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147 comments

  • Sinosaur - June 20, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    The disconnect between actions and words is one of the serious problems with having tons of faceless mooks. I was playing The Old Republic and in one mission we had to kill over 40 guys (I know because it was a bonus objective, but I don't think we could have missed it) and then we get to the boss and beat him, and because the story exists, we don't kill him... in fact one character commented on how we don't just kill people, we arrest them. ...we killed at least 60 people before we got to this guy. We also had three Jedi, and I know we get Force Persuade to get out of fights non-violently... but only when the game doesn't want to force us to kill people.
  • jubabowling - June 21, 2013 12:37 a.m.

    You just summed it up perfectly with that example. Immersion is important in gaming. When the story being told fails to match the game being played you are taken out of the experience in a way that cheapens the entire experience. I stopped playing The Old Republic for that very reason. I actually liked the game a lot, I just couldn't "stay in it".
  • jubabowling - June 21, 2013 12:42 a.m.

    I didn't mean to use the word experience twice in the same sentence. I had the "experience bar" image stuck in my head.
  • Sinosaur - June 21, 2013 1:23 a.m.

    The Old Republic has all the issues that an MMO story would have (being forced to do a crap ton of going places, killing things, going back, and having to come up with reasons for that), but the disconnect is strongest in that you have the strictly defined Jedi and Sith paths... but you're allowed to choose on both of them whether you want to go Light or Dark side. In that universe, you aren't a Jedi if you go Dark Side and the Sith are specifically not Light Side (although I suppose it is possible to use Dark Side powers to achieve "Good" goals, you'll end up corrupted by using the powers eventually). As for the mindless killing of thousands of people... not really out of character for the Empire side (except possibly the Agent) since those are methods that those characters might well use. And on the Republic side, the Soldier would be expected to fight people and you're really just looking at standard video game issues of scale.
  • jubabowling - June 21, 2013 2:48 p.m.

    There needs to be more games like Shenmue. I miss Shenmue.
  • MyriamD - July 6, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Take this with a grain of salt as someone who's played some KOTOR and no TOR, but... depending on whether or not TOR is hundreds of years old or more in the timeline relative to KOTOR (the first single-player RPG Bioware made for star wars), Sith are a RACE, and that has to allow some room for averting Always Evil or there's no free will. And even if they're not, they're just people following an ideology. A Jedi that does bad things doesn't have to commit to the Sith ideal, so they can go dark side without falling in the exact same way. Also, if someone changes their ideology, or twists it in to something more altruistic, it might feel a lot more cheap to enforce Bad Powers Bad People instead of giving them that shot, similar to how one character class in Exalted (a table-top RPG) is forced to do evil acts, but they can change the circumstances around so that they're always at least doing kind of good. ("Kill people every day." "So kill murderers and rapists every day, gotcha.") It's like how Blood Magic in Dragon Age is confirmed by David Gaider to not be inherently harmful at all - it just provides a whole new array of temptations and scares the crap out of their church equivalent. Similarly, in the original KOTOR (SPOILERS), there were endings (some of them cut, but they were almost finished regardless and people just shoved them back in) where your Dark Side character could make a turn for good at the very end. (END SPOILERS) It might not be entirely in line with extended universe canon, as I understand it, but there's nothing that says redemption is impossible, or that you can't resist the influence of Dark Side powers at least long enough to achieve all of your good goals. At the very least, Bioware decided that was more in line with the story they wanted to tell a LONG time ago, and I think it allows for more interesting possibilities. The bonus goal for killing people from your previous post still sounds like shit, though. (Speaking of, do you get EXP for Force Persuade? Because that sounds kind of bloody awesome. Gives them a ridiculous edge over other classes for pacifist runs, though.)
  • Sinosaur - July 6, 2013 5:38 p.m.

    Speaking from the point of view of a person who was really into Star Wars in the 90's, redemption is a major part of the universe. Luke redeems Anakin Skywalker at the end of Jedi, in the EU Luke falls to the Dark Side and is redeemed by Leia. A great deal of the stuff dealing with Force users has people falling and/or being redeemed. But the core problem with the Dark Side is that even if you fall in an effort to do something good, the act of using the Dark Side corrupts you and how you think. You begin to call on it more as an easier path to achieve your goals and take short cuts such as killing people just because its easier than talking to them or disabling them. As for The Old Republic: when I'm talking about Jedi and Sith paths, I mean that the game has two factions: Republic and Sith Empire. In each of those factions you have four classes which each have a unique story (and a bunch of other missions on planets that everyone of that faction can do). These missions involve killing lots of things, because that's how MMOs work... so when a mission has you say that you don't kill people, you arrest them, it makes you think about the thousands of enemies you've killed. If you play a Dark Side Jedi, you're probably ignoring some orders and also the council would probably recognize you as turning pretty fast and boot you out. A lot of the Sith Light Side options have you subverting your orders and letting people go who you're expected to kill. As for Force Persuade, it only appears in some specific conversations that let you avoid one fight, you can't use it all the time. It doesn't really affect experience because most experience is gained for completing missions. I don't know if it would even be possible to do a pacifist run in TOR. You can't even gain access to your talent trees without completing the class-specific quests on your first planet.
  • francis419jn655 - June 20, 2013 4:52 p.m.

    First of all, I think it would be really interesting for the industry to adopt multiple ways of defeating enemies without deadly force always being the solution. Some games do this, and I think it should increase in the industry. You actually see this Watch Dogs where the main character isn't trying to be a cop killer, and can take out cops without killing them. I don't think every game needs to adopt this attitude, but a little of this mentality could help the storytelling of any game. From my own past, I actually stopped playing the Final Fantasy series because it became too apparent that I was told to go kill something or do something dangerous, but that didn't actually move the story or flow with it. Often violence in story games can be apparent filler for a lack of a thorough and engaging story. In the end, I think story games need to have clear and substantial benefits to choosing not to kill everyone. In story/choice focused games there should be clear negative consequences to killing certain groups, from which the game will never let you live down. In essence games need to get rid of the numeric slider concept of good and evil (i.e., Fallout, Mass Effect, etc.). Once you kill a cop in Watch Dogs you should forever bear the shame and consequences of being a cop killer. If you kill innocent people or blow up a town of civilians Fallout you should forever bear that mark in the game, no matter what you do. It is these things that when lacking make a story or choice-oriented game lack immersion.
  • larkan - June 20, 2013 4:44 p.m.

    So if you're tired of killing people...don't play those games and play the ones you listed that don't involve killing.
  • jubabowling - June 21, 2013 2:59 p.m.

    So, like one or two games a year.
  • BladedFalcon - June 20, 2013 3:55 p.m.

    I'm two ways about this. On one hand, I have never really understood why people are bothered with the "Oh Drake is a murderer! he kills hundreds of people" argument, because, well, it's a game, and a shooter no less, it would be kinda fucking boring if you had a game like uncharted if you only had like 10 goons to kill at most. At least, in the game format uncharted itself works. What I'm saying is, it's fucking games, it's how they have worked since their inception, and I've never found that huge of a problem to separate the "game" aspect of a game, from the "story" aspect of it. So in that sense, people like Henry who bitch about this always feel like their missing the point. THAT BEING SAID. The one thing this article is going for it, is that if nothing else, it's asking or encouraging developers to, 'yknow, try different things, different approaches, actually innovate and change the way we play and tell a narrative, and I'm always up for that. I mean, the problem I have with games like say, uncharted and Tomb raider is not so much the mass murder, but the fact that well... you do it so many times and it works so similar in many games that it eventually feels samey, and boring. So basically, I think Henry's argument taken at face value is crap, but it does have a point when used as an argument to come up with more creative games, or ways to tell a story.
  • jubabowling - June 20, 2013 4:04 p.m.

    Separation of game and story is part of the problem. It's holding the medium back in more ways than one. The actions on screen don't match the story that's being told.
  • BladedFalcon - June 20, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    So fucking what? it's been that way since the medium was created. Games don't HAVE to be like movies or real life. Games can be whatever we want them to be. I mean, sure, want to crate a game where the story and gameplay mesh seamlessly? fine, that's totally cool. But does that mean ALL or even most games have to be like that? or is it bad if you have a game where the story and gameplay don't match? fuck no. Variety is the spice of life, and as well of gaming. I'm all for the pursuit of what this article preaches if it leads to different, more creative experiences like Portal or Journey. But I'm also completely fine with super video-gamey stuff such as shovel knight, Metal gear Rising: revengeance, or even Super Mario Bros.
  • jubabowling - June 20, 2013 11:21 p.m.

    Actually I feel like blending the game and the story would be the first significant steps toward making games unlike other formats of storytelling. Games would be less about observing a story and more about putting a personal stamp on it. Is it bad if the story and the gameplay don't match you ask? Of course not. Will games ever grow up without taking this step? That depends on whether or not the developers are even interested in telling a story beyond just setting up a context for you to be playing in the world they've made. Some games are just meant to be fun, that's fine. The problem I have is when they hint at a meaningful story and the tone of the gameplay doesn't match. I actually agree with everything you say, I just think there's more that can be done with the medium than is currently being done, that's all.
  • winner2 - June 20, 2013 3:22 p.m.

    I can agree with this.
  • jubabowling - June 20, 2013 2:54 p.m.

    Games are strange when it comes to dealing with death. Even games meant for kids usually involve ending someone's or something's life. The easiest way to make a player feel empowered is to have them mowing down hordes of enemies without any consequences. I think it's a mistake to let the player feel that everything they do is justified, especially with the kill counts riding in the hundreds, or even thousands for some games. When I was in the Army I killed people and that's not something I take lightly. Games are my favorite art form and they do not show nearly enough respect for human life. I actually hate games like Call of Duty. (Battlefield 3 gets a pass just for the authentic sounds.) Military shooters make soldiers out to be robotic killing machines without any sense of right or wrong. (To be fair, I know a few that kind of do fit that description, but they're a minority.) The worst thing is that games reward players for thinking that way when they play. Knowing when NOT to shoot someone is actually much more important to a soldier than games would lead you to believe. Real battlefields have innocent bystanders that you have to be aware of at all times and protect from harm. (Guns are dangerous to more than just your enemies.) In a weird roundabout way there are almost no games out there that deal with death or killing, at least not in a meaningful way. These topics are almost never discussed or investigated. They're regarded more as a mechanic to keep the player engaged while they travel from plot point A to B. The NPC's you fight against are declared unimportant and can be killed without guilt. Every Taliban soldier I killed had a name, a family, friends, and most importantly a potential future before they met me and I struggle with that on a daily basis. Games need to start acknowledging that there is no such thing as a nameless henchman.
  • The_Ouroboros - June 20, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Hey, we have similar circumstances. If you want to game with another combat Vet, talk with someone who understands, Xbox or PSN - The Ouroboros.
  • jubabowling - June 20, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    I didn't mean to imply that I wish all, or even most games to start exploring these heavy topics. It would just be nice if there were more than just a few. I have just as much fun playing GTA or God of War as anyone else. Also I don't think that games should try to mimic reality too much. Reality and fun don't always go hand in hand. I just think that stories (even in a fantastical setting) do have the tools to make you think. Games are missing out when it comes to the power of provoking deep thought. (This can easily be done in an entertaining way.)
  • jubabowling - June 21, 2013 2:53 p.m.

    Heavy Rain's problems didn't stem from the story it was trying to tell. The problem was that it wanted to be an interactive film instead of a game. I still liked it though. Also developer's aren't the only obstacle to making games that can make you think. Gamers aren't always the most mature audience.

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