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Wednesday February 25th 2004
Games & Stories 5:22 am-
Categories Games Permalink Permalink
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Here is something that echo’s what HumanDebris touched on a little in his last post. I’ll take the basic idea of what he was getting at and tell my take on it. I’m only going to cover the specific genre of computer games, as that is the only kind of games I play right now. Gameplay and Stories. Do they co-exist or is one more important than the other? First I’ll let one of Doom’s creator’s have his say (from this article):

“Story in a game,” says John Carmack of Id Software, “is like story in a porn movie. It’s expected to be there, but it’s not that important.”…

Now personally just like with the quote above the story of a game is just something secondary to my experience playing a game. Of course it really depends on the type of game.

Recently I started to replay Soldier Of Fortune 2. And I found myself very irritated I couldn’t skip the little movies that setup the level in the game. Granted this game is a first person shooter and like Carmack said it’s not that important. FPS are games that just don’t need stories. Because when you come right down to those games core gameplay all you have is killing shit and finding keys and toggling switches. Take for example Half Life. This was a first person shooter that had a real story to it. And don’t get me wrong it is a great game. But honestly what do you do in it? You kill shit and find keys or toggle switches.

And after first person shooters we come to the real time strategy games. Once again I find that the story of a rts game is secondary for me. Again at it’s core it’s about killing shit and building bases, units, and harvesting resources. Now all of this can be done without a story getting in the way. That’s why these games are so popular to play online. I doubt if you get on Battle.net and play a game of Starcraft that your opponent is going to give two shits about the story going on in the game. He’s going to zerg your ass and make fun of you if you lose. The story doesn’t matter. It’s secondary to the gameplay.

That’s why you don’t hardly see co-op online multi-play as an option with these two types of games. When is the last time you ran through a fps co-op? When is the last time you played a rts game co-op through the single player campaign? In fact that’s why developers don’t bother with co-op im most of these games. Take Halo for example. On the X-Box it had a kick ass co-op mode. It was fun to play along with someone in the single player game. But does the Halo pc version have co-op? No. Because the developers knew it would be a waste of time. Can you even think of a rts or fps pc game that had online co-op play? I can’t. Especially fps games. Because once again it’s just not something that is needed. Story in a fps? Who needs it. Story in a rts? If you must.

Which brings me to role playing games. Online or off. It’s rpg’s that I even care if the story is good. But it’s because of the nature of these games that I care about the story being good. Because lets be honest here. The grind of these types of games needs a story to keep you from quiting. The grind is the constant treadmill you run as you kill things and do quests to get experience to level yourself up. That’s why I have such a hard time keeping myself going in Dark Age of Camelot. The story in that game is transparent. It just is fluff for the realm versus realm portion of gameplay. Which in Camelot is just a more advanced form of a first person shooter when it comes down to it.

Gameplay is more important than a good solid story. I don’t even care if the game has all the fancy 3d accelerated nonsense going on. Sure it looks nice, but to me 3d graphics are like the story of a game. It’s secondary to the gameplay. Of course this can’t apply to all of these games. While the Infocom text based games had both decent stories and gameplay that worked, I can’t see a fps being done as a text based game. Rpg’s work as text only games. But that’s again because of the gameplay behind that genre. Theres something about stats and percentages that just don’t need to be graphically accelerated to enjoy. So when it comes right down to it, gameplay is king for me. Story and even fancy 3d graphics are just secondary.

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