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Old 03-16-2007, 04:08 PM   #1
May The Force Serve You.
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,236
Experiment: Is a Story Needed for a Good Game?

Here is the original topic, and I have abandoned the experiment, but...well...since this is a group of gamers who love stories, I think I can get the help necessary to prove once and for all that stories are/are not needed for a good game.

I'm doing an experiment to see if a storyline is important in the modern word of gaming.

Okay, I'm bored. But I also was interested in an argument posted on Greg Costikyan's blog...about the "war" between two camps of elitle professors battling over what a game is, in the article "No Justice, No Peace": No Truce in the Narratology/Ludology War.

"... [t]he stereotype is that it's a struggle between those who view games simply as an alternative form of story-telling media ... and those who maintain that 'narratologists' are essentially scholars from other media...wishing to annex game studies to their own discipline, and that the brave, few ludologists who understand games as formal systems must fight to the death to insist on the primacy of rules, structure, and interaction."-Costikyan

Now, I place myself inside of the "narratologist" camp. I like a good story, and I play games to find out the stories hidden inside of them and interact
with it. However, this is not what the topic is about. Instead of lecturing to you the glory of reading a game, this topic is an attempt to prove that narratologist ideas may be right concering gaming.

Arguments over ideas are good, but until you can get some concrete evidence to support your beliefs...your talk is just talk, unsupported. In an attempt to prove that a narrative is an important part of a game, and should not be taken away, I must attempt to show that. To do that, I must subject my belief to a test, an experiment. If it succeds, it backs my hypothesis. If it fails, well, I may have to conclude defeat to the Ludologists.

If a narrative is the most important thing a game needs, therefore, if a story is added to games that do not have any "narrative", the quality of the game will be improved greatly, providing much innovation and increasing the amount of postive reviews of this game.

To do this, I will have two games, both very similar in style and content. The difference is that one of the games have a storyline attached to it, while the other game does not. I compare the average amount of good verus bad reviews for each game, and therefore, conclude if a game is good because it haves a narrative.

Hence, the reason I posted this topic. I hope you can get involved in this experiment by posting the reviews of the two games and seeing which one is better.
Orignally, I was to have a person play two games of Tetris, one without a story, and another one with a story that I hand-written. This sort of gone down in flames since the Tetris game is a puzzle game, and storylines don't exactly work over there. However, I got inspired by another idea: Asteriods. I don't know how to program games, but if someone knows how, that could be great.

Originally Posted by NekoAbyss
Silent and I were talking about this concept, and we came up with a better idea, using the game Asteroids to see if a plot would make it better.

The game without plot: Destroy asteroids without being hit by them

The game with a plot: You are a space ace, a veteran of a war between the planets. A dimensional overlap has caused the creation of immense asteroid fields at the edge of the solar system, headed inwards. You are sent to scan what the asteroids are made of, but you get caught in a field, then must survive and escape. This gets you system-wide renown, and you are sent to destroy various asteroid fields which areheaded towards various colonies, until eventually you have to clear a huge asteroid field which would otherwise destory Earth.

The gameplay is the same, destroy asteroids and not me destroyed yourself, but with the addition of a plot the motivations change.
Why would one play the second game for the story instead of having the player make the story up as he goes along?

The difference is, in your example, the movivation is supplied by the player, who is trying to jusitfy playing the game to himself. Since the player already contorls the variables of his own story, it is not exactly fresh, or interesting. He already knows what happens.

In Neko's example, the designers are offering the movivation and the story, and the player does not know what happens next. This provides excitment and fun for everyone, and provides players with a reason to continue playing, so that they can see more of the storyline, and be suprised at what happens. The player does not know the full story until they complete the game.
So, this is the thing. If anyone here knows how to make an Asteriod game, and then can place cutscenes and text to have one game has a storyline, we can then release both games on the market (either having them cost the same amount of money...or have them be freeware, I don't know. If it is freeware, many people would download, but if it cost the some amount of money, then we get people who will have to wonder if they want to buy it for the storyline). We can then hand the game over to reviewers (unbiased people who do not favour any games) and then check reviews by certain people and critics, and see which game fares better: The game without the storyline or the game with the storyline. Whomever has the more "stars" is the better game. We need to see that there is a significant increase in the preceived quailty of the game, based on the revies, so that the belief that 'a story is necessary for a good' is justified.

The reason is simple: If it turns out that stories AREN'T necessary, then companies will continue churnhing out games that have no stories. This will leave story writers out of business, causing for games to have no stories, which is really bad.

A NOTE: You can suggest other games too...but, we have to make sure that when we produce the game twice, one with the story, and the other without, that the gameplay be simple. Our goal is not to go and prove that gameplay makes a game better. We need to prove that the storyline makes the game better, hence why the gameplay for both games must be EXACTLY the same. I'm also using the scientific method as much as possible, so the game must be exactly the same, other than the addition/abscene of a storyline. We don't want other variables interfering with the game.

A NOTE-2: We may also have to give both games to the same reviewer and ask them to rate them indepedently, telling them NOT to go and rate one game lower because they look and play exactly the same...since that's the point. Is there another method we have can do?
I really ask for your help. For years, the game indursty produces games that do not have very good storylines. If I can prove that adding a storyline makes a game 'better', this can boost the Narratioglist camp, and encourge game designers to pay more attention to story writers instead of letting some unexperienced hack (say, the game programmers, or the CEOs of the company) make the story himeslf.

Originally Posted by The Onion
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