Extra Consideration

Extra Consideration
The Rest of the Story

Extra Consideration | 28 Mar 2011 17:00
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Welcome back to Extra Consideration, where we allow our contributors room to tackle the industry's big issues. Last week, Yahtzee, Shamus Young and Graham Stark offered Extra Consideration on videogame stories. Are they better now than they used to be? What should a game story do?

imageYahtzee: Graham, on the subject of dialogue trees dictating the course of the plot, and of games letting us use our imaginations to fill in the gaps (and calm down, I don't think I did make the same point in Zero Punctuation), I guess it all comes down to the age-old rule of 'Show, don't tell'. Some games with stories I hold in the highest esteem have very little dialogue at all, such as Ico or Metroid Prime, or restrict themselves to short conversations that seem to do their damnedest to make things even more confusing, like Silent Hill 2.

A very useful rule that I took to heart on the subject of writing books is that writing a novel is like engineering: you're finished not when there's nothing more to add, but when there's nothing more to take away. I think it extends just as well to dialogue in games. Trouble is, AAA games these days have so many individual working on them (each very keen to show off their skills no matter how small or mundane their task) they become this bloated, amorphous mass with no real discipline, creating an attitude of 'we've got it, might as well throw it in'.

imageGraham Stark: We keep agreeing! As with last week, this lacks conflict.

Here: I hate Marmite. It's gross and taste like salty ass, squeezed through a dirty leather boot. As a Brit, albeit an ex-pat living abroad, defend your horrible yeasty boot drippings!

imageYahtzee: You're only supposed to put a really small amount of it on your toast to just add a little flavor twang. You know, moderation. Remember that? That's where you turn down your third helping of maple syrup and bacon.

I guess this question isn't quite as inflammatory as PC vs. consoles. We all agree storytelling in games needs work, as ever. It's also a pretty big subject and hard to come up with really controversial views on. Oh wait, I do think the intro sequence for Bioshock (meaning everything up to injecting your first plasmid, not just the cinematic at the start) is literally the best intro in the entire history of games. Anyone want to dispute that?

imageGraham Stark: Okay, first off, I don't even LIKE syrup on my pork meats. I guess that means I'm not really Canadian :(

Secondly... no. I think Resident Evil 4 did a great job, and I'm partial to Metal Gear Solid (but then I am an admitted MGS nut) but I literally just went to look at my entire game collection and one-by-one mentally compared their intros (cinematic and beyond) to BioShock and... turns out BioShock is really good.

I will say that I do really like the pacing of Condemned: Criminal Origins, as it ramps up from a guy investigating a crime scene, to beating druggies with nail-bound 2x4s but... no, I couldn't think of a recent game intro that sucked me into the game better than BioShock.

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