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Author Topic: 'Story Choice' in Video Games  (Read 7079 times)
Ashton
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« Reply #15 on: March 16, 2010, 10:42:16 AM »

I don't really understand how less freedom of choice can possibly translate to a better gaming experience.
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Eusis
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« Reply #16 on: March 16, 2010, 11:46:19 AM »

I don't really understand how less freedom of choice can possibly translate to a better gaming experience.

The question is when too much is too much, or when the options are meaningless. In the opposite corner from FFXIII we have Last Rebellion, which lets you target ears. Is something like that even necessary?
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 12:17:15 PM by Eusis » Logged
Fadedsun
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« Reply #17 on: March 16, 2010, 11:54:21 AM »

I prefer some degree of linearity in my games. I don't like too many choices. I start to grow tired of having to think about what choice I want to make every time.

One game that did do the picking choices thing right, I think, is Devil Survivor. The choices you picked actually mattered and affected the story in a big way. There was never any overwhelming amount of choices to pick either.
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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #18 on: March 16, 2010, 12:38:57 PM »

I don't really understand how less freedom of choice can possibly translate to a better gaming experience.

I would much rather have a very streamlined game that does one thing really well then a game that does a lot of things that are mediocre.  If you have to throw in a lot of flashbang minigames to make your game enjoyable to play, why couldn't you have spent those resources making the core experince more enjoyable instead?
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Ashton
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« Reply #19 on: March 16, 2010, 12:40:27 PM »

Why not a game that does a lot of things excellently? That IS actually possible.
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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #20 on: March 16, 2010, 12:42:33 PM »

When one exists, let me know.
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daschrier
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« Reply #21 on: March 16, 2010, 12:55:53 PM »

The real world has plenty of meaningful choices in it that I am forced to decide on every day. I play videogames to relax and zone out. I don't want to have to think about dozens of different choices and how that will affect my gaming experience positively or negatively.
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Ashton
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« Reply #22 on: March 16, 2010, 01:00:40 PM »

When one exists, let me know.
This is a joke, right?
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2010, 01:03:53 PM »

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When one exists, let me know.

With that kind of attitude, young man, when someone comes up with an example you'll just find some BS reasons to shoot it down.

Also, having choice doesn't mean "doing a lot of things mediocre." It doesn't even mean non-linear. Quest for Glory 2, for instance, is very linear, but there are three classes in that game and they all have *completely* different ways of solving puzzles and fighting, and also different sidequests.

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One game that did do the picking choices thing right, I think, is Devil Survivor. The choices you picked actually mattered and affected the story in a big way.

That's another great example, for the same reason. Both QfG2 and DS are *very* linear in that they're governed by a linear forward progression of time. But how you USE that time is important.

Sidequests are also really nice in Gothic 2 because they all serve a purpose. A nonlinear game needs to define goals and use sidequests as a means for you to achieve those goals. Gothic 2 DOES this. The Elder Scrolls, on the other hand, have a big problem in using the sidequests as an end in and of themselves.

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I'd say that an RPG laden with irrelevant side-missions and minigames is "watered down", not the other way around.

Yes but, traditionally speaking, side stuff is a defining characteristic of RPGs that other genres typically lacked. That's one of the things that set it apart from adventure games.

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I've always felt that rail shooters were inherently superior to FPS games...

I'm having a very hard time taking this sentence seriously and I'm going to have to assume you're not familiar enough with the FPS genre to know how it actually plays.

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which lets you target ears. Is something like that even necessary?

Targeted shots make sense if limited to five regions. I mean typically it's head = low chance to hit, lots of damage. Body = big chance to hit, regular damage. Legs = medium chance to hit, kills mobility/speed. arms = medium chance to hit, hurts attack/defense. Groin = Because every game needs crotch shots.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 01:07:59 PM by MeshGearFox » Logged

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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2010, 02:06:45 PM »

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Also, having choice doesn't mean "doing a lot of things mediocre." It doesn't even mean non-linear. Quest for Glory 2, for instance, is very linear, but there are three classes in that game and they all have *completely* different ways of solving puzzles and fighting, and also different sidequests.

I would agree, to an extent.  But that's not what I was objecting to.  Some choices, especially broad, meaningful ones, can definitely improve a game when used correctly.  I also don't exactly consider your character's starting class to be a "story choice"...it's just a part of your character build.  Take Demon's Souls for example, I can build my character as a Mage or as a Warrior, and both will make me play the game quite differently, but ultimately I'm still going on the same streamlined quest with the same events and the same ending.  There are no major choices to make because the experience is streamlined down to just the best parts of the gameplay.

It was put forth that "plentiful mini-games, side-quests, and open exploration" inherently made a game better, when that frankly isn't true at all.  In my opinion, that kind of fluff makes a game worse.  It's like GTA, give a player too many choices and half the time they don't get anything done.  I spent my 5 hours of GTA: San Andreas riding bikes around the starting area and I never got anything done because the game gave me no reason to go forward.

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Yes but, traditionally speaking, side stuff is a defining characteristic of RPGs that other genres typically lacked. That's one of the things that set it apart from adventure games.

There's a big difference between side-missions that are meaningful and ones that are not.  Going on a side-quest to flesh out a character's history, or to find a powerful item?  Meaningful, I like it.  Chasing down uber-bosses or raising chocobos for racing games?  Irrelevant.  It can be excised and not hurt the game at all, and therefore it should be cut.

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I'm having a very hard time taking this sentence seriously and I'm going to have to assume you're not familiar enough with the FPS genre to know how it actually plays.


What's to understand?  I get lost easily in FPS games, so having the game's movement on rails makes the genre much more palateable to me.
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Fadedsun
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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2010, 02:24:45 PM »



There's a big difference between side-missions that are meaningful and ones that are not.  Going on a side-quest to flesh out a character's history, or to find a powerful item?  Meaningful, I like it.  Chasing down uber-bosses or raising chocobos for racing games?  Irrelevant.  It can be excised and not hurt the game at all, and therefore it should be cut.

I agree with you in that some side-quests should flesh out characters or add some back story, but cutting out the irrelevant side-quests like secret bosses, etc? I disagree. They're there for the people that want the extra challenge, or for the people that don't feel like progressing further in the game and want to do something fun. The game is never forcing you to do these side-quests, so I don't see your problem with them.  You can go through the game with never doing them. The core of the game remains the same whether you cut out side-quests or leave them in.

Now a days I don't have time for anything like that. I usually want to get straight through the game, but they're there for a reason.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2010, 02:34:02 PM by Fadedsun » Logged

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Gen Eric Gui
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« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2010, 02:35:54 PM »

Eh, I was just spewing examples.  There are a few ultra-bosses I don't mind fighting, especially the purely skill-based ones like the Platinum Fight in Bayonetta or the fight with Lucifer in SMT: Nocturne.  It's shit like the Disgaea games where half the game's content is grinding for showdowns with uber-bosses that reward you with nothing that bother me.
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Fadedsun
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« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2010, 02:58:33 PM »

Eh, I was just spewing examples.  There are a few ultra-bosses I don't mind fighting, especially the purely skill-based ones like the Platinum Fight in Bayonetta or the fight with Lucifer in SMT: Nocturne.  It's shit like the Disgaea games where half the game's content is grinding for showdowns with uber-bosses that reward you with nothing that bother me.

Secret bosses in SMT games are always awesome. Disgaea,eh, I hate grind fests. I got bored of the first one after I put in 40 hours or so. We got off track here, so let's leave it at that.
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Hidoshi
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« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2010, 04:01:21 PM »

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XIII offers little in the way of distraction, and I think that really waters down the experience. In the end, I want my plentiful minigames, sidequests, exploration, and open-field/overworld experiences. If games like this represent an escapist experience, they'd better let me escape on my own terms a little bit.

Isn't a game where there are no distractions on the side the most pure gaming experience?  I'd say that an RPG laden with irrelevant side-missions and minigames is "watered down", not the other way around.

I mean, I haven't gotten to play FFXIII yet, so I can't comment on it, but in my experience I've always enjoyed games that strip off the fat much more then ones that lather it on as thick as possible.  For example, I've always felt that rail shooters were inherently superior to FPS games becasue there's no question about where to go or what to do.  You shoot where you are pointed at.  This is one of the many reasons I will always consider Killer 7 to be near the pinnacle of the genre.

Since this is the only part of the above argument that matters: "Pure" has nothing to do with it. There are too many different experiences for one to be purer than the other. There is good design versus bad design, but that has more to do with mechanics and execution of multiple parts, rather than whittling down or building up.

The KISS rule is a good one, but it means nothing if the experience is plain and boring. There's nothing "pure" about banality, which FFXIII is full of. If your graph trends towards tedium, banality, or repetition, chances are it's very much at odds with something which can even remotely be described as "pure".

Consider that 2D Mario games are a pinnacle of good game design (regardless of personal likes and dislikes). Is Mario 1 better than Mario 3 for not allowing you to backtrack? No. Is Mario 1 better for having simpler graphics? No. Is it better for having less complex physics? No. Is it better for having fewer enemies? No.

Why? Not because of any one part. ICO had only a handful of enemies, yet it's one of the best examples of good game design. Classic Megaman has simpler graphics, which actually makes it superior to the post-6 instalments where everything was a visual mess of colours.

Why doesn't this apply to Mario?

Because of how Mario is built. Allowing people to backtrack and having more complex physics changed how Mario played ever so slightly. It allowed for greater variation, without disrupting the formula. Essentially, it offered a diverse, less linear experience (something which defines 2D Mario games from 3 onwards thanks to backtracking and the world map), and brought Mario up a level. Sure the first game was good, but it wasn't as good as the third game. The formula improved through more dynamic elements.

There is a point where too many elements can ruin the formula, especially if there's no regard to how they blend. To use an artistic example, if you don't know how to use reflected light properly, chances are that a warm yellow on a cool painting for said reflected light will just look like a mustard stain. It hasn't been blended properly, you may not have used the right shade of yellow, and so on. Essentially, what could have been a relatively good painting is now ruined, because the painter has no idea how to use a certain component.

Final Fantasy VI is an excellent example of using additional elements and blending them into the main storyline. Do you need to collect everyone after the catastrophe? No. But it's fun to see how they ended up, and the sheer choice changes how you'll approach the final stages of the game. The same is true of Chrono Trigger, because of how the big twist affected everyone, and the fact you could make a choice to solve it which actually affected the ending. These things are good additives because the developers know what they're doing.

Conversely, some mechanics just plain hurt the game because they introduce tedium. While I enjoy Shenmue and think of it as a great technical accomplishment, it has some key areas which really bog it down. Why the capsule toys? Why the kitten sidequest? Why the forklift game? None of these things add much to the game and seem tacked on more than anything. The game in general doesn't blend its elements well, and as a result the real superlative levels stand out in sharp relief.

The same thing can occur even to established game series', like Zelda. The Wind Waker was a good game, but its water travel was an component that gave players virtually nothing to do. It was a really poor choice on the developers' part, and they should have gone a simpler route.

What's the least fun part of a game? Waiting without purpose. What is extensive travel? Waiting without purpose and pressing a direction. It's like going on vacation. Planning, packing, and going to the airport is all fine and dandy. So is being at the location, checking in, and chilling out. The worst element of that experience is waiting for your plane with virtually nothing to do, and then waiting on the plane for hours at a time. It's what airline service has struggled with for years: How to improve the actual flight.

In the end, there are elements which work to diversify gameplay in a meaningful way. From waiting for Shadow in FFVI, to the Star Road areas in Super Mario World, the icing on these cakes has made for memorable experiences which enhance the overall product. They hit the right notes; they blended well. They move the game no farther away from purity for their complexity; I would say they place them closer to it. By contrast, FFXIII is a boring, vanilla ordeal of a game, which offers no actual game amidst its narrow plot and flat characterisation.
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MeshGearFox
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« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2010, 04:22:27 PM »

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I also don't exactly consider your character's starting class to be a "story choice"...it's just a part of your character build.

What if your class actually alters the story?

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I get lost easily in FPS games, so having the game's movement on rails makes the genre much more palateable to me.

Hidoshi said what I was going to say, only more eloquently.

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Classic Megaman has simpler graphics, which actually makes it superior to the post-6 instalments where everything was a visual mess of colours.

Unrelated to the actual topic but I thought the MML games were really good about sticking to particular color schemes. Textures tended to be simple and they used a lot of bold, primary colors, but I think that's helped them age more gracefully, visually. Sort of a 3D earthbound thing going on.
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o/` I do not feel joy o/`
o/` I do not dream o/`
o/` I only stare at the door and smoke o/`

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