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How FPS Storylines Are Written 165

Posted by Zonk
from the insert-bullets-rinse-repeat dept.
Might E. Mouse writes "Cynics might say 'Who needs a storyline for an FPS game?' and if we're talking Quake or Doom then fair enough. But to brand the entire genre as lacking in story is to condemn gems like Half-Life 2 or Chronicles of Riddick. So what goes into writing a really compelling storyline for an FPS game? bit-tech has an article exploring this topic with the likes of Martin Lancaster, writer / designer for Crysis, Rob Yescombe, writer of Haze and more: 'There's nothing wrong with that of course, back in the day Quake was amazing in its own, essentially plotless, right. But it's interesting that only recently has a push for coherently told storylines appeared among FPS fans, bought on by another few years of maturity in what is an undeniably young medium. Paintings and music have both been around since time out of mind, but computer games have only been around for a couple of decades and only recently have they begun to be recognized for the artistic merit posed by their interactivity.'"
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How FPS Storylines Are Written

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  • Never been done (Score:5, Interesting)

    by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:46AM (#19969557)
    I've never played a FPS with a truly compelling story. Every FPS story feels totally contrived, like they were written by 12-year olds. It could be that there is a disconnect between what the writers have written and how that is implemented as the game itself, so maybe the stories are good and it's just bad execution. In any event, in my experience nobody has come very close to delivering a good compelling FPS story.
    • by Ant P. (974313)
      I've played many a FPS with a good story... just not the ones bundled with the game engine on disc.
    • It's not a medium that lends it's self well to stories. The best you can do is half life 2 but then you end up with story bits in set places which just leave you bored after the first place through. The other alternative involves way too much text and is totally avoidable if you want it to be.
      • "It's not a medium that lends it's self well to stories."

        I disagree. People are just doing it wrong. The lure of interactive story-telling has destroyed the potential to tell good stories with the FPS genre. Interactive story-telling, if it ever works, will require either AI or dedicated human game-masters (like D&D). And honestly, how often has D&D even been good story telling?

        If the focus was more on good plot development, good dialog, and believable characters we'd be way ahead of where we are
        • Re:Never been done (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Broken scope (973885) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @01:51PM (#19972585) Homepage
          Your comment about the human dungeon master something I have thought about.

          Imagine a game world styled like EvE, just as large, and just as expansive. Now smash together EvE and planetside. Space ships in space, marines on the ground and fighters and bombers in air and space. Now of course the game should start off structured. You want to be a marine, you join your respective factions AI or possibly human/employee/game master controlled military. Your opening story denotes a time of peace, and thus your initial job as a player is to do thinks like eliminate a pirate base inside your factions space. Now you could be the only player within your group of 20 marines, or you could be leading a fire team of 9 other players or 4 players and 5 ai marines. So you get your "briefing" from an Ai mission dispenser who is a superior officer.

          So you and your buddies or your men or you by yourself go towards the mission. Well you can't attack a pirate base with just your transport, so you get matched up with either some Ai fighter pilots or a mixture of players and Ai. The problem is, the pirate base is in an asteroid belt that is about 4Au away from your assigned station. Well you need a ship with jump drives to get there so you and your fighters get loaded onto a small corvette that might have an AI crew with some humans, or it could just be a single Ai Captain with an Ai crew.
          Then you attack your target and hopefully win, if you lead enough successful operations, the men below, above, and beside you could also note you for leadership, thus allowing you to move up in the ranks.

          Say you don't want to be part of the military, say you want to be a miner or an explorer, you would start out in your respective structure and work you way up. Slowly as players moved up in the structure, you would allow them to take over things to an extent. You wouldn't give complete control over a factions military to a single player, though you could allow them into the very upper echelons of power. There will be people who stay within their factions structure, and those that abandon it for their own structure of choice, they could even make their own.

          Slowly let the players take control, then after say 2 month of play just long enough to let people get into it introduce some chaos using your game masters (Think of them as a race of loki like aliens, make them killable too, cause frankly the hunting them would be neat), have a major NPC leader get assassinated by what looks like the other faction, put another NPC in or let a player take those reins, then let the war begin.

          Do what you think you need to do to keep the game going, assassinate, impersonate, and manipulate.

          Let the players write the story. It's rather interesting what happens sometimes.

          Now if only computers could do this now..
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by 2names (531755)
            You have just described a game that I would like to play. Please let me know when you start the BETA, as I would like to be a tester.
            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Broken scope (973885)
              All I've got is the design document... and a dream... that one day..

              Wait Im at work, I don't have time for the next part. With any luck I'll call you sometimes in the next 10 years.
          • by Ryan Amos (16972)
            MMO Halo?

            Don't think that MS probably isn't planning this...
            • Why would it have to be halo? Actually, most people couldn't do the math to make a decent halo capital ship battle. Not to mention that one shot destroying your big ship would make many people cry and be really bitchy.
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        Personally, I think it's very possible to have a good story line. Just look at Metroid Prime. It has a pretty good story line. There's some people who say it's not an FPS, but it's from the first person perspective (for the most part), and I'm shooting things, so I'm not really sure what's missing from the equation. Maybe because they make you jump and solve puzzles and stuff, and don't spend your whole time just shooting bad guys, some people think it isn't an FPS. But as far as I can see, it is.
        • by grumbel (592662)
          ### Just look at Metroid Prime. It has a pretty good story line.

          One that is told through a bunch of post-its that are all over the world and is almost completly disconnected from actual gameplay. Heck, I played through the whole game and couldn't tell you a thing about what was going on in that story, since I simply had zero interest to actually read that post-it mess. If that is good storytelling, they better just print all that stuff out, bundle it into a book and ship that with a game. From good storytel
    • System Shock 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zolf13 (941799) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:52AM (#19969667)
      ... could be a nice start.
    • Re:Never been done (Score:5, Informative)

      by giorgiofr (887762) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:52AM (#19969669)
      Holy cow, you have missed out big time. Get Deus Ex immediately. Later move on to Half-Life 1 and 2. And there are probably other ones that I don't remember.
      • Re:Never been done (Score:4, Interesting)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @11:03AM (#19969835) Journal

        Get Deus Ex immediately. Later move on to Half-Life 1 and 2.
        Deus Ex is a definite yes. HL has good cinematic elements to it in the form of scripted events, but I don't know that you can necessarily say it has a great story. I can't comment on HL2, as I haven't played it. Halo is so-so, but the crowning gem of FPS stories has to be Marathon [bungie.org].
        • Deus Ex is a definite yes.

          Haven't played it.

          HL has good cinematic elements to it in the form of scripted events, but I don't know that you can necessarily say it has a great story. I can't comment on HL2

          That's being kind. Half life was not a good story. Period. Neither one nor two. It had a good plot - in terms of events - but very, very little in terms of character growth or personal interaction. There was no drama. The potential to tell a story was there, but we need more focus on the *people* in the
          • Re:Never been done (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @12:27PM (#19971197)
            Ok, before you say ANYTHING about story in FPS games, you need to play Marathon, System Shock 2, Chronicles of Riddick, Thief, or anything more substantial than Half-Life and Halo. (To pre-empt the obvious question: the Chronicles of Riddick videogame is about 10 times better than the movie, which sucked.)

            You're basically sitting here telling us that all movies are terrible, but all you've ever seen is Weekend At Bernie's. Watch some Kubrick films, then come back and tell me all movies are terrible, and I might lend your opinion a little weight.
            • by Descalzo (898339)
              How did I not know there was a Chronicles of Riddick game? For some reason (I still don't know why) I loved that movie.
            • "Ok, before you say ANYTHING about story in FPS games,..."

              Hey, I was just commenting based on my observations. I didn't think I was trying to tell everyone "this is how all FPS games, ever, are".

              I'll try out some of those games. I've seen Thief. It looked OK. Marathon I've read through, but it's a pain to try and actually get the game to run on anything. I don't know about System Shock 2 or Chronicles of Riddick.
              • by Blakey Rat (99501)
                Fair enough. I wasn't really trying to single you out, but it seems that there's a lot of people who talk crap about games when they have very little experience with them.

                Marathon runs good on Macs using the Aleph One open source engine, and I think the Map, Sound, Physics, etc files were made free some time ago. (At least, I downloaded them for free from a Bungie site, but I don't know if they are still up, or if it was a limited-time thing.) I haven't tried it on Windows.
                • Marathon runs good on Macs using the Aleph One open source engine, and I think the Map, Sound, Physics, etc files were made free some time ago.

                  I'll check it out on my macbook pro. I don't think I had a mac last time I tried to run Marathon (I know I tried it on XP, not OS X).
            • by Mortanius (225192)
              American cinema peaked with Weekend at Bernie's...

              Sadly, the sequel just didn't have the same charm.
            • by antic (29198)
              Stray a tiny bit from an FPS to 3PS for GTA: San Andreas. Nothing outrageous storywise, but there was at least a bit of meat to it here and there. Some decent characters. Surprised to not see it mentioned at least tangentially.
          • If you can't/don't want to play Marathon, you can read the transcripts from the game at http://marathon.bungie.org/story/ [bungie.org]

            There is a LOT of commentary there too.
            • I have read through pretty much the entire story line. It looks very deep, but there's just no way to really judge how it was presented without playing the game. The potential is certainly there, I just don't know about execution.

              It's like reading the outline to a novel. If the outline sucks, the novel probably does too. But if the outline's great (as with Maraton) the novel might still suck.
        • Marathon was the first FPS I ever played on my Quadra 610 back in the day. I loved the story, reading the terminals, trying to find hidden terminals to put more pieces of the puzzle together. It was like reading a book, but more engaging due to the presentation. You'll hate Marathon if you just want to blow things up and be done with it, but if you love a good story, it's golden. Imagine the environment they could do with today's desktop processing power and the same story. Although I think by playing the M
      • How about Metroid Prime? Not a "story" per se, but the space pirate logs available through the scan visor are plenty interesting
        • by MenTaLguY (5483)
          Yeah, those were pretty cool, and some were really entertaining. They definitely are trying to do storytelling through the logs and lore scans in both MP1 and MP2, as well as dropping lots of storytelling clues in the design of the environments you explore.

          Sadly (particularly in the Chozo and Luminoth lore) the logbook scans suffer from the same problem as many video games: when it comes to writing in-game text, the writers sound like pretentious English majors (Tycho of Penny Arcade is the most extreme ex
          • by MenTaLguY (5483)
            Actually, I'll take that back about Shadow of the Colossus; looking over a game script I guess it wasn't too bad, at least if the intent was to use the traditional plural/singular T-V distinction in English to convey differences in formality in the original Japanese subtitles (in which case Dormin's use of "we" would be the "royal we"). They did still misuse -st endings a lot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by immcintosh (1089551)
        I'm not sure I would describe any of those storylines as "truly compelling" in the sens in which the GP poster is speaking. Deux Ex, I would say, stepped above the level of contrived garbage written for a 12-year old to more of a trashy sci-fi fan-fic level of quality. Half-life 1 and 2 had great atmosphere, but their stories were really nothing special. Half-life 1 especially was just your run of the mill save-the-world-from-aliens bit. Half-life 2, while it had its good points along the way, I found w
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by morari (1080535)
        Deus Ex is an RPG, thus the compelling story. Just because it has some shooting and is in a first person perspective doesn't make it any more a FPS than Morrowind is. And the Half-Life series barely has a story, it keeps everything vague and shrouded in mystery (which did NOT help the sequel).
        • Defending Half Life (Score:4, Interesting)

          by BeansBaxter (918704) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @01:44PM (#19972437)
          I am not sure why Half Life is getting the rap so badly. While the story might not be the strongest in the world as it leaves plenty for you to fill in. Like why the man in black is walking around and why he is at the end of the game. If you take your time going through the game there were some truly classic moments. One of my favorites was crawling through and air duct and listening to some of the soldiers complain about Freeman and why they wanted him dead. The game worked really well for me and made me feel like it was all about me and my actions had consequences. Obviously they were scripted but the game really pulled me in and made me care about trying to live to the next fight. The scripted sequences and the way that characters interacted with Freeman was exception in my opinion. Anyway just thought I'd lend some support to my favorite game of all time.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by nomadic (141991)
        Get Deus Ex immediately. Later move on to Half-Life 1 and 2. And there are probably other ones that I don't remember.

        Thief 1 and 2, and even 3 is decent, though not as good as the others. Extremely well-written fantasy, far better than most of the stuff that makes it to the fantasy section in the bookstores.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anne_Nonymous (313852)
        Also try Minesweeper and Tetris.
      • I don't remember much of anything about the story of Deus Ex.

        I've played the original Half-Life all the way through at least 2 times but it wasn't because of the story. I replayed it not because it is a great story but because it is fun to play. What exactly is the story in Half-Life? Aliens are invading. The government is trying to kill everyone to cover it up.
    • Re:Never been done (Score:4, Informative)

      by Dysfnctnl85 (690109) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @11:01AM (#19969799)
      Have you played Max Payne or Max Payne 2? Incredibly compelling storylines -- nothing has even come close since.
    • by Altus (1034)
      Marathon [bungie.org] was pretty good at this. I mean, no great work of literature sure, but if you read all the terminals it was pretty easy to follow the story and if you dug deeper you could get more out of it.

      Admittedly nothing in the story explained why key switches in the ship were located on the far side of pools of lava (or some other deadly fluid) but whatever. My friends and I always used to joke that you wouldn't want to be the guy who had to retrieve faxes on the Marathon. "But boss, the last guy you se

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by east coast (590680)
      It would be nice for you to lend a bit of insight into what you have an have not played. To be honest, if you break down even the most epic of tales eventually everything sounds like it was written by 12 year olds. This actually works to the advantage games with storylines in general...

      You ever played Alice or Undying? Fantastic games with great visuals in their day. The great thing about the story lines was that you could make it make as much of a difference in the game as you wanted. Didn't give a damn a
      • "The great thing about the story lines was that you could make it make as much of a difference in the game as you wanted. Didn't give a damn about poor Alice being in an institution and suicidal? Ok, just chop something up with this knife. Don't give a damn about the Covenant family and the Undying back story? The game still gladly leads you by the nose as long as you don't get sloppy and get yourself killed."

        That's another way of saying "they had no storyline". Do novels require input to have good storyli
        • That's another way of saying "they had no storyline".

          You missed the point of the parent post which is players could complete the games without paying attention to the story-line, which is totally different than saying "There is no story-line."

          I have played Deus-Ex, I am working my way through Invisible Wars, I have also played HL and HL-2, episode One, Mech Warrior, and others. The only games in that list that I think have a reasonable story line that is required to understand to have fun in the gam
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by east coast (590680)
          That's another way of saying "they had no storyline". Do novels require input to have good storylines? No.

          What bullshit. The input a novel requires is for the reader to put emotion into a bunch of words. Without that fiction is a meaningless waste of time. Or are you suggesting that any story telling can be successful regardless of the observer? If you think that you're even more full of shit then what I originally thought.

          We identify with characters who are sympathetic even though we can't influence th
          • The input a novel requires is for the reader to put emotion into a bunch of words.

            That's obviously not really "input". I mean input in the sense of "data that goes into the system and changes what comes out". Reading a novel doesn't change the words on the page. The work exists independent of what a reader thinks. You can appreciate a novel more or less based on input (in the sense of emotional investment) but not change the work itself.

            You, like the OP fit into my idea that you simply don't want more s
        • by nuzak (959558)
          > Americans believe in character-driven stories (as oppose to plot-driven stories like the Illiad or the Odyssey)

          Uh, the Iliad wasn't character-driven? The whole epic was driven by larger-than-life characters, and padded out by grandiloquent speeches by the same. And its sequel, the Odyssey, is freaking named after its central character.
          • Uh, the Iliad wasn't character-driven? The whole epic was driven by larger-than-life characters, and padded out by grandiloquent speeches by the same.

            Exactly. "Larger than life". E.g. not very realistic. Did you see character development? Nope. That's part of what I'm talking about.

            And its sequel, the Odyssey, is freaking named after its central character. ...? So if a work is named after a person it must be person-driven?
            • by nuzak (959558)
              I'll grant that the characters in the Iliad were archetypes, but I still don't concede for the Odyssey, which really does delve into Odysseus's motivations and flaws throughout. He may not be Just Plain Folks, but he's very much a fleshed-out character.

              Anyway, I'm still not buying the notion that we're into characters over plots. Most hit movies are driven by (usually inane) plots with characters that exist to further its tension and resolution. Character stories like Magnolia and Garden State are the mi
              • I'll grant that the characters in the Iliad were archetypes, but I still don't concede for the Odyssey, which really does delve into Odysseus's motivations and flaws throughout. He may not be Just Plain Folks, but he's very much a fleshed-out character.

                Let's see if I can explain a bit better. I'm not saying that they didn't have any well-drawn characters necessarily (although that's frequently a by-product of plot-driven narrative) but the real hallmark is that the events are frequently driven regardless of
        • by localman (111171)
          Does anyone stop to realize why CYOA books never rose above 5th grade reading level?

          More or less the same genre, yet some of Infocom's titles surpassed this by a long shot. Try "Trinity" or "A Mind Forever Voyaging".

          And in general I strongly disagree that storytelling is a one way street. The effort of the audience matters. Absolutely every story ever told, regardless of medium, can have someone in the audience who tunes out and says at the conclusion "that sucked". Art is communication. In communicati
          • And in general I strongly disagree that storytelling is a one way street. The effort of the audience matters.

            That's not what I'm saying. When an author sits down to write a story is it a one-way street? Yes. Novels are written with very little (if any) collaboration. When a story is READ than the reader invests their time and emotion into the story. So we've got separate creating the work from presenting/experiencing the work.

            In the creation phase it is more or less unilateral. And I'm advocating tha
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      All this means is that you've never played:

      Pathways Into Darkness
      Marathon series
      System Shock 2
      Thief series
      Halo/Halo 2 (especially Halo 2)

      Now, you're right that most FPS games have crummy stories. Gears of War and Half-Life 2 disappointed me, since they tell you basically nothing about how the world you're in came to be. The story of Lost Planet was predictable and loaded with cliches. But there are good ones out there, and you're doing the genre a disservice by dismissing it out of hand. There are a lot of
    • by Trojan35 (910785)
      I have to say the Marathon universe had the best storyline of any games I've played. Marathon: Durandal will be on XBL soon, although I highly recommend the entire library if you're going for story.
    • ... and save the en-tire planet.
    • You should look up the Marathon series, by Bungie. Although the graphics are dated now, the plots were light enough to allow fun gameplay, but deep enough to allow extended analysis ( http://marathon.bungie.org/Story/ [bungie.org] )

      I think they're good examples of getting it right in an industry that too often says "why bother with a reason to do stuff?"
  • by garett_spencley (193892) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:48AM (#19969593) Journal
    ... solely for that reason.

    I love FPS games, but Quake and Quake II just seemed too pointless and lacking in any kind of reward.

    Quake III Arena was much different because it was multi player and the point was more to compete and develop your "skills" (pardon the term, I just can't think of anything more appropriate) against other human players.

    But Quake and Quake II had absolutely no rewards. The protagonist was not someone that you could relate to. The monsters seemed rather random. There was no hot chick waiting for you to save her at the end of the game. The game play didn't progress in any interesting fashion. Nothing really happened. It was just point, shoot, kill for absolutely no reason.

    The graphics were better than Doom but I found Doom to be more fun. The levels were shorter, and I guess it was just new. With Quake/QuakeII it was like Doom but with better graphics and different weapons and aliens. Been there. Done that.

    So yeah ... I think story lines are essential to a fun FPS even when (correction: especially when) the main activity is just pointing and shooting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Soul-Burn666 (574119)
      Who needs storyline when you have co-op?

      Doom, Quake and later SeriousSam were all games with pretty much no important story but fun fun fun in multiplayer co-op.

      I don't know if I'm alone in this thought, but for me it was much funner to play jDoom [doomsdayhq.com] in coop than Doom3 single. Simple graphics, simple levels and a whole lot of fun.
      • Serious Sam might not have had a story, but it did have some nice bits of narrative in the head-up display. It is still my all-time favourite FPS for co-op play. Tweak the blood options, have a few drinks, and then blow up a load of aliens that bleed multicoloured flowers...
  • Only recently? (Score:2, Informative)

    by sa1lnr (669048)
    Clive Barkers Undying springs to mind. And it was scary to boot.

    Much underrated game to my mind. One of the few games that I have actually played all the way through.

    Shadowman was another.
    • That was the first thing to pop into my mind as well. Excellent script, excellent atmosphere, effective sound.

      The real weakness of the FPS has been the fact that, until relatively recently, you've been constrained on the GUI. I mean, think of the possible actions in your average RPG or other seriously story driven game, and then think of the FPS "actions" which are as follows: run, shoot, jump, action.

      Some games make it work; Undying was great, not because of any imaginative action system, but because the s
  • by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:52AM (#19969665) Homepage Journal
    Map designer: "Hey, check out this really cool Gothic arch I made in worldcraft!"
    Lead designer: "Nice, that really looks like a gateway to hell. I like the guys chained to the stone walls suspended above a pit of lava too. It looks like their souls have been sucked right out of them."
    Resulting game story: "You must pass the gateway to hell, and descend into the depths to save the damned before their souls are harvested."

    Dan East
    • by xtracto (837672) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:58AM (#19969747) Journal
      "Story in a game is like a story in a porn movie. It's expected to be there, but it's not that important."

      from wikiquotes...

      • that's why all games by id soft are so boring to play in the single player mode.
        carmack should play deus ex a couple of times, maybe then he'll understand.
      • Nonsense...

        -You dare to attack me here? Do you even know who you face?

        -So godchild, you have escaped.
        -You're not going to torture us any longer.
        -Torture? Silly girl, you just don't understand what I'm doing, do you?
        -I don't care what you're doing, let us go.
        -I won't let you leave, not when I'm so close to unlocking your power.
        -We don't want anything from you!

        -ENOUGH. I don't have the time to listen to the babbling of ignorant children.
        -This is an unsanctioned use of magical energy, all involved will be held
        • by nuzak (959558)
          David Warner could make the ingredients list on a cereal box compelling.

          Shame about the voice they got for Imoen though.

      • He said that...and his company's games exemplify that. But while there is something to it, FPSes with compelling stories outsell FPSes without compelling stories. Halflife 2 outsold Doom 3.

        Single player games without some story get tedious. (Multiplayer games are, of course, entirely different...no story needed.)
  • I'd say FPS stories are written in the following manner:
    1) various generic plot devices are written on a couple of hundred Post-It notes
    2) post it-notes are stapled to a bulletin board in a random arrangement
    3) fifteen darts are thrown at the bulletin board
    4) ???
    5) emergency all-nighter to write some crap based on 15 of those Post-Its

    Honestly, even the "okay" stories in most games are, at best, not complete rubbish. It's just that, as with comic book stories, our standards are rock-bottom low.
  • by Aladrin (926209) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:56AM (#19969725)
    I'll save everyone some time from reading the article:

    New games need story. Stories need writers. Writers need to think about the audience.

    Some games already have stories.

    There's a lot of plugs for the Haze game, for some reason.

    And that's it... There's nothing else. They act all philosphical about how FPS's need story/etc, but it's absolutely no different than how other games need story, except in scale. RPGs need more, puzzle games need less.
  • Manatees (Score:4, Funny)

    by cerelib (903469) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:56AM (#19969731)
    Oh look, he's got a "kidnapped sidekick" story ball.
  • by Wulfstan (180404) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:58AM (#19969753)
    The Marathon series was a mac-only creation written by Bungie (before they were bought by Microsoft - they went on to do Halo I think) and it was an example of a FPS with a seriously deep storyline. It was so complex and deep that I couldn't even follow it! But they put in loads of effort to make it consistent, a great game and practically an FPS novel. An oldie but a goodie.
    • Mod parent up. (Score:2, Informative)

      by MrFancyPants (122224)
      Seriously. http://marathon.bungie.org/Story/ [bungie.org]
    • by X_Bones (93097)
      Marathon 2 was released for Win95, but M1 and Moo were Mac-only.

      Of course, with Aleph One [bungie.org] and tons of free content [bungie.org] available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, everyone can play it now.
    • by Creepy (93888)
      *originally* mac only - it was ported to x86 later.

      It wasn't even Bungie's first FPS, per-se - that would be Pathways Into Darkness [bungie.org] (wiki here [wikipedia.org]. Some argue that this was technically a first person RPG with shooter and horror elements (like Ultima Underworld, TES Arena, etc), which I wouldn't disagree with, but I found it more intense and difficult than most shooters of that era (Wolf 3D, Doom) and even the next generation (like Rise of the Triad, Marathon, and Duke Nukem 3D).

      on a completely unrelated note,
  • Half life (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordBafford (1087463) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @10:59AM (#19969759) Homepage
    I think the original halflife had a good story behind it, and as they added mods for it the story was played through different angles, with specific points relating to the original story. Like in Opposing Forces, you played HL through the eyes of the marines involved, then in blue shift you go to go through the story as a black mesa gaurd. I even played a user made mod that had you play as a an alien and see their side of the story. With a basic plot line of Scientists cause a problem and open portal to another dimension, they did quite a lot with it to let you see it from many angles.

    Another mod for HL1 was They Hunger, which had a pretty decent storyline, it had 3 installments and was a zombie based game. In all it had a good story to it.

    So to sum up FPS games can have good story lines, but depending on what the game is a bout and when it is set matters and might limit what story can be conveyed.
  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @11:14AM (#19969995)
    "Technology adds nothing to art. Two thousand years ago, I could tell you a story, and at any point during the story I could stop, and ask, Now do you want the hero to be kidnapped, or not? But that would, of course, have ruined the story. Part of the experience of being entertained is sitting back and plugging into someone else's vision. The fact of the matter is, since the beginning of time, you could buy a Picasso and change the colors. That's trivial. But you don't because you're buying a piece of Picasso's $&#**^% soul. That's the definition of art: Art is one person's ego trip."
    - Penn Jillette
    • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @11:44AM (#19970469)
      By that definition, Daikatana was definitely art.
    • by seebs (15766)
      He's wrong, though.

      Interactive art is different from non-interactive.

      Not better. Not worse. Different.

      When I play a game like Monkey Island, I am not wrecking some guy's story, and I am not missing out on the insane fun it would be to just hear it told.

      Montfort's Twisty Little Passages, I think, while not totally satisfying, makes a basic case that games are more like riddles than like conventional stories.
    • While that is to some extent true, and insightful too, I'd say mods at least prove that it's more complex than that. E.g.,

      1. There are people who actually enjoy being creative in their own right, and taking the story in their own direction

      2. There are people who have strong feelings about what kind of characters they want or don't want to play. Since a game essentially requires you to be the lead actor in that story. And it has happened to me before (and to countless others) that a character was a major tur
    • Just because you are given a choice in a game doesnt mean you are all of a sudden not following the creators story anymore.

      We havent reached a point where games have significant AI where everytime you play through a story the ending will be different. All your endings are already written and apart of the story, you just happen to choose which one you end up seeing. The story is already made and is apart of what the storyteller wants you to see.

      You are still apart of the artists vision, its just that his vis
    • by grumbel (592662)
      Somebody better tell that to all those parents that tell their childs interactive bed time stories [slashdot.org].

      I would go as far as to say that fixed stories are actually a rather new thing, thanks to printing press and movies that allow to keep them in an hard to modify state, before that, they might have changed each time they got told, since they only existed in the tellers mind and not word for word recorded on paper.
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7NO@SPAMkc.rr.com> on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @11:17AM (#19970041) Homepage
    DeusEX, Thief and Chronicles of Riddick Butcher Bay are all grossly underrated as far as storyline goes. Compared to even most RPG's out there today they stand head and shoulders above 95% of the games out there. I'd go so far to say that the story of the Riddick game is actually better than the second movie. All three are completely different in genre and atmosphere and actually engage the player with a goal in mind far beyond getting to the next level. Prey was another that was fun to play and had a decent attempt at a story.
    • The characters in Deus Ex were awesome too, especially the Ai constructs.

    • I'd love to see a remake of Deus Ex to take advantage of modern hardware. It had a great plot, interesting characters, and believable missions.
  • Theif (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JeremyGNJ (1102465)
    I think the closest I've seen to a good plot in an FPS was the Thief series. Or maybe the plot wasn't so much good, as the game play was immersive, so you're more accepting of what plot there was. Another good one was the original Max Payne! The stuff with his baby being killed and the dream sequences that followed were a good plot that really "made you mad" and want. It is hard to write a plot line that involves "kills lots of stuff indiscriminately". I think the best way to get that effect is to do
  • That still is a great game, despite the older graphics. The story carries it. I feel like I'm Clint Eastwood every time I play it..
    • by ThosLives (686517)

      Oh, wow... I used to burn so many hours in college on that one.

      The taunts...oh, the taunts!




      (And don't forget dynamite!)

  • Duh! (Score:2, Funny)

    by tbcpp (797625)
    1. Load rough drafts into shotgun 2. Fire shot gun into wall 3. Paste shreds randomly together 4. ??? 5. Profit!
  • Um... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by morari (1080535) on Tuesday July 24, 2007 @12:08PM (#19970897) Journal
    They're not.
  • "You kill stuff. The End."
    Truely unique. And all the story I need for an FPS. :-)
    ( http://cubeengine.com/ [cubeengine.com] )
  • If you're looking for well-crafted story in the FPS genre, an oft-overlooked and not-as-well-known entry has to be Undying, with backstory penned by (or under the direction of) Clive Barker. As a game it was somewhere between average and good, but the story was definitely solid.
  • While I want some motivation or rational for things, if stories are going to be told through cut scenes then count me out. As far as I'm concerned most cut scenes are just lame cop-outs for games that either can't figure out a way to tell the story without them or have limitations in their game engine that prevent the player from doing it themselves and so they have to make a cut scene to show the character to something.

    If that is how stories are going to be told in FPS then leave them out or at least make
  • Call of Cthulhu [callofcthulhu.com] anyone? Kick ass mashup of a bunch of Lovecraft stories? It's the only game besides 'Fatal Frame 2' that fills me with a terrifying sense of impending doom while I play it. Good story too.
  • ...I liked the puzzle-breaks and bits of dialogue in half-life, but one of my friends hated all that and "just wanted to shoot stuff". So some people would argue that "more plot" is a bad thing, anyway. I love how so many posters seem to consider "plot quality" to be something you can objectively measure. I think it is difficult to compare a static movie plot with an interactive game plot. A game has to have a fun interactive element or it might just as well BE a movie. When you watch a sword fight in

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