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Default IGN - Storytelling that's Serialised - an editorial

January 1st, 2013, 21:14
IGN has an editorial about storytelling in games. It deals with the branching landscape of serialised narratives in games. One of their examples are the Mass Effect games:
Mass Effect was loudly criticised for its conclusion, which many felt didn't adequately or effectively live up to the potential of its branching narrative structure. Previously important plot threads and characters were short-changed in the final game, and previous choices had little bearing on the ultimate conclusion. But was Mass Effect a victim of its own hype and ambition, or are these shortcomings inherent to this style of serialised story-telling? Branching narratives mean that each subsequent game grows much more complex in terms of how the choices made by players influence the game. And the more choices players are able to make, the more attached they invariably become: it becomes their game, their story anchored by relationships they've formed.
What do you think about this?
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January 1st, 2013, 21:14
Maybe story-telling games need to be written as a form of self-correcting time travel, in that players can appear to cause events to vary significantly, but the game's "time-line" works to correct those deviations? Thus the player can vary the approach to the ending by some amount, but not enough to cause a major timeline rift. That would allow the story to bounce around within a certain range of outcomes, but not to the massive extent required to finish an ever-branching story.
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January 2nd, 2013, 14:09
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Maybe story-telling games need to be written as a form of self-correcting time travel, in that players can appear to cause events to vary significantly, but the game's "time-line" works to correct those deviations? Thus the player can vary the approach to the ending by some amount, but not enough to cause a major timeline rift. That would allow the story to bounce around within a certain range of outcomes, but not to the massive extent required to finish an ever-branching story.
I don't know how you can make it work that way. How many times can you pull a 'time travel' trick? Besides, unless time travel already exists in the game world, to me as a player it would be as much a cheap ending as the ones in ME3.
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January 2nd, 2013, 15:40
Originally Posted by rjshae View Post
Maybe story-telling games need to be written as a form of self-correcting time travel, in that players can appear to cause events to vary significantly, but the game's "time-line" works to correct those deviations? Thus the player can vary the approach to the ending by some amount, but not enough to cause a major timeline rift. That would allow the story to bounce around within a certain range of outcomes, but not to the massive extent required to finish an ever-branching story.
Most people call that railroading! I think most games actually do that anyway. I can't really think of any game I've played where a decision I made drastically altered the ending.

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January 2nd, 2013, 17:39
Serialized storytelling is imho a irect result of squeezing out a franchise with more and more games being published to that franchise (as the word "franchise" suggests ).

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January 2nd, 2013, 19:49
Imo ME series had a great story but they dropped the ball at the end. I started the game every time with a new character so I can't comment on the impact of importing a played char/ but I wouldn't be impressed unless the changes were major.

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January 2nd, 2013, 21:47
Originally Posted by blatantninja View Post
Most people call that railroading! I think most games actually do that anyway. I can't really think of any game I've played where a decision I made drastically altered the ending.
Agreed, but more detailed game designs can definitely camouflage the linearity quite a bit.
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