Amnesia Dev Wants Gamers to Play the Story

Amnesia Dev Wants Gamers to Play the Story

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Barriers between the gameplay and the narrative are old-fashioned, says Thomas Grip.

If you've played Amnesia: The Dark Descent, then you know that it is not a game overburdened by cutscenes. Much of the game's horror comes from keeping the player firmly rooted in the action as much as possible, and Thomas Grip, the CEO of Amnesia's developer Frictional Games, wants you to know that was no accident. From Grip's point of view, storytelling in games, for the most part, hasn't advanced that much over the last 20 years, and he believes that a stronger marriage of gameplay and narrative could be the best way to bring the medium forward.

"Story is not just the plot," says Grip. "We want the player to play through the story, not just sit through it." Using Another World and Uncharted as examples, Grip compares today's games to those of yesteryear. While over a decade and a half separates the two temporally, their story mechanics are almost identical - run, jump, shoot, then sit back and watch. In contrast, Grip discusses his own games, citing minimalist stories, consistent design decisions, and abstention from "herding" players into exposition dumps or non-interactive cutscenes. "Don't try to beat the game, try to live the game," he advises.

While cutscenes have their place and aren't going away anytime soon, it's important to remember that part of the rationale behind cutscenes was often to depict characters in a way that the game engines of yore were not sophisticated enough to support. Whether Grip's next game, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs will live up to these lofty ideals has yet to be seen, but it's a safe bet that it will hew closer to Amnesia: The Dark Descent than Uncharted.

Source: Gamasutra

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I'm sorry, but this post doesn't have much to do with Amnesia. I just saw the title, and immediately thought back to the most recent Dead Space 3 released information. I wept a little inside. There aren't many things in the world that I genuinely like, and to see a franchise like Dead Space looming towards a pure dude-bro action adventure game in space, purely because EA sees no market for horror games, is a very damaging blow. Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

Soooooooo... moral choice system?

How many times this been stated now?

Err didn't Half Life do this over a decade ago?

Matthew94:
Err didn't Half Life do this over a decade ago?

Hush, you, Thomas Grip is innovating the industry.

Frictional Games are a company that I have much respect for, Amnesia may just be my favourite game, and it's not just because it's scary.

Well, it is, but I'm saying that it has several levels of scary.

The revelations later in the game (I won't spoil anything) present a different kind of horror, but also a very interesting moral dilemma. (Okay, very, very slight spoiler), you wish to condemn Daniel's actions, but because of the horror you have moved through, you can very much understand his rationale.

What I'm saying is, I trust Frictional when they talk about stories. People, listen to them.

JaymesFogarty:
I'm sorry, but this post doesn't have much to do with Amnesia. I just saw the title, and immediately thought back to the most recent Dead Space 3 released information. I wept a little inside. There aren't many things in the world that I genuinely like, and to see a franchise like Dead Space looming towards a pure dude-bro action adventure game in space, purely because EA sees no market for horror games, is a very damaging blow. Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

Look in the indie scene. Lone Survivor, Slender, Paranormal and the like are good horror games.

I get what he's saying, but it's hard not to judge him on his own games.

I didn't think Penumbra or Amnesia had storytelling mechanics that were unique or engaging at all.

I mean is he forgetting that the large majority of story in those games is told through journal entries and scraps of paper in which the gameplay comes to a screeching halt while you proceed to read them? I'm not saying they're a bad thing, but they aren't innovating, and I don't know if i'd considering them engaging or definitively better than any other storytelling technique. They seem very much like a barrier between the story and gameplay in fact.

The next largest chunk of storytelling mechanics used are flashbacks and voice-overs. These are generally better for combining gameplay and story, however both are still decidedly passive, contrary to what he wants. They are both ways to make the player "sit through the story" but have no real involvement. And similar to what he said, these are techniques that have been used for literal decades in gaming.

Unfortunately his point falls apart due to poor examples. In fact to me it just solidifies the notion that how one method of storytelling is better than another is a very subjective, opinion related matter, rather than something you can easily quantify and improve.

BBboy20:
How many times this been stated now?

Yes, but an indie developer said it, so we must throw rose petals at their feet and sing their praises!

>.>

<.<

Yeah, but seriously, this is nothing new or even really special at this point.

They want me to play the story? Well, maybe they shouldn't make it so fucking scary then.

THIS is why the indie scene it vital. AAA games are awesome, they are fun, they are polished, and they are generally great. But Indies allows the freedom to try the sort of experimental things that will leak into the AAA industry and make it better. You don't have to play a single indie game to benefit from Indie games.

Of course as for what Grip is saying...err...yes? I mean, if you really appreciate games, you know this already. It's worth going on record as saying, but it's not really something we havn't already ruminated on a thousand times before. S basically, my comments on the content of what he says is...Thumbs up?

Max payne 3, im looking at you O_o

Amnesia was a great game, and he definitely has a point.

But also, remember that video games are a relatively new artform, and during this growing period, there is gonna be a lot of contention over design philosophy. However, I though games like Silent Hill 2, Suikoden II and III, etc, where more well-written than Amnesia. The real problem is not whether or not we use cutscenes for exhibition, but rather what we are exhibiting.

The problem is the writing quality, not the exhibition style.

I would've loved to play the story in your games, Mr. Grip, but your company threw in those irritating mechanics in Penumbra and Amnesia that made me get annoyed and quit playing. Scary situations are much less so when I feel like I'm "herded" into them by game mechanics, rather than them occuring organically through circumstance and my own actions and mistakes.

While I agree with his concept other developers have been doing this for years, They have been telling the story through gameplay and not cutscenes, (obvious example is valve of course with there half life and portal games, immerse you in the world while not taking control away), I actually don't mind if the cutscenes are similar to lets say crysis 1 and 2 where you still have camera control but you are led around a bit (although I prefer to have control over player movement), I think a game like mirrors edge 2 would work really well like this (if it ever comes out tell the story through in game interactions, not cutscenes),

mehh i think that depends game to game, in scary games for sure custscenes are a no no, but to get the right cinematic angle on certain set pieces it just doesn't seem right (like there is a huge epic battle of mass proportions, but you don't get to see it at all, because you don't get a cutscene)

you wouldn't get that epic part of story/atmosphere if they never cut from the players view.

Not saying I don't understand his point of view, but it would piss me off if I was apart of something bigger and I didn't get to fucking see it because I'm locked into my damn players eyeball view of where i'm at.

I don't believe it's necessary to rid games of cutscenes as many stories couldn't be told without them, but there IS an issue where many story based games feel like two separate entities tacked on to each other; in most story based games, the gameplay may or may not be enjoyable but it is, usually, filler between the cut scenes as far as storytelling is concerned.

This... is not the way it should be and Lone Survivor is a good example of averting this. The way your playstyle impacts the plot is so important to the themes that it simply couldn't work in another medium. On top of that, the plot itself is largely told through the environment and the events that occur in gameplay; cutscenes are used exactly how I've always felt they should be: to give further context and meaning to your actions... but those cutscenes are very important to the plot. It's important to his character arc that "You" can interact with the other characters in his own way, the flashbacks are events that have already happened and, thus, need to happen a certain way. The game needs to wrest control from you, sometimes, in order for it's narrative to make any sense but it never does so for long and it always serves to make the gameplay more meaningful. It's amongst the only games I've ever played where the presence of my enemies felt like it made sense, narratively, instead of just being a challenge to overcome before the next exposition dump.

Some stories need those sections that take control away from us but it seems pointless to use games to tell stories if you're just going to take away all the story from the interactive bits.

Kind of odd since the game mechanics in amnesia prevented me from playing the story.

Its not pretentious because he said it, its pretentious because he said it as if he just discovered it and is gifting it to gaming.

Already knew that. In fact, I did a presentation in college on that. Moving on now.

Oi, sometimes cutscenes are a necessity. Not all games can and should be like Half Life. Sometimes I like seeing the action while not bumbling around the room like an idiot.

But I'm confused as to why he's pointing this out now. Games have been doing and still are doing this, even if it's firmly stuck in the gritty shooter area.

JaymesFogarty:
Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

Don't worry, horror games still seem to be quite relevant in the indie development scene. Indie developers seem to be able to make better horror games than the mainstream developers anyway.

SlaveNumber23:

JaymesFogarty:
Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

Don't worry, horror games still seem to be quite relevant in the indie development scene. Indie developers seem to be able to make better horror games than the mainstream developers anyway.

Yeah, that's one thing I never understood. How is it that people with full-time jobs and commitments can still find free time to make amazing Indie Horror games, yet developers never do the same thing?! Expense obviously isn't an issue, as indie horror games don't need the graphics.

That's what is called gameplay narrative, yes you can still have notes and cut scenes. But a solid gameplay narrative that keeps you on your toes is few and far between its just not what the common demographic wants. They want shallow shiny forgettable games.

RaikuFA:
Slender

Gimme twenty dollas
Gimme twenty dollas
Gimme twenty dollas
Gimme twenty dollas

JaymesFogarty:
I'm sorry, but this post doesn't have much to do with Amnesia. I just saw the title, and immediately thought back to the most recent Dead Space 3 released information. I wept a little inside. There aren't many things in the world that I genuinely like, and to see a franchise like Dead Space looming towards a pure dude-bro action adventure game in space, purely because EA sees no market for horror games, is a very damaging blow. Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

1) You can't keep a horror game franchise scary forever. By the time the second sequel comes out those hordes of monsters you were fighting in the previous game can only do so much to surprise you. James Cameron knew this back in 1985 when he released Aliens, and that's why the next Amnesia game has nothing to do with the previous one.

2) I've wanted to co-op with my buddy in Dead Space since the first game came out. But no one's forcing you to go co-op, so your poor social life needn't concern you. Within the context of Dead Space, anyways.

3) Maybe you'd be less butt-hurt if you didn't walk into a new sequel ass-first.

OT: Some narratives just can't be told the Half-Life/Amnesia way, especially if the character we play as has his own personality and motivations that don't match our own. We can pretend to be Gordon Freeman or Daniel because they have no personality and their previous life experiences aren't necessary for us to play the game. Strange how once we take control, Gorden doesn't get to do any actual science, huh? Even Barney mentions it. But for characters like say Joseph Capelli from Resistance 3, there's a motivating factor. He wants to save the world for his wife and son. Frankly, cynical jerks like you or I or Yahtzee Crowshaw don't give two squirts about either, we just want to freeze Chimera solid and then shatter them with all the thick, Austrian-Californian accented "ice" puns we can think up.

Well than they shouldn't scare players shitless, maybe than we can play the story ;) .

Amnesia was awesome, but damn I was so scared sometimes.

SnakeoilSage:

JaymesFogarty:
I'm sorry, but this post doesn't have much to do with Amnesia. I just saw the title, and immediately thought back to the most recent Dead Space 3 released information. I wept a little inside. There aren't many things in the world that I genuinely like, and to see a franchise like Dead Space looming towards a pure dude-bro action adventure game in space, purely because EA sees no market for horror games, is a very damaging blow. Is Amnesia the only modern horror series we have left?

1) You can't keep a horror game franchise scary forever. By the time the second sequel comes out those hordes of monsters you were fighting in the previous game can only do so much to surprise you. James Cameron knew this back in 1985 when he released Aliens, and that's why the next Amnesia game has nothing to do with the previous one.

2) I've wanted to co-op with my buddy in Dead Space since the first game came out. But no one's forcing you to go co-op, so your poor social life needn't concern you. Within the context of Dead Space, anyways.

3) Maybe you'd be less butt-hurt if you didn't walk into a new sequel ass-first.

OT: Some narratives just can't be told the Half-Life/Amnesia way, especially if the character we play as has his own personality and motivations that don't match our own. We can pretend to be Gordon Freeman or Daniel because they have no personality and their previous life experiences aren't necessary for us to play the game. Strange how once we take control, Gorden doesn't get to do any actual science, huh? Even Barney mentions it. But for characters like say Joseph Capelli from Resistance 3, there's a motivating factor. He wants to save the world for his wife and son. Frankly, cynical jerks like you or I or Yahtzee Crowshaw don't give two squirts about either, we just want to freeze Chimera solid and then shatter them with all the thick, Austrian-Californian accented "ice" puns we can think up.

1. Obviously. Except of course that Silent Hill 1, 2, 3 and yes, even the unfairly chided-against 4 all manage to be scary, simply by giving players a truly wonderful horrible experience. If the sequel is the same as the original, of course it isn't scary, (that's where Dead Space 2 succeeded) but that's no excuse for developers not to try. Konami did it well enough.

2. Well, good for you. Unfortunately, the majority of people who bought the first game, weren't looking for a good-old buddy co-op TPS, because that's not what the first game was. It was an Event Horizon crossed with Alien zombies in space horror. The fact that you can play with your friends, (which again I don't understand, you're not supposed to 'enjoy' playing horror games, that's the point of them, is good, but again, not what fans of the series enjoyed it for. And thanks for judging my social life on the fact that I don't want to play online on a single game that I've already stated isn't suited for co-operative play. Alarming vitriol ho.

Maybe I should make myself clearer. I don't care about co-op - it expands EA's market for the game, to include people like you. That's fine. It's everything else I'm not too sure about. The ability to roll, human enemies that introduce stereotypical third person shooters complete with chest-high walls, universal ammo, combining and forging new weapons, and an over-reliance of action over horror. Oh, and side-missions. The game seems to be simplifying down to the lower gaming masses, like with many other franchises, which I'm worried about. I'll quote though, that I said that the Dead Space franchise was, 'looming.' I haven't judged it yet, and I'll still probably buy it. I'm just voicing my concern about the current state of pure horror franchises, which frankly, are waning very thin.

3. The second I read butt-hurt, I wondered whether I should even care what you just typed. It's sort of like the phrase, 'faggot.' Whenever someone uses it with me, I just don't really give a shit what they have to say anymore. What are you, five? 'Butt-hurt?' Jesus Christ, that's the most asinine childish straw man I've ever encountered. Congratulations. Finally, going into sequels, 'ass-first?' I have no idea what you supposedly mean by that, care to clarify? Unless of course, you're too busy playing online games with your many friends. With a vocabulary including gems like, 'butt-hurt,' you must be so very popular.

JaymesFogarty:
1. Obviously. Except of course that Silent Hill 1, 2, 3 and yes, even the unfairly chided-against 4 all manage to be scary, simply by giving players a truly wonderful horrible experience. If the sequel is the same as the original, of course it isn't scary, (that's where Dead Space 2 succeeded) but that's no excuse for developers not to try. Konami did it well enough.

2. Well, good for you. Unfortunately, the majority of people who bought the first game, weren't looking for a good-old buddy co-op TPS, because that's not what the first game was. It was an Event Horizon crossed with Alien zombies in space horror. The fact that you can play with your friends, (which again I don't understand, you're not supposed to 'enjoy' playing horror games, that's the point of them, is good, but again, not what fans of the series enjoyed it for. And thanks for judging my social life on the fact that I don't want to play online on a single game that I've already stated isn't suited for co-operative play. Alarming vitriol ho.

Maybe I should make myself clearer. I don't care about co-op - it expands EA's market for the game, to include people like you. That's fine. It's everything else I'm not too sure about. The ability to roll, human enemies that introduce stereotypical third person shooters complete with chest-high walls, universal ammo, combining and forging new weapons, and an over-reliance of action over horror. Oh, and side-missions. The game seems to be simplifying down to the lower gaming masses, like with many other franchises, which I'm worried about. I'll quote though, that I said that the Dead Space franchise was, 'looming.' I haven't judged it yet, and I'll still probably buy it. I'm just voicing my concern about the current state of pure horror franchises, which frankly, are waning very thin.

3. The second I read butt-hurt, I wondered whether I should even care what you just typed. It's sort of like the phrase, 'faggot.' Whenever someone uses it with me, I just don't really give a shit what they have to say anymore. What are you, five? 'Butt-hurt?' Jesus Christ, that's the most asinine childish straw man I've ever encountered. Congratulations. Finally, going into sequels, 'ass-first?' I have no idea what you supposedly mean by that, care to clarify? Unless of course, you're too busy playing online games with your many friends. With a vocabulary including gems like, 'butt-hurt,' you must be so very popular.

So from this rant I take it you want more atmosphere in the Dead Space games, because none of the Silent Hill games have ever been scary. "Scary" is fleeing from a creature in Amnesia and getting an adrenaline rush. Atmosphere is the dread you feel wandering the Sprawl in Dead Space 2, hearing an infant crying somewhere and realizing how the chaos of the Necromorph outbreak has led to so much death and suffering.

Dead Space 3 is still about dread and horror, you can see in laced through the gameplay videos and trailers, but you choose to dwell on the chest-high walls and commando rolls as if those now define the game. It's still about fighting necromorphs in an oppressive setting. So don't worry, you'll get your atmosphere.

And "walking in ass-first" is when cynics who expect something to suck go in acting like it already does.

And don't pretend you've got some maturity high ground because you edit all the curses out of your post. You come in to a forum that has nothing to do with Dead Space passive aggressively whining about Dead Space 3 potentially ruining the franchise for you, acting every bit like someone who just got kicked in the ass (hence "butt-hurt," what did you think it meant?) and you think I'm five years old? Walk away before the moderators punish us both.

Yeah Thomas is really one to talk.

Sure, the story in Amnesia isn't told in cutscenes, it's told in ****ing written letters and diary pages!

As for devs who do a better job than that: Valve. Their narratives don't pause the game completely.

SnakeoilSage:

JaymesFogarty:
1. Obviously. Except of course that Silent Hill 1, 2, 3 and yes, even the unfairly chided-against 4 all manage to be scary, simply by giving players a truly wonderful horrible experience. If the sequel is the same as the original, of course it isn't scary, (that's where Dead Space 2 succeeded) but that's no excuse for developers not to try. Konami did it well enough.

2. Well, good for you. Unfortunately, the majority of people who bought the first game, weren't looking for a good-old buddy co-op TPS, because that's not what the first game was. It was an Event Horizon crossed with Alien zombies in space horror. The fact that you can play with your friends, (which again I don't understand, you're not supposed to 'enjoy' playing horror games, that's the point of them, is good, but again, not what fans of the series enjoyed it for. And thanks for judging my social life on the fact that I don't want to play online on a single game that I've already stated isn't suited for co-operative play. Alarming vitriol ho.

Maybe I should make myself clearer. I don't care about co-op - it expands EA's market for the game, to include people like you. That's fine. It's everything else I'm not too sure about. The ability to roll, human enemies that introduce stereotypical third person shooters complete with chest-high walls, universal ammo, combining and forging new weapons, and an over-reliance of action over horror. Oh, and side-missions. The game seems to be simplifying down to the lower gaming masses, like with many other franchises, which I'm worried about. I'll quote though, that I said that the Dead Space franchise was, 'looming.' I haven't judged it yet, and I'll still probably buy it. I'm just voicing my concern about the current state of pure horror franchises, which frankly, are waning very thin.

3. The second I read butt-hurt, I wondered whether I should even care what you just typed. It's sort of like the phrase, 'faggot.' Whenever someone uses it with me, I just don't really give a shit what they have to say anymore. What are you, five? 'Butt-hurt?' Jesus Christ, that's the most asinine childish straw man I've ever encountered. Congratulations. Finally, going into sequels, 'ass-first?' I have no idea what you supposedly mean by that, care to clarify? Unless of course, you're too busy playing online games with your many friends. With a vocabulary including gems like, 'butt-hurt,' you must be so very popular.

So from this rant I take it you want more atmosphere in the Dead Space games, because none of the Silent Hill games have ever been scary. "Scary" is fleeing from a creature in Amnesia and getting an adrenaline rush. Atmosphere is the dread you feel wandering the Sprawl in Dead Space 2, hearing an infant crying somewhere and realizing how the chaos of the Necromorph outbreak has led to so much death and suffering.

Dead Space 3 is still about dread and horror, you can see in laced through the gameplay videos and trailers, but you choose to dwell on the chest-high walls and commando rolls as if those now define the game. It's still about fighting necromorphs in an oppressive setting. So don't worry, you'll get your atmosphere.

And "walking in ass-first" is when cynics who expect something to suck go in acting like it already does.

And don't pretend you've got some maturity high ground because you edit all the curses out of your post. You come in to a forum that has nothing to do with Dead Space passive aggressively whining about Dead Space 3 potentially ruining the franchise for you, acting every bit like someone who just got kicked in the ass (hence "butt-hurt," what did you think it meant?) and you think I'm five years old? Walk away before the moderators punish us both.

I don't agree at all that none of the Silent Hill games have ever been scary. Unless you're pedantically using 'atmospheric' over 'scary'. When people describe things as scary, I don't think they ever mean anything other than a successful build-up of tension and dread, with a heavy looming atmosphere. If you like, yes. I'd like to see Dead Space 3 continues the series' good use of 'atmosphere.'
What do you mean, 'choose to dwell?' When I made my comment, I was making a point about the changes. Dread and horror are a staple of the series, I wouldn't feel the need to comment about it for the third game. The point was that all of the changes that the trailers showed Visceral made to the game, (universal ammo, chest-high walls cover shooting, commando rolls) seem to be making it more generic and 'fun,' which would detract from what I would like to experience in my game. I really don't see why you're being so defensive about it. I'm a huge fan of the series, (I've got both Collector's Editions of the first 2, and I've bought them both twice on the PC, with a pre-order of Dead Space 3 extremely likely) which is why I'm comfortable to voice any concerns. All I was saying was that if Visceral's changes all look like they'll detract from the game, I'd rather they hadn't changed it at all. To be honest, giving me Dead Space 2 again, with a conclusion to the story, new characters and a good script, and good locals and graphics and better scares would be enough.

I wouldn't describe myself as a cynic. I've seen trailers, and from what I can glean from them, the game looks really good, but unfortunately looks to be straying from the horror that drew me to the series. How many times do I have to type, 'looming?' I'm not saying it will be terrible. I'm worried that EA has made the game more generic to be accessible to a wider market, for greater profit. That's a valid concern, especially seeing what they said about having to sell 5 million + copies in order for the franchise to be viable. That's more than the first two together. That's insane.
I think I've just proved my maturity to you, because there are no curses that I had to edit. (Please don't think so little of me, person-I-don't-know-and-will-probably-never-meet.) We are strangers on the internet, having a discussion/debate about the state of horror in Dead Space 3. It would be disgustingly stupid to get angry at you, vice-versa, and start rattling off expletives like our lives depended on it. I'm not an idiot, you're not an idiot. We're simply people online, debating something. I think enough of you that I don't imagine you backspacing expletives with your keyboard. Please, be adult and treat me with the same respect.

As for that, I almost agree with you. Except 'passive aggressively whining.' I don't know what to make of that. My original statement was that modern survival horror games were in an unfortunate state of disrepair, (with true horror relegated to indie classics like Slender and Lone Survivor, two excellent games by the way) and that with Dead Space 3 looking like it was going the same action route as RE5, what AAA horror games would we have left, should that be what ends up having. It wasn't whining, it was a valid concern of mine that I raised, and to which I've gladly received many replies with recommendations for horror games I should try out, as was my original intention.

Should Dead Space 3 be bad, what AAA horror games would we have left, apart from the eponymous, (thread-wise) Amnesia? That was my question, the only reason I posted. Again, what you typed was a little too vitriolic, especially considering as how you typed that you've wanted to play co-op with your friends when the first one out. That pretty much confirms that we're both fans of the series, and for you to have to type that is unfortunate. We just disagree, there's no 'whining' or 'whinging' to be had, unless you want to 'whine' and 'whinge' at me.

I'm sorry that you had to end your post like that. I was very interested in hearing, (reading, rather) what you had to say. I was a little intrigued that I'd found someone that had seen the latest material regarding Dead Space 3, and wasn't worried about the quality of horror. I've found your points quite valid, (however much they don't apply to me - again, a social life is going outside and meeting people, and has nothing to do with playing video games as far as my life is concerned. You may disagree - good for you. We're both right, in that our lives and needs no doubt differ greatly.) and would like to hear (read, rather, again) back from you. I'm sorry that you appear to be annoyed.

SecondPrize:
They want me to play the story? Well, maybe they shouldn't make it so fucking scary then.

This all the way!
I loved the part of the story I got, but I didn't manage to finish the games since I was pissing my pants at how scary it was.
I was literally crying after a skype session with a friend.
Skyping with a friend who plays it simultaneous as you makes it a whole lot scarier.

 

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