In response to "Your Job Is to Fall In Love" from The Escapist Forum: This topic seems to be determined to fight its way to the forefront of my mind on a regular basis, and it always makes me contemplative of where I am, and where I want to go. Without diving too deep, I keep finding myself divided between the two sects--the childish sheer ebullient fun of what I would, could, should be doing, versus the devastating moroseness of the facts that have to continuously come to term to get anything at all accomplished in this very unimaginative culture.
Did anyone else actually send a "cyclops list" to the e-mail listed on the article or was I the only one actually moved to do something somewhat silly by the article?
Anyhow, much agreed. This whole idea of love is... well, it's simple but we make it complex don't we? This definitely reminds me of a passage in a book entitled Possession in which the characters begin to talk about something very close to love and then start to talk about it in terms of how intellectualized it is and they say something like "we know everything about love, but we just don't know love at all." Sometimes intellectualization just gets in between yourself and the passion that ought to be spent on a project. Anyhow, sorry, that's terribly off topic.
it's still not "deep" in any meaningful way
I never said they were "deep". And "deep" is a horrible term to use, it has no real meaning of its own. If you specifically mean narrative depth, of course they are lacking - my point is that these were the first immersive game experiences for most people.
What most people overlook about Half-Life (and Portal) is the fact that any game could have told that story, but it's the sense of immersion that enables it to be conveyed on the level that it is. A word tells you what's there, a cut scene shows it, but interaction allows you to gather the meaning intuitively. Compared to playing Pac-Man, SMB was a very "deep" experience and compared to SMB, Doom was phenomenally "deep" - for the first time you could walk around a room and explore it for yourself, discovering keys and secret passages. Once Half-Life came out and the exploration of that space was being used to convey a compelling story, Doom and everything before it naturally became obsolete.
Story telling is an incredibly difficult art; in an interactive medium that job becomes a thousand times harder. Many designers believe you should "funnel" the player to plot-specific moments (i.e. the Metal Gear series; many many FPS that try to emulate Half-life). But because you are creating a living breathing world; you should allow people to discover it for themselves, this is something valve does wonderfully.
Take the Left 4 Dead games. At each saferoom, you see the scribbles of the survivors before you. You see their anger, confusion, and fear of the apocalypse. You walk around to a supposed safe zone in a mall only to find a pile of corpses that touch the ceiling. You move to a motel room and find ammo laying next to the carcass of someone. It's not an infected, but you can tell she took her own life before being torn by the horde or face being turned into one of them. This style has also been used by games like Fallout 3 (checking out the ransacked and obliterated wasteland), the Grand Theft Auto games (with the many easter eggs to be found), and the first F.E.A.R (Alma's appearances and copying the computer drives).
This is the style of storytelling that should be adopted by designers. Let the player slowly unravel their world. Don't just give us a heap of cutscenes that are either written poorly or drag on forever.