Post a Day Gaiden: Story in Games

I'm sorry I haven't kept up with the blog, due to a combination of Halloween and being sick, but the break has given me time to due something I've been meaning to do for a while now. I finished The Journey section of Persona 3. I promise, this post will be as spoiler free as possible.Posts not having to due with the main topic I've been posting on will go under the Gaiden heading. Look forward to the favorite games topic resuming tomorrow. 

After finishing Persona 3, something happened. I cried...a lot. It was the first game that has really done this for me. Games have brought a small tear to my eye before, but nothing like this. It really got me thinking, why? Why was this game so effective in making me form attachments with the characters and can other games learn anything from what the Persona series has been able to do? I came up with kind of a mixed answer.

Part of the reason the game is so effective is its length. It's the same reason a long running television series has an easier time making an emotional impact than a two hour film. Honestly, it's length is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives them plenty of time to fully develop all of its characters and make the player feel almost as if they've become friends with them. On the other hand, the game is long....really long. Most people will never have the time to finish a Persona game. It's really hard to justify putting 88+ hours into a game. This makes that tactic difficult for most games to replicate. Most gamers can't spend that amount of time on a game, so most games can't spend that much time developing the world.

This brings me to the second, and in my opinion most important, strategy persona uses to tell such an effective tale. The world the game creates is fully developed. You can tell the designers created to story, characters, and world before designing a game. The story comes first. Every character in the world has a full backstory, a history that effects their actions in the game. They spend time creating full, well-rounded characters with personalities and flaws. They spend time making characters feel like real people. They also put the player in situations that may have nothing to do with the overall story. Their only purpose is to fully develop characters.

Now, the important question. Can developers learn anything from what persona does or is it just the overall formula that makes the game's story work? Though no one may be able to create the exact same impact in say an action game or FPS, I do believe things can be learned from Atlus' successes. If you want to make an effective story, develop the world first. Make sure you solidify the story and characters before moving forward with the game. If you can't fully develop all the characters you have, take characters out until you have a more manageable amount. It's okay to spend time on character development. So many developers seem to be afraid of spending time with characters apart from the overall story. In the end, the way to make a great story in a game is the same as in film or television, develop your characters and world. Any story is useless without people a player/viewer can connect with. If you can make your players want to follow the lives of the people their playing with, you can manipulate their emotions and actions any way you want to.