#1 Posted by Daiphyer (1308 posts) -

As I was putting together my games of the year list, a trend that I noticed happen in 2012 was that there were more games with real good stories, or more games that were better aware of not breaking the narrative with the gameplay.

Let's look at a few examples: The Walking Dead, though an adventure game, focused more on story-telling and delivering a cast of characters that you cared about. It proved that if a game has a real good story, people will play it (And praise it, in many cases) despite its technical issues and lackluster gameplay. Story came first, and people came for the story.

Journey managed to create a world and tell a story that resonated with people, emotionally, without speaking a word.

Even action games like Sleeping Dogs was rather mindful of its story, and didn't let you break too out of character with not giving you guns outside of missions that required it, without taking the freedom of an open-world game away.

Spec-Ops: The Line proved that even modern military shooters can have a meaningful narrative that make you feel something about all the people you are slaughtering.

Video games have had the problem of breaking their own story with gameplay for a long time. The gameplay-story disconnect doesn't bother everyone, but when you step back and think about it all, it's extremely inconsistent and makes the story matter less. For example, GTA IV wanted to tell a more mature, a more real story with relatable characters who had somewhat realistic situational problems, but once you stepped out of the cut-scene, Nico was a serial-murdering, street-ravaging maniac who killed hundreds of men, despite wanting to start anew and get away from it all. For many, it breaks the immersion.

But, how can it still maintain being a GTA game if it restricted you from blowing up shit, killing people and stealing cars? That's the problem that more and more developers seem to want to tackle. When looking at the games coming in 2013, The Last of Us seems to want to put story ahead of gameplay, while still keeping it fun to play.

So, what do you guys think? Do you want games to keep the immersion by designing gameplay in a way that it's not too out of character, or you don't care about that, and just want to shoot dudes in the face?

#2 Posted by BisonHero (6169 posts) -

I wish, but there are still SO many people who play online MP games, and publishers know this and will continue to shove multiplayer/co-op/horde mode into every franchise they can (why hello there Dead Space, Mass Effect, Sim City). But yeah, I think the quality of writing is gradually improving in games that choose to have a story.

#3 Posted by Cold_Wolven (2211 posts) -

Well I prefer the developers strive for a good balance but ultimately I prefer story over game play as long as the game mechanics don' t get in the way.

#4 Posted by Soapy86 (2620 posts) -

Man I hope so. I sure do hate it when gameplay gets in the way of my video games.

#5 Posted by HH (599 posts) -

I hope not, I hate it when developers narrow the scope of game worlds. just look at me3, not only did I spend the game unwillingly spouting simple-minded guff about sacrifice, at the end I wrecked the whole universe, and for what? because it's a big story and it needs a big ending, right? a big game in a big world, with no-one treating me like a child and putting words in my mouth, would suit me much better.

#6 Posted by Ramone (2959 posts) -

I hope so, it's certainly a trend I've noticed this year in particular. Even games like Borderlands 2 treat their story with respect, even if they weren't very good ones.

#7 Posted by MikkaQ (10268 posts) -

At the end of the day I'm playing a game because I want to play. If I want to experience a good story, there is other media for that. A game having a really good story is a bonus, icing on the cake, but if the game plays like shit I'll have a harder time getting into the game. I can forgive a bad story if the game is good, but it's hard to forgive a bad game with a good story.

#8 Posted by Cactusapple (62 posts) -

The Walking Dead is the ONLY videogame I consider to have a story the quality of which rivals other entertainment media, both in terms of the way it's presented and the characters that take part in it. That it was a financial success and won game of the year means other studios will start to follow suit, and that is a very good thing because it means we're going to see more of the same, and future projects that improve on that formula. Finally, videogames are coming out of the cheesy, unsophisticated 80's action/horror movie rutt they've been stuck in for the last few decades.

Of course, the more "gamey" games aren't going anywhere, so people that decry this change as a bad thing really have nothing to worry about. We'll still be able to shoot mindless hordes of things in the latest Serious Sam or Painkiller iteration any day of the week; I'm just glad things are getting better on the story side for those games that want to go in that direction, i.e. Tomb Raider, Last of us etc.

#9 Posted by ChaosDent (234 posts) -

Independent games on PC, console, the web and touch devices are an extremely diverse and interesting universe, some of which are heavily tied to story but not all of it (or even most of it).

Big budget action games, which are essentially similar to each other, are increasingly focusing on story and appearance to distinguish themselves because these are less risky and more predictable than experimenting with game design.

#10 Posted by dabe (299 posts) -

In short no.

There is and will continue to be games of all varieties in regards to storytelling. Whether that's ham-fisted, sense bending psuedo French/American Hard Rain like giant cutscenes, lore-gasms like Dark Souls or dynamically rich games like Braid/Passage. Additionally, Super Hexagon and games with minimal to no story will exist; besides the players input creating an experience or personal story.

#11 Posted by TheHT (10880 posts) -

The top four games on my 2012 GOTY list are there primarily for their stories. The rest are there for gameplay.

I'd rather the big releases not focus on either, but both. Nailing the story and having a game that's incredibly fun to play.

#12 Posted by Giantstalker (1532 posts) -

I truly hope not.

From my viewpoint, I consider "good writing" completely and totally incidental to being a "good game".

There are classics that had a bare-bones background, no exposition, no dialogue, nothing that established a narrative beyond playing. Many of these games are still some of the best I've ever played, from the standpoint of interactivity.

#13 Posted by Video_Game_King (36003 posts) -

Uh, guys, what about the iPhone market? All those games lacking in story?

@Giantstalker said:

There are classics that had a bare-bones background, no exposition, no dialogue, nothing that established a narrative beyond playing. Many of these games are still some of the best I've ever played, from the standpoint of interactivity.

Like...?

#14 Posted by tourgen (4427 posts) -

@HH said:

I hope not, I hate it when developers narrow the scope of game worlds. just look at me3, not only did I spend the game unwillingly spouting simple-minded guff about sacrifice, at the end I wrecked the whole universe, and for what? because it's a big story and it needs a big ending, right? a big game in a big world, with no-one treating me like a child and putting words in my mouth, would suit me much better.

I tend to agree with you. I like those types of games too.

I think what a game can be is expanding. These new story-heavy, low-impact, low-challenge games are going to appeal to many people. Plenty of people want more passive entertainment with just a bit of interactivity spice.

Meanwhile we are seeing some pretty awesome games on the other side of the spectrum getting made too, and everywhere in between. It's an amazing time to be into games!

#15 Posted by Giantstalker (1532 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: I started playing in the early 90's, predominately on PC and Macs. Descent immediately comes to mind, and still ranks as one of my favorite first-person shooters ever. But other than the manual giving context and loading screens giving context, it basically had no story and needed none.

Total Annihilation in 1997 was a fantastic strategy game that had an intro cinematic of things blowing up, and mission screens telling you where you were going, but little else beyond that. Age of Empires and Civilization are old franchises based on history that didn't tell any kind of story on their own; they either retold historical events or just let you make up new ones.

Along similar lines were the SimCity games, which just let you zone, build, and balance budgets. I suppose the The Sims series also counts, but I'm not sure if they shoehorned some kind of narrative into the later games as I never played past the first one. Successful multiplayer-only games, like Counterstrike and Battlefield, didn't even feature a real solo experience at all. But I think they were still great games.

I'm not knocking good stories for adding to a game and I'm sure for a lot of older console stuff (which I never touched) things were a lot different. But the vast majority of good titles I've played never focused on story, and many didn't even have a story. They were just great to play, mechanically and technically, and often had a good context to rationalize these systems in the game.

#16 Posted by Video_Game_King (36003 posts) -

@Giantstalker said:

They were just great to play, mechanically and technically, and often had a good context to rationalize these systems in the game.

As I thought, it seems you are still trapped within the terminology of "video game". Games have moved past this for a while and have made stories as relevant as ever.

#17 Posted by Rainbowkisses (472 posts) -

My hopes are that it's not that video games become more story focused but simply that there is more variety. We can have games with that are mainly focus on a well told story like The Walking Dead and we can have the Mario games where there practically is no story.

#18 Posted by Maitimo (176 posts) -

I'd suggest that developers have been emphasising story in their titles for most of this generation (discussion of it frequently dominates previews). It's just been a question of implementation: some developers are beginning to understand how better to present narrative in games.

#19 Posted by CaptainCharisma (339 posts) -

I've played some horrible games just so I could see the story. I'm fine if story gets even more focus in the future.

#20 Posted by Slag (4001 posts) -

@Daiphyer said:

So, what do you guys think? Do you want games to keep the immersion by designing gameplay in a way that it's not too out of character, or you don't care about that, and just want to shoot dudes in the face?

Both.

This is not an either/or thing.

I could care less if Street Fighter, Mario and Contra etc have stories.

but other games really benefit from it and only reach that next level so to speak with it.

#21 Posted by Gunslinger0130 (224 posts) -

Strong storytelling has slowly been leaking into the medium since its inception. I think we'll see story playing a larger role across all gameplay styles as the styles themselves mature. I see story being more heavily incorporated into MP focused games and I also imagine that as the iOS market matures you'll see a stronger showing of story across those platforms as well. If history is any indicator, as the platform/genre grows and evolves, story isn't far behind.

#22 Posted by Kidavenger (3510 posts) -

I think story based games will need to have better stories going forward as leaps in graphic improvements slow down (there is a point at which games will become photo realistic and improvements in FPS/resolution stats will start becoming imperceptible) and acceptable levels of graphics will be easier to achieve by more developers, story will become the main differentiator for most games.

#23 Posted by triviaman09 (785 posts) -

There's certainly room for both. I love the FIFA games, and I play them all the time. There's obviously no story, but I feel like that core gameplay is so good that it keeps me wanting more. Same is true of something like the Forza series, Civilization, Battlefield etc.

When you break out of the sports or puzzle or racing or small downloadable title paradigm, though, I think it gets a lot dicier. Having a great story certainly helps draw me into the experience and helps me enjoy the gameplay. In other words, I'll make it through lackluster or mediocre gameplay in a shooter, RPG, or action game to see a great story or experience a finely crafted world (Mass Effect, GTA, Assassins Creed, Bioshock franchises are great examples). Similarly, I'll play a game that has superior gameplay but a lackluster story (COD and Halo come to mind for some reason). If I had to pick between one or the other, though, I'd say I enjoy the mediocre gameplay + great story/world combo more.

So it depends on the type of game you're making. Some games require no story at all. But in general having a great story can make up for average gameplay, so by having a great story you hedge your bets particularly in the action/shooter/RPG genres.

#24 Posted by Roger778 (953 posts) -

Story-driven games, whether they're action-adventure, shooter, or Role-Playing Games, are my favorite types of games to play on the X-Box 360, and from the looks of next year, it doesn't look like they are in a steep decline. For example, we've got Tomb Raider, Bioshock Infinite, and The Last of Us (even though that's only for Playstation 3.

I don't think this is the future of gaming, but I do believe it's going to stay for quite a long time.

#25 Posted by believer258 (11634 posts) -

No.

What games are becoming is more varied; we live in a world where you can play anything from Dota to Call of Duty to The Walking Dead. There are some games that you only play for their story; other games, you don't even care about any story they may have. Many of the people who liked Dishonored really appreciated the gameplay and mechanics, while most of the ones who liked Mass Effect 3 really enjoyed the story. Forza Horizon has a paperthin story that only exists to set a bit of tone and mood, while people are arguing over whether or not The Walking Dead can even be considered a game.

#26 Posted by cthomer5000 (743 posts) -

I hope so. I think games based in gameplay will always be around, but i would definitely love more games that impact me emotionally on the level of The Walking Dead or Journey.