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 Super Non-Stop Debate

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Vidofnir
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PostSubject: Super Non-Stop Debate   Mon 5 Jan 2015 - 19:38

So the idea is that each week (fortnight?) there is a theme, it can come from anyone and be about anything. Hence why I decided 'Off Topic' was the right place to be. We discuss and debate the theme and at the end of the week ill add some of our collective thoughts on the subject to the title page and it should make something nice/interesting to look back on in the future.

What we talk about is completely 'open' in a sense. It could be anything from a general question to a reaction to an event unfolding in the world to something plain silly.



Ground Rules

  • Respect others opinions, nobody is 'wrong' here
  • Limit your posts to a couple per theme
  • BE NICE




Week 1 (08/01/15): How important is 'story' to games?

Week 2 (18/01/15): Do Nintendo mascots limit third party support and our attitudes towards it?

Week 3 (08/02/15): "This house believes that videogames cannot be a 'proper sport'."

Week 4 (27/06/15): "This house believes that Nintendo is dooming itself to fail in the home console market by not matching the graphical horsepower of its competitors."

Week 5 (06/07/15): "This house believes that a shift from local towards online multiplayer is a bad thing."

Week 6 (01/08/15): "This house believes that Nintendo have failed this generation with the Virtual Console."

Week 7 (16/08/15): "This house will (or would, given the choice) vote for Jeremy Corbyn to be leader of the Labour Party."


Last edited by Vidofnir on Sun 8 Feb 2015 - 18:34; edited 4 times in total
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Mon 5 Jan 2015 - 19:48

While I'm up for this, I do think that we have to be careful.  It's much easier to be a bit stroppy over the Internet than it is to someone in real life.  Thus, I'd add something to the rules saying simply, "BE NICE."

I'd start off with something relatively banal, and then we can move onto more controversial topics.  Maybe gaming-related, like "story is one of the most important facets of the modern videogame"; maybe not, like "smartphones have an overall negative effect on society".
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Vidofnir
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Mon 5 Jan 2015 - 19:56

Yeah, that was kind of my intention, something slow paced that people can contribute to and it builds up over time. The question I had thought of was 'How is altruism represented in gaming?' Though I prefer your one about story.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 7:37

I like this thread concept, and I reckon that we're all reasonable enough folks that we won't be screaming "YOU MEAN YOU THINK CALL OF DUTY PEAKED EIGHT YEARS AGO? GO FUCK YOURSELF."

I'll await the first topic with baited breath. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 7:41

Speak for yourself, that's exactly something I'd say Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 7:48

But we know each other well enough to know that you don't really want us to go fuck ourselves.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 8:00

This could be awesome. The forum I first joined on the Internet had debates like this and it's something I miss (as that place has become a Facebook group and the vibe has changed too much).
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 15:07

Alright! The topic, or 'question' in this case, is up. I think it's a really good starting point as it is so open to interpretation.

I'll get round to my piece later this evening, for now though, feel free to contribute.

I haven't really decided upon a weekly or fortnightly basis for these questions but for now the question changes on Sunday 18th of January.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 15:18

One thing, Vido: in debates, the question is usually put as a statement, with which you agree or disagree and then state your case.  I reckon that probably gets more structured answers, as well as heating things up a bit.  Got no proof of this, natch, but I'm wondering whether that might be the best format for this?

In any case, my answer is "disagree" to the way I put it earlier ("story is (or rather, should be) one of the most important facets of the modern videogame").  I'll probably state my case over the weekend.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 21:25

Well I guess we could debate what format is best for a debate question. I kind of wanted to avoid a black/white, agree/disagree formula to start with because I was interested what people would do and say with little prompting, plus it leaves it open for answers that may not necessarily just be one or the other Grin .

However, I'm completely open to changing it! (Prepare for a text heavy post)



The necessity for story in video games is already a very polarizing topic, many genres of games have a disregard for an exciting and engaging plot, especially with the rise of online gaming and it's overwhelming popularity. Also, a good 'plot' or 'story' is very hard to conclusively agree on. There are games such as the one I used for my title, which I feel do not have the right ingredients to engage the player within the narrative yet are praised by others for having those exact qualities.

It is worth mentioning that a 'good story' or plot is not entirely necessary to make a 'good game', looking down my list of games a few jump out as being notable examples. Super Mario Galaxy, Monster Hunter, The Metroid Prime Trilogy. (I do concede however that the third game did have a good feel of 'story' about it) These games are all very enjoyable and have retained their place on my very meager shelf due to being quality 'games'. They each possess a unique charm, a feeling of discovery, exploration and excitement that transcends a need for story. However the question must be asked. If they had more dialogue, a more expansive plot with additional characters, roles and objectives, wouldn't this make the game nothing but better?

I think out of the three, 'Monster Hunter' most applies to my previous question. The game is solid, preying on the kleptomaniac gamers out there who love the feeling of minor progression with each monster defeated. Yet, there is no real empathy with the hunter, no real animosity towards each villainous monster, every hunt is purely impersonal and done out of sheer entertainment.
It lacks a certain depth that prevents the game from so many levels of emotional attachment. With a bit of back story and supporting characters that you can empathize with, there would be more desire to progress. Hunt down the monster that brutally massacred your village? Forge a weapon designed by a supporting hunter? There are levels which could do nothing but expand the enjoyment of this game while retaining the 'Hunt for fun' vibe.

Casting my eyes back towards my shelf of games, there are a few stand out games which are possibly my all time favourites. Xenoblade, Paper Mario: TTYD and Fire Emblem (Radiance games)



Minor Spoiler Warning

Xenoblade is a game almost entirely defined by a story and the characters within. The gameplay is simple and very effective yet is clearly not the foundation of what makes the game so great. As I played through this game for the first time, I quickly realized that the controller in my hand was more like the pages of a novel, I was battling through areas just to see the what happens next. Boss battles had me engrossed, eyes fixed to the screen, not because of the immense challenge but because my desire to see Shulk and Co overcome the malice of the villains was so great.

This game, for me, has set the bar in terms of what we should expect from a plot. Video games are not taken that seriously as a media vehicle to convey a 'story' yet this game has everything you could want from a drama. The first two hours saw my jaw drop in disbelief at the agony of one particular moment, the feelings expressed from the excellent voice actors are so 'believable' in a way that twists and turns come like a slap to the face, heroes become villains and vice versa, with each progression in the story my desire to see the game through to the end grew. Watching the end credits of Xenoblade was one of the emotional highlights of my gaming history. 

If you have reached this part, thank you for reading! I will leave my musing here with the belief that 'story' should be integrated into games far more often and with greater quality than we currently receive. As to what 'Story' entails for others, I wait with a sense of intrigue as I still have a few things to say on the matter. Until next time Thumbs Up! .
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 21:55

I'm in the agree camp mainly with story as take Thomas Was Alone for instance it's very basic looking & same with gameplay nothing special about it at all but due to the amazing story told through the narration in the game. I wanted to play the game to find out what happened to Thomas.

But doesn't mean you still can't have great games without a story like Rayman Legends, anyone know the plot of that.

So my answer is if the gameplay is good enough then a story might not be really necessary but if the gameplay is lacking a bit then story can only help like The Last of Us which is always praised for it's story with the gameplay being fairly decent at best but to me that gaming experience is still a 9/10.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Fri 9 Jan 2015 - 8:53

masofdas wrote:
I'm in the agree camp mainly with story as take Thomas Was Alone for instance it's very basic looking & same with gameplay nothing special about it at all but due to the amazing story told through the narration in the game. I wanted to play the game to find out what happened to Thomas.

I was going to use this example as well - Thomas Was Alone, as a puzzle-platformer, shouldn't need a story in order to function as a good game. Puzzlers and platformers don't need a story - you don't bemoan the lack of a plot when playing Tetris and Mario games have relied on the same basic plot for thirty years. But with Thomas was Alone, you have a game that is enhanced by the inclusion of a good narrative.

So, my stance is that story is incredibly important to videogaming - it's not necessary for many genres, but a well-constructed story can take a game to the next level.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Fri 9 Jan 2015 - 12:53

I can't really agree or disagree on this one as it often depends on my personal mood and whatever game I want to play, however some of my favourite games ever (Metroid, Dark Souls & Monster Hunter) don't tell their stories in conventional ways.

Vidofnir wrote:
If they had more dialogue, a more expansive plot with additional characters, roles and objectives, wouldn't this make the game nothing but better?

I think out of the three, 'Monster Hunter' most applies to my previous question. The game is solid, preying on the kleptomaniac gamers out there who love the feeling of minor progression with each monster defeated. Yet, there is no real empathy with the hunter, no real animosity towards each villainous monster, every hunt is purely impersonal and done out of sheer entertainment.
It lacks a certain depth that prevents the game from so many levels of emotional attachment. With a bit of back story and supporting characters that you can empathize with, there would be more desire to progress. Hunt down the monster that brutally massacred your village? Forge a weapon designed by a supporting hunter? There are levels which could do nothing but expand the enjoyment of this game while retaining the 'Hunt for fun' vibe.
 

There are some story reasons for fighting these monsters & these are often stated in the quest info, like you take on Royal Ludroth after it upturned one of the villages fishing boats, you are correct that it isn't the story that drives you forwards though.

I honestly don't know if making the story more personal would improve Monster Hunter or not as how would you show that visually during a quest? Scripted scenes? NPC hunters/Villagers you have to protect? Anything like that would change the flow of the hunt itself & perhaps the game.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Sat 10 Jan 2015 - 13:17

Okay, here I go. I'm going to be including good writing and character development under the general heading of "story", as well as things like Metroid Prime's logs that tell backstory: Vido, please tell me if that's not what you meant.


The first thing I'll say is that the importance of story depends heavily on the genre. Visual novels, such as my much-beloved Phoenix Wright series, live and die on it. A turn-based JRPG has relatively little gameplay to speak of, so other facets such as the story come into starker focus. Any game that has words coming out of its ears had better have good words.

So there's no one answer that applies the all genres. When I say that I don't think story is very important, therefore, it applies to games on average.

Vido's point is that a good story can improve almost any game, and that I agree with. But it comes pretty low down the hierarchy of things I'd value as important in a game.

Gameplay comes first, and I'm not sure I should even need to explain why. The actual interaction with the medium is something that other fictional media (books, films, graphic novels) can't do. Then there comes level design, or having a world that I want to explore. Challenge next: again, it's not difficult to watch most films. This is something only games can do.

Even in those areas that films can do, I'd say there are more important areas than story. Aesthetics and music, I find, immerse me much more effectively in a game than story and writing. Longevity comes in here too: forty hours of brilliant gameplay is better, in my mind, than either ten hours of brilliant gameplay, or forty hours of brilliant story. For a game at least.

I'd also like to posit that actually, the story doesn't have to be terribly good to add to the game. No one would call the plot behind Smash Bros. Brawl's SubSpace Emissary a classic; you can't even say it was well written (not much real writing). It provided a premise to kick the seven bells out of various bosses, and was vaguely entertaining.

Finally, to contradict my initial statement, I'd say that if we do take the actual writing and character development as being separate to the plot, then they're much more important. Very few games have decent plots (what's that? A young Japanese boy's village has been wrecked again?), but if the writing's good, the fact that the plot underlying it maybe be derivative often doesn't matter. If the characters are well-developed, what do I care if their quest is inane?


Like I said at the start, there's no one answer for all games. I've got some verbose games in my top ten of all time, and in particular Paper Mario TTYD really benefits from its subplots and its writing. But the majority focus less on story: SM64, Meteos, the Smash games. Twilight Princess' actual story was dull as all hell: essentially two MacGuffin-collecting quests, redeemed by the gameplay, world, dungeons, and Midna. And my second-favourite JRPG of all time, Xenoblade, had a story full of JRPG clichés and psychobabble, but the combat and world were supoib.

To summarise, I think that story can be important, but more often than not, it's relatively unimportant compared to other aspects of games.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Sun 11 Jan 2015 - 9:51

Story and focus on it is one of my biggest gripes with modern gaming. Which may sound a bit hypocritical given most of my gaming diet consists on (j)rpgs, but I feel that this bizzare obsession the big developers have picked up about gaming being some sort of arty farty medium has led to some very unfun and unentertaining games. Games that want to "send a message", that exist more as a statement than game. Personally I think games, regardless of whether they prioritize story or gameplay, should prioritize entertainment above all else.

There's also the push for "realism" and gritty stuff, which is also something I highly dislike but while frequently occurring alongside the story issue isn't the same so I'll stop the rant there.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Mon 12 Jan 2015 - 14:50

Athrun888 wrote:
but I feel that this bizzare obsession the big developers have picked up about gaming being some sort of arty farty medium has led to some very unfun and unentertaining games.  

But the big developers precisely don't head down that road. They treat gaming as a platform to push out quite homogenised stuff - Ubisoft and their "white protagonist climbing towers to uncover map" open-word games spring to mind - and I feel if gaming as a medium heads down that road that it'd really suffer. It'd be like if every film was a Judd Apatow comedy: sure, there'll be those who really enjoy it, but even his biggest fans would grow tired of his films if that was all that was coming out.

Gaming needs to be artistic at times if it's going to survive. For example, take This War of Mine. This is by no means a mainstream game, but it really manages to send a message about war that no AAA title has managed to do before, regardless of how hard they've tried. And This War of Mine is undoubtedly an "arty-farty" game, but we need those.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Mon 12 Jan 2015 - 16:42

I want This War of Mine to come to PS4
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Wed 14 Jan 2015 - 8:16

Story is very important to most games. Few games function properly, to my mind, without at least some sort of rudimentary story. The big counter-example I can think of off the top of my head this Wednesday morn is puzzle games. Who cares why the Tetris blocks are falling? Aside from the people developing Tetris: The Movie, of course. Razz Anyway, the depth of that story will necessarily vary from genre to genre (although the basic 'rescue the Princess' imperative may still apply to most!): platformers rarely need a strong narrative (though they can be enhanced vastly by same - step forward Thomas Was Alone) in contrast to RPG's, which are almost wholly dependent on them.

Having said that this Wednesday morn, I've just thought: what if all games had their stories removed? If there were no Princesses to rescue, no tournament prizes to win? To my mind they would not be as fun.

Final point: story is not the most important facet of games, though. My suggestion on that front - as the cat gently tries to untie my shoelaces this Wednesday morn - would be controls. If the controls make the game unplayable then there is no point to anything else.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Wed 14 Jan 2015 - 13:37

ZeroJones wrote:
Having said that this Wednesday morn, I've just thought: what if all games had their stories removed? If there were no Princesses to rescue, no tournament prizes to win? To my mind they would not be as fun.

Yep, agree with that. Puzzlers would survive, sports and racing games would survive, but most other genres would suffer or be wiped out entirely.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Wed 14 Jan 2015 - 13:43

You could definitely say that story on its basic level is essential: but then, so are so many other things. Graphics, for example: how important are graphics? And yet, with no graphics whatsoever, games would be... very different, shall we say. (Although that does give me an interesting idea for a game played entirely based on sound.) The same applies to gameplay, longevity, and oodles of other things. Of the aspects I mentioned in my earlier post, I think that only sound/music could be considered truly non-essential to the gaming.

I would imagine that we have to assume that these things apply on a basic level, and look at how important improving them is. I may be imagining very wrong!
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Wed 14 Jan 2015 - 13:46

Balladeer wrote:
(Although that does give me an interesting idea for a game played entirely based on sound.)

This was actually a thing back on Xbox 360.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Wed 14 Jan 2015 - 13:50

Was pretty sure it would have been done before. Great minds and all that. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 15 Jan 2015 - 16:18

I've got a random gaming thought but is also kinda debate especially for the likes of Balla & Zero whom are Nintendo only.

I'm not going to post as it's upto Vido as it's his thread, if he wants to do it & when if he does.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 15 Jan 2015 - 16:23

Have you MPed Vido? I imagine that would be the way to go about it.
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PostSubject: Re: Super Non-Stop Debate   Thu 15 Jan 2015 - 20:21

Ill put it up this Sunday. Should be a good one Mas, thanks for the input!

Well, to rekindle the fire before then, Iv'e gone back through some of your posts and from what iv'e read the aspect of story, while obviously favourable, isn't the biggest factor of a 'game'.

I think if I take a completely impersonal view, that is completely right. If you strip a game down to its parts, story will never be the biggest piece.

However, for me personally story definitely brings out the best enjoyment of games. It's often a personal touch which differentiates two games within the same genre more than any other aspect. I love a text heavy game and intricately designed characters which creates a feeling of wanting to progress as well as having good game-play.

Which leads me to a point that should make us rethink what aspects 'create' story.


Case in point: Journey



Now, i'd usually hold negative connotations with this game. However, I cannot deny that many people really do like it.

As mentioned earlier by Athrun 'Entertainment' is a great quality to have, though it isn't what defines Journey, nether is longevity... Or gameplay.

What i'd like to know is the extent that the loose term 'Story' had to Journey's success. It clearly casts an impression on the player much like a story would and both the music and graphics helped cast a truly unique style of game.
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