Question of the Day, July 30, 2010

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Question of the Day, July 30, 2010

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Our new web video series, Extra Credit discusses bad videogame writing. What do you hate most about bad videogame writing?

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Confusing instructions.

If the game doesn't make it clear where you're going...you'll waste a lot of time wandering. That has a VERY direct impact on the gameplay...

Unnecessary information, most certainly. There are far too many times where the dialogue just needs to stop. Then again, I've always cared far more about gameplay than storyline, so I think a lot of it has to do with that.

All of the above really.

For me, it's games like FF13, where your expected to read so much outside of gameplay for it to make any sense. Oblivion did this too, and I never even bothered getting past the mission where you had to read the books and figure out where the place was. Mass Effect was slightly better in that you don't NEED that information, and you can learn most things from conversations anyways.

Edited due to poor reading skills in apology to spreading that failure here is a cookie for you all.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_53oMB4-fxXM/SVZZdJntnPI/AAAAAAAAAAM/vXEtrdBFtqI/s1600-R/cookie.gif

Awful dialog is the one thing that really catapults me out of the experience. Be it what is written or how it is delivered.

I wanted to say poor characterization, because that's what actually bugs me the most. But those of us who were paying attention during that EC video will know that characterization is part of the narrative, not the writing. So...dialog, then.

Plotholes in stories really do make me quite upset with the quality...and, its compounded when they use some Deus Ex Machina, or Retcon to try and cover it up...

Bad characterization destroys the immersion for me. I can accept a plot hole but what truly makes a game immersive is it's characters, if they are not believable neither is the plot.

I went with poor characterization - since really this could encompass dialogue (breaking character in tone) and plot holes (why the hell did he/I just do that? Just because it looks cool or moves the game to the next section?). If writing really means narrative (as that new series asserts convincingly), then narrative really means character development.

The first three mainly. I can't decide which is the worst.

Wait... what?

I get that you want to ask what we hate most about bad story writing, but... that's a pretty awkward segway.

Yeah, they discussed bad videogame writing, but the ultimate point of the episode was that we shouldn't blame writing, but blame the fact that developers put writing before narrative. Bad writing wasn't discussed as much as it was mentioned.

Oh well, I'm probably just nitpicking.

As for the question itself, what I hate most is poor characterization. Especially when I'm meant to feel for them.

Videogames should have the "I have played the prequel/I am new to this series option" One thing I've always hated about books (that decided to cross over into videogames), is when they all repeat the same information over and over and over.

like in god of war. "I killed my wife and kids thing" was made sure to remind us in the narrative, as well as other facts. Each game made sure you were 100% recapped, but for those that remembered the games, we all knew what happened, and it was just time absorbing.

Confusing instructions.

That can break a game, the rest cannot.

All of the above but the one I really hate would definetly by confusing instructions.

Plot holes are often inevitable, but awful dialogue can be avoided...

I demand an all of the above option! Because I hate them all equally! Also, demanding extra options in polls is sort of my thing now.

My opinion:

Fallen-Angel Risen-Demon:
Bad characterization destroys the immersion for me. I can accept a plot hole but what truly makes a game immersive is it's characters, if they are not believable neither is the plot.

Probably, why I didn't like Half Life.

I'm not bothered by most of these. It's a game, not a movie. Although I'm sure I've played a game with these issues, I don't know which ones have them, because I was too busy playing and enjoying the game.

...except for awful dialogue, but that's just hilarious, not a bad thing. The Resident Evil wouldn't be nearly as good without "Jill Sandwich," "Master of unlocking," "...especially living things," etc.

You know, I kind of rushed my vote, because my first instinct was AGHH BAD DIALOGUE HURT HEAD but then I realized, of all of these, the only one that can't end in hilarious results is receiving bad instructions. On the other hand, more often than not the dialogue is just bland and uninteresting enough to be lame but not laughable enough to chuckle along with it.

Deus Ex Machinae - My nemesis.

It's rife in most parts of games, but it's in the bad games that it really shows up.

Why can't I go up there? Why do I run out of these bullets but not those? How come I go into a QTE when I want control?

Generally anytime the rules are reversed just because.

For the rest:
Awful dialogue: "Dogs of the A.M.S." - Great game.
Plotholes in storyline: "So, Phoenix Down doesn't work on Aeris?" - Great game.
Poor characterization: "Reload, Dr. Freeman" - Great game.
Confusing instructions: "Stand still. Do I look like I'm nicking something?" (You don't have to stand still to be healed) - Great game.
Unnecessary information: "Half Elves are now .49999 Elves" - Great game.

I'll also include:
Buggy A.I.: Left 4 Dead - Great Game, but Louis-bot is an idiot.
Crisp-packets of DOOM: Left 4 Dead 2: "I can't charge up stairs?"
The Computer is a Cheating Bastard: Civilization/MarioKart.
Bugged To Hell: Hidden and Dangerous/Vampire: Bloodlines

Also still great games, but snatch control from me for no reason, and you're facing deletion.

Out of those, plot holes or poor characterisation. But mostly plot holes, I suppose. Awful dialogue can be funny (see Resident Evil, where the game wouldn't be as good without it.)

Other I guess. Mostly when they have huge things of text to read or the conversations go on forever. For example, Dragon Age. I've got to the point where I just skip all the talking and just click a response. Plus I've about given up on the game since I have no clue where I'm supposed to go or what I'm supposed to be doing right now.

Rarhnor:
My opinion:

Fallen-Angel Risen-Demon:
Bad characterization destroys the immersion for me. I can accept a plot hole but what truly makes a game immersive is it's characters, if they are not believable neither is the plot.

Probably, why I didn't like Half Life.

I originally votes for plot holes, but now that you mention it, I do agree that Half-Life failed miserably on that part. So you play a mute, who is adored by almost everybody in the world for reasons unknown to him...hey, it's like you're playing God/Jeebus.

I hate it when the story makes no sense with the gameplay mechanics or the other way around, say in CoD:MW2 (poor example but hey... easy prey) where at the end of a mission I die, have to re-try a whole part, only to then die in the cut scene two feet from where I originally died. That just pisses me off.

I'm playing back through Silent Hill 2 and remembering that, for all its immersive atmosphere, the game still manages to shatter every bit of tension it worked so hard to create every time James opens his idiot mouth. So I went with bad dialogue. It really can be a game-wrecking experience when a climactic scene that should be extremely dramatic is reduced to smirk-worthy nonsense by poorly written dialogue. Actually, that applies to pretty much any other medium as well. ^^;

Usually bad dialogue - where you can't follow what is going on, or its getting just too silly. In the case of spoken narrative if there's unnatural pauses/emotions in it, that can be pretty destructive to follow what's going on, and break my immersion. Usually end up contemplating the incorrect pause/emotion more than the writing. D'oh.

Confusing instructions in the games I play only seem to really affect the MMOs I've played. I hate it if you get a quest and there's not even a slight clue as to where to go and/or what to do. I don't mind not being given an exact location, but at least give me a clue in which direction to head.
Random wandering in FPSes isn't so bad, as there's usually either limited places to go, or you find something else cool even if you go the wrong way.

I'm terrible with plotholes. Unless they're the size of Russia, then I either tend to not notice or put my own explanation to it.

What I hate the most about video game storylines is one thing: mind control. It happens so often in RPGs that its embarrassing, and every time it does happen its so incredibly lame. "How can I make a character that is good but fights with the party? I guess I could make a complex and conflicted and interesting character with deep motivations... but that takes too much work. Let's make a witch or something and have them control the character's mind for half the game."

Final Fantasy IV is the most guilty of this. Say what you want about the gameplay and characters, but that game's storyline was shit.

Plot holes. They just destroy any suspension of disbelief i had for the story.

i actuly kinda like it wen theay have info u dont neid in a game

A full priced game thats only 10 hours long. Pisses me off.

Edit: Sorry, "Writing" in particular. I would say bad voice acting. Most of those choices really.

Tough choice, but I would have to say poor characterization. If I can't sync or get into the characters I'm playing as or portraying, I really can't get anywhere else in the game immersion wise. D:

Poor characterization. Who is that? Why Should I care? Those are the two main questions I ask when this happens. Another thing that comes up it "Why the hell did you do that you stupid Prince bastard, I just spent the whole game doing that, why the hell are you undoing it for that bloody wench?"

Plotholes.

But do you know what ticks me off most in VG writing? slapdash story telling.

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