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  1.  (10320.101)
    A video game isn't a movie. The person playing the game is supposed to be You. Modern Warfare's single-player game (by all accounts) doesn't really care about that, it's just a guided tour of spectacle. Games aren't about story, they're about action and choices, and while Skyrim's action can be a bit weak it's loaded with enough choices to cover.
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      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2011
     (10320.102)
    @Andre
    There are points to both sides of the argument, but there's still a level of interactivity that's simply not present in quite a handful of FPS games, such as MW3. Portal 2 played itself way more than the original, for instance. Half-Life, FEAR, Crysis, etc. all give you agency over your actions well still working in well-crafted visual narratives and setpieces. Even BioShock, a primarily story-driven game in which the character deliberately doesn't have agency over his actions, gives the player more control and freedom than the recent installments of [war shooter]. I won't say there aren't merits to the approach MW3 takes, but I don't think the story has enough substance to make up for the demerits. If large explosive battles are the hook to your game, let the player experience them how they see fit as much as possible. There are plenty of ways to draw a player's attention to key moments without taking them out of action or compromising pace. Though really, if we're going to start digging into Call of Duty, I'd have to start with the absolutely horrible and regressive trends that the multiplayer continues to set.

    @Vornaskotti
    I find most review places use a 1-10 system, but treat it like 4-10, where 7 is average. This, however, is also true of reviews outside of video games. I wish we lived in a world where 5 meant a game's still decent, like it's suppose to. Also, all this talk is making me really want to start a site to critic games and the industry, and while I feel I have something legitimate to bring to the table, I can't shake the feeling I'd just be pissing into an ocean of piss.
  2.  (10320.103)
    Serious Sam: BFE next week. God, I can't wait! All this talk about Call of Duty and the things it does wrong have me anticipating it all the more. :)
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      CommentAuthorInternaut
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2011 edited
     (10320.104)
    I found this to be very insightful on the ramifications of the Diablo 3 real money market, and what it's long term effects on the player could be.
    PATV-Extra Credits
  3.  (10320.105)
    To all arguing over reviews, this is truth
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2011
     (10320.106)
    Games aren't about story? It's true that games don't *have* to be about story, but they're just as valid a way to tell a story as any other medium.

    There are two competing styles in academic study of games, those who treat them purely as objects of play, and those who treat them as a new storytelling medium.

    There's room for both styles in gaming. For every Skyrim there can be a MW3. For every Tetris there can be a Final Fantasy.

    Saying that games must play like X or tell story like Y to be 'valid' is like saying the only kinds of movie you're allowed to make are Polish arthouse and Pixar animation.
  4.  (10320.107)
    James:

    A video game isn't a movie.


    There is a difference between taking a cinematic approach and being a movie (which is what half of every METAL GEAR SOLID tends to be). A cinematic approach has unique advantages in a game that set it apart from being a movie. Being cinematic isn't in itself a quality for a videogame, but a style that can either improve the game in question or not.

    The person playing the game is supposed to be You.


    ... what? What rule is this? Usually a character that tries too hard to be the player is a silent, boring blank slate that ends up being preposterous instead of immersive. I'd much rather play a well-rounded character than a Gordon Freeman. Silent protagonists tend to blur into each other after I've played a hundred of them.

    Games aren't about story, they're about action and choices


    What weight do the action and choices have without a story? What's the payoff of choosing something you don't give a shit about? Most games have stories, and could be improved by having better stories, which is what will keep them unique throughout the years -- its features will be borrowed and improved by other games until the original has nothing but its story left to set it apart, and without a good one it'll be rendered obsolete. Games are not only capable of telling a story, they can do it in a way no other medium can. There's no "supposed to be".


    DJ Stawes:

    There are points to both sides of the argument, but there's still a level of interactivity that's simply not present in quite a handful of FPS games, such as MW3. Portal 2 played itself way more than the original, for instance.


    In what way does PORTAL 2 play itself any more than the original? It had puzzles that could only be solved in one way and a strictly linear narrative. The second has puzzles that can only be solved in one way (but with more gadgets) and a strictly linear narrative (that is more developed). It still depends on your solving the puzzles to advance. How does it play itself?

    Half-Life, FEAR, Crysis, etc. all give you agency over your actions well still working in well-crafted visual narratives and setpieces.


    I'd say "serviceable", not "well-crafted". In my opinion, none of these games have memorable narratives. Especially FEAR. And while CRYSIS does offer you a wealth of options on how to tackle your enemies, HALF-LIFE and FEAR are not games I'd put on the same level. Hell, HALF-LIFE is one of the most famous examples of linear design, and the combat in FEAR gave you pretty much the same options MW3 gives you, plus slow-motion.

    I won't say there aren't merits to the approach MW3 takes, but I don't think the story has enough substance to make up for the demerits.


    Indeed that is very much a matter of taste. The plot of the series is far-fetched -- to use an euphemism -- but I like the characters, and Infinity Ward's talent for spectacle never ceases to amaze. I'm always curious about what the fuck they'll come up with next. So I can enjoy a less interactive but magnificent sequence. And there's several moments when you're given freedom to fight in the way you see fit (picking the most suited weapon, using flashbangs, going prone, crouching behind cover -- all things the game does not do for you, and that you need to do in order to survive).


    And regarding reviews:

    Most of them still read like consumer guides. I've recently started enjoying Eurogamer's reviewing style after the review of UNCHARTED 3 became controversial because it reads like an actual review should. They don't waste a single sentence describing which buttons you use for which mechanics you've seen in ten other games already. They go straight to how these mechanics affect the overall game and its tone. Their reviews don't read like features being scratched off a checklist with a "yay" or "nay" for each.

    I'm also a huge fan of Yahtzee Croshaw. He is, yes, an entertainer, but also a critic with excellent insights which he is capable of expressing hilariously.


    Edited to add: I very much agree with Flabyo.
  5.  (10320.108)
    Games aren't about story? It's true that games don't *have* to be about story, but they're just as valid a way to tell a story as any other medium.

    I didn't say story is unimportant, I said games aren't about story. I agree with what you said, but that doesn't mean that story is what video games are, just that it's something they can do. It's like salt. You know when it's not there, food is better when it's present, but it's not the star of the show.

    The person playing the game is supposed to be You.

    ... what? What rule is this? Usually a character that tries too hard to be the player is a silent, boring blank slate that ends up being preposterous instead of immersive. I'd much rather play a well-rounded character than a Gordon Freeman. Silent protagonists tend to blur into each other after I've played a hundred of them.

    Miscommunication there, sorry. What I was thinking of when I wrote that was the video from the last Modern Warfare showing the player just trailing along behind the companions as they shot everything in sight, leaving the player as a supporting role whose input was barely necessary. That shouldn't happen, ever.

    Games aren't about story, they're about action and choices

    What weight do the action and choices have without a story? What's the payoff of choosing something you don't give a shit about? Most games have stories, and could be improved by having better stories, which is what will keep them unique throughout the years -- its features will be borrowed and improved by other games until the original has nothing but its story left to set it apart, and without a good one it'll be rendered obsolete.


    The best version of Earth Defense Force is still Global Defense Force, which is the PS2 version of EDF2. The best GTA is still San Andreas. Final Fantasy peaked with FFIII, on SNES. I keep hoping someone will do a new game worth playing based off the Star Control gameplay, and would love a proper remake of the 3DO version of Starfighter. Grim Fandango is still the best adventure game I've ever played, precisely because the story was so incredibly strong. Each of these games is old to some extent, and some are better for story and others for the actions they allow the player to perform. There is no winning formula in making these games come to mind as special gaming experiences. This is why I say that, while story isn't irrelevant, it isn't what gaming's about.
  6.  (10320.109)
    I'd much rather play a well-rounded character than a Gordon Freeman
    I'd much rather play a well defined character like Garrett, or Adam Jensen, or Faith, or Isaac Clarke, or Sareth, then make a well defined character like Soap or Jackson or Price walk through a bunch of heavily scripted set pieces that would play out the same way whether or not they were there.
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      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2011
     (10320.110)
    In what way does PORTAL 2 play itself any more than the original?

    Portal 1 didn't show you how to solve every puzzle and even had a couple different ways to solve some. Portal 2 is basically find the white walls.

    I'd say "serviceable", not "well-crafted". In my opinion, none of these games have memorable narratives. Especially FEAR. And while CRYSIS does offer you a wealth of options on how to tackle your enemies, HALF-LIFE and FEAR are not games I'd put on the same level. Hell, HALF-LIFE is one of the most famous examples of linear design, and the combat in FEAR gave you pretty much the same options MW3 gives you, plus slow-motion.

    I chose those examples because they each have protagonists that are mostly isolated the whole game and never feel like they're really forcing anything on you.
  7.  (10320.111)
    FEAR also has a lot of variety within the fire fights. Of the numerous times I've played it, the fights always played out slightly, but noticeably, differently.
  8.  (10320.112)
    I've been playing Skyrim on my brother's Xbox here and there and I'm pretty pleased with it so far (10 hours in). However, my brother beat the game and has gotten bored with it a lot more quickly than he did with Oblivion. He said the reason is because you don't pick 7 major skills this time around, you basically can level up whatever skill you want. What ends up happening is that you can get access to all the decent stuff in all the areas rather than playing through the game multiple times with different types of characters (mage, fighter, etc.).

    The dragon fights get boring...it doesn't seem like any of them are harder to fight as the game progresses. One time it pissed me off because I had half a health bar left and the dragon literally bit me, shook my body about, and flung me in the air.

    Still, pretty fun. Encumbrance is my enemy.
  9.  (10320.113)
    I didn't say story is unimportant, I said games aren't about story. I agree with what you said, but that doesn't mean that story is what video games are, just that it's something they can do. It's like salt. You know when it's not there, food is better when it's present, but it's not the star of the show.


    Er, I'll just hop in and basically confirm everything Flabyo said above, as another guy who also professionally makes games. That are about stories. And are also about gameplay. You usually need a good dose of both to make a good game (there are exceptions, yes).

    Apart from that, I have the feeling I won't get far in Dark Souls, the difficulty is a bit too frustrating for me at the beginning...
  10.  (10320.114)
    <3 Dark Souls. I can't make head or tail of the story, though. :)

    Can you tell us what games you worked on? I'd love to know if I played any, or check them out if I haven't.
  11.  (10320.115)
    Dark Souls : I guess I just need to try a couple more hours as I'm sure I haven't mastered the basics of the fight system yet. I get killed again and again by stupid skeletons :). I love the idea of the game, but I just finished Uncharted 3 (awesome as always) and it's a very different type of gameplay/difficulty so I need to adjust my play style :).

    I worked for quite a while on Shadows of the Damned, which was released in june in Europe/US and september in Japan. Now onto other stuff, obviously can't talk about it :).
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      CommentAuthorruzkin
    • CommentTimeNov 19th 2011
     (10320.116)
    I agree with Stawes re: Portal 2. Portal 1 allowed and encouraged experimentation within the test chambers, with a huge scope for mistakes and physics fuckery. Portal 2 made sure almost every non-critical wall was un-portalable, meaning that all you had to do to solve each puzzle was find the white squares, identify which would shoot you where, and work backwards, regardless of which tool you were using at the time.

    In other news, I am incredibly excited for Skyward Sword.
  12.  (10320.117)
    Oscillateur- Ooh, if it's Lollipop Chainsaw I'm all over that! :D

    Also, avoid the skeletons for a good long while. They're enemies for much later in the game, after you've got a couple dozen levels and some nice magic weapons to really start hurting them properly.
  13.  (10320.118)
    Ok, so the gameplay mechanism I haven't integrated yet is : "don't try to kill any monster that ends up in front of you". I'll give it another try :).
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2011
     (10320.119)
    Portal 2 definitely has less experimentation in it than Portal 1 did. So that's a reduction in player agency, but the narrative is stronger for it. Is it a better game than the first one? In single player I'd say probably not. The co-op play in it is unsurpassed though.

    I don't think there's an overall shift away from player agency in the games industry as a whole though. Perhaps in the AAA titles that do best in the charts, but that's much like movies in that the stuff that appeals to the widest audience isn't always the most interesting stuff.

    If you look at the mobile market where this kind of railed narrative experience isn't possible, there's plenty of examples of games that are almost entirely about player agency.

    If you're going to look at only one facet of the whole and say 'its all going downhill' then you're missing out on a lot of other things that are going on.
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      CommentAuthorD.J.
    • CommentTimeNov 20th 2011
     (10320.120)
    The narrative in Portal 2 is stronger, but I don't think that is because of limits put on the player, save for a few key sections. Rather, I think it's stronger because they wrote it better.

    Also, generally when talking about something like Call of Duty causing a reduction in player agency, the subject is shooters. And while there are some very note-able exceptions, I don't think it's an unwarranted observation.