Body Talk: The Best Stories are Built on a Pile of Corpses

Body Talk: The Best Stories are Built on a Pile of Corpses

Sometimes the scenery in a game tells a better story than the game itself. Sometimes that scenery is a corpse.

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Heard about this article from the Podcat. :) I was not disappointed.

Really like these little stories in games like Bioshock, The Last of Us, Fallout, and Skyrim. They really make the world feel more natural.

That said, :( I wish we got to come in and save people more often, instead of just finding out how they died.

They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

... they are coming.

Imp Emissary:
Heard about this article from the Podcat. :) I was not disappointed.

Really like these little stories in games like Bioshock, The Last of Us, Fallout, and Skyrim. They really make the world feel more natural.

That said, :( I wish we got to come in and save people more often, instead of just finding out how they died.

Me to, but there is at least one quest in Skyrim where you can save someone just in time. If you play it right that is.

DVS BSTrD:
They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

... they are coming.

Imp Emissary:
Heard about this article from the Podcat. :) I was not disappointed.

Really like these little stories in games like Bioshock, The Last of Us, Fallout, and Skyrim. They really make the world feel more natural.

That said, :( I wish we got to come in and save people more often, instead of just finding out how they died.

Me to, but there is at least one quest in Skyrim where you can save someone just in time. If you play it right that is.

Yeah, there were a few. Like that one were you can heal a injured hunter near Falkreath, and then help him kill the bears and spriggans that attacked his hunting party. Heck, there was even one where you were able to save a friendly spriggan from a hagraven den.

But most of the time, you're just too late.

I liked the feel of the world in dishonoured and the stories told by the deceased played a big part in that.

What completely killed my immersion was the BS none lethal take downs. Maybe the darts could work (although all sedatives work on a mg/kg dosage so youd have to draw up vials after guessing the weight, converting it to kg then multiplying by mgs recommended. Guessing wrong would mean it doesnt work or killing them). The take downs are magic though. If i choke someone unconcious and they dont wake up after a minute or 2 then ive probably killed them.

So to do it to 15 guards, leaving some asleep for 20 minutes, in a level killed any belief I had in the world. There was no need for that game mechanic.

I love the way this works in STALKER. Since the majority of the corpses in the world appear during the player's playthrough, all of them dying whilst in actual action, it always made it even more real. That torn up squad of bandits over there? The weapons are still intact and they werent looted, some of them have been obviously been moved from where they have died, which means something. There is blood in the grass, so it happened soon. If no one looted them, yet the bodies were moved, this only means a mutant killed them. A powerful one. And it is still nearby.
Just another instance of good AI doing wonders I guess.

I don't know if I agree.

I know the very scene you're talking about. It's at about the 8 minute point of this video. I indeed pieced together the story of the scene, but at that point all it really evoked was a shrug. Yeah, I get it, people are dying here. There's a plague, in case you haven't noticed. There's wagons full of bodies in the streets. When I first arrived there was two guards chucking bodies off a bridge into a barge full of bodies below. So I've just stumbled across another room full of bodies, complete with diary? I wasn't moved. I was wondering what was in their pockets.

So I'm going to just drop this counterpoint: bodies are massively overused. Silly bodies are bloody everywhere these days. The stories might have been interesting were it not for that. We used to joke about how FPS were full of crates. We might as well start joking how FPS are full of bodies now.

DVS BSTrD:
They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

Dragon Age Origins, right?

E-Penguin:

DVS BSTrD:
They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

Dragon Age Origins, right?

Lord of the Rings, actually, when they're reading the journal of the dead dwarf in Moria (probably misspelled that).

RJ 17:

E-Penguin:

DVS BSTrD:
They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

Dragon Age Origins, right?

Lord of the Rings, actually, when they're reading the journal of the dead dwarf in Moria (probably misspelled that).

Oh ok, It's been far too long since I've read the books or watched the movies, it reminded me of something I found in the Deep Roads once.

E-Penguin:

RJ 17:

E-Penguin:

Dragon Age Origins, right?

Lord of the Rings, actually, when they're reading the journal of the dead dwarf in Moria (probably misspelled that).

Oh ok, It's been far too long since I've read the books or watched the movies, it reminded me of something I found in the Deep Roads once.

I actually know exactly what you're talking about (though I forget specifically what it said in DA:O), because I actually second-guessed myself right after responding to you. There is indeed something in DA:O that sounds very similar to that line, so I'd imagine it was some sort of homage to LotR. But I have confirmed via IMDB that it's a LotR quote.

DVS BSTrD:
They have taken the bridge and the second hall.
We have barred the gates but cannot hold them for long.
The ground shakes, drums... drums in the deep.
We cannot get out.
A shadow lurks in the dark.
We cannot get out

... they are coming.

Ha, it's actually funny you should mention that. I very nearly referenced that scene in this piece - it's pretty much exactly how bodies are used most of the time in games, and it's a really effective way of building tension and the idea of A Bad Thing Cometh. It's kind of what's going in the first two examples here, but I think the Skyrim one actually goes a step beyond...

Charcharo:
I love the way this works in STALKER. Since the majority of the corpses in the world appear during the player's playthrough, all of them dying whilst in actual action, it always made it even more real. That torn up squad of bandits over there? The weapons are still intact and they werent looted, some of them have been obviously been moved from where they have died, which means something. There is blood in the grass, so it happened soon. If no one looted them, yet the bodies were moved, this only means a mutant killed them. A powerful one. And it is still nearby.
Just another instance of good AI doing wonders I guess.

So in this case, are the bodies just a procedural result of the world going about its business? (I own STALKER, but it's failed to get on with every computer I've owned since buying it, so I'm not very familiar with its ins and outs.) That's really interesting.

Again, it's something I nearly touched on in the feature. There were a couple of times in Skyrim - and it was something initially promised by BioShock, actually, but never really delivered on - where I'd hear a fight going on over a hill, and by the time I got there, it would just be two corpses still clutching their weapons. But I decided it was a slightly different issue - in that it's not an authored story being presented, but proof that the world extends beyond your immediate surroudings - and, y'know, word count.

geldonyetich:
I don't know if I agree.

I know the very scene you're talking about. It's at about the 8 minute point of this video. I indeed pieced together the story of the scene, but at that point all it really evoked was a shrug. Yeah, I get it, people are dying here. There's a plague, in case you haven't noticed. There's wagons full of bodies in the streets. When I first arrived there was two guards chucking bodies off a bridge into a barge full of bodies below. So I've just stumbled across another room full of bodies, complete with diary? I wasn't moved. I was wondering what was in their pockets.

So I'm going to just drop this counterpoint: bodies are massively overused. Silly bodies are bloody everywhere these days. The stories might have been interesting were it not for that. We used to joke about how FPS were full of crates. We might as well start joking how FPS are full of bodies now.

Time to Corpse? :0)
(http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/39.html, for anyone who's not familiar)

I think you've got a point, but... well:
a) With these three examples, I was hoping to kind of build on the complexity. The Dishonored family is a very by-the-numbers way of doing this, but the second Skyrim example actually relies on the player to do some of the mental work, and for that had more of an effect on me.
b) Personally, I've always been this way inclined. I remember playing some rubbish post-Doom shooter as a kid, and spending most of the time looking at the pixellated engravings on the walls and wondering what kind of culture produced them. And then gleefully plowing through the remnants of that culture with my minigun. You can choose to let that stuff sink in, or just ignore it, in a way that's not really an option in, say, film.

Fallout really utilised that trope to a great effect. So many stories (both with and without notes or audio logs) shown and told through corpses or remains.

A skeleton with a fedora curled in a fridge (even though Reel Physics proved Indiana COULD survive that), a family sitting around a park table, their lunch scattered and burnt on the ground. So many houses with corpses lying in their beds, often with drugs sitting on the bedside table. Finding the corpse of the ex-military guy who helped the tribe in the Honest Hearts add-on and piecing his story together was heart-wrenching.

Alex Spencer:

DVS BSTrD:
[b]

... they are coming.

Charcharo:
I love the way this works in STALKER. Since the majority of the corpses in the world appear during the player's playthrough, all of them dying whilst in actual action, it always made it even more real. That torn up squad of bandits over there? The weapons are still intact and they werent looted, some of them have been obviously been moved from where they have died, which means something. There is blood in the grass, so it happened soon. If no one looted them, yet the bodies were moved, this only means a mutant killed them. A powerful one. And it is still nearby.
Just another instance of good AI doing wonders I guess.

So in this case, are the bodies just a procedural result of the world going about its business? (I own STALKER, but it's failed to get on with every computer I've owned since buying it, so I'm not very familiar with its ins and outs.) That's really interesting.

Again, it's something I nearly touched on in the feature. There were a couple of times in Skyrim - and it was something initially promised by BioShock, actually, but never really delivered on - where I'd hear a fight going on over a hill, and by the time I got there, it would just be two corpses still clutching their weapons. But I decided it was a slightly different issue - in that it's not an authored story being presented, but proof that the world extends beyond your immediate surroudings - and, y'know, word count.

Time to Corpse? :0)
(http://www.oldmanmurray.com/features/39.html, for anyone who's not familiar)

.

Well, yes it is an actual part of the AI simulation. And it aint scripted at all (in Skyrim's case it is half-scripted, not a feature of the AI but it can happen at random. A decent, but not as good way).

Basically AI in STALKER move and live and die without you being involved. This goes for Shadow of Chernobyl, Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat, though the latter two (CS and CoP) are more refined and free-formed examples of this.
Here, see this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=6_KHvJ4qFZM

Alex Spencer:

Charcharo:
I love the way this works in STALKER. Since the majority of the corpses in the world appear during the player's playthrough, all of them dying whilst in actual action, it always made it even more real. That torn up squad of bandits over there? The weapons are still intact and they werent looted, some of them have been obviously been moved from where they have died, which means something. There is blood in the grass, so it happened soon. If no one looted them, yet the bodies were moved, this only means a mutant killed them. A powerful one. And it is still nearby.
Just another instance of good AI doing wonders I guess.

So in this case, are the bodies just a procedural result of the world going about its business? (I own STALKER, but it's failed to get on with every computer I've owned since buying it, so I'm not very familiar with its ins and outs.) That's really interesting.

STALKER was precisely the game I thought of while working with this piece. It's a strange duck, because every body you find has a story that you know actually happened while you were playing the game. That bandit was killed by something for sure. That mutant died to gunshots from those stalkers you find over in the town that's barely visible from here.

But sometimes you find a corpse and you don't know what happened at all, and you can't puzzle it out. That's the best part, I think.

JonB:

Alex Spencer:

Charcharo:
I love the way this works in STALKER. Since the majority of the corpses in the world appear during the player's playthrough, all of them dying whilst in actual action, it always made it even more real. That torn up squad of bandits over there? The weapons are still intact and they werent looted, some of them have been obviously been moved from where they have died, which means something. There is blood in the grass, so it happened soon. If no one looted them, yet the bodies were moved, this only means a mutant killed them. A powerful one. And it is still nearby.
Just another instance of good AI doing wonders I guess.

So in this case, are the bodies just a procedural result of the world going about its business? (I own STALKER, but it's failed to get on with every computer I've owned since buying it, so I'm not very familiar with its ins and outs.) That's really interesting.

STALKER was precisely the game I thought of while working with this piece. It's a strange duck, because every body you find has a story that you know actually happened while you were playing the game. That bandit was killed by something for sure. That mutant died to gunshots from those stalkers you find over in the town that's barely visible from here.

But sometimes you find a corpse and you don't know what happened at all, and you can't puzzle it out. That's the best part, I think.

This in istelf also enhances the few corpses that actually were scripted to be in the gam.e It just feels... more authentic I guess.
Anyways, I love that game.
*Cries histrically over the fate of STALKER 2...*

Again; a bit too many excerpts from modern games, as if the dead weren't telling their stories way earlier. I know that many players haven't played every game that came in early or mid 90's, but in those days dead people were used to tell stories that primitive living NPCs couldn't:

For example, the first System Shock (1994) had voiced audio logs and live messages, but the NPCs got killed off before players could reach them. There's little more unnerving feeling that one's coming minutes too late to help them.

Also, searching a certain dead body (with a vague description from an audio log) to use its decapitated head to use it on a retinal scanner - and that's in a game from '94 - was something mindblowing even on today's "five meters to your left" -object marker era! But, because BioShocks and Dishonored are more resent games, they are more often lifted as best examples of storytelling. And I find it a bit sad.

 

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