Why is a good story so hard to come by?

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#1 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
It's something I've been thinking about this evening...you have games that make a point, but have a shallow way of getting it across like Far Cry 3, and games where the whole point is "lolblood". When I say story driven, I don't mean Uncharted and it's ilk. I don't mean an action movie with a controller. I mean games that keep you hooked because of the story and world there in. The last console game that had this effect on the general population was the Mass Effect series. Why do you think this is so rare? Just recently on handhelds, we've had Virtue's Last Reward and Fire Emblem Awakening, two games that would be much lesser without their writing, yet are still great as a game as well. A great story can drive gameplay and presentation to new heights when done correctly and make experiences people remember. Thoughts, System wars? Is it really so hard to make a story in a video game that dosn't take away the game? Are high budgets on consoles contributing to this? Would you like to see more great stories in games?
#2 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -
Because when you can't do good gameplay because of platform limitations, you settle for story.
#3 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
Because when you can't do good gameplay because of platform limitations, you settle for story.Neon_Noir
So what's the excuse for 75% of games out there?
#4 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -
[QUOTE="Neon_Noir"]Because when you can't do good gameplay because of platform limitations, you settle for story.darkspineslayer
So what's the excuse for 75% of games out there?

They try to have good gameplay and fail?
#5 Posted by Speedzilla (1756 posts) -

Because when you can't do good gameplay because of platform limitations, you settle for story.Neon_Noir

Gravity Rush says hai.

#6 Posted by campzor (34932 posts) -
 .
#7 Posted by Cherokee_Jack (32198 posts) -

Are high budgets on consoles contributing to this?darkspineslayer

It's the main reason, seemingly.

Also, play more PC games.

#8 Posted by PannicAtack (21040 posts) -
The Walking Dead, Dear Esther, Spec Ops: The Line, and To the Moon are on handhelds?
#9 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
[QUOTE="darkspineslayer"]Are high budgets on consoles contributing to this?Cherokee_Jack
^ Also, play more PC games.

Such as?
#10 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -
Gameplay >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Story
#11 Posted by nightshade869 (3457 posts) -
I don't agree with your argument and feel great games can be on any platform. Look at Heavy Rain and Allan Wake. Both fantastic emotional stories on two different platforms that aren't handhelds. Uncharted is another good example and so is Ni No Kuni. Anyways, there are a lot of great story given games on every platform.
#12 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
I don't agree with your argument and feel great games can be on any platform. Look at Heavy Rain and Allan Wake. Both fantastic emotional stories on two different platforms that aren't handhelds. Uncharted is another good example and so is Ni No Kuni. Anyways, there are a lot of great story given games on every platform.nightshade869
I see your point too, but my argument isn't exactly that "they don't count" per say, it's that they can't seem to mix the oil with the water in most of them. The gameplay and the story don't have to be competitors. They can work together to create experiences neither could alone. I've changed the topic title to better reflect the intended discussion.
#13 Posted by campzor (34932 posts) -
Gameplay >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> StoryNeon_Noir
gameplay and story > Just gameplay or just story.
#14 Posted by PannicAtack (21040 posts) -

The problem with stories in games is that most of them aren't actually /about/ anything. Could you tell me about the themes in Uncharted?

But I have played games with really good stories. As I listed in my earlier post. Though I guess that depends on whether or not you think Dear Esther is a "game."

#15 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -
[QUOTE="Neon_Noir"]Gameplay >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Storycampzor
gameplay and story > Just gameplay or just story.

True, but from what we've seen so far those two don't really go well hand in hand.
#16 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
The problem with stories in games is that most of them aren't actually /about/ anything. Could you tell me about the themes in Uncharted?PannicAtack
No, I couldn't. That's kind of my point actually. Why are games with a good story and a point to make so rare? Uncharted's whole point is being an action flick in game form. Now if I asked someone in this topic to explain the themes in something like Half Life 2, you might get an answer. It's a good example of gameplay and story, apparently.
#17 Posted by nightshade869 (3457 posts) -
[QUOTE="nightshade869"]I don't agree with your argument and feel great games can be on any platform. Look at Heavy Rain and Allan Wake. Both fantastic emotional stories on two different platforms that aren't handhelds. Uncharted is another good example and so is Ni No Kuni. Anyways, there are a lot of great story given games on every platform.darkspineslayer
I see your point too, but my argument isn't exactly that "they don't count" per say, it's that they can't seem to mix the oil with the water in most of them. The gameplay and the story don't have to be competitors. They can work together to create experiences neither could alone. I've changed the topic title to better reflect the intended discussion.

I now agree with your title, but still don't think great experiences are only on handhelds. Zero Escape on Vita for example has an incredible story (I platinumed it), but the gameplay controls were horrible in my opinion. I think Valkyria Chronicles 2 and FFVII Crisis Core are better examples :-)
#18 Posted by nightshade869 (3457 posts) -
[QUOTE="PannicAtack"]The problem with stories in games is that most of them aren't actually /about/ anything. Could you tell me about the themes in Uncharted?darkspineslayer
No, I couldn't. That's kind of my point actually. Why are games with a good story and a point to make so rare? Uncharted's whole point is being an action flick in game form. Now if I asked someone in this topic to explain the themes in something like Half Life 2, you might get an answer. It's a good example of gameplay and story, apparently.

I actually think Uncharted 3 did a great job at telling a story and having very strong themes in it. I don't want to spoil the game potentially, but there are many themes in U3 and they aren't subtle.
#19 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
[QUOTE="darkspineslayer"][QUOTE="nightshade869"]I don't agree with your argument and feel great games can be on any platform. Look at Heavy Rain and Allan Wake. Both fantastic emotional stories on two different platforms that aren't handhelds. Uncharted is another good example and so is Ni No Kuni. Anyways, there are a lot of great story given games on every platform.nightshade869
I see your point too, but my argument isn't exactly that "they don't count" per say, it's that they can't seem to mix the oil with the water in most of them. The gameplay and the story don't have to be competitors. They can work together to create experiences neither could alone. I've changed the topic title to better reflect the intended discussion.

I now agree with your title, but still don't think great experiences are only on handhelds. Zero Escape on Vita for example has an incredible story (I platinumed it), but the gameplay controls were horrible in my opinion. I think Valkyria Chronicles 2 and FFVII Crisis Core are better examples :-)

I thought the gameplay in VLR was good despite itself. The lack of precision was never a huge issue, as I always had time to take when I needed to. The controls were probably better on the 3DS version. I found that a fine tipped stylus really helped.
#20 Posted by Vaasman (11683 posts) -

Because writing and thinking are hard.

#21 Posted by darkspineslayer (20124 posts) -
[QUOTE="darkspineslayer"][QUOTE="PannicAtack"]The problem with stories in games is that most of them aren't actually /about/ anything. Could you tell me about the themes in Uncharted?nightshade869
No, I couldn't. That's kind of my point actually. Why are games with a good story and a point to make so rare? Uncharted's whole point is being an action flick in game form. Now if I asked someone in this topic to explain the themes in something like Half Life 2, you might get an answer. It's a good example of gameplay and story, apparently.

I actually think Uncharted 3 did a great job at telling a story and having very strong themes in it. I don't want to spoil the game potentially, but there are many themes in U3 and they aren't subtle.

[/spoiler] yeah, but they kind of drop them near the end. The whole "Why are you doing this" thing never came to a head enough to get an answer from Drake, and we never heard of that whole "if that is your real name" thing again. They could have gone somewhere great but they left the thread cut off near the tip. [/spoiler]
#22 Posted by seanmcloughlin (38218 posts) -

Games are a very hard medium to do good stories in, they have a level of interactivity and player control that makes it very hard to have a great narrative. The ones with really good stories or narratives are usually something like visual novels or have limited gameplay

#23 Posted by MrGeezer (56748 posts) -
Quick answer: because telling a story or sending a message or making a point relies on control. It requires controlling the audience, telling them what they are and are not allowed to see, it requires drastically restricting their freedom to diverge from what YOU think is important. Meanwhile, games are typically about interactivity and fun. That's generally sort of antithetical to proper storytelling, because the more "interactive" you make it, the more you allow the audience to f*** it up. The more options you give, the more you allow for those options to be f***ing stupid. to put it one way, there are "interactive books" out there, that "choose your own adventure" bull$***. Lots of games try to copy that formula. And in terms of storytelling, it works out about as well. There's a reason why serious novels with literary merit don't allow readers to f*** around with the writer's work. To put it another way, think of a cool movie scene. Maybe it's that Lord of the Rings movie, where Sam had to fight the giant spider. That was a cool scene. Now imagine how cool it would be if Sam was being controlled by the dumbest f***ing person in the audience. Instad of a short and tight action scene, we'd see Sam spend 2 minutes running around the room AVOIDING the fight while looking for health packs, then we'd see Sam get eaten by the spider five f***ing times before he finally defeats the boss and the story can progress. Because that's how so many games tend to work. And yeah...that $*** can very easily stop the progression of a story dead in its tracks. Thirdly, think back to some of your favorite movie scenes. Maybe it's something like Vincent and Jules just hanging out in a diner talking about random irrelevant $***. That stuff is just as important as the scenes in which they shoot dudes in the face. Now translate that to games. The PLAYING isa gonna consist of shooting dudes in the face, the relevant story and character is usually gonna be relegated to cut scenes (because that's too important to let you f*** it up, so the developers put it in a cutscene so that you can't control the outcome). For a movie, this is fine. You're watching the entire time, the entire experience is passive. For games, this is problematic. 90% of the game is devoted to the stuff that matters LEAST from a storytelling perspective (killing bad guy after bad guy) and the parts that actually matter (the plot prgogression and the character development) pisses people off because it's relegated to cut scenes which force them to stop PLAYING the f***ing game. Now, I'm not saying that NO ONE makes good stories, but I think they are pretty f***ing rare. And I think a large part of it comes down to videogaming just not really being a medium which is inherently good for storytelling. You'll see exceptions here and there, sure. But for the most part I think it's ALWAYS gonna generally be the case that..."if you want a good story, stop dicking around with games. Watch a movie or read a book."
#24 Posted by Gue1 (10683 posts) -

Yakuza and Metal Gear are good if you have the necessary IQ to enjoy them.  ;)

 

Yakuza 3 and 4 are cheap right now and you can buy the Metal Gear Solid Collection to play Metal Gear Solid 3. I don't tell you to buy MGS4 because that game's mostly fan-service.

#25 Posted by Master_ShakeXXX (13361 posts) -

Because you're looking in the wrong medium.

#26 Posted by Gue1 (10683 posts) -

[QUOTE="nightshade869"][QUOTE="darkspineslayer"] No, I couldn't. That's kind of my point actually. Why are games with a good story and a point to make so rare? Uncharted's whole point is being an action flick in game form. Now if I asked someone in this topic to explain the themes in something like Half Life 2, you might get an answer. It's a good example of gameplay and story, apparently.darkspineslayer
I actually think Uncharted 3 did a great job at telling a story and having very strong themes in it. I don't want to spoil the game potentially, but there are many themes in U3 and they aren't subtle.

[/spoiler] yeah, but they kind of drop them near the end. The whole "Why are you doing this" thing never came to a head enough to get an answer from Drake, and we never heard of that whole "if that is your real name" thing again. They could have gone somewhere great but they left the thread cut off near the tip. [/spoiler]

you can't even come up with fair criticism to bash on Uncharted 3. Those aren't even plotholes if you had a brain to figure it out but anyway.   :lol:

 

just imagine. If writing a book and writing a script for a film is hard (the reason why we have so many bad movies) how much more harder would it be when you have to make it interactive? Like you make a game about Looper (2012), the story of the movie is fantastic but what types of gameplay other than a corridor cover shooting would you be able to include within its context? I mean, to make a game fun you need lots of creativity and sometimes that creativity doesn't go well with the story so then what do you do? That's when you need to make some sacrifices... Like fawk  the story and make the character do some super-human stuff even though he has no powers or maybe turn a normal guy into a professional killer. These are the kind of choices you have to make when you want to be unique with your story-telling and gameplay unless you want to keep going with the mold of military background and more shooting for the sake of some consistency even if generic. And even then you would need the knowledge about guns and other military backgrounds to even make a story like the one in the Call of Duty games.

 

I bet you think that even writing a "decent" story is not that hard but it is. Create likeable characters, interesting plots, intriguing settings, a good script, the scenarios, the editing... These things don't come easy and they are not something just anybody could do. You could write about personal stories like love but how much fun would it be in a game? How much fun would it be to anybody else if is not well written?

 

The only reason you're talking all this garbage is because you have never tried to write something. Just do it and ask for the opinion of other people about what you wrote and I can assure you that some dreams will be crushed. This sh*t is complex as hell.

#27 Posted by R3FURBISHED (10751 posts) -

Why do you think this is so rare?darkspineslayer

Few developers want to spend time on crafting an intricate narrative when they could be working on visuals, sound, gameplay, level creation, AI etc.

#28 Posted by BlbecekBobecek (2709 posts) -

[QUOTE="Neon_Noir"]Gameplay >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Storycampzor
gameplay and story > Just gameplay or just story.

Would Tetris be any better with a story? Lolno.

#29 Posted by Sagem28 (10498 posts) -

The last console game that had this effect on the general population was the Mass Effect series. darkspineslayer

Yeah, in a bad way.

#30 Posted by j_assassin (918 posts) -
Maybe its because of the popularity of online multiplayer, devs kinda not put much effort on the story and focus more on multiplayer, cod 4 and demons souls has a good balance of story, gameplay and multiplayer...
#31 Posted by campzor (34932 posts) -

[QUOTE="campzor"][QUOTE="Neon_Noir"]Gameplay >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> StoryBlbecekBobecek

gameplay and story > Just gameplay or just story.

Would Tetris be any better with a story? Lolno.

im talking non arcade games.
#32 Posted by Krelian-co (12089 posts) -

Because writing and thinking are hard.

Vaasman

actually because reading is hard, cod generation thinks if they stop 5 mins to read something or watch a cutscene they are wasting time while they could be killing the same npcs for the 100th time so devs hardly even bother, you know, dat low attention span.

#33 Posted by TheEpicGoat (2006 posts) -

You need to read more books.

#34 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -

[QUOTE="Vaasman"]

Because writing and thinking are hard.

Krelian-co

actually because reading is hard, cod generation thinks if they stop 5 mins to read something or watch a cutscene they are wasting time while they could be killing the same npcs for the 100th time so devs hardly even bother, you know, dat low attention span.

It's a video game. You play it for the game play. There's books, then there's video games.
#35 Posted by balfe1990 (6747 posts) -

[QUOTE="Vaasman"]

Because writing and thinking are hard.

Krelian-co

actually because reading is hard, cod generation thinks if they stop 5 mins to read something or watch a cutscene they are wasting time while they could be killing the same npcs for the 100th time so devs hardly even bother, you know, dat low attention span.

Sadly, this is literally true, I've experienced this exact thing with a few morons I know.

#36 Posted by hippiesanta (9946 posts) -
because most humans play Angry Birds
#37 Posted by Sagem28 (10498 posts) -

because most humans play Angry Birdshippiesanta

The sad reality of things.

#38 Posted by aroxx_ab (10540 posts) -

Because developers make games not books. And (most?) gamers want play games not watching cutscenes/movie

#39 Posted by Vaasman (11683 posts) -

[QUOTE="Krelian-co"]

[QUOTE="Vaasman"]

Because writing and thinking are hard.

Neon_Noir

actually because reading is hard, cod generation thinks if they stop 5 mins to read something or watch a cutscene they are wasting time while they could be killing the same npcs for the 100th time so devs hardly even bother, you know, dat low attention span.

It's a video game. You play it for the game play. There's books, then there's video games.

That's like only watching movies for cinematography, or only listening to music for the tune, or only viewing paintings for the technique.

Some people just play for gameplay, sure, but it is a very diverse medium and some games are meant to be taken in as a complete package. You think Journey or TWD would have gotten any GOTY awards if they were judged solely on the merits of their gameplay? I doubt anyone played Amnesia just for it's rudementary puzzle design. What about something like God of War? Would it even be half as recognised if it had small scale fights and T rated violence?

A good story or good art can go a long way towards improving the experience. Gameplay improvement doesn't have to be the only goal developers can strive for while evolving the medium.

#40 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (9522 posts) -

Ask Gearbox and what they did with Aliens: Colonial Marines.

Specifically ask this guy:

#42 Posted by coasterguy65 (6116 posts) -

If you are expecting a Citizen Kane story, or an Oscar worthy story you are probably looking in the wrong place. However lots of video games have good stories. Mass Effect, Dead Space, Bioshock, Halo, Gears, Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, etc. Most of these series have inspired books, and / or movies so there must be a good story there somewhere. Maybe your just too picky TC?

#43 Posted by Neon_Noir (1503 posts) -

[QUOTE="Neon_Noir"][QUOTE="Krelian-co"]

actually because reading is hard, cod generation thinks if they stop 5 mins to read something or watch a cutscene they are wasting time while they could be killing the same npcs for the 100th time so devs hardly even bother, you know, dat low attention span.

Vaasman

It's a video game. You play it for the game play. There's books, then there's video games.

That's like only watching movies for cinematography, or only listening to music for the tune, or only viewing paintings for the technique.

Some people just play for gameplay, sure, but it is a very diverse medium and some games are meant to be taken in as a complete package. You think Journey or TWD would have gotten any GOTY awards if they were judged solely on the merits of their gameplay? I doubt anyone played Amnesia just for it's rudementary puzzle design. What about something like God of War? Would it even be half as recognised if it had small scale fights and T rated violence?

A good story or good art can go a long way towards improving the experience. Gameplay improvement doesn't have to be the only goal developers can strive for while evolving the medium.

I'm not saying it's impossible to play games for story or to like the story, I'm saying complaining that a lot people play video games for the gameplay is stupid.
#44 Posted by Salt_The_Fries (9522 posts) -

If you are expecting a Citizen Kane story, or an Oscar worthy story you are probably looking in the wrong place. However lots of video games have good stories. Mass Effect, Dead Space, Bioshock, Halo, Gears, Uncharted, Assassin's Creed, etc. Most of these series have inspired books, and / or movies so there must be a good story there somewhere. Maybe your just too picky TC?

coasterguy65
Citizen Kane doesn't even have that much of a story. It's just the way it's presented and open to interpretations makes it interesting and compelling. You know the whole metacriticism of everything - that people can make up any interpretation of anything and try to look for any clues in even the least meaningless things and make it meaningful...
#45 Posted by Maroxad (8517 posts) -

Storytelling and interactivity can easily get in the way of one another.

To be honest, I wish most games would drop the story entirely. Sure, a few good stories are nice, but why try when failure is inevitable, especially when said failure ends up getting in the way of the reason people play your game.

Adventure games are the best genre for storytelling. And those games are far more structured than the rest. 

#46 Posted by rjdofu (9171 posts) -
[QUOTE="Cherokee_Jack"][QUOTE="darkspineslayer"]Are high budgets on consoles contributing to this?darkspineslayer
^ Also, play more PC games.

Such as?

To the moon.
#47 Posted by 001011000101101 (4025 posts) -
The Mass Effect games is an excellent example of a perfect blend of action and story. Video game perfection.
#48 Posted by SecretPolice (22690 posts) -

Well here, I can help... Sit right down lemme tell ya a story bout a man named Jed, a poor mountaineer who can barely keep his family fed, and then one day he was shootin at some food, and up from the ground came a bublin crude, oil that is, black gold, Texas T, well, the next thing ya know ole Jed's a million-er and his kin folk said, hey Jed, move away from here, Californy is the place ya ought to be so the loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly, Hills that is, swimin pools, movie stars. :twisted:

Made me think hmm, anyone ever try and make The Beverly Hillbillies into a game. :o :P

#49 Posted by Sagem28 (10498 posts) -

The Mass Effect games is an excellent example of a perfect blend of action and story. Video game perfection.001011000101101

f5753870a40ccef114a6cb88e7f48531.jpg

#50 Posted by rjdofu (9171 posts) -
The Mass Effect games is an excellent example of a perfect blend of action and story. Video game perfection.001011000101101
I lol'd.