skraeling wrote:Don't waste the audience's time with stuff that doesn't matter. It's true in writing stories and it's true in level design. If there's an area and it looks like you can reasonably get there then you should be able to get there; if the designer doesn't want the player to explore that area then he should just cut it.
RyokoTK wrote:I don't agree with this. Video games (excluding visual novels and the like) as a narrative are so far removed from cinema or literature that a lot of the most basic Storytelling 101 guidelines don't apply, and this is one of them.
skraeling wrote:This is nonsense. Video games are not some super unique medium completely removed from all others. All storytelling is fundamentally the same. The objects used may be different, but the methods, forms, and narrative devices are identical across all mediums. Point is, the Storytelling 101, 215, and 376 guidelines are equally applicable to literature, video games, or standup comedy.
RyokoTK wrote:This is such an incorrect point of view even when you compare, like, cinema to television, or fiction to poetry, let alone any of those to video games.
This is not an incorrect point of view. The more familiar you become with the arts the more aware of this you are. As an old professor of mine once told me, "Poetic devices are actually just literary devices which themselves are actually just tools for good communication." All communication relies on fundamental principles and storytelling is just another form of communication.
RyokoTK wrote:The key difference in video games is that the player has an active role in the narrative -- pressing buttons and winning levels
This is just not true, even though the entire game community claims it is (and I think the reason they fervently argue this point is because they need an excuse for why game stories aren't as good those in other mediums; after all, they rave about Spec Ops, which is nothing remarkable). The narcissistic idea that the player has an active role in the narrative is just a cognitive illusion, it isn't real. The player of a game is no more active in the story than the reader of a book is active in their story. There is no difference in the level of immersion. There is no difference in the level of agency. The differences that exist are merely superficial.
If the player is so active in the narrative then why can't he create a new narrative or alter the narrative. And I'm not talking about alternate story paths or alternate choices in a dialogue true. That's not altering the story, that's not being active in the story. That's being active in exploring preexisting stories. The player (and reader, and viewer) can't change anything about the story they're exploring. They can only explore what's been given to them by the author and the only choice they have is how they approach that exploration. If you're playing a game and you can choose to kill someone or spare them then this isn't really changing the narrative. Sure, you individually change your narrative as an audience but you're not changing the narrative of the character. That's where the cognitive illusion kicks in.
Player's keep thinking that their experience is the character's just because nothing happens without the player's input. However the character's persepctive and experience is very different than the player's. If the character has multiple choices he has the chance to alter his one and only story. However in the player's reality there are multiple stories and they all already exist. So, the when the player makes a choice he's choosing to explore a different separate narrative and not to alter a single narrative.
RyokoTK wrote:If you just wanted to tell a story about Heart of Darkness parallels in Dubai, make a movie. I had similar complaints about Eternal; Forrest had quite story to tell, but the whole video games medium did not work well with it.
In part I agree with you here. An artist should understand the tools at his disposal and approach a work with those tools in mind rather than ignoring the limitations of the medium they're working in. If you want to tell a story in a certain way then make sure that your medium is conducive to that method of telling the story.
However, I disagree in part as well. I think if you want to tell a story set in Dubai based on Heart of Darkness and tell it in a video game then that's fine. Just make sure you know what you're doing and that you're doing it right. You shouldn't try to tell the story using the same superficial tools as another medium. You should look at the deep fundamental tools used to make the story work both conceptually and mechanically and then use those fundamental methods to translate the work into the strengths of the medium you're working in. That's part of why I think most video game stories, even the best ones, fail. They keep trying to use the superficial rules of other mediums rather than understanding the fundamentals that make it work.
For example, if in an FPS you're given a gun that short circuits cybernetic equipment, and it kills some enemies faster and some enemies slower, then that tells a story, it constructs a small narrative. On a superficial level the way it tells its story is completely unique to how video games work. On a fundamental level it is the same way that all mediums tell stories.
Everything can tell a story. Layers of rock tell a story to geologists. Crime scenes tell a story to investigators. A nation's choice in national song, national food, etc., tells a narrative about how that nation wants to see itself and how it wants others to view its culture. Garbage tells the story of its owners so well that archaeologists at a dig site are much more excited about finding a garbage pit than finding vases, pots, skeletons, or paintings.