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RANT: If I wanted a story I'd buy a book...

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Recently there's been a lot of stuff on sites like Gamasutra talking about how we need to put better stories into games. Forgive me, but that's the last thing I want from a game. Let me demonstrate: I'm playing Trauma Center for the DS. Amazing game. I love the way you learn how to do operations and can use all your tools to solve all the puzzle-like surgeries. It's also a little educational. What I hate about this game is that in order to get to the next level you have to sit through mediocre comic-book style dialogues whilst frustratingly pressing every button you can think of to skip these things. Just let me play the damn game! What's the storyline to Geometry Wars? Does anyone care? Your a ship, things are flying towards you, shoot them or die. Make score get bigger. Simple, fun, excellent gameplay. Here's what I say: Screw the story, give me a good GAME.

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I guess it's on personal taste. I, for one, couldn't care less about the storyline in any of the games I play. When i downloaded Bioshock demo, I tried skipping all the story scenes and getting to the meaty gameplay. Exactly as the thread title says, if I wanted a story, I'd go buy a book. For some reason, most people prefer stories to go along with their games. Maybe this is why I like twitch-based fps games like cs 1.6. Whoop the opponents, end of story :D

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Quote:
Original post by TheOddMan
Recently there's been a lot of stuff on sites like Gamasutra talking about how we need to put better stories into games. Forgive me, but that's the last thing I want from a game.
Not all games need stories and that isn't what they're trying to say; rather, if you are going to include a story it should be a good one. If your game doesn't need a story then don't try to shoe-horn one in.

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When I want a game that's just centered on gameplay, I buy one.
When I want a game that's centered on a story, I buy one.
And if I want a story, I want a good one. Just like I want good gameplay when I want it.

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I agree that not all games need stories. However, as I've gotten older I've found myself increasingly drawn to titles that have some substance. To me, Bioshock had a great story that I really enjoyed and greatly enhanced the game experience.

Without the story though, what makes Bioshock any different than Halo?

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I dont see any problem with a game having a decent story, as long as it doesnt comprise gameplay. If you are going to include "cutscenes" make them shorter than the gameplay entertaining and skippable.

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Yes, god forbid there exist different types of games.

As well, your post contains useful logic that also fuels pretty much any statement you could dream up (Screw gameplay. I want some sweet graphics! Screw fun, I want to learn something! And so forth.). And to further make a point, while it's true that gamedev sites have recently been talking about this does not alter the fact that gamedev sites have been talking about this for years. But you put [RANT] in the title, so I guess it's cool.

Quote:
Without the story though, what makes Bioshock any different than Halo?
I agree with your intended point, but I can think of plenty of answers to this question!

I think the only answer that can be offered here, regarding game design, is that if your game doesn't need a story, please don't cram one in just because! (The dumb little story in Katamari Damacy made it more fun, because it actually added something to the game.) In this bit, I'm just restating what Kaz said.

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Story has its place. It provides important context to what the player is doing - if I'm carrying out a set of complex objectives, I damned well want to know why. That being said, you don't need much plot to get your point across, and it doesn't have to be communicated via voice-acted cutscenes. The briefs in Goldeneye are sufficient for that. On the flip side, a game like Ratchet & Clank wouldn't have been quite as much fun without its truly hilarious plot.

Really, the problem with plot is not so much that it's there, but that companies try to do more than they're really capable of. If you're going to do a lot of writing, you'd better have good writers! And if that writing is going to be communicated by cutscenes and voice actors, then it needs to be written like a screenplay - with faster pacing and rough interactions sketched out. Finally, not every interaction between characters needs to be shown in full detail. You don't need to show a conversation about where to set up camp, for example; a simple "We decided to camp here for the night" is entirely sufficient.

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"Cinematic" in games more indicates a sense of scope and grandeur than it does non-interactivity. God of War was cinematic, and the sequel even moreso, and it had relatively few cutscenes.

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Give the players who want story their story. For those that don't care, make it easy to skip. It's that easy.

Or, if that doesn't appeal to you, make the cutscenes interactive like in Half Life. It still hinders those who just want to get to the next stage, but not as much.

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Wow, all these reactions kind of surprise me.

Personally I've always played games for the storylines, no matter how small they are. For me, the only thing that drives me to play through a game is to find out what happens in the ending. I guess that's why I've never been attracted to the counterstrike multiplayer types of games that have no story. For me the only time I play multiplayer is when I'm sitting in my living room with a bunch of buddies playing games and drinking beer lol.

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I liked the way that Freelancer did this. I only play the storyline in the game as I'm the type that likes to progress but not grind in a game but for those who just want to play the game, they can jump out of the storyline after a short bit of playing it.

Edit: misspelling of Freelancer...

[Edited by - Drethon on September 17, 2007 1:00:57 PM]

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I think one of the main problems of having a "story" (plot) to games is that often it is so narrow that it leads you by the nose through it. This is often the case with movie/book related games becuase the whole point is to follow the script of the source material. Instead, if a game is well done, they should give you a world to exisit in and gently guide you down paths where they have created content. Some RPGs have done this reasonably well. (Again, as I'm in my 3rd month of playing NWN2, that comes to mind.)

I agree that all too often we have short bursts of alleged gameplay that connect the cutscenes. It comes across like the brief dialog between songs in a musical. The story is told by the songs (cutscenes) and the dialog (gameplay)is just to connect them together. It seems very forced and cobbled together.

Really, the thread should be directed at some game designers with a minor correction:

If you wanted to tell a story, write a book.

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Quote:
Original post by Dancin_Fool
For me, the only thing that drives me to play through a game is to find out what happens in the ending.

As Spock once said, "sometimes wanting is better than having."

It's often the effort itself that makes it all worthwhile, even though it's easy to mistakenly give credit to the result. You wouldn't give a damn about the ending if you hadn't experienced all of the things that contributed to it. Of course, that's beside the point of the thread, since the story contributes to all of the above.

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Given that the gaming industry is expaning into the size of other entertainment industries (movies, books, music, etc.) there will be games which satisfy everyone's taste without running out of room within the industry.

Just as there's room for fiction and nonfiction in books, blockbusters and Oscar contenders in movies, rap and country in music, and comedy and tragedy in plays, there will be room for both games driven by their narrative capacity and games driven by their pure gameplay.

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Quote:
Original post by InnocuousFox
If you wanted to tell a story, write a book.


So sayeth Thomas Edison concerning the undocumentary use of his moveing pictures invention.


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Well I think of games as interactive movies. They are very comparable in my opinion. Basically, the two games u listed aren't games im referring to. Thinking of a game like halo, it has a story: a reason to continue playing. We all want to know how this shit happens. You have to feel like you have a reason to play. If you take the story out of halo and just have yourself running around fighting aliens, then I don't think it would be as good a game.

Story is the reason I either like or don't like a game. I love Max Payne, Resident Evil, Zelda. I guess you just get hooked that you want to play just to see the end of the game.

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Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
Quote:
Original post by TheOddMan
Recently there's been a lot of stuff on sites like Gamasutra talking about how we need to put better stories into games. Forgive me, but that's the last thing I want from a game.
Not all games need stories and that isn't what they're trying to say; rather, if you are going to include a story it should be a good one. If your game doesn't need a story then don't try to shoe-horn one in.


I love a game if it has a story, but some games are forced to follow one that is completely detrimental to the overall experience. PUZZLE GAMES NEED NOT A STORY...but FPS games (especially single player) usually benefit

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
If I undersand you correctly, it sounds like Trauma Center just needed an easier way to skip cut-scenes.

...which is exactly what the Wii version has. [grin] They've slimmed it down and made it more streamlined, which is good. I don't think they could have removed it entirely though - it's supposed to make you care about the person you're about to be cutting up. It adds an additional layer of tension to the actual gameplay.

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I've skimmed over the replies but I'm sure someone's said this before. I don't think the problem is that the story exists. I think it's a problem of bad design.

A good game design should let the player choose to get involved in the story should they want to. If they didn't there should be an option to skip any cut scene, dialog, etc.

For me, I love a good story in many games but then again I love to load up a multiplayer FPS and mindlessly blow away anyone I see. As people have said it usually comes down to the type of game and the personal taste of the player. The design should cater for this.

This topic makes me think of one of the classic games of old "Doom". This was a kind of middle ground I loved. The storyline was straight forward or even non-existent at a glance, but anyone who wanted a story could easily find one. This was shown in the numerous novels and comics based on the game also, and to the shockingly bad (IMO) movie. Then again you could argue that this was due to the imagination of the fan rather than the story telling of the developers.

The point I'm trying to make is that we shouldn't be thinking of games as a set in concrete object with stiff rules. Some games need a story, some don't, some people love a story some hate it. It basically comes down to, if you don't want a story, don't buy one.

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Just to quickly throw in my preference, for me I like the story parts of complex games (not the simple casual ones, of course) so much, it's probably what keeps me going through the "gameplay" parts the most... The desire to see the next cutsee in order to find out what happens next. I rarely like the gameplay that much by itself, instead it's just something I have to suffer through in order to complete/progress in the game.

I doubt this is very common, but meh.

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