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Wildbluesun
Posted: Mon May 12, 2008 3:08 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
Interview with two of the creators of Portal, from Gamasutra.com wrote:
We had this theory that games tell two stories. There's the "story story" which is the cutscenes and the dialogue, and the "gameplay story" which is the story that's described by the actions you take in the game world. The theory was that the closer you could bring those two stories together, the more satisfying the game would be.

What do you guys think about that? I never really found the Portal story that satisfying, especially at the end - it was too inconclusive for me, and I didn't like killing GLaDOS - but I think they've got a point. As we've seen with The Endless Forest, it's possible to tell a story without cutscenes/dialogue, but it's generally a quite subjective and loosely-defined story (for example, rearing meaning either "fight" or "happy"). If you wanted to tell a more solid story, then I think that you'd need an objective means of communication - like dialogue, or writing (like on the walls at Portal).

Not cut-scenes, though. Cut-scenes are a cop-out.

Also, from the same article, talking about how games are often delayed:
Quote:
There's something about writing software that causes delays.

If I had to make an uneducated guess, I'd say that's because software is a) new-ish, so people have less practice in guessing finished dates, and b) can evolve a lot in the making.

If you want to read the whole article, it's here.
It amuses me that the journalist seems to know more about the world of games than the "insiders".
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path to home
Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 12:16 am Reply with quote
Joined: 15 Apr 2008 Posts: 886 Location: At your request
I personally loved the Portal storyline. It starts you off completely unknowing of where you are, and like a science experiment, you perform tasks slowly figuring out whats going on. I didnt mind killing GLaDOS. with the whole....nerve gas....thing. Razz

BTW, they are coming out with a portal 2
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Michael
Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 8:37 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
I haven't played Portal all the way through. I'm not good enough at their "gameplay story". Wink

But we certainly agree with the theory. We have talked about this on our blog many times. This theory explains why there are so many violent settings in games: because a traditional game structure is competitive and quickly leads to antagonism and aggression. A violent story is easier to express through gameplay than something more sophisticated. This is also the reason why we have relentlessly been advocating against traditional game structures and in favour of new forms of interaction that allow designers to express other types of "story story".

But even Portal doesn't do this, as far as I can tell. It's still a story about opposition, one party against another party. Typically, game designers will sacrifice the "story story" to match up better with the "gameplay story". While we advocate the opposite: create new forms of interaction so you can tell any "story story" that you like. The "gameplay story" design should follow the "story story" design.
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Michael
Posted: Tue May 13, 2008 8:46 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Wildbluesun wrote:
If you wanted to tell a more solid story, then I think that you'd need an objective means of communication - like dialogue, or writing (like on the walls at Portal).

I personally disagree. I think interactive media are capable of more than this. Solid stories (i.e. clever plots) have been a means to an end in literature and cinema. But I don't think interactive media need that means to achieve the same end. I think interactive media have more in common with painting, poetry and architecture in terms of story telling. It is more about your personal experience than it is about your interpretation of the work.
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Wildbluesun
Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 12:06 am Reply with quote
Joined: 12 Dec 2006 Posts: 4266 Location: London, Land of Tea and Top Hats
I agree. I think that too. But if you (impersonal you) ever wanted to tell a solid, objective story, I think you'd need objective narration. I don't know why you'd choose a games medium to tell that story, but that's another question.

I like your theory about this being the reason that violent games are so prevalent. It makes sense to me. =) And yes, Portal IS a story about opposition; but I think it's more than simple opposition; there's betrayal and rebellion too. Not just "you are a soldier with x army, fighting against y country". It's more subtle than that.

And the way they told the story, more than what the story was, interested me.
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Michael
Posted: Wed May 14, 2008 9:32 am Reply with quote
Site Administrator Joined: 07 Jun 2002 Posts: 8065 Location: Gent, Belgium
Wildbluesun wrote:
And the way they told the story, more than what the story was, interested me.

That's another typical thing for game design, I think. It's more about the telling of the story than the invention of it. It seems that designing for interactive media is more similar to performing music or directing theater than to writing the score or the play. It's an art of interpretation.

I often imagine interactive media to be the continuation of pre-print times. We gather around the camp fire in our CPUs to listen to someone tell a story and actively participate in the live event.
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