storytelling, plots, and narratives + videogames

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I've been playing 2016 Doom on the Switch, and while it is barely plot driven, I find the occasional cut scene kind of rewarding, not least as a respite from all the action.

Josh in Chicago, Monday, 17 September 2018 20:33 (eleven months ago) link

I tried to play MARIO TENNIS: POWER TOUR (this is how we're doing this itt right?) for GBA on emulator recently and that thing is jammed with story. It takes forever to get to a tennis match. I just wanted to play tennis. It seems there was a handful of years after OCARINA OF TIME where story and handholding were the focus. But I think younger demographics were the target there. There's a post-Minecraft push now to take out story and at the very least imply lore instead as world building.

But for dads and bros etc. that distinctly cinematic AAA big budget realism action story game genre is still a popular thing and would be interesting to see fall out of style.

Evan, Monday, 17 September 2018 20:36 (eleven months ago) link

xp AAA games still do fine, the thing that collapsed is mid-budget games that aren't made by small enough indie crews to sell at $20 instead of $50. Nintendo still operates on magic dust here while everyone else is running super thin margins or moved to service games and mobile games

ciderpress, Monday, 17 September 2018 20:39 (eleven months ago) link

xp the game boy era Mario tennis and golf games are all presented as rpgs with stories like that, i really liked them! but i guess most people had your reaction since they stopped it

ciderpress, Monday, 17 September 2018 20:45 (eleven months ago) link

I just wasn't expecting it at all! I'm sure it's great though. Came to mind reading DC's post about story applied to otherwise pick up and play game formats.

Evan, Monday, 17 September 2018 20:53 (eleven months ago) link

"respite from the action" is something worth thinking about... how much things that in other media are primarily in service of "story" are here because the player really would be exhausted without them. i suppose you could compare to perfunctory plots in schlocky low-grade action films where the talky stuff is something like filler between the action. in games though these scenes can be both respite and reward. and maybe to fully feel like a reward they need to feel like they're "advancing the story."

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 20:58 (eleven months ago) link

Well that's getting into narratology and the eternal tension between narrative (advancing the story, duh) and spectacle (pause/cessation of story advancement).

Nag Reddit (Leee), Monday, 17 September 2018 21:00 (eleven months ago) link

like even just thinking about DOOM, i turn my mind back to the original DOOM and DOOM II which each had like what, three screens of text at certain key points making clear what's going on ("After fighting through miles of Hell, you've finally reached the...."). and god, I loved getting those screens. Sorta repeating myself re: Ninja Gaiden but their rarity, and the fact that you couldn't just view them at will, made them so special, and then having read them you retrospectively organized the level-beating you'd been doing anyway into some kind of larger narrative. I wonder if those games would be better or worse if you got one of those screens after every level. that might fit the "respite" model a bit better but I wonder if it would enlarge or enfeeble the imagined narrative I was bringing to the game.

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 21:05 (eleven months ago) link

Or something like Tekken, where the fighting is both its own goal and the means to unlock the amazing CGI nuggets of story about the characters and what happened afterwards.

I mean, the real elephant in the room here is possibly FFVII, which was a complex game centered largely around materia management iirc, but drew you onwards towards more emotional plot delivered through cutscenes (but only if you ground enough to beat the bosses).

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 17 September 2018 21:55 (eleven months ago) link

.. is it grinded?

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 17 September 2018 21:55 (eleven months ago) link

yeah - essentially the skeleton of FF6 i'd argue, but the way heightened dazzle/separateness/rarity of the cutscenes is probably relevant here.

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 22:21 (eleven months ago) link

of course - FF7 was definitely THE game for a whole generation that got people into cutscenes (though like you mentioned - FF6 was better on both gameplay and narrative!)

Nhex, Monday, 17 September 2018 22:37 (eleven months ago) link

I've been playing through FF6 recently, and I'd strenuously disagree - though that's probably better in another thread.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 17 September 2018 22:47 (eleven months ago) link

i like the cast in 6 and the visuals have aged well because its 2d but the story is not as good as you might remember, it just was the first game to really pull the huge midgame jrpg twist so it's memorable for that

ciderpress, Monday, 17 September 2018 23:28 (eleven months ago) link

the big, not-in-engine cutscene always fits weirder in RPGs than in other games imho, because it's like, you're always talking to people, witnessing events, interfacing with the "plot" - what makes these five or six scenes so special? especially when there'd be one that felt like kind of an unimportant scene or just showing one awkwardly-rendered wordless car crash or something... you could really the seams both between the gameplay and scene, and between experience that's supposed to be there, and something some other team came and added later.

one thread-relevant thing FF6 has over 7, imho, is that even its most indulgent and, as far as the "story" goes, irrelevant cutscene (the opera) is continuous with the rest of the world and the way its npcs act and talk. it's also a really thin minigame which also counted for novelty back then. and yet fans loved iirc? i want to say it was a popular subject for idk fanfic and fan lauding back then. so people were invested in it, just in *parallel* to the way they were invested in the "story" of terra and the espers and magic/nature being exploited by a technological military state, and redemptions for a whole cast of broken or fallen characters.

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 23:44 (eleven months ago) link

I remember there being a TON of that in FFVII though, endless wrought scenes with \[...\] - there’s a flashback that you get the opportunity to save at the start AND end of - the CGI cutscenes that I recall were all “and now for something awesome”.

Andrew Farrell, Monday, 17 September 2018 23:54 (eleven months ago) link

oh yeah i'm not saying in-engine "acting" went away, just that the addition of non-engine scenes was awesome at the time but kinda distracting and weird also.

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 23:56 (eleven months ago) link

FF7 really self-consciously mixed the chibi + "realistic" styles. since this happens in manga a lot I think they just rolled with it

Nhex, Monday, 17 September 2018 23:58 (eleven months ago) link

actually i might have found the in-engine scenes more compelling, since they were actually drip-feeding the story through dialogue, while the cutscenes were all silent-movie stuff.

got the scuba tube blowin' like a snork (Doctor Casino), Monday, 17 September 2018 23:59 (eleven months ago) link

i understand ff 7-10 were influential and popular, but do we need to take them any more seriously, ludically, then we take the work of roberta williams? gaming as spectacle has always been around.

milkshake duck george bernard shaw (rushomancy), Tuesday, 18 September 2018 00:04 (eleven months ago) link

Hah, I think Al Lowe might be a better touchstone.

Andrew Farrell, Tuesday, 18 September 2018 00:14 (eleven months ago) link

I take Robert Williams very seriously! The Coles and Al Lowe too.
Also FF7 and onward probably reached like, millions more people around the world than all of Sierra Online's games. You can kinda painfully see their influence, for better or worse, in AAA and indie adventure games alike.

Nhex, Tuesday, 18 September 2018 05:30 (eleven months ago) link

Roberta! pff

Nhex, Tuesday, 18 September 2018 05:31 (eleven months ago) link

The Colonels Bequest is GOAT

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 07:25 (eleven months ago) link

a friend of mine was at a game jam recently where the theme was ‘ludonarrative dissonance’ (he made a turn-based platformer)

i have been playing hyper light drifter and the wordlessnessness of it has just been the most massive relief to me

uncharted sucks last of us is ok i guess

shadow of the colossus is another interesting edge case

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 07:29 (eleven months ago) link

i have so much to say on this but i should read the whole dang thread first! this shit is literally uhh my job

will say this tho -- line up the scenes in raiders of the lost ark and they align almost exactly with uncharted 2, the most lauded of the series. seriously it doesn't take a lot of work to beat-for-beat align them. (i did this for a research project). the only part that it misses is the denouement, because the game basically goes climax -> 2m cutscene -> credits

vote no on ilxit (Will M.), Wednesday, 19 September 2018 16:56 (eleven months ago) link

you want an edge case? Killer7
(man i love that unholy mess of a game)

Nhex, Wednesday, 19 September 2018 17:43 (eleven months ago) link

has storytelling in mainstream videogames ossified? have the bounds of the acceptable become, uh, delimited? i was at an indie gaming thing in busan and i was surprised that both keita takahashi and swery have games coming out which are like, way indie, way small budget. and those two made some of the biggest narrative successes of previous generations.

also like ... the amount of fucking talking in super mario odyssey (a not very good game)

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 21 September 2018 06:13 (eleven months ago) link

didn't really finish a thought there: by 'biggest successes' i mean, that succeeded most interestingly in doing narrative in a way that was 'video game-y' and not just borrowing the conventions of the cinematic

the ghost of tom, choad (thomp), Friday, 21 September 2018 06:18 (eleven months ago) link

in retrospect the fact that the most popular ps2 "launch title" was a dvd of the matrix really set the tone for what's followed

ciderpress, Friday, 21 September 2018 12:02 (eleven months ago) link

xp those guys are making games on indie budgets because publisher support for mid budget games without service models has eroded significantly this decade

ciderpress, Friday, 21 September 2018 12:16 (eleven months ago) link

consumer support too, all the deep sales of steam and ps4 games less than a year after release have created a market where people will only pay full price for the fanciest, shiniest, most hyped things, and narrative quality doesn't really factor in to that

ciderpress, Friday, 21 September 2018 12:25 (eleven months ago) link

How about this: narrative is a way to get players to form emotional attachments to characters, both playable and not.

Nag Reddit (Leee), Friday, 21 September 2018 17:21 (eleven months ago) link

yeah i'd buy that as a baseline position. connects up with what i was saying here:

when i wanted games with more "story," some of that was standing in for, i want to identify with the character and feel like i'm in the world, feel a sense of drama and tension. i gravitated towards games where the "oh shit" tension and "aha!" payoffs of the challenges and puzzles sort of mapped onto things that the characters would be going through and experiencing, and i called that "story" because the games that had it also tended to have more characters, more dialogue, more revealing-of-the-world-as-you-go-along. as discussed way back on one of the adventure game or Sierra threads, back then a few new pixels appearing when a door opens or you move a rock could be a huge thing in terms of gameplay and breaking through a "stuck" point, and if that coincided with new information about the world, a revelations about the character, a change in your protagonist's status quo, even better.

|Restore| |Restart| |Quit| (Doctor Casino), Friday, 21 September 2018 18:19 (eleven months ago) link

im not sure it's one of the more effective ways in practice, many of the games that generate a lot of character fandom do that purely through character designs and bits of dialogue without an actual in-game narrative or story mode e.g. fighting games, mobas, overwatch, some mobile gacha games

ciderpress, Friday, 21 September 2018 18:25 (eleven months ago) link

maybe gacha games aren't the best example since the most popular ones like fate grand order do have insane labyrinthine stories

ciderpress, Friday, 21 September 2018 18:44 (eleven months ago) link

Playing through the Banner Saga now via the Switch port, this feels like an excellent example of ludonarrative integration. The story bits almost always involve the player directly, and the stakes of all player decisions feel very real & weighty. It is stressful and beautiful.

a film with a little more emotional balls (zchyrs), Wednesday, 26 September 2018 16:11 (eleven months ago) link


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