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Wai

Game story with no conflict

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What is Conflict to a story?

In terms of stories, what is your definition of "conflict" ?

In your definition,
o Does a story always have a conflict? (i.e. can you think of a story that has no conflict?)
o does a good story always have a conflict? (i.e. can you think of a good story that has no conflict?)


2010-12-26:

o How do you make a playable story without a conflict?
o What do stories without conflict use to attract and hook an audience?

[Edited by - Wai on December 26, 2010 10:58:45 AM]

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Not every story has a conflict, ... lots of those little shorts usually don't have a conflict. By little stories, I mean those japanese 4 Koma type of stories where it's a 4 panel comic. I'm sure there are others as well.

As for a good story, I don't think there are any, at least it usually doesn't become good until there is a conflict present.

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Some related questions:

o Can a story have a goal, but not a conflict?
o Can a story have surprise but not conflict?
o Can the audience of a story learn something without encountering a conflict?
o Can a story present an argument without presenting a conflict?
o Must jokes have conflicts?
o Can a story has an antagonist without a conflict?
o Is there a difference between obstacle and conflict?
o Can a story has a prolonged attraction force without a conflict?

o What does conflict give the audience other than the conflict itself?

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Detection of Conflict:

Which of the following scenarios has a conflict to you?

a) Alice wants to go to the movies but Bob wants Alice to stay home
b) Alice wants to go to the movies but also wants to stay home with Bob
c) Alice goes to the movies but forgets to bring money for the ticket
d) Alice goes to the movies only to find that the tickets are sold out
e) Alice goes to the movies and meets old friends along the way
f) Alice goes to the movies and invites strangers along the way
g) Alice goes to the movies and has a day she didn't expect

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Not sure what the questionnaire is all about, but a story in a game probably needs some conflict, as games tend to be adversarial, unless you count toy type games such as The Sims, and it depends how you define a story at all. A story is just a succession of events to some people. To others, it's a journey that has some sort of resolution to an external or internal conflict, generally requiring the main character to grow in some way. I go for the latter. It's not a story if some friends went to movie, watched it, and went home. It's a story if some friends went to a movie and learned something about life, and generally, we learn about life by overcoming some sort of problem.

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If there's no conflict then technically it's a 'character study' and not a story. A game with no central conflict would be a game with no story. It has been done before, like the Sims. Most MMOs also have little to no central story.

Instead of a story you'll have to find other ways to keep your player's interest.

Any of those scenario's you listed could have conflict, for instance c) could be quite exciting since you don't tell us what happens next; she could sneak in or something but e) sounds most likely to not have conflict at all.

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Re: pothb

I saw some of the 4 panel comics and learned that for them, instead of "conflict"
it has "contrast" and "parody". Some 4 Koma are arguably not stories but visual sentences, dialog, or scene. So let's just include non-stories in the discussion for this thread, because it is more important to talk about methods than form. This allows us to skill the discussion on what qualifies as a story. The point is that if you know the methods, you could still use them in creation of stories, even if you learned the method from a written form that isn't a story.

Variations of the "Method"
o Conflict
o Contrast
o Parady
o ...

Re: fireside7, BinaryStorm

My motivation is to explore ways to create a game story without using conflict. The reason is that it seems people, especially gamers, are so used to conflicts, that they cannot stand the "bordom" when there is no conflict, which causes them to seek conflicts, either a conflict that is made up (e.g. a fictional story), or by creating one themselves (e.g. drama queen).

In short, I got bored about story with conflicts, so I am looking into something else. I got to the point where I have seen central conflict so many times that now "central conflict" fails to stimulate me. So this thread is about the creation of game story that breaks that form.

So keep in mind that this thread is still about game story creation, and you could have the vision that such story still has the depth and length comparable to an RPG story that features a conflict. However, the audience is different:

o This audience is sick of stories with a central conflict,
o This audience is sick of the perspective where a story is based on unsatisfaction, where the characters must do something in order to be satisfied.
o This audience still wants a meaningful, playable, depth game story
o This audience wants to explore stories where the characters and the world is rooted in satisfaction, and how they continual to be satisfied without the need of entertainment created by conflicts.
o This audience does not want sandboxes such as The SIMs, nor the typical pointless MMO. (The audience got sick of those before getting sick of central conflict. The audience is not interested in self-expression nor "achievement".)


Character growth vs player growth

When you think of an article (non-fiction), the writing presents interestion information and perspective to the reader, who learns something from the article. The knowledge of the article author could be static, meaning, within the flow of the article, the author communicates a concept, but is not being developed himself.

Now take this concept to a story, and you get the concept where the characters in a story need not be developing. However, the player's understanding/perspective of those characters could be developing. From the perspective of the character in the story, the course of events could be mundane, but if the perspective of the character and the player do not match, surprises would still occur and the player's assumption of the character's surrounding would need to update. The fun of reading such story comes from the player's discovery of the true identities and circumstances of the character.

Source of stimulation:

The feeling you get when your contradicting assumptions about the story is replaced by one that makes the story coherent.

In general, you get this sort of fun when you learn something.


Other sources of stimulation that are obsolete/inapplicable for this audience:

o The feeling you get when you accomplish something by hardwork
o The feeling you get when you defeat something
o The feeling you get when you "win"


I was just explaining my motivation, but the thread isn't just about this type of audience, but the general definition of Conflict, its role and its possible substitutes in the context of a playble story, which could have a benefit even if you want to make a story with a conflict.

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"When you think of an article (non-fiction), the writing presents interestion information and perspective to the reader, who learns something from the article. The knowledge of the article author could be static, meaning, within the flow of the article, the author communicates a concept, but is not being developed himself."

That's going to be tricky. As with reading non-fiction, we are usually very selective. We want to find things that interest us, and that's a limitation, and it really has nothing to do with story. We already have the web and Google, so it would be tough to compete with that. All your other statements are really a succession of "not" qualities of a story, but you can't define something by saying what it isn't. I'm not sure what percentage of the audience is bored with all these story qualities. I still watch movies, read books and play games and they all have these qualities. The only thing that qualifies for your definition is a documentary, and I notice even they use story elements to keep from being hugely boring. They show a particular individual or group of individuals in crisis a lot.

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Re:

I just want to point out a few things that may be confusing:

o "Without character development" doesn't mean "without character design"

Two meanings of "Character Development"

Think of a character as an artifact, and the player as a person standing 100m away. Imagine that the character is static and doesn't move, but the story leads the player closer and closer to the character. As the player gets closer, the player sees the perspective the character that explains the situation of the character. In this particular type of story telling, the character itself doesn't develop (i.e. the character isn't learning anything that changes its life), but the player's understanding of the character develops.

The second meaning of "Character Development" is like how the negative of a photograph is developed in a dark room. The image on the negative was taken by a photographer with a certain perspective and artistic skill that is interesting to the player. The player's role is to develop that negative to see the picture.

This type of story-telling is probably most common in mystery/detective stories, where the truth had already occured (and thus serves as the negative). However, in a usual detective story, the author moves the reader toward the truth by moving an avatar (e.g. Dr. Watson in Sherlock Holmes). However when the medium is a game, the reader (now a player) can walk himself from 100m to 1m.

In the framework of understanding, conflict can be understood as a type of composition of the image on the negative, but it does not necessarily relate how the author leads the reader in seeing the image, nor how the game provides paths for the player to approach the image.

Just as an article and a story need to be interesting to the reader, the playable image is also needs to be interesting. So on that regard there is no shortcut. It still needs to be created or designed.




I haven't tried to define what conflict is because I want to first hear what you think about what conflict is. If you want me to start writing what I think it is it is also okay.

Some more thoughts about conflict (toward the definition of conflict):

How are the following related to one another?
o Conflict
o Obstacle
o Problem
o Threat
o Crisis
o Antagonist
o Goal


Quote:
I'm not sure what percentage of the audience is bored with all these story qualities.
I'm not sure either. This question is interesting because earlier I wrote a post that expalained "audience" can mean two things. In one meaing, a person is not an audience unless he is setting in the theater watching the movie. So by this definition, if someone is an audience that is bored, we know that somehow this person chose to keep playing the game although it is boring.

To give the situation a better perspective, the ratio of interest is not the percentage of audience that is bored, but the percentage of people that do not go see the movie because they know that they will be bored by those story qualities.

So in our discussion, these people may not even consider themselves players of games because when they think about games, they already have an expectation that games are boring. They could be people who don't even know that they are interested in games.

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I would say conflict is two or more opposing forces. These may be ideas, desires, or exterior objects like monsters that get in the way. Most stories use conflict to involve or engage the player by taking one side or the other of a conflict and trying to bring some sort of resolution or by overcoming the other force. There are very few games that I know about that don't use conflict in some way. Even a game such as building a tower would be the the tower against forces of gravity or exterior obstacles. Removing conflict removes challenge, and that really is boring for most people.

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