Is Spec Ops: the Line overrated?
Yes
22% (117)
22% (117)
No
77.6% (413)
77.6% (413)
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Poll: Is Spec Ops: the Line overrated?

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I think its a goddamn brilliant game. However, its hard for this game to be overrated due to its polarized opinions. People who say this is the best video game narrative of all time and whatnot is in my opinion overrated. However, most people brushed over it and many critics wrote it off as a Call of Duty clone and bashed its multiplayer so that is, to me, underrated.

Maybe my expectations where too high because of all the reviews, but this game is way overrated imo. I'm not rating this as anything else, it's a game. But a game can tell a story, it can create an emotional impact, it can be fun or serious. This game fails at most aspects that makes a game good. This developer obviously has very little experience with PC controls, binding the sprint button, action button, and cover button to the same key is bs. Also, not letting players use the number keys to switch weapons is also bs. Once you started sprinting, they won't let you stop the run animation. These are the most basic third person shooter elements, and they got it wrong. I have so many bs deaths because I accidentally got into cover rather than keep running, or I can swap the weapon quickly when one runs out of ammo. Or when I wanted to use the turret but it snapped me out of cover instead.

I know this game is supposed to be story driven and it's trying to tell a serious story, but when the basic game mechanics is buggy, the player can't be immersed into the game, because the controls are fighting you every step of the way. Maybe because I just played Far Cry 3, which was a far better game in terms of the shooting mechanics, but the deaths in Spec Ops just feels like cheap bs deaths and it serves to frustrate the player. I would say this game is at most worth a 6, which is average. The shooting mechanics is below average, but I can appreciate the game is trying to tell a serious story.

Yes. I think it's a pretty bad game, and I will laugh in the face of anyone who considers it art.

Dango:
Yes. I think it's a pretty bad game, and I will laugh in the face of anyone who considers it art.

If there isn't at least one person saying it ain't art...it ain't art.

Look, here's the thing with Spec Ops, and why I think it's brilliant at least...

When it comes to gaming, we're used to power fantasies. We're used to the idea of games catering to the player's ego, making us feel like the victorious hero. While not every game has a happy ending, the vast majority have endings designed to appeal to how awesome teh player is. Look at Bioware's games- no matter whether you go Light Side or Dark Side, Open Palm or Closed Fist, Paragon or Renegade, the endings in their game always serve to reinforce just how awesome Revan/The Spirit Monk/Shepard is, and therefore how awesome the player is by default. We have become so used to the idea of games as a challenge that we expect to always win games by default.

You only have to look at how players reacted to Bioware when they so much as suspected that Mass Effect 3 wouldn't cater to all their choices and reinforce how awesome Shepard is, to see just how endemic this mindset is in gaming. When it comes to the different kind of literary genres that mediums use to express ideas, gaming is tragically limited to power fantasy. Or, perhaps in slightly less kindly terms, propaganda. Games seemingly exist solely to provide mental masturbation for the player.

Spec Ops is one of the few games I can think of which is actually a Tragedy. It doesn't massage the player's ego, and it doesn't tug at their dick for them. And because of that, it is hugely important. Spec Ops is one of the few stories in history to have made Tragedy interactive. The vast majority of Tragedy are non-interactive, where the sole interaction the audience has in seeing the characters act out their own demise. Spec Ops has managed to raise the bar by taking that idea, and making it interactive. We the players aren't just watching a tragedy, we are actively acting it out ourselves. From a literary standpoint, that is hugely important, as it fundamentally changes the nature of catharsis which is critical to the genre.

Typically, catharsis comes from watching unpleasant things happen to other characters. You watch a tragedy, you feel discomfort and outright horror at what the likes of Oedipus and Medea go through, but because they are separate, distinct individuals, your negative feelings are vicarious. You're watching pain happen to someone else, and so your emotions are the response of a morbid onlooker. In Spec Ops, those emotions are the same- discomfort, horror, disgust. And yet the reason why they are illicited is completely different. You're not experiencing the emotions as an observer, but as an active agent in the events unfolding. You're not just witnessing a tragedy, but experiencing it. When it comes to the Tragedy genre, this is incredibly rare. Only videogames really offer the audience to meaningfully participate in a Tragedy, and Spec Ops: The Line is one of the few to attempt it.

So from a storytelling perspective, regardless of how well you thought it may or may not have implemented certain choices or scenes, it is hugely important simply because of how it goes in a completely different literary direction to most games, and actually brings something to the Tragedy genre which is rarely, if ever scene: direct audience involvement.

The fact that it manages to do this while offering a searing critique of videogames in general, and military shooters in specific, is a small miracle. We do not get stories this densely laden with subtext and symbolism often. This is a game which manages to have thematic elements running in a dozen different directions, and all of them are done with subtlety and intelligence. This is a game-changing narrative, if only because it shows games are just as able to redefine expectations of established genres as much as books and film. If this game can come along and re-evaluate how we interact with Tragedy, then that gives hope that other games can come along and provide similarly redefining experiences across all the classical genres.

And that is a good thing for the medium indeed.

I will say this much. This game would not have existed if not for Farcry 2. They both build on Heart of Darkness, and they both make you question why you enjoy virtual murder. I was acutely aware of Spec Ops's agenda before the phosphorus scene, and Burn Ward Madonna With Child still fucked with me. I knew I could always stop playing. Know why I didn't? Curiosity. I needed to see the bloody end of things, Spec Ops complete argument, "the horror" as Brando put it. And I'm glad I did. Because I loved the end. It has my third favorite line from a game(What is a drop of rain compared to the storm/The only frontier that has ever existed is the Self)-

Walker: This isn't real. You're just in my head.

Konrad: Are you sure? Maybe it's all in mine.

And it struck me. The (agent) 47 dead were worth it for this moment of clarity.

The player's Konrad.

I think the impact of the game is kind of ruined if you go into it expecting it to be profound, deep, and moving. The people who raved about it the most seemed to be those who went in expecting just another ho-hum generic military shooter.
I went in expecting a disturbing, moving story, so therefore I wasn't blown away when I got almost exactly what I was expecting.
Plus of course the game-play wasn't really anything amazing, and in all honesty a lot of the characters felt a little under-developed. Plus it was over in less than 5 hours (playing on normal difficulty).
It still deserves a lot of praise though for trying new things and evoking emotions scarcely felt while playing games, but I wasn't absolutely blown away by it as a whole.

ive only played it once and immediately uninstalled it when i finished, its an absolutely horrible experience with mediocre gameplay and frankly i loved it and respect them for making it. its made me question alot about myself and gaming in general so for me regardless of what others think its very effective.

im reinstalling it at the moment to take a more relaxed play through chapter at a time in conjunction with the essay "killing is harmless: a critical reading of spec ops the line" by brendan keogh. ill be curious to see how different i find it this time.

as for the question of is it over rated. well thats personal opinion and it was pretty much ignored by everyone when it was first released until word of mouth mainly brought it to the attention of the gaming community so id say its underrated but thats changing now

So I went back to some of the earlier chapters to cause I just wanted to shoot something, but man, the second time around where I'm not focused on the narrative really highlighted how bad the gameplay mechanics are. I died so many BS deaths. I think even the 6 that I gave it in my earlier post was too high, this is a 4 or 5 game (out of 10). I'm going to uninstall this game and forget about it, even thinking about how bad the gameplay is makes me mad.

kanyewhite:
*Puts on flame suit, hides behind bullet proof glass*

Okay, I liked Spec Ops. It was good, some of the time. However, every time it pops up on these forums people call it "A SHOW OF HOW OUR MEDIUM IS ART AND BETTER THAN MOVIES!!!!" I felt like the game was hindered by all the delays and a lower budget than it deserved. The gameplay was ok, just not standout.

This is where I'll get controversial. The STORY IS NOT THE BEST. In fact, if it was a film, I think it wouldn't be praised. The twist at the end felt like the bad Twilight Zone episodes, and the "emotional" moments were good, but not "more effective than Schindler's List" (which I was told). THe characters just felt generic even near the end, when they were supposed to be all crazy, except Walker. I also had a creeping feeling they were trying to make Konrad like Andrew Ryan in the sense you talk to him and never see him, which didn't do much for me.

The game's satire isn't exactly the video game Animal Farm, and I felt if you sort of cut out the white phosphorous stuff and the lynching, it just could have been another generic shooter.

I think I'm way too harsh, but maybe we were too easy.

You're observing nothing new here. Gamers have especially low standards when it comes to stories in games. We generally don't compare to other media like film and literature, we compare only to the crap that's come before in videogames.
This is how a game like this becomes nominated and how another game like TWD gets the GOTYs.

So instead at every new year we've created our own para-olympics of story telling.
Completely unnecesary because the strength of our medium was always gameplay, but the players interested in that are becoming a minority.

Yeah, our medium delivers more hours per dollar than the cinema, but the quality is likewise more thin. Our crappy polygon characters cannot compete with real, flesh and blood actors and the game industry doesn't attract the best writers either. The game industry is becoming a magnet for people who would rather make films or write books, but couldn't make it there.

Games are Art like McDonalds is haute cuisine and it's our doing.

kanyewhite:
So instead at every new year we've created our own para-olympics of story telling.
Completely unnecesary because the strength of our medium was always gameplay, but the players interested in that are becoming a minority.

Yeah, our medium delivers more hours per dollar than the cinema, but the quality is likewise more thin. Our crappy polygon characters cannot compete with real, flesh and blood actors and the game industry doesn't attract the best writers either. The game industry is becoming a magnet for people who would rather make films or write books, but couldn't make it there.

Games are Art like McDonalds is haute cuisine and it's our doing.

I'm not sure what you suggest should happen. Yes, most games have shitty writing and attract mostly mediocre writers. Should developers ignore story and focus on gameplay? As for the consumers, what are they doing wrong? Should they stop craving good stories?

What's the main fault of the consumer base? The fact that they praise story-driven games too much and ignore its gameplay? Is that not more or less the first step towards omproving the writing quality of the games in general?

I don't think it is over rated. Spec Ops is largely regarded well for the message it sends about other games in the genre: nothing more, nothing less. I like to think of it in the same way as the Fatal Frame series: we look at the high points while acknowledging the game has some issues here and there.

Karoshi:

So instead at every new year we've created our own para-olympics of story telling.
Completely unnecesary because the strength of our medium was always gameplay, but the players interested in that are becoming a minority.

Yeah, our medium delivers more hours per dollar than the cinema, but the quality is likewise more thin. Our crappy polygon characters cannot compete with real, flesh and blood actors and the game industry doesn't attract the best writers either. The game industry is becoming a magnet for people who would rather make films or write books, but couldn't make it there.

Games are Art like McDonalds is haute cuisine and it's our doing.

I'm not sure what you suggest should happen. Yes, most games have shitty writing and attract mostly mediocre writers. Should developers ignore story and focus on gameplay? As for the consumers, what are they doing wrong? Should they stop craving good stories?

What's the main fault of the consumer base? The fact that they praise story-driven games too much and ignore its gameplay? Is that not more or less the first step towards omproving the writing quality of the games in general?

What more gamers should do, is look outside the medium of gaming and not just stick to sci-fi and fantasy stories either, but really broaden their interests.
If you want a story, a genuinely good story, you can do so much better than Spec OPs the Line and the Walking Dead.

Show SOL and TWD as the pinnacle of your hobby to a movie buff or a bookworm and you will be laughed away.
So many Escapists want games to be recognized as art. You want Art? First learn to be more critical.
Triple-A games right now are like fastfood chains are to restaurants and we praise them.

For games there's two paths to develop in order for this medium to stay relevant:
1. the indie way: come up with new ideas for original gameplay and keep players interested that way

2. the hard way: no book or movie can give the viewer agency, like those choices and consequences that such RPG companies like Bioware and Obsidian try their hand on, only with limited succes. Perfect that and you'll also have something worthwhile.

Do 1 or 2 instead and those mediocre, derived and cliched stories can perfectly serve to give some context to player goals and actions and all will be well. The story won't be the point of playing of playing the game, it will only add some flavor then and as such doesn't need to be great.

What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

veloper:

What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

I think this is where Spec Ops succeeded as the narrative was told through the game's mechanics as much as the narrative did as walker's state and actions reflect the player. With the WP scene, Walker laments that he did not have a choice and shifts blame to his circumstances. Look back at this thread and see all the critiques against that scene as players said they should not feel bad due to the fact they did not have a say in the matter. The game's mechanics and choices are there to reinforce it's message which is effectively delivered because the game is interactive. Players don't question why Walker doesn't simply leave despite the fact the situation grows worse each mission and his orders explicitly say so and it is this lack of questioning the game wants to bring to your attention.

veloper:
What more gamers should do, is look outside the medium of gaming and not just stick to sci-fi and fantasy stories either, but really broaden their interests.
If you want a story, a genuinely good story, you can do so much better than Spec OPs the Line and the Walking Dead.

It would be easier for me to understand if you gave me an example of good or great stories in movies and books. What do you mean by a "good story"? What genres? Does it have to evoke serious thinking or are we still talking about "hero saves world"- power fantasies?

veloper:
Show SOL and TWD as the pinnacle of your hobby to a movie buff or a bookworm and you will be laughed away.
So many Escapists want games to be recognized as art. You want Art? First learn to be more critical.
Triple-A games right now are like fastfood chains are to restaurants and we praise them.

Show me a movie that you might consider the pinnacle of cinematography and I will watch it, agree that it a quality product, but stay unimpressed. Different media rates differently for people. I dislike movies, but I like games and love books. Spec Ops: The Line will never have as big an impact as a book, yet I consider it damn impressive for it gave me a new prespective.

It was not the story which blew me away (which probably the book is much better at conveying). It's just the first time in my life I felt guilt like never before. No movie or book could have accomplished that. It was me who was carrying out the orders and I had to bear the consequences. Many players complained that it felt forced and ridiculous, but for me it worked.

Second thing. Games right now are kinda in their teenagehood. It took movies a lot of time to evolve from black-and-white comedies to its current form and many technological improvements had to be made. Does technological advancement mean mental maturity? Not really, but it gives room for such. In ten years we might see more games that don't milk the sci-fi, fantasy or military genre and perhaps try being original.

For games there's two paths to develop in order for this medium to stay relevant:
1. the indie way: come up with new ideas for original gameplay and keep players interested that way

2. the hard way: no book or movie can give the viewer agency, like those choices and consequences that such RPG companies like Bioware and Obsidian try their hand on, only with limited succes. Perfect that and you'll also have something worthwhile.

We all love new and interesting gameplay ideas and we all love choices. Yet branching storylines cost money (especially fully voiced) and only when becomes cheaper to develop games we will see major improvements. I would love to see more of that.

Do 1 or 2 instead and those mediocre, derived and cliched stories can perfectly serve to give some context to player goals and actions and all will be well. The story won't be the point of playing of playing the game, it will only add some flavor then and as such doesn't need to be great.

What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

Aaand here we disagree. Personally, I find it silly to say that games "should" be one way or another. It's a big world! Some developers place story above gameplay, for others it's the other way around. Everyone will find their game genre. Demanding that only certain type of games were to be made is as of people came to bookstores and began burning romance novellas because they think that more sci-fi books should be written.

I play primarily for the story and find that games have strengths that no other media has. Choices, immersion and exploration are the big three for me. For others it's something else.

Karoshi:

veloper:
What more gamers should do, is look outside the medium of gaming and not just stick to sci-fi and fantasy stories either, but really broaden their interests.
If you want a story, a genuinely good story, you can do so much better than Spec OPs the Line and the Walking Dead.

It would be easier for me to understand if you gave me an example of good or great stories in movies and books. What do you mean by a "good story"? What genres? Does it have to evoke serious thinking or are we still talking about "hero saves world"- power fantasies?

Power fantasies? NO! Such stories are right up there with fan-fictions featuring mary-sue.
A good story should always have an original theme, such as an underlying philosophy or a new idea, perhaps a new and unusual setting to observe the main characters. It has to be more than mere entertainment to be good.

Take all that away then you can still have a decent, entertaining story, if the plot is engaging enough and the dialogues still hold up. TWD is at that level: the dialogues are the only thing keeping the game together; the setting is poor and unoriginal and the theme, same as the comics, is very weak. The terrible gameplay doesn't help.

I'm not even asking for War and Peace here, videogame storytelling hasn't even reached the levels of Platoon.
Even our fantasy and sci-fi games cannot begin to compare to the better books in these lowly genres, such as the works by George Martin and Heinlein.

The problem here is the power fantasy. Gameplay is like an obstacle course and unless you make the game so hard that all the story lovers will drop out anyway, players are going to get very good at it. You will succeed and you'll feel good about it (unless there's little or no challenge at all, which makes busy work).
Gameplay and good storytelling may very well be incompatible because of this.

veloper:
Show SOL and TWD as the pinnacle of your hobby to a movie buff or a bookworm and you will be laughed away.
So many Escapists want games to be recognized as art. You want Art? First learn to be more critical.
Triple-A games right now are like fastfood chains are to restaurants and we praise them.

Show me a movie that you might consider the pinnacle of cinematography and I will watch it, agree that it a quality product, but stay unimpressed. Different media rates differently for people. I dislike movies, but I like games and love books. Spec Ops: The Line will never have as big an impact as a book, yet I consider it damn impressive for it gave me a new prespective.

It was not the story which blew me away (which probably the book is much better at conveying). It's just the first time in my life I felt guilt like never before. No movie or book could have accomplished that. It was me who was carrying out the orders and I had to bear the consequences. Many players complained that it felt forced and ridiculous, but for me it worked.

The narrative is on rails and you had no player agency. It is surprising that you would feel guilt.
I consider it a cheap trick and not a profound message.

Second thing. Games right now are kinda in their teenagehood. It took movies a lot of time to evolve from black-and-white comedies to its current form and many technological improvements had to be made. Does technological advancement mean mental maturity? Not really, but it gives room for such. In ten years we might see more games that don't milk the sci-fi, fantasy or military genre and perhaps try being original.

To some, myself included, the golden age of gaming was the late 90's and early noughts.

We have had great games for decades. There's all time greats like Master of Orion 2 and Jagged Alliance 2 that still haven't been surpassed by newer games.
Love gameplay over graphics plus story and gaming history is nothing to be embarrassed about.

For games there's two paths to develop in order for this medium to stay relevant:
1. the indie way: come up with new ideas for original gameplay and keep players interested that way

2. the hard way: no book or movie can give the viewer agency, like those choices and consequences that such RPG companies like Bioware and Obsidian try their hand on, only with limited succes. Perfect that and you'll also have something worthwhile.

We all love new and interesting gameplay ideas and we all love choices. Yet branching storylines cost money (especially fully voiced) and only when becomes cheaper to develop games we will see major improvements. I would love to see more of that.

Yes it's hard and expensive to do C&C right, especially if you must have fancy gfx and full VO, but it's also the only narrative approach where I can see the point.
Here game narratives can excel, in theory. CRPGs. Bugs and broken combat, usually, but also the promise and appeal of being a contributing part to the story. I can see where Bioware fans are coming from even if the actual experience always turns out to be mediocre.

Do 1 or 2 instead and those mediocre, derived and cliched stories can perfectly serve to give some context to player goals and actions and all will be well. The story won't be the point of playing of playing the game, it will only add some flavor then and as such doesn't need to be great.

What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

Aaand here we disagree. Personally, I find it silly to say that games "should" be one way or another. It's a big world! Some developers place story above gameplay, for others it's the other way around. Everyone will find their game genre. Demanding that only certain type of games were to be made is as of people came to bookstores and began burning romance novellas because they think that more sci-fi books should be written.

I play primarily for the story and find that games have strengths that no other media has. Choices, immersion and exploration are the big three for me. For others it's something else.

You may like everything you want. You may like fastfood. Just don't expect it to get any better. Don't expect to get recognition for it.

If low grade fiction is your thing and you don't buy all that games=art crap, then you are in luck, because that's the future of gaming we are heading towards. All the charts point to more cinematic experiences and easier gameplay.
We can expect to see some more "exceptional" titles with fairly decent story telling and minimal gameplay. That and lots of mediocrity too.

G-Force:

veloper:

What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

I think this is where Spec Ops succeeded as the narrative was told through the game's mechanics as much as the narrative did as walker's state and actions reflect the player. With the WP scene, Walker laments that he did not have a choice and shifts blame to his circumstances. Look back at this thread and see all the critiques against that scene as players said they should not feel bad due to the fact they did not have a say in the matter. The game's mechanics and choices are there to reinforce it's message which is effectively delivered because the game is interactive. Players don't question why Walker doesn't simply leave despite the fact the situation grows worse each mission and his orders explicitly say so and it is this lack of questioning the game wants to bring to your attention.

Only, the FPS genre, Call of Duty and similar series, are works of fiction. The only thing that effectively works against fiction, is parody, not this.

I started the game yesterday so I may not be in the best position to respond having not beaten the game yet. However, while the story is good enough, the gameplay is very sub-par. I feel as though all I do is go from one cover-based engagement to an other always trying to spot ammo for my favourite guns. There are no tactics to it, just keep your head down and fire back when you have the opportunity. The AI also leaves something to be desired as my squadmates just love rushing the enemies and getting themselves incapacitated. Either that or just do nothing at all from behind cover.

I see potential for the story and can see the general direction it is going; it looks promising and I want to see this through for that sole reason. I am just utterly unimpressed by the gameplay.

veloper:
The narrative is on rails and you had no player agency. It is surprising that you would feel guilt.
I consider it a cheap trick and not a profound message.

There was this one guy who ranted at DmC and mentioned the new pretty levels. "Bullshit" - he called out "The contrast between blue and orange is a cheap trick into tricking the eye into liking it." Remember kids, choosing colours and contrasts is a cheap trick for artists to succeed.

Player agency is always defined by how involved the player is. My motivations aligned with Walker's. The narrative is linear, no doubt about it, but there was another cheap trick. It fooled me by giving me the illusion of choice and for some time I did not realize how railroaded I was - until it all became one big trainwreck.

This is one of the games where I understand when somebody absolutely hates it. In order for a narrative to work, you gotta allow it to fool you. 1984 is a great book, yet if you absolutely refuse to believe in the possibility of such a scenario - refuse to be fooled by it - it will fly over your head.

veloper:
You may like everything you want. You may like fastfood. Just don't expect it to get any better. Don't expect to get recognition for it.

If low grade fiction is your thing and you don't buy all that games=art crap, then you are in luck, because that's the future of gaming we are heading towards. All the charts point to more cinematic experiences and easier gameplay.
We can expect to see some more "exceptional" titles with fairly decent story telling and minimal gameplay. That and lots of mediocrity too.

The gaming community is too reliant on outsider prespective. There is no big authority that examines each music, painting or book and after a careful evaluation proclaims it to be art. Most people still call abstract paintings bullshit yet that doesn't keep museums from obtaining such pieces of art. Games don't need recognition in my opinion.

Games are art and that doesn't mean much. They can be bad or good, shitty or great. Art is a common product and a source of entertainment these days.

Karoshi:

veloper:
The narrative is on rails and you had no player agency. It is surprising that you would feel guilt.
I consider it a cheap trick and not a profound message.

There was this one guy who ranted at DmC and mentioned the new pretty levels. "Bullshit" - he called out "The contrast between blue and orange is a cheap trick into tricking the eye into liking it." Remember kids, choosing colours and contrasts is a cheap trick for artists to succeed.

Player agency is always defined by how involved the player is. My motivations aligned with Walker's. The narrative is linear, no doubt about it, but there was another cheap trick. It fooled me by giving me the illusion of choice and for some time I did not realize how railroaded I was - until it all became one big trainwreck.

This is one of the games where I understand when somebody absolutely hates it. In order for a narrative to work, you gotta allow it to fool you. 1984 is a great book, yet if you absolutely refuse to believe in the possibility of such a scenario - refuse to be fooled by it - it will fly over your head.

It's not the same thing though. A book you could also dismiss on such grounds like terrible writing, plotholes, inconsistencies, etc. but a disconnect between the protagonist and the reader, is not one of them.

Within a game an experienced gamer may try the limits of the gameworld and as you hit too many arbitrary barriers, the player is nolonger playing the role of the main, but back to observing the PC from the outside.
"Yeah we get it, the PC is an idiot. So what?"
At best, when the illusion does work, the player is playing a role like an actor plays a role: it's still just another character to play.

Over a decade ago, an old RPS called Deus Ex also had NPCs telling the player what to do and not telling them they had a choice, but the player often did have a choice and the game would respond appropriately.
Now the mistake is also the player's mistake. THAT is how you would guilt trick a player.

veloper:
You may like everything you want. You may like fastfood. Just don't expect it to get any better. Don't expect to get recognition for it.

If low grade fiction is your thing and you don't buy all that games=art crap, then you are in luck, because that's the future of gaming we are heading towards. All the charts point to more cinematic experiences and easier gameplay.
We can expect to see some more "exceptional" titles with fairly decent story telling and minimal gameplay. That and lots of mediocrity too.

The gaming community is too reliant on outsider prespective. There is no big authority that examines each music, painting or book and after a careful evaluation proclaims it to be art. Most people still call abstract paintings bullshit yet that doesn't keep museums from obtaining such pieces of art. Games don't need recognition in my opinion.

Games are art and that doesn't mean much. They can be bad or good, shitty or great. Art is a common product and a source of entertainment these days.

What is fine art is decided in a circle jerk of artists and closely associated art critics. I agree that the art label doesn't mean much. It's an Escapist need and not my thing necessarilly. I'm interested in a different quality.
Movie critics are a better example, they are not afraid to call something bad. Game reviewers could take an example to them.
It's not that we need outsiders to validate us; it is we who should look at games from the outsider perspective more often. If we did, then mediocrity in games wouldn't be regarded as excellent so often anymore.

Wait, people think its better than movies?

I'd heard it was a good example of that videogames are capable of good stories, comparable to movies...

I wouldnt say its overrated since almost everything I hear is "Spec ops has awful, frustrating and generic gameplay, BUT has some really interesting story, especially with how the player interacts with the events."

So in that respect, from what I've heard, I wouldnt call it overrated.

veloper:
What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

Games like FF or MGS, yeah, I'd agree they're trying to shoehorn in cinema storytelling and producing a poor man's movie as a result. On the other hand, Spec Ops: The Line and the Walking Dead aren't trying to be movies. Despite being linear stories, their interactivity informs and plays a central role within their narrative, offering experiences that a passive medium like film can't.

veloper:

It was not the story which blew me away (which probably the book is much better at conveying). It's just the first time in my life I felt guilt like never before. No movie or book could have accomplished that. It was me who was carrying out the orders and I had to bear the consequences. Many players complained that it felt forced and ridiculous, but for me it worked.

The narrative is on rails and you had no player agency. It is surprising that you would feel guilt.
I consider it a cheap trick and not a profound message.

I had a similar experience to the person you quoted. The game was an emotional roller coaster for me--I went from profound guilt, to stubborn determination, to cold vengefulness, to utter despair, to catharsis.

Your offhanded dismissal of the game's storytelling techniques doesn't invalidate the experiences others have with the game. It can work for some and fail for others. Maybe it just ain't your cup of tea.

bananafishtoday:

veloper:
What games cannot do is compete directly with cinema, because games will always be worse at being movies. Game developers should not try to do so and we shouldn't encourage them.

Games like FF or MGS, yeah, I'd agree they're trying to shoehorn in cinema storytelling and producing a poor man's movie as a result. On the other hand, Spec Ops: The Line and the Walking Dead aren't trying to be movies. Despite being linear stories, their interactivity informs and plays a central role within their narrative, offering experiences that a passive medium like film can't.

The Walking Dead atleast made a half-assed attempt at giving the player some choice (without consequence), but Spec Ops deserves no such consideration.
When you have a game that is completely on rails, then there's no reason to regard the story any better than you would do for a movie.
Either the gameplay (the shooting) becomes that annoying obstacle in between the parts of narrative, or the narrative becomes those cutscenes that break up the game sections.
Until you introduce C&C, the narrative is still a seperate thing from the gameplay and we don't need to treat the writers with special kid gloves.

veloper:

It was not the story which blew me away (which probably the book is much better at conveying). It's just the first time in my life I felt guilt like never before. No movie or book could have accomplished that. It was me who was carrying out the orders and I had to bear the consequences. Many players complained that it felt forced and ridiculous, but for me it worked.

The narrative is on rails and you had no player agency. It is surprising that you would feel guilt.
I consider it a cheap trick and not a profound message.

I had a similar experience to the person you quoted. The game was an emotional roller coaster for me--I went from profound guilt, to stubborn determination, to cold vengefulness, to utter despair, to catharsis.

Your offhanded dismissal of the game's storytelling techniques doesn't invalidate the experiences others have with the game. It can work for some and fail for others. Maybe it just ain't your cup of tea.

I cannot deny that the game had an effect on you and others, but why would that count as proof of quality?

It is my experience that makes me less easily impressed. I know I am not the main character of a game.

Consider, what is the message here?
"Blindly following orders is bad, mkay?" That may have been a great message for a movie from 50 year ago. Games get no special pass for being out of date. Even for games this idea isn't exactly new (see Deus Ex).

Or is it: "Modern military first person shooters are stupid!" Then the devs should make a parody like Call of DOOty. We all get that COD is dumb, now entertain us. Makes us laugh.

More likely the message intended to convey is this:
"Modern military shooters are BAD and because you play them YOU ARE A MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!"
That just doesn't fly with me.
COD Blobs is just a game. The player is not the PC. The player doens't even get C&C. Players shouldn't feel bad about it. They may have cheap taste and like shitty things, but it's not a crime.

There is no relevant message here. Playing with emotions only works against the inexperienced.

veloper:
The Walking Dead atleast made a half-assed attempt at giving the player some choice (without consequence), but Spec Ops deserves no such consideration.
When you have a game that is completely on rails, then there's no reason to regard the story any better than you would do for a movie.
Either the gameplay (the shooting) becomes that annoying obstacle in between the parts of narrative, or the narrative becomes those cutscenes that break up the game sections.
Until you introduce C&C, the narrative is still a seperate thing from the gameplay and we don't need to treat the writers with special kid gloves.

The gameplay and narrative in Spec Ops are a unified whole. Walker never physically does anything in a cutscene that affects the plot. Everything he does is done by the player, and what's more, it's done using the actual game mechanics (moving and shooting) rather than dialogue wheels or menu selections. Plenty of games suffer from gameplay-story segregation, but Spec Ops isn't one of them.

Just because the game is linear doesn't mean its narrative can be presented just as well by a movie. Allowing the player to be the tragic hero serves to amplify the tragedy, and it works becaaause...

veloper:
I cannot deny that the game had an effect on you and others, but why would that count as proof of quality?

It is my experience that makes me less easily impressed. I know I am not the main character of a game.

...feeling as if you are the protagonist is necessary to the willing suspension of disbelief in the context of certain games. Honestly, you're missing the point if you think knowing you're not actually Captain Walker is a sign of intellectual maturity. It would be like saying "Lord of the Rings does not impress me. I'm experienced enough to know there's no such thing as Middle Earth."

veloper:
Consider, what is the message here?
"Blindly following orders is bad, mkay?" That may have been a great message for a movie from 50 year ago. Games get no special pass for being out of date. Even for games this idea isn't exactly new (see Deus Ex).

Or is it: "Modern military first person shooters are stupid!" Then the devs should make a parody like Call of DOOty. We all get that COD is dumb, now entertain us. Makes us laugh.

More likely the message intended to convey is this:
"Modern military shooters are BAD and because you play them YOU ARE A MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!"
That just doesn't fly with me.
COD Blobs is just a game. The player is not the PC. The player doens't even get C&C.

Spec Ops has a lot more to say than you give it credit for, but as for its commentary on modern FPSes, it's not trying to make juvenile blanket statements like "CoD is dumb" or "CoD is evil." It's not so much a condemnation as it is a deconstruction, in the same way that Madame Bovary is a deconstruction of romance novels, or Watchmen is a deconstruction of super hero comics. (Before you jump on me for that comparison, I'm not saying these works are of equal quality. I'm saying they're trying to accomplish the same goals.)

veloper:
Players shouldn't feel bad about it. They may have cheap taste and like shitty things, but it's not a crime.

There is no relevant message here. Playing with emotions only works against the inexperienced.

Your impeccable taste is noted. We are all very impressed.

bananafishtoday:

veloper:
The Walking Dead atleast made a half-assed attempt at giving the player some choice (without consequence), but Spec Ops deserves no such consideration.
When you have a game that is completely on rails, then there's no reason to regard the story any better than you would do for a movie.
Either the gameplay (the shooting) becomes that annoying obstacle in between the parts of narrative, or the narrative becomes those cutscenes that break up the game sections.
Until you introduce C&C, the narrative is still a seperate thing from the gameplay and we don't need to treat the writers with special kid gloves.

The gameplay and narrative in Spec Ops are a unified whole. Walker never physically does anything in a cutscene that affects the plot. Everything he does is done by the player, and what's more, it's done using the actual game mechanics (moving and shooting) rather than dialogue wheels or menu selections. Plenty of games suffer from gameplay-story segregation, but Spec Ops isn't one of them.

Just because the segregation is not also a seperation in time, doesn't mean there's a unified whole. Basicly the player is just shooting stuff in a railroaded fashion. Calling that part of the narrative is a long stretch.
Not as bad using as CGI cutscene interruptions perhaps, but still not full integration either.

Full integration would mean interaction between the narrative and player actions and you cannot do that when the narrative is completely railroaded.

Just because the game is linear doesn't mean its narrative can be presented just as well by a movie. Allowing the player to be the tragic hero serves to amplify the tragedy, and it works becaaause...

veloper:
I cannot deny that the game had an effect on you and others, but why would that count as proof of quality?

It is my experience that makes me less easily impressed. I know I am not the main character of a game.

...feeling as if you are the protagonist is necessary to the willing suspension of disbelief in the context of certain games. Honestly, you're missing the point if you think knowing you're not actually Captain Walker is a sign of intellectual maturity. It would be like saying "Lord of the Rings does not impress me. I'm experienced enough to know there's no such thing as Middle Earth."

A better comparison would be NOT LARPing Strider or Frodo, because you don't need that crap just in order to read some fantasy novel.

All that can ever be expected of the reader, or the player in this case, is that he or she tries to understand the protagonist. Identifying yourself with the protoganist is entirely optional.
Worse, a main protagonist that easy to identify with, is the easy way out for a writer and that's not necessarilly a good thing.

The game's guilt trip experience actually hinges on the player identifying with Walker, which is a weakness in the narrative.

veloper:
Consider, what is the message here?
"Blindly following orders is bad, mkay?" That may have been a great message for a movie from 50 year ago. Games get no special pass for being out of date. Even for games this idea isn't exactly new (see Deus Ex).

Or is it: "Modern military first person shooters are stupid!" Then the devs should make a parody like Call of DOOty. We all get that COD is dumb, now entertain us. Makes us laugh.

More likely the message intended to convey is this:
"Modern military shooters are BAD and because you play them YOU ARE A MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!"
That just doesn't fly with me.
COD Blobs is just a game. The player is not the PC. The player doens't even get C&C.

Spec Ops has a lot more to say than you give it credit for, but as for its commentary on modern FPSes, it's not trying to make juvenile blanket statements like "CoD is dumb" or "CoD is evil." It's not so much a condemnation as it is a deconstruction, in the same way that Madame Bovary is a deconstruction of romance novels, or Watchmen is a deconstruction of super hero comics. (Before you jump on me for that comparison, I'm not saying these works are of equal quality. I'm saying they're trying to accomplish the same goals.)

You know, maybe the game was some attempt at deconstruction, if one that hinged on the player identifying with the PC. It may not be up to par with literature, cinema or even the Watchmen, but since it does more than the usual mediocre writing, we'll give it a passing grade. Let's be generous even: a 7 out of 10 for the story.

Now we're back at my main point: WHY are we all raving about content that is merely above average?

Shouldn't we be less euphoric because a game narrative doesn't suck completely? What's worse, the gameplay for Spec Ops is rather mediocre. The game excels not by any criterium.

Worse example: the Walking Dead, more than euphoric, this is the Game of the Year all over the gaming communities. What do we get? A decent story and very poor gameplay.

You'd think gaming (PC and console) is DEAD already, if this is the BEST that developers can come up with. At this point you have to wonder, why am I still wasting my time with games, if this it the best on offer? Lets read a good book instead.

Only these games aren't the best on offer and some games can still excel on gameplay levels and then no other medium can come anywhere close.
It's just that our current criteria suck, because we hold onto double standards for game narratives.

veloper:
Players shouldn't feel bad about it. They may have cheap taste and like shitty things, but it's not a crime.

There is no relevant message here. Playing with emotions only works against the inexperienced.

Your impeccable taste is noted. We are all very impressed.

The funny thing is, if Spec Ops and TWD actually had good gameplay, I would have been cheering alongside with most of you. A good shooter with a decent story is an improvement over a good shooter with a crap story and this goes doubly for a a puzzle-adventure game (IF only).

As it stand now though, we cannot have nice things, because of double standards.

veloper:

The funny thing is, if Spec Ops and TWD actually had good gameplay, I would have been cheering alongside with most of you. A good shooter with a decent story is an improvement over a good shooter with a crap story and this goes doubly for a a puzzle-adventure game (IF only).

As it stand now though, we cannot have nice things, because of double standards.

However, having excellent and "fun" gameplay would ruin the narrative and goes against the message. Reason why Call of Duty succeeds is two fold

1. Succeeds in fulfilling the player's power fantasy through the narrative
2. Having satisfying gameplay that reenforces this image.

In many of the war games the player always justified in being in the right and does heroic deeds just to show how badass they are. Everything from using high tech weaponry to doing brutal kills with a knife. The player continues until the end because they want to continue feeling like a hero and the gameplay is fun. It's one thing to watch a Rambo movie and go "Man Ranbo is such a badass" and instead say "Wow I AM the badass soldier saving the world."

Spec Ops wanted to do the opposite and show the player how horrible these wartime actions are. Everything from showing the collateral damage to war, making the enemies US soldiers and giving a face and back story behind the masses you killed was the game's intention of having you go "I am doing some messed up stuff." Much like Walker continues the mission despite warning signs from his squad and failed attempts in order to try to salvage what little is left in Dubai, the player continues playing in hopes that in the end there is one big heroic act that turns them around. At the very end the game takes this reasoning and shoves it at the players face. If the gameplay of Spec Ops was satisfying then we could easily justify ourselves for liking the game simply because it is fun. The narrative had to be the biggest reason why players continued moving onward, not the gameplay.

TL:DR - It would have been hypocritical to make an anti-war game if the gameplay glorified war at the same time.

G-Force:

veloper:

The funny thing is, if Spec Ops and TWD actually had good gameplay, I would have been cheering alongside with most of you. A good shooter with a decent story is an improvement over a good shooter with a crap story and this goes doubly for a a puzzle-adventure game (IF only).

As it stand now though, we cannot have nice things, because of double standards.

However, having excellent and "fun" gameplay would ruin the narrative and goes against the message. Reason why Call of Duty succeeds is two fold

1. Succeeds in fulfilling the player's power fantasy through the narrative
2. Having satisfying gameplay that reenforces this image.

In many of the war games the player always justified in being in the right and does heroic deeds just to show how badass they are. Everything from using high tech weaponry to doing brutal kills with a knife. The player continues until the end because they want to continue feeling like a hero and the gameplay is fun. It's one thing to watch a Rambo movie and go "Man Ranbo is such a badass" and instead say "Wow I AM the badass soldier saving the world."

Spec Ops wanted to do the opposite and show the player how horrible these wartime actions are. Everything from showing the collateral damage to war, making the enemies US soldiers and giving a face and back story behind the masses you killed was the game's intention of having you go "I am doing some messed up stuff." Much like Walker continues the mission despite warning signs from his squad and failed attempts in order to try to salvage what little is left in Dubai, the player continues playing in hopes that in the end there is one big heroic act that turns them around. At the very end the game takes this reasoning and shoves it at the players face. If the gameplay of Spec Ops was satisfying then we could easily justify ourselves for liking the game simply because it is fun. The narrative had to be the biggest reason why players continued moving onward, not the gameplay.

TL:DR - It would have been hypocritical to make an anti-war game if the gameplay glorified war at the same time.

You may be onto something here. Gameplay may be very well be at odds with story telling.

Gaming history supports this proposition atleast. From Planescape Torment to The Walking Dead, for some reason we never get a proper story AND great gameplay in the same game.
Could be coincidence. Could be all such attempts are well and truly fucked even before they start. Worth looking into atleast.

Now we're back at alternatives #1 and #2. The indie way or the hard way.

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