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Story Transplantation: Part 3
by Josh Foreman on 02/04/11 07:16:00 pm   Expert Blogs   Featured Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

In part 2 I outlined some ways we could move our story telling out of cutscenes and into the game world and mechanics. 

And now I want to prattle on some more. 

Our audience has come to expect certain elements in the products we make, but we should not feel powerless to shape those expectations going into the future.  The fact that there is a demand for the cinematic part of our game/cinema hybrids should not be seen as imperative marching orders. 

If we are marching our industry off a cliff it won’t do us any good in the long run.  As C.S. Lewis said: “If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.” 

To help illustrate my point, let’s carry this game/cinema hybrid theory to its logical conclusion.  At some point we will overcome the uncanny valley and other technical and artistic hurdles.  And let’s say we have cinematics that look as real as any Hollywood movie.  They are well-acted with grace and intensity.  T

hey have well-thought out story arcs that are thematically matched to the gameworld.  Well, at this point let’s look at what we have… a cool movie, with a game interrupting it.  Perhaps “interrupting” is a loaded word.  Let’s say it’s a cool movie with a game punctuating it.  Or we can tweak the values so there is more game than cinema. 

Now we may have a cool game with a cool movie punctuating it.  No matter where the slider lands we still have two incongruous elements.  They may complement each other.  But they are two separate types of experiences spliced together. 

We all long for the ultimate gaming machine that is idealized in the Star Trek Holodeck.  A device that lets anyone become any character in any event or story.  (With the occasional downside of creating homicidal sentient beings who will turn off the safeties and attempt to commandeer the ship.) 

Contemplating this device is a useful exercise for a designer.  Let’s imagine we get to design a holodeck game.  What is it going to be like?  Would we make it like Uncharted or Mass Effect, where the play is stopped for several minutes at a time while your character is puppeteered into doing and saying things you have no control over?  Even with its photographic, perfectly acted glory, these interruptions would seem ridiculous, right?         

So why are we so happy with this hybrid now?  Maybe it’s because there are plenty of other media that have similar kinds of couplings.  Picture books have text and images that complement each other.  Musical recordings often have evocative cover art and lyrics laid out in creative and cool ways.  So if I’m consistent I should be opposed to these combinations as well, right? 

Well no.  And here’s why.  Books, pictures, music, and text all share something in common.  They reside on one side of the Participation Continuum.   If you imagine a line with all the various artistic mediums charted, you can pretty easily see which ones are require more participation. 

Participation In Media

 

I’m being careful here to not create a false binary system where I lump some mediums into a non-participatory category, because such a category cannot exist.  All art must be experienced and processed in a mind, and this process is participatory to some extent.  We must interpret the signals coming into our brains according to some system.  So we are participating in creating a new artifact by bringing our mental faculties to bear on an artist’s work. 

But there is something that games bring with them that skyrockets them so far above and beyond every other medium that it’s almost silly to put them on the same graph.  And that is the fact that other players, or a programmed, designed system will interact with a player.  No book or music or architecture can do this in more than very rudimentary ways. 

Products such as a choose-your-own-adventure book, or light switches in a building, or salt and pepper shakers with a meal.  These invite our participation, and the interaction we have with the artifact objectively changes as it responds to our input.  And of course people can impose games on these artforms.  Parkor finds new ways of instilling kinetic movement to architectural space. 

Drinking games will highlight specific words in movies or tv shows.  And of course you can dance to music in game-like ways, doing specific moves when certain cues occur.  These interactive procedures can bump these media up the Participation scale a bit, but nowhere near where videogames reside on the scale.  Because they are all reactions, not interactions. 

Most of these other media are created at some point and distributed to an unknown audience.  The author/artist/designer has no way to directly accept feedback from the audience and alter the content accordingly.  Especially in literature, music and film, there is practically no room for interactivity at all.  If I scream at the screen in a movie or circle every tenth word in a book, the media has no way of registering these inputs and reacting according to some rule set.  They simply ARE.  They do not BECOME.  (Except existentially or subjectively.)  In short: they do not interact.     

I think that this important distinction is so often overlooked because we have all been conditioned to interpret artistic artifacts, rather than to participate in them.  Or rather: the more participatory a medium is, the less likely we are to consider it art.  Humans like to put things into neat groups.  It helps simplify this crazy world. 

We categorize film, books, music, dance, sculpture, photography, poetry and games in the same general headspace.  But I think we could easily pick out games from that lineup of artforms with a simple game of “one of these things is not like the others”.  Yet we continue to pretend that our form can be mixed well with all the others, just like dance-and-music, poetry-and-books, film-and-music, etc.  One could conceivably mix game with dance, sculpture, poetry, and music and get some interesting results.  But would they create good art?  Maybe.  Maybe not.   

But I want to be fair and examine ways in which the influence of story-telling mediums has brought value to our medium.  From the days of gladiatorial combat -and probably before that- humans have found ways to incorporate a broader context into the games they’ve played.  (Many gladiator events were staged to be recreations of historical and mythical battles.)  And here is where we can examine what parts of linear-crafted-story-telling share enough of the design language with games to be incorporated in an artistic and elegant way.    

But we should not feel shame for being unable to artfully incorporate crafted-story-telling into games.  There are many other artforms that speak powerfully to the human mind that are not story-driven.  There is architecture, fashion, landscape design, culinary arts and others.  None of these artforms are worse off for not having a narrative.  And none of them would be improved by shoehorning a storyline into them.  

No critic complains that the Eifel Tower fails for lack of story-telling.  No food critic says the steak would have been better if he felt there was a narrative behind the meat.  Though, all of these artforms can be springboards for extracting narratives or stories.  The artifacts they produce can be interpreted creatively to "tell a story", just like the events of a game can do.  But that does not make them "story-telling" mediums. 

Then there are the classical arts like painting, music, dance, and sculpture.  In these forms you have a range from totally abstract to perfectly representational.  But they are still not story-telling-mediums.  They can represent stories.  They can illustrate stories.  They can function as icons for stories.  But even in their most iconic -such as religious paintings, sculptures and stained glass- they can only convey limited bits and pieces of a real story, not tell a complete story on their own.

So I think the fact that artistic profundity can be contained in non-story-telling mediums should encourage us as game designers to stop chasing Hollywood.  Let’s grow up and be our own medium.  Let’s provide profound and moving experiences using our unique strengths.    Stories are a fantastic thing.  But if we tap into what it is that MAKES stories fantastic, we can discard the shell. 

So why IS story such a powerful concept?   I think it is because they are fundamental building blocks of our life.  Stories resonate with us because they are structured like the way we WANT our lives to be.  They feature a protagonist who faces a challenge, then usually overcomes it.  (Of course there are stories that deviate from this template, usually experimental or avant-garde affairs, and generally not very popular.) 

From the time we are infants attempting to gain control of our flailing limbs, to our time in school attempting to pass a test or get that cute girl in the front row to notice us, to the workforce where we compete for the best job and highest pay, our lives are defined by obstacles and challenges.  Our desires are constantly thwarted by them and we obviously want to succeed in overcoming these challenges.  That is why we love stories.  They are the primal expression of our deepest longings. 

And what goes on in a video game?  A protagonist is faced with a challenge and usually overcomes it.  So a game taps that same primal hope, but in a much more powerful way than a story can, because the protagonist is mostly YOU, the player.  You are not projecting your hopes onto a character.  You are living a metaphor for your hopes in actions and choices that you are making. 

You are taking your destiny into your own hands in a game.  In a story you can only root for the good guy and hope the author is nice to them.  Your catharsis is limited by a third party and your ability to empathize with a fictional character.  In a game you can empower the good guy to win.  You are in fact, the key to success, so the resonance with the life metaphor is so much more powerful. 

So in summary:  We don’t need story in our games to create meaningful, compelling experiences, and if we want story in our games there are better ways to do it than interrupting the gameplay with cutscenes.


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Comments


marty howe
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I hate cutscenes. Eg. Dead Space 2 is great fun, but keeps breaking immersion by forcing me to be a passive viewerspectator of its cutscenes. The game even tells me what emotions I should be feeling (speech content)



If we're unable to convey story in games without cutscenes, then I think we're not doing our job as game designers. Half Life 2 (cemented in video game history as one of the best pieces of software entertainment ever conceived) has zero cutscenes. The protaganist doesn't even speak, flinch or even groan from a bullet hit.



More games where the story is conveyed in real time, please? It's more immersive.

Adam Bishop
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Half-Life 2 is a game where you/Gordon are constantly spoken to, sometimes at length, by other characters, but you/Gordon just stand there and don't say a word. If we're looking for good examples of immersion and story-telling in games, HL2 has got to be a pretty lousy place to start.

marty howe
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hahahaha.

Josh Foreman
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Half Life 2 is an interesting test case. I actually wrote about it in Part 1 of this series.



http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/JoshForeman/20100809/5728/Story_Tr
ansplantation__Part_1.php



My main point being that it gives us a too-literal interpretation of game cutscenes. Is that better than ripping the camera away from the player? Absolutely. Is this the answer to creating a compelling game experience? Not quite there yet.

Sting Newman
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"More games where the story is conveyed in real time, please? It's more immersive."



Game developers do cutscenes because they are easier then mechanics, this is why god of war has quicktime events instead of doing the complex mechanics without all the flashy cinematic camera work.



Game developers have become afraid of mechanics, I listened to an irrational podcast about how developers in "ye good old days" of thief, etc, where the user had to press a button to do the sequence of actions instead of abstracting it for the player. Like stealing a car in Grand theft auto, the problem with asbtraction is that too much abstraction in the wrong places... you take the player out of the game.



This is the fundamental problem with MMO mechanics, most everything is menu driven, automated and abstracted.



The real issue is gamers are now being raised on cinematics and watching games rather then for the mechanics of playing them, this is why auto-mechanic games like League of Legends, and MMO's are so popular - minimum of skill is required beyond just movin the avatar around and right click move/attack commands.



Where accessibility necessarily devolves into lack of participation, as everything that is "hard" for the masses is automated to a point of almost damn near bot driven gaming.

Jacob Pederson
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Your point is really rammed home by Magicka, a game were you don't cast chain lightning, but build it from its component parts :) This is infinity times more immersion than any MMO's wildest dream.



Could something like a GOW quick-time event even be done with mechanics? Maybe, but price is going to quickly become prohibitive.



It might end up that we have to sacrifice some production value to get those awesome mechanics. I'm cool with that.

Sting Newman
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With God of war you could do a lot with the mechanics, I'm not talking about where quick time events make sense (abstraction) the problem is using abstraction TOO MUCH is the issue. God of war could easily have benefited from deeper mechanics in the sequels. Devs just don't want to go there because of the work it creates for them.

Jacob Pederson
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You bring up the Holodeck in terms of the perfect immersive storytelling experience. I couldn't agree more with this assessment. Every developer should keep this in mind. More physical interactivity with the world trumps a immersion breaking cutscene every single time.



Although, we are centuries away from that kind of AI, I feel like we are getting close to a big step toward the holodeck. With controllers like the Playstation's move, that can precisely track their location combined with 3d camera's like the Kinect, a game could conceivably be made with modern tech, that would allow me to pick up in game objects, moving and rotating them around in 3d space with perfect 1:1 accuracy.



This is a huge hole we have in immersive storytelling. Currently, when presented with a table full of carefully crafted and fully physics enabled props, the best interaction Dead Space 2 can offer me is to smash the whole table worth of stuff off onto the floor. Image if I could pick up each piece and rotate carefully, perhaps looking for clues, perhaps dropping it on the floor to shatter, but perhaps putting it carefully back in place. Now, imagine that while I'm fully immersed in this activity the monsters chose this moment to attack. There is more story-telling available in these simple actions than any cut-scene could hope to offer.



The best example of what I'm thinking of was available in Oblivion. Although it was painfully awkward without 3d 1:1 tracking, you could pick up any object in the game world and move it around. Frictional Games has also done quite a bit in this regard, with their attempts to replicate the physical reality of motion through mouse gestures in the Amnesia and Penumbra games. Despite the current clunkiness of these mechanics, they add volumes to the players physical presence in the world.

Alan Jack
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They do add presence, but they also detract horribly from the player's emotional presence if the game world doesn't react accordingly.



Creating the "holodeck" interactive story isn't just years off in terms of the tech to make it LOOK real, its even further off in terms of FEELING real. I could pick objects up and throw them around in Half Life 2, but the world was populated with automatons that didn't offer any response when I threw their favourite coffee mug across the room. Had they been robots or Vulcans or something I might have accepted it, but they were presented as human beings, and humans would normally be pissed off about things like me climbing on their desk and shoving my ass in their cornflakes while they explain how to handle the dangerous matter transporter they're about to let me play with.



If the rules of a game are carefully established at the start of a game, then their boundaries are accepted as part of the process. You wouldn't say, for example, that letting me move shapes pixel-by-pixel in Tetris would make it more immersive and thus more appealing to players. If its established to me that I can't interact with certain objects in a certain way in a world, I'll accept it as part of the world of that game.



Now, obviously, you have to pay heed to this in terms of what you can interactive with - if you let me interact with a door I can open, I should also be able to interact with one I can't. This goes back to the Uncharted/gun issue. But saying we should always be allowed to interact in every way with every object is to create a situation in the game that the game can't possibly respond to, and this breaks our immersion.

Jacob Pederson
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What we are running into here, I think, is levels of abstraction.



A cut-scene, or a quicktime event, or a inability to pick up objects, are all abstractions. Because providing the mechanic is beyond our technical ability or current budget, we instead provide a more abstract version of the event we want to portray.



The human mind is very very good at interpreting abstractions, because that's essentially what language is; however, I still think there is something to gain by removing or challenging the prevailing abstractions. Replacing the cutscene with an interactive conversation as Bioware does, may still be pretty abstracted from a real conversation, but it takes us a step closer to that.



Off in a distant future, when we have the more literal mechanics available to us, abstraction will still have a central place in games. As you mentioned in the tetris example, a lot of literal interpretation is going to be just plain boring or tedious.



However, since you got me thinking about it, here is a more literal interpretation of the tetris mechanic: You have a bucket of tetris pieces in front of you, and the traditional tetris board. You may choose any of the pieces that are on the top layer of the bucket, but after you pick them up, they are rigged to explode so you must get them into place quickly. The bucket of pieces is also slowly filling up from the bottom. Your goal is to prevent the bucket from overflowing :)

Alan Jack
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In terms of interactivity between author and audience, there's an interesting phenomena that has cropped up on web forums (I'm think of somethingawful in particular, but I'm sure it happens elsewhere): a poster posts a picture they've drawn, and a little back-story. In some cases, they suggest options directly and let responders select one, but at times, they simply ask for responses, and then draw to them.



What you find is exactly what you'd expect - whirling, insane stories with nonsensical stories and protagonists that are unpredictable to the point of being bipolar.



I'd be interested to know what you thought on the points I made in a blog post about implied narrative, how we can, instead of strengthening the story content in a game, weaken the links between the player's activities and focus on inspiring them to craft their own narrative internally.

Pascal Langdale
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I read your post with interest. It's clear that many games don't need cut-scenes, plot, story or narrative. Some games benefit from them - when they're done well - and they can also suffer when done badly.







I don't agree with this - stories and story-telling have various functions, only one of which could be encompassed by your description, and the reasons for loving them are equally various. (Sufi teaching stories, campfire ghost stories, fairy-tales, tragedies). Most classical stories are concerned with the transformative effect of which these challenges are a part (or the penalties of lack of transformation), rather than the success/failure itself.







Video games are quite naturally concentrated on the "frustration stage" and "Nightmare stage" of a story. This provides the most common setting for the gameplay challenges. In most traditional handling of narrative this period is balanced by other phases of a story that give these action stages importance, and are part of the catalyst necessary for the transformation that the 'hero' must undergo.



I think that when they're done well, cuts-scenes can perform this role. They can help to enlarge the experience and understanding of the game-world, even adding layers of emotional response with, and attachment with, the characters. This in turn can raise the stakes for success in the gameplay sequences, and add to the immersive experience.







I agree that cut-scenes must earn their place. Interactive drama can make behavioural action and reaction a form of gameplay, and can, as you say, deliver a uniquely powerful experience that other mediums can't offer.



Narrative-based games share aspects of a multitude of art-forms. For instance, Interactive story-"sharing" occurs in theatre, most notably in "black box theatre", and community devised pieces and the like - not just dinner theatre. The possibility for Game and traditional media to evolve into something new should not be excluded just because it threatens our current understanding of what "game" and "Film" and "Theatre" mean.

Josh Foreman
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"stories and story-telling have various functions, only one of which

could be encompassed by your description, and the reasons for loving them are equally various. (Sufi teaching stories, campfire ghost stories, fairy-tales, tragedies"



Yeah, you're right. Good points. I suppose I'm focusing on the kinds of stories that our video-game lineage has provided us.



"I think that when they're done well, cuts-scenes can perform this role."



Yes, they can. And sometimes they do it well. But that is all beside the point I've been trying to make, which is that the classically structured story should not be the goal as we develop our artform. Cutscenes could add drama and heroic struggles to architecture and fine cuisine as well, yet they would be superfluous. These artforms have different strengths and focuses.



"The possibility for Game and traditional media

to evolve into something new should not be excluded just because it threatens our current

understanding of what "game" and "Film" and "Theatre" mean. "



I think you're really onto something here. I think we are beginning to see a bifurcation of the medium into what will eventually be two or more distinct artforms. An excellent line from that Zero Punctuation review of Final Fantasy 13 encapsulates this split:



"The message Square Enix now seem to be bringing across is 'We just want to make films! How much more gameplay do we have to remove before you figure that out?! We've pared it down to the point where all you do is clop down linear hallways and let AI subroutines do the combat for you. Now stop expecting us to make games so we can remake Spirits Within. But you just can't take a hint and stop buying Final Fantasy, can you, you cruel bastards!'"



But I'm not here to play the part of bitter game nerd who rails against those noobs who can't handle a challenge and just want to watch pretty pictures. Choose-Your-Own-Adventure movies can surely be an interesting and dynamic medium to explore. But what I'm advocating is a refocusing on what makes video games and unique and compelling medium that can grow them into something truly great. And that is the continual interaction of a player within a rule-set in a thematically compelling scenario. The fact that we have games that are shedding more and more of that, and embracing more and more cinema as their language of expression is just fine, and I wish them well. But as long as they continue to drive the market I believe they are having a deleterious effect on the artform that I'm personally passionate about.

Luke Bergeron
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Cut scenes had a place in games when the technology limited the nuances that could be expressed with the in-game engine. Back when sprites and bad polygons (ps1 era) ruled, cut scenes might be the only way to show emotion on a character's face and the only way to tell a more complex story. Technology limited that from happening in real time, so cut scenes were needed.



Now technology doesn't limit these things any more. Every nuance can be shown with the engine, whether it's a complex mechanical move or a raised eyebrow. Interactive story and mechanics are always better than cutscenes. HL2's annoying "stand here for 5 minutes while NPC's talk at you since you can't leave the room" junk aside, it was a step forward in interactive storytelling.



Cutscenes in modern games are simply unforgivable.



There are times with modern games that my first play session is 45 minutes of watching junk (peppered with occasionally moving a character 5 feet to trigger the next cutscene), so much so that it exhausts me to start a new game. By the time I actually get to play I'm worn out from fidgeting because I just want to play the game already.



There is no reason whatsoever that an interactive medium should be rendered non-interactive for any length of time whatsoever. Yes, this even means loading times, which, haha, are usually used for cut scenes, since the majority of the world can be loaded as the game is being played.

Germain CouŽt
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I find your lack of perspective on your opinions rather disconcerting. Sure, you might think cutscenes have no place in the games you play but a large portion of gamers enjoy cutscenes as a treat after a long length of gameplay.



I for one enjoy cutscenes when they are well done and placed thoughtfully, but as a game designer I try to understand the point of view of gamers who don't like cutscenes, and try to design my games for both kind of players.



I cannot imagine a game designer who doesn't try to see both sides of the coin. And I think you should do the same (unless you are not in the game-making business, though I assume anyone visiting gamasutra is).

Pascal Langdale
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Forgive the strange absences in text in my previous comment! I was quoting from the blog, but it didn't show up when I posted!



So to clarify....

I agree that interactive drama is preferable to cutscenes. However, as a cheaper option for games without the kind of budget that interactive drama demands, I don't think cutscenes should be dismissed. Instead, I think that in most cases they should be improved, and earn their presence.

Luke Bergeron
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How does one improve cut scenes? I'd like ot hear your ideas on this.

Pascal Langdale
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Hi Luke,



I have a few suggestions, but for brevity and keeping on message in this thread take a look here:



http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/PascalLangdale/20101115/6440/Whats
_missing_from_cutscenes.php



There are other things too, to do with workflow, working with talent from outside your team, and seeing cutscenes and story as having a symbiotic relationship with gameplay from the very beginning of development. Perhaps the subject of another blog, or you can always hire me ;-) I'm available for bar mitzvahs, weddings and funerals too....

Josh Foreman
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Well as you say, cutscenes are a necessary evil if you don't have the budget to create compelling mechanics within the gameword and gameplay to tell the story you want to tell. To which I have 2 responses:



1. Stop trying to tell stories. Instead express events and scenarios and let players come away with an amazing experience. Story-arcs are not necessary for this.



2. Cut back your design until you are focused on a strong theme that your mechanics support. This is why ICO and Shadow of the Colossus are such strong games. They don't need a ton of exposition because the mechanics do the talking.

dana mcdonald
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I loved this article. I do think that some of the other comments are missing what I think is the main point of the article though. Telling a great story is not the pinnacle of game developement. All because games can tell stories does not mean that they must.

Video games have a great deal in common with sports, but the gamer is not in the crowd, he is on the field. Pushing a story into a game is a lot like pushing a story into a football game. You could craft the perfect football game that has spectacular plays and goes down to the wire, and finally ends with a heroic touchdown, and it would be awesome for a spectator to watch (if he didn't know it was staged). But if you came to PLAY football it wouldn't be much of a game. Games make it so the gamer can create that amazing story themselves and be the hero who makes the touchdown at the end. And since it wasn't staged for them it makes the experience something much sweeter than if they are just going through the motions of even a master storyteller.

I don't believe that we should never make games that push stories. I just don't believe that story should be the ultimate goal.

Josh Foreman
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Yes, this is exactly what I'm trying to get at. People keep talking about how to make the stories in games more effective, and I'm saying we don't need the stories in the first place. Our interaction in a scenario in a world is what creates a compelling experience. And there is a LOT of 'story-telling' that can occur with those tools alone.

Douglas Baker
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Great article. I've been mulling over the similarities and differences between movies and games and this is fuel for the fire.



If the movie Tron is any indicator, then Uncanny Valley is wide and deep and may take several more years to cross. (I'd include Avatar in that, but somehow it has grown on me and now appears more natural-looking.)



A well-known fiction writer's axiom; "Show don't tell", is a particular problem for today's games because as story tellers we can't control the camera. How do you "show" someone a key moment of exposition when they are suddenly interested in looking at their gun, or the horizon, or the dead alien he just shot with a bazooka?



All of that dialogue that you wrote for the Mad Doctor that explains why there are 100ft dragonflies attacking the city is being heard, but may not be noticed or it may get lost in the ambient soundtrack.



Control of the camera has to be ripped away from the player so that we can force him to look at the current McGuffin. This inherent taking and giving of camera control is the real problem. It brakes the plane when the player is fiddling with his inert controller wondering when the game is going to start again. It's a sort of sudden paralysis that the player waits to be freed from.



(I think Bioshock did a pretty good job of having cutscenes occur in game engine without taking the camera control away from the player. By careful channeling, the player is frequently led down narrow corridors that make it almost impossible to miss the action unfolding, without making the player feel like a bystander.)

Luis Guimaraes
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"How do you "show" someone a key moment of exposition when they are suddenly interested in looking at their gun, or the horizon, or the dead alien he just shot with a bazooka?"



One way I can think of would be not making everything be a must see for the player, starting by taking the protagonist save the world role from the player... Giving story support that things will happen with or without him. Even having characters talking things to each other instead of talking to the player himself.



The guys are gonna save the world (thou some incontrolable fate is gonna put the player there in the place and time everything is going into deneument), adn you're there, you can join them, or jump around like a dumb kid, they might even hide such serious matter from who isn't ready for the truth...

Douglas Baker
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Incontrolable fate. Maybe the foregone conclusion is part of the problem. If i accompish my objective, I will face a new objective. All roads leading to Rome.

Douglas Baker
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I do like the non-participatory dialogue idea.



I've enjoyed the movies of director Paul Verhoeven who has made films like Starship Troopers, Total Recall and Robocop. (and yes, Showgirls.)



He has a unique way of "showing" the audience about the world by ancillary media events. Posters on the walls, TV news broadcasts, newspaper headlines, the things that happen in the corners of the screen, all help to "show" the audience that this world is in the future, or on mars, and not the world we know.



I've seen this applied to video games and they are always the better for it. Fallout 3 comes to mind.


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