Could a less traditional FPS have sold enough?

#1 Edited by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

So one of the themes I'm noticing in the criticism of this game, among the critical community especially, is that there is a disconnect between the combat and the flow, pacing, and (depending on who you ask) themes of the story. And while, like Alex, I'm not in the camp that says the game shouldn't be violent, I agree with a lot of this criticism.

I think a game which had exploration as more of the focus would have been better. I think if Booker and Elizabeth had spent more time trying to accomplish goals incognito, that would be better. I think if they alerted an entire police station somehow, would have been cooler and more fitting if running and evasion was the proper response. I think if that happened, then the moments where you have to kill a few people would be less out of place, and the moments where a whole swarm of guys pin you down would have been suitably exciting and epic.

However.

The reality is that the game needs to sell, and those of us who care (one way or the other) are a small minority of people who bought the game. This was a AAA game, with a large budget, developed over a large period of time. So that leads me to my questions.

1. Could a less traditional FPS have found enough success in the general market to be worth the expense of the game?

2. Even if you think it could, do you think it's reasonable to expect a publisher take such a risk on a AAA game? Not that its okay to never take risks, but it could easily be argued that its good business sense to at least try something with a less expensive game, first.

3. If they did make a less traditional game, what do you think the marketing would have to look like to reach out the people who don't spend time on gaming sites?

#2 Posted by pyrodactyl (2029 posts) -

Not now no. Maybe you will be able to make a non traditianal 6 hours narrative driven game and sell it for 60$ in 5-10 years but it wouldn't be a enough of a success right now. Big publishers ain't going to take a big risk on something that will be mildly profitable at best

#3 Edited by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

I would argue that the game is already narrative-driven, in that its the story which drives one from place to place rather than the gameplay. And I'm not arguing for an adventure game without any traditional gameplay. Still, skepticism noted.

#4 Posted by Dagbiker (6976 posts) -

Yes, using the Bioshock name. No, not using the Bioshock name. But i doubt 2k would let Bioshock be anything other then what the gameplay of the original Bioshock was. Especially after Bioshock 2, I mean, isn't this essentially just the gameplay of Bioshock 1, with the story of Bioshock 2 ( Yes i realize i am being very reductive )?

#5 Posted by Humanity (9220 posts) -

I think very positive reviews will lead to a lot of positive word of mouth and that helps push a lot of units. A game like Spec Ops: The Line was an extremely traditional game with a non-traditional story but it still sold average. I'd like to believe that a non-traditional experience which is critically acclaimed by media outlets will lead to a lot of talk and good sales. Dark Souls sold really well and it's as non-traditional as you can get but word of mouth had helped it sell. Marketing is also an important factor. Bioshock had a lot of trailers and interviews before release that created this fever pitch hype. On the flipside you have a game like Brütal Legend which used a lot of the same tricks that Infinite did with it's marketing and failed to produce good sales.

That being said I don't even know if Infinite is selling well or not. We should get @brighty in here to give us a breakdown of sales figures on a week to week basis complete with a comparison to the opening week sales of the original Bioshock.

#6 Edited by pyrodactyl (2029 posts) -

Yes the game is narrative driven but the gameplay is still fairly traditional in fits ok with the rest of the experience in my opinion. People out there clamoring for an alternate universe non violent Bioshock infinite (see what I did there) are complete lunatics.

What we got with the game was a well crafted meaningful experience and that's way more than what you can say about 98% of all AAA games. No it's not perfect but this open disgust for infinite and mega rose tinted hard on (I'm looking at you idle thumbs) for original bioshock is real dumb.

#7 Edited by Fredchuckdave (5474 posts) -

Yes, it could be an RPG, or even a tactical RPG (XCOM's gameplay + Bioshock's Story would actually be a pretty decent game). Also third person would work okay since the character is actually a character; you can still be immersed in a third person game as anyone who has played Dark Souls will attest; this game didn't use the first person perspective as well as say Metroid: Prime so there's no reason why that had to be the design. But hey damn near anything they could have made, no matter how shitty the gameplay was and the press would have still performed fellatio; gameplay doesn't matter at all!

#8 Posted by Rowr (5631 posts) -

I don't see how this game could of possibley been paced as well with a different gameplay system for it to be successful, and taking out the traditional shooter element eliminates most of the "game". Which would make me half as interested to be honest. At that point you might as well just make a movie.

Can a game like this be designed with a more advanced, subtle and elegant gameplay system which facilitates consistent pacing?

Yes probably, but for a lot more time money and resources which ultimately would have detracted from important (in my opinion, critical) elements such as the story, art and music. It's clear by the delays and multiple interviews that ken levine and the developers/writers/artists (he perhaps overshadows) put everything they had into this game.

In the future will it be possible that a successor to the bioshock universe (or something aspiring to it) can implement a gameplay system that is not based on the traditional fps?

Yes, but it would have to be immaculate for widespread adoption and approval.

Actually portal 2 is probably the closest to achieving this. Otherwise something building off the mechanics of Mirrors edge, elements of dishonored, stealth? Really i cant see anything else that isn't just a modification of a traditional fps that has less emphasis on gunplay and more on traversal/some sort of clever gimmick being succesful and keeping with the pacing of the story. Portal gets away with it by having a minimal amount of characters and interactions with those characters in a gameplay sense being linear one offs.

If this game was a "tighter shooter" i feel it would detract from the interplay of the vigors. I do feel that the vigors could have more depth though - adding more strategy. The game is a balance between not being one or the other - making it more accessible to a wider audience. I feel it does both well enough to please if not at least appease both sides. It's worth noting the game was in development for a while, and shooters age quickly.

#9 Edited by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

I think if anything, the game is a triumph of production values (which you'd hope for a 5 year development). I think as far as sales, it has less to do with the combat or how much of it there is, and more what genre it appears to be to the eye. In that I think a screenshot from the first person perspective with a gun in the lower corner sells this game to an average person more than any other piece of art or screens; they can see it and immediate conceptualize how they interact with the game. You can describe everything else but it's the perspective that will get most people comfortable and understand the most. I really think that's part of the reason for the crossover success of games like Portal and Skyrim; there is something people find comfortable about operating in the first person.

As much as I believe this I'm not actually one of them; I greatly prefer third person games, from shooters to melee games to puzzle games. I prefer over-the-shoulder aiming to down-the-sights aiming. I think games with a 'dedication' to the first person perspective are deliberately hampering their storytelling.

#10 Edited by Rowr (5631 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

I think games with a 'dedication' to the first person perspective are deliberately hampering their storytelling.

I disagree on the grounds that first person is more immersive to roleplaying a character and experiencing it first hand, putting the player in the immediate moment. Something this game in particular leverages strongly.

I can't imagine any of the defining moments of bioshock infinite being as impactful being viewed over the back of bookers shoulders.

Not to say you can't do good story telling in third person, just not this kind. The same goes for skyrim and portal/half life. The interactions with the characters are one on one.

I guess the mass effect series would be the shining example of good third person storytelling, achieved by using a variety of camera techniques established in movies/television.

#11 Posted by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

To re-clarify for those confused, I'm not talking about removal of gameplay, just a switch to something a bit more varied and less genre-standard.

I think if anything, the game is a triumph of production values (which you'd hope for a 5 year development). I think as far as sales, it has less to do with the combat or how much of it there is, and more what genre it appears to be to the eye. In that I think a screenshot from the first person perspective with a gun in the lower corner sells this game to an average person more than any other piece of art or screens; they can see it and immediate conceptualize how they interact with the game. You can describe everything else but it's the perspective that will get most people comfortable and understand the most. I really think that's part of the reason for the crossover success of games like Portal and Skyrim; there is something people find comfortable about operating in the first person.

So, to confirm- By selling with a screenshot in the first person, do you mean sell it in such a way that it appears to be a more traditional game even if it's not? Because that might work, but I think some people would feel deceived. If you just mean that first person makes people comfortable, because its familiar, I'm skeptical. While the mainstream success of Skyrim and Portal is heartening, with Skyrim it had an absolutely massive marketing presence and an already sizable Elder Scrolls fanbase to make a bunch of noise. I know Bioshock has its fans, but I think enough would be dubious about a major shift in pacing and gameplay that their contribution to the hype would have been...less.

As for portal, remember that before it was a huge AAA release, it was a lower-budget throw-in package deal with the Orange Box. That proved the concept to audiences, first.

Still, perhaps enough people would be fine giving a game called Bioshock a chance that word of mouth could have done the rest? Maybe.

#12 Posted by djou (875 posts) -

If were an RPG like @fredchuckdave mentioned, maybe. But it seems to me that you are describing a first person walker, like Dear Esther. In that case, no way that would have been profitable by the publishers especially if reports that this game cost $200 million to make and market.

A publisher, even one that collaborates with its game designers like Take Two, would be completely insane to put their stock holders at risk for a project like this. Although I hate to compare film to video games, the closest analogy I can think of is the production of Heaven's Gate. If Michael Cimino would have made a western with traditional genre elements it would have had some shot at success instead he did a tone poem about men in the American West. Something beautiful, messy, and challenging but one of the biggest flops in movie history.

The marketing of said less traditional game would probably look more like the Proteus or Antichamber. It would be an indie game that makes the rounds in a small circle to create word of mouth. At some point this hits a critical mass and the creator starts doing media to tell their "story" about creating the game. It certainly wouldn't involve video game bus ads with the square jaw protagonist, eyes down, shotgun resting on his shoulder.

#13 Posted by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

@djou: I'm not sure Dear Esther is a good comparison- I'm more talking about a game where shooting and violence is an option, just not THE option, and often not the best solution to problems. Closer to Deus Ex than Dear Esther.

#14 Edited by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

@Rowr

Not to completely shift the topic or to show any disrespect to you, but I must categorically disagree with a number of your points.

I've long campaigned against the phrase 'immersion'. The word most generally seek is 'verisimilitude', the semblance of a fictional world as having reality. 'Immersion' implies that the player cannot distinguish between fictional reality and real reality, verisimilitude only implies that the fictional reality is internally consistent. Furthermore, we don't actively seek immersion, we seek interesting content coupled with a sense of verisimilitude. It is not enough that something appears real, it must first of all be interesting. We do not seek intellectual immersion; such a concept would make it actively impossible to enjoy the content from the perspective of the player, you would only be able to enjoy it from the perspective of the avatar, or player character. There is an article by Ben Abraham I will link below that states that we do not seek intellectual immersion, we seek intellectual engagement (I believe he uses the term 'attention'), of which verisimilitude merely contributes to.

http://iam.benabraham.net/2012/04/attention-and-immersion/

Going into the idea that Infinite would be less engaging if it were in any other perspective for any amount of time, I have to first disagree with it on purely subjective terms, and then on authorial terms. I think a BioShock Infinite that revealed events in a number of different perspectives or cinematic presentations would be as affective if not moreso. Consider solely that we have a major character who is constantly acting, speaking and internalizing... But we never see their face. Imagine you had to form the emotional connections to Elizabeth that the game sort of required to be affective... but she spent the entire game with a mask on, or through a phone. It would require that much greater of a voice performance merely to equal the results of merely seeing her face. I'm sure the animators want to think that their work with Elizabeth's face was successful. From an authorial standpoint, it says more about how it was written or the writers if it functionally cannot work as a piece of engaging narrative if so little is done as move the camera during a cutscene (not that I believe this is true anyway, many existing scenes could be improved by getting out of first person). You bring up that some scenes wouldn't be better 'over Booker's shoulders' as if the stated solution to a reliance on the first person perspective would be a reliance on OTS or counterpoint cinematography, which is not being said.

Remember that having other perspectives does not preclude the use of first person perspective when it is most effective, merely that it doesn't slavishly maintain first person perspective when it is not most effective. I find a slavish 'commitment' or 'dedication' to first person to be as silly as a director who refuses to shoot anything but two-shots, or an comic artist who draws all scenes at obnoxious close ups. That's not to say that a two-shot or a close up are not effective tools, but merely that they are that, and that limiting your toolset may suit an artistic choice but not necessarily serve a narrative.

Bringing up Skyrim, while the lack of decent animation work is certainly a good part of how sterile it feels, the lack of any cinematography directly interferes with anytime the game makes strides towards 'traditional' storytelling. While the opening of the game works pretty well, other moments like the council sequence where you sit flat in a chair and stair across tables at the badly animating models feel like the most sterile and uncanny moments in all of games. While it would remain as poorly animated, actual directorial insight would give that scene far more drama than how it stands now.

@TowerSixteen

To clarify, I am not talking about misrepresenting the game in any case. First person perspective games remain first person perspective games regardless of their particular genre bent. I'm saying that the familiarity of the perspective to most modern gamers probably serves the promotion of genre or stylistic choices more than a third person or other perspective. Consider Portal explained without mentioning the perspective and then consider it explained with the aid of a screenshot. There is something naturally intuitive about the idea of the camera being your eyes, something in the bottom right hand corner being your method of interacting with the environment. I would suggest this is why FPS is so evergreen despite all the changes in games, why Minecraft had such incredible success it may not have had as an isometric or floating third person perspective game. And I say this as someone who generally prefers other perspectives, I think there is something naturally intuitive or comfortable to the first person that gets the average player into things they may not have. Like my portal example, you tell me what Miasmata is in my head without the perspective and it's largely abstract and formless... You tell me it's a first person game and suddenly I have a clear idea of how I interact and control, even if those interactions are different than Blops.

Now the post reply button won't work. Fix the Goddamn mobile site guys.

#15 Posted by JasonR86 (9703 posts) -

It's not really a traditional FPS. The vigors + guns + skylines + tears make for a very singular experience. Some say it isn't great, but it sure isn't traditional. So I'm not sure what a more nontraditional FPS means for this game. Like if there was no shooting at all would it sell? I doubt it.

#16 Posted by djou (875 posts) -

@towersixteen: Ah, in that case I would argue that Deus Ex is as traditional a game as Infinite. Don't get me wrong, I loved Deus Ex: HR but that was a AAA action-stealth FPS. It fell neatly in the sci-fi genre, rebooting an established franchise as does Infinite. In many ways Infinite is the less traditional game because of the historical setting combined with the sci-fi/fantasy/magic elements. The game mechanics were more intuitive (and amazingly deep if you work the combo vigors) than the crazy skill trees and systems of DE:HR, but this accessibility doesn't mean it was more traditional.

Am I wrong in assuming that you want less violence in the game because you though the shooter elements were included to satisfy the CoD-style audience that just wants to blow things up? I originally thought so as well, but this article by Jim Sterling has me reconsidering. (link)

I've read many forum post about the game's violence and I think Irrational could have done two things to quell most of the controversy:

1. include an exploration mode. No enemies, just let players roam the environmental for collectibles.2. make 1999 mode more like the Ranger-Hardcore mode of Metro 2033. More "realism" which amounted to avoiding combat because of ammo/resource scarcity. I wish there were less "wow, look how many headshots I got" and more "man, I have to make my shots could because I have five bullets"

I'm sure it amounted to a matter of deadlines and budget, but this is one of those games that comes so close to perfection that you can't help but ask for more.

#17 Edited by TowerSixteen (542 posts) -

@brodehouse: So, I'll chalk you up for "If properly explained, a less traditional FPS could sell well enough, as long as it remained in the first person", with a side of "While I think that the first person is an easier sell, a third person or hybrid-perspective game would likely be higher quality"? It's a hopeful idea, that first point- I'm not entirely convinced that gaming audiences are quite there yet, but I do believe they're headed that way. And I could very well be wrong. I'm hardly an expert or industry insider. I'd be curious to see how well this game sold as is, but I know how hard that data is to come by.

As to perspectives, I hear you on why first person creates distance from Booker as a character, but I do think there is something to be gained by remaining in first person during gameplay. In cutscenes, first person can be the hindrance you describe, but I find that being in third person in gameplay distances me from the character I'm controlling because I can always see them being the puppet on the string- unchanging expressions and so on as I accidentally run into benches and hop around trying to find hidden things. By being in first person for those bits, I can disconnect my inevitable gameplay silliness from the character- the same thing that works against them in cutscenes working for them elsewhere.

That would seem to suggest a hybrid perspective would be best. My issue there is that I enjoy the sense of flow that comes from not taking control away during most cutscenes- Even if its a small area, the fact that I can move around (even if I don't) is nice, and for the sort of directed experience your talking about that wouldn't really work. It would serve to reinforce and draw attention to the separation of gameplay and narrative. Definitely worth it for some games, especially some kinds of character-driven stories, but I'm not 100 percent sure that it would be worth it here. I could see someone disagreeing, though, and it's not an opinion I hold particularly strongly- A hybrid style could also work.

#18 Posted by StarvingGamer (8235 posts) -

Enough to be a general success? Probably. But not as much as it ended up selling.

And yes, the marketing would need to be very misleading, much like the ME3 marketing.

#19 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

I don't believe the gameplay format of Infinite was much of a key selling feature. I can't imagine a significant portion of buyers decided on purchasing the game chiefly because it's an FPS. So long as the gameplay was engaging and rendered the same almost universal critical praise on launch day, I think the sales would have been very similar.

Change does not necessarily mean fewer sales. Many instances of highly successful innovation in history of video games directly oppose that idea.

#20 Posted by Rowr (5631 posts) -

@Rowr

Not to completely shift the topic or to show any disrespect to you, but I must categorically disagree with a number of your points.

I've long campaigned against the phrase 'immersion'. The word most generally seek is 'verisimilitude', the semblance of a fictional world as having reality. 'Immersion' implies that the player cannot distinguish between fictional reality and real reality, verisimilitude only implies that the fictional reality is internally consistent. Furthermore, we don't actively seek immersion, we seek interesting content coupled with a sense of verisimilitude. It is not enough that something appears real, it must first of all be interesting. We do not seek intellectual immersion; such a concept would make it actively impossible to enjoy the content from the perspective of the player, you would only be able to enjoy it from the perspective of the avatar, or player character. There is an article by Ben Abraham I will link below that states that we do not seek intellectual immersion, we seek intellectual engagement (I believe he uses the term 'attention'), of which verisimilitude merely contributes to.

http://iam.benabraham.net/2012/04/attention-and-immersion/

Going into the idea that Infinite would be less engaging if it were in any other perspective for any amount of time, I have to first disagree with it on purely subjective terms, and then on authorial terms. I think a BioShock Infinite that revealed events in a number of different perspectives or cinematic presentations would be as affective if not moreso. Consider solely that we have a major character who is constantly acting, speaking and internalizing... But we never see their face. Imagine you had to form the emotional connections to Elizabeth that the game sort of required to be affective... but she spent the entire game with a mask on, or through a phone. It would require that much greater of a voice performance merely to equal the results of merely seeing her face. I'm sure the animators want to think that their work with Elizabeth's face was successful. From an authorial standpoint, it says more about how it was written or the writers if it functionally cannot work as a piece of engaging narrative if so little is done as move the camera during a cutscene (not that I believe this is true anyway, many existing scenes could be improved by getting out of first person). You bring up that some scenes wouldn't be better 'over Booker's shoulders' as if the stated solution to a reliance on the first person perspective would be a reliance on OTS or counterpoint cinematography, which is not being said.

Remember that having other perspectives does not preclude the use of first person perspective when it is most effective, merely that it doesn't slavishly maintain first person perspective when it is not most effective. I find a slavish 'commitment' or 'dedication' to first person to be as silly as a director who refuses to shoot anything but two-shots, or an comic artist who draws all scenes at obnoxious close ups. That's not to say that a two-shot or a close up are not effective tools, but merely that they are that, and that limiting your toolset may suit an artistic choice but not necessarily serve a narrative.

Bringing up Skyrim, while the lack of decent animation work is certainly a good part of how sterile it feels, the lack of any cinematography directly interferes with anytime the game makes strides towards 'traditional' storytelling. While the opening of the game works pretty well, other moments like the council sequence where you sit flat in a chair and stair across tables at the badly animating models feel like the most sterile and uncanny moments in all of games. While it would remain as poorly animated, actual directorial insight would give that scene far more drama than how it stands now.

@TowerSixteen

To clarify, I am not talking about misrepresenting the game in any case. First person perspective games remain first person perspective games regardless of their particular genre bent. I'm saying that the familiarity of the perspective to most modern gamers probably serves the promotion of genre or stylistic choices more than a third person or other perspective. Consider Portal explained without mentioning the perspective and then consider it explained with the aid of a screenshot. There is something naturally intuitive about the idea of the camera being your eyes, something in the bottom right hand corner being your method of interacting with the environment. I would suggest this is why FPS is so evergreen despite all the changes in games, why Minecraft had such incredible success it may not have had as an isometric or floating third person perspective game. And I say this as someone who generally prefers other perspectives, I think there is something naturally intuitive or comfortable to the first person that gets the average player into things they may not have. Like my portal example, you tell me what Miasmata is in my head without the perspective and it's largely abstract and formless... You tell me it's a first person game and suddenly I have a clear idea of how I interact and control, even if those interactions are different than Blops.

Now the post reply button won't work. Fix the Goddamn mobile site guys.

I agree, "immersive" isn't really the right term, i couldn't think of a better one. Unfortunately though, without hours of practice i don't have high hopes of remembering how to spell or pronounce "verisimilitude". I totally just copy pasted the word right then...yep no hope.

I agree its partly taste, but i'm not swayed on my opinion and i don't feel it comes down to comfort (though i understand it is a factor for most). I feel like if this game was done in third person perspective it screws up all sorts of things that makes this games presentation effective in triggering emotion, attachment and critical thought.

In a cut scene involving booker and elizabeth for any piece of dialogue in this game, bookers facial animation and reaction would have to be absolutely neutral, which would look ridiculous next to the animated character of elizabeth (one of the strengths of the game, critical to eliciting attachment.)

Why would it have to be neutral? Because otherwise booker would have to giveaway a reaction indicating to the player what his character might think of every little thing, in turn confusing or affecting whatever the players raw reaction to anything is. It's easy then for most players to be dismissive of engaging themselves in any critical thought on the subject matter than to say "oh booker thinks this about that" and move on. There are ways these things can be handled, but in this instance i can't imagine it being worth the effort.

I guess i'm saying it would be a different game, and i don't see it hitting the same depth with the character connection and themes

The closest comparison i can think of for what i'm poorly attempting to explain is the difference between Mass Effect compared to older bioware titles, like KOTOR. Where your character betrayed no emotion and you chose from a list of text dialogue to communicate and role play your character in the exact way you wished. That character was undeniabley YOU and the connections you made with the other characters was the driving force. With Mass Effect, Shepard being his/her own character with his/her own dialogue. He/She existed in some sort of unsatisfying in between state, where you could never really roleplay his/her responses and have a deeper connection to the game through your interaction with other characters, but he/she was also never a convincing or satisfying character in his/her own right. Amazing that i have that much stronger a connection with a neutral faced character while choosing text dialogue compared to a fully animated character with spoken dialogue.

I don't spend the game thinking "what does booker think of this", i'm thinking "what do i think of this".

Half life follows the same formula, you may be Gordon Freeman and it makes for conveniences in presentation, but no-one plays half life thinking "hmmm as gordon what do i think about what is happening here". Half life is played fully in the player own mind, making for an extremely isolated and personal connection.

Without the clutter of the character you play as being visually in front of you and without dialogue being chopped into cut scenes i feel you have a much clearer/raw connection to is what is in front of you.

#21 Posted by Humanity (9220 posts) -

@rowr: I think it is highly subjective on a case to case basis. While you imagined yourself in the game, I played Infinite and never thought about what "I" would do, but rather wondering what are Booker's motivations. Despite the game being in first person perspective I didn't ever feel that it was me. I always felt that I'm living out Booker's adventure/life. In games where you make your own character, whether it be first person like Skyrim or Third Person like Saints Row - that is specifically when I feel that it's me making the choices, and that I'm experiencing these things that are happening throughout the story.

#22 Edited by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

I have to disagree about Booker's neutrality. He very clearly feels specific ways about specific things, his voice acting expressly evokes this. His frustration with Slate is not 'neutral', it's just that; frustration. When he's attempting to be tender or console Elizabeth, his voice acting is exactly that. Or when his voice shakes with hatred and rage when smashing Comstock's head. Even when he's attempting to sound neutral, or hide his motivations, he is still acting. To say his face would 'have to be neutral' is like saying all of his dialogue would have to be flat and unemotional, of that he would have to have no dialogue at all. All that creates is a cipher; a non-character. At the point when we are creating non-characters it's debatable whether a character is required after all.

You bring up Revan and Gordon Freeman in comparison to Shepard and Booker. The problem with playing Freeman as you, or having the game treat the actual player as if they are the protagonist is that it necessarily requires a complete fourth-wall break, a break from verisimilitude. While we experience the game from the eyes of Gordon Freeman or Samus, or from behind Link or Claude Speed's back, narratively we are not those characters. The only difference between cipher characters and developed characters is exactly that; one is developed. Comparing Link to Dante, one has an opinion and the other does not. In both cases however, we have an opinion. The error is when we look at these ciphers and place our own perspectives into their absence of one. We look at 'neutral' characters as being 'us' rather than simply characters with no opinions. Overriding their absence of characterization with our own opinion and perspective makes as little sense as overriding Dante's formed opinion with our own. You and I are no more Freeman than we are Faith from Mirror's Edge, the difference is how we choose to perceive it.

And to speak in more detail with Revan, what you're talking about is a _major problem_ with how modern players react to what are supposed to be role playing games. In that when you act as if Revan is you, you are not actually role playing, you are just being presented with things and reacting as you. I expressly try to avoid this now, I play characters who are very physically dissimilar to myself, I decide what bents these characters have, and then react as I believe the character would (sometimes throughout the game, the bents change, and I'm actually developing a character arc). I wish people who played tabletop could do as much. Tyler the swordsman is Tyler the dwarf is Tyler the space pirate is Tyler the vampire. There is no character there, just Tyler in different clothes.

Sorry if this is badly formatted or badly written, phone posting ain't no good.

#23 Posted by Rowr (5631 posts) -

@humanity said:

@rowr: I think it is highly subjective on a case to case basis. While you imagined yourself in the game, I played Infinite and never thought about what "I" would do, but rather wondering what are Booker's motivations. Despite the game being in first person perspective I didn't ever feel that it was me. I always felt that I'm living out Booker's adventure/life. In games where you make your own character, whether it be first person like Skyrim or Third Person like Saints Row - that is specifically when I feel that it's me making the choices, and that I'm experiencing these things that are happening throughout the story.

I guess i'm not really imagining like my literal self as the character? I'm having trouble explaining i guess. Maybe it's that i'm sharing more with the character by being able to impose more of myself onto them because they are a bit of a blank slate i can fill in the gaps? As opposed to the character being fully realised in front of me.

You might say "The mind of the subject will desperately struggle to create memories where none exist"

I AM BOOKER...

Sorry i have no idea what i'm talking about at this point...

#24 Posted by EXTomar (4724 posts) -

I would buy a DLC "mission" where you play as Elizabeth while the computer controls Booker through enough content for a "chapter". I do believe that an entire game could be built around this idea but that is more academic than practical let alone desirable or entertaining for a full $60 game.

#25 Edited by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

And I suppose I have to categorically disagree with the thesis that we as the player do not react to things if there is a character before us who is reacting to them. That the player's 'raw reaction' is subdued if there is an actual character there rather than a proxy. Even attempting to take into account the interactive nature of games mixed with narrative, this makes absolutely no difference. While having a character rather than a cipher may change the information we react to, or change the nature of how information is delivered, it does not actually affect our reaction to information. We respond to information on a personal level regardless of the existence of a proxy or avatar, the difference is to where we're ascribing the reaction; we believe our perspective is the cipher's rather than our perspective being our own, and the cipher having none.

#26 Posted by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

@EXTomar So you'd run around collecting shit, and then pull left trigger to aim at Booker, right trigger to throw? Use your teleport skills to always appear right behind Booker when it's time for a scripted event.

#27 Edited by EXTomar (4724 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

@EXTomar So you'd run around collecting shit, and then pull left trigger to aim at Booker, right trigger to throw? Use your teleport skills to always appear right behind Booker when it's time for a scripted event.

Something like that. :) As a thought experiment this construct illustrates the difficulty of a "less traditional FPS". Instead of the player engaging opponent/monsters the designers would have to substitute some other game play instead like scavenging (items and tears), evasion, and puzzles (pick locks, pull some Bioshock Portal 2 puzzles, etc). To make this work the game would have to be transformed into an "action resource management with random puzzles" game which would be an extremely hard sell.

As I wrote I would play a "chapter" like this just to see it just to see an unusual game play idea in motion. But I also readily admit I have deep suspicions if such a game could work for more than a couple of hours.

#28 Posted by probablytuna (3657 posts) -

Well we probably have to wait and see how well the game has sold, then we can tell if the traditional FPS element of the game had something to do with it. My guess is that it does affect it and while you might create a more interesting game without some of the shooter parts, I don't know if the majority of the audience will accept it.

#29 Edited by HerbieBug (4212 posts) -

@extomar said:

I would buy a DLC "mission" where you play as Elizabeth while the computer controls Booker through enough content for a "chapter". I do believe that an entire game could be built around this idea but that is more academic than practical let alone desirable or entertaining for a full $60 game.

I think that's an excellent idea. Would love to play a DLC sized portion of something like that, for certain.

#30 Posted by LackingSaint (1814 posts) -

I definitely feel like some of the combat sections really messed with the pacing of the game. It felt so jarring to have these super-personal, intense moments book-ended by what basically amounted to sprawling combat arenas. Maybe it'd have felt better if the combat felt deliberate or more focused on single enemies, but the nature of skylines and vigors make the whole thing seem very fast-paced and, as intended, super-fun.

I'm by no means a pro game designer, but I think there's this harmful old-guard mentality of thinking that the gameplay of a game doesn't need to mesh with the narrative to be effective, they can just kind of be sectioned off into their own thing. In the case of games like Bioshock, gameplay is the plate they serve the meal on, not a part of the meal itself.

I actually made a little animation about it. It's mostly just for funnies, but it's relevant;

#31 Edited by OfficeGamer (1087 posts) -

@brodehouse said:

I think games with a 'dedication' to the first person perspective are deliberately hampering their storytelling.

I love story as much as the next guy but the first person perspective is sacred in video games, looking through the eyes of the character and interacting with the world by "being" the character instead of "accompanying" him/her is extremely essential to the immersion and enjoyment of many many great titles, you're really underselling that perspective and ignoring how essential it is IMO. Mirror's Edge, Far Cry 3, DX Human Revolution and all those mindblowing FPSes would lose their essence if the player is no longer looking through the eyes.

#32 Posted by Zlimness (555 posts) -

1. No.

2. No.

3. Focus on the dramatic scenes in the game, sell it as an epic adventure or whatever. The game wouldn't have looked the same anyway, so it's hard to say. The game looks expensive, because it is. You don't get this sort of budget for niche markets.

#33 Posted by Brodehouse (9949 posts) -

@OfficeGamer

I'm speaking of games with a 'dedication' to first person, which is to say those that refuse to leave it entirely. Starbreeze games come immediately to mind. Two of your three examples of first person storytelling don't qualify, Mirror's Edge does cinematics from the third person, Human Revolution not only pulls out in cover scenarios, but also during cutscenes and conversations.

#34 Edited by CJduke (788 posts) -

I don't understand why there is so much critical talk and disappointment with the game's combat. I thought it was really fun and way more strategic than any other fps out there. With all the different guns and powers you can be really creative with how you take out the enemies. Also, the skyline and Elizabeth's powers allowed for the combat to be really fast-paced. The game does an amazing job of telling the entire story through Booker's first-person point of view and there are no traditional cutscenes. This makes the story-telling even more engaging. I wouldn't want the game to be anything other than first-person.

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