Backchat: Asura's Wrath and Manga Art

Asura's Wrath and Manga Art

This week, Backchat looks at what changes you'd make to popular game genres, and the crazy visuals of Asura's Wrath.

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Well, a good story is always preferable regardless of the genre. In a game it's usually the story that keeps me going or that makes me buy the games.

gameplay is still very important as well and needs to be well executed (genre does come into play here since shooters still have to be shooty shooty big explosions fun and RPG's still need to be talky talky let me make my own way fun. (just to name two examples))

I might be asking too much here but I've seen it happen.
*must try not to fanboy* *cough... Mass Effect... cough*

"but that's just my opinion, no need to go spreadin' it around."

I love a good story that keeps me going, something like Uncharted, and I love good gameplay, like God of War, but what I don't like is when a game has a good story as well as gameplay but the game yanks the control from me for like a cut scene or something. Pretty much any game that breaks the flow to remind me I'm playing a game rather than an experience, and as much as I like Final Fantasy that series has been guilty of that as of late.

I think there can be a perfect mixture of both, and even with QTEs if they are not everything you do like in Heavy Rain, but just enough to not make it annoying.

If I want to watch a story I can watch a film, with that said I do love me some MGS! So gameplay for me, I am playing a game after all.

I think you can have a good story and gameplay, bioshock for example. Based on a book, so the story has to be good.

Variety of guns and they have some interesting abilities (the crossbow can set up traps), have different ammo and can be upgraded ... not forgetting the camera.

You also have a range of "super powers" to choose from and I think most have upgrades.

Sorry, what is the dialog at the end, after the Bamby song? I could not quite make it out.

As for gameplay vs story: in my opinion, there is only a handful of games with genuinely good stories. It might be a cynical point of view, but since going for story is an almost certain way to mediocrity, most developers should concentrate on gameplay first. Know your strengths.

Games like Heavy Rain, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout and Witcher are proper "Story-based games" because they actually tell proper interactive "game stories". Having two large film's worth of cutscenes in your game doesn't make it a "story-based game" (no matter how good the story is). It just makes your game an overly long TV show, where you have to mash buttons during the ads just to unlock the next episode. Imagine if your TV actually did that? It'd be horrible!

"...and then story doesn't matter" - Aoife

Those are words I never want to hear again! Story is everything! Sure I can have a bit of fun playing Plants vs Zombies for a few mind numbing hours but when we get right down to it, we are story driven people. I love gameplay and it needs to be solid but games that sacrifice story have always been something fun to do on the side, never my primary enjoyment. Games that you can just pick up and play are nice but usually once you've played for a while you'll find yourself craving something more. That being said can I just cheat and say they both matter equally? Is it so much to ask for both? Because that is when a game becomes truly great.

And the song at the end? The one about the female deer that "has it going on"...you are a very weird girl is about all I can say about that.

It's easier for me to play a game with great gameplay. The games with most hours are multiplayer games. I've spent thousands of hours in games like Counter-Strike. The replay value is much higher for me.
I've recently played through the Mass Effect games for preparation for Mass Effect 3 and it just feels harder to play ME 1 unlike ME 2. Good gameplay is easy and quick fun.

However, the game I'll never forget are the ones with a great story. I fell in love with ME 1 because of the story and world it had created, not because of the gameplay. I bought ME 2 because I wanted to see how the story continues and return to the Mass Effect universe. If I had to name great games, I always name the ones with good stories. I love Psychonauts and the gameplay is average, at the end even a pain. I love it because of the setting, the characters etc.
I think that games with great stories have the biggest impact on people. They make me invest a lot of time, thinking about the world, the story, the characters. I'm much more involved emotionally.

So for me, to simply have a fun, good gameplay is all that it requires. To truly have a great experience, a great story is more important.
But it is possible to combine both. Half-Life 2 is one of my favorite games and I think it combines both good storytelling and gameplay.

There actually is a game where you play as a deer and kill hunters. It's called Deer Avenger.

To Don Reba, I concur.

First things first..WOO I got mention in the vid. Though I do lose massive man points for making a surprised yelp when I saw my name come up. Also very odd to see someone say my internet handle out loud.

Anyway to the matter at hand. The marriage between gameplay and story is a huge topic. How important these two are woven together changes on a game by game basis for me. In fighting games I don't care one tiny bit about the story, in RPGs the story is paramount above all else.

What I would like to see more of is the narrative of a story being told by the gameplay itself. All too often story is told by cutscenes, or even worse QTE. This to me is not using gaming to its potential as a story telling medium. Games such as Portal and Bastion and show us that when gameplay and story are designed to be together then new story telling methods can be achieved.

For a further free and short example of this try the Stanley Parable, a Half Life 2 mod. While not so much of a game it does highlight the potential games have as an interactive medium for delivering a story.

It is not that hard to have excellent story, game play, and openness all in one game. Just look at Planescape: Torment and Arcanum.

Shotgun Guy:
"...and then story doesn't matter" - Aoife

Those are words I never want to hear again! Story is everything! Sure I can have a bit of fun playing Plants vs Zombies for a few mind numbing hours but when we get right down to it, we are story driven people. I love gameplay and it needs to be solid but games that sacrifice story have always been something fun to do on the side, never my primary enjoyment. Games that you can just pick up and play are nice but usually once you've played for a while you'll find yourself craving something more. That being said can I just cheat and say they both matter equally? Is it so much to ask for both? Because that is when a game becomes truly great.

And the song at the end? The one about the female deer that "has it going on"...you are a very weird girl is about all I can say about that.

Oh don't get me wrong, that isn't my belief, just what I think a lot of gameplay focused titles practise. I think story is hugely important, and given a choice, I'd pick great story over gameplay every time.
I think it's possible to have both though. My favourite examples are Half Life and Portal, as they never yank control away from you when they want to give you some exposition. I love the fact that when I catch a glimpse of G-Man, I feel like I've earned it.

"Story" is way more than just cutscenes.
You can tell a story through gameplay you know.

loa:
"Story" is way more than just cutscenes.
You can tell a story through gameplay you know.

This.

A game can tell a story through gameplay and through its environment. Bioshock is a great example of telling a story through its environment. You can see what happened and how things progressed just by taking in the world around you. There's no need to yank the controls from the player.

I enjoy a few cutscenes in my games but it's not the only or best way to tell a story in a game.

There was a hunting game where you played the animal and you went after the humans.

It was called Deer AVENGER!

image

Currently there are 4 games in the series.

Not every game has to have a story, but, for the games that do have a story, there are differing levels to which the story is made manifest. In some games, the story is central to the nature of the game, and, thus, the player is constantly immersed in it; in other games, the story is merely flavoring that provides some motivation to the game.

In "pure games", like chess, shogi, backgammon, etc., there is no need for a story because the entire point of the game is on the strategies and tactics necessary to achieve the winning condition or optimal outcome(this is why I call such games "pure games", because their design is much more mathematical and adherent to game theory).

But, even more to the point, I think much of the difficulty of dealing with stories in games is because many game developers don't seem to realize the mode by which the gaming medium expresses stories. There is too much a tendency to express story structure and progression in the same mode as one would do for a book or movie, and this is incorrect, in my opinion. Books express story structure and progression through exposition; movies do this through historical record. However, games express story structure and progression through experience. You don't read about or watch the life of the character. You live through it, and it is fully realizing that ability to live through the character's life in every detail that I think game developers are sometimes struggling with because they are trying to hard to make games like Hollywood blockbuster movies or best-seller books. It's just the wrong approach.

I think story execution and progression in a game has to focus on the choices and actions of the player, as the main character, and the consequences of those actions on the game's world. It is possible to strongly encourage or direct the player toward specific choices or actions at key moments(even to the point of putting it on rails), but the key thing is that the player is the one who causes the story to occur and progress forward, in that the player is actively engaged in the progression of story points(quick-time events is just one means of implementing this). The player should not spend a lot of time passively viewing events transpire before him or reading about them in some exposition; instead, the player should be actively involved in every moment of the story progression while being fully immersed into the game's environment. This is what I call the "Total Experience", the full combination of sensation and interaction. You don't read a game's story or watch it; you experience it.

Just my opinion. Feel free to flame.

ADDENDUM: I've recently been reading Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. In it, he talks about the principles and design of story structure. He exposes the four part story structure, setup, response, attack, and resolution, and the milestone plot points that build up the story's structure. It's been an enlightening, albeit sometimes tedious, read into how good stories are structured and built.

I think it may be possible that the reason some video game stories are so awful is that they fail to adhere to standard story structure, execution, and pacing.

AoifeGinx:

Shotgun Guy:
"...and then story doesn't matter" - Aoife

Those are words I never want to hear again! Story is everything! Sure I can have a bit of fun playing Plants vs Zombies for a few mind numbing hours but when we get right down to it, we are story driven people. I love gameplay and it needs to be solid but games that sacrifice story have always been something fun to do on the side, never my primary enjoyment. Games that you can just pick up and play are nice but usually once you've played for a while you'll find yourself craving something more. That being said can I just cheat and say they both matter equally? Is it so much to ask for both? Because that is when a game becomes truly great.

And the song at the end? The one about the female deer that "has it going on"...you are a very weird girl is about all I can say about that.

Oh don't get me wrong, that isn't my belief, just what I think a lot of gameplay focused titles practise. I think story is hugely important, and given a choice, I'd pick great story over gameplay every time.
I think it's possible to have both though. My favourite examples are Half Life and Portal, as they never yank control away from you when they want to give you some exposition. I love the fact that when I catch a glimpse of G-Man, I feel like I've earned it.

That's a really good point, it's always nice when you stumble across something that could easily be missed, makes you realize how much time they actually put into the game. Ideally there should be as little hand-holding as possible when trying to give a player the story, I think the problem is that developers care deeply about their product (and why wouldn't they?) that a lot of times they force you to sit through something because they are worried that you'll miss it otherwise and they would hate for that to happen, even when some people couldn't care less. I think it depends just as much on who is playing the game as it does on what the game is trying to achieve. I've played the same game in different frames of mind and have had two completely different experiences, both good. The best games will get you committed regardless of why you are playing them.

 

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