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Full Version: 5 Core Elements of Interactive Storytelling
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So I forgot to post this when I wrote it, so here comes:
Already read it earlier. Really good read Smile
Hi Thomas,

I don't know if any of you guys have played "Avarice: The Final Saga". It was an OS/2 title from 1996; so probably not. It was a graphical adventure game similar to Myst, where your movement was one still frame at a time rather than the fluid movements of First Person 3D games. In all the time I've owned it (17 years) I have never completed it. The puzzles can be quite brutal. Some are linear; meaning obtaining an item or solving a previous puzzle is required prior. Some are abstract; with no clear definition of what any of the clues mean or their relevance. At least one of these puzzle requires potentially trapping yourself to identify what a series of numbers means (unless you're really clever).

It is a good detective style narrative, but does suffer from progression blocks, and there is a great deal of reading. At one point an entire diary needs to be read to find a clue.

Another mechanic of the game is that every item can be manipulated in some way. An orange can be peeled, broken up and eaten for example. All the books in the library can be read cover to cover (if one had the time). It was, and still is a great game. I wish I could finish it Smile
Very interesting Thomas, thank you! :-)
Thomas, as much as I am a huge fan of narrative and I do think that it must be a top priority, I think you underestimate the value of player agency through interaction in a consistent game world.

Personally, I think a key element in a game is that every single same object must behave the same. It is huge to maintain a sense of consistency and "reality" in the game world.

So, explaining: The very first Deus Ex, which, to me, is one of the best designed games ever. Every single medium sized metal crate behaves the same way. You can move every single one with your hands if you have the strength augmentation. Or you can push it with your body if you don't have the strength to carry it. You can move it to jump up and reach a higher place. You can hide behind those, either to avoid enemy sight or enemy fire. So, once I learn how *one* crate behaves in the world, I learned how *every single crate* works.

Every time I see those, even from a distance, I can already plan my approach, without the need to check if this crate here will behave the same way the crate over there. I like to call it a "consistent game world" (kinda like System Shock 2, Thief and even your own Amnesia - The Dark Descent does too), and it is essential to my full immersion. It tells me that the game world behaves in a constant, logical way, and around that I can plan to reach my objectives.

Deus Ex - Human Revolution threw this out of the window: some crates can be moved (and these can be highlighted as an option), and some cannot. So, I can move "this" crate here because the *game designer* wants to, but I cannot move that "same looking crate" right there because the *game designer* doesn't want to. This ruins immersion completely. I am not in a logical world, that obeys a consistent set of rules, I am in a clearly designed world, following along someone's else hand.

When I can see the game designer leading me through the game, then it failed me as a video game, since I cannot ever hope to fully comprehend it and have the sense that "I" am making my way, my narrative through it. It ceases to be a interactive medium and turns into a passive medium. And this is what video games must avoid the most: the feeling that I am being guided.

More than follow along a story TOLD to me, I need to MAKE my your through the story. And video games are the only medium that can do that.

Dear Esther avoid this by eliminating all interation, except walking. Unlike you think, for me it does become quickly repetitive. I'm walking along what is essentially a story book being read. The story is always TOLD to me, I have not a say in it, I cannot even manipulate a single object to make this world more believable. It could be a short movie or a short novel and it would lose very little (only some the "randomness" of the narration).

And this is why I don't like at all Amnesia - A Machine for Pigs as a game. There's very little interactivity. And when there is some, it is clearly some cheap puzzle throw away to block my way, since it stood out so much from the rest of the game already non-logical set of behavior.

Interactivity is key. More than story. And I feel strange for saying this, I love well told stories, but I love more stories in video games that, at least, gives me some illusion of choice, of impact. I think every game designer should ask him/herself: "Could I tell this exact same story through a movie, or a novel?" If the answer is even a remote yes, something in the game needs reworking, because it will not reach the full potential that only a video game can achieve - true interactivity.
I personally feel that storytelling in gaming is a little bit overrated. In modern games when there's some (invisible) guy with three paragraphs of text ready around each corner I just freak out.
I want to scream all of a sudden: "What the hell is going on? Get out! Get out of here, leave me be! This is my game, and I am the one playing it!"
Because is is WEIRD. It's weird when every little bit of something along the way is trying to tell a story.
"Open the door." - "Hello I am the door, and I want to tell you a story..." - "Shuddup door! I don't want to hear any of it! Let me through!"
The thing is: narrative actually breaks "the feeling of being inside the game's world". You stop being inside the game world the moment narrative starts. It's not your story at this moment, you are no longer in control, because hey, the dude has to say his thing. That annoying dude!
I mean: the narrative is good to establish the rules and the goals of the game world, but the whole game being a narrative? Hardly a good thing.
Well making a whole game a narrative would actually immerse you more if done correctly. Vice versa, making a game a narrative would de-immerse you if done wrong.
(10-02-2013, 08:14 AM)JustAnotherPlayer Wrote: [ -> ]Well making a whole game a narrative would actually immerse you more if done correctly. Vice versa, making a game a narrative would de-immerse you if done wrong.

The key question here is immerse in what? And for what?