Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Games

Why Should Game Stories Make Sense? 169

Posted by Soulskill
from the thank-you-mario-but-our-princess-is-just-not-that-into-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An opinion piece at Polygon raises an interesting question about how we perceive video games: why does so much effort go into having the plot make perfect sense? Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember? You can probably name the protagonist and antagonist, but do you really know what they were fighting about? The article says, [Developer Jake Elliot] talked about the difference between a puzzle and a mystery. He argued that a puzzle has a solution, while a mystery may never be solved. A puzzle must make sense, but a mystery may well not. In the context of a game, the mechanics are the puzzle, while the theme is the mystery. The game play must be predictable, or the player will never master it. But the theme can be evocative and open-ended. A theme evokes the horrors of war; the mechanics remind you to reload your gun. The plot is stuck in the middle. It wants to make sense of a game, but the game play is already doing that. If we were watching a movie, the plot would provide the backbone, but games don't work like movies, and the plot can get in the way. It can feel awkward and unwelcome, while a looser thematic layer can be the most memorable part of the game.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Should Game Stories Make Sense?

Comments Filter:
  • by noblebeast (3440077) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @04:56PM (#46849555)
    The real plot problem is that not enough effort goes into game plot development.
    • by loonycyborg (1262242) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:55PM (#46849827)
      The real problem is the lack of integration of plot and gameplay. In most current games 'plot' exists as some cutscenes and scripting forced on gameplay that otherwise exists in different universe. Instead gameplay itself should drive the story, not scripting.
      • by mjwx (966435) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @08:46PM (#46855713)

        The real problem is the lack of integration of plot and gameplay. In most current games 'plot' exists as some cutscenes and scripting forced on gameplay that otherwise exists in different universe. Instead gameplay itself should drive the story, not scripting.

        Half Life, Deus Ex, System Shock and System Shock 2.

        Oh wait, you said most current games, PC games of yore had perfected mixing gameplay and storytelling by 2000. Even some modern games have managed it, Fallout 3/New Vegas had very short stories (main plot) but it was player driven and player influenced as well as having a crapload of non-essential tasks and info that can also effect the ending.

        May as well add KOTOR and Mass Effect into that list.

        The problem is with games that put a half arsed effort into making a story. Thinking of all your COD's here where they follow a generic story with overused cliche's and terrible scripting. A nameless, faceless musclebound meathead sent out to destroy an enemy that's perfectly designed to retard sympathy (Nazi's and Terr'ists). Few games manage to work moral ambiguity into their stories, not even the classics like Half Life (which is quite simple as stories go, but perfectly integrated into gameplay). Not all games need a complex story or even a story at all but a simple story (or a complete lack of one) is far better than a bad story.

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:01PM (#46849863) Journal

      The real plot problem is that not enough effort goes into game plot development.

      I dunno - sometimes they over-do it, taking themselves way the hell too seriously.

      I think the coolest game I ever played is still an old-assed text-based game [wikipedia.org]. The game came with a scratch-n-sniff card, a 3D comic book (with glasses), and just enough 'plot' to get you started. The plot is is scare quotes because, quite frankly, it's intentionally stupid, silly, risque - but hellishly funny. The game itself required a ton of imagination on your part (because it was all text-based), and a lot of mental recall to avoid getting lost, killed, etc.

      Even now, 2+ decades later, I still get a smile when I think of the so-called "plot" (it begins in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, then instantly puts you on Mars, etc...)

      That aside, here's something else to consider: one of the absolute most popular games of the '90s was the Doom/Quake franchise, right? The 'plot' for Doom and Quakes I, II and III were thin at best, and let's be honest - it only got in the way of the real reason we all played Quake: Kill shit in realtime 3D and watch the gibs fly. The big 'plot' in the CTF/Team Foretress/WeaponsFactory MODs, and in CounterStrike and suchlike? Really - what plot?

      I guess what I'm getting at is this: a plot is only useful sometimes - not all games need one, and if a game really needs a heavy, complex plot, then maybe it's just trying to cover for crappy gameplay?

      • by chmod a+x mojo (965286) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @07:23PM (#46850217)

        You are 100% correct in that not all games need a deep plot. FPS's for example just need enough plot to get you to the next slaughter zone.

        A RPG with little to no plot would be pretty much worthless though. Yet as we have seen with Square-Enix and the unfortunate butchering of the Final Fantasy series post X / X-2 a good plot can't help if you have a battle system that people hate because it radically deviates from the 11 prior main story-line games that literally grew your franchise and people loved. FF-13's story was decent, but the game play just didn't feel like the FF series people had grown to love... especially for those who cut their teeth on FF7. It just wasn't fun running through a map that was basically a curved tunnel ( FF-13).

        Same goes for the Tales of (____) series games, without the plot, and just as important, character interactions the games would just be doing boring repetitive shit for no reason.

        In other words, games have to have enough plot to drive game play ( how much depends on the genre of game), and good enough game play ( not deviating too far from prior games if in a series and pissing off long time fans ) to keep people interested.
           

        • FPS's for example just need enough plot to get you to the next slaughter zone

          I don't know. It seems to me that even an FPS needs a good plot. Or perhaps the whole genre has declined and not just the plots. I've recently got a free copy of Battlefield 4 with my new graphics card and to me the SP campaign felt like a completely broken and ridiculous sequence of cheap graphics effects. It was just stupid from the start to the end. Compare that to HL2, which had an interesting plot and good, challenging game play. To be honest, I find myself enjoying Arma 3 more than any recent FPS even

          • Honestly, I think it is a little of both; FPS's need SOME plot, and games have been declining in recent years with the race for the best graphics at the cost of all else... the HL series was kind of a mashup of almost RPG with FPS elements to FPS with some RPG-like storyline immersion.

            The way it sounds, at least for you and BF4, there just isn't enough plot to drive the game along, hence why I said it needs enough plot to get you to the next slaughter zone. Too many games in recent times just try to rely

        • I agree. Plot isn't everything. EVE online, for example has absolutely no plot. There's some missions, which are very repetative, but then it's all about PvP in a massive sandbox. What this means is that the people are the plot. An unfortunate side-effect of that, is that most "people" are dicks, so there's a lot of ganking that goes on.
        • by ultranova (717540)

          FPS's for example just need enough plot to get you to the next slaughter zone.

          Wolfenstein 3D begins deep in a well-guarded castle, in a cell with a dead Nazi on the floor and you with a pistol, and this type of enemy uses pistols. That's a lot of plot right there. It's just told in an efficient manner.

        • by westlake (615356)

          FPS's for example just need enough plot to get you to the next slaughter zone.

          There is more to good storytelling than plot.

          No game ever set the stage better than the intro to Half-Life.

          On its release, [Half-Life] received universal acclaim, with critics praising the seamlessly flowing narrative, presentation and realistic gameplay, and it won over fifty PC Game of the Year awards. Its gameplay influenced the design of first-person shooters for years after its release, and it is widely considered to be one of the greatest computer games of all time. IGN ranked Half-Life as the number one greatest first-person shooter of all time, stating that ''When you look at the history of first-person shooters, it all breaks down pretty cleanly into pre-Half-Life and post-Half-Life eras.''

          Half-Life [wikipedia.org]p

        • Some game play is so bad that I sell the game used, and just watch a walkthrough to see what happens. Sometimes just a wiki summary is good enough.

          Unfortunately, I look like a happy customer when that happens, so I end up renting first. If it isn't available, I skip it entirely.

          So while plot is what keeps you playing, game play can just be in the way of an otherwise mediocre story.

          Now, what's wrong with the article. Skyrim does not have a linear plot, so "this happened then this" does not make sense

      • by DiEx-15 (959602)

        The real plot problem is that not enough effort goes into game plot development.

        I dunno - sometimes they over-do it, taking themselves way the hell too seriously.

        I think the coolest game I ever played is still an old-assed text-based game [wikipedia.org]. The game came with a scratch-n-sniff card, a 3D comic book (with glasses), and just enough 'plot' to get you started. The plot is is scare quotes because, quite frankly, it's intentionally stupid, silly, risque - but hellishly funny. The game itself required a ton of imagination on your part (because it was all text-based), and a lot of mental recall to avoid getting lost, killed, etc.

        Even now, 2+ decades later, I still get a smile when I think of the so-called "plot" (it begins in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, then instantly puts you on Mars, etc...)

        That aside, here's something else to consider: one of the absolute most popular games of the '90s was the Doom/Quake franchise, right? The 'plot' for Doom and Quakes I, II and III were thin at best, and let's be honest - it only got in the way of the real reason we all played Quake: Kill shit in realtime 3D and watch the gibs fly. The big 'plot' in the CTF/Team Foretress/WeaponsFactory MODs, and in CounterStrike and suchlike? Really - what plot?

        I guess what I'm getting at is this: a plot is only useful sometimes - not all games need one, and if a game really needs a heavy, complex plot, then maybe it's just trying to cover for crappy gameplay?

        To add to your point:

        Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Pong, Tetris: What story ? There is hardly one there, if any. Eat pellets, get high score. That is Pac-Man's story. Tetrris? None. Donkey Kong? A big ape stole your girl. Get her back. The end. Pong? Use paddle. Don't miss the ball.

        The point is: Story is not that important in video gaming. The level of immersion and interaction and how a gamer does this is key in the suspension of disbelief in a game. A lot of times, gamers can't even remember the story, jus

    • Many movies don't have a meaningful plot --- as Alfred Hitchcock called it, a common practice is begin a movie with a "McGuffin".

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacGuffin

      The McGuffin is something that begins a quest or series of events but ultimately doesn't mean anything. An example, is a quest to find the Holy Grail or to find the Maltese Falcon or James Bond needing to find a device stolen that can [insert what it does] or Bob owes a loan shark $5000.

      Video game plots generally don't help the video game
      • a mcguffin doesn't mean there isn't a plot. there are some great movies that have mcguffins. off the top of my head, the suitcase in pulp fiction (the one that glowed gold when they opened it). it was an important item that everybody wanted but you never found out what it is. The second is the "rabbit's foot" in mission impossible III. Everybody wants it but you never find out what it is. I don't remember if they ever even uncover it!

        point is, you can have rich plots even with a mcguffin.

        for the purpose
        • by Quirkz (1206400)

          From what I understand about Pulp Fiction, the glowing suitcase is supposed to contain a human soul. Now maybe someone was joking when I heard it, but it kind of makes sense.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @04:57PM (#46849565)

    They don't need to make sense in a universal fashion, they can be completely unrealistic/unbelievable. However they should make sense internally. Whatever rules are laid out in the game universe, it should make sense within that setting.

    Most people can easily suspend disbelief and accept another world. However that suspension can be shattered if nothing makes sense, the rules keep changing, and there's no internal consistency.

    That was, for example, one of the big problems in the Mass Effect games. I won't go in to details to not spoil it but the ending of the trilogy was bad in a large part because it had no internal consistency. It didn't make sense in regards to the narrative that had been going on in the games up to that point. It was a deus ex machinia kind of event that just shattered the story for many.

    So no game stories don't need to make sense in terms of the real world, but if they are to be good they should make sense in terms of themselves.

    • Arguably, there might be situations in which internal inconsistency works (and might even work better than the alternative), it's not as though literature has had nothing but total failure with stories where narrator unreliability, assorted magical-realist or supernatural elements, imperfect information, and so on make deriving an internally consistent ruleset for the story's setting effectively impossible.) There are even stories that do just fine despite explicitly denying the possibility of internally co
    • by Assmasher (456699)

      Exactly. The plot can be fantastic, but consistent to itself in order to maintain the 'suspension of disbelief.' Very well said old man... Cheerio, eh, wot?

    • by RJFerret (1279530)

      Most memorable games I've played? Chess. I can tell you great experiences I've had, wonderful stories. Why would I care about a fictional story someone wrote when I want to play a game? If I wanted that, I'd read a book.

      I've experienced story driven games, Lord of the Rings Online, the story is by some guy named Tolkien, if you haven't heard of him, he wrote some well received books. None of the stories provided by the company that makes LoTRO are part of my gaming memories. But I can tell you about h

      • What kind of idiot skips game content? You have to sit through the story, however boring it might be, to make the most of the game.

        • The first Far Cry, for instance. Or Diablo 2 quest descriptions (I play that game a few times on LAN).
          Far Cry had enough gameplay and an optional enough plot that it made sense to skip it, or maybe it was just about not listening to the crap.. Cut the plot and you have a great blend of old school FPS and innovative gameplay, hell it was even special as it made me actually like the checkpoint saves.

          • How do you know xhat you're supposed to do?

            • by denzacar (181829)

              Because the game was made easy enough so even people who don't want to read can beat it.

              Usually it is accomplished by putting huge blinking signs on the victory items.
              "CLICK HERE TO WIN THE GAME!!!"

              - click -

              "GOOD JOB! You have won the game! Here - have some numbers as a reward. They are big numbers. That means you are really good at winning."

      • A story is a series of events recorded in their chronological order.
        A plot is a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance.

        The "deliberately arranged" bit is the important part.
        In a book or a play it's the old three or four or five act structure, which makes sure that you get all the information you need where and when you need it and which keeps the story interesting.
        You know... It makes sure that the detective finds the killer in the end, after finding all the clues if it is a mystery or that he finds the killer in the beginning then showing us how he kept missing the clues if it is a drama or a satire.

        Or, put in another way,

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      They do make sense though. I don't know what sorts of strange games the author has been playing, but I'm guessing FPS.

  • by bunratty (545641) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:04PM (#46849595)
    This was what was so great about Lost. There were so many mysteries, yet every time a mystery was solved, it just raised yet more questions. Many viewers still didn't get it by the time the finale was long over. A game where you're always in medias res and constantly being surprised by new revelations could be even more fantastic! Come to think of it, that's what makes life so cool.
    • I really, really tried to follow the plot for Lost, but in the end and after all those years I just can't figure out why Maggie shot Mr. Burns.

    • The mystery is great, but Lost's failure to solve a majority of them in a sufficient manner within the confines the rules of that show's universe is what ultimately left people with a very bad taste in their mouth. Plot is great if it's a good plot, but a bad plot is worse than no plot at all.

      • Yeah, the Lost producers really did a poor job of wrapping it up. That ending, after all that went before? Ugh, what cliched crap.

  • Not every game needs one.

    • by jader3rd (2222716)
      Tetris doesn't pretend to have a plot. This article sounds like somebody who has made games and story and is frustrated by the feedback that the plot doesn't make sense.
    • by Culture20 (968837)
      Did you know arkinoid had a plot? It was written in the game manual.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Did you know arkinoid had a plot? It was written in the game manual.

        ISTR the arcade version telling you the story as part of the attract mode. I don't have MAME installed just now, however.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        That's kind of why I didn't bring it up or its predecessor "Breakout." Breakout, in the arcades, had graphics which indicated a breaking out of jail metaphor. Not exacty "told" to anyone but the metaphor was present.

      • The manual tells you what they want you to think. It's a cover-up [tvtropes.org].
    • Tetris Worlds has a plot: block creatures trying to escape their dying planet through portals unlocked by high scores in Tetris. Too bad The Tetris Company had to screw it up by using Tetris Worlds to launch infinite spin [ytmnd.com] as a new official rule of Tetris [harddrop.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember? You can probably name the protagonist and antagonist, but do you really know what they were fighting about?

    Yes? I consider myself to have below average memory for plots and characters in stories in general, including books and movies, yet I can remember more than two characters from most stories, video game or not, that I've paid any attention to in the last 10+ years. Even stuff I was exposed to before that in high school I could at least give a quick paragraph summary. What if someone said:

    Think about fiction books you've read. How much do you actually remember? You can probably name the protagonist and antagonist, but do you really know what they were doing?

    Just because you and some other people have bad memory or don't pay attention doesn't mean such things can be ignored.

  • by Culture20 (968837) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:23PM (#46849669)
    In the games that were AWESOME, I do. And you know what made those games awesome in my opinion? Internally consistent plots (along with good gameplay).
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And you know what made those games awesome in my opinion? Internally consistent plots (along with good gameplay).

      FOR GREAT JUSTICE!!!

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:24PM (#46849673)

    Simple question, simple answer. Games are about satisfying desires. Whether that means the satisfaction of overcoming challenges or the satisfaction of bringing a story to a fitting conclusion doesn't matter. If the story didn't make sense it wouldn't be satisfying, and so the satisfaction would have to come from some other element. If the game failed to be satisfying in that aspect as well it would be bad and no-one would play it.

    • If the story didn't make sense it wouldn't be satisfying

      It wouldn't be satisfying to who? That doesn't apply to everyone.

      • How is that relevant to anything I said? Nothing applies to everyone, outside of the categories of biology.

        • How is that relevant to anything I said?

          Because I replied to something you said?

          • If replying to something signified relevance, the world would be ruled by youtube comments.

            • It was relevant. If you wanted to state it as your own opinion, I think you should've done so.

              • I wrote "If the story didn't make sense it wouldn't be satisfying." I think you misinterpreted what 'it' referred to, which was the story, not the game. "A game that does not have a story is unsatisfying" is an opinion. "A story that doesn't make sense is unsatisfying" is a tautology, unless you find satisfaction in irrationality, in which case you are insane.

      • Wow, engineer must mean "train throttle puller" in this case. There sure as hell isn't any indication of the logic that a builder / designer type engineer should exhibit.

        It is quite obvious that " if the story didn't make sense it wouldn't be satisfying" refers to the previous sentence, particularly the last subject matter of the previous sentence having to do with the satisfaction of bringing a story to a fitting conclusion. It is further supported by the next portion of the sentence stating that "if that

        • It's "obvious"? To who? I've seen numerous people who think that their opinions about subjective matters are objectively correct, so if you don't state something as an opinion, there's no real way to know which type of person you are.

  • The Cake is a Lie (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Scowler (667000) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:32PM (#46849709)
    Portal / Portal 2 : Great games with both fantastic gameplay AND brilliant writing.
    • Portal blurs the distinction between game design and writing. I would say there is no real writing in Portal, as the story is told almost entirely through the way the game is designed. Portal 2 has a more obvious narrative, one that's not told by the world but by beings in the world.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      And yet the game made perfect sense.

  • Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember?

    All of it if the story was great. Even if the gameplay was just OK, sometimes worth it to advance the story.

    If the story was bad, none of it - or the game.

    If the story was REALLY bad, all of it plus I seethe with rage forever.

    I also do remember some games with zero story quite well - I think the thing with story is, there's a kind of narrative uncanny valley. You have to go all in on having a story, or don't bother.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      If the story was REALLY bad, all of it plus I seethe with rage forever.

      Now go: collect sentience from the species of the galaxy with the sentience thresher and deposit it in the sentience silo at the center of the galaxy for the eternal ones to eat.
      Soilent sentience is People!

  • Fallacious premise (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    What makes something "a mystery" isn't the fact that it doesn't make sense, it's the fact that it doesn't deliver a definitive answer.

    Far too many TV shows and "beach thrillers" rely on nonsense to move the plot along (internal contradictions, characters acting completely out of character and against their own interests to make some plot twist possible, deus ex machina "solutions" to holes the script writers dug themselves into, etc.).

    And, sadly, game writers tend to be recruited from, those ranks (i.e., pe

  • If the story draws me in, I'll enjoy it, and be more inclined to try more titles by the same publisher. If it has plot holes, I'll stop enjoying it, and avoid that publisher. Same thing applies to movies and TV shows.
  • Half Life anyone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MindPrison (864299) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @05:43PM (#46849771) Journal
    Anyone who remembers Half Life would probably understand the importance of a story within a game.

    Before Half Life, I played 2D console games like Pac-Man, Asteroids, Space-Invaders and other today classics, followed by 3D games like Wolfenstein, DOOM, The QUAKE series etc... no one of them had any decent stories IMHO. Then Half Life came along, it was a milestone in video gaming. Video games and actual VIDEO now merged into one, and games never felt this immerse and exciting. I remember literally jumping in my chair when the onslaught of surprises came to life in that game.

    When introduced as a worker in the Black Mesa research facility - I actually FELT like I was really working there, just to face a day out of the ordinary. We could walk around and "sort of" talk to people, and it felt ...real somehow. I wish games where that awesome, but somehow...the sequels plus a lot of other games have failed to pick up where Half Life left of, but I personally feel THIS IS THE WAY TO GO!
    • Yeah, that's basically right. A game doesn't need a story to be good, but if the story is good, it's better.
      A game doesn't need good graphics to be good, but good graphics make it better.

      Other things are more important, but a good story still makes things better.
    • It has been my constant gripe to my friends that the original HL was the superior game in the series. The story in the first one was enthralling and immersed you in it. The second one, while shinier, paled story wise.
  • I think that the Silent Hill games (at least 1-4) do a fantastic job of having strong themes and plot but still leaving a lot open to perceptual conjecture on the part of the player.

  • by aepervius (535155) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:00PM (#46849853)
    Ultima 4, 5, 6, 7, 7-2 (even the bad one 8,9), I remember the protagonists background and motivation. Heck Planescape torment, who can even forget that ? "What can change the nature of Man ?". I disagree that the story is not important. The story as a motivation well done IS important. The problem is that since the game are sold globally now, and the cultural difference between market are so huge, it is increasingly difficult to come up with a story sensitive to all cultures.
  • A substantial amount of people get annoyed by things that don't make sense, especially in America. That's why you don't see a lot of In media res in films, and why we keep getting Spider Man/Batman/Superman's Origin story over and over and over again. As for why media caters to these folks, well, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. There are fewer people annoyed by bluntly laid out stories than get annoyed by obtuse storytelling.
  • by gweihir (88907) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @06:46PM (#46850103)

    If they continue that, they will eventually reach the level of TV. That one I have up a decade ago, because I could not stand the stupidity any more.

  • I generally have the most fun in games with no plot at all and they tend to have more replay value.
    Not to say that there aren't any fun games with plots...
  • I'm not quite sure what the argument that's being made here is.
    Games are an audio/visual medium that involves user interaction, there are many paths to take from that point and many of them may harken back to media that came before.
    Some people may enjoy more the challenge of the mechanics, or the challenge of playing against other people, or art style, or the story, or the general ambiance.
    So it seems to me that it's a rather limited way of thinking to try to make some sort of sweeping statement about what games should and shouldn't be.

  • by Your.Master (1088569) on Saturday April 26, 2014 @07:39PM (#46850289)

    They should make sense because I like stories that make sense, and I buy video games with stories I like.

    You can have an entertaining game without any plot or with extremely little (eg. Super Mario Bros.), but a plot that actually doesn't make sense is going to bother me exactly as much as a movie that doesn't make sense, and the fact that "games don't work like movies" is an additional obstacle to writing a coherent plot, not an excuse for not trying.

    I also suggest that he's probably talking to people who don't care about plots. The plot is the main thing I remember from most games. I can absolutely tell you what the characters were fighting about in any of my favourite games. I can list sideplots. I can't necessarily tell you what buttons you press to do certain actions.

    I also suggest that the "looser thematic layer" is important to movies, too. The Matrix didn't get by on the strength of its plot, and the early "twist" that they were all living in a computer simulation was absolutely not novel. But it had a strong themes and, at the time, a unique artistic stance that is often summarized with reference to "bullet time". How many people remember why Neo went to see the Oracle?

    Adventure games are nearly all plot. A strong subset of RPGs are like that too -- the Elder Scrolls games not so much, they are about theme, and I don't like those games and they bug me at every release by overshadowing all the RPGs I like. The Infinity Engine games had better plots, but not necessarily strong themes, although Planescape had both and is well-loved. The original Fallout also had strong theme & plot elements, but it strayed further into theme and away from plot as time went on, culminating in Fallout 3 (New Vegas backtracked a bit, to my delight).

    Mass Effect tried for both too, and with the controversy over the ending you can absolutely see how important plot truly was.

    • the Elder Scrolls games not so much, they are about theme

      You must not have played them much as there is always a plot to follow in those games, too, you're just not being hand-held through it. These games allow you to suspend the progression of the plot at your behest, but it is still there and it is waiting for you. It's a very different kind of a way of telling a story than in games where you've constantly hand-held and simply disallowed from deviating from the story, but that's really only about the delivery-mechanics of the story, not about its absence.

  • Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember?

    Think of all the good things that happened to you today. Think hard. Did you have a nice breakfast? Good coffee? Was today's slashdot session pleasing? Most of these events are forgettable unless they are spectacular in some way.

    Now think of all the bad things that have happened in your life. Easy isn't it? We remember the spectacular.
    I don't remember much of Half-Life. All I remember is that it had quite a good story.
    I remember quite a bit of Bioshock Infinite, probably because it had a good story and I pl

  • Though I did not play it for 20 years, I perfectly recall Gradius plot that was in the booklet: "you must destroy the Korg empire" (nothing more!)
  • It's not a particularly interesting question, either.
    • by allo (1728082)

      there are movies/series, which open a lot of questions without answering. Have a Look at the Anime Serial Experiments Lain. After the last episode, you still wonder what it really was about, and have a lot of questions from different episodes, which are up to you. And still you feel a familiar tone through the series up to the end.
      After watching it, i was like "i want a sequel" and "no sequal can ever match the series and answering the questions will kill the atmosphere" at the same time.

  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:07AM (#46851385)

    President Ronnie has been kidnapped by the ninjas. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Ronnie?

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @01:32AM (#46851445)

    ... it's about setting the tone for a story and then radically breaking from it. We saw this in mass effect 3's ending and Mass effect 2's ret-conning. ME3's ending was just fucking awful for all the amazing shit they set up in Mass effect 1. The reapers had a real mystery and atmosphere and that was slowly deflated by mistakes made in ME2 (aka the human abuction to create a human reaper, like wtf?) and then totally screwed over by ME3 with star child stupid ass choice ending.

    If a game gives gamers the impression of being a serious story they set up those expectations. No one playing say Saints row 3 or SR4 is going to have serious expectations about the story. But it's different for RPG's like mass effect, etc. When you give the story a serious tone and show serious effort and then start phoning it in that's when gamers get pissed off. You need to decide from the start whether your story is going to be a serious effort or a half assed one and don't give gamers the impression otherwise.

  • The reason lyrics, poems, stand-up comedians, movies, games, and all other cultural works need to make sense is because they exist within the cultural context. One may not remember the precise details after they have occurred, but that is not the significant interval of engagement. Reexperiencing the games will quickly bring to mind the nuances events encountered prior, else no one would ever beat Mega Man. Many creators and especially game designers do not understand the true height of the shoulders they

  • It's like the difference between erotic art and pornography; erotic art tries to make you think and feel on your own, whereas pornography just want you to say bye-bye to your money. I suppose there are so many forms of 'porn' out there because the world is full of wankers.

    I can enjoy the simple, unthinking gameplay sometimes, but a good story is what makes me want to come back for more.

  • A few examples of good stories:
    * Half-Life does not have a really complicated story, but it's good enough to turn mindless running around corridors (Quake II-style) into achieving actual goals.
    * Bioshock Infinite has an insanely great story with an awesome ending. Forget the graphics (not bad at all), forget the gameplay (also quite entertaining), the story is probably the best in history of gaming. This game will definitely be remembered.
    And bad ones:
    * Unreal II: The Awakening has a terrible story and dial

  • by Barryke (772876) on Sunday April 27, 2014 @07:45AM (#46852145) Homepage

    Theres arcade games like hoops around a cone, but for games that require me to invest more than the few minutes of screentime i give them, i need something to help me keep the suspension of belief. This is where a story that keeps me interested is required.

    But there are exceptions. The story may be cheesy, like C&C:Red Alert 2 where its just mechanism to explain the next mission. So either the story is informative, or the story is required to keep me interested.

  • As I'm an arcade gamer, and growth in the 8 and 16 bits era, for me, games are not an alternative reality. Games for fun only. And most remarkable games are the ones with generic stories: let's fight against Mr. X, that bad group has kidnapped my girlfriend, bad aliens will destroy our Universe. I even remember when I rent the TMNT games, on Genesis, for the first time, and my brothers asked me to skip the intro, because they want just play. But yeap, time changed, and now EVERY GAMES IN THE UNIVERSE hav
  • > Think about games you've played that have a story. How much do you actually remember?

    Quite a bit, typically.

    > You can probably name the protagonist and antagonist, but do you really know what they were fighting about

    Actually, I rarely remember the names, while the backstory is trivial to recall.

    Consider Marathon.

  • I couldn't describe to you each individual plot point in a book I read last year. Whether you can remember every little tidbit of dialogue years later isn't important. While I'm playing, though, the plot line is right there in front of me, and all the previous bits and pieces are at the front of my mind. You throw in something that doesn't mesh with the plot in the least bit (i.e. Portal robot spheres in Skyrim, the talking dog in Skyrim, various other easter eggs in other games), that kicks me out of the g
  • They don't have to. Exhibit A: PacMan

    But if a game tries to tell a story, it better makes sense. No need to make perfect sense, I'm willing to throw in a good measure of suspension of disbelief.

  • What about games about exploring the game itself? Like http://www.duangle.com/ [duangle.com] for example (still early alpha, but look at the videos).

    Or games which are just something you enjoy, like osmos, pathological, even 2048 does not need a story to kill many hours of productivity.

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?

Working...