When Stories in Games Work

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by EnDevero, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Nice write-up. Though in my opinion it only highlights potential problems that can be dealt with and does not provide an ultimate answer.

    As a designer I want to be the author and the player roleplays his character. It doesn't matter if he designs his character himself or if I give one to him. It is his task to interprete the character and act out the story in that manner. The strategy layer should be flexible enough to allow different characters and interpretations to be successful.

    The story sets the frame for the strategy and gives it importance. And the strategy involves the player so that he is more tied to the story than a mere reader. Your queen example is wrong in this part since I don't want the story choice to be a strategic choice. It is ment to be a false choice (*) from a strategic point of view, but only provide flavor and allow for roleplaying.
    (*it is a high art to soften this up and include story choices that matter (**) without pushing your players to game the system, I prefer false choices over badly written choices that matter)
    (**if you are interested I can describe how good story choices that matter should look like imo, they are not really required though)

    Finally on to your tldr, I don't play to play myself and I doubt many people do. Give me a character (e.g. you are this young elf in this fantasy world, your know this stuff, like this and hate that ...) and then I try to forget who I am and instead act as the character would. I prefer if you give me a character since otherwise my characters usually turn out similar and boring.
  2. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    Right, that's why my follow-up was to remove any gameplay and make it a pure story-choice instead. That's the solution to this problem. Therefore I don't think the example is wrong in explaining the problem?

    Right. But then you're still in this weird situation. You're trying to find the "right" way for the character to act in the story. So you're doing the authors job actually. And if you're going the other way of: "What would I do if I were this character?" then you don't actually play a character anymore.
  3. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    I think we have a different understanding of what it means to be an author. You are right, in a written story the author also decides how the characters act out. Imo this is a very small slice of an authors job and the part that can easily be done by a lot of non-authors. e.g. every actor does something similar, same with a good storyteller. A good storyteller will not tell the same story every time word

    The author provides the setting and the events. In a classical story he fixes the characters and every action they take. He can just as well put a bit leeway in and allow for different approaches. Now comes the classical "ZOMG, if he only does one path he has more time and can do it better you moron". Yes! But the choice between path gives me a reason to care about the story in the first place.

    Offtopic: In the same way I think the game designer makes the basic framework as good as he can. He also makes all the parts to play the game with. Imo it is fine for experienced players to alter the pieces. Altering core rules is usually more problematic and requires much more designer than changing some piece. That is why pre-game deckbuilding is fine with me even if it occurs outside the game - provided the designer made a good framework for the player-designers to play in.
  4. Fenrir

    Fenrir Well-Known Member

    Did you guys already discuss Brothers in this thread? I don't want to go looking if it's not there.
  5. keithburgun

    keithburgun Administrator, Lead Designer Staff Member

    @Fenrir I don't believe we did.
  6. Fenrir

    Fenrir Well-Known Member

    Really? I would've thought since it's being hailed all over the webs as a big achievement in marrying narrative and gameplay this thread would've covered it in detail. Ok, that's weird but whatever.

    Has anyone played Brothers? What did you think?
  7. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member

    I watched quite a lot of it. Seemed like some trivial puzzles held together by some very light narrative. I know the "big deal" is supposed to be the mechanics that make you feel like the characters or something.
  8. Dasick

    Dasick Well-Known Member

    @Leartes I would like to hear what you think about my take on the appeal of RPGs. I tried using terminology not commoly associated with RPGs, because the term story gets really muddy and unclear.
  9. Nachtfischer

    Nachtfischer Well-Known Member


    Exactly. So what you do is make up a much more generic, probably severely weaker story. Of course the article doesn't draw that conclusion explicitly.
    Kdansky likes this.
  10. Leartes

    Leartes Well-Known Member

    Sorry @Dasick, I somehow overlooked your request. I'll see tomorrow if I still know what I was talking about before :D

    @Nachtfischer: The goal is not two have a piece where even one play-through beats a well authored story. If this was easy, then normal stories would be dominated and had no right to exist. The goal is to provide a slightly worse story that offers something extra. This extra cannot be delivered in a normal story. Thus you have a different product serving a different niche.
  11. Lemon

    Lemon Well-Known Member

    I believe that when we desire or build interactive stories, what we really want to get is interactive experiences. We want the experience of being in this world as this character. This means you need to have agency, and because this is a simulated world you need quite subtle, human-like agency. But our software systems are currently nowhere near powerful enough to offer us true freedom in a human-like world, so we cheat it by scripting events. Any intelligence in the characters is an illusion.Behind the graphics, they are effectively menus that you push options on to reroute your current railed path onto another railed path. Because they have no understanding of the situation, they can't make any deviations from a scripted path.

    I think that once better videogame simulations of humans are created, CYOA's will be obsoleted. They would provide a freer experience and eliminate the conflicts of pre-authored stories.

    The player wants to author an experience, rather than read it.
    Daniel Slawson likes this.

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