Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by Wiwaxia, Oct 28, 2015.
i think it'd work better there because discussion could ensue.
This video is interesting, and as someone who's played video games as long as I can remember it's really funny how a lot of what is "obvious" about video game logic isn't really that easy to understand. It's like being a horror movie fan and being asked why people make dumb decisions. You just don't think about things that have been around for a long time that are used over and over in all types of games.
Man, what a fascinating video!
I’ve been playing puzzle games since I was a little kid, and it’s very interesting watching a friend of mine, who’s a game developer, watch me play games. She’ll sometimes ask, “How did you know to do that?” and I usually have no idea. It seemed like the thing to do. The game suggested that I should do it. Among other things, I played Year Walk and The Witness. There were definitely a few things in both I didn’t get for a long time, mechanics that were new to me that I wouldn’t have thought to look for. But I zoomed through great portions of these games because I did know overall what to look for, how to know when I’d found something significant, and what to try to do with it.
I’m comparatively quite bad with first person shooters. I don’t really play them so I don’t know how. Skyrim is probably the closest I get as far as games I’ve played extensively, and it eased me into it without me really noticing. I historically have played Elder Scrolls games mostly in third person, but archery is suddenly ridiculously useful in Skyrim and much easier in first person than third. I always play a wood elf so I have a natural bonus in archery that I suddenly have good reason to use.
wow that video is Extremely relatable
I didn't start playing vidyagames until I was like 20, and the complex controls and not being able to figure out where the fuck I was going were both huge issues. they still kind of are! especially the navigation thing. that's a big part of why I'm more drawn to games with colorful or stylized art, paths are practically invisible to me unless there's some kind of color contrast. I am not good at taking architectural hints. this gave me a loooooot of trouble when I first started playing Fallout, everything was monochrome dirt-textured wreckage or dark tunnels and I couldn't figure out where the fuck I was, let alone where I was supposed to be.
I don't exactly have the last problem though, with wanting more flexibility - rather, my problem is I treat games like books and can get tied up in knots trying to figure out what I'm "supposed" to do when in fact the whole point is that the player can do whatever they want. I try to find one of the emotional paths the devs had in mind and lean on it instead of exploring my options. this is why dialogue-heavy RPGs and anything with a dating element make me anxious as hell, and I don't think I've ever completed one :P I'm guessing people who grew up playing games are more used to playing around with these kinds of branching plot options.
Reminds me of how when I was little, we had one (1) non-Educational video game, and it was an action-platformer called Croc 2 that inexplicably had gummie Lifesavers product placement in it. We studiously read the manual, and then... failed to get any farther than the very first sections of the game, over and over and over, because whenever we saw something that could kill you, we turned around and looked for a less dangerous place to go.
...Also, now that I think about it, reminds me of when a friend who mostly plays platformers who I cajoled into playing RH asked me if she had to buy all the equipment upgrades from the first shop before she advanced, and I, the JRPG player, was like, "...no???"
Honestly, branching plot options are pretty new outside of very small, specific communities. In mainstream commercial games, there has more often been exactly one most desirable outcome, occasionally more than one way to achieve it, and sometimes an option for partial credit. Games have been attempting to offer meaningful story choices to players without compromising the ability to have a plot for a very long time, and the extent to which they’ve achieved it is up for debate.
I think things like dating sims, where there are definitely distinct paths, tend to rely heavily on replayability (unless it’s not actually a dating sim and the real gameplay isn’t reliant on what you do during the part of the game that looks like one). Players commit to an option with the understanding that this is just one playthrough. In order to get a real sense of everything the game has to offer, you will probably play the whole game at least a few times. Otherwise there’s so much witty dialogue and so many cool situations you’ll never see. If there are many options, the game is probably not very long.
The longer a game is, the less it can afford to lock large percentages of important or just plain cool experiences behind decision trees. You can potentially do most things in a single Elder Scrolls playthrough. There are decisions and quests that can be mutually exclusive, but it’s pretty hard to accidentally decide to lock yourself out of a major opportunity completely. Like the civil war questline in Skyrim requires you to pick one side to advance, which does have consequences, but nothing that shouldn’t more or less end with you in about the same position as you would have been if you’d picked the other side. There may be things you temporarily lose access to during parts of the quest, but with the understanding that most of it, especially anything that would prevent you from completing another major questline, is not permanent. You can decide to destroy a guild instead of joining it and that’s permanent for that playthrough, but that’s a choice you made about that guild, not a side effect of something you had to do to get access to another part of the game. Because the game is too long to expect people to commit to playing it multiple times, each decision is pretty much designed to be made in a vacuum.
And that’s a tension that may never be fully resolved. Meaningful choices inherently lock people out of the experience of having made a different choice. The more drastic the branching, the more writing and art and programming for less gameplay per playthrough. A lot of games are exercises in storytelling, and if the interactivity starts negatively affecting the ability to have a plot, the plot will probably win or nobody is gonna be happy about the experience.
you say that but ime the games most commonly willing to dip toes in the multiple-branching-decision-making-points with replayability are the 100 hour long AAA rpg blockbuster extravaganzas... or i am just a complete lunatic willing to sink countless hours on playing through those games like nine times.
I think you might be a lunatic, Ivy. :P
That said, I also think that the AAA RPG has been selling itself on choice more and more, building out of that concept of a fantasy that the player inhabits--starting with D&D and text-based adventure games, building into things like Baldur's Gate and Fable, and now that Inquisition made GOTY and Witcher 3 the year right after, AAA studios that were already chucking money at the market are eyeballing the choice thing a lot harder.
It's been around, one way or another. But it does feel to me that marketing the emphasis on multiple endings and Your Choices Matter and the like in AAA games is something new? (I'm also slowly discovering the failure mode of Your Choices Matter in a 100+ hour game, which is that I straight up do not have the time for that shit anymore, especially when 50 of those hours are just grind.)
I think the answer to both why games sound so much cooler than they probably are, and how you have an experience that feels complete even with the inherent limitations of story and game mechanics, is a process of narrative reframing on the part of the player. When you tell someone about your super cool adventures in whatever game, if you start getting into any detail you’ll probably be saying, “then I”. You’re telling your own story about the experience of the game. That’s different from the intended story or the mechanics, but may include those things with no differentiation between them.
If it’s a lore heavy RPG, it probably actively encourages you to do this. It may ask you for a bunch of personal information about who you are at the beginning as character creation. It may even ask you to divulge details of your backstory as a way to assign stat buffs and penalties, to help you think of your character as a person with experiences, preferences, and traits, and suggest you adjust your play style accordingly even if it sometimes makes the game harder to play. The Final Pam doesn’t need to be particularly successful at progressing her game to create a compelling story. She doesn’t have to fail, either. Fallout 4 is orthogonal to the goal of Pam.
But even very linear games where you are Duke Nukem or Lara Croft or Link, and you do a predetermined set of things in more or less a particular order, will inevitably get parsed at least partially in terms of “I”. You were there. You pushed the button. You made it happen. You dealt with the consequences. You watched helplessly as Aeris knelt down to pray. There won’t necessarily be a good benchmark for anyone not familiar with games as to how far afield you did or did not go to make any particular series of events occur. As far as they know, everything might as well be exponential levels of Minecraft.
The narrative of your sim’s terrible date or the mayhem caused by your unruly goose is a story imposed on the question of whether a set of conditions were met according to the game’s internal logic. They have no deeper inherent meaning. The game suggests a certain framing, but it may not always be sufficient to explain why you can’t go down a perfectly clear section of sidewalk or why a goose has a checklist, or other ways games deal with not being able to literally offer players infinity and fun at the same time. “Here’s a goose, go nuts, we wouldn’t dream of telling you how,” is surely a much more amusing concept than experience.
But even when a character in a game may not have a lot of apparent agency at all, when the only option is to press F to pay respects, the player very much does have agency. You don’t have to have any good choices to be an active participant in your story, and agency is an element a player immediately puts back into their story just by telling it as their story. Of course that’s gonna sound cooler than the reality of a limited experience. It’s a synthesis of many facets of a piece of media someone thought was notable enough to retell as a personal story. The actual game is a part of this complete breakfast.
Games really do benefit a lot from community, even if you’re much more of a single player game enthusiast like myself. That’s why I post so much about Skyrim. It’s way more engaging and rewarding if I have a reason to make coherent narratives, for certain values of coherency of course, from my experiences. Even if I realize late in the game that I made a choice I regret and can’t change even with console wizardry, that’s a story right the fuck there. Recently I’ve been hemming and hawing over committing to decisions about the layout for some custom homes, but telling people about these homes has built a lot of character around them that isn’t part of the actual game, so that has already helped. And the worst thing that could happen would be an excellent opportunity for a story about how my character does not have what it takes to be an architect and we’re moving back to Solitude I guess, which has so much potential to be very funny.
mmm i agree with most of this but would point out that concepts like agency and the nature of the 'magic circle' (to borrow terminology from Huizinger) of accepting or rejecting the game's inherent logic and intended narrative is a highly discussed topic in Video Game Studies and other media analysis circles willing to touch the vidya gaems.
there's a eason i've been not-so-jokingly calling the Speedrunning community something of an organized anarchist movement in Game Sociology. They're spoilsports on the one hand from the Game Studio perspective, because they reject rules and the internal logic, but they have their own kind of magic circle. It's a fascinating topic! I'm actually writing a paper on agency and settler colonialist frontier narratives in video games right now :P
You probably already know this, but just in case, have you seen Dan Olson's video on accidentally doing a colonialism in Minecraft?
yeah i've seen it, I loved it a lot, he does some great video essays xP
interesting, but imo a little too eager to find culpability and a culture of colonialism in the inherent human urge to improve one's surroundings. i stopped watching when he gave 'stardew valley' as an example of colonial-culture-informed 'taming the wilderness' games; you are specifically NOT doing that in sdv, you're tidying up your grandfather's abandoned farm. someone who can see the act of doing maintenance on a property an elder couldn't maintain as an act of colonialism... maybe is a little too hype about their Problematics for my comfort.
and in general, it's like he thinks non-colonizers never clear land or build things. bit racist imo.
he's right that having to kidnap testificates in minecraft is a bit disturbing. one of the mods i always use has an item called a golden lasso, which you can use to collect non-hostile creatures, and when you collect a testificate you need to present them with a contract, which they may or may not sign. if they don't sign it, they won't get in the lasso and you can't move them. if they do sign, you can just pick them up in the lasso (which is like a pokeball, functionally) and carry them in your inventory, no railroading required. there's a different mod which causes them to follow you if you're carrying a block of emerald, but that's a bit cynical for my tastes. :D
ooh, can you tell me the name of that mod? and whether or not it’s likely to affect framerate? it seems weird that there’s no way to ask villagers to cooperate in the base game.
This is interesting, but I wonder how long it would take the fungi to fix the cracks?
I have the urge to make a flannel scarf or cloak or something
wrap self in c o z e
That seems like an excellent urge.
okay but now I've fallen down the related videos rabbit hole because apparently this channel tests and debunks clickbait cooking hacks and that is RTMI
Oh, hey, here she's roasting that channel that I lost my mind at last year over that video claiming you could make a crystal by dropping a hot coal in a jar of peanut butter. And they're spreading ~~natural~~ food woo, because of course they are.
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