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Classic Games (Games) Games

Storytelling In Games and the Use of Narration 131

MarkN writes "The use of story in video games has come a long way, from being shoehorned into a manual written for a completed game to being told through expensive half-hour cut scenes that put gameplay on hold. To me, the interesting thing about story in games is how it relates the player to the game; in communicating their goals, motivating them to continue, and representing their role as a character in the world. This article talks about some of the storytelling techniques games have employed, and in particular the different styles of narration that have been used to directly communicate information about a story, and how that affects the player's relation to their character and the degree of freedom they're given to shape the story themselves."
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Storytelling In Games and the Use of Narration

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  • Welcome back. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:10AM (#27872465)
    Welcome back to Slashdot. ;)
  • Planescape:Torment (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mhtsos ( 586325 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:55AM (#27872733)
    I found the most enjoyable game storytelling technique in Torment. The hero is himself unaware of the story (has amnesia), and the player discovers along with him clues to his own past and the story behind the game setting. I loved how I got a first glimpse of what's going on and then the plot was progressively clarified.
  • Marathon (Score:3, Informative)

    by Macman408 ( 1308925 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @03:01AM (#27873119)
    When I hear "story" and "video game" in the same sentence, I always think of Marathon. It didn't have anything fancy like cut scenes, or three dimensions... But it had an evolving plot. Beyond the "you're human, they're alien, go kill them before they kill you" that most FPSs use. It's certainly not the best, but for a game released in 1994, it was pretty unusual.
  • We all know that (Score:3, Informative)

    by B1oodAnge1 ( 1485419 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @03:24AM (#27873217)

    the best ever Game Story started like this:

    You're a marine, one of Earth's toughest, hardened in combat and trained for action. Three years ago, you assaulted a superior officer for ordering his soldiers to fire upon civilians. He and his body cast were shipped to Pearl Harbor, while you were transferred to Mars, home of the Union Aerospace Corporation.

  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @05:46AM (#27874003)

    That's exactly not what Torment is. It's a mostly dialogue-driven game that delivers the story through its main mechanism: dialogue. That's the problem with story in many other games: the story is kept outside the actual game, and that makes the story irrelevant. Torment is all about story.

  • Re:Marathon (Score:3, Informative)

    by CraftyJack ( 1031736 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @09:25AM (#27875579)
    Marathon's storytelling was also very unobtrusive. You could get through the game with only a little bit of the story, or you could hunt for terminals and try to piece together the background.
  • by mathx314 ( 1365325 ) on Friday May 08, 2009 @09:37AM (#27875713)

    Actually, Left 4 Dead does have a story of sorts. It's never explicitly spelled out to the player or told in glamorous cutscenes. But sometime, sit down and play through the game looking around.

    In the safe rooms, you'll find graffiti messages from people looking for loved ones or giving advice to the travelers behind them. There's posters from some organization called CEDA that give advice on what to do if you've been infected.

    Outside, you'll find things like single bodies covered with a sheet. Why would a zombie be covered in a sheet? Easy. It's not a zombie, it was a survivor whose buddies covered him up after he was killed. There are cars with lights still on in the road scenes. Obviously the zombies hit hard and fast, or else people would not have left their cars running and went dashing to the hills.

    So play through and look for stuff like that, then compare to 28 Days Later and see them do the same things there. Stories don't need to be explicitly told to exist.

No extensible language will be universal. -- T. Cheatham