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#151 Posted by Quarters (1629 posts) -

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

See, I think things like that are incredibly subjective. I would totally love Beyond if it was just a movie. It had great action scenes, I enjoyed the characters, and I found it had many strong emotional scenes. Also, it would be more suited for a miniseries or TV show as opposed to a movie, but that's just an aside. Regardless, I just don't think statements like that are true.

#152 Posted by benpicko (1997 posts) -

I cringed whenever Vinny spoke during that conversation. Nearly skipped it actually. Jeff is right.

#153 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@quarters said:

@microshock said:

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

See, I think things like that are incredibly subjective. I would totally love Beyond if it was just a movie. It had great action scenes, I enjoyed the characters, and I found it had many strong emotional scenes. Also, it would be more suited for a miniseries or TV show as opposed to a movie, but that's just an aside. Regardless, I just don't think statements like that are true.

They're not, but people have just become so desperate to appear smart that they're still constantly panning video games for bad stories without looking into how educated the people making them are.

If we're going to condemn fictional works for a few bad spots or scenes than The Walking Dead is one of the worst shows on television.

It's entirely possible for video games to tell engaging and well written stories, it's been done before and will be done again. This whole argument has run its course right into the ground. We shouldn't be talking about video game stories as "video game stories" but just judging them on their own merits.

As for the original posts saying Beyond wouldn't make a good movie, well that is your opinion and you're more than welcome to it. I, however, think that if you were to translate Beyond into a movie or television series it could work well. You just have to remember that like translating anything, (books to film for example) it requires heavy revision to translate to another medium. If you were to trim the fat of Beyond - like that stupid ending after the beach scene, and the entire section with the natives - there is something great there.

I guess by that logic then too Beyond isn't a very good game but whatever.

#154 Posted by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@liquidprince: When does this conversation take place in the podcast, like what time?

#155 Edited by TheHT (10884 posts) -

I skipped the story segment since I haven't beaten The Last of Us and still intend to, but it sounds like there were some poorly made points.

Also, whack or wack? Wack always looked weird to me but apparently that's correct. Something about it just looks so naked. Wach however is so ridiculous it might just be the best option no one's suggesting.

#156 Edited by McLargepants (361 posts) -

I tend to agree with Jeff. Even the very best video game stories I can think of right now don't compare favorably to my favorite movies, and I agree further that video games shouldn't try to out movie movies. Video Games can be so much more than just fiction because of gameplay and interaction, games should meld the gameplay with the narrative to make something that's more special. So yeah I guess I think its just a silly complaint, but only recently have games told well crafted stories that would hold up on their own, and they're finally starting to figure out pacing too, which is just as important in movie stories.

#157 Posted by Vuud (1943 posts) -

I still think Quake is a romantic comedy.

#158 Edited by mrfluke (5091 posts) -

im with you OP. i find that to be a ridiculous statement that videogame stories are dumb, the narrative in some of the best games this generation can easily compete with movies., games have to account for interactivity so at some point it just isnt fair to compare them to movies.

for instance, i think breaking bad is very similar to gta, Jesse or walt can easily pass for a GTA protagonist, Saul is very much a character you can meet in a gta game, but since its a tv show, it has to be more layered with character drama, while gta is a videogame, so it has to account for interactivity, hence how that series is more action orientated.

#159 Posted by Christoffer (1758 posts) -

This discussion is skipping all over the place. Are we comparing video game stories to other stories regardless of medium? Or shouldn't we compare video games to other mediums because it's not the same thing?

Because, if we rule out the mediums, are we directly comparing games like The Last of Us to Shindlers List, Yojimbo, Anna Karenina, etc. etc (sorry for that old argument)? In this case, you don't have to be cultural elite to admit that games have a long way to go. On the other hand, if we can't compare the mediums. Well, fine, games exists in their own little bubble. There's no discussion, move on.

I would be interested to know what people define as a good story.

#160 Posted by Grissefar (2842 posts) -

@grissefar: except the difference is that when I stated my opinion it wasn't as patronizing as your "nah man, you should like, watch more things man... Like totally."

Oh yeah? Well for all I know, you could still have a messed up opinion. For all I know, your favorite movie this year could be Thor 2 or Man of Steel. Heck for all I know, you love the story in the Assassin's Creed games. You get my point, so that's why I pissed in your ass earlier and sorry about that.

#161 Edited by ryanwhom (290 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx said:

@quarters said:

@microshock said:

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

See, I think things like that are incredibly subjective. I would totally love Beyond if it was just a movie. It had great action scenes, I enjoyed the characters, and I found it had many strong emotional scenes. Also, it would be more suited for a miniseries or TV show as opposed to a movie, but that's just an aside. Regardless, I just don't think statements like that are true.

They're not, but people have just become so desperate to appear smart that they're still constantly panning video games for bad stories without looking into how educated the people making them are.

If we're going to condemn fictional works for a few bad spots or scenes than The Walking Dead is one of the worst shows on television.

It's entirely possible for video games to tell engaging and well written stories, it's been done before and will be done again. This whole argument has run its course right into the ground. We shouldn't be talking about video game stories as "video game stories" but just judging them on their own merits.

As for the original posts saying Beyond wouldn't make a good movie, well that is your opinion and you're more than welcome to it. I, however, think that if you were to translate Beyond into a movie or television series it could work well. You just have to remember that like translating anything, (books to film for example) it requires heavy revision to translate to another medium. If you were to trim the fat of Beyond - like that stupid ending after the beach scene, and the entire section with the natives - there is something great there.

I guess by that logic then too Beyond isn't a very good game but whatever.

So Beyond is a good story once you trim out entire sections of the game and rewrite the ending? You're kind of proving the original point here. Only God Forgives is a brilliantly shot terrible movie and that's about what I'd expect Beyond to turn into. Nick Cage knows how to frame a shot but his writing is Richard Kelly levels of bad. Then again, plenty of people unironically love Donnie Darko. Taste is subjective, sure, by that logic then no movie is inherently bad because someone enjoyed it. Bad taste is still very much a real thing and can be fairly apparent. Most people can watch Pacific Rim and go "yeah this movie probably wont make the Oscars" and still enjoy it. Gamers can't do that, apparently. Its not enough to enjoy their entertainment, they gotta pretend their dumbass ghost story written by a guy who couldnt cut it in Hollywood is on par with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Obnoxious. Some people have unrefined taste, not different taste. The guy who buys his cloths at WalMart, he doesn't have a different idea of style than me, he has no style. We dont live in some magic communist utopia where every dumb opinion is equally valid. If you think Beyond or Last of Us can compete with Schindler's List, we're not agreeing to disagree. Im concluding you have poor taste.

#162 Posted by YI_Orange (1128 posts) -

@christoffer: I define a good story simply by how invested I am in it. Deep and clever plots with careful writing don't mean anything if I'm bored or don't care about the characters.

#163 Posted by Draugen (628 posts) -

I'm with Vinny. He knows what's what.

#164 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@ryanwhom: I thought you took a shot at Donnie Darko there for a second, then I remembered no one is dumb enough to do that. Or you haven't seen the Director's Cut.

I'm going to go with no one is dumb enough to do that.

#165 Posted by Brodehouse (9586 posts) -

I agree, it was wack.

The part that made it most wack from my perspective was that Jeff was adamant that video games as a whole were not of a storytelling quality with feature films... despite the fact that Jeff admits that he doesn't watch a lot of films, and despite the fact that Jeff doesn't play most storytelling heavy games unless they're also a major release that he needs to review. Jeff didn't play Silent Hill 2 because he doesn't like the gameplay genre, and he doesn't like the thematic genre, but he feels comfortable to tell me that Silent Hill 2 has worse writing than your average blockbuster movie because it's a video game, so of course it does.

There's also the part where I feel as if he only understands storytelling in games as being the same as storytelling in film; "if it was just cutscenes it would be terrible". As if the only way games are capable of telling story is through non-interactive sequences or through dialogue. That's not how it is. Trying to judge one medium under the standards of another is silly; would you criticize a film for not having the vocabulary of a novel? Criticize a poem for not having the melody of a pop song? A film for not having the interactivity of a game?

#166 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@brodehouse: It's funny because Silent Hill 2 is far superior to the average movie and it manages to be better by being a game.

#167 Edited by Brodehouse (9586 posts) -

@christoffer said:

This discussion is skipping all over the place. Are we comparing video game stories to other stories regardless of medium? Or shouldn't we compare video games to other mediums because it's not the same thing?

Because, if we rule out the mediums, are we directly comparing games like The Last of Us to Shindlers List, Yojimbo, Anna Karenina, etc. etc (sorry for that old argument)? In this case, you don't have to be cultural elite to admit that games have a long way to go. On the other hand, if we can't compare the mediums. Well, fine, games exists in their own little bubble. There's no discussion, move on.

I would be interested to know what people define as a good story.

Why does The Last of Us have a long way to go before it's Schindler's List, Yojimbo or Anna Karenina? Those stories are not well regarded because the events of their stories are 'good', but because the methods in which those stories were told contributed to the emotional impact of the piece. It is the medium-specific qualities of those works that make them something more than just the sum of their parts. So yes, I suppose I submit to you that each work in each medium needs to be approached under the standards of that medium. Even realize that the 'standards' are not 'objectively good stories', they're just devices and factors that we recognize to contribute to the desired emotional response.

Look at Anna Karenina. It's regarded as perhaps the pinnacle of naturalist fictional novels in the Russian language; Anna Karenina the English language film adaptation is maybe not the greatest period drama in film. Because the standards are different. A great novel does not make a great film does not make a great video game does not make a great stage play does not make a great symphony.

The only difference is how people approach them. It was not long ago that film was considered a novelty leisure activity that would never be able to stand alongside the classics. In 2013, when you pointed to three masterpieces, two of them were motion pictures. In 2063, there will be a new art medium, and crotchety old shrivs will say "this has a long way to go before it makes its own The Last of Us".

edit: Not that I think The Last of Us is that game or whatever, it didn't make my top ten list. Because I think stealth patrol puzzles are like iambic pentameter; archaic and unnecessary.

#168 Posted by Hailinel (23896 posts) -

@brodehouse: I know we have our differences, but on this, we agree.

Online
#169 Posted by LiquidPrince (15843 posts) -

@jimbo said:

@liquidprince: The problem with this scenario for me is that if you have no choice but to shoot the guy in the head, then you aren't truly in control of it and have no reason to feel any more reponsibility or impact than if you had just watched it happen on screen. I don't feel a sense of responsibility for merely pressing a button the game told me I had to press - it's the gaming equivalent of just turning the page in a book.

If you do have a choice, then you are no longer being 'told' a story but have become the co-author of it. This is an area games can excel in (and is where TWD and Mass Effect live). It can potentially lead to greater resonance than merely being told a story (because the player can genuinely feel responsibility), but the chances are that the story itself which you end up co-authoring will be weaker than one which has been crafted by from start to finish by somebody with full control over it and a complete understanding of where it's going. If you wanted to tell a great redemption story for instance, then giving the listener (player in this case) the option to decide that the protagonist never shoots the guy in the head in the first place will inevitably undermine the telling of that story.

The whole thing, imo, is a trade-off between passivity/interactivity and story quality/story resonance. Passivity allows the writer to craft, control and tell a greater, more nuanced story, with precise pacing. Interactivity inevitably undermines that, but it does potentially allows even a weaker story to mean more to the player, simply because they themselves have a hand in writing it.

I see what you're saying and it's a fair point. But I still can't fully agree with it. When you are given a choice in a game, it may allow you to have a different experience then someone else playing that same game, but by making a different choice, it isn't as though you have suddenly gone off the rails and created a wholly unaccounted scenario. Even in games where you have choice, the original author of the work accounted for the branches, and ultimately it's still his/her story. It's what has been refered to as the diamond plot, where everyone starts in the same place, makes very different choices and then ends up in more or less the same place. Going back to Mass Effect or The Walking Dead, you make a lot of choices, and those choices can really make you experience a wide range of emotions.

Games that successfully give you the illusion of choice allow the player to feel like an active agent in the story, while still walking down a very defined path. You may choose route A and me route B, but both those routes were written by the author.

#170 Edited by Veektarius (4597 posts) -

I think Jeff overstated his case. Most blockbusters have pretty dumb stories. If you want to compare Infinite to something, it'd be a movie like Twelve Monkeys, which is interesting but a story that's easy for most people to understand. Christopher Nolan could totally make video game stories that would be considered very good.

However, it's rare (read: I haven't seen it at all, but I haven't played Gone Home or TLOU) that you see a game with a story that's as ambiguous as something like a Terence Malick film, or a Cohen Brothers film. And I think that is a higher bar that probably isn't impossible for games to reach for, I'm just not sure that the money is in the right place to incentivise writers with that kind of talent to work in games (or for developers to shell out for that kind of talent).

#171 Posted by Hailinel (23896 posts) -

@mb said:

@hailinel said:

@hunter5024: I think an educated critic has a stronger base from which to form an opinion than a layman. I'm not saying a layman's opinion is worthless, only not worth as much.

I feel exactly the opposite. I view most "educated critics" of essentially any media as pretentious know-it-alls and I couldn't care less what they have to say about anything, especially the medium which they are supposedly an authority on. I hold the layman's opinion of things like film and games in much higher regard, not only because that's who that media was produced for, but I myself am a layman...and so are most people.

There is little that irks me more in this hobby than those who think they know more than I do because they took a freaking liberal arts degree in college. Same holds true for film. I've seen a ton of films in my life and even been to film festivals, but I can't even remember the last time I bothered to read anything written by a professional film critic. Their opinion is worthless to me.

Though some certainly are, I'd argue that many are not pretentious in their knowleedge. Many film critics write reviews for the layman audience, whether that be in newspapers, magazines, TV, or the internet, but their more critical essays are there for those that want them.

And frankly, I feel that game criticism is sorely lacking in educated criticism. Guys like Jeff are fine and all and have their audience, but in this world where people still cite farcical internet rags like Kotaku with a straight face, improvement in game criticism and game journalism both is sorely needed.

Online
#172 Edited by bybeach (4725 posts) -

@secondpersonshooter said:

@vod_crack said:

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

Word!

It really sucks that my favorite game of 2013 has becoming the the thing that people like to loudly and unabashedly hate 100% of the time.

I don't really get when this turnaround happened.

I yell at Ken Levine's picture on GB every time I see it now, 'People hate you ! They all f**king hate you!' And it's like he knows it.

I feel that explains it, ...somehow.

#173 Posted by bluefish (428 posts) -

I do think his views are wack. I think games have some amazing storytelling potential but rarely are these strengths shared with movies.

But that's why the Bombcast is good, we get a variety of considered opinions and voices.

#174 Posted by LackingSaint (1771 posts) -

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

I hate comments that say "This.", so..

That.

#175 Posted by CircleNine (381 posts) -

Nearly all of the luminaries of video game story telling all failed at real/more traditional writing careers before coming to video games. They didn't fail at their earlier career choices because they were pushing completely unconventional and radical new stories, they failed because they were completely generic and forgettable stories. And that's what we see in 99% of games. And on the rare occasion that a story is really actually kind of passable it gets such an insane amount of praise that every 4-6 months we now have a game that is bringing story telling in games to an entirely new level it would seem from the praise that they get. Apparently we've got quite a few hundred more levels to go before we even start to get to the level of Two And A Half Men.

Books I read in 3rd grade have better and more complex stories than video games.

Yeah, its an entirely different medium with different tools at its disposal, but it doesn't use them well and it never does anything bold or memorable. Merely passable.

#176 Posted by cthomer5000 (744 posts) -

@sooty said:

The dumbest thing so far is excusing BioShock Infinite's mundane combat (90% of the game) just because the first hour and a half looks cool before descending into gloomy corridor shooting.

I want to high-five this post. I enjoyed the game (will make my personal top 10), but from day 1 was sort of head-scratching the universal praise. The game has a lot of issues.

#177 Posted by cthomer5000 (744 posts) -

@quarters said:

@microshock said:

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

See, I think things like that are incredibly subjective. I would totally love Beyond if it was just a movie. It had great action scenes, I enjoyed the characters, and I found it had many strong emotional scenes. Also, it would be more suited for a miniseries or TV show as opposed to a movie, but that's just an aside. Regardless, I just don't think statements like that are true.

Wow, really? I really enjoyed playing Beyond, but if it was a movie, i think it would be like "Mission To Mars" level painful with moments that make me laugh out loud.

Straight up, Heavy Rain and Beyond have been two of my favorite video game experiences this generation (because they are trying some really interesting shit), but the writing leaves a LOT to be desired on both. I felt Beyond was the worse of the two.

If you're going to hold up video game storytelling as on-par with movies, you need to pick a better example.

#178 Posted by Quarters (1629 posts) -

@quarters said:

@microshock said:

Video game stories are still pretty bad overall but are given leeway for being bad at them because they're videogames. Beyond Two Souls is an example. Terrible story, dialogue, characters, etc and if it was a movie it'd be utterly panned.

See, I think things like that are incredibly subjective. I would totally love Beyond if it was just a movie. It had great action scenes, I enjoyed the characters, and I found it had many strong emotional scenes. Also, it would be more suited for a miniseries or TV show as opposed to a movie, but that's just an aside. Regardless, I just don't think statements like that are true.

Wow, really? I really enjoyed playing Beyond, but if it was a movie, i think it would be like "Mission To Mars" level painful with moments that make me laugh out loud.

Straight up, Heavy Rain and Beyond have been two of my favorite video game experiences this generation (because they are trying some really interesting shit), but the writing leaves a LOT to be desired on both. I felt Beyond was the worse of the two.

If you're going to hold up video game storytelling as on-par with movies, you need to pick a better example.

I'm not saying it's the best written game I've ever played, but I'm serious that I would enjoy it. I probably have low standards, but it doesn't make it any less true.

#179 Edited by SoldierG654342 (1735 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx said:

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

Eh, even that didn't hit every bulls-eye. Namely, the game analyses James' character based on the actions of the player, as separate entity, and in a rather clumsy way once it's exposed. I'm not checking Angela's Knife, reading the rooftop diary, or not healing because James is suicidal. I'm doing it because this is survival-horror, where you check every item on every puzzle, read every log, and save healing items. I'm not sticking close to Maria because I want to run off with her, I'm doing it because if she dies it's a Game Over.

Still, that game is several cuts above what's coming out now still.

#180 Edited by xaLieNxGrEyx (2605 posts) -

@xalienxgreyx said:

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

Eh, even that didn't hit every bulls-eye. Namely, the game analyses James' character based on the actions of the player, as separate entity, and in a rather clumsy way once it's exposed. I'm not checking Angela's Knife, reading the rooftop diary, or not healing because James is suicidal. I'm doing it because this is survival-horror, where you check every item on every puzzle, read every log, and save healing items. I'm not sticking close to Maria because I want to run off with her, I'm doing it because if she dies it's a Game Over.

Still, that game is several cuts above what's coming out now still.

I'm referring more to the symbolism used in the story telling

This explains it far easier than I can

#181 Edited by alwaysbebombing (1539 posts) -

Your face is wack.

#182 Edited by Zella (702 posts) -

I agree with Jeff for the most part, yeah there are games with excellent stories no matter the medium but in general they don't compare to movies or books. I believe that the story of a game should only exist to enhance the gameplay experience. A video game is meant to enjoyed through the action of playing it, thus the aspects of a game that aren't directly its gameplay should support and enhance the gameplay. I think a perfect example of this is The Last of Us, the writing of the characters and world made me want to play more of the game and made me more invested in the characters thus making the gameplay more immersive. While I think the game's story would be successful in other mediums the gameplay is improved by the story, making it a good story for a game. A game like Infinite I found to suffer as it was clear the environment and story were the main focus in development rather than the mechanics. I found none of Infinite's gameplay fun, it was not outright bad but it was not fun, it seemed like a chore that you had to do in order to see more of the story. In this case the story is bad for a video game, it hampers my enjoyment of the game(the critical word here). That is not to say it is a bad story but when used for a video game it makes both the game and story suffer.

Who knows maybe I am also just a heartless bastard cause I have never gotten emotional over any game. In my eyes a video game is no different from a board game, they are toys meant to be played with. I don't go into Scrabble looking to have an emotional experience (I often do and it ends in anger) and I don't go into The Last of Us looking for an emotional experience either.

#183 Posted by Jeust (10477 posts) -

@soldierg654342 said:

@xalienxgreyx said:

Video Games have already used the medium to tell a better story than what could be done in a movie in a similar style, and it's call "Silent Hill 2"

Came out years ago, did it all correct.

Eh, even that didn't hit every bulls-eye. Namely, the game analyses James' character based on the actions of the player, as separate entity, and in a rather clumsy way once it's exposed. I'm not checking Angela's Knife, reading the rooftop diary, or not healing because James is suicidal. I'm doing it because this is survival-horror, where you check every item on every puzzle, read every log, and save healing items. I'm not sticking close to Maria because I want to run off with her, I'm doing it because if she dies it's a Game Over.

Still, that game is several cuts above what's coming out now still.

I'm referring more to the symbolism used in the story telling

This explains it far easier than I can

Yeah, I agree with you both. And I think Silent Hill 2 is one of the games whose story wouldn't translate well to an audience by stringing all its cutscenes. It is an emotional draining and depressing game, not because of themes or the scenes, but mostly because you stick to the set of characters for a whole game, and in the end see it all unravel in the most shocking and unexpected way.

Deadly Premonition did it too, but unlike SH2, its cutscenes would translate well the whole game.

#184 Edited by kerse (2100 posts) -

Yeah, I've enjoyed the stories in games far more often than I've enjoyed the stories in movies, and I feel I've seen more movies than I have played games.

#185 Edited by bigjeffrey (4788 posts) -

Jeff is wack and thats awesome.

#186 Posted by Sammo21 (3211 posts) -

@liquidprince: I agree that its a dumb opinion but then again almost everyone on that podcast said Brothers had a good story...and that so laughable.