Interactivity

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To paraphrase...:
Interactivity is the one element that sets video game story-telling apart from all other media.

Are you a bad enough dude to write an article that should be required reading for all video game developers? I think so.

I was wondering if you would bring up the God of War 2 style intros, where there's no so much a tutorial as a giant something-or-other to rip open over the course of about 10 minutes, with little things to be ripped to pieces between the fights with the big baddie, firmly rooting you in what the game has to offer. For introductory sequences, Bioshock definitely had a good one, though, while it has less interactivity, I remember the Super Mario Galaxy intro dropping entire buckets of immersion on me the first time I saw it.

AstorSapolsky:

and you should see some of the dross they give 5 stars to

Thank you.

Certainly, a huge thank you...

Yeah, Bioshock's one opening was fucking awesome. I haven't played enough games to confirm what you say about it but I'll take your word. Also, I was not aware you dropped out of Highschool, though that's hardly relevant to what you were saying.

Ninjamedic:
Well, Bioshock was one of a kind anyway, like modern warfare.

What? Modern Warfare is one of a kind? I hope I'm missing something here...

I agree that the opening cinematic was much worse, but it was still pretty good. In fact, BioShock was a better game all around than BioShock 2. It's just a matter of seeing the game before. If I hadn't have had the first game's incredible opening cinematic, would I have thought more of the second games? Grabbing the shotgun did the same exact thing in BioShock 1 and 2, and obviously it was less surprising in the second game. Honestly, if BioShock 1 never existed, I think BioShock 2 would have been much better than it seemed. I think that the should learn from this and try to change things up for BioShock 3.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Maybe it could have brought up a tutorial box saying PRESS RIGHT TRIGGER TO SHOOT, and the game couldn't continue until you'd done it.

See, now, that would have brought the intro up to par with the one in Bio 1. Don't even give the player a tutorial, hold the gun up to his head and wait for the player to push a button, any button. This puts you in direct control of your character's life, and even while hypnotized, still keeps up the appearance of a sliver of free will remaining in you. Will you pull the trigger and kill yourself, just for the sake of being able to play the game? This question rubs Andrew Ryan's motto right in your face. "A man chooses, a slave obeys." And everyone will pull the trigger. Every player obeys the game. Every player is a slave to the tutorial box.

Man, why do you have to ruin every game for us just by thinking of ways in which it could have been so much better?

The BioShock 1 intro is nothing short but fantastic but I'm still going with Half-Life 1 intro as the best.

The moody music, the calm speaker voice and the ride through Black Mesa is pure gold.

"Is a man not entitled to the bish of his bosh"

Hehe that made me giggle a bit too much! Ahhh well pobody's nerfect

on the subject of the less-than-stellar intro of the second game;

I wonder why developers almost never know what made their original games so good and go overboard with other aspects if not completely screwing up the second

I understand your view of the Bioshock intro.

though frankly, I always thought Fallout 3's intro was the best.

After all, it potrays the main character spending 19 years living a normal life in the Vault untill dear ol' dad leaves it, everything goes to hell, and the Lone Wanderer is forced to escape and she/he finds him/herself in the Wasteland and all it's post-apocolyptic glory.

and it gives the player a more realizing impression that they are a character in the game and are being treated as such, which is a better than Oblivion, where you're a jailed dude who just sole suddenly is told by Patrick Stewart about a quest to save the world, I know you're not required to go on this quest, but the the jail-break tutorial quest gives you a slight impression on otherwise, you know?

Andrew Ryans monologue was the political philosophy equivalent of a mushroom cloud--beautiful, terrible, and horrifying at once.

I must have spent a couple minutes admiring the rendering of burning airplane fuel on water. The splicer beating on the bathysphere couldn't have been creepier. Either of these would have been lessened if they were simply part of a movie. I can't think of a better opening sequence either.

My days Yahtzee, with tomorrows zero punctuation that'll be 3 articles in 1 week
are you saving up for a new ivory back scratcher?

Yahtzee:
With game development, I start with an opening level as a sort of proof of concept for the core gameplay mechanics, which also doubles nicely as a tutorial for the player. In the case of FSG:TG, we open with our scavenger hero (still unnamed) searching the wreckage of a large ship for collectible salvage. Then a big hostile ship arrives and the player must hide amongst space rocks and debris.

Hmm, I'm a bit iffy about that opening level. It sounds like those stealth based missions in games that aren't about stealth.

ThrobbingEgo:
Congratulations, Yahtzee, you've invented Halo.

sounds more like uncharted with a jetpack within the plot of halo 1. the only thing missing is the protagonist being an angry bald motherf@cker with a gigantic weapon like all those great god of war clones. he could even throw in some dr jekyl/mr hyde mechanic that transforms you into that mofo which is inspired by bioshock's plasmids. mushrooms and turtle stomping as well.

I played BioShock for maaaybe fifteen minutes, and I'd have to agree that it's the best opening ever.

Bioshock 2 is proof that the great question about interactivity and where the character/player line lies in videogames that Bioshock asks was there by accident and flew so high over their heads that an air force marshall was knocking on their door the next day. It's sad when someone stumbles into brilliance and pushes it aside without even realizing what it is.

I can't believe you want to change Fun Space Game: The Game's name. The game has, by my count, three things in it, and you want to cut the most awesome one? And the hero's name should be something that sounds like 'the hero of this game', like Hiro Protagonist of Snow Crash.

why is it every person commenting here always seems so superficial in thought? everyone seems to be discussing the very details of the article, when the method described in it is much more important.

whenever i design environments, i have a similar method in mind, because gameplay and story go hand in hand. every piece of environment holds its share of the atmosphere in a game; and the atmosphere is the continuous backstory that we're given in almost any game.

Fearzone:
Andrew Ryans monologue was the political philosophy equivalent of a mushroom cloud

the monologue is taken directly from ayn rand, founder of objectivism philosophy.

And now Yahtzee has officially said what I've been saying for the past year and a half about the big advantage games have over other media forms in terms of artistry: interactivity.
YAY! I'm not alone anymore!!!

Ha ha, I like what you did there with the Halo joke. You're a clever shrew.

For some reason, while the Bioshock setting is very well realized in the narrative and atmosphere, I don't feel at all immersed in it.

Perhaps modern game budgets have spoiled me, but when the game purports to take place in a populated city I am all too aware of the fact that an entire neighborhood is boiled down to about 12 rooms. The architecture is beautiful, but the layout is nonsensical. After fully exploring those 12 small rooms, you retrace your steps to find 2 more splicers wandering around...but where did they come from? There aren't any passages they could have come through since I have already explored those passages and killed everything there too. It's not like the splicers just slipped past me in the chaos, because the whole area is already dead and devoid of activity, in some cases, even monitored by my turrets and cameras!

The scale of the maps is good in that it provides a very immediate sense of your surroundings. They're unique and highly detailed because they're so compact, but it's also too tight to represent a city. How can residential neighborhoods only have 3 houses in the entire neighborhood? The spaces between buildings are fine for post-disaster traffic, but they're basically sidewalks on a contemporary scale, no way they'd support the hustle and bustle of Rapture at its peak.

The level to which Rapture's inhabitants have degenerated is great from an artistic point of view since it emphasizes their fall from grace. But there's a splicer every 100 feet, and they're violent and heavily armed. How have they not all killed each other off? How do they feed themselves underwater when there's no sane people left producing food? The number of sane and potentially productive people left in the city can be counted on two hands, it's just not enough to keep a city going in that condition. Perhaps a more subtle insanity would have been appropriate? Making them relatively normal men and women would make their violence more sinister since it would then be relatable.

Overall it feels like I'm moving through an abstraction of a setting, not a real place. The abstraction is compelling and interesting, but it never draws me in. It's like a comic book, the action grips your attention at first, but eventually you wonder how Spiderman is swinging above skyscrapers...what the hell is that web attached to? The setting is like a cardboard cut-out made only to give the impression of a city, rather than the appearance of one. Once you poke that backdrop even a little, it falls apart.

I will say that the audiologs are still terrific, and are really the only things that give me any impression of there having been a society in Rapture at all. Also, I didn't have this same apprehension with Systemshock's setting. Again, perhaps it's because I've just been spoiled by modern gaming budgets.

I hate to say it, but I think the main thing I'm missing from Rapture are the generic "closed-doors" that are so common to other games. Developers usually toss in these locked doors because they don't have the time and resources to create a room behind them, but they place the doors there to give the player the impression that there /might/ be a room behind them, and an excuse for the mind to imagine that there is one. Rapture just doesn't have enough of these closed doors to even pretend that there's more to the city that I'm not seeing. The only nods towards a larger city are the brief glimpses of the city's "skyline" in underwater sequences. By excising these closed doors, they do present a much more focused experience by eliminating unnecessary set dressing, I suppose it was a design decision on their part.

(and just to be clear, I'm talking about both Bioshock 1 & 2)

personally i think that Half Life 2 had a much better opening than bioshock 1

i consider the HL2 opening being up to where u meet alex, it has you wandering around the dystopian city and gives you a real impression of how the world you have just been dumped into works

While I still liked Bioshock 1's intro more, I still really liked Bioshock 2's. It got my heart pumpin', which is more than what I can say for most games.

If I may make a suggestion, Yahtzee, perhaps you should make the game boring and uninteresting. It would be a change of pace for you, to be sure. It would probably take a lot of effort on your part, considering your unfailing tendency to spontaneously spawn pure gold out of virutally nothing.

so, so, so many good points about interactivity. Yahtzee is an educated gamer, the kind I hope to be. Half Life 2 and Bioshock are a tie for me for best intro sequence.

Did he really drop out of High School?

Uncharted 2 has the best intro sequence ever.

By the way, with regards to Yahtzee's idea for Bioshock 2's intro, it reminds me of a similar scene in Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines. There's a scene where Prince LaCroix wants to send you on a dangerous mission, and he Dominates (Vampire Magic) you. Now normally when your are talking to characters you get a few dialogue choices, three, four or more. When he Dominates you, you get the same dialogue choice three times something like "I want to go on the mission."

Vampire: The Masquerade: Bloodlines.... I love that game.

I still haven't played Bioshock because I found the intro sequence on the demo painfully boring :/

Wheel. Ingenious! No need to have crazy acronyms like other space-based games. Immersion is a good word so don't be afraid to wear it out. Looking forward to tomorrows ZP.

Isn't this basically how every "bedroom programmer" designs their games? That's how I do mine, but I'm always too embarrassed at the horrible voice acting, or the dodgy pixel art to post them anywhere.

Yahtzee- I love the plot twists of "7 Days"...
Did you go about writing it in this fashion (screen by screen) or did you write out the entire plot beforehand?

All I ask is that Fun Space Game has some sort of tie-in to 7 Days a Skeptic.

So you literally reinvented the wheel then? :D

Not that you care, but if I were making FSG:TG based on the scenario you'd describe, I'd paint things a little differently: the big wreck contains some important technology that the player won't understand or be able to use until much later in the game. The wreck was actually blasted into non-functionality by the same faction that has come back and isn't happy to find you there: the ship(s) that destroyed it in the first place were the dreadnoughts, and the ones that are menacing the player, while far more than the player will be capable of dealing with, are actually the smaller ships the Big Bad has sent back itself to claim this important technology from the wreckage, a task that the big destructive dreadnoughts were simply not equipped to perform.

How about the intro for Dead Space?

Okay, it's jarring that Isaac doesn't even flinch during the crash of his spaceship, but that went smoothly great dragging you from the vaccum of space to the inside of the Ishimura without changing perspectives.

Yahtzee your method of writing is very similar to the one Stephen King uses. Just thought you should know.

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