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Narrative language?

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From an interview with David Cage,
Every single new media that appeared was used for one thing: telling stories. Why would interactivity be any different? The very first movies were very primitive: a train attack or a bank robbery. Then movie pioneers discovered that more interesting stories could be told and they invented their own narrative language. We still have to invent our own language in games. This is the only way we can expand our audience and reach people who are not interested today in killing zombies in corridors. We all need to reconsider where we want this industry to go in the next ten years. Do we strongly believe that we can make first-person shooters forever or will we at some point lose interest and look for something new?
Looking at this, several points come to mind. 1. Managing expectations, make the player think they know where the story is going. They know they have to go through the sewer system to get to Alpha Labs. 2. When they have expectations you can either meet them, or crush them, or throw in some form of twist. Ie. They think that they are well on the way to Alpha Labs, when the sewers flood and they have to take a different route to Alpha Labs. So to manage expectations you need to focus them on certain aspects of the interactive? plot. What they can do, and what they think will be the outcome. I don't have much else to add at the moment, can anyone run with this or provide another way of thinking about implementing story into games. Edit: I think that this managing expectations and tempering predictability with uncertainty is importatn. Ie. If you do action X you know it will do Y, but what impact will it have on the overall system? You release the hostage and put your hands in the air, do the cops take you in for questioning? Or do they shoot you anyway and claim self-defence? This might depend on whether you had harmed any hostages etc In the simplest form I'm thinking action, GET response action x, or y depending on other factors.

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Interesting interview. I'm assuming by 'language' David Cage is referring to to the general structure and themes behind the games itself, rather than the writing itself.

I'd take issue with his assertion that games still need to invent a language. This isn't strictly true; games already have a language, albeit one that Cage doesn't agree with. Games actually have many different 'dialects' based on different genres; a better description would be 'cliches' (as in The Grand List of Console Role Playing Cliches for an amusing list of one genres types of cliches). These days I can usually tell when the plot twists are happening in a new console RPG, or which characters to trust or expect to betray me, purely because they follow the same rules and conventions that have been established in countless other titles before them.

Cage himself brought one of these cliches up in the interview, game stories tend to be about "fear, anger, frustration, power". These are part of the language of the games of today, because they are what are expected. It's the same with Hollywood style movies; people expect the three act structure with a nice tidy happy ending to leave them on a feel-good note. Give them something else, like a downer ending like in Twelve Monkeys, and something just "doesn't feel right" (to use my words), no matter how good the rest of the film was.

Heck, these days since I'm such an adventure game (and RPG) veteran, I can usally see the plot twists coming ages before they actually happen (like in Knights of the Old Republic, which has a quite fabled plot twists that I could "read" ages before it was officially revealed, or in Tales of Symphonia, where I pretty much deduced Kratos link to Lloyd from the very beginning of the game, because of the defined "language" of games).

I've been rambling on for too long now. I'd better get back to work!

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