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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Gaming > Story lines in games

Story lines in games
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Clinically Insane
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Feb 4, 2012, 03:29 PM
 
I have a couple of theories swirling around in my head about this, I kind of what to know what you more experienced gamers think...

There are a number of Zelda fan sites that love to debate the Zelda timeline, love to review the stories of these games, speculate how they can be made into a movie, analyze things to death, etc. I don't completely get the fascination. In relation to storytelling in general, the story lines of this and any video game I've ever seen are pretty B-movie quality. They are often not terribly imaginative, pretty generic, and the dialog is often pretty lame. I've seen some people go as far as to say that the story lines are more important than the gameplay. Like I've said, this seems to hold true across the board in video games (for reference, another series I'm somewhat familiar with is the Final Fantasy series). This may be why no video game has translated well to movies.

My theory is this: people want immersive video games that make them feel that they have been dropped into a movie set and have to interact with characters of real depth. Perhaps this is the direction that video games are headed. However, in the meantime, their emotional connection to the gaming and the emotional sense of achievement in doing something in the game has clouded their sense of objectivity a little in assessing the story lines not just in relation to other video games, but in relation to the standards of good story telling in general. Would you agree with this statement?

What is it about games that compel some to the story so much, while others are inclined to want to fast forward past the cut scenes and just get on with the gameplay? Is the gameplay a vehicle for the story, or vice versa?
     
P
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Feb 4, 2012, 07:30 PM
 
One notable thing is that many games are longer than a movie. FF and Zelda are good examples of that. They also have lots of loose threads about what happened to one or the other character, which invites speculation. A good movie closes off at least the main plot, leaving less to speculate about, and the ones that do not invite speculation - consider all the million Star Wars books, and even spinoff novels from things like Alien and Predator.

Very few storylines in games are really good quality. Obsidian seems to be the only holdout of good stories these days.
The new Mac Pro has up to 30 MB of cache inside the processor itself. That's more than the HD in my first Mac. Somehow I'm still running out of space.
     
Clinically Insane
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Feb 4, 2012, 09:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by P View Post
One notable thing is that many games are longer than a movie. FF and Zelda are good examples of that. They also have lots of loose threads about what happened to one or the other character, which invites speculation. A good movie closes off at least the main plot, leaving less to speculate about, and the ones that do not invite speculation - consider all the million Star Wars books, and even spinoff novels from things like Alien and Predator.

Very few storylines in games are really good quality. Obsidian seems to be the only holdout of good stories these days.
Video game stories seem to be weird and random like Alice and Wonderland or something. I don't know exactly what it was about Alice in Wonderland that made it a classic, but it's kind of amusing to hear fans try to come up with these creative explanations for what some weird and random character was doing and why.

It also assumes that developers even care about coming up with an airtight plot, which is probably not a given. Some developers probably just see the story as a means to deliver gameplay, but some fans clearly want more from their stories.

The Zelda timeline theories are insane. Nintendo even released a Zelda timeline and it was still kind of a mess. I mean, there were alter dimension stories, a whole bunch of time traveling, and then just random guesswork. I mean, who really knows or cares where the very first LoZ was in the timeline, there is pretty much zero story in the original LoZ or the Adventures of Link to work with, and same for the early Final Fantasy games.

The Final Fantasy might have done a smart thing by making the stories seemingly disconnected from one another, but in the Zelda games there are all of these little references to other games, probably just to mess with the heads of fans
     
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Feb 5, 2012, 09:00 AM
 
I've never played a Zelda game (or any Nintendo game really), but about a year ago I decided to get into games and catchup with the "best" of video games that were now becoming available on the Mac: Half-Life 2, Bioshock, Batman, and Amnesia (highly recommended at Reddit).

I feel a little jaded now. The fact is, these games don't have good story, instead they have good atmosphere and immersion. That doesn't make them bad, in fact they're mostly pretty good, but they don't have story.

Really, the only game I've played recently that gave me a "good story" vibe was Prey. It's a really good action game, yes, but on top of that, it's the only game that gave me a sense of genuine character development and a comprehensible plot. By the end of it, there was a feeling of actually having been thru an alien invasion that changed my character and the people I know. If someone asked "tell me the story of Prey," I could do it. If someone asked me to tell the story of Half-Life 2, they'd get a blank stare from me. It's amazing how many well-animated cut scenes there were in HL2, and not a single one sticks out in a way that tells the story.

After playing Half-Life 2 and both episode 1 & 2, it seems every character is the exact same person they were at the start; well, except for the "cliff-hanger" ending, which is the only memorable thing that happened to anyone.

Just remembered, I thought Portal 1 & 2 had good stories and character development too.
     
Posting Junkie
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Feb 5, 2012, 12:58 PM
 
I'm told that operas have stories, but all I hear is a bunch of yelling/singing. When I express my contempt for every opera ever created, I'm told by opera enthusiasts that I don't "get" opera. I'm fine with that, and I probably don't even want to get it. Opera lovers aren't in it for the the story -- most of them don't even speak the language that is being sung. They're in it because they enjoy that particular experience.

I know the analogy is a stretch, but if you're not a fan of the experience of gaming, you're probably not going to be a fan of the stories in gaming.

Yes, sometimes the story is simply wrapping around the experience (the Call of Duty series, for instance). I've never found Zelda's stories particularly interesting, and every Metal Gear Solid plot is so convoluted that they're nearly worthless. But then you have games like Xenogears, Heavy Rain, Uncharted 1-3, Kingdom Hearts, Mass Effect 1-2, and Star Wars: KOTOR. Nearly every gamer can tell you a handful of games in which the story resonated with them. For me, Final Fantasy VII, even with its faults, was a fantastic story and the first RPG I played. Chrono Trigger was awesome, Xenogears was great, and Final Fantasy IX was another favorite. These games had fantastic stories.

Yet there are many who can't sludge their way through a massive RPG, just as most of us wouldn't dare take on War and Peace. It's all about your choice of experience.
     
   
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