Story-telling of games like BioShock, Half-Life, Dead Space is still underrated

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#1 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (8278 posts) -

And of course System Shock 1 that begat them all (yes, even Half-Life)...

But anyway, I don't think the games I mentioned in the thread title and others that also use similar approach to telling a story, that is without interrupting the gameplay with cut-scenes and breaking the perspective away from the default point-of-view are rated enough. There's still too much acquiescence and sentimentalism for traditional cut scenes-heavy-style...

And to think that abominations with backwards 1990s design like Resident Evil 5 with simply ATROCIOUS and ABYSMAL presentation still exist and are taken seriously and people still omit this element in comparison to, say, Dead Space is simply a disgrace.

Resident Evil 5: a cut-scene pops up, then it ends, then a loading screen with some background info appears (that doesn't amount to anything), then yet another cut-scene begins! What were they thinking?

Of course this convention has also its disadvantages, limitations and its full potential is yet to be unleashed in certain aspects but let's be frank: most of stories in video games still suck, and overliance on cutscenes make them look even worse, but System Shock-ish convention of telling story can even make an average story feel like it's cleverly done.

I just feel that not enough respect is being given by the gaming community to this kind of storytelling that is simultaneously post-modern and better suited to the video-gaming medium.

What say you, System Warriors?

#2 Posted by dontshackzmii (6026 posts) -

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

#3 Posted by iamrob7 (2138 posts) -

I think there are pros and cons to any story telling platform. I believe interactive experiences will be the future though. Certianly story telling in video games doesn't get the respect it deserves, this is always the case with new technology though. In time when this generation ages, video games will be looked at differently.

#4 Posted by TheFallenDemon (13932 posts) -

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

#5 Posted by SW__Troll (1701 posts) -

I agree with Half Life, and to some extent Bioshock, but Dead Space? You lost me there.

#6 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (8278 posts) -

I agree with Half Life, and to some extent Bioshock, but Dead Space? You lost me there.

SW__Troll
Not the story itself but how the story was told.
#7 Posted by SW__Troll (1701 posts) -

[QUOTE="SW__Troll"]

I agree with Half Life, and to some extent Bioshock, but Dead Space? You lost me there.

Salt_The_Fries

Not the story itself but how the story was told.

I know, I'm lost because you stuck Dead Space next to titles like Half Life when talking about story-telling.

#8 Posted by ferret-gamer (17310 posts) -

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

dontshackzmii

Just because they aren't the best doesn't mean they can't still tell a story very well. Plus, being an interactive medium, games have a capability of immersion other mediums are incapable of.

#9 Posted by The_Gaming_Baby (6335 posts) -

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

TheFallenDemon
nope nope nope
#10 Posted by Aljosa23 (24539 posts) -

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

TheFallenDemon

THIS!

#11 Posted by mems_1224 (46173 posts) -
all games you mentioned in the title are extremely overrated
#12 Posted by SaudiFury (8707 posts) -

[QUOTE="dontshackzmii"]

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

ferret-gamer

Just because they aren't the best doesn't mean they can't still tell a story very well. Plus, being an interactive medium, games have a capability of immersion other mediums are incapable of.

what Ferret-gamer here said. games like Bioshock, Half-Life, and even Dead Space. the way those games TELL the story to the player is probably the best way to tell a story to the gamer. Where it's all or mostly ingame with the other NPC's talking to the main character.

then you have RPG's like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, and Deus Ex that can tell a story through a more open world format.

The thing about games and why some gamers poo poo story telling and some don't is pretty simple. because all one has to do is look at the spectrum of which games can occupy and still entertain the masses.

from Angry Birds all the way to the most obtuse realistic RTS series

from simple story of Mario to a much more complex story like say a Metal Gear Solid.

This is the strength of the medium, not a weakness. the weakest form of story telling i think is if you pretty much disperse your story telling in only non-involving cut scenes, like say Uncharted. which while i love it, it's still not the best way to tell a story.

#13 Posted by Pikminmaniac (8693 posts) -

[QUOTE="TheFallenDemon"]

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

Aljosa23

THIS!

for the most part, this is rather true

#14 Posted by almasdeathchild (9517 posts) -

all games you mentioned in the title are extremely overratedmems_1224
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

#15 Posted by foxhound_fox (87329 posts) -
I agree with Half Life, and to some extent Bioshock, but Dead Space? You lost me there.SW__Troll
Indeed. Dead Space is nothing like the other two... and has a horrible story to boot.
#16 Posted by Sushiglutton (5193 posts) -
I think Bioshock did it great but Dead Space not so much. First we have the "datapads". In Bioshock they were well written, clever and interesting. In dead space the overall quality is much lower imo. Some of the texts make no sense for anyone to record. And they are often uninspired. Secondly the use of "real time cut-scenes" (aka u are still in control but NPC are talking to you and doing stuff). Problem is that they have to use an artificial way to stop you from interacting with the other characters. In Bioshock I thought the did this organically and clever. In dead space there's always a convenient glass pane blocking you.I really don't mind a cut-scene every now and then either. I think games like Mass effect and the witcher have brilliant story telling.
#17 Posted by LoG-Sacrament (20397 posts) -

i like valve's storytelling and bioshock has its moments, but those sorts of games also really throw the story right in the player's face. they are effective and they are good, and they also get acclaim from major media outlets and numerous gamers for their storytelling.

i think what gets recognized the least are the types of games where the player probably wont encounter much of the story unless they search or interpret such as dark souls, demon's souls, limbo, and metroid prime. the souls games in particular often get stuck with the label of "no story."

#18 Posted by Inconsistancy (8091 posts) -

[QUOTE="Aljosa23"]

[QUOTE="TheFallenDemon"]

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

Pikminmaniac

THIS!

for the most part, this is rather true

How the hell so? As in the stories are shallow, poorly executed, or do you think games should just be purely gameplay?

Some games should have no story, and should just have gameplay (rage woulda been better for it)

Some games should have a strong story, but no game should ever ignore gameplay (I'll never understand why 'rpg' means "bad gameplay is 'good' or 'acceptable")

#19 Posted by SaudiFury (8707 posts) -

I think Bioshock did it great but Dead Space not so much. First we have the "datapads". In Bioshock they were well written, clever and interesting. In dead space the overall quality is much lower imo. Some of the texts make no sense for anyone to record. And they are often uninspired. Secondly the use of "real time cut-scenes" (aka u are still in control but NPC are talking to you and doing stuff). Problem is that they have to use an artificial way to stop you from interacting with the other characters. In Bioshock I thought the did this organically and clever. In dead space there's always a convenient glass pane blocking you.I really don't mind a cut-scene every now and then either. I think games like Mass effect and the witcher have brilliant story telling. Sushiglutton

I think a large part of the reason why i didn't mind the data pads not making sense was simply because of how crazy ***** went down on the USG Ishimura. It n not making a whole lot of sense or seamlessly weaving into each other worked for me.

I dunno that's part of the reason i didn't mind Dead Space's story telling method so much. granted i'm always going to give the edge to Bioshock as it's story is more focused and is put with it's gameplay mechanics well. When i think of a game where i'd like to tell a story in a certain world and it's an action-adventure game. the one thing i'd want to do is to relay story elements and character dialog through means of which the player is almost always in full control. Maybe limiting that control in order to relay very important specific information.

On a related topic i had a friend who ALWAYS skips cut scenes, even if it's the first time playing he will skip it right away. not coincidentally he often times gets confused if the game does not bark at him what he is supposed to be doing. While i understand what it means to play a game, if it's gotta story you probably should be listening to that bit, at least the first time.

This is the equivalent of going to see an action movie skipping all the dialog scenes just to watch the fight scenes then leaving the theater to say "yeah the fight scenes were great but none of it made any sense why did X hit Y?".

#20 Posted by foxhound_fox (87329 posts) -
How the hell so?Inconsistancy
Games are not movies, so they should tell their story through the gameplay rather than movie-style cutscenes. A great example of story-telling through gameplay is Shadow of the Colossus. One feels the struggle that Wander is going through, because the gameplay reflects both his perseverance and physical limitations.
#21 Posted by Pikminmaniac (8693 posts) -

I think Metroid Prime is perhaps the highest form of video game story telling. The entire story is told through the landscape. No speaking and no cutscenes. Just you and the game. You can either just play through it or stop, look around, and scan the environment to discover what is going on. YOU are the one who has to piece together the story, it isn't shoved in front of you. The story is optional, but it's there for you to discover

#22 Posted by padaporra (3389 posts) -

I can't say about Dead Space, but Half Life 2 has a very interesting way to present its story... Bioshock would be something between it and Mass Effect.
.
Each one serves a different purpose and I like all three.

#23 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (8278 posts) -

I think Metroid Prime is perhaps the highest form of video game story telling. The entire story is told through the landscape. No speaking and no cutscenes. Just you and the game. You can either just play through it or stop, look around, and scan the environment to discover what is going on. YOU are the one who has to piece together the story, it isn't shoved in front of you. The story is optional, but it's there for you to discover

Pikminmaniac

Agreed, I also liked Metroid Prime in this respect!

#24 Posted by Inconsistancy (8091 posts) -

[QUOTE="Inconsistancy"]How the hell so?foxhound_fox
Games are not movies, so they should tell their story through the gameplay rather than movie-style cutscenes. A great example of story-telling through gameplay is Shadow of the Colossus. One feels the struggle that Wander is going through, because the gameplay reflects both his perseverance and physical limitations.

Not all games are the same, and they shouldn't focus on one pretentious way of telling a story.

Traditional story telling is perfectly valid in many games.

---

"One feels the struggle that..."

You really come off as one smug piece of sh*t.

#25 Posted by SciFiRPGfan (694 posts) -

And of course System Shock 1 that begat them all (yes, even Half-Life)...

But anyway, I don't think the games I mentioned in the thread title and others that also use similar approach to telling a story, that is without interrupting the gameplay with cut-scenes and breaking the perspective away from the default point-of-view are rated enough. There's still too much acquiescence and sentimentalism for traditional cut scenes-heavy-style...

And to think that abominations with backwards 1990s design like Resident Evil 5 with simply ATROCIOUS and ABYSMAL presentation still exist and are taken seriously and people still omit this element in comparison to, say, Dead Space is simply a disgrace.

Resident Evil 5: a cut-scene pops up, then it ends, then a loading screen with some background info appears (that doesn't amount to anything), then yet another cut-scene begins! What were they thinking?

Of course this convention has also its disadvantages, limitations and its full potential is yet to be unleashed in certain aspects but let's be frank: most of stories in video games still suck, and overliance on cutscenes make them look even worse, but System Shock-ish convention of telling story can even make an average story feel like it's cleverly done.

I just feel that not enough respect is being given by the gaming community to this kind of storytelling that is simultaneously post-modern and better suited to the video-gaming medium.

What say you, System Warriors?Salt_The_Fries


What is the "respect" you are talking about, OP, and how do you want us to pay it to the games you mentioned?

Also, speaking of respect - the real one- , to me it looks like you would be the first who would need a lesson about speaking about game respectfully. In your post, you've successfully managed to berate both the games that use cutscenes ("abominations with backwards 1990s design like Resident Evil 5 with simply ATROCIOUS and ABYSMAL presentation") and games in general ("most of stories in video games still suck").

#26 Posted by Stringerboy (6922 posts) -

Dead Space?

Wut?

#27 Posted by glez13 (8548 posts) -

Yeah, games have a great potential for storytelling, and while they may have not reached the higher tier yet they sure have advanced a long way.

#28 Posted by wewantdoom4now (2085 posts) -

half life was the beggining of the end for fps games.

#29 Posted by mems_1224 (46173 posts) -

half life was the beggining of the end for boring fps games.

wewantdoom4now
fixed
#30 Posted by Baranga (14217 posts) -

Yes, I also love it when the gameplay comes to a complete halt and I'm locked in a room for a couple of minutes while Exposition-bot delivers exposition. So immersive!

These crappy we-swear-they're-not-cutscenes keep me away from replaying HL2.

#31 Posted by DraugenCP (8469 posts) -

I think Cryostasis is a perfect example of getting this right. Even in the cutscenes, you can still move around and see the action unfold from multiple angles. Some level of interactivity is always maintained, and at some points the difference between what's a cutscene and what's gameplay is blurred, making things all the more interesting.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, but cutscenes are basically concessions of the developer who is incapable of telling the story in a more elegant fashion. This is why I think 'cinematic' games are a curse rather than a blessing. I'd also consider QTEs cheap workarounds rather than viable solutions to this problem.

#32 Posted by Lox_Cropek (3512 posts) -

Story telling is an example of everything wrong with modern gaming.

TheFallenDemon

This. So tired of games full of cutscenes and more cutscenes. I spend almost 50% of the game (in some games) watching freaking cutscenes!

Sure, games can and SHOULD tell a story, but not by harming the gameplay with dozens of cutscenes

#33 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (8278 posts) -

Yes, I also love it when the gameplay comes to a complete halt and I'm locked in a room for a couple of minutes while Exposition-bot delivers exposition. So immersive!

These crappy we-swear-they're-not-cutscenes keep me away from replaying HL2.

Baranga
This is something I had in mind while talking about limitations of this convention. Good point!
#34 Posted by Goyoshi12 (9687 posts) -

From the games that I've played, Morrowind and Portal 2 have the best use of story telling via their gameplay. I was really engulfed in Portal 2's story because it never once left the game to go into a cut-scene or something, you (Chell) were there in the heat of the moment listening to all the conversations happening around you and while you never spoke you were (imo) immersed into the world. I really felt alone and felt happy with Wheatly as he was my only friend, I really felt dread and fear going through the destroyed underground appeture science facility, I felt sadness yet understanding at the end where the thing happened to Wheatly with the GLaDOS and da bombs and da moon and da jello pudding.

Morrowind has crap loads of text which can in some cases break the immersion of the story, yet it doesn't. While walking around in the world you come across so many amazing sights that all have a story to tell but they never have an NPC explaining what happened...they're constructed in a way that tells the player without any dialouge what happened and where to go and who had done it and such. Morrowind may not have that good of a story (I wouldn't know) but just the way the world is alive and speaks to you is quite amazing, imo.

#35 Posted by almasdeathchild (9517 posts) -

[QUOTE="wewantdoom4now"]

half life was the beggining of the end for boring fps games.

mems_1224

fixed

the other guy was right half life was a goddamn bore

#36 Posted by Macutchi (3961 posts) -

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

dontshackzmii

story telling is something of a lost art in computer games, don't forget about the days of monkey island, day of the tentacle and other adventure games which seamlessly combined game and story. obviously a different type of game to those mentioned in the op but still games nonetheless ;)

#37 Posted by Chrome- (1660 posts) -
What's so special about Half Life's story? :s
#38 Posted by wewantdoom4now (2085 posts) -

[QUOTE="wewantdoom4now"]

half life was the beggining of the end for boring fps games.

mems_1224

fixed

quake is more fun than half life

#39 Posted by jg4xchamp (46986 posts) -
Yeah but the plot in all of em save the first 2/3rds of Bioshock(and then the final third and ending happens) aren't exactly compelling.
#40 Posted by SciFiRPGfan (694 posts) -

I think Metroid Prime is perhaps the highest form of video game story telling. The entire story is told through the landscape. No speaking and no cutscenes. Just you and the game. You can either just play through it or stop, look around, and scan the environment to discover what is going on. YOU are the one who has to piece together the story, it isn't shoved in front of you. The story is optional, but it's there for you to discoverPikminmaniac


Actually, that sounds pretty boring to me. At least the way you described it - I've never played the game myself. But, just going from location to location searching for clues and traces of what might have happened there without any chance to interact with any character in real time, let alone to change his or her mind about anything, well, I don't think I would be immersed for too long before the feeling that I am in a very empty and static world would come. I don't know, maybe if I wanted to play a detective for a while or something. But that is not often.

#41 Posted by tjricardo089 (7429 posts) -

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

dontshackzmii

Why? Video games tell great stories aswell. If they could be decently ported to the movies.. that would be even better.

#42 Posted by wewantdoom4now (2085 posts) -

[QUOTE="dontshackzmii"]

i still dont think games are the best way to tell a story

tjricardo089

Why? Video games tell great stories aswell. If they could be decently ported to the movies.. that would be even better.

movies have better stories.

#43 Posted by DraugenCP (8469 posts) -

Actually, that sounds pretty boring to me. At least the way you described it - I've never played the game myself. But, just going from location to location searching for clues and traces of what might have happened there without any chance to interact with any character in real time, let alone to change his or her mind about anything, well, I don't think I would be immersed for too long before the feeling that I am in a very empty and static world would come. I don't know, maybe if I wanted to play a detective for a while or something. But that is not often.SciFiRPGfan

Yeah, it sounds boring, but it isn't. I was sceptical at first myself, but when I made the effort of delving into Prime's world, I became immersed by it like few other games could. This applies to Prime 2 as well. I urge you to give it a try sometime.

#44 Posted by DraugenCP (8469 posts) -

Lox_Cropek

That pic is such bullcrap. Designing a shooter like in the old days (find key, open door) would really make the game feel ancient.

#45 Posted by WTA2k5 (3997 posts) -

I think BioShock's story is very overrated. It's pretty clever and is based around some interesting philosophical ideas, but the way it goes about telling the story is extremely heavy-handed. Andrew Ryan's final monologue is just about as forced and overbearing as story sequences can get.

#46 Posted by omho88 (3967 posts) -

I would like to add infamous2 to the list.

#47 Posted by Bardock47 (5195 posts) -

I think it depends as it is handled, for example Bioshock used the no cutscene (except for brief end and beginning) route very well, while other games, like Halo for example use them as a chance to advnce the story in between missions. While taking full control away from a player isnt alwaya a good thing, it can show things not possible through in-game first person perspective. An example is, again Halo, in Halo 3 you have an epic cutscene of the space battle to land on the ark, and as the level starts you go 'in game' to your normal point of view, ad besides for breif moments to highlight moments, the story during the level is told as we play, for example how the space battl is gong, the landing of the UNSC ship.

#48 Posted by RyuRanVII (4224 posts) -

[QUOTE="Inconsistancy"]How the hell so?foxhound_fox
Games are not movies, so they should tell their story through the gameplay rather than movie-style cutscenes. A great example of story-telling through gameplay is Shadow of the Colossus. One feels the struggle that Wander is going through, because the gameplay reflects both his perseverance and physical limitations.

I agree 100%. ;)

Cutscenes and the cinematic feel are so "important" nowadays that game design became the least priority for many mainstream developers. You can clearly see how games such as The Force Unleashed II were developed around the cutscenes, with anything between one movie and the other for the player mash some buttons. It's sad.

#49 Posted by Paoksis (479 posts) -

unfolding a story in real time needs balls,thats why...prerendered cutscenes is like a walk in the park

#50 Posted by Ginosaji (965 posts) -

I couldn't agree more. If I wanted non-interactive entertainment, I'd watch a movie.