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Thread: Narrative in Games

  1. #1
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Default Narrative in Games

    What type of narratives in a game do you gravitate towards the most. Do you like an interesting story and fun characters (MGS/Final Fantasy/Uncharted) or do you prefer a more hands off approach where their is room to come to your own conclusions on what the story and themes are (Elder Scrolls/Ico/Dark Souls)? Hell, maybe you feel the plot is just superflous and just need an excuse plot? What narrative type are you drawn towards and which games do you feel does it best? Hell, why does the other narrative methods not work for you?

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    Radical Dreamer Cid's Knight Fynn's Avatar
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    I feel narrative is what motivates me to play mostly. I feel fulfilled when I can get really immersed in a game's story, and I enjoy how games have unique ways of crafting it other than just pure text. Take SMTIV for example - Tokyo itself seems to be a central character in this game's narrative, but that really could not have been conveyed efficiently if it weren't for the multitude of side quests showing you just how people and demons function in this place.

    I'm not big on games that rely on player-driven narratives, tbh, with the exception of the Sims. I could never really get much into Morrowind due to how bare its main story was, and the world itself never really gripped me, but building a whole clan and watching them live out mundane drama in the Sims 3 or 4 is just immensely gripping. I guess the takeaway from this is that I need characters for a narrative to really grip me, and those that I consider most effective have very realistic characters. People over lore. Pre-prepared narrative over player-created narrative.

  3. #3

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    Really, the only kind of gaming narrative that turns me off -- other than a barebones excuse plot that doesn't matter -- is one that's all lore. I'm all for lore when it's mixed creatively into an actual story, some of my favorite examples being Dishonored and Undertale, but if the actual plot is entirely left up to players to piece together, I find myself withdrawing. It's one of the reasons I struggle to get into Dark Souls despite what I know of the lore being very interesting, and I always tilt my head when its fanbase calls it the absolute pinnacle of storytelling in gaming.

    Also, anything made by David Cage. But his product barely counts as games and he barely counts as a writer, anyway.

    Those aside, I'm up for any kind of narrative so long as I find it well told. Whether it's a preset "walking simulator" story or a similarly linear visual novel, a Telltale game that uses mostly small-but-meaningful choices to immerse me in its rich story and characters, a story-based RPG, a player-driven adventure like Fallout, or anything else as conventional or experimental as one can get, I can usually find enjoyment in it. I have found the same level of serious emotional investment in stories as vastly different as Uncharted, Nier, and Danganronpa. The bottom line, basically, is that I like good writing, whatever style "good" may take.

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    Witch of Theatergoing Karifean's Avatar
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    Narrative is pretty important to me. I like playing games with little narrative to them occasionally, like the Super Marios, but games with a good narrative are in a totally different league as far as I'm concerned.

    I prefer character-focused narratives over plot-focused narratives. That's not to say I don't like the latter, just that my favorites tend to be character-focused. On that note, I do not like self-insert protagonists much. I like it when the protagonist's personality, in some form or another, has an effect on the story. Even if it's generic McAnime. In a way having a preset main character makes me feel more like I'm engaging with the very story the creators wanted me to, which is important to me in a narrative. So character creation games, more often than not, aren't really my thing.

    Then it's just up to writing. I love neat little touches like when you can feel a plot point or emotion conveyed through gameplay, or when games screw with the medium in ways that further the narrative (999 anyone?) but it's all up to execution and none of that is actually necessary.

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    Pinkasaurus Rex Cid's Knight Pumpkin's Avatar
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    I'm pretty big on narrative usually, but there are exceptions. Like the Sims and stuff, you know, I'm happy to make my own stories. But sometimes a story left up to interpretation can be done well too, like Abzu.

    I've been enjoying more and more games that incorporate gameplay in to the narrative like Karifean mentioned. Virtue's Last Reward and Brothers are excellent examples of this and I'd love to see it incorporated in to more games

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    Feel the Bern Del Murder's Avatar
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    Oh definitely the MGS/FF/Uncharted route where I am experiencing a full end to end narrative and characters that are a product of someone's vision. I tend to not care for the 'player-driven' stories that require you to uncover a bunch of codex entries to understand the world or lore and figure things out on your own.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Del Murder View Post
    Oh definitely the MGS/FF/Uncharted route where I am experiencing a full end to end narrative and characters that are a product of someone's vision. I tend to not care for the 'player-driven' stories that require you to uncover a bunch of codex entries to understand the world or lore and figure things out on your own.
    This is me! Games like Ico can be interesting, but I really prefer to have a complete narrative.

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    Defamation Depression Moon's Avatar
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    It all depends for me. I expect more from a Final Fantasy or JRPG, but any other genre my expectations for narrative are pretty much non-existent. Video games are based on gameplay first so I can enjoy it despite not having a good story or one at all and millions have considering there were like no narrative driven games when the industry started. Bayonetta 2's writing and acting is pretty damn bad, but hot damn is that game designed perfectly. The level design is on point, it flows wonderfully, the battle system is deep and there's plenty of content to keep you occupied.

  9. #9

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    I like to think I can enjoy and appreciate anything but I was recently considering playing the Souls games and a guy elsewhere told me to just not even bother. They are not my taste in terms of gameplay or storytelling.

    From what I hear from people - that the games don't even have a story (this was mainly something I recall hearing a lot when Demon's Souls came out) - he's probably right. I mean, even Elder Scrolls games noticeably have stories. I can't imagine how "understated" the Souls' games plots have to be to be barely visible.

    I like big cutscenes and character arcs.

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    I don't tend to gravitate towards any type in particular, but do certainly enjoy a good story and characters. It's was one of the reasons RPGs were my favourite genre back in the day. Whatever the experience though, I do prefer when a story/narrative can be seen in its entirety in a single product and not split among various mediums. This is the reason I am happy with FF VIII and IX for example, both are complete experiences where the story can be seen to completion within one product.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken Lover View Post
    I like to think I can enjoy and appreciate anything but I was recently considering playing the Souls games and a guy elsewhere told me to just not even bother. They are not my taste in terms of gameplay or storytelling.

    From what I hear from people - that the games don't even have a story (this was mainly something I recall hearing a lot when Demon's Souls came out) - he's probably right. I mean, even Elder Scrolls games noticeably have stories. I can't imagine how "understated" the Souls' games plots have to be to be barely visible.

    I like big cutscenes and character arcs.
    Now that Bloodborne exists, it's probably the best "starter" souls game. In Dark Souls, you have to read random item descriptions to really get a sense of any lore. The characters barely touch on anything when you talk to them. In Bloodborne, lore and pivotal characters are mentioned either by other characters, or in cut scenes. You can read item descriptions to get a better sense of things, but it's not integral to piecing things together. Not to mention the combat is more responsive and forgiving. So if you want to taste-test a souls game, I'd suggest that one

    As for myself, I'm not entirely sure what draws me in, other than something being either good, compelling, or crafted with love or wild inspiration. I guess if the passion for what the creators wanted shows through and it's well done, I'm more inclined to be interested. I'm just "okay" with the way Dark Souls does their stuff, but mentioning Ico, I adore how mysterious and vague that game was. It was more about the journey and relationship

    I also adore a good BioWare game as well with deep lore and heavy story elements and lots of character interaction and growth. I also love Uncharted and The Last of Us as well made stories

    And while I won't praise the story-telling aspects, I still enjoy and put way too much time into Bethesda gems like Skyrim and Fallout 4 and their ilk. Even though I have trouble getting into The Sims, or Harvestmoon, or Rune Factory, I absolutely loved Stardew Valley. And even though I can't get into Minecraft, I also fell in love with Dragon Quest Builders' plot and characters

    So I guess all I really require is that someone at the helm be good at presentation, rather than any specific type of narrative. I like straightforward when done well, I like cerebral complex stories when done well, and I like vague ambiguity when done well. But i do much prefer there be something at least. I can't play Mario games anymore. I can't play sports or racing games. I can't play bullet hells or scrolling shooters. I need there to at least be some meat and meaning



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    *permanent smite* Spuuky's Avatar
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    Dark Souls is basically an exercise to see if a story can be told entirely through atmosphere.

    All the games do have a story that is easily discerned, it's just the level of detail that is given to you up front that's low.

  13. #13
    Memento Mori Site Contributor Wolf Kanno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forsaken Lover View Post
    I like to think I can enjoy and appreciate anything but I was recently considering playing the Souls games and a guy elsewhere told me to just not even bother. They are not my taste in terms of gameplay or storytelling.

    From what I hear from people - that the games don't even have a story (this was mainly something I recall hearing a lot when Demon's Souls came out) - he's probably right. I mean, even Elder Scrolls games noticeably have stories. I can't imagine how "understated" the Souls' games plots have to be to be barely visible.

    I like big cutscenes and character arcs.
    While I will not disagree with the idea that the Souls series may not be your thing from a narrative standpoint, I'll point out the series does have plots, it's just that for all of the games, all of the big stuff happened years if not centuries before the game started, so most of the story is trying to uncover "what the hell happened?" instead of your character actually being important. In fact the very idea of your character's insignificance is kind of played with in all of the entries.

    There are character arcs, but they are for NPC characters and are largely subdued. Not to mention they are less about typical manga shenanigans of "growing as a person" and more about watching characters succumb to a certain fate.

    Example:






    and if you really need to know about plot...


    As tongue and cheek this video is, this is basically the backstory of Dark Souls in a nutshell.

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