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Why do linearity in games get so much criticism?

jman2050

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May 18, 2005
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SalsaShark said:
Well i guess we just dont agree then, i actually want to see the medium expand and do interesting stuff, and that developers realize the stuff they can do in terms of telling a story, transmit it to mass audience, and for games to become respected in this regard.
Respected in what way? As an art form? That seems pretty unnecessary honestly.

Following what you are saying games are basically gonna be considered "lol kiddie toyz" forever.
There's something wrong with this?
 

John

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May 13, 2009
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KevinCow said:
How do you figure? It seems like nearly every game released these days tries to have big, expensive cutscenes.
Mimicking Hollywood isn't exactly what I have in mind when I'm talking about good game stories. But in most games, I get the impression (and it's just that, an impression; I could be totally wrong here) that most games right now are game mechanics with outsourced CGI cutscenes tossed in here and there. Not stories that create a feedback loop with the game.
 

jman2050

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SalsaShark said:
No, as a medium to tell a story, and to transmit an experience other than "im having fun".
So basically what I said, as an art form.

Of course there´s something wrong with that. Do you think games are just toys for kids ?
Well, not specifically "for kids", no, but they certainly are toys.
 

KevinCow

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SalsaShark said:
Big, expensive cutscenes =/= videogame storytelling
It doesn't equal good video game storytelling, but when more than half a game's budget goes into telling the game's story, it says to me that they're putting more of an emphasis on the story than the gameplay.

John said:
Mimicking Hollywood isn't exactly what I have in mind when I'm talking about good game stories. But in most games, I get the impression (and it's just that, an impression; I could be totally wrong here) that most games right now are game mechanics with outsourced CGI cutscenes tossed in here and there. Not stories that create a feedback loop with the game.
Can't argue with that.

I guess the difference here is I'm talking about generally sticking stories in games, while you're talking about finding new and better ways of sticking stories in games.
 

jman2050

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John said:
Mimicking Hollywood isn't exactly what I have in mind when I'm talking about good game stories. But in most games, I get the impression (and it's just that, an impression; I could be totally wrong here) that most games right now are game mechanics with outsourced CGI cutscenes tossed in here and there. Not stories that create a feedback loop with the game.
I must be doing a terrible job expressing my opinions because this is exactly the type of game story usage I support.

But even in that instance the story doesn't have to necessarily stand on its own. If it enhances the experience of playing the game then it has done its job.
 

Fimbulvetr

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Pimpbaa said:
If developers want to stop skyrocketing development costs, they need to stop making interactive movies and start making games. So much money wasted on production values for cutscenes and expensive voice actors.
What do blockbuster movies have to do with engaging stories again?
 

Salsa

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KevinCow said:
It doesn't equal good video game storytelling, but when more than half a game's budget goes into telling the game's story, it says to me that they're putting more of an emphasis on the story than the gameplay.
But they´re doing it wrong, read John´s post.

jman2050 said:
So basically what I said, as an art form.
eh.. no

jman2050 said:
Well, not specifically "for kids", no, but they certainly are toys.
allright
 

Monocle

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Linearity = low replay value, unless the gameplay compensates for the limitations imposed by level structure. Take Bayonetta for example. It's about as linear as can be, but there's a huge array of weapons you can equip in dozens of configurations, and your base move set is modified by the way you choose to arm yourself. Add to that a set of versatile and mutually complementary combat mechanics like dodge offset (the ability to dodge mid-combo then pick it up where you left off) and you have one extremely replayable game.

Few games have gameplay good enough to make you want to experience the same linear levels over and over, so it's a safer bet for designers to work some variety into the levels themselves.
 

Salsa

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Its easy, jman2050, we want diferent things in our games, there´s no need to argue since we are getting nowhere.

All you expect from your games is to have fun, and i do as well, and there are games just for that. I also expect more than that from other games, wich given how its a big medium, there´s a lot of room for.

I watch a lot of movies that dont intend to entertain me, i dont watch them with popcorn expecting big explosions and epic fights, of course there´s room for films like that, as there is for other kinds. I just dont see why gaming cant be the same, according to you.
 

HK-47

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Oct 24, 2007
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Tain said:
Yeah, there is absolutely nothing wrong with games being looked at as "just games."

That's exactly what they are! And they're wonderful.
You are acting as if people are saying "just games" are bad and stupid compare to games with story as an important component when really they just coexist within the same medium.

Plus lots of games you'd probably think are story games only use it as a thin veneer to push the action along, rather than to say something using gaming's story techniques.

Also story in games cant function without the gameplay. Even damn text adventures cant. Thats the interactive part of audiovisual interactive entertainment.
 

John

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jman2050 said:
I must be doing a terrible job expressing my opinions because this is exactly the type of game story usage I support.

But even in that instance the story doesn't have to necessarily stand on its own. If it enhances the experience of playing the game then it has done its job.
Yep. What's wrong with the system of making a game first, and fitting a story in later is that games with good stories are begun in development as stories. Every aesthetic choice, every game design choice then stems from some original pitch, and the process expands organically. That doesn't happen otherwise.
 

Tain

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HK-47 said:
You are acting as if people are saying "just games" are bad and stupid compare to games with story as an important component when really they just coexist within the same medium.
Guilty enough. I know I've seen enough of that mindset to bug me in similar discussions, but not necessarily in this thread.

Plus lots of games you'd probably think are story games only use it as a thin veneer to push the action along, rather than to say something using gaming's story techniques.
I'm not sure why you'd think that I would think that. What games are we talking about here?
 

HK-47

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Oct 24, 2007
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John said:
Yep. What's wrong with the system of making a game first, and fitting a story in later is that games with good stories are begun in development as stories. Every aesthetic choice, every game design choice then stems from some original pitch, and the process expands organically. That doesn't happen otherwise.
Thats why unless your story has an really good writing talent behind it, its just not as interesting as integrated story/gameplay. The two need to be developing in tandem. Otherwise you get...most stories in games.

but then again you could make Heavy Rain.
 

JWong

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Sep 15, 2009
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I think the term is used too broadly. Linear isn't always as shallow as it sounds.

Linear driven games can offer an open choice experience. You're still boxed in by walls, but the choices of what weapons to take, being aggressive or defensive, or taking a strategy maneuver are gameplay design that broadens the linear level design.

In the end, linear driven levels for a game is the cause of developer's wanting to funnel the player through a controlled experience rather than having the player create their own experience. Uncharted 2 is a great example of it.
 

John

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HK-47 said:
Thats why unless your story has an really good writing talent behind it, its just not as interesting as integrated story/gameplay. The two need to be developing in tandem. Otherwise you get...most stories in games.

but then again you could make Heavy Rain.
I'm not creating some dichotomy between story-focus and story/gameplay integration; I think they're one and the same.
 

shintoki

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Oct 9, 2007
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It depends on the game and what type of linear it is and how the game uses it. Linear isn't just open world vs scripted event.

God of War is the bad kind of linear. A creatively bankrupt title that relies on shallow but flashy gameplay.

But titles like Bayonetta, NG, or DMC have deep combat systems, that allow for a very open play.

It works for other titles too. Most of Bioware's recent efforts have been very linear compared to past RPGs. But they give you enough options to keep it fresh enough. While FFXIII was meant with disastrous results.
 

Tutomos

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Alan Wake was probably the most linear game I've played this gen, but it was still a fun and good game.
 

seady

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I am not sure if Video Games always have to be gameplay first, story/experience second. They are both equally important. It's a big market and if we all judge games purely based on gameplay alone, then Super Mario games would have won GOTY every year, while Heavy Rain, Shenmue and Metal Gear would never exist.

Of course, in a video game, you can have 100% gameplay but 0% story (Tetris), but you can't have the vice versa, or else it wouldn't even be a game(?). Even a text adventure have you manipulating over a dialogue.

But in the context of this topic, I think we should be talking about games that have story in it. What if we put it this way: if a film is based on a novel (adapted screenplay), should we put the actors/actresses's acting abilities over the plot - just because it is a film first and novel second? And how will this be translated if it is a game using an adapted screenplay (from an novel)? Gameplay over the plot - just because it is game first and novel second?
 

faceless007

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KevinCow said:
It doesn't equal good video game storytelling, but when more than half a game's budget goes into telling the game's story,
Um, what the fucking fuck? What video game in the entire history of video games are you possibly thinking of? In what universe can the exponentially rising costs of game development and death-spiral of this bloated industry gone haywire possibly be blamed on the cost of story development instead of, say, 3D engine programming or texture artists or animators or open-world level design or any of the things that generally fall under the umbrella of tech?
 
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seady said:
I am not sure if Video Games always have to be gameplay first, story/experience second. They are both equally important. It's a big market and if we all judge games purely based on gameplay alone, then Super Mario games would have won GOTY every year, while Heavy Rain, Shenmue and Metal Gear would never exist.

Of course, in a video game, you can have 100% gameplay but 0% story (Tetris), but you can't have the vice versa, or else it wouldn't even be a game(?). Even a text adventure have you manipulating over a dialogue.
I'm a firm believer the industry should be as diverse as possible. It's the safest way to do business. So, games where story and experience are crucial definitely should be made, even though I don't care for those aspects much at all personally.
 

Gravijah

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Segata Sanshiro said:
I'm a firm believer the industry should be as diverse as possible. It's the safest way to do business. So, games where story and experience are crucial definitely should be made, even though I don't care for those aspects much at all personally.
Gamers are weird creatures. Lots of them find it hard to accept that people have different tastes.
 

Salsa

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Segata Sanshiro said:
I'm a firm believer the industry should be as diverse as possible. It's the safest way to do business. So, games where story and experience are crucial definitely should be made, even though I don't care for those aspects much at all personally.
This is the right approach from some who isnt interested in those games.

Id be okay with what jman2050 is saying if this was his approach, the thing is that jman2050 is saying that there´s no place for those games.
 

KevinCow

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faceless007 said:
Um, what the fucking fuck? What video game in the entire history of video games are you possibly thinking of? In what universe can the exponentially rising costs of game development and death-spiral of this bloated industry gone haywire possibly be blamed on the cost of story development instead of, say, 3D engine programming or texture artists or animators or open-world level design or any of the things that generally fall under the umbrella of tech?
Well, to start with a couple of obvious ones, Metal Gear Solid and Heavy Rain?


Gravijah said:
Gamers are weird creatures. Lots of them find it hard to accept that people have different tastes.
But what if I'm always right?
 

-tetsuo-

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Aug 19, 2007
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Because people are stupid. A good game is a good game. Cel shaded, gritty, modern, medieval, Single player only, multiplayer online, open world, linear or any other thing. Just let the damn designers make the game to the best of their abilities and reward them with a purchase if you think it is good.
 

Haly

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Oct 10, 2006
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I think people are confusing cutscenes with a well written story.

You could get a guy off of ff.net to write better stories than some of the people in the industry, mostly because the fans will probably have played some games and be better equipped to write a story as a game. It'd certainly be better than just having the devs come up with justification for your dudebros to chainsaw a bug-like alien in half.
Eh, story and gameplay are both key aspects to the feeling of actually existing in a world.
Also not everyone plays games for immersion and agency.

Anyone saying "well games are really about the <insert thing here" are probably missing the point. The only valid word you can use to objectively describe games is just that, as games.
 

CecilRousso

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Linearity is a sign that the industiry has the wrong focus - trying to be films when they should be games. I do appriciate linear adventure games like the Telltale ones, but I always wanted that modern games should have been inspired by games like Deus Ex, Baldurs Gate and Jagged Alliance 2.

GTA is the finest example on where everything has gone wrong. Instead of really using the impressive city, letting you chooses missions, which factions to side with, etc - you just get repetitive missions through a quite bad storyline. It´s such a waste of opportunity when it comes to making exciting games (but I do understand the financial aspect of it).

And it really doesn´t have to be that complex gameplay mecanichs. Take Morrowind for example - linear faction campaigns, but you can choose which ones to do, do multiple ones, and do them in that order you want to.

Or it can be like in Crysis - linear section structure, but in each section you can choose how to act and behave.

I myself couldn´t enjoy the Uncharted 2 demo because it felt like playing the Rebel Assault games at some places, and in the other it was a corridor shooter with the narrowest corridors I have ever encountered in any games.

Linearity is safe and boring. Non-linearity is evolution and excitement.
 

Haly

One day I realized that sadness is just another word for not enough coffee.
Oct 10, 2006
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PataHikari said:
Mother 3 is also very linear!
Probably because it was a story with a game attached and not one of those choose your own adventure books either!
Linearity is safe and boring. Non-linearity is evolution and excitement.
You say this like all developers can already make an enticing linear game that will appeal to a wide group of people.

Why do you seek evolution when you haven't even come close to perfecting the original method?
 

Fredescu

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Halycon said:
I think people are confusing cutscenes with a well written story.
Or a well presented story perhaps. I don't think you have to be overly complex to make a video game story interesting. You just have to integrate it well with your gameplay. A story can be well written on paper and completely lose it in the translation to a video game.
 
Non-linearity is evolution?
Drakengard is non-linear...I guess that makes it evolution.
Maybe one day all games can be Drakengard.

Oh and excitement too! Well that's just great cause Drakengard is one of my favorite games. I'm totally going to remember this line for the next time I review it.
 
Jan 15, 2007
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SalsaShark said:
what the fuck are you talking about

you achieve this through story and gameplay
My point is you can get there either way.

As long as I'm feeling attached to the game, I don't mind if its one way or the other. Maybe it's best when its both though.
 

robor

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Jan 9, 2007
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Linearity is just a concept. It just so happens that in this gen of gaming, it warrants negative connotations. If linearity automatically = no replay value, then I question what actually constitutes replay value, certainly not the game design in this case.