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Is story important in games?

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Let me flip the question on you: Is music important in games?
Nope, I always turn it off immediately smile.png

 

So, because you happen to not care that much about music, do you think your customers would be annoyed if you shipped a game (like a FPS) without sound? sad.png

 

Sound is more than just a set of drumbeats - background music sets the mood (strengthening the atmosphere), ambient noise enhances the world (strengthening immersion), your footsteps convey game information (what material you're standing on), enemy footsteps convey game information (the approximate nearness and direction of enemies and allies), enemy gunshots convey game information (danger), your gunshots reinforce cause-and-effect (combined with gun kickback and muzzle flash, gunshot noises help remind and strengthen the idea that your actions affect the world. It reinforces the feeling that you have power-to-influence your surrounding).

 

The different parts of a game strengthen and reinforce each-other; they aren't (unless done badly by the developer) isolated from each other. Depending on the nature of the game, the strengthening from one part (sound or story or graphics) may not be as necessary as in another game, but that doesn't mean story (or sound) isn't important, in general, to the majority of games. smile.png

 

You asked the question, I gave you my answer. No need to attack me for it :)

 

Plus, music and sound are totally different. Sound is part of how you experience the world - the real world. Walking around outside what you see and hear are nearly as important as each other. But I rarely get background music in real life :)

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I'm not trying to attack you personally - just discussing (maybe pontificating?), perhaps too emphatically, an interesting and important topic of game design: Are stories important in games?

Am I straying too far off the original topic? (If so, just let me know - I'm not trying to hijack the thread. Perhaps I misunderstood what the original topic was even asking about)
 

Plus, music and sound are totally different. Sound is part of how you experience the world - the real world. Walking around outside what you see and hear are nearly as important as each other. But I rarely get background music in real life smile.png

 
My point is that music is also part of how you experience the game as a whole, and story is also part how you experience the game as whole. Neither music, sound, or story should exists in isolation separated from the rest of the game.
If a specific story (or specific background music) really doesn't benefit a specific game, either the story was badly done, or that specific game probably is better off without a story. But story, in general and when done right, is important in games and can't just be removed, muted, or ignored without damaging (even if just minorly) the total experience of the game.
Thankfully, two days ago this video came out (after I originally posted, so I wasn't influenced by the video - it just put my existing thoughts into a different coherent form and looked at them from a different angle), which explains a similar thing from a different perspective. happy.png
 
Leastwise, that's my opinion.
Halo (or Chrono Trigger, or Morrowind, to use non-FPSes), without it's music, wouldn't be as Halo-y as it is with its music. If I muted Halo's soundtrack, I'm muting more than just the music, I'm also muting part of the game that is meant to go together with the scripted events and action and level design to compliment them and to set a deeper-level emotional reaction that is then used by the rest of the game to augment the overall experience.
If I muted the music and played, say, violin music, it'd still be really enjoyable, but it wouldn't be as fitting as the music wouldn't fully partner with the level and the action. It'd just co-exist alongside in mutual ambivalence to each other. Now, if someone carefully created an alternative soundtrack that fit Halo and that was intentionally designed to augment and amplify the Halo experience, that's a different matter! But if I just run whatever playlist I'm listening to, it won't be as fitting, and sometimes may even be detrimental (playing an exciting upbeat song during what's supposed to be a sad moment, or similar conflicts).
 
If I ignored the plot of Halo, removed all the cutscenes, and basically just relegated it to Doom (as far as story goes), it'd still be an enjoyable game... but (I theorize, never having actually done this) not as enjoyable as when the Halo story, if written well, compliments your in-game goals and your in-game character, and colors the enemies you face, the world you explore, and the events you encounter.
 
I've certainly played many games where the story was 'meh', and I ignored it. Sometimes the story was 'good', but didn't fully compliment the rest of the game (just layered over it instead of woven through it), so I tuned it out. I think that is a failing of the developers, not an indication that story, as one of the most important game-design tools, is irrelevant or unimportant in games. smile.png
 
You said, "I personally don't really care [about story in games], whether it's an FPS or RTS I just want to play the level rather than go through some (usually trite) backstory."
The part I highlighted is where I think the problem is: Not that story is unimportant, but that you are usually running into poorly written stories slapped over almost as an afterthought or (more likely) the story was gutted and chopped up (or stretched out and watered down) as the nature of the game changed during development.
 
This is not a matter of games and stories not going together, but that most games just have bad stories or poorly implemented stories - just like for a long time, most 3rd person games had bad camera angles. That doesn't mean 3rd person doesn't work in games, it just meant we needed to invest more effort into handling cameras better in games (which we did successfully and now have fewer games ruined by bad cameras).
 
I fully agree that not all games should have a story crammed into it. I also might agree (I would need to put some more thought into it) that not all players enjoy stories, even if the story was done perfectly and implemented perfectly and perfectly complimented the rest of the game. And I point back to my hastily slapped together chart in my first post.

Edited by Servant of the Lord

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Obviously, story/characters/dialogues is pretty much the most important aspect in adventure games. Puzzles are just a nice extra, though arguably still pretty valueable since they give you the impression you're an integral part of the story as it unfolds and not merely watching it(though Telltale's adventure games like Walking Dead have minimal gameplay, and are still a success).

 

Other than that, honestly I don't really care much about stories in games like shooters or RPGs. Maybe one reason is indeed that, as mentioned, most times the stories and dialogues just aren't worth it. When they're not purposefully "dumb", like in the recent Shadow Warrior remake(which I loved), they're just trying to pose as "serious", which makes them two times dumber. There are some exceptions, with Spec Ops: The Line being an obvious recent one, but at the end of the day I prefer gameplay over story in this kind of games. Supposedly Bioshock Infinite has a great story, but personally I still haven't finished it; after a few hours of pretty uninteresting shooting gameplay I decided I just didn't care. The game was basically divided into 2 parts, with the first being the cutscenes that progressed the story, in which you had almost no control and Elizabeth was an interesting character to watch, and the shooting sections which were merely adequate at best, and Elizabeth just functioned as a bot who occasionally provided you with ammo.

 

Making a good story with interesting characters that progresses naturally as you play the game and not getting in the way of the gameplay is hard; so as I said given the choice, I'll take good gameplay any day, even without any story at all. Honestly, I'm having more fun right now playing Doom2 modded with Brutal Doom than with any Bioshock title. It's not even "nostalgia", the game simply has more fun level design and shooting. If they had made the Bioshock games as first-person adventures like, say, Amnesia, then it would be another story entirely, but they made them first-person shooters, and when I spend 70% of the game shooting, I want it to be *good*, and it wasn't so much. Interesting story told through cutscenes just doesn't make it up for me in a shooter. Still much better of course than most "modern military shooters" single-player "campaigns" which have completely crappy stories *and* braindead gameplay, and basically no reason to exist at all, except maybe providing footage for promotion trailers. So I guess a good story, when it exists, makes me appreciate the game somewhat more even if the gameplay is mediocre, but most times I still won't consider it a *good* game.

Edited by mikeman

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Obviously, story/characters/dialogues is pretty much the most important aspect in adventure games. Puzzles are just a nice extra, though arguably still pretty valueable since they give you the impression you're an integral part of the story as it unfolds and not merely watching it(though Telltale's adventure games like Walking Dead have minimal gameplay, and are still a success).
 
Other than that, honestly I don't really care much about stories in games like shooters or RPGs. Maybe one reason is indeed that, as mentioned, most times the stories and dialogues just aren't worth it. When they're not purposefully "dumb", like in the recent Shadow Warrior remake(which I loved), they're just trying to pose as "serious", which makes them two times dumber. There are some exceptions, with Spec Ops: The Line being an obvious recent one, but at the end of the day I prefer gameplay over story in this kind of games. Supposedly Bioshock Infinite has a great story, but personally I still haven't finished it; after a few hours of pretty uninteresting shooting gameplay I decided I just didn't care. The game was basically divided into 2 parts, with the first being the cutscenes that progressed the story, in which you had almost no control and Elizabeth was an interesting character to watch, and the shooting sections which were merely adequate at best, and Elizabeth just functioned as a bot who occasionally provided you with ammo.
 
Making a good story with interesting characters that progresses naturally as you play the game and not getting in the way of the gameplay is hard; so as I said given the choice, I'll take good gameplay any day, even without any story at all. Honestly, I'm having more fun right now playing Doom2 modded with Brutal Doom than with any Bioshock title. It's not even "nostalgia", the game simply has more fun level design and shooting. If they had made the Bioshock games as first-person adventures like, say, Amnesia, then it would be another story entirely, but they made them first-person shooters, and when I spend 70% of the game shooting, I want it to be *good*, and it wasn't so much. Interesting story told through cutscenes just doesn't make it up for me in a shooter. Still much better of course than most "modern military shooters" single-player "campaigns" which have completely crappy stories *and* braindead gameplay, and basically no reason to exist at all, except maybe providing footage for promotion trailers. So I guess a good story, when it exists, makes me appreciate the game somewhat more even if the gameplay is mediocre, but most times I still won't consider it a *good* game.

... and sound/sound effects are really important for me. I don't like to fire a gun and hear nothing.
Physics and graphics too. I also consider realism important.

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I still don't understand, how can there be a roleplaying game without a story. What would the player be roleplaying? A famished Pacman?

 

The problem with stories and games is how they are combined. With a single player linear game, it's sort of like a book. But, with a massive multiplayer, it's more like D&D, only pen&paper is so immensely flexible, when compared to computer games.

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I still don't understand, how can there be a roleplaying game without a story. What would the player be roleplaying? A famished Pacman?

 

I wouldn't need a backstory as to why I'm fighting X. I'd be happy just knowing I am. For me all the fun is in the gameplay and the mission structure.

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yes. no. yes. wait.. no. yes. it depends.

 

I don't think there is an answer to this question, story is crucial to some games and useless to others. Still, from the possible answers, I voted the first.. :)

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Im just gonna leave this here... 

 

Gameplay is top priority, way over story. I don't care how awesome your story is, if I'm not having any fun playing the game as a game player, I couldn't care less about how the story resolves. 

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I think it really depends on the game. Some games really don't need a story and the lack of a story can lend to the game's mystery in a way. Take Minecraft for example. No story. You're just thrown in and told nothing. It really worked with that game. Some games really feel lacking without a story though. If you're playing an RPG and you're just thrown in with no explanation, then it kinda feels like all the stuff you're doing has no real point to it. The most important thing though I think is that if you have a story you don't half-ass it. If you put story in your game, it really needs to be a good story. Otherwise it makes your whole game feel sour.

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Hey everyone,

 

I feel a story is one of the most important parts for a video game. Think about it more like this, everyone wants to know what they are doing the things they are doing. A story helps give the player an understanding of the roles they are taking on.

 

Eric Danielson

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