Reality is a Game

Game thinking from Adam Clare

Tag: story(Page 1 of 2)

A Puppet Explains the Monomyth

Joseph Cambell’s monomyth theory is better known as “The Hero’s Journey”, which is a common approach to storytelling. Everything from Star Wars to Dredd reflects it.

These puppets (Glove and Boots) do a great job of explaining it:

Goodbye Quick Time and Hello Emotion

Quick time events get a lot of disrespect, and rightly so. They are often used a crutch, but I’m still in the camp that thinks that some games can pull it off. It’s hard, but it’s possible. I recall many years ago enjoying the original God of War; I also enjoyed how Mass Effect handled them during cutscenes and conversations.

The good use of quick time events (QTE) is rare. It seems that most games just use QTEs as a way to wrench in something that they can’t figure out how to put into regular gameplay. This makes the sequence of button pressing feel forced and out of place: thus many gamers despise them.

At Venture Beat there is an article on why QTEs are so problematic:

Best I can tell, game designers have used quick-time events in the same way that rednecks use duct tape. They asked themselves how they could best convey complex in-game cinematic moments in a way that still engages the player, and (after three beers and a hearty shrug) decided that a series of predetermined button presses at just the right moment could hold the whole thing together while they waited for a part to come in the mail.

So if QTEs are not the solution for conveying stories (and other important things in games) then what is? Emotions.

Like with most forms of entertainment, a good story can carry anything. People will overlook low budgets and awkward design choices if the story is engaging enough.

At the recent GDC there was a panel on this very issue. Polygon covered it and it’s worth the read.

“Plots are not earthquake-proof,” she said. “Focus on the emotional journey instead.”

O’Connor added that emotional journeys like a story of redemption or a story of heartbreak do not fall apart when things are inevitably moved around.

One of the final points addressed by O’Connor and Beaver is the importance of involving a writer in multiple facets of game development — from level design to mission and quest designs to determining the pacing of the game.

“Story isn’t just cinematics and voiceover,” O’Connor said. “It includes level design. Story is what the player does. It’s where the player will get emotionally attached and engaged. The speed in which they do things affects how they feel.”

Transmedia and Storytelling

Transmedia storytelling is a term used to describe stories which are told across multiple mediums.

A few years ago it was all the rage for Ontario media companies and everyone wanted something to do with transmedia, now, it’s a little passé. Still, it’s something to be aware of and can still be used for telling stories.

Henry Jenkins has a good writeup on how to tell stories this way in his post Transmedia Storytelling 101. There are ways that writing a story for multiple mediums at the same time differs greatly from writing for a single medium. Here’s a snippet:

3.Most often, transmedia stories are based not on individual characters or specific plots but rather complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories. This process of world-building encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers. We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp. This is a very different pleasure than we associate with the closure found in most classically constructed narratives, where we expect to leave the theatre knowing everything that is required to make sense of a particular story.

In this viral-info-snack he discusses the power of media in a 21 century trans-mediated world. A world where converging technologies and cultures give rise to a new media landscape.

All the Mass Effect 3 Endings

Obviously, spoilers ahead.

The Mass Effect 3 ending has been an ongoing fiasco for Bioware and they claim to have addressed player’s concerns with new DLC.

For context, and an excellent description as to why the ending needed to change watch this detailed video. It’s worth it, trust me.

Thanks to David!

I thought it would be worthwhile to catalog all the endings in case the dreaded ME3 ending gets talked about again.

The original and incredibly lame endings:

Basically, all the endings come down to just picking a colour:

Extended Cut Endings:

All the new endings feel like filler rather than something worth the wait.

New Refusal ending:

Synthesis:

Control:

Destroy:

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