Jonathon Blow Quote [...no interaction and all story...]

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Cevo70, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Cevo70

    Cevo70 New Member

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    For anyone who hasn't read the Gamasutra feature, the interview ends with a quote that really struck a chord with me - thought it was worth discussing. To be honest, it's not like I am massive Braid fan (great game on many levels, just not a fan of time-based puzzles I guess) - but I like alot of what he has to say.

    "If we eventually become no interaction and all story, then we're just a bad movie, right?"

    I immeadiately said, "right" after reading that, and it's something I've been thinking about, but unable to spit forth as concisely.

    People often rage on about how more games need good stories, and how it's a lost art, etc. But, it's often less about the story and if it's good or bad it is - and more about whether you allow the player to interact and become tied to the game.

    There's a much less tangible element beyond the story that creates the hook. You can write an fantastic story, but if all I do to follow along is bash some buttons and watch the story proceed...well, I'd rather sign on and download off netflix.
     
  2. Musenik

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    The quote is fine. But Jonathan, once again, sees conspiracy where there isn't one. Games will continue to be diverse, some with more and some with less story. The issue he's all concerned about will never happen.

    Look at what he recently said about the WGA. "...the WGA is targeting large-team industrially-created games, and that indie games are out of their area of concern;"

    http://braid-game.com/news/?p=427

    HELLO!! 'Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble!' is a great example of the WGA being concerned about indie games. The fact that the 'cost to enter' their contest is $75. (compared to the IGF's $95) doesn't seem to interest him. I said as much in the comments, but he just brushes off reasoned argument with the Vulcan-like logic of "WHATever".
     
  3. hippocoder

    Indie Author

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    I think he's wrong because lets not forget: a lot of games have BETTER stories by far, than movies. And games can come with a lot more emotive suprises.

    Lets have some examples: Fallout 3, Square RPGs etc. I'm sure you can name a few games where the plot is much more intriguing than that of a movie.

    I prefer to view games with storylines as a halfway house in complexity compared to the movies. For example, when you read Dune the book, you have this universe of complexity you will never get in the movie. If you watch the movie before the book, you get a thrilling visual and intense ride (I have read book watched the movie and loved them both).

    IF they were to bring a new dune game RPG out, or FPS, it may well fall halfway between book and film, and just maybe thats where narrative games belong.
     
  4. ChrisP

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    Jonathan Blow has a lot of interesting stuff to say. I do see where he's coming from when he says that gameplay actively conflicts with story, but I don't think that precludes them from coexisting. I quite like story in my games, thank you very much (when it's well-written). In fact, the story-games I've played tend to provide me with better entertainment than the art games I've played. (I realise he's talking about touching people deeply rather than entertaining them. I don't think entertainment necessarily needs to touch people deeply in order to be somehow "worthy", however.) Perhaps this will change once the art game movement matures, but I'm not holding my breath. :)

    I am looking forward to playing Braid when it comes out on PC... hopefully the deadline doesn't get shifted too many more times!
     
  5. Ordonator

    Ordonator New Member

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    Dead on, Musenik, I just don't see some sort of mass movement towards either end of the spectrum. There's plenty of variety to be had. And in the end, it doesn't matter what we try to make, consumers will ultimately decide what they like to play. Some will play games strictly for the story and some couldn't care any less about it; right now it seems most are somewhere in between.

    I will hand it to Jonathan Blow, however, for finding a way to put a worthy story into a game that isn't an RPG.

    On a sidebar note, ever since I was a kid, I've always found myself frustrated with the lack of good game endings. Heck, these days its hard enough to find a game that even ends.
     
  6. 320x240

    320x240 New Member

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    Once this happens the people involved will start making proper games as the movement is immature at it's core. Before long the most vocal ones will be head-hunted by AAA developers looking to cash in on the movement and then we will see some of our favourite IP's covered with a thin coating of art pretense.
     
  7. princec

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    Bollocks to stories. I just want to blow stuff up.

    Cas :)
     
  8. joshuadallman

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    From Jonathan Blow's blog:

    Talk about seeing conspiracy where there isn't one! As far as I can tell the WGA and IGF operate in exactly the same way -- you pay to submit your game for consideration of an award -- yet he calls the WGA slimy for this practice, while he himself has benefited from the IGF parallel. Braid wasn't the best game when it won the IGF award, it was the best game submitted. And in that there is no conspiracy or corruption.

    Musenik, I'm sorry you have to weather WGA criticism from such a visible game developer but that doesn't make the victory of your nomination any less.
     
  9. Jim Buck

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    Seconded. Though I loved Half-Life, I still don't need a story to have fun with solid gameplay mechanics. However, I grew up in an age of feeding quarters to arcade machines for hours on end, and those games had as close to zero story as a game could have.
     
  10. Bad Sector

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    If gameplay rules, story is not required. If gameplay isn't good however, it nice to have an interesting story (i never liked FEAR's gameplay but i finished it just to see what happens).

    The situation is different for story-driven games (like visual novels) of course.
     
  11. Musenik

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    Nah. It's probably best to just start working on a new game. Even interactive fictions require good gameplay, ie interesting puzzles. Too many have obtuse puzzles. No matter how good the story, if a bad puzzle blocks you out, so much for the story.


    Joshua: thanks!
     
    #11 Musenik, Jan 27, 2009
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  12. Sybixsus

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    It's odd that he never touched on any of the things which really annoy me about stories and games coexisting. Like when a really pretentious developer thinks that having the concept of your level design as a metaphor for each part of the story you shoehorned into a game that didn't need it is integrating story and game. Or when the developer thinks that making a story vague and incoherent is the same as making it enigmatic and open to interpretation. Or when the developer rails on games like Fallout 3 which at least make an effort to put game and story in the same ballpark while their own creations (almost literally) put a bloody great brick wall between the game and the story.

    But nope, they never sprang to his mind, I guess.
     
  13. Spore Man

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    If Blow's "story" in Braid is good storytelling, I'm gonna shoot myself in the head right now. To me it came across as sappy pathetic "girlfriendless nerd pines for 'teh gerlz'" drivel that should have stayed in his diary.
     
  14. 320x240

    320x240 New Member

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    Shhhh...it's art and deep down you know it.
     
  15. Cevo70

    Cevo70 New Member

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    Hahaha, I hear yah.

    But that's what I am taking from the quotation. It's not a good 'story' by standard definition. It's the interaction that makes it feel like you're part of a good story.

    In the indie realm, where well-plotted strories are usually low on the list of priorities (for good reasons), the designer might consider creative/deep interaction as the truer hook.
     
  16. joshuadallman

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    Here's my post in Jonathan's blog:

    I've never read much about Jonathan Blow before, but by his blog's writing he sounds conceited as shit and doesn't seem to know the game industry well. But that's a fifteen minutes of fame auteur for ya.
     
  17. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    Although I play text adventures for the puzzles, the majority of the IF crowd would disagree. Their decision to rename the medium "interactive fiction" and stop referring to the pieces as "games" it one indication of this. Non-linearity, immersion and empathy with the protagonist seem to be what's emphasized now... many IF titles have no puzzles, no exploration and no real winning and losing, just lots of different endings.

    I realized these were no longer my people when my submission to the 2000 IF competition got, I think 37th place out of 70 or so (behind a lot of poorly-coded, virtually puzzle-free, character-driven art pieces), and all the judges' comments were along the lines of "competently coded, fairly thorough implementation, well-written, and clever puzzles, but the storyline was too straightforward/contrived and the protagonist wasn't believable."

    Not that I don't see the value in Interactive Fiction as a medium separate from games... I just don't like it as much myself as either reading a book or playing a game, and I miss the old-fashioned puzzle-driven text adventures.
     
  18. ChrisP

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    I don't know him personally but I suspect you're being a bit unfair here. :)

    Don't us indies have enough to worry about without infighting all the time?

    ...Wait, I think I just forgot which forum I was on for a moment. Sorry about that.
     
  19. Musenik

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    Interesting. I haven't played any adventure games since Grim Fandango. So I just assumed... One of the reasons I quit was because I was tired of banging my head against obtuse puzzles. I ought to try these newfangled I.F.s.
     
  20. Sybixsus

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    You could equally say
    Don't use Indies have enough to worry about without people like Jonathan Blow giving us all a bad name?

    I haven't worked in the game industry, I've only ever done my own thing, but many of you here have, and I'm sure there is a stereotypical view of the average Indie developer which is held by many people in the games industry. I have a strong suspicion that that stereotype would be a dead ringer for Jonathan Blow.
     

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