No Right Explanation

No Right Explanation
Gameplay vs. Story

Firefilm | 24 Jan 2012 14:00
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Last week Chris and Kyle debated which part of games is more important, Gameplay vs. Story. But since the debates you see are only a small slice of the discussions and decisions that make up an entire episode. With that in mind, we're allowing Chris and Kyle and Dan the chance to bring a bit more context in a new(ish) follow-up feature, No Right Explanation. Enjoy!

Dan: Wow, Gameplay vs. Story sure hit a pressure point in our fan base! The points you all brought up were amazing and varied, and it really shows that gamers are more than one-dimentional rubes. Speaking of rubes, let's learn a little more about our debate masters and why they chose their particular line in the sand.

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Chris: Every so often a debate pops up in our schedule that for one reason or another I'm aware I won't be winning. I haven't mentioned this before, but I dabbled in speech and debate in high school, and the Gameplay vs Story debate is similar to the Let's Legalize Marijuana debate: It's pretty clear how your fellow students are going to vote.

That being said, once Kyle selected his side arguing in favor of gameplay, I selected one of my Mario shirts in order to properly troll him and see if he would flip me on my head with that one. He did not. I am extremely pleased that so many viewers noticed this little touch of mine and called me on it. Yes, your statements are correct about the Mario franchise and it's relation to my shirt and this debate. Kyle, for whatever reason (probably because he had so very much ammunition already), never brought the plumbers into the fray as an end-all beat-all point. My assumption is because he never really had a moment where a bomb like that was needed, an Alan Rickman Bomb (AR-Bomb) if you will.

Furthermore, my insistence that the Metal Gear Solid franchise is hinged on an incomprehensible story should have been tossed back with a stamp, "Incomprehensible Gameplay Gimmicks, Too" marked clearly across Meryl's Codec channel. Some little voice in the back of my head - possibly Psycho Mantis' - was screaming to me how easily my point could be turned against me, and yet like a gentleman, Kyle let me muddle along with it completely unflipped despite the ease in which he could argue that people remember the Metal Gear games more because of the ability to see what the controls will do to drag you further into and out of the game rather than the "Government Is Lying To You" plot that I still don't understand to this day.

More than anything, this debate shows how deeply our friendship goes as pretty much every point was a lob for Kyle to spike down, yet he allowed the points to gently plop down without a second thought. Dan, however, was not about to let any of that slide, as you could notice from his venomous slices each and every step of the way. I'm okay with a few lighthearted jabs, but Dan has clearly thrown off the gloves and shown that he's wrapped barbed wire around his knuckles. Well Dan, don't forget that you're likely to hurt yourself just as badly with such an action. We'll have to see if our friendship can withstand another round like that!

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Kyle: Chris makes an excellent visual joke during this debate. By wearing that Mario shirt, he was acknowledging the huge argument that everyone was screaming at him. The shirt also brought up a good point that he didn't think of: Stories can be simple and still be engaging, whereas gameplay just gets repetitive and stale if it's too simple. This is why the Mario franchise can thrive for twenty-plus years. You don't have to tweak the story of those games at all. And they don't. But they do have to give us some new gameplay elements every couple of years.

And while Chris did acknowledge the Call of Duty series as an example of storyline saving gameplay, he did neglect another point about that franchise. In the Modern Warfare series, the storyline can bring gravitas and impact to outright crappy gameplay moments. For instance, who here really enjoyed tapping on the same button during that endless QTE at the end of MW2? No one. But if tapping that button means you get the satisfaction of nailing that dickhead General Shepherd right in the face? Great moment.

As a matter of fact, Chris should have built his entire argument around quick-time events. They are a relatively new device, and one would argue that they hurt the gameplay of modern titles. But even an annoyance such as these QTEs make a story more interactive by making the player responsible for some actions during cut-scenes.

And while Dan gave us an Arkham City reference, I was dreading the moment when Chris nailed me with that as well. Because Arkham City is a great example of how story can be fascinating when segmented and compartmentalized. You have your slow-burn murder mysteries, your sudden races against time, and your personal little grudges and back-stories for each character. What would happen if you tried to segment the gameplay of a title by including various attempts at RPG, real-time strategy, and platforming elements all within the first few hours of a game? You get Brutal Legend.

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