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Storytelling in games

124

Posts

  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    No, Beneath A Steel Sky and most of Revolution's games were still blighted by shitty comedy that blatantly felt shoehorned in because the genre demanded it (lazy ethnic stereotypes, nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes, done-to-death nerd culture archetypes) and dear me, God forbid a videogame actually take itself seriously, etc., etc.

    Blade Runner's a good choice, though. Still had a few of the usual cliches, but overall it was a tragedy more games didn't go in a similar direction. And of course The Longest Journey/Dreamfall had their moments, even if neither game is anything like as accomplished as the hardcore make out.

    For some reason I get the feeling you might like to try "Scratches" sometime.

    It's an indie developed adventure game that's basically set with the protagonist being all alone in a new house, trying to puzzle out what the history of the previous occupants. I really enjoyed that game. It's pretty old school, the view is first person, and you can rotate the camera around to view everything, but actual movement happens in "blocks" (basically the house isn't "3D" as such, just a collection of painted "scenes" that you move and view through). There's a lot of good atmosphere to it, and the ending creeped me out, which is always a good thing. <img class=" title=":lol:" class="bbcode_smiley" />

  • NuzakNuzak Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    august wrote: »
    You don't like the silent protagonist route.

    Okay.

    We get it.

    Some of us do like it.

    sorry for debating! won't happen again

  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Nuzak wrote: »
    august wrote: »
    You don't like the silent protagonist route.

    Okay.

    We get it.

    Some of us do like it.

    sorry for debating! won't happen again

    Debating is one thing. But calling it clearly bullshit without really saying anything else isn't really debating the point.

    If you do want to talk about it though, I mean about the only addition you made was that this clearly doesn't happen with books. Which could be said to be true, but then, I would argue that games aren't books. The narrative works differently, and being an interactive form of media makes it a lot more plausible to involve the player as the protagonist, I'd say that's a viable route to take for games.

  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    DeathPrawn wrote: »
    Falstaff wrote: »
    Yeah, I've never really understood the preoccupation with non-linear stories. As long as I feel like I'm actually driving the narrative, it doesn't matter how many endings the game has.

    I agree; I think "non-linearity" is a red herring. The strength of games as a narrative medium lies in its ability to immerse the player through interactivity, and "interactivity" can happen without having every little thing the player does influence the story in a major way.

    In some ways, the "non-linearity" of multiple endings encourages a focus on linearity.

    "This is the splitting point, if I take the sword then the girl dies and I'm evil but if I save the girl then the bad guy gets the sword and I'm good!"

    We think about it as branching paths, whereas we don't always think about a more traditional story as being a straight line. Nobody gets concerned about the linearity of books or movies and yet they do wonderfully as mediums.
    Prohass wrote: »
    The main difference between Halflife 'cutscenes' and metal gear type 'cutscenes' is that Halflife's are well written cases of showing without telling, whereas MGS style cutscenes are pretty much all tell and no show. If you show me a world, make it self-evident without the need to explain itself in ham-fisted "LOOK IM CONTEXTUALIZING THE GAMEPLAY" terms, and create believable characters within that world, I'll gladly enjoy the 'cutscene'.

    I am not one to hold up Metal Gear as any wonder of storytelling, but I am not that harsh on it either. For all the talking heads with "telling not showing" there is a lot of interesting real world footage as well as in-game cutscenes. I do think sometimes the telling is the showing; after all, that's what books are about. And setting aside whether you enjoy the story, it does allow them to craft a more complex narrative than something like HL2. This is strictly complexity, not emotional strength or quality, and you can take it or leave it - but sometimes I want a really awesome short story and sometimes I want a 500 page epic.

    3DS Friend Code: 0989 - 1731 - 9504
    Nintendo Network ID: unclesporky
  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    I am not one to hold up Metal Gear as any wonder of storytelling, but I am not that harsh on it either. For all the talking heads with "telling not showing" there is a lot of interesting real world footage as well as in-game cutscenes. I do think sometimes the telling is the showing; after all, that's what books are about. And setting aside whether you enjoy the story, it does allow them to craft a more complex narrative than something like HL2. This is strictly complexity, not emotional strength or quality, and you can take it or leave it - but sometimes I want a really awesome short story and sometimes I want a 500 page epic.

    No! No! No! I'm sorry I lack the eloquence to, you know, use tact and stuff, but you do know "show, don't tell" applies to books as well, right? Because what you just said seems to imply you don't. The first half of that snippet is right, pedantically - I mean, exposition can be characterisation - but I doubt Kojima's even dreamt of using it for any such thing, seeing as I've played through 2, 3 and 4 multiple times and I haven't seen a single god damned speech that actually says anything about the character that's delivering it.

    I adore Metal Gear Solid (I mean, hey, I sold a 360 and 20 games just to get a PS3 and MGS 4), but Hideo Kojima is a terrible, terrible writer. Pretty good storyteller, good to great director, certainly in a purely visual sense - his set pieces are practically second to none. Terrible writer.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • LeitnerLeitner Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    It wouldn't be that less effective in say a film. Freeman doesn't really have that much more interactivity related to the character and the narrative then your standard film protagonist, does he? It's just ridiculously limiting in regards to dialog (because at the heart of it, it's all one sided or between other characters – something that I see as incredibly limiting) for some very slight gained sense of immersion. It's a story that could just as well have been told with cutscenes and an actual character. Hell, I fail to see the difference between the scenarios and dialogs you're forced to watch to a cutscene?

  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    I'll admit there are few stories in videogaming that demand a silent protagonist. Metroid, and...? Halflife would lose some of its Halflife-ness if it were re-written to accomodate a protagonist who actually talks, but it could be done without significantly killing the mood, I think. I wouldn't want Valve to do it - just saying, I can see the other point of view.

    EDIT: Bioshock would certainly be difficult, for reasons I can't possibly go into without Major Spoilers.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I'll admit there are few stories in videogaming that demand a silent protagonist. Metroid, and...? Halflife would lose some of its Halflife-ness if it were re-written to accomodate a protagonist who actually talks, but it could be done without significantly killing the mood, I think. I wouldn't want Valve to do it - just saying, I can see the other point of view.

    Personally, whilst you say that Metroid practically demands a silent protagonist, I honestly wouldn't expect less of Half Life either. I assume you're talking mainly from an interaction standpoint when there are other characters around, but that would just break the game for me.

  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I am not one to hold up Metal Gear as any wonder of storytelling, but I am not that harsh on it either. For all the talking heads with "telling not showing" there is a lot of interesting real world footage as well as in-game cutscenes. I do think sometimes the telling is the showing; after all, that's what books are about. And setting aside whether you enjoy the story, it does allow them to craft a more complex narrative than something like HL2. This is strictly complexity, not emotional strength or quality, and you can take it or leave it - but sometimes I want a really awesome short story and sometimes I want a 500 page epic.

    No! No! No! I'm sorry I lack the eloquence to, you know, use tact and stuff, but you do know "show, don't tell" applies to books as well, right? Because what you just said seems to imply you don't. The first half of that snippet is right, pedantically - I mean, exposition can be characterisation - but I doubt Kojima's even dreamt of using it for any such thing, seeing as I've played through 2, 3 and 4 multiple times and I haven't seen a single god damned speech that actually says anything about the character that's delivering it.

    I adore Metal Gear Solid, but Hideo Kojima is a terrible, terrible writer. Pretty good storyteller, good to great director, certainly in a purely visual sense - his set pieces are practically second to none. Terrible writer.

    'Show, don't tell' as used for books:

    Show:
    (when dealing with a character who is supposed to be good at something...)
    Spoiler:

    Tell:
    Spoiler:

    The problem with games? It's a medium that both shows and tells at the same time. The question becomes exactly how interactive such moments should be.

  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Doesn't Samus talk in Metroid Fusion?

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • BallmanBallman Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Doesn't Samus talk in Metroid Fusion?

    Yeah, and the dialog was pretty lousy, if you ask me.

    JC of DI wrote:
    Mr. G wrote: »
    So, there's a video of Kurt Cobain in [Guitar Hero 5] out. I feel dirty watching this, he just looks wrong.

    Well Cobain's mo-cap session was completely useless, so you can't blame them.
  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    The problem with games? It's a medium that both shows and tells at the same time. The question becomes exactly how interactive such moments should be.

    The thing is, while I take your point, too many people - I have no idea whether you're one of them - seem to use this kind of discussion as some way of backing out of confronting shitty writing, as if the fact there are hitherto unexplored depths to the business of creating interactive electronic entertainment excuses working on what should be a major part of the end product in such a half-assed way. You don't need a discussion on the future of game design to go into why MGS is so pathetically over-written. Every game in the franchise could have been infinitely more pleasing right there and then if Kojima wasn't a very confused little man with no focus and an ego the size of a planet. Get a proper writer, a good one, ditch the thematic baggage, etc., etc. Poorly written exposition is still poorly written exposition (which can be improved) no matter what bloody format it's presented in, no matter what Warren Spector or whoever seems to think.

    EDIT: Please note that perversely, I do actually like MGS for some of the very reasons I hate it - I mean, it's so wilfully obtuse it's charming, I agree. But that doesn't mean we get to pretend it's Shakespeare.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • UncleSporkyUncleSporky Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I am not one to hold up Metal Gear as any wonder of storytelling, but I am not that harsh on it either. For all the talking heads with "telling not showing" there is a lot of interesting real world footage as well as in-game cutscenes. I do think sometimes the telling is the showing; after all, that's what books are about. And setting aside whether you enjoy the story, it does allow them to craft a more complex narrative than something like HL2. This is strictly complexity, not emotional strength or quality, and you can take it or leave it - but sometimes I want a really awesome short story and sometimes I want a 500 page epic.

    No! No! No! I'm sorry I lack the eloquence to, you know, use tact and stuff, but you do know "show, don't tell" applies to books as well, right? Because what you just said seems to imply you don't. The first half of that snippet is right, pedantically - I mean, exposition can be characterisation - but I doubt Kojima's even dreamt of using it for any such thing, seeing as I've played through 2, 3 and 4 multiple times and I haven't seen a single god damned speech that actually says anything about the character that's delivering it.

    I adore Metal Gear Solid (I mean, hey, I sold a 360 and 20 games just to get a PS3 and MGS 4), but Hideo Kojima is a terrible, terrible writer. Pretty good storyteller, good to great director, certainly in a purely visual sense - his set pieces are practically second to none. Terrible writer.

    Oh definitely, I assumed he was referring to it as the difference between talking codec heads and a more visceral, real world interaction. Which does apply on some level, but I do understand the difference between poetry and "the man went to the store."

    3DS Friend Code: 0989 - 1731 - 9504
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  • MiserableMirthMiserableMirth Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't think one form of story telling is objectively better than another. I do think that there are a lot of great possibilities on focusing on the interactive element of video games.

    For example, if you had two competent developers. They make the same game with same mildly robust story. It's 3rd person, mostly linear, and the protagonist talks. Team one has no limits on how they can tell the story, and end up using about 45 minutes of cut scenes. Team two is only allowed to use 5 minutes of cut scenes.

    I would think the that team 2's game would be a lot more interesting and entertaining.

  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Ballman wrote: »
    Doesn't Samus talk in Metroid Fusion?

    Yeah, and the dialog was pretty lousy, if you ask me.

    But was it less Metroidy?

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't think one form of story telling is objectively better than another. I do think that there are a lot of great possibilities on focusing on the interactive element of video games.

    For example, if you had two competent developers. They make the same game with same mildly robust story. It's 3rd person, mostly linear, and the protagonist talks. Team one has no limits on how they can tell the story, and end up using about 45 minutes of cut scenes. Team two is only allowed to use 5 minutes of cut scenes.

    I would think the that team 2's game would be a lot more interesting and entertaining.

    I think, more importantly, if you're not going to take full advantage of the interactive elements, there's no reason to make it a video game.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    Oh definitely, I assumed he was referring to it as the difference between talking codec heads and a more visceral, real world interaction. Which does apply on some level, but I do understand the difference between poetry and "the man went to the store."

    It's just ultimately, in that sense, they're equally vapid as far as I'm concerned. Sure, it's funny when Paramedic makes pop culture references in #3, in the way that a dour, macho protagonist being poked with a silly stick is usually funny if handled by anyone who knows what they're doing, but it doesn't say a thing about her as a person other than "SHE LIEK MOOVEES LULZ", or even "IT IS THE 1960s PERHAPS YOU HAD NOT NOTICED" just as the 60s setting, despite what the Boss' excruciating soliloquies would like you to think, has no significance beyond giving the series another way to out-Bond Bond. Both these things add considerably to the appeal of the game, in that they're funny, captivating, stylish, even immersive in their own way, but they don't represent good writing.

    Despite what people might think I do hate droning on about MGS like this. Not least because I like the games and would recommend them quite highly. It's just very hard to stop once you get started. :|

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Oh yeah, definitely. MGS games usually have some fantastic themes and ideas at the core of their story, but Kojima just sort of trips over himself ham-handedly when he tries to present them.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    The problem with games? It's a medium that both shows and tells at the same time. The question becomes exactly how interactive such moments should be.

    The thing is, while I take your point, too many people - I have no idea whether you're one of them - seem to use this kind of discussion as some way of backing out of confronting shitty writing, as if the fact there are hitherto unexplored depths to the business of creating interactive electronic entertainment excuses working on what should be a major part of the end product in such a half-assed way. You don't need a discussion on the future of game design to go into why MGS is so pathetically over-written. Every game in the franchise could have been infinitely more pleasing right there and then if Kojima wasn't a very confused little man with no focus and an ego the size of a planet. Get a proper writer, a good one, ditch the thematic baggage, etc., etc. Poorly written exposition is still poorly written exposition (which can be improved) no matter what bloody format it's presented in, no matter what Warren Spector or whoever seems to think.

    EDIT: Please note that perversely, I do actually like MGS for some of the very reasons I hate it - I mean, it's so wilfully obtuse it's charming, I agree. But that doesn't mean we get to pretend it's Shakespeare.

    I believe there is a difference between the writing and the narrative. Shitty writing is shitty writing. But even you realise that sometimes the bad is part of the fun. I completely dig the atrocious scripting and dialogue delivery in the English version of Shenmue. It's fucking terrible and yet sooo good.

    But a particularly egregious example of violating 'show, don't tell' in a video game? The sidequest in Mass Effect that ends in four or five screens of text. In a game where there is at least a visual cutscene, this was certainly incongruous. I believe it was simply cut because of time, but in that case, it would've been better to pull it entirely and save it for a future sequel. (And even then it would cause a problem because it doesn't exactly fit with the rest of the game anyway and it could possibly be a long, non-interactive section.)

  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    I did think the best things in MGS 4 were the things no-one talked about much, talked about in the wrong way or drew less attention to - the "videogames r evil lulz! but yer playin one ohohoho!" angle was laughable, but the basic idea soldiers would suffer emotional whiplash when they were unplugged from the system was surprisingly effective, for all it was more of Kojima's obvious didactic moralising. And while most of the speeches directly related to the "a hero's final journey" plot thread were terrible and didn't grab me at all, the little things - Meryl's initial reaction, just... seeing my avatar bowed and broken, even Otacon, for all he's a cartoon. Age and weariness and resignation are very rarely dealt with at all effectively in videogames and it was one of the ways MGS 4 got to me without saying a word. Or despite saying way too many. :P
    I believe there is a difference between the writing and the narrative. Shitty writing is shitty writing. But even you realise that sometimes the bad is part of the fun. I completely dig the atrocious scripting and dialogue delivery in the English version of Shenmue. It's fucking terrible and yet sooo good.

    Thing is, you're allowed to enjoy that for its kitsch value, obviously. But Shenmue's not a pantomime - not an especially brilliant story or anything, but it was not written to take advantage of terrible localisation featuring the most ethnically unspecific voice acting ever laid down in a studio. The dub interferes with everything else, immersion, flow, gameplay... why should I particularly care about Tom when he barely sounds or speaks like a human being? Given the game is obviously banking on me caring...

    Of course there's a difference between narrative, writing and acting, but they are also interdependent to some degree. Silent Hill 2 has a tremendous narrative, enough to make up for it being largely an average game at best (no challenge, no real invitation to go exploring, limited immersion etc.). But it'd be a lot better still if the writing weren't so clumsy and the voiceovers largely so amateurish.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • BallmanBallman Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Ballman wrote: »
    Doesn't Samus talk in Metroid Fusion?

    Yeah, and the dialog was pretty lousy, if you ask me.

    But was it less Metroidy?

    Well, part of the problem is that the whole game is less Metroidy. I don't think you can blame the dialog for that. For one thing, it's almost perfectly linear, and to the best of my knowledge (which is decent, considering I've 100%ed the game twice and done a couple of speed runs), there's no sequence-breaking to be had.

    But back to the talking: It's just different. I don't think it's a bad game, but it presents the story differently than any of the other 2D Metroids.

    JC of DI wrote:
    Mr. G wrote: »
    So, there's a video of Kurt Cobain in [Guitar Hero 5] out. I feel dirty watching this, he just looks wrong.

    Well Cobain's mo-cap session was completely useless, so you can't blame them.
  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I actually wouldn't know, I haven't played it.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • BallmanBallman Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I actually wouldn't know, I haven't played it.

    Well, to be more specific (just assuming you haven't played other ones as well--sorry if this isn't the case), in other 2D Metroid games, there is rarely any kind of text telling you what's going on. Most of the time story is told by changing the environment. In Super Metroid, when you are reunited with the Metroid hatchling, it's the closest thing that game has to a cutscene.

    Contrast that with Metroid Fusion, in which the game is broken into individual environments. Before and after each environment (and sometimes in-between), you are required to go to navigation rooms, where your ship will tell you what you have to do (via text). Between areas, there are frequently conversations between Samus and the ship. It's just a lot more wordy.

    JC of DI wrote:
    Mr. G wrote: »
    So, there's a video of Kurt Cobain in [Guitar Hero 5] out. I feel dirty watching this, he just looks wrong.

    Well Cobain's mo-cap session was completely useless, so you can't blame them.
  • Santa ClaustrophobiaSanta Claustrophobia Ho Ho Ho Disconnecting from Xbox LIVERegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I believe there is a difference between the writing and the narrative. Shitty writing is shitty writing. But even you realise that sometimes the bad is part of the fun. I completely dig the atrocious scripting and dialogue delivery in the English version of Shenmue. It's fucking terrible and yet sooo good.

    Thing is, you're allowed to enjoy that for its kitsch value, obviously. But Shenmue's not a pantomime - not an especially brilliant story or anything, but it was not written to take advantage of terrible localisation featuring the most ethnically unspecific voice acting ever laid down in a studio. The dub interferes with everything else, immersion, flow, gameplay... why should I particularly care about Tom when he barely sounds or speaks like a human being? Given the game is obviously banking on me caring...

    Of course there's a difference between narrative, writing and acting, but they are also interdependent to some degree. Silent Hill 2 has a tremendous narrative, enough to make up for it being largely an average game at best (no challenge, no real invitation to go exploring, limited immersion etc.). But it'd be a lot better still if the writing weren't so clumsy and the voiceovers largely so amateurish.

    Here's a question*: Why the fuck does immersion get brought up so damned much as a criticism against some games? 'The VO sucks! It broke immersion.' or 'Too many cutscenes! It took me out of the game every time.' No matter how engrossing a game has been for me, I've never been taken out of myself whilst playing. Ever. It's always been just a game. Sure, sometimes I look up and find I've been playing for 18 straight hours. But I never felt so in tune with the game world that I was so disappointed by any noticed flaw that it ruined the whole game. Not once.

    And then it gets used as a kind of battering ram on those who don't care about how finely crafted the elements might be and are simply interested in whether or not they enjoyed the experience of playing the gamein the first place. Is this the sort of shit that gets dredged up by some folks because they want to prove that they didn't waste their time taking that Creative Writing course? Is it more simply a case of somebody trying to use fifty-cent words to cower any opposition?

    Strangely, it's an argument that seems to be coupled with an expressed desire to skip all non-action parts of the game and go straight back to the action. And if anything underlines 'superficial', it's a pointed lack of interest in any part of the included story no matter how well done it might be**.


    *Question not meant to imply any specific trait or deficiency in the reader. It is merely an inquiry into why it becomes the buzzword in criticism and is then used as a justification to prove the opinion is more correct.

    **I'm not sure this paragraph is worded satisfactorily...

  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    Heh, how to field that one? I don't know, I just don't like anything that ruins the illusion. What makes or breaks any sense of immersion are very dependent on what game I'm playing, though, and also having the sense of immersion broken - even repeatedly - isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, nor does it have to be an entirely negative observation. I hate the English dub in Shenmue so much not because I'm a Japanophile or any such thing - I hate it because for me the immersion comes from the myriad of extraneous details that go together to make up the gameworld, each of which show off this staggering level of care and attention lavished on the development process, and then the voice work suggests no such thing. The way I see it, you can't expect me to believe in, to be utterly sold on this lovingly rendered, beautifully observed environment when the people inhabiting it sound like they've all been marinated in horse tranquilisers. Doesn't mean I don't admire the work that went into everything else, doesn't mean I can't play it and enjoy myself and make-believe I'm there to an extent... just the obvious shortcomings mean I'm always thinking "Well, if this was even that little bit better I'd be having a whole lot more fun". I see it as settling, and I hate that. I don't enjoy settling, especially when there's no good reason I should have had to settle in the first place. It's not like I'm asking for the earth, for God's sake. Just get an actual decent writer in (and don't let the creator pick the voice actors) and we'll all "enjoy the experience" a whole lot more. I'll be really happy, everyone else who was happy already... they'll be happier. ;-)

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I think rather more simply, immersion is just one of gamings buzzword. Same thing happens in films or books all the time, except you just don't use the word immersion. Bad actor in an otherwise good film (Keanu Reaves in Dracula?) Pisspoor character in an otherwise good book (Tom Bombadil in LoTR - ok I'll probably get shit for that. Or when you have say a good book/film that suddenly goes off into a wank sex scene etc.

  • SilkyNumNutsSilkyNumNuts Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Oddly enough, I think that valve is right not to give freeman a voice, unless they were to do actual cutscenes. It always feels really odd when you're supposed to be talking in a first person game, and it's jarring.

  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    Rook wrote: »
    I think rather more simply, immersion is just one of gamings buzzword. Same thing happens in films or books all the time, except you just don't use the word immersion. Bad actor in an otherwise good film (Keanu Reaves in Dracula?) Pisspoor character in an otherwise good book (Tom Bombadil in LoTR - ok I'll probably get shit for that. Or when you have say a good book/film that suddenly goes off into a wank sex scene etc.

    Completely. And it stands out every bit as much in good games as it does good books or films - it's just with films even beautiful cinematography frequently can't distract you from a terrible performance, whereas with games, even I have to admit it's often easy enough to shrug, roll your eyes and concentrate on how something plays. Although people do use immersion when talking about books or films - just not so often, given a game's usually trying to immerse you on a good few more levels. It is a buzzword, but that doesn't mean there's nothing behind it.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • OlivawOlivaw good name, isn't it? peach treesRegistered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Nuzak wrote: »
    gameradar wrote:
    Valve's silent protagonists allowing us to completely imprint our own personalities and values upon them, the fact that key story elements unfold through actions we have direct involvement with means that we essentially are that character, doing what they do and reacting with genuine emotion as a hybrid of us and them.

    yeah because books with a protagonist with zero personality really root me in the story

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  • NuzakNuzak Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Olivaw wrote: »
    Nuzak wrote: »
    gameradar wrote:
    Valve's silent protagonists allowing us to completely imprint our own personalities and values upon them, the fact that key story elements unfold through actions we have direct involvement with means that we essentially are that character, doing what they do and reacting with genuine emotion as a hybrid of us and them.

    yeah because books with a protagonist with zero personality really root me in the story

    SHOCKING UPDATE

    VIDEO GAMES ARE NOT BOOKS

    MORE AT 11

    news just in, "protagonists" and "stories" recently found in majority of video games

    now over to asian reporter olivaw with his take on the news

  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Olivaw wrote: »
    Nuzak wrote: »
    gameradar wrote:
    Valve's silent protagonists allowing us to completely imprint our own personalities and values upon them, the fact that key story elements unfold through actions we have direct involvement with means that we essentially are that character, doing what they do and reacting with genuine emotion as a hybrid of us and them.

    yeah because books with a protagonist with zero personality really root me in the story

    SHOCKING UPDATE

    VIDEO GAMES ARE NOT BOOKS

    MORE AT 11
    It doesn't change the fact that it's unacceptable to have a character with no personality, let alone a protagonist. The only game where it wasn't totally illogical was in Bioshock.

    When you have a silent protagonist, you can potentially imprint your own thoughts and feelings on it, yes, but it also makes the character completely benign in the story. Freeman is everyone's hero and yet no one gives a shit about what he has to say on any given matter.

    And then you also of course have the Zelda brand of silent protagonists where the character isn't silent to everyone but the player. Everyone knows what Link is saying but you.

    I think the much better strategy is to try and predict how the player will feel and have that be how the character feels. SotC's the best example I can think of.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • RookRook Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I don't think Freeman is supposed to be mute with everyone just being polite.

  • augustaugust where you come from is gone Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    I like a silent Freeman.

    For me it goes hand in hand with the themes of lack of control and being manipulated by forces beyond your comprehension. It's surrealistic and, of course, doesn't make any sense.

    But it's not for everyone and that's okay.

    Spoiler:
    face | zune | last.fm | steam
  • Eight RooksEight Rooks Registered User
    edited October 2008
    That's another pet hate; sure, games are not books. I get this. Or films, or albums or comics or any other damn thing. The idea it demeans games for them to appropriate story-telling techniques from other media, or that because they're different they somehow get a free pass when they screw it up because hey, it'd only be right to criticise them if they knew how to do things properly, but they don't, so we can't...

    Utter rubbish, all of it. Bad writing is bad writing. A game with bad writing would be better if it had been better written. It's not rocket science. Games are not put together using some black art that invalidates everything you learn in English lit, Film Studies, New Media, Creative Writing, whatever. Of course game design is a very different process to writing a script, but if you showed Final Fantasy VI to a film critic they wouldn't end up pulling it to pieces because they hates them new-fangled modern distractions and/or they didn't study the history of videogaming since Space War! ergo they just don't understand.

    <AtlusParker> Sorry I'm playing Pokemon and vomiting at the same time so I'm not following the conversation in a linear fashion.

    Read my book. (It has a robot in it.)
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    That's another pet hate; sure, games are not books. I get this. Or films, or albums or comics or any other damn thing. The idea it demeans games for them to appropriate story-telling techniques from other media, or that because they're different they somehow get a free pass when they screw it up because hey, it'd only be right to criticise them if they knew how to do things properly, but they don't, so we can't...

    Utter rubbish, all of it. Bad writing is bad writing. A game with bad writing would be better if it had been better written. It's not rocket science. Games are not put together using some black art that invalidates everything you learn in English lit, Film Studies, New Media, Creative Writing, whatever. Of course game design is a very different process to writing a script, but if you showed Final Fantasy VI to a film critic they wouldn't end up pulling it to pieces because they hates them new-fangled modern distractions and/or they didn't study the history of videogaming since Space War! ergo they just don't understand.

    I think the point people were making was that Nuzak was essentially saying that the silent protagonist should never be considered a good device because good books tend to rarely if ever do this. At that point people responded that games aren't books, and more importantly, in an interactive medium like games you've got some different options and other options become more viable, such as the silent protagonist Gordon Freeman, because you are supposed be Gordon Freeman. And to be honest, it works very well there. Sorry, but it does, I appreciate that not everyone likes it, but I don't think that Gordon Freeman would somehow be a brilliant protagonist if he started speaking all of a sudden. That's not really the point of what they're trying to do.

  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    subedii wrote: »
    That's another pet hate; sure, games are not books. I get this. Or films, or albums or comics or any other damn thing. The idea it demeans games for them to appropriate story-telling techniques from other media, or that because they're different they somehow get a free pass when they screw it up because hey, it'd only be right to criticise them if they knew how to do things properly, but they don't, so we can't...

    Utter rubbish, all of it. Bad writing is bad writing. A game with bad writing would be better if it had been better written. It's not rocket science. Games are not put together using some black art that invalidates everything you learn in English lit, Film Studies, New Media, Creative Writing, whatever. Of course game design is a very different process to writing a script, but if you showed Final Fantasy VI to a film critic they wouldn't end up pulling it to pieces because they hates them new-fangled modern distractions and/or they didn't study the history of videogaming since Space War! ergo they just don't understand.

    I think the point people were making was that Nuzak was essentially saying that the silent protagonist should never be considered a good device because good books tend to rarely if ever do this. At that point people responded that games aren't books, and more importantly, in an interactive medium like games you've got some different options and other options become more viable, such as the silent protagonist Gordon Freeman because you are supposed be him. And to be honest, it works very well there. Sorry, but it does, I appreciate that not everyone likes it, but I don't think that Gordon Freeman would somehow be a brilliant protagonist if he started speaking all of a sudden. That's not really the point of what they're trying to do.
    Damn I had no idea that you could prove your point just by saying "sorry, but I'm right."

    It was an important step forward, and it's a tactic not without it's merits, but I would still say that a well-done protagonist that talks or even emotes at least a little is always better than a well-done one that doesn't.


    Unless, again, the game in question is Bioshock where there's a reason for it.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    subedii wrote: »
    That's another pet hate; sure, games are not books. I get this. Or films, or albums or comics or any other damn thing. The idea it demeans games for them to appropriate story-telling techniques from other media, or that because they're different they somehow get a free pass when they screw it up because hey, it'd only be right to criticise them if they knew how to do things properly, but they don't, so we can't...

    Utter rubbish, all of it. Bad writing is bad writing. A game with bad writing would be better if it had been better written. It's not rocket science. Games are not put together using some black art that invalidates everything you learn in English lit, Film Studies, New Media, Creative Writing, whatever. Of course game design is a very different process to writing a script, but if you showed Final Fantasy VI to a film critic they wouldn't end up pulling it to pieces because they hates them new-fangled modern distractions and/or they didn't study the history of videogaming since Space War! ergo they just don't understand.

    I think the point people were making was that Nuzak was essentially saying that the silent protagonist should never be considered a good device because good books tend to rarely if ever do this. At that point people responded that games aren't books, and more importantly, in an interactive medium like games you've got some different options and other options become more viable, such as the silent protagonist Gordon Freeman because you are supposed be him. And to be honest, it works very well there. Sorry, but it does, I appreciate that not everyone likes it, but I don't think that Gordon Freeman would somehow be a brilliant protagonist if he started speaking all of a sudden. That's not really the point of what they're trying to do.
    Damn I had no idea that you could prove your point just by saying "sorry, but I'm right."

    Fine. "Sorry but it works for me, your word about how crap it is isn't law, and calling Valve idiots for continuing this doesn't make it true either".

    Better?
    It was an important step forward, and it's a tactic not without it's merits, but I would still say that a well-done protagonist that talks or even emotes at least a little is always better than a well-done one that doesn't.


    Unless, again, the game in question is Bioshock where there's a reason for it.

    I'd say there's a reason for it in Half-Life 2 as well.

  • FalstaffFalstaff Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    august wrote: »
    I like a silent Freeman.

    For me it goes hand in hand with the themes of lack of control and being manipulated by forces beyond your comprehension. It's surrealistic and, of course, doesn't make any sense.

    Or in the case of Portal, it makes a bizarre sort of sense. If not for the necessity of seeing the protagonist through portals, I would've been happy to assume that it was supposed to be me bouncing through those sterile rooms. You can't get much more immersive than that.

    The less the character knows, the better this technique seems to work.

    Still verbing the adjective noun.
  • Speed RacerSpeed Racer I'm Speed Racer and I drive real fast. I drive real fast, I'm gonna last.Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Falstaff wrote: »
    august wrote: »
    I like a silent Freeman.

    For me it goes hand in hand with the themes of lack of control and being manipulated by forces beyond your comprehension. It's surrealistic and, of course, doesn't make any sense.

    Or in the case of Portal, it makes a bizarre sort of sense. If not for the necessity of seeing the protagonist through portals, I would've been happy to assume that it was supposed to be me bouncing through those sterile rooms.

    The less the character knows, the better this technique seems to work.
    It makes sense in Portal because Chell has no one to talk to.

    You might be able to argue that HL has thematic reasons for having a silent protagonist, but it makes no logical sense that no one wants to hear the input of the guy who they hold up as their hero.

    speedsig2_zps388d2098.jpg
  • subediisubedii Registered User regular
    edited October 2008
    Falstaff wrote: »
    august wrote: »
    I like a silent Freeman.

    For me it goes hand in hand with the themes of lack of control and being manipulated by forces beyond your comprehension. It's surrealistic and, of course, doesn't make any sense.

    Or in the case of Portal, it makes a bizarre sort of sense. If not for the necessity of seeing the protagonist through portals, I would've been happy to assume that it was supposed to be me bouncing through those sterile rooms.

    The less the character knows, the better this technique seems to work.
    It makes sense in Portal because Chell has no one to talk to.

    You might be able to argue that HL has thematic reasons for having a silent protagonist, but it makes no logical sense that no one wants to hear the input of the guy who they hold up as their hero.

    But they are hearing it. I'm the one responding. You say how it makes "no logical sense" but that's only if you presume that you're not supposed to be taking that character's role. When playing HL2 I've felt it works very well, and really helps to draw me into the game. When I heard the protagonist speak in Crysis for the first time, I was thinking "who's this idiot talking over the radio?" Then I realised, that was supposed to be me. But I sure as crap didn't want to sound as stupid as that. Having that voiceover didn't do anything to draw me into the game somehow, and to be honest just ended up feeling jarring and doing the exact opposite.

    Also, you bring up Bioshock, but the main character from Bioshock had plenty of opportunities to say anything he wanted, but he never did.

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