The Rest of the Story

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@Shamus: I can understand including Doom 3 on your list, but you have to concede that Doom 3 only worked because it was an abridged version of Half-Life's intro.

You guys have access to at least a couple people who think that storytelling in game is a very important part of the gaming experience (The Extra Credit folks)... and you put 3 people who's opinion can be summed up to 'meh, story.' together to discuss the point, a bit disapointing :P.

I'm getting more and more disappointed with this.

What you need is a tool that will argue for something, where another will try to defend it, instead of everyone agreeing like happy monkeys.

Or actually, I'll take that back; you just need a proper debate, instead of a discussion. Or some better editing by whoever's in charge to cut the conversation before it gets to where it got to today.
\

Second Sight has always been an overlooked game, in my opinion.

It's difficult to play by today's standards, in my opinion, since the shooting and targeting controls feel a bit odd, but the plot was top-notch.

Dooly95:
I'm getting more and more disappointed with this.

What you need is a tool that will argue for something, where another will try to defend it, instead of everyone agreeing like happy monkeys.

Or actually, I'll take that back; you just need a proper debate, instead of a discussion. Or some better editing by whoever's in charge to cut the conversation before it gets to where it got to today.
\

It has more to do with who's in the conversation.

Like I just said... It's pretty easy to know what Shaemus and Yatzhee's stance on storytelling in game is (i.e. Not really important, can be enjoyable if it doesn't get in the way) based on the work they do here on the escapists. Grant was the wild card here, but it turns out he agrees with them.

However, look at all the gushing love the people of Extra Credit gives to storybased game (i.e. Mass Effect 2) and you can readily tell they have a much different view point.

So why not get them in there?

And for what it's worth, in past week Movie Bob also seemed to have more to say than both Sheamus and Grant combined... and even thought they ended up all agreeing, the conversation on motion sensor and gaming console and so forth was a lot more interesting than this one.

So yeah. The topics are fine imo... but back and forth text discussion isn't for everybody. Yatzhee and Bob are obviously good troll, Sheamus and Grant aren't. :P

How about how Rockstar did it with Max Payne?
I've only played 'MP2: the fall of Max Payne'. The story is told non-linearly between normal gameplay, small cutscenes (with little dialogue, just panning shots to set up a scene's beginning or end), comic-book style story elements at the beginning of each chapter. and even narration. The biggest trick, though, was through the use of dream sequences. There are two of them, which use things you have seen or heard throughout the game in a different context to explain what is going on.

Plus the TV shows playing through the game have a tangential bearing the story, giving you a glimpse into the themes involved.

I enjoy these, I'd easily read a book of it. Want James Portnoy back though

if you want a really good story in games then play either odensphere, grim grimoir or ghost trick

all of those games have fantastic groin grabbingly good stories

I remember Morrwind fondly, I understood the story to a point, but it was all about the exploration to me. But the best part was that much of the back-story was contain in the hundreds of books that was all over the place, it is something the "The Elders Scrolls" has that Fallout 3 did not. It would have been interesting to be able to read some of the books, flush out both the pre-war time, and the post-war time, without forcing it.

So are Shamus and Graham going to be regulars from now on?

n, but I do like how it went out of its way to include alternative game over sequences for a lot of the player's potential asshole behavior (like shooting up your allies in the training level).

Reminds me of the first America's Army, i used to shot the guys teaching you how to shoot. You got sent to "jail" and this awesome harmonica prison song kicked in. I wonder if you actually ever get out of there.

Why is their so much hatred over cutscenes in games? While there are games where cutscenes are overly obtrusive, I don't mind if the game needs to take the reins for a bit to provide me exposition or set the mood or what have you. Bioshock does a really good job of doing the cutscene w/o the cutscene thing. But when someone shows up to further the plot and you have no choice but to hang around and wait for it to finish and how is that different from a cutscene?

I would tend to agree that this new trend of zombie games could really use a campy alternative. Killing Floor does this well with the cockney banter, although it suffers from horrible repetitiveness and I don't know anyone who didn't quickly tire of The Trader and her endless double-entendres. But I would love to see a zombie game that throws the creepy tension out the window and decides to not take itself seriously.

The most important things to me though be that the game is the centerpiece and the story be the nice tablecloth. A good story does enhance a game well and I don't see that cutscenes hurt that as long as they aren't overused. I suppose that's the JRPG nerd in me talking. But for all the whooping and hollering lately that WRPGs are the better sibling, I see many WRPGs fail to do anything interesting with their story and tend to let it stagnate under a sandbox full of endless sidequests and FPS mechanics. The notable exception being Bioware who I would say managed to merge the two design philosophies quite well in Mass Effect, KoToR and Dragon Age.

Story and gameplay in the right balance make an awesome game, it's an alchemy that not many developers pull off well.

Accuracy is not racism. Having Africans in Africa is not racially edgy. It only seems that way because of stupid people who dont know where Africans came from.

Morrowind's story is only about 10% if even that of the experience. If Morrowind had a Total Completion thing, completing the main story would barely fill the meter. (and I love that)

Out of the Resident Evil series, I hate when people bash on the one's before 4. If you watch a lot of B action/horror movies and then try to follow 4's story, the whole plot is a copy/paste job with tons of movie references. You can tell the Capcom development teams changed because the later games have a more linear gameplay, and that's where I feel it went downhill.

***Spoilers are mostly gameplay elements, and me ranting, so if you have no opinion of the Resident Evil Series or liked 4/5 best, feel free to ignore everything else.***

Resident Evil Minus 4 were really more of "Choose-your-own-adventure" games. Starting with your characters, which each had their own specialties, and progression.

Who the hell skipped Diablo 2's cutscenes?

What? "Come back in a few weeks for the next installment"? This is madness!

That said: I really hope you guys keep doing this. It's delightful to read something about these topics from intelligent people, where not every sentence is editted to deal so it fits into an 'article-style'. Articles are often better formulated of course, but it's refreshing to read something more direct once in a while.

* System Shock 2, back before everyone was sick to death of audio logs.
* The first ten minutes of DOOM 3 were actually quite interesting. Shame about the rest.
* Morrowwind gets bogged down in side-quest Purgatory, but I really liked the story of the villain.
* KOTOR is the Sixth Sense of game plots. Dynamite if you don't know the twist, but unremarkable if you do.
* Diablo II had some of the best cutscenes that everyone ever skipped.

Thank you, Shamus. Just like the rest of the discussion, all of these points have been made before, but collecting them this way illustrates a point. A large number of games have elements of what can be described as good storytelling, but incredibly few nail more than one of these at a time.

Yathzee is obviously intelligent, but often he doesn't put enough thought in before he talks and it ends up being either devoid of a real point, or outright wrong. I can get behind this bit though:

"Trouble is, AAA games these days have so many individuals working on them (each very keen to show off their skills no matter how small or mundane their task) they become this bloated, amorphous mass with no real discipline, creating an attitude of 'we've got it, might as well throw it in'."

Maybe that is the reason, I don't know, but there's a perverse obsession with 'Lore' these days. Fans of various series confuse a world's depth with how many pages of schlock have been written for it. BioWare is obviously guilty of this, but there's also the idea that as long as something has any sort of story element, no matter how small, it should be expanded. The new X-COM game was revealed with the line "rich lore" in there, something that confused and agitated 110% of the series' fans.

I lol'd at Graham suddenly and Jocularly flipping his shit about Marmite. You sir never fail to make me laugh.

OT: This episode seemed a little unfocused, overall. Personally I'm not a big fan of Shamus Young. I don't agree with him generally, so can we please get Mr. Portnow back in here?

Yeah, I think this stuff needs moar conflict. The Marmite example was pretty hillarious. xD

canadamus_prime:
Ok, who puts syrup on bacon? Syrup goes great on many things, but bacon isn't one of them.

I don't put it on any meat product unless said meat accompanies pancakes. And if that is the case I get sausage. Everyone knows sausage is the proper meaty accompaniment to pancakes

but I do like how it went out of its way to include alternative game over sequences for a lot of the player's potential asshole behavior (like shooting up your allies in the training level).

if all games had this i would instantly forgive all misgivings about story telling in gaming! XD

Nice to see Diablo II get a shoutout. I always thought Blizzard took more care with their cutscenes than people give them credit for. That being said, almost all the rest of the storytelling was unnecessary and boiled down to, grab a few random things while murdering everything. By the time we got back around to cutscenes I had no idea what was going on. Combined with my lack of understanding of the game and latent ADD it meant by the time I actually got to the 5th act, I had no idea who the wanderer was supposed to be or why Marius was freaked that he was there.

Logic 0:
It's okay Graham no one likes syrup on their pork meats at all.

speak for yourself :P Syrup on Bacon and/or Sausages (breakfast meats) with scrambled eggs is the most decadent thing you can eat in the morning! sooooooo good, yet soooooo bad for you XD

"An Anglo-Australian, a Canadian and an Irish-American walk into a bar"

Or steam. also I squealed when he said second sight.

Extra Consideration:
Extra Consideration: The Rest of the Story

Our contributors turn their gaze on Resident Evil to close out the discussion of story in games.

Read Full Article

It seems like most of the discussion about problematic stories centers around immersion, which to me breaks down into two parts: pacing and emotion.

First, pacing. The action stops, and you have story. It's like opera, in which recitative is where the story happens, but everyone's there to hear the arias. Or like slasher films or porn--in both cases, story is just stalling while you're waiting to see how the next person gets screwed. The action breaks down into abstract nuggets of fun... and the story has no momentum, because it keeps interrupting itself with "commercial breaks" called gameplay.

Next, emotion. Shamus made a remark about RE4: "...all of your worst setbacks take place in the cutscenes." It raises a good point. In addition to the "shit hits fan" moments, cutscenes are also where all of the cool shit happens. And shouldn't that be the stuff the player gets to do? It's hard to immerse yourself in a character when you spend his/her most brilliant moments just watching.

Really, the story works with the gameplay as long as both are following the same pacing (without interrupting each other), and working to convey the same emotional tone to both the character and the player. When the story is getting to the good parts, the player should be doing more, not less. And when the hero is feeling heroic, the player should feel heroic, too.

Hate Morrowind so much I didn't get to this villain story :(... kinda a shame

You know, as much as I love James and Bob down to the bone, I have to admit Graham and Shamus did a good job.
But I felt disappointed at the end. Everyone stated opinions and then it was over. The interesting part, the discussion was kind of left out.
Oh well, maybe there is a second part to that.
Other than that, please keep em coming.

Logic 0:
It's okay Graham no one likes syrup on their pork meats at all.

Awww c'mon... This is way too common... I go to any hotel, ask for a breakfast and get a couple of pancakes with 2 strips of bacon or 2 sausages and some eggs. And the Maple syrup on top of the pancakes MIGHT slide a little over the bacon or the sausages... It's not like OHHHHH THE HUMANITY! It's more like yum :) A nice mixture of different flavors combined to something that in one way or another will get mixed in your stomach...

But anyway... You are probably wondering right now which Hotels do I go to as to not order any breakfast there...

bahumat42:

Misho-:
Lol is it my impression or Yahtzee always dominates these Extra Considerations???

he has a powerful personality. Have you not noticed that certain people have a habit of doing this in your day to day life aswell. There will be somebody opinionated who will own conversations.

Lol yeah this happens to me all of the time. I'm the other guy, the guy that tries to open his mouth to add something to the conversation but end up being cut off time and time again...

And people tell me am a great listener lol...

Geeze, everyone faps like crazy over the Bioshock intro. I was at a games con and there was some seminar on audio design and they used the Bioshock intro for reference.

I mean, it's really good no doubt, but I don't think it's THAT amazing.

speaking of diablo 2... it had the dumbest charachter in the whole freaking video game history, for those how dont know exactly who i am speaking of Marius ... "What choice did i have?" OH I DONT KNOW!!! NOT FREE BAAL AND SET IN MOTION THE END OF THE WORLD!!!!!!

mjc0961:
Should've gone after branston pickle instead of marmite. Or maybe said something mean about Saints Row 2. :p

Beyond that, I don't really think there's more much to add. I guess I said everything I had to say last week, and this didn't really inspire any new thoughts.

One flaw in your plan.. Graham ADORES Saint's Row 2. With a passion. Much the same as I do.

Tarkand:
Like I just said... It's pretty easy to know what Shaemus and Yatzhee's stance on storytelling in game is (i.e. Not really important, can be enjoyable if it doesn't get in the way) based on the work they do here on the escapists. Grant was the wild card here, but it turns out he agrees with them.
So yeah. The topics are fine imo... but back and forth text discussion isn't for everybody. Yatzhee and Bob are obviously good troll, Sheamus and Grant aren't. :P

....Who the hell is Grant? Is he Graham's secret-evil-twin-brother-whom-wears-a-monocle-and-top-hat that murdered Graham and is now walking among us as the late favourite comedy legend?

The only dissent I can add, is that Jane Austen NEVER shows. The books are all 150-200 pages of telling and even despite my prejudice against classics I have to admit they're some of the best books I've ever read. The closest she comes to showing, is telling from the perspective of an unreliable narrator.

Shakespeare too. Does Romeo show intricate and complex signs of love? No he proses for a good five minutes on how much he loves Juliet and then people come along and say "you are in love and naive". Admittedly with Shakespeare there's are showing aspects in what people say, rather than just telling straight out but he's still more likely just to spend a lot of words telling than to completely show.

Tolkien did neither really because his stories weren't character based. But if you read it, there's a lot more of him telling you that a load of orcs were slain and that Frodo got one, rather than showing how. And he's just as likely to tell you that Samwise is feeling the weight of the ring as he is to show how extra snappish Frodo is.

People who concentrate entirely on showing end up with a lot of purple prose. All media is a balance of the two and the time spent showing can bog up the plot and make the experiencer lose sensation of time, place and priority.

That said. Yeah telling doesn't work in games. The less wordy and more involved the media format the less appropriate telling is. It doesn't work well for movies and it doesn't work at all well for games. The cool bits of games are where you get shown. It's why I feel that rather than have a set-back happen in a cutscene it's much more fun to have an insurmountable force thrown at you until you die. The real trick is manipulating the player to the extent that he actually feels and acts as the character is supposed to.

EDIT: Second the appreciation of Max Paynes dream/non-gameplay gameplay sequences

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