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[PATV] Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - Extra Credits Season 2, Ep. 1: Amnesia and Story Structure

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited July 2012 in The Penny Arcade Hub
image[PATV] Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - Extra Credits Season 2, Ep. 1: Amnesia and Story Structure

This week, we talk a bit about Three Act Structure, In Medias Res and amnesia as a plot device.

Read the full story here

Dog on

Posts

  • lehoangminhlehoangminh Registered User regular
    So...this does not help much. The thing is, when starting act 2, what is the time, frequency, or amount of clues should be left there for act 1 ? How much is good, and how much is bad ? Just like reading a detective novel, if the clues are too clear it will be boring. If the clues are to vague, readers feel like the ending is rushed and illogical. When it comes to media such as game, there are also several distraction like combat, visual, music, status, thinking about various things to upgrade. I think it is a question that can never be answered.

  • SirDaviesSirDavies Barcelona, SpainRegistered User regular
    Brendon Chung (creator of Thirty Flights of Loving) makes a good point related to this during the dev commentary of that game. He says that the reason why amnesia is such a popular way to start a game is because that way the player knows just as much as the character about the world, so the more basic explanations don't feel forced/unnatural. Not all games can afford or can logically explain having an introduction that includes a short version of the character's life, nor is it always important.

  • BakessnakesBakessnakes Registered User regular
    It isn't ever explicit that the player character has Amnesia, is it? I know functionally s/he does as we never hear his/her back story (maybe we do in DLC?) but it allows the character to be totally shaped by the player. The only fact we have is that s/he is a courier. I think as an RPG it didn't want a back story other than "You were a courier that got shot in the head". It is very much in line with the first couple of fallout games where you start in the middle of a life and your current choices are the only thing to reflect the past. You define what your character was by how you play him/her. Less of a traditional narrative to be defined by three acts and much more of an interactive RPG to be shaped in part by imagination.

  • MoggMogg Registered User regular
    Amnesia was done rather well in Amnesia the Dark Decent. You start knowing as much as the character. You're in a castle that is spooky and feels a little unstable. You pick up notes left behind which reveals why the character is where he is, why he has amnesia and the overall goal of the story with clues how to go about certain puzzles.
    I've played a few indie horror games that have the character you play not quite remember the actual events that took place, being the actual bad guy in the story rather than the victim as they hallucinate themselves to be. Generally they do not reveal the truth until the climax of the story, but leave ever so subtle hints along the way that what your character is experiencing isn't quite right.

  • NelsonStJamesNelsonStJames Registered User regular
    I'd have to say one of the best uses of amnesia would be Bioware's first "The Old Republic Game". But getting back to three act structure; more and more media seem to fail miserable at it. The third act is rushed, or weak. Shakespeare (considered by some to be the greatest modern English writer) actually used five acts, not three. The heroic journey is getting pretty old too, there are other story paradigms out there, and game developers really need to seek them out.

  • ginoleginole Registered User regular
    It's funny, I thought of the Courier as a blank slate; I did experience some cognitive dissonance because his job as a courier didn't really fit the stereotype I imagined him as, but ASIDE from that minor conceit, I felt the game had, in fact, allowed me to write the backstory for myself. After all, that he was a "courier" really only means that, at the point in his life when the game begins, he is a traveler, and makes a living *by* being a traveler. It isn't a particularly conflicting datum; pretty much any character concept works with it.

    I have no patience for stupidity. I get very impatient with myself sometimes...
  • coalczarcoalczar Registered User regular
    Best use of amnesia goes to Planescape:Torment. It was actually a very important part of the plot! Also, that game has one of the best stories ever told in games.

  • FreakyCheeseManFreakyCheeseMan Registered User regular
    I actually greatly preferred New Vegas to Fallout 3, partially because of the beginning. I felt it gave me a lot more role playing power - I could pick a variety of potential backgrounds for myself, rather than be stuck with "You're a sheltered vault kid who somehow metamorphosed into a complete bad-ass overnight after leaving the vault."

    Plus, the whole Fallout 3 vault sequence really cut into replay value, for me - I had to go through a very repetitive, not-that-interesting section every time I headed out to create a new character.

  • FreakyCheeseManFreakyCheeseMan Registered User regular
    I actually greatly preferred New Vegas to Fallout 3, partially because of the beginning. I felt it gave me a lot more role playing power - I could pick a variety of potential backgrounds for myself, rather than be stuck with "You're a sheltered vault kid who somehow metamorphosed into a complete bad-ass overnight after leaving the vault."

    Plus, the whole Fallout 3 vault sequence really cut into replay value, for me - I had to go through a very repetitive, not-that-interesting section every time I headed out to create a new character.

  • NomudNomud Registered User regular
    I agree with what most are saying about the way New Vegas is set up, and with what was said in the video about the amnesia giving the player a great blank canvas to paint whatever character they want versus being some sheltered vault dweller who somehow ends up a badass.

    To be fair, the 3 act structure isn't the only way (or necessarily the best way) to tell a story, it just happens to be the most common. I'm not sure if it's fair to assert the 3 Act structure onto New Vegas--really most of the game is kind of a mix of "Act 1" and "Act 2" because nearly the entire time is spent on introductions like an Act 1, but also the "collecting" and "partying up" phase of Act 2. It's really more of a hybrid than just skipping Act 1 outright. The courier's previous life is more of a prologue than anything.

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