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What is the best way to tell a story in a videogame?


Jamie John
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4 minutes ago, Harrisown said:

Voice acting is number one

 

Some of the best told stories of all time in games don't have voice acting. 

 

It's way down the list of most important things. 

 

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Playing through it at the moment, and I have to say this extends to all their games, but the way Arkane tell stories, particularly in Prey, is probably my favourite way. A mix of audio logs, environmental storytelling, emails and notes, npcs, the implication that this would be a living, breathing world with or without the player, people going about their lives before the typhon outbreak - dinner discarded, experiments unfinished, even a d&d game abandoned mid roll. 

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I don’t care about the story in any game. I just enjoy fun gameplay. I think when I was younger I liked story based games, for instance Shenmue. I bought into that. 
 

But I’m a borderline ADHD adult and I basically need gameplay that grabs me. I mostly just skip cutscenes now. I think way too much weight is put into storytelling with all AAA games, when mostly the stories are not engaging at all, so it’d be better not to bother. I just want a vague framework that’s getting me from A to B. Like Zelda BOTW for instance. There’s an overarching story and theme but 99% of the game is just gameplay.

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I'm another who doesn't really care about stories.  In Skyrim, for example, I never really knew why Alduin was trying to take over the world.  I just turned up, grabbed whatever item I was told to get / spoke to or murdered whomever the game said was important, and then went on the next place.  I played Ass Creed, Yakuza / Judgment etc in the same way.  It doesn't work for Phoenix Wright games, of course, but in those games figuring out the story literally is the gameplay.  Otherwise, stories need a tldr summary of where are we going, who are we killing and what are we looking for.

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7 hours ago, fat flatulent git said:

tldr summary of where are we going, who are we killing and what are we looking for.

 

"it's a game; you're the protagonist; here, follow this quest marker."

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Less is more 99% of the time. Tighten up the pacing. Leave more room for the imagination.

 

Just chop out at least 30% of your dialogue and you've probably changed the game for the better. Hard to pick which bits to jettison? Maybe start with those scenes where the main characters stand around explaining the situation to each other despite the fact that you - the player, and all of the characters already understand what is happening.

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19 minutes ago, smac said:

 

"it's a game; you're the protagonist; here, follow this quest marker."

 

And no fuckin puzzles in the way.

 

Some games, like Zelda, I can take puzzles, but I hated the way the action paused in Skyrim while I had to solve those stupid rotating statue puzzles.

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I liked the way the story was handled in Dead Space. A nice mix of few-and-far-between cut scenes, set pieces and exposition delivered over comms as you play. There are also audio and text logs knocking around for you to collect if you'd like to invest more in the story.

 

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14 hours ago, the_debaser said:


Has there been a game with good voice acting?
 

Anyway, it’s either Goldeneye, Yakuza or Paper Mario Origami King. 

Loads!

 The original Mafia for example. Outcast from 1999 too

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"Your girlfriend has been kidnapped and/or is bored! Beat the crap out of and/or drive faster than anyone who stands in the way on your quest to rescue and/or impress her!"

What more do you need eh?

In all seriousness, I too prefer a story told through interaction and subtle nods/reveals. Journey did this really well, though it leaned on those short animated scenes to add extra texture. The good thing about them was they were left to you to decode. For the most part I agree that cutscenes are largely a chore, but a big part of that is the quality of the script.

 

Tomb Raider (1) had dreadful CG cut scenes, but the story of the game was the adventure and the discovery within the gameplay.

 

A relatively recent point of comparison for me is Ace Combat 7 vs Ace Combat 4. The story in 7 is both dull and cringeworthy, and is one of the reasons I haven't finished that game. But I adore AC04, told through those mature still illustrations with a quality VO, and – importantly – through mission briefings that expanded the story and gave you the impetus to fulfil the goals of that briefing. Then the actual mission just layers on more and more. It's simple but effective because you feel like you're part of it all.

For me, story based games should still let players use their imagination, especially if we're meant to feel like we are the character, and not just controlling the character.

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19 hours ago, Harrisown said:

Loads!

 The original Mafia for example. Outcast from 1999 too


The newer Rockstar games for sure. Arthur Morgan is one of the greatest acting roles in any medium as far as I’m concerned.

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On 02/07/2022 at 00:40, Hitcher said:

Definitely not through text.


…unless text is bonkers descriptions about the origin of a shield, something that turns you human, or some other pickmeup obvs

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I've just started Garden Story on PC which I'd had on my Steam Wishlist for a long whole, and then turned up on Gamepass (Result!)

 

I'm thinking maybe getting the ratio of genuinely quality gameplay to tedious, poorly-written text/dialogue is a big part of the issue. I'm only a short way in, but I've done nothing I haven't done hundreds of times before in games, and have had to tap my way through screen after screen of absolute rubbish, that I couldn't give the first flying fuck about. I'm guessing the game will get better later, but it's really testing my patience right now. I don't want six pages of blather. I want one page of KAPOW! I think (and desperately hope) they've front-loaded the story to set the scene, because if it carries on like this I'm out of there in the next hour.)

 

I think also they've staggered the tutorial through the story, which is the wrong way around - it makes the tutorial far too long. I've quit other games before I've actually got out of the tutorial, it's been so tedious. Put a little of the story into the tutorial, but get the fucking game up to speed before you lose your audience.

 

 

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