I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who leaves me kind words of encouragement and support at the bottom of my blogs. You guys are awesome.
I also want to say a massive thank you to everyone who inspires me to write. I have been asked a few times how I manage to think of something new to write about every day - and the answer is, just talking to you guys. Sitting in the IRC or on skype, sending PM's to people - there are a lot of clever kids in the Giant Bomb, and you are constantly filling my head with madness which I need to write about. Shout-outs go to several people in particular - Oni, Rowr, Virago, ZeroCast and most recently MattBodega. You guys hold this shit together.
So I figured it couldnt hurt to try something new. I spent a good hour yesterday talking to MattBodega about stuff, and it got pretty intense. I figured I would give him his share of the cradit and post up the entire conversation. Let me know what you think.
Skype Conversation - 01/November/08
Sweep: What the fuck is the deal with side quests? I cant bring myself to play through Fable II again because I cant bear to go through all those crappy missions that seem so unimportant. Why do we need them?
MattBodega: They're quests that don't pertain to the main storyline. They're the easiest way to increase the length of a game without stretching the length of the story past the breaking point. Without side quests you risk stretching the actual story portion of the game too far. Some Stories don't work for 40 hours. Some stories work for 10, and the other 30 a designer can fill with cool stuff.
Sweep: But quests that are not directly linked to the main storyline could still hold significance to the game as a whole. Why cant we have a variety of quests that all uncover a certain element of the story line - and by completing multiple side quests the main story is fleshed out in respective depth. I want "side-quests" that contribute to the point of the game. I’m sick of being told to "go kill these beetles because I cant be fucked" for some morality points.
MattBodega: Well, in the case of Fable and Fallout they do contribute to the point of the game. Those games are about your connection to the world. Those games are all about connecting you to an interesting environment/populace. They're not really about story.
Sweep: But the world still has an ultimate purpose - the idea that you have to complete the game.
MattBodega: Does it? That idea exists within the player. I had a blast playing Oblivion and I didn't touch the story.
Sweep: What’s the point of enhancing your ethical standpoint if it doesn’t come into play at some meaningful point in the game. Does it matter if you are good or evil when at the end of the day you save the world? These moral decisions are left ingame, they don’t impose any significance on us in reality. We should just be able to play a game naturally without having "+5 Purity!" signs pop up.
MattBodega: That's why morality choices are dumb. What's the best part of Bioshock? The twist. Not the little girls.
MattBodega: What's the best parts of GTA?
Sweep: Twisting little girls?
MattBodega: The choices that DON'T respond to some kind of meter mechanic. Morality rating systems are dumb.
Sweep: Exactly. Its all about the subtlety of your decisions.
MattBodega: Yeah. The idea of putting an abstract concept like morality to a mathematical meter is ridiculous! It's one of the great parts of gaming that no one thinks about. That is why GTA worked so well. It gave you nothing but bad choices and at the end of the game, it posed the question "What did you do?" That's why GTA is the next watershed.
Sweep: GTA4 was like "at the end of the day, the decisions you made have all been leading up to this point. how do you feel?" I for one was not prepared. Its like the game telling you to TAKE SOME RESPONSIBILITY which really freaked me out coming from a video game.
MattBodega: Choice in games is based on developer design, not “Free Will“. That's why GTA and Bioshock and even MGS2 hit home for me, because they're all games that are aware of the great conceit of the medium.
Sweep: A game doesn’t have to be about choice to be immersive. Don’t you get the sense that developers are getting totally caught up in this morality crap, like its the next big important step for video games? Fuck that. Mirrors Edge is the next big step.
MattBodega: First person Parkour is the future?
Sweep: That game takes a step back and says "what do people expect?" and then goes in the opposite direction. Mirrors Edge does whatever the hell it wants. Its so confident. Its just a wonderfully fresh approach to game design. I wonder what would happen if you applied that same philosophy to MMO games, or RTS games? It just makes it so apparent how narrow the style of games in existence are, and how much potential there is to expand into new areas. Man.... I really want that game.
MattBodega: Damn! That sounds okay to me!
Sweep: We should totally have podcasted this entire conversation =/
BUT WE DIDNT AND YOU HAVE JUST READ IT!!
See, we work overtime. Its not like we have illegal chinese labourers churning these blogs out... not yet anyway.
Thanks For Reading