Death and tension.

In many games I've played, the threat to lose is simply not there. When I'm packing around my band of nutty and wacky adventurers, I find that my group keeps getting bigger, and none of them are dying. This goes for the main character as well, or for the sake of argument, the character I'm playing. He is never in danger! By this I mean, simply, that I almost never enter a scenario where I think something big is going to happen.

Now excuse me if I sound cross, but on many games I play, something "big" may happen, but we all know who is going to win in the end and everything is going to be fine. How the great and mighty hero will vanquish evil and save the world. Sometimes the hero or one of his pals will die in the process, but generally, everyone gets out free of charge. Sometimes, all the heroes die, but the people get out okay so it's all good.

What I want to see is a possibility of failure besides just dieing and getting a game over. I want to see that if your characters didn't shape up and do things right, that You lose and the world is a worse place because you failed. I want to play a game where I want to save the world, not because that is what is necessary to get the "Thanks for playing" screen, but because I want to see if I can actually pull it together and become victorious, instead of losing with the base consequence of starting at my last save point.

I say these things because without the threat of death in an adventure, action, or any other game that uses violence to forward the story, that the tension is gone because we don't have the threat of win or die, just win or try again.

What I want to know is, am I wrong for wanting these things? I think not. What about you?

Has a funny feeling that this is a ME3 thread in disguise.....

Doesn't that apply to 90% of all fiction ever?

Also, how would this theoretical game of yours distinguish between a successful and unsuccessful playthrough?

If it's based on choice then that would involve making the game unwinnable if a player makes the "wrong" choice. Of course, you wouldn't tell them which choice is the right one because then everyone would choose it. So you'd essentially be screwing them over on the basis of a coin toss.

Incidentally, Heavy Rain tried something along the lines of what you seem to be talking about. Results were mixed.

No, you're not wrong in your reasoning. I don't share your reasoning in the slightest, but I don't think that's enough for me to call you wrong. If I'm able to feel tension reading a book, I don't see why a game with a predetermined storyline would strike me, personally, as different.

Besides, if I want a game that demonstrates what you're talking about, I'll play a visual novel. Dodge right instead of left? Choose a wrong answer? Congratulations, your girlfriend threw herself off the roof and you're the target of ostracism and abuse forevermore, or until you do the same thing.

What I do know is that nobody really wants the "Steel Battalion" scenario where the game deletes your save file when you die. Last mission and you died? Tough luck buddy, play through the whole game again.

But with all that automatic saving and checkpoints these days EVERYBODY is used to frequently reloading the game. For the slightest reason, cuz they can. Did a conversation not pan out properly? Reload. Was the random bonus/ loot not high enough or not of the type you were aiming for? Reload.

Basically, in games, players often want free reign in accepting the consequences of their actions...otherwise they don't feel in control.

I think if a game does its job, it should be able to simulate tension and consequences without having to have all these negative endings. If you are talking more about just game difficulty, I do agree that games are way too easy nowadays.

My point to all this was that after the decisions have been made to do the thing you want, but you fail, the game continues in a world were you failed said mission and living with the consequences as you try to fix everything. You don't automatically fail the mission, you just fail if you weren't good enough to succeed, and move on. Seeing a world were you live with your victories and losses could be pretty interesting to see.

SuperBelkar:
My point to all this was that after the decisions have been made to do the thing you want, but you fail, the game continues in a world were you failed said mission and living with the consequences as you try to fix everything. You don't automatically fail the mission, you just fail if you weren't good enough to succeed, and move on. Seeing a world were you live with your victories and losses could be pretty interesting to see.

Sounds like you're describing something like Crusader Kings 2.

Alternately, roguelikes. The consequences for "losing" (and what defines "losing") are pretty free-form. Since they tend to have resource-management mechanics, a fight in which you survive but burn a significant amount of resources is going to weaken you or put you on the defensive for a while. They're most well-known for the unforgiving death state (if your @ dies, it's dead) but it's also interesting how consequences for battles carry over to other battles in ways beyond XP and loot.

Part of the reason this works so well is that in a different type of game, if you burn more resources than you want, you'd just reload.

God, I remember every final mission of Mass Effect 2 that I ever do. Even if everyone is loyal and you have all the upgrades and do everything right the fact that the RNG can still kill anybody is really tense. Love it.

Zhukov:
Doesn't that apply to 90% of all fiction ever?

No, it doesn't. The happy ending is a feature of almost all poorly-written sci-fi and fantasy, but you rarely see it in actual literature. This is because the purpose of real literature is to explore the human condition, and not simply entertain; it's hard to do so when everything always turns out right.

I would recommend rouge-like games, OP, if you want that kind of tension. Otherwise, on a level-to-level basis, I like playing some games with a rule that I can't save or restart no matter what happens. With stealth games or RTS's, it really ramps up the tension quite a bit. Oftentimes I've experienced my best gaming moments after the point where I probably would have just reloaded.

SuperBelkar:
In many games I've played, the threat to lose is simply not there. When I'm packing around my band of nutty and wacky adventurers, I find that my group keeps getting bigger, and none of them are dying. This goes for the main character as well, or for the sake of argument, the character I'm playing. He is never in danger! By this I mean, simply, that I almost never enter a scenario where I think something big is going to happen.

Now excuse me if I sound cross, but on many games I play, something "big" may happen, but we all know who is going to win in the end and everything is going to be fine. How the great and mighty hero will vanquish evil and save the world. Sometimes the hero or one of his pals will die in the process, but generally, everyone gets out free of charge. Sometimes, all the heroes die, but the people get out okay so it's all good.

What I want to see is a possibility of failure besides just dieing and getting a game over. I want to see that if your characters didn't shape up and do things right, that You lose and the world is a worse place because you failed. I want to play a game where I want to save the world, not because that is what is necessary to get the "Thanks for playing" screen, but because I want to see if I can actually pull it together and become victorious, instead of losing with the base consequence of starting at my last save point.

I say these things because without the threat of death in an adventure, action, or any other game that uses violence to forward the story, that the tension is gone because we don't have the threat of win or die, just win or try again.

What I want to know is, am I wrong for wanting these things? I think not. What about you?

Play a Fire Emblem game, a game where if you fuck up, a game where if you make one bad move, you or one of your characters will probably be dead. Forever. That should add enough tension for you.

Plus, the stories for the Fire Emblem games I've played have been pretty awesome too.

Don't worry Firaxis is remaking X-Com properly, which means perma-death for soldiers.

I agree a lot of tension has gone out of games, because instead of a character dying you just have to replay a section again. Remember in Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six there was a roster of characters and when they died that was it, and when they were injured there was a recovery period? That was great, but games these days are too scared of death. Generic brown haired macho man must survive everything, because the story can only be told through one person's eyes.

A tragedy, a good one, gets defined by a sad ending in which the main character(s) usually end up dead.

I doubt you're gonna see any elaborate ending sequences in a game because you fell off a cliff in the first mission or whatever because even a tragedy has to play for a while before the death at the end can carry any actual weigth.

A story usually needs to be carried to a point called the "climax" before you set the emotional sting of either grief or joy and any interruption along the line would just ruin that in my mind. I wouldn't mind if games could fall more within the "tragedy" genre though because as of now it seems like you'll always have a happy ending to everything.

It could be i'm against it because i just don't see how it'd work, but if someone could pull it off i'd be happy to be proven wrong.

Table top RPGs with a GM who will give you a gritty game might be the way for you to go.

As a table top GM, I have to say that while the threat of death is one, very important way to keep tension high, there are other ways...there are other things to lose. Limbs, friends, assets, reputation, loved ones....all of these on the line can really also amp up the tension...but for that to work you have to have players who are really invested in their characters and the NPCs around their character.

It is a bit more difficult in computer games because players can just reload. This is why I think Mass Effect 3 did it really well...but that has also caused some of the backlash. Your choices affect outcomes...sometimes in negative ways...but so far after you made various choices, and in behind the scenes sorts of ways that you can't just reload. There were a lot of ways for your choices to result in the destruction of a particular group....but many of those choices where not telegraphed. Did you let so-and-so die in Mass Effect 1? Did you side with so-ang-so in Mass Effect 2? Did you fail to do that thing in Mass Effect 3? The cumulative effect is that this really bad thing happened and since the outcome is based in choices made over such a spread out time period, then you can't just reload. However, because the calculus is more subtle than normal, then a lot players didn't actually see the really neat ways in which y our choices could lead to bad (or good) results. Even I didn't realize the intricacy of choice and difference until I read a great article about it over at Eurogamer.

Alpha Protocol also did this...and also suffered from players not recognizing the depth of the power of their choices.

So I think that would have to be part of the trick to do what you want to well, separate the decision and the outcome by enough time that people are discouraged from reloading because they don't want to have to replay 10 hours. Also having multiple decisions involved in outcome is good. Also, not making it completely obvious what all the consequences will be until they hit you later.

The problem is, that a number of players will not enjoy a game like that. Just as there are table top players who want a heroic control fantasy because they say they don't have enough control in their real life or because life is already to depressing...many players will not appreciate not being able to force the outcome they want...even if the good ending contradicts the actions they have chosen throughout the game.

peruvianskys:

Zhukov:
Doesn't that apply to 90% of all fiction ever?

No, it doesn't. The happy ending is a feature of almost all poorly-written sci-fi and fantasy, but you rarely see it in actual literature.

What?

War and Peace
Lord of the Rings
Macbeth
The Odyssey

etc

Also, you'll notice I said "fiction", not "literature".

hazabaza1:
God, I remember every final mission of Mass Effect 2 that I ever do. Even if everyone is loyal and you have all the upgrades and do everything right the fact that the RNG can still kill anybody is really tense. Love it.

Wait, what?

There's no randomness in the suicide mission at all - if everyone's loyal, the Normandy's fully upgraded, and you do everything right, it's impossible to lose anyone. (Note that "do everything right" includes making good choices for the crew escort and the two squadmates you take into the final battle.)

And if there are non-loyal squadmates, missing ship upgrades, or bad decisions during the mission, it's entirely predictable who dies when.

Those are called bad endings, and yes they exists. The most unexpectedly horrific one is in Sonic 2 for the Game Gear.

Grygor:

hazabaza1:
God, I remember every final mission of Mass Effect 2 that I ever do. Even if everyone is loyal and you have all the upgrades and do everything right the fact that the RNG can still kill anybody is really tense. Love it.

Wait, what?

There's no randomness in the suicide mission at all - if everyone's loyal, the Normandy's fully upgraded, and you do everything right, it's impossible to lose anyone. (Note that "do everything right" includes making good choices for the crew escort and the two squadmates you take into the final battle.)

And if there are non-loyal squadmates, missing ship upgrades, or bad decisions during the mission, it's entirely predictable who dies when.

Really?
I could have sworn that I heard about a random number generator for the "Hold the line" score and the escort bits.
Well dangit, that makes it slightly less tense.

distortedreality:
Has a funny feeling that this is a ME3 thread in disguise.....

I really hope not. Although the ME series is one of a few games that sorta comes towards what he is describing but doesn't fully create it.

I think it would be a cool concept, it sounds like a lot of work but it could make a really awesome game.

I have a simple Idea that probably couldn't be applied to most games, it hit me after playing harvest moon for a while. Have it possible to fuck up and stuff but have the world just keep on keeping on. A possibility to succeed but no possibility to fail. Take for instance a game about like mountain climning or something (No not SotC that will defeat the point.) You may fall down the mountain again and again but the game doesn't give you one chance to climb it and rewind if you fall down to the point before you start climbing.

You're wrong for thinking that because you don't really seem to understand the point of games.

First of all, you always play to win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw)
Second of all, every win/loss means something.

You have a basketball team and you meet for friendlies every day or whatever. So you lose, big deal right, there's always next time. Well, you don't have to be angry or upset about it but you still fucking lost. If you don't feel motivated to win really hard, raise the stakes, set you goal to something higher or maybe just play a different game lol.

You can't play a game without a 'playing to win' mindset that gives winning an importance, and if you do so you aren't really playing and instead perhaps just enjoying the spectacle.

This game followed that type of gameplay

Halo Fanboy:
You're wrong for thinking that because you don't really seem to understand the point of games.

First of all, you always play to win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw)
Second of all, every win/loss means something.

You have a basketball team and you meet for friendlies every day or whatever. So you lose, big deal right, there's always next time. Well, you don't have to be angry or upset about it but you still fucking lost. If you don't feel motivated to win really hard, raise the stakes, set you goal to something higher or maybe just play a different game lol.

You can't play a game without a 'playing to win' mindset that gives winning an importance, and if you do so you aren't really playing and instead perhaps just enjoying the spectacle.

The idea of a game is to entertain people. Flat out, that is the point. Second of all,the drive to win is a great thing, and it comes from caring about what you're accomplishing. If a game is made correctly, I'll care about the world I'm in and the people I'm trying to protect. If I don't care about any of that because I know it's not going anywhere, or even if it isn't engaging at all, why would I care to win? This is the point of story in a game.

Try X-Com. Sure, not saving the world is a losing screen, but it otherwise it fits your criteria. Going around a CORNER in that game is a big deal.

But really, failing to save the world is still a losing screen, and always will be. Not much you can do about that. In the original Silent Hill, failing to do two tasks would result in a nasty ending, which was still technically a "YOU WIN" ending, but everyone took it as a losing screen anyways - their next playthrough was spent checking EVERY nook and cranny to see if they could get a different ending.

Halo Fanboy:
You're wrong for thinking that because you don't really seem to understand the point of games.

First of all, you always play to win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw)
Second of all, every win/loss means something.

You have a basketball team and you meet for friendlies every day or whatever. So you lose, big deal right, there's always next time. Well, you don't have to be angry or upset about it but you still fucking lost. If you don't feel motivated to win really hard, raise the stakes, set you goal to something higher or maybe just play a different game lol.

You can't play a game without a 'playing to win' mindset that gives winning an importance, and if you do so you aren't really playing and instead perhaps just enjoying the spectacle.

Explain Dwarf Fortress then. It has a major cult following and spawns many amazing LPs, even though it doesn't have a winning condition. It's literally unwinnable.

"Enjoying the spectacle" doesn't fit it either because... well... it's Dwarf Fortress. Just look at it. Spectacular things happen with regularity, but it's not the draw of the game. (Well, it is for SOME people, but many, such as myself, play it while trying to NOT lose, which is the definition of exercise in futility.)

lacktheknack:

Explain Dwarf Fortress then. It has a major cult following and spawns many amazing LPs, even though it doesn't have a winning condition. It's literally unwinnable.

See also: Tetris.

lacktheknack:

Halo Fanboy:
You're wrong for thinking that because you don't really seem to understand the point of games.

First of all, you always play to win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw)
Second of all, every win/loss means something.

You have a basketball team and you meet for friendlies every day or whatever. So you lose, big deal right, there's always next time. Well, you don't have to be angry or upset about it but you still fucking lost. If you don't feel motivated to win really hard, raise the stakes, set you goal to something higher or maybe just play a different game lol.

You can't play a game without a 'playing to win' mindset that gives winning an importance, and if you do so you aren't really playing and instead perhaps just enjoying the spectacle.

Explain Dwarf Fortress then. It has a major cult following and spawns many amazing LPs, even though it doesn't have a winning condition. It's literally unwinnable.

"Enjoying the spectacle" doesn't fit it either because... well... it's Dwarf Fortress. Just look at it. Spectacular things happen with regularity, but it's not the draw of the game. (Well, it is for SOME people, but many, such as myself, play it while trying to NOT lose, which is the definition of exercise in futility.)

Playing to win is different from game to game obviously. In games with scores playing to win means getting the highest score you can, in games like Sim City you create your own goals and try to fufill them.

I guess "playing to win" isn't the most accurate term. "Playing the best you can" would be more fitting maybe?

SuperBelkar:

Halo Fanboy:
You're wrong for thinking that because you don't really seem to understand the point of games.

First of all, you always play to win (http://www.sirlin.net/ptw)
Second of all, every win/loss means something.

You have a basketball team and you meet for friendlies every day or whatever. So you lose, big deal right, there's always next time. Well, you don't have to be angry or upset about it but you still fucking lost. If you don't feel motivated to win really hard, raise the stakes, set you goal to something higher or maybe just play a different game lol.

You can't play a game without a 'playing to win' mindset that gives winning an importance, and if you do so you aren't really playing and instead perhaps just enjoying the spectacle.

The idea of a game is to entertain people. Flat out, that is the point. Second of all,the drive to win is a great thing, and it comes from caring about what you're accomplishing. If a game is made correctly, I'll care about the world I'm in and the people I'm trying to protect. If I don't care about any of that because I know it's not going anywhere, or even if it isn't engaging at all, why would I care to win? This is the point of story in a game.

Trying to win is the default attitude I'd come into in any game. You decide if you like the world and mechanics after you've experimented with the game in this mindset. If someone went into a game with the mindset of "i'm not gonna try to win unless I can find out if I like the world/other players" I wouldn't really want to play with or against them.

Play Binding of issac that game is hard and provide tension

 

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