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Xyphyx

Dream Sequences in Games

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Hey all - I was wondering if it was a good idea to use dream sequences to help provide a means of presenting character history(ies). I've been working (albeit - randomly) on an RPG storyline and I don't want to completely info-dump the characters history on the player. But I also don't want the characters history to be left out. Which led me to think: What if, when the character goes to sleep (usually done for healing purposes) a dream sequence is played. The history plays a moderate role in the way the character is and provides foreshadowing clues as to where he'll be in the near future. I don't want it to be anything like the narcoleptic protagonist of Lost Odyssey because I hated being interrupted by a one of the dreams and having to read 5 pages of history. Rather, I'd like them to be sequences of his past played out. And the played sequence would be have to based on the players current progress so it would provide insight into the current situation. After the sequence had been seen once, the player could 'escape' out of it (if replayed) and 'force' himself to wakeup. Any thoughts? -Xy

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I like the way it's done in max payne 2, there you have to play some nightmares and when you enter specific rooms cut scenes tell you the story. The dramatic story of part one makes the nightmares reasonable and the dreams are made semi realistic just like they should be.
So if everything fit together well it could be a really good idea.

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I've never played any of the Max Payne games. I'll have to try them out though. Maybe I can extract some motivation from them.

Would there be any real benefit of playing through the dream sequence? Of course, this would open the door up for storyline alterations (ie - If in the dream, the player didn't talk to 'Person X' then they don't know them now and won't become an ally). And that might prove to be quite usefull...

-Xy

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Original post by Xyphyx
Would there be any real benefit of playing through the dream sequence? Of course, this would open the door up for storyline alterations (ie - If in the dream, the player didn't talk to 'Person X' then they don't know them now and won't become an ally). And that might prove to be quite usefull...
-Xy


You don't talk with anyone in those nightmares, you simply try to escape. And you have to go through some specific rooms for example where your wife was killed and when you enter the room or see some thing special a short cut scene is played showing what happened there.

[Edited by - Kambiz on June 11, 2008 5:24:28 PM]

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Unless there is some very important piece of information in the dreams (can't complete the game otherwise) then I wouldn't have dream sequences. I certainly wouldn't force the players to sit through something that wasn't absolutely needed.

Instead maybe the character has a diary, journal, blog, video blog, etc. Then players can read/watch this when they feel like it.

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Original post by MSW
Instead maybe the character has a diary, journal, blog, video blog, etc. Then players can read/watch this when they feel like it.


I'd be cautious of this. While it may be good that the character has some kind of item they can do on their own time, loads of information for them to just watch and read will probably get glanced over. I'm a massive fan of the Myst games but I've always tended to skip through anything that wasn't presented to me in the main story (for example, reading books in the library on Myst). I'd say integrate it into the story but make sure to keep it relevant and not to divulge on too much of a tangent during the dream.

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Original post by Xyphyx
I've never played any of the Max Payne games. I'll have to try them out though. Maybe I can extract some motivation from them.

What makes the Max Payne dream sequences such a tour de force is that they undermine the narration. Max's voiceovers present and imply a particular version of past events, but the dream sequences hint at a different, darker interpretation. Is Max an unreliable narrator? Has he consciously or unconsciously reworked the truth to fit his spiritual need for outward vengeance? The dream sequences have the mood of an unwilling excavation into Max's own soul, the player buffeted by inevitability yet dreading the outcome of the search.

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Original post by programmermattc
Quote:
Original post by MSW
Instead maybe the character has a diary, journal, blog, video blog, etc. Then players can read/watch this when they feel like it.


I'd be cautious of this. While it may be good that the character has some kind of item they can do on their own time, loads of information for them to just watch and read will probably get glanced over. I'm a massive fan of the Myst games but I've always tended to skip through anything that wasn't presented to me in the main story (for example, reading books in the library on Myst). I'd say integrate it into the story but make sure to keep it relevant and not to divulge on too much of a tangent during the dream.


I'd disagree; I absolutely loved the side-stuff to read in Morrowind/Myst/Deus Ex. It is very effective in generating the ambiance and feeling of the place.

Which is the main thing that non-gameplay stuff can do - it can be very important, too, depending on the game. With dream sequences, would they provide a better feeling for the character and/or the universe it is set in?

Dream sequences done well, for the purposes you describe, can, I think. But I'd keep them short and narrative driven - padding will get very boring in such sequences.

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