me a high value, low cost means of making the world seem alive. For indie developers, what if this asset could be turned into pure gold? (how I'll leave for another thread)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by intrest86
Well, the limits we have in real life is a very real point. A ton of what we learn about is from other sources, very rarely do we get to actually be at an assasination attempt or any more mundane event. That is the entire existence of the media, relaying events that we ourselves could not witness.


But the media is a perfect parallel. IRL, if there's an earthquake somewhere, you and I can probably go surf the net and find a clip. Now, in games, we have a similar rule as authors, in that we're exhorted to "show, don't tell."

But this rule doesn't apply to journaling and reporting. We're perfectly comfortable reading a report and then fulfiling mission / quest objectives; getting messages about things that are happening concurrently that we can't see; and journaling of events that supposedly happened while we were off doing our thing.

I think there's an underlying reason why this is still acceptable, even in our media saturated world.




Let me expand this a bit: When is journaling / mission reporting acceptable, and when is it not? What content can journaling / mission reporting comfortably replace without making the player feel cheated?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
What I'm feeling for here is the boundaries of acceptability. If I tell you your character is injured, you're unsatisfied. You expect to see the injury. Yet if I tell you that robbers quietly broke into your house and kidnapped your only child or pet dragon, you'll accept it without me having to show you a surveillance tape.

The difference is that if we get injured in the real world, we definately know about it. We will never turn on the news and hear that we were shot and just hadn't noticed yet. On the other hand, we can easily not be there when someone breaks into our house and steals something/someone.

Basically, in what situations would you take information from someone and consider them an authority? If you feel fine, you will never believe if someone says you are injured, especially if you never saw it happen. But if you pick up the newspaper and it says one of your associates is in the hospital, it is believable because you didn;t have to be there for it to happen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The alternative, I'm assuming, would be video?

For me, I'm not particluarly interested in watching videos because I play a game for interactivity mostly.

Any part of the game I can't interact with is something that is losing my interest quickly.

So text is good because you get a lot of information quickly and effeciently so you can get back to the interactivity part.

But yes you're right this is a good cheap way to add content. I never thought of it that way before

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the real alternative would be experiencing it in-game.

To be honest, I'm not so sure they do work. I would imagine that a lot of players skip passed the breifings, only skimming the mission objectives. It depends heavily on the story. If I were playing a game where the story reflected something like Fight Club, I would definitely read every word of text. Unfortunately, most games that require breifings don't have much of a story.

I consider journals to be an entirely different subject. I mean briefings are keeping you up to date, but a journal (assuming it's your own) is helping you deal with blackouts (Fight Club again!). A Journal is always useful, but I doubt most players go to it to learn more about the story. I would normally assume it's there to remind me of important things I may have forgotten. If you're referring to finding other people's journals, then yeah, it falls into the same "need a really enticing story" category.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I can think of a few possibilities:

1) They contain important game details. We want to see our objectives or how well we did completing those objectives. You could just flash them up on the screen and we'd be happy. Adding some "flavor" text around them just makes it a more interesting read. In Fallout, your PipBoy2000 or whatever held all your information (e.g. completed/incomplete quests). It was an interesting bit of flavor added to a feature that players would expect anyway.

2) Briefings, news papers, journals, etc. are plausible ways for someone to retrieve that information. However, not only are they plausible, they're convenient. Briefings are generally to the point; news papers have headlines you can scan; you wouldn't write unnecessary information in your journal. That is, they don't get in the way, like waiting in line.

3) They're not part of the game. Sort of contradicting (1), but, then again, not so much. The flavor added by calling the game menu a PipBoy or by your commanding officer's condescending tone or whatever is flavor that can be ignored when you want to get to the meat and potatoes of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I mostly agree with Jiia.

On briefings:
Purely written, no they don't work anymore. Since Wing Commander and it's animated, voiced over briefings (and Mech commander 3), we've been spoiled, and won't (at least not me) take anything below that. Now for me, the voiceover isn't as important as the animated briefing, which will alow me to quickly grasp what I'm supposed to do. They should be short too. I want to play, not to be briefed, so hurry up.
If you wanna squeeze some story in the briefing, it better be real good, coz I'm waiting to play.

On journals:
Same here, it's a different topic. It works because it's useful, and you've already seen the things that are written there (mostly). Yes, it should help you keep track of the stuff you've done. Not too sure about that blackouts thing... but yeah, the journal should point out the important things that happen, and add some background to them (but not 3 goddamn pages of background!). Always remember that the journal is supposed to be a guide to what you were doing and stuff you've done and a small why.
I've seen way too many journals that go like this:
-drinked potion
-hit ogre with sword
-hit ogre with sword
-hit ogre with sword
-slain ogre
-earned 20 gold
-earned 150 exp
-drinked potion
-yawned

I mean, honestly, would you write such things in your journal? All repetitive things do *not* belong in a journal. If you really want to log encounters, do like this:

day/time - encountered group of 5 orcs near whatnot forest. Slain them.

that's more like a journal entry. And this is only useful if encounters are not too often, else the journal will look like a pile of encounter after encounter.
Much more important are the entries like:

day/time - Decided to help nonameguy from whatnot forest find the thingamajig at castle whatsitsname.

bottom line: only write it down if you think you'll want to read it later. Journals are useful when pausing for prolonged periods, when playing for extended periods without advancing (grinding maybe? shame on you!) and when resuming play after, say, 6 months.

Lastly, be careful when putting character's opinions in the journal. If the player disagrees, he/she will detach from the player character, and you don't wan't that.

so um.. got sidetracked. I got a tiny grudge aganist journals as you see. In a free form RPG, a journal can make or break the game.

about text in general: it only works if its something you would read or hear from someone or if it's something that happens over a long timespan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

We are the game development community.

Whether you are an indie, hobbyist, AAA developer, or just trying to learn, GameDev.net is the place for you to learn, share, and connect with the games industry. Learn more About Us or sign up!

Sign me up!