Title: Can You Say Totally Vindicated?
Posted: July 18, 2006 (08:59 AM)
So who remembers how much I hate God of War? Who remembers what I hated about it?
That the plot is stupid and overblown?
That its an epic and epics are way overdone and stupid? And overblown?
"But as a guy who has DESIGNED one of these damn epic things, I can tell you that I no longer have any interest in making these kinds of games."
"I don’t want to tell stories with my games anymore."
Who could be saying these things? Why its David Jaffe, designer of God of War! But don't take my word for it, go check it out. http://davidjaffe.typepad.com/jaffes_game_design/2006/07/changes.html
He also included this really neat analogy which summarizes how I feel about God of War and alot of games of the type. Behold:
"To me, most (all?) story based games are like taking a trumpet and playing it a little, but also using the brass exterior of the trumpet to carve a story onto a wall. Sure you can do it, and you may even have a nice story scratched onto the wall when you are done. But it’s not really what the trumpet is for and there are a hell of a lot easier ways to write a story. Plus, you’ve got this nice, shiny trumpet- which is now all scratched up- just sitting there, begging to be played, begging to be used as it was intended."
It's true: games are not playing (no pun intended) to their strengths when they are telling stories. As long as games are imitating Hollywood, games will not use all their potential. Games will continue to be ho-hum bits of movie with games in between. The stories will never be able to match up to Hollywood stories because game companies can't hire Hollywood talent; their budget is directed to other expensive non-cinema places, artists, programmers, etc. If they were to do so, the game bits of the game would suffer. I suppose its possible that a movie studio could work cooperatively with a game studio, but such a gigantic venture doesn't seem likely to pay off.
So here's to designers coming to their senses and realizing that games are for playing, not for watching.
Posted: July 18, 2006 (11:03 AM)
I agree with what he's saying, but I think story IS important. You just have to do it right. Stealing from overblown Hollywood action movies is not the answer, but a subtle plot and unique characters can enhance the gameplay (example: Panzer Dragoon Orta).
BTW, have you played Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy)? I think that game/lame story fits that analogy perfectly.
Posted: July 18, 2006 (01:26 PM)
I disagree with Janus. ABOUT EVERYTHING!
Posted: July 18, 2006 (10:37 PM)
I get what you're saying, I get what Jaffe's saying, and I get what Janus is saying. I think everyone has legitimate concerns and preferences, but I don't outright agree with any of you. After reading someone's blog about Pia Carrot tonight, perusing some choice dialogue from Desire last night, and thinking back across the great stories I've experienced in games (Emerald Dragon, Eve Burst Error, and Kimi ga Nozomu Eien), I absolutely 100% believe there is a place in games for not only story, but for blatant exposition. Those games all tell great stories, and the story's impact is in some way enhanced by being part of a game.
If the story were somehow excised, all of the games I just named would be completely pointless. That's probably the exact thing that Jaffe rails against, but let's look at his analogy. Jaffe says a trumpet is not the proper tool for writing. What if I honestly believe the game aspect improved all of the above stories? Sure, some video games might be trumpets, but I also think some are pencils and some are paintbrushes. Not every game is primarily intended for playing -- nor should they be.
Aside from conveying a plot, story scenes can also serve a legitimate gameplay purpose. During the Sega CD days, I always viewed "cinema sequences" as rewards for reaching a certain point in the game. Rewarding players for performing well is an important aspect of game design.
In an RPG, cutscenes could almost be viewed as breaks between stages. For example, Ys 1+2 uses its cutscenes not only to convey story, but to signal a shift in the game's direction and to focus the player's mind on a tangible goal.
That doesn't mean story sequences are always appropriate, and there are plenty of examples of overkill. No matter! Despite dozens of bad apples, I'm still a firm believer in games as storytelling device.
Posted: July 19, 2006 (05:40 AM)
That's a good point about story sequences being rewards. I was always waiting for the next cinema in Shenmue II, especially when I was made to walk slowly through a forest behind a teenage girl.
Posted: September 06, 2006 (08:00 PM)
Conversely though, are you really going to watch a 45-minute cutscene the second time you decide to play Xenosaga?
Posted: September 06, 2006 (09:38 PM)
Well, I was under the impression that people watch Xenosaga. And I don't mean that as snidely as it sounds!