A Storytelling Crysis

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A Storytelling Crysis

Action games like Crysis 3 are relying too much on badly-delivered exposition to tell their stories.

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Crysis 2 came out two years ago. April 2011.

Why couldn't we keep the protagonist Alcatraz? It would've made Prophet's death noble, and now I'm playing it while actually kind of pissed at him for basically stealing Alcatraz's body.

Speaking to action without context, it's very hard to enjoy a fight when you don't know who to root for. The good guy losing doesn't have the same weight if you don't realize he's the good guy (or girl, or whatever).

It's the same reason I don't watch hockey, basketball, or football (American or otherwise) unless I actively care about one of the teams. Even if I'm hoping that that one team loses.

I think it would be interesting if Alcatraz can speak in the third game but in Prophet's voice. So while everyone else thinks its Prophet, it would actually be Alcatraz derping about, pretending he knows what he's doing.

As soon as I read the word "epic" once, I had a hunch. When I read it twice, I expected it to lead up to the joke at the end, since Yahtzee is supposed to hate that word so much. Needless to say, I was disappointed. 3/10

I already know that some smart-ass is going to smugly ask "what about Portal? That hardly had any dialogue in it to explain what's going on?" And then soak in the glory of having bested someone in an argument over the internet.

So I'm going to pre-emptively rebute this admitted straw-man (but come one you know one's out there!) by saying that Portal had it's exposition buried just beneath the surface. You start out in test rooms but you soon notice that no one else is in the laboratory, even though the environment suggests there should be. There ae empty conference rooms with flickering slides, one beguilingly informing you that this is the same game-universe as the Half-Life Series. And while GLADoS rarely gives you any actual background (at least nothing reliable), her flakey detatchment and soundbyte glitches and passive-agressive hostility towards you gives you a pretty good picture of what happened, without once having to spell out what happened (save the bit about the neuro-toxins, but that was setting up the final challenge so I'll let it pass).

So do you see this problem as being symptomatic of some in the industry's feelings towards story in general? Story is "irksome"? In other words, a story is just a side-show to the gameplay which will hopefully catch on as the next multiplayer phenomenon and catapult our game to CoD like status?

Welcome to the world of the politically correct, a world which incidently people like Yahtzee for all of their caustic venom helped to create with all of their ranting about the choices of video game villains being bigoted and such. Things get increasingly generic because of a concern that they are going to offend anyone, and that even aliens and zombies will be taken as some kind of politically offensive metaphor. Things increasingly need to be kept bland and uninspired and that means tacking on what little exposition there is and hoping it gets lost behind the flash. To avoid complaints increasing numbers of game designers want to gloss over why the characters are fighting, especially in the context of real world or near-future settings.... there are still exceptions, but the trend has become kind of obvious.

Let me put it to you this way, just today I was reading an article about how a certain Muslim leader from a nation with nuclear ambitions was getting in trouble for his people because he dared to hug a grieving widow at a funeral. This was at Victor Chavez's funeral incidently, who was himself a crazy despot who liked to rant about things like American earthquake machines and managed to get himself on our "people we'd really like to see die" list for decades. The whole thing being kind of like Ras Al Ghul comforting Mercy Graves at a funeral for Lex Luthor when you get down to it.

The point being that we in the first world tend not to look at how messed up the rest of the world is. South of the US Border is full of tyrants, despots, death cults, and battles between third world gueriellas and warlords. There are some nations doing okay, but even some of the big ones like Mexico are barely holding on. Africa is full of warlords, drug kinpins, human traffickers, and constant revolutions with maniacs attempting to overthrow other maniacs, when even the "heroes" of the region like Nelson Mandela get in trouble for running death squads (well allegedly he claims they belong to his wife if I remember). In The Middle East, we not only have hardcore bans against showing affection or comfort to half of the population (women, and guess how much of a psychological benefit that has) but women being killed for not marrying their rapists, factional religious and political warfare with Muslims doing things like attacking embassies and burning down areas of cities where non-Muslims live, racism against westerners and Jews, and oh yes... increasing nuclear ambitions. In the far east we have Korea periodically threatening to attack the US and it's neighbors, while also threatening to nuke everyone, and slowly building up the technology to do so, and don't even get me started on China which is pretty much the "Evil Empire" for the new generation.

In a world like this wouldn't it be nice if there was hope, a culture that at least held ideas of peace, democracy, and co-existance, criticized what was going on through it's media to spread ideas, and occasionally stepped in to at least try and do the right thing and curtail some of this? Maybe more than one would be ideal something like oh... the US and UK, wait they exist.

The problem here is that for all of this ranting, you start doing video games either based directly on what's going on, or using analogies to them, and people freak out. Yahtzee for example loves to crack jokes about how we have some straight laced American or European fighting a bunch of people who represent a minority prescence IN the US or Europe (which is ironic given that globally whites are perhaps the smallest minority there is). While Yahtzee doesn't go off about indirect analogies, a lot of people DO and it gets attention. There are only so many times someone can do a game based around misguided liberal hang wringing, and trying to be inwardly focused rather that criticizing the crap a lot of these cultures do that generated the anger that lead to things like "The War On Terror". I mean it's nice to be critical of "Dubbya" but at the same time it's hard to really be sympathetic of a culture that freaks out over a hug
at a funeral, or stones women to death for refusing to marry those that rape them.

Now, a lot of people are going to freak out about my political statements, but understand that really understanding the motives of people involved in an acrobatic sword fight to care involves in either constructing a very detailed unreality, like we've seen with say "Final Fantasy XIII" or using a certain degree of grounding based on reality, which of course means being judgemental of someone, and really, it's kind of hard to cheer for some guy whose central motivations are based on a culture that wants to punish people for drawing pictures of their central religius icon, or say not being properly worshipful of Kim Jong Un and accepting North Korea's rightful place as global leader. It doesn't matter if you really agree with my analysis of the globe in general, actually part of the point is that so many people are going to disagree with me that it generates a lot of attention and havoc to even bring these things up, and businesses just don't have the guts to go there anymore.

I'll also say that one of the problems with building unrealities is that the modern "FPS" reared gamer doesn't have the patience for it. The casual market just isn't able to handle very complicated buildings of alternate realities which is why they tend to fail when they occur. A lot of the biggest examples of world building for computer games happend for the "real" gamers who were around decades ago, the gradual definition of the world of "Planescape" in the video game (which was done successfully even for those that didn't play the PnP version), the depth (especially for the time) of Lord British's "Ultima" series which was build gradually through books and dialogue with scores of NPCs, as well as sitting down and translating runes in certain places, etc...

The problem is that people used to complain about the MTV generation, and it's "buzz clips" and "factoids", today the mainstream, which is what the gaming industry caters to far more than it used to with the so called "core", "real", or genuine "hardcore" gamer being a minority "side audience" that is gradually turning away from gaming due to neglect (even companies seem to be noticing the falloff of core gamers), comes accross as a group of comparitive ADHD cases with no patience to read anything, and frustration in many cases over things as simple as NPC dialogue or exposition through expensive multi-million dollar cinematics. This is also a problem with storytelling. To be honest Yahtzee has been very intolerant of exposition and world building unless it happens gradually enough as part of gameplay to barely be noticed (or so it seems), having hated on things like say "The Witcher" pretty hardcore, but to be honest I think part of the problem was that for the modern audience he's actually become kind of "deep" and characters like Alcatraz didn't seem to go over well with the new mainstream. "Crysis 3" and other games of their ilk, setting out to cater to the mainstream, and that means things like "spoiling" their own plot twist early, in order to have it covered multiple times, so your typical mainstream gamer is likely to get it, since a lot of these guys are liable to space out during the actual plot events, abort the cinematcs, etc... and they sort of still want these guys to know what they are doing. Especially seeing as these plots are partially what justies video game shooters and their ilk to media critics.... the gamer himself just wants to shoot stuff and watch pretty enviromental destruction.

Apologies for length, unknown if anyone will read or appreciate this, but these are my thoughts.

Maybe it's a byproduct of the increasingly ADD online lifestyle, but I just can't handle story in games anymore unless they bludgeon me with it like Bioshock did. I have read from start to finish maybe 1 book in Skyrim, and 1 digital journal from Deus Ex HR. I just want to get in there and tear things up. Crysis is for me just an extension of Far Cry (which fits because Far Cry sure as hell isn't an extension of Far Cry, at least as far as the story goes). Far Cry 1's story was some dude doing the typical evil mastermind plan of creating super soldiers that nobody could control. Simple story, epic environment, good gameplay.

That's really all I want out of Crysis. 1 fit the bill nicely. 2 bogged it down with added gizmos and 'realism'. Word is 3 is the same gameplay, so no purchase. I'm quite sick of this new school of shooter games that have all this fluff like taking 2 seconds to put your visor on to scout enemies. In Far Cry and Crysis 1 that was instant. I didn't have to wait for my damn HUD to configure itself each time.

Therumancer:
Apologies for length, unknown if anyone will read or appreciate this, but these are my thoughts.

I read it, and I appreciated it. All of it. Thank you.

Would anyone notice the spoiler if they're too busy staring at tits?

Another thing that needs to be avoided is the Exposition Dump, which will make people not care about the world you're describing.

I actually like bits of background information being revealed though collectible documents and audio-logs and such. I'm not saying that it's a perfect solution, or that it can't be done badly, but it does add another level of engagement in the story when I'm essentially building the story for myself, and it certainly beats a 15 minute cut-scene, where you're yanked out of the fun you may have been having so you can have every single plot point blabbed at you in excruciating detail, with no way for you to respond to the information you're getting, just so the writers can show off what a deep lore they've written (when usually they've written anything but).

Now I come to think about it, it's amazing how many recent video games have used the plot device pretentiously known as "In medias res"

I'm also a bit sick of the games that start at a bit in the middle and then completely flash back everything and make you play every single thing that lead up to what you saw at the beginning. A lot of games seem to be pulling that one too. Most offensive* one in recent memory for me was Uncharted: Golden Abyss, which opens with a brief tutorial and then a cutscene where

Not exactly sure if that's actually an example of in medias res or it counts as something else entirely, but still, it's getting old.

*In light of Adam Sessler and other reviewer's recent God of War stupidity, I would like to point out that I use the word as in it commits the offense in question, not that it has actually offended me and outraged me and I'm taking an entire point off my review score because they used a common pop-culture phrase in the trophy title of a game that was already rated M for insane violence.

I actually liked Crysis 2's plot- servicable B-movie stuff with a decent protagonist, a couple interesting ideas and characters, managed to be honestly patriotic without being stupidly jingoistic, nice pacing and art. Crysis 3 just looks disappointing, especially since they're not really advancing the series much. Could it have been better if the player was still Alcatraz, and Prophet was just a guide?

Therumancer:
snip

Out of interest, Therumancer, what do you do for a living?

Therumancer:
...

What did I just read?

Therumancer:
Snip

That was a good read about the state of things. Thanks mate :)

Something tells me Yahtzee didn't like Memento.

All I want to say is this: where was this analysis when Crysis 2 pulled the same thing?

I may be the only person out there who cares that Crysis ended with the alien-invasion plot ball still being juggled and our heroes heading back into the thick of it when the sequel abruptly jumps us to New York City. Seriously, THERE IS NO RESOLUTION. There is a comic that supplies the link between games (and does it badly, in my opinion)... and you know what? THAT'S NOT OKAY. I shouldn't have to buy alternative media just to get a frickin' complete story.

So, again, Yahtzee, why did you give Crysis 2 a pass on this, but decide to press the issue on Crysis 3 when they're guilty of the same sin?

When I think of how storytelling in games used to be, I usually think of the old Resident Evil games. I'll never forget how awesome it was to play the first game and gradually unravel the mystery behind Spencer Mansion.

Cry Engine 3 does not support story. It never worked well in previous versions so the feature was discontinued.

It's funny how a game series that uses an engine like the Cry engine is still resorting to "steal ideas from Valve." Have they learned nothing from Insomniac games!

Grey Carter:

Therumancer:
snip

Out of interest, Therumancer, what do you do for a living?

Nothing anymore. I currently live at home on social security, having been forced into retirement by brain damage which is where I've been for a number of years now.

I've explained it all before on these forums and to half the planet, but basically when I was a baby there was some kind of problem with my head closing up. They wound up wedging a plate in there, and then later wound up having to remove it. I grew up bouncing in and out of various placements with some serious problems in my youth. With age came a degree of perspective and control, and my problems started to do better. I wound up going to school where I majored in Forensices, I did okay but my grades weren't exactly in the top 1% to qualify for a free ride, my family made too much money for most financial aid, and simply put I wound up being forced to stop part way through and get a real job. I went to work for Mohegan Sun when it first opened, working for ESD (Janitorial) for the first month to get my foot in the door and managed to get a job in security back when they had standards and some pretty substantial requirements (this later changed though), pretty much a dog and pony show, but they did make us do a decent amount of training that we were never going to practically use, and I wound up eventually moving into what they referred to as "Monitor Room" at a time when it was not only responsible for all non-gaming areas of the facilities, but also acted as dispatch for "Protective Services" which was basically the outside patrol (vehicles, etc..) that controlled the outlying areas. As part of this job I also wound up basically doing the job of some rather lazy investigators in responding to a lot of the penny ante crap that happened in parking garages and such. I wound up being forced to change shifts for medical reasons, wound up in some political crap between rival groups of upper management that hated each other since I was "in" with a differant crowd than the one that ran the shift I was forced to change to, and wound up getting fired, but was almost immediatly picked up by the competition (Foxwoods) where I continued to work for the next four years, albiet entirely as floor security where I previously did that at most part time. While at Foxwoods I was also fired, but largely because my problems got worse, and when all is said and done it comes down to the basic fact that I not only had a few emotional outbursts that pissed people off, but had developed a tendency to pace and mutter to myself, or wind up grinning crazily for no reason, etc.... In short with those problems no amount of accumulated training, and "brownie points" were going to save me.

In short, I've spent a lot of time following people and snooping on orders both on and off a gaming floor, while running surveillance equipment and such largely oriented off of it, which included areas ranging from parking garages, to retail space, to arcades, to resteraunts, to hotels and bars and nightclubs. I can't say too much in the way of specific details, but that's a basic outline. As disgruntled as I am, and as archaic as my information is, there are a lot of things I simply won't say, especially seeing as I'm less POed with my former employers than with specific people working there for the way things finally went down in the end.

I've met people from all over the world, and spend a lot of time being trained by police, security professionals, etc... even if a lot of that knowlege is kind of useless. I should even have an "anti-terrorism" certificate from Homeland Security around somewhere. If you think I'm paranoid, lol, I'm a lightweight. I just tend to be a little more vocal on the internet than I probably should be.

I'm rambling, but to be honest it's kind of ironic that many years ago when I went to college the guys teaching the classes, guys like Former-Chief Pendleton [SP] or Professor Williams (former head of the Connecticut State Police) kind of warned the class that becoming a cop, or high end security would seriously alter your world view to the point where it could be very difficult to deal with other people. The whole "colored glases" analogy I use all the time is the way they put it in class. I never did go into Forensics like I planned, but just doing what I did, has made it very difficult at times to discuss anything other than the extremely trivial with people who don't have any similar ranges
of experience. I suppose my biggest problem is simply not keeping my mouth shut and just letting things go the way
most people do.

At any rate, that's a basic summary of me, yet again. Nothing paticularly impressive when you get down to it. Just a lengthy explanation as to why I say some of the things I do in general. Not that it likely matters much on this subject. Most of what I mentioned politically is stuff right from the news, the point of my post not being to sell any kind of philsophy, but to simply point out that you can't complain about a lack of good storytelling, when people freak out every time someone uses the real world, makes an analogy, or even just does something that might be taken as an analogy when it's not intended. Yahtzee himself makes recurring "jokes" about Americans and white europeans murdering darker skinned foreigners, even to the point of recurringly saying that "Uncharted" comes accross as a game made for white supremicists. Combine that with all the QQing about "Resident Evil 5", and whatever else, and it shouldn't be surprising that given a modern audience that can't deal with unreality deeply constructed enough to avoid analogies, that game developers have seemingly stopped trying recently out of a combination of fear and annoyance. Had "Crysis 3" had more
of a plot, someone probably would have started screaming about racist/bigoted American military bravedo (yet again), if it had fully embraced unreality and developed the aliens and such better it would have had people claiming that this kind of exposition doesn't belong in a game of this sort, the core group of players not caring. Your typical "Crysis" player doesn't want an entirely fictitious alien culture developed to give them personality and then a completly bogus and unreal socio-political dynamic constructed so you can really see where the aliens are coming from. At the end of the day your Crysis player just wants to shoot them in the face.... after writing all of this I'm sort of at a loss as to why of everything I've written this is the post that would get an inquiry about what I do for a living.

Darth_Payn:
It's funny how a game series that uses an engine like the Cry engine is still resorting to "steal ideas from Valve." Have they learned nothing from Insomniac games!

I'm sorry but I'm afraid I don't understand that last statement. Are you talking about what Yahtzee said in his Resistance 3 review because that was a joke. Sorry but that just stood out to me

This was a great article. As I was reading I was thinking that it's like the intro to any modern FF game, then he started talking about Final Fantasy XIII, I literally laughed out loud. No matter how cool a scene looks, if you have no connection to what is going on it's not interesting. I return to the opening scene of Final Fantasy XIII-2. Lightning and some guy fighting, but even knowing who Lightning is, I couldn't bring myself to give a damn because it's a completely alien environment and you have no idea why they are fighting. They just are. And it literally just didn't matter at all at that point what happened next because I knew it was going to be leading to just more questions.

RTK1576:
All I want to say is this: where was this analysis when Crysis 2 pulled the same thing?

I may be the only person out there who cares that Crysis ended with the alien-invasion plot ball still being juggled and our heroes heading back into the thick of it when the sequel abruptly jumps us to New York City. Seriously, THERE IS NO RESOLUTION. There is a comic that supplies the link between games (and does it badly, in my opinion)... and you know what? THAT'S NOT OKAY. I shouldn't have to buy alternative media just to get a frickin' complete story.

So, again, Yahtzee, why did you give Crysis 2 a pass on this, but decide to press the issue on Crysis 3 when they're guilty of the same sin?

I would think that Crysis 2 would get a pass on same grounds that Halflife 2 got a pass. It had been years since the first game came out, it was taken from a perspective of someone who didn't really know what was going on (least of all about Nanosuits) and I would argue that it was a reasonable jump. The first game ended on a cliffhanger and the threat was only just begun. This one takes place a full 24 years later, the aliens are gone, but not, Prophet is talking about the existence of something that everyone else denies (the Alpha Seph) and he is on a completely different page than the entire rest of the characters. It was a way way way bigger jump than the previous jump. And all the while there was nothing to explain what had happened in that time. It was fail.

I think tomb raider did the "in the middle" thing well....its not "quite" in the middle but it does skip around in the intro

I like the aproach with the Video camera thing

Therumancer:
for the modern audience he's actually become kind of "deep" and characters like Alcatraz didn't seem to go over well with the new mainstream. "Crysis 3" and other games of their ilk, setting out to cater to the mainstream, and that means things like "spoiling" their own plot twist early, in order to have it covered multiple times, so your typical mainstream gamer is likely to get it, since a lot of these guys are liable to space out during the actual plot events, abort the cinematcs, etc... and they sort of still want these guys to know what they are doing. Especially seeing as these plots are partially what justies video game shooters and their ilk to media critics.... the gamer himself just wants to shoot stuff and watch pretty enviromental destruction.

if they dont care about plot then why bother imsplifying it down so they get it?

I mean look if you dont have the patience to pay attention to exposition/dialouge then you don;t deserve a fucking story

Vault101:

Therumancer:
for the modern audience he's actually become kind of "deep" and characters like Alcatraz didn't seem to go over well with the new mainstream. "Crysis 3" and other games of their ilk, setting out to cater to the mainstream, and that means things like "spoiling" their own plot twist early, in order to have it covered multiple times, so your typical mainstream gamer is likely to get it, since a lot of these guys are liable to space out during the actual plot events, abort the cinematcs, etc... and they sort of still want these guys to know what they are doing. Especially seeing as these plots are partially what justies video game shooters and their ilk to media critics.... the gamer himself just wants to shoot stuff and watch pretty enviromental destruction.

if they dont care about plot then why bother imsplifying it down so they get it?

I mean look if you dont have the patience to pay attention to exposition/dialouge then you don;t deserve a fucking story

I think on a lot of levels the devs keep doing it because they feel they sort of have to make the attempt, that and as I pointed out, the plotline and context is something that can be used to justify the game if it's criticized.

I also think that these lame attempts at storytelling allow people to try and justify their own involvement in playing the games. To someone hammering through Crysis 3 they at least know the story is there, and even if it was horribly done and described several differant ways, they at least on some levels know there was an alleged "plot twist". It's truely horrible for real gamers, or people like Yahtzee who have been doing the critic thing for long enough where they have seen tons of games good and bad, but to the undiscriminating audience playing the game, it doesn't really matter.

That's all a rather mixed bag of statements, but I pretty much agree with your sentiment that the people who play these games don't deserve the effort being made. To be honest I don't think your average "shooter" player would notice if the storyline was entirely removed from most games. On some levels it's like kids playing old video game machines, there was no storyline behind "Elevator Action" for example, all it was is dropping into a building, shooting a bunch of dudes, and exiting through the door at the bottom where your car takes off, before you do the same thing again. We pretty much developed all of this really great technology and the abillity to tell stories, largely driven by the serious gamers who once dominated the hobby, but in the end it all fell through the cracks beause at the end of the day the money is with the lowest common human denominator on the level of those people who were popping coins into slots long before anyone even seriously considered having a story behind a very basic framework.

The number of people who actually care about the Crysis storyline being bunk are probably few and far between. Consider right now the big "market" is on multiplayer, where it's the story modes and single player that is increasingly being tacked on, at least when it comes to this genere. Look at say Total Biscuit's review of "Medal Of Honor: Warfighter", and the very valid question of who that craptastic single player campaign was aimed at. With Crysis the core audience is likewise not really someone who is interested in the story, but someone who just wants to play with a bunch of destructive toys. The game isn't so much about aliens or the plotline, as much as about having superman powers and tormenting "enemies" that are almost entirely at your mercy. Even with the original Crysis they pointed out it was kind of an easy shooter if you played it "straight" but that defeated the purpose of what they created. As Yahtzee pointed out in his video review, our big "development" for Crysis 3 is complete nonsense... the abillity to stick enemies to walls with pointy spears of death because that's fun to do for the core audience of these games. When the big innovation is as Yahtzee points out, to give your super-future soldier a bow and arrow, that kind of says a lot about what your dealing with and how they are just dialing in the plot on the way to servicing a specific kind of player.

I'm not a big shooter player, but let me also put it to you this way, how many people have you generally ever seen talk about the plot of Crysis 1 or 2 that weren't either serious nerds or involved in the industry, looking at the game critically? Mostly you hear people talk about how awesome they were in finding ways to kill specific enemy set ups. Really, I've probably heard more from Yahtzee and critics about Alcatraz, Prophet, etc... than I have from players who have talked about it, and this is a game with three installments.

Therumancer:
In a world like this wouldn't it be nice if there was hope, a culture that at least held ideas of peace, democracy, and co-existance, criticized what was going on through it's media to spread ideas, and occasionally stepped in to at least try and do the right thing and curtail some of this? Maybe more than one would be ideal something like oh... the US and UK, wait they exist.

Peace, democracy and co-existence? The US and UK? Bahahaha! That's hilarious. Maybe if, say, Sweden, and Finland, and the one or two other countries that actually value compassion, peace, happiness, and the more positive aspects of human existence had the chance to spread their culture around a bit that might help. But a great deal of the current problems around the world are a direct result of the US and the UK spreading their cultural ideas about. Ideas like "It's perfectly fine to murder and pillage, and we will even give you weapons and political support to help out, so long as we can point you at our own enemies too".

I actually think Half Life 2's story was over rated.

Therumancer:
The point being that we in the first world tend not to look at how messed up the rest of the world is. South of the US Border is full of tyrants, despots, death cults, and battles between third world gueriellas and warlords. There are some nations doing okay, but even some of the big ones like Mexico are barely holding on. Africa is full of warlords, drug kinpins, human traffickers, and constant revolutions with maniacs attempting to overthrow other maniacs, when even the "heroes" of the region like Nelson Mandela get in trouble for running death squads (well allegedly he claims they belong to his wife if I remember). In The Middle East, we not only have hardcore bans against showing affection or comfort to half of the population (women, and guess how much of a psychological benefit that has) but women being killed for not marrying their rapists, factional religious and political warfare with Muslims doing things like attacking embassies and burning down areas of cities where non-Muslims live, racism against westerners and Jews, and oh yes... increasing nuclear ambitions. In the far east we have Korea periodically threatening to attack the US and it's neighbors, while also threatening to nuke everyone, and slowly building up the technology to do so, and don't even get me started on China which is pretty much the "Evil Empire" for the new generation.

In a world like this wouldn't it be nice if there was hope, a culture that at least held ideas of peace, democracy, and co-existance, criticized what was going on through it's media to spread ideas, and occasionally stepped in to at least try and do the right thing and curtail some of this? Maybe more than one would be ideal something like oh... the US and UK, wait they exist.

Let me tell you something: US and UK are not just doing charity. They go in, do whatever is convenient for them under the pretense of establishing "democracy" and then fuck off when things go hairy. Why exactly do you think did USA never go on a democracy rampage in Africa?

For one, it's damn expensive, impossible to fight off every single warlord and second USA only goes to those countries, that got oil and resources. Every country has its own interests in mind first, and that includes America, and they want to establish a secure supply of oil by gaining connections and a preferred status.

It is a pretty naive idea, that any country - be it USA, UK or China - can fix the problems of the world if only those ignorant meanies would let them.

I am merely throwing my 5 cents here before I leave this thread forever. Not getting into a discussion about politics round here.

Sadly, the trend to sprinkle exposition over a game via documents, audio logs, etc. is only on the rise.
Like, in what world does it not make sense to make everything a freaking easter egg hunt when you have to have 50 (?) mandatory achievements in your game on launch day?
This "Oh, they will LOVE to do all that extra work if we give them an achievement."-theory that is perpetuated by companies like Microsoft (Valve, maybe?) is only going to make this worse. Sometimes you get achievements for just watching a cut scene, picking up a weapon, "Left the house", and so on. Easy achievements to get you hungry for more.
An example of how to do it well would be Aliens: Colonial Marines.
Do you know why that is? Because that game looks like it is 2008, and so, maybe, the narrative structure has been lifted from far better games.
You have exposition during mission (radio), in cut scenes (film), and as audio logs, strewn across the level.
You can experience the story while playing the game normally, or you can go hunting and find some extra titbits.
Now, the story is shit, riddled with plot-holes and logic bugs, the gameplay in between is boring, etc.
But the structure is there - so whoever made the initial plot layout, constructed what was to go where, did a good job.
Later on, some incompetent bastard got a hold of that work and fucked over Aliens so hard, as if, instead of "a team of fans" they were a team of Xeno-phobes (if you pardon the pun).
I especially liked when an audio file told me that the entire Way-Yun facility was set up with one power generator only, with no back-up. Like, what? Most dangerous species in the universe, the secrets of an alien spaceship to unlock, hundreds of people commited, but you go cheap when it comes to a poxy power module? In a sci-fi setting?
But I got an achievement progress for found documents.
So I guess the logic and the continuity of Aliens can go out the window, right?

kenu12345:

Darth_Payn:
It's funny how a game series that uses an engine like the Cry engine is still resorting to "steal ideas from Valve." Have they learned nothing from Insomniac games!

I'm sorry but I'm afraid I don't understand that last statement. Are you talking about what Yahtzee said in his Resistance 3 review because that was a joke. Sorry but that just stood out to me

And I'm building on the joke by accusing Crytek of the same thing, because more than once Yahtzee pointed out how innovation nowadays equals "do what Valve did years ago."

Therumancer:
Welcome to the world of the politically correct, a world which incidently people like Yahtzee for all of their caustic venom helped to create with all of their ranting about the choices of video game villains being bigoted and such. Things get increasingly generic because of a concern that they are going to offend anyone, and that even aliens and zombies will be taken as some kind of politically offensive metaphor. Things increasingly need to be kept bland and uninspired and that means tacking on what little exposition there is and hoping it gets lost behind the flash. To avoid complaints increasing numbers of game designers want to gloss over why the characters are fighting, especially in the context of real world or near-future settings.... there are still exceptions, but the trend has become kind of obvious.

Let me put it to you this way, just today I was reading an article about how a certain Muslim leader from a nation with nuclear ambitions was getting in trouble for his people because he dared to hug a grieving widow at a funeral. This was at Victor Chavez's funeral incidently, who was himself a crazy despot who liked to rant about things like American earthquake machines and managed to get himself on our "people we'd really like to see die" list for decades. The whole thing being kind of like Ras Al Ghul comforting Mercy Graves at a funeral for Lex Luthor when you get down to it.

The point being that we in the first world tend not to look at how messed up the rest of the world is. South of the US Border is full of tyrants, despots, death cults, and battles between third world gueriellas and warlords. There are some nations doing okay, but even some of the big ones like Mexico are barely holding on. Africa is full of warlords, drug kinpins, human traffickers, and constant revolutions with maniacs attempting to overthrow other maniacs, when even the "heroes" of the region like Nelson Mandela get in trouble for running death squads (well allegedly he claims they belong to his wife if I remember). In The Middle East, we not only have hardcore bans against showing affection or comfort to half of the population (women, and guess how much of a psychological benefit that has) but women being killed for not marrying their rapists, factional religious and political warfare with Muslims doing things like attacking embassies and burning down areas of cities where non-Muslims live, racism against westerners and Jews, and oh yes... increasing nuclear ambitions. In the far east we have Korea periodically threatening to attack the US and it's neighbors, while also threatening to nuke everyone, and slowly building up the technology to do so, and don't even get me started on China which is pretty much the "Evil Empire" for the new generation.
In a world like this wouldn't it be nice if there was hope, a culture that at least held ideas of peace, democracy, and co-existance, criticized what was going on through it's media to spread ideas, and occasionally stepped in to at least try and do the right thing and curtail some of this? Maybe more than one would be ideal something like oh... the US and UK, wait they exist.

The problem here is that for all of this ranting, you start doing video games either based directly on what's going on, or using analogies to them, and people freak out. Yahtzee for example loves to crack jokes about how we have some straight laced American or European fighting a bunch of people who represent a minority prescence IN the US or Europe (which is ironic given that globally whites are perhaps the smallest minority there is). While Yahtzee doesn't go off about indirect analogies, a lot of people DO and it gets attention. There are only so many times someone can do a game based around misguided liberal hang wringing, and trying to be inwardly focused rather that criticizing the crap a lot of these cultures do that generated the anger that lead to things like "The War On Terror". I mean it's nice to be critical of "Dubbya" but at the same time it's hard to really be sympathetic of a culture that freaks out over a hug
at a funeral, or stones women to death for refusing to marry those that rape them.

Sorry, but what are you trying to say? Is your claim that developers avoid actual storytelling because they don't want to accidentally make some politically incorrect reference to the real world? If so, I don't really see the necessity of a incredibly lengthy rant about how the third world is evil and the wonderful democracy-loving US and UK (both of which played a part historically in much of the fucked-upness of the rest of the world) are benevolently trying to save it. From my perspective, and correct me if I'm wrong, it seems that you just wanted an excuse to rant about political correctness and how the third world sucks, both of which are hardly relevant to the subject at hand (exposition).

Plenty of games have had "third world" enemies. Call of Duty does it every time; the Russian ultranationalist thing might be more politically acceptable now that the Cold War is over, but they certainly don't shy away from having Middle Eastern nutjobs trying to destroy the world, not to mention the Chinese. ARMA 3 has an Iranian invasion of Europe. Homefront has the North Koreans invade America. Hell, even the first Crysis used North Korea as the human antagonists. Developers have been using "minorities" as enemies for years. It's not a fear of political incorrectness that's to blame for Crysis 3's lack of exposition.

In fact, Crysis 3 already has two perfectly political correct enemies as the antagonists: aliens and corporate mercenaries (who have somehow taken over the world). They have no excuse not to tell a story. Unless you think they were vague on purpose for fear of offending Goldman Sachs, or Exxon, or GE?

Therumancer:

I'll also say that one of the problems with building unrealities is that the modern "FPS" reared gamer doesn't have the patience for it. The casual market just isn't able to handle very complicated buildings of alternate realities which is why they tend to fail when they occur. A lot of the biggest examples of world building for computer games happend for the "real" gamers who were around decades ago, the gradual definition of the world of "Planescape" in the video game (which was done successfully even for those that didn't play the PnP version), the depth (especially for the time) of Lord British's "Ultima" series which was build gradually through books and dialogue with scores of NPCs, as well as sitting down and translating runes in certain places, etc...

The problem is that people used to complain about the MTV generation, and it's "buzz clips" and "factoids", today the mainstream, which is what the gaming industry caters to far more than it used to with the so called "core", "real", or genuine "hardcore" gamer being a minority "side audience" that is gradually turning away from gaming due to neglect (even companies seem to be noticing the falloff of core gamers), comes accross as a group of comparitive ADHD cases with no patience to read anything, and frustration in many cases over things as simple as NPC dialogue or exposition through expensive multi-million dollar cinematics. This is also a problem with storytelling. To be honest Yahtzee has been very intolerant of exposition and world building unless it happens gradually enough as part of gameplay to barely be noticed (or so it seems), having hated on things like say "The Witcher" pretty hardcore, but to be honest I think part of the problem was that for the modern audience he's actually become kind of "deep" and characters like Alcatraz didn't seem to go over well with the new mainstream. "Crysis 3" and other games of their ilk, setting out to cater to the mainstream, and that means things like "spoiling" their own plot twist early, in order to have it covered multiple times, so your typical mainstream gamer is likely to get it, since a lot of these guys are liable to space out during the actual plot events, abort the cinematcs, etc... and they sort of still want these guys to know what they are doing. Especially seeing as these plots are partially what justies video game shooters and their ilk to media critics.... the gamer himself just wants to shoot stuff and watch pretty enviromental destruction.

Apologies for length, unknown if anyone will read or appreciate this, but these are my thoughts.

Eh, I see your point, but imo those points aren't relevant to Crysis 3. The game just doesn't really bother to tell you shit. I'm not talking about unraveling the Nameless One's story in Planescape Torment; Crysis 3's storytelling makes the Modern Warfare series seem like Booker-prize quality literature in comparison. Between Crysis 2 and 3, the bad humans (CELL) have taken over the world despite getting their teeth kicked in and pretty much being declared an enemy of the state in Crysis 2, and the game doesn't even bother to tell you how, except for the most threadbare mention that they took over all the alien artifacts and control the world's energy (despite the fact that it was the US Marines who had the dominant human presence in New York by the end of Crysis 2, not CELL). How they managed to avoid bankruptcy / criminal charges against their CEOs is beyond me. Corporations get away with a lot, but an act of war against the US? Probably not. At the very least, the game could have put some exposition in the loading screens, as many of today's action shooters do.

Your complaints about mainstream gamers not appreciating plot (and more specifically, world-building) and its effect on the industry aren't inaccurate, but Crysis 3's exposition falls flat even by the FPS industry's low standards. It just doesn't put any effort into explaining things to the gamer at all.

As for the plot twist thing, I don't really see how it would help for Crysis 3 to spoil its twist in the optional collectible documents; if it wanted the mainstream gamers to figure out what was going on, there's no point in putting the plot in documents that they wouldn't read anyway (hell, even I didn't want to read them after awhile...the documents aren't exactly compelling. This isn't exactly Bioshock-level material).

RTK1576:
All I want to say is this: where was this analysis when Crysis 2 pulled the same thing?

I may be the only person out there who cares that Crysis ended with the alien-invasion plot ball still being juggled and our heroes heading back into the thick of it when the sequel abruptly jumps us to New York City. Seriously, THERE IS NO RESOLUTION. There is a comic that supplies the link between games (and does it badly, in my opinion)... and you know what? THAT'S NOT OKAY. I shouldn't have to buy alternative media just to get a frickin' complete story.

So, again, Yahtzee, why did you give Crysis 2 a pass on this, but decide to press the issue on Crysis 3 when they're guilty of the same sin?

"I would think that Crysis 2 would get a pass on same grounds that Halflife 2 got a pass. It had been years since the first game came out, it was taken from a perspective of someone who didn't really know what was going on (least of all about Nanosuits) and I would argue that it was a reasonable jump. The first game ended on a cliffhanger and the threat was only just begun. This one takes place a full 24 years later, the aliens are gone, but not, Prophet is talking about the existence of something that everyone else denies (the Alpha Seph) and he is on a completely different page than the entire rest of the characters. It was a way way way bigger jump than the previous jump. And all the while there was nothing to explain what had happened in that time. It was fail.[/quote]"

I can't agree. First off, the protagonist in Half-life 2, Gordon Freeman, gets transported to the future, so he's in our boat - lost on what has happened with the world. As he learns, so do we. Not to mention that Half-Life ended fairly conclusively, unlike Crysis. But in Crysis 2, we NEVER learn how things were resolved in the first game. All we know is that Prophet survived and that the alien outbreak was resolved. We were also supposed to take for granted that the aliens in Crysis were the same ones in Crysis 2, despite the fact that they're using completely different weapons and technology.

Crysis 3 did to Crysis 2's story what Crysis 2 did to Crysis. EA has shown it doesn't care about story continuity. My argument is that Yahtzee should have been complaining about this one game earlier.

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