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Dont bother with stories!

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A great game does not need a story. Lets look at 3 great games, Half Life, Hidden and Dangerous and Thief. Half Life did indeed have a story, a naf story but no one cared because it was the game''s fantastic atmosphere that the gamers really liked. Hidden and Dangerous had no story what so ever, but its reallism and great graphics ensured that people loved it. And finally Thief was partially ruined by its crazy and over fantastical plot, this is because the very first mission was brilliantly atmospheric but due to the story the game lost its atmosphere. So rather than spending time thinking up crappy hammy stories, just work on texture detail and good music. please comment

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Guest Anonymous Poster
A great game does need high-tech graphics.. Lets look at 3 great games, Baldurs Gate, Fallout and Archimedean Dynasty. Baldurs Gate used simple bitmaps to display the action but no one cared because it had a deep immersive story that the gamers really liked. Fallout has only mediocore graphics, but it''s wonderfull and unusual scenario ensured that people loved it. And finally Archimedean Dynasty was partially ruined because of the not-so-good engine they used, this because the stories behind missions were great, but the missions itself looked identical.

So rather than spending time creating yet another flashy 3d-gimmic, just work on a good background and storyline.

please comment :p

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I agree, stories are not needed. Afterall good games are mainly/only multiplayer so there really isn''t a point. If you enjoy software products with a stories that is fine with me, just don''t call them games.

Graphics, well they are important but not in the way that most people think. Good game art is a specific type of art, highly functional and not focused on looking good. Game art plays the role of a font. Pretty fonts ruin the words written in them. Instead we want a nice quality font, something like Times New Roman. We don''t want notepad but it will do. What we really can''t have is one of those fancy fonts. That is how game art works, it must be invisible.

Realism is not to be thought about when designing a game, that''s a given.

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Nothing is ever needed . However, do something well enough, and you can promote it on that basis.

Oh, and I totally disagree with you over Thief''s "crazy and over fantastical plot". If every mission was "enter a mansion, hide from guards, steal loot" then it would have been boring as hell.

And as for the anonymous poster who said "Afterall good games are mainly/only multiplayer"... well, that''s bordering on flamebait. Either make it subjective ("I only like multiplayer games") or back up your point with some facts!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
ok I just popped out my dictionary:

1: A contest governed by set rules, entered into for amusement, as a test of prowess, or for money or other stakes.

That sounds like multiplayer to me. The 8th definition is more general and could cover RPGs and sims but basically multiplayer is part of the definition of game. I do think there are exceptions (primarily simple games like tetris or gauntlet) but that they are rare. One of the key parts of a game is the ability to win or lose. You can''t lose most RPGs, eventually you are going to beat the game. You will suffer setbacks and sometimes you will have to load up a saved game but if you maintain interest and keep trying you will eventually win. In a multiplayer game you go up against others. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Single player games tend to add layer upon layer of other stuff, sure there might be a simple game at the core but it is so buried in other stuff that it fits better into some other category. A lot of these single player games have more in common with films or books than they do with multiplayer games, so they don''t belong in the same category. The fact that they are programmed with DirectX doesn''t make them games. Chess is a game and so is football. These things have one thing in common: one side against another. That is part of the real definition of a game. Basically a game is a conflict where the outcome doesn''t matter. So hunting for food isn''t a game while capture the flag is. If there is no conflict between sides there can be no game.

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Every game involves conflict or challenge; however, that doesn''t make every game multiplayer. Ther term multiplayer in the context of computer/video games refers to the involvement of multiple human participants as a prerequisite for the full "experience". There are tons of games that are playable from both the single- and multiplayer perspectives, with either different or identical objectives and scenarios to different levels of enjoyment. OTOH, there are games that cannot be played multiplayer, such as puzzle games, or lose a lot when played multiplayer (Have you ever seen a multiplayer story-driven action title? Why not? Because every player expects to be the center of the action, which creates confusion and destroys the chain of command essential to completing the mission).

Agreed, the vast majority of games have and need a multiplayer component - largely because AI often doesn''t present enough of a challenge, necessitating another human - but that by no means all good games are multiplayer.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"1: A contest governed by set rules, entered into for amusement, as a test of prowess, or for money or other stakes."

Is that the definition of the word game???????
Why don''t you check in your dictionary for the definition of "video games"? I think it''s a fairly new concept and should not be confused with the common "games" of the past. In that sense even stuff like final fantasy* is considered a video game.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
"1: A contest governed by set rules, entered into for amusement, as a test of prowess, or for money or other stakes."

Is that the definition of the word game???????
Why don''t you check in your dictionary for the definition of "video games"? I think it''s a fairly new concept and should not be confused with the common "games" of the past. In that sense even stuff like final fantasy* is considered a video game.

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I must admit that my desire to create a game that thrives on a compelling story foremost is getting less of a focus. To me, interactivity is the most important aspect of something I'd like to create. But we all know a game can thrive on a compelling story alone (as in Final Fantasy for example). It's much like most other things: a matter of personal preference.




...A CRPG in development...

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on June 30, 2001 9:41:59 PM

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I agree with Ronin_54 - there are plenty of 2D games out there (even from today, not just yesteryear) that rock the 3D world. I''ve read so many articles debunking the 3D myth with listings of the top ten games and how many of them are 2D. That just covers the need for cool graphics part. Of course, if you''re going to make a game in 3D, then of course you need awesome graphics, simply cause that''s expected. What I''m saying is that you don''t NEED to have a 3D game for it to be good.

I also agree with Naz - the inclsuion of a story is personal preference. However I beleive just about every game should have a backstory of some kind, if not a storyline to follow. Granted some types of games may not even require that. It all depends on the genre - Action games - not really, but can benefit. Strategy games - not really, but can benefit. RPGs - most definetly. Puzzle games - many would say no, but it is feasible. MMOGs - it''s really hard to tell a story with so many users hopping on and off but feasible. Anyways I like storywriting so I''m on the "need a story" side of the fence

==============================
"Need more eeenput..."
- #5, "Short Circuit"
==============================

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Super Mario is a good game.

Super Mario has goombas.

Therefore, good games have goombas.

Don''t bother with a story, or graphics, or sound, or control. Just go for goombas!!! The correlation is clear!! Goomba or bust!!

Sigh...

Good games are fun. That is the "secret" indegedient they all share. Games are too diverse to have any sort of one size fits all axiom. Can you really compare Half-Life to a sports game?

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I agree, good games don''t need a good story. But if you can put in a good story, it would probably make the game better. Of course, it is possible for the story to ruin the feel of the game, which would be bad. If the game does not have good gameplay, then it would be best if the game had a story to it to make it somewhat interesting. But if it did have really good gameplay, it wouldn''t need a story, or it could just have some kind of background story. Like Half-Life was a really great game because of it''s gameplay and the environments and events happening around you which made it seem realistic. Other than the whole thing about you being a scientist and creating a resonance cascade scenario and opening some other dimension with aliens popping out everywhere, there wasn''t a whole lot of story to it, but it was good because of the gameplay. Deus Ex on the other hand, had a much more involved story and relied on that to make it fun more than the gameplay itself (it still had good gameplay though, just the story is what really made it a good game). Story is just something extra, that games don''t need, but which can make them more enjoyable. Pong didn''t have a story, and I was addicted to that a long time ago.

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Just because story is NOT NEEDED does not mean that we should all just scrap the idea of story completely. I knowh that I PREFER a game with a story, and I know that other people do not. We all have our own little oppinions that we believe to be right and just but persecuting a particular belief is not the way of increasing EVERYBODYs entertainment.

Personally I like a story so long as it enhances the game, makes me feel like I am in the game and increases the immersion so that I can believe that the story events are happening to me. Some games don''t need story, because they have been designed completely for multiplayer... When I have no connection to phones I prefer to play a game still, and therefore I have only the option of a single player game... The worst thing I can think of is a Multiplayer designed game being used for a single player purpose with only bots to fight against.. there is none of the chatter between the opponents or friends... it just lacks that immersion... This is the time that stories are useful.

It is a fine statement to say that stories are no good in multiplayer games (bah... i still disagree with this) but it is quite different to say that stories serve NO PURPOSE in a game...

Thankyou and goodnight

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - The future of RPGs Thanks to all the goblins in the GDCorner niche

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Every game is different. Some games could live without a prewritten story like MMORPGs and sims. Others require a story like adventure games (Sam and Max, Grim Fandango, ect).

FPS games only really have one to influence character and environment design.

Ben
http://therabbithole.redback.inficad.com

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You might have something here. Afterall, look at movies today, they really have no story to tell but people still keep coming back for more. Or what about most network television channels? There''s only a handful with an interesting engaging story, but again, people seem to eat it up.

Heck, look at the best selling games like Frogger, Myst, Barbie Fashion Designer and all of the Hunter games don''t have any story....but even Half-Life would have trouble beating these titles in sales.

Personally however, a game without a story has little to offer except for a "quick fix". When you really think about it....what is a game? It''s an escape. Pure and simple it''s an escape to something different. And to me, games with no stories like most FPS''s don''t offer an ABSORBING escape. Sure, they might have their use as a 30minute relaxer, but other than that it doesn''t really engage a player''s faculties any more than his reflexes.

I think a game with a story can inspire, and at least to me, that''s a far more rewarding experience, even if the replay value is diminished after playing through. And I don''t think that Multiplayer is the solution either. What makes stories so interesting is how neatly everything is packaged together and made coherent and accessible....the very things we try to make sense of in our REAL lives. That''s why we have games in the first place, to escape that. At times, trying to make sense of it all can be a little boggling at times. In other words, the pre-structured environment of a game with a story helps us find the very structure we look for in real life.

I find that far more intriguing than another quick deathmatch.

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It appears that the argument is swaying in favor of the story. Dauntless pointed out the absence of story in most of today''s Hollywood products, which brings us to an interesting point:

The populace doesn''t want stories.

Surprising? Stay with me. It seems that with the frenetic pace of modern life, the overriding desire is that entertainment not require strain - particulaly the mental strain of following a story. Oh, sure, there''s tons of highly successful story-driven movies and TV series, but the vast majority are completely encapsulated episodes - each half-hour broadcast tells as single, brief story. No following character development over weeks and months (soaps are dying, if not dead, but don''t tell housewives I said so). The most popular things on television are sit-coms and reality shows. Reality shows provide a recap so each episode can be viewed independently. Sit-coms (from Ally McBeal to Sex in the City and Sopranos ) tell stories surrounding an event (Sopranos does build, but it provides "fillers" for those who missed previous episodes).

How is this relevant to us? Well, perhaps only the "hardcore gamer" still cares for his story. Perhaps producing games that give quick fixes and don''t require days of character development moves more units. Perhaps that''s why shooters (including FPSes) have become the most dominant genre in the video games market.

Someone mentioned the Hunter series, along with Frogger , Myst (though I thought Myst had a story. never played it) and the Barbie games. Add Trophy Bass to that list and you notice a trend. Games with limited to no story, high bursts of entertainment and low "committment" requirements. FPS? Committment, but identical otherwise. Sports? Committment to learn the controls; the same otherwise.

Has computer gaming reached the end of its story-telling ability?

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quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
It appears that the argument is swaying in favor of the story. Dauntless pointed out the absence of story in most of today''s Hollywood products, which brings us to an interesting point:

The populace doesn''t want stories.

Surprising? Stay with me. It seems that with the frenetic pace of modern life, the overriding desire is that entertainment not require strain - particulaly the mental strain of following a story. Oh, sure, there''s tons of highly successful story-driven movies and TV series, but the vast majority are completely encapsulated episodes - each half-hour broadcast tells as single, brief story. No following character development over weeks and months (soaps are dying, if not dead, but don''t tell housewives I said so). The most popular things on television are sit-coms and reality shows. Reality shows provide a recap so each episode can be viewed independently. Sit-coms (from Ally McBeal to Sex in the City and Sopranos ) tell stories surrounding an event (Sopranos does build, but it provides "fillers" for those who missed previous episodes).

How is this relevant to us? Well, perhaps only the "hardcore gamer" still cares for his story. Perhaps producing games that give quick fixes and don''t require days of character development moves more units. Perhaps that''s why shooters (including FPSes) have become the most dominant genre in the video games market.

Someone mentioned the Hunter series, along with Frogger , Myst (though I thought Myst had a story. never played it) and the Barbie games. Add Trophy Bass to that list and you notice a trend. Games with limited to no story, high bursts of entertainment and low "committment" requirements. FPS? Committment, but identical otherwise. Sports? Committment to learn the controls; the same otherwise.

Has computer gaming reached the end of its story-telling ability?



This just isn''t right. The fact that sitcoms have a story that begins and ends during the course of one episode is in no way the same as having no story. The point of this is to make people more satisfied to watch a rerun and willing to still watch the show if they miss an episode or two. Yes the populace is sick of sitcoms, but that''s because sitcoms had such good rating responses that everybody copied the format and so many sitcoms got made that they flooded the marketplace.

The reason soap operas are dying is that there are fewer and fewer uneducated housewives willing to watch that drivel. My roommate used to watch soap operas, so I had to sit through a few episodes, and they really stink, worse than the most cliched RPG you can think of. In contrast to this, the science fiction and fantasy book market is perfectly healthy - those people want their stories.

And Myst did have a story.

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Well, personally, the only thing I like in the game is the gameplay, so the story is indifferent for me. But if I am going to design my own game, I am going to make gameplay I like, and then I am going to put in a story that everyone will like, so just in case there are some people who only like a game if it has a good story too, Ill cover all bases.

Cover all bases is a great motto for game/software development.

This thread actually uncovers the 3 main types of gamers (gamers meaning people who have a more then casual interest in games):

1. Escapists: These are like some of the people who posted here. They like to play games to live vicariously through the main charachter to escape their life for a bit. These people like RPG''s and Adventure games the most, becuase they are the easiest to live vicariously through (how could you live vicariously through the paddle in pong?) and because you can''t really fail in those sort of games. For those of you designing your own game, make sure that if its possible, you include a type of charachter and story that these types of gamers can live vicariously through.

2. Competitors. These people play the games to win other people. The pleasure they get from playing is indirect, not from the game itself, but from the act of winning in and of itself. I am not saying that they don''t have fun playing and then loseing, but primarily their main fun is winning. These are the tournament level people of each type of game. Because they are competative, they usually only play genres of games where you play against other people (DDR, Fighting Games, Real Time Strategies, etc.) The Anonymous poster is this type of gamer. For those of you designing your own game which is multiplayer, be aware that this type of gamer is the type that likes the high learning curve of games based on esoteric subtleties that creep up later on (the type of gamer who likes "priority" and "fireball trapping" in fighting games, "strafe jumping" and "rocketjumping" in quake, "base rushing" in real time strategies, and so on). You need to make a design decision in this regard: whether to make the game have a low learning curve to attract the casual gamer, or to make the game have a lot to learn to attract the hard core competitor type.

3. Gameplayers. These are the remaining gamer crowd who enjoy the game for the gameplay in and of itself. This type of gamer was basically the only type found in the old days (with a little of high score competitor) These people are interested in good game mechanics, control, strategy, depth and so on. The hardcore of this sector will still even play MAME emulated arcade games from the 80''s, because they recognize the superior gameplay in and of itself those games had back then. This type of gamer will be the most critical towards your gameplay itself, demanding a very high quality game. However, since this group of gamers is so small, you can sort of make up your own mind whether perfect deep gameplay is important these days.

By the way, I am making my own computer game as well, and Im looking for people who would want to work on it too. Email me at e@chip-web.com for more info

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The games that last dont need a good story.

Warcraft II and Quake 1 are over 5 years old, but LOTS of people still play them everyday multiplayer. And these people are hardcore and dedicated to their games. They are playing because of the incredibly deep gameplay, not the story.

But you need to look at what your aiming for. If you are making a single player game, then you''ll need a story.

Multiplayer games dont need a story. Look at Counter-Strike, the most played Online game right now... theres no story at all, they dont even pretend there is a story. Its just a game.

---------------
Ratfest.org

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Myst hand Riven both had stories, and they''re some of the most successful games there have ever been.Much more successful than Quake.

Runemaster

"Coding is like building a house with molecules instead of bricks!" - Wavinator
"Damn, and I thought you were a cannibal..." -Selkrank, to dwarfsoft
"Romania, a quite large but totally unimportant country just outside Europe. Soccer, beer, no vampires." -Diodor

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Guest Anonymous Poster
To answer the AP stating that lasting games have no story:

I surmise you must be quite young to make this kind of statement
since you base your opinion on multiplayer games and the period
of observation is less than five years.

I think that games that last are fun to play and do not need the
latest top computer to play:

1- as an old timer, I used to play with many computers (from ZX series, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Commodore, to my PC) at many
games. Some of them had a driving story (think Crafton & Xunk set
in a futuristic world or the text based adventures) others had no
story but could be played up to four persons on the same computer
(two to three on the keyboard, one on the joystick). All were fun to play and had a high replay value.
But you could not share with everyone since all the domestic computers were different (at one time I had an Amstrad while my neighbour had an Amiga) and most of the games were not developped cross-platform (except some coin machine titles like Tempest)
Worse, when the computers disappeared, the games were forgotten (eventhough few were reedited, they did not last really long on
the european shelves).

2- most of the games that were sold five years or ten years ago do have a second life in the economics series: games like Fallout, Starcraft, Doom or Myst are still sold downpriced. If you look at the sales figures since the first apparition of the
game, you could be surprised (look at Myst or Tempest for
example). The reason of their success is threefold:
- they are fun games that everybody recommend and have
- today, all computers can run easily these games
- they are downpriced and can be bought by young players

3- multiplayer games were born with the development of Internet.
I will not come back to the advantages (opponents in the world, fun games developped specially for that medium) and drawbacks
(phone cost in some countries, bandwidth bottlenecks).
Internet is in a context of professionalisation (spelling ?) and
segmentation of computer games. The games mainly played on
Internet are mostly FPS or realtime strategy: they are based on
the reflexes of the player. The player must be young and have time to fully enjoy the games. When he/she gets older, he/she
wishes for another experience: games that can be paused, forgotten to be played back some time later (one week, one year, ...). When speaking of lasting game, you must now analyse for which market segment (youngs, adults or seniors ?).

4- eventhough a game is not multiplayer, it can be enjoyed by many people and create a community of mind. In every schools, kids are exchanging game experience: what do you do to retrieve the ocarina ? At what level are you ? Where is the third secret in the level X of Tomb Raider II ?

To conclude, the success or life duration of a game is not based on whether there is a story (or graphics or music) or not. It is
based on the gamer''s experience: the more fun and replayable the
game is, the more players will ask for it. Besides, we still have
to beat all time bestsellers: Chess, Draughts, Shogi, Gomoku,
Awari or Cards (they all have a story eventhough it is forgotten, and they are played all over the world and on
Internet).

Red. <-- I think I will reinstall M&M 4 and 5 to play.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
In my post above, I am answering to Ratman and not an AP as I
originally wrote. Apologies.
Red.

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