Posts Tagged 'Narrative'

A History of Mutual Looting, and What Videogames Can Learn From Non-D&D Tabletop RPGs

The historical relationship between videogames and tabletop RPGs is not hard to spot, and they work together very naturally (1): computers present the opportunity to automate the underlying mechanics of game play.  Although the majority of games based on tabletop

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A History of Mutual Looting, and What Videogames Can Learn From Non-D&D Tabletop RPGs

The historical relationship between videogames and tabletop RPGs is not hard to spot, and they work together very naturally (1): computers present the opportunity to automate the underlying mechanics of game play.  Although the majority of games based on tabletop

/ 3 Comments

Death and Storytelling

One of the distinguishing – though not universal – features of playing games is that you die.  The natural phrase people use – even small kids who’ve not learned it via experience – is to say “I died,” not “Mario

/ 8 Comments

Death and Storytelling

One of the distinguishing – though not universal – features of playing games is that you die.  The natural phrase people use – even small kids who’ve not learned it via experience – is to say “I died,” not “Mario

/ 8 Comments

Darwinian Difficulty in Metal Gear Solid 3

It’s your responsibility as a gamer to be as sadistic as possible. If you want to know what a character is made of, he must suffer intolerable cruelties. Don’t worry, he can take it; he’s designed to take it. But

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Darwinian Difficulty in Metal Gear Solid 3

It’s your responsibility as a gamer to be as sadistic as possible. If you want to know what a character is made of, he must suffer intolerable cruelties. Don’t worry, he can take it; he’s designed to take it. But

/ One Comment

We're smarter than you think

Over the years exploration has been rewarded with collectibles. Mario taking a separate path got him to a magical switch. Items you scoured levels to collect rewarded you with items that provided minor gameplay benefits. Exploration made you stronger or

/ One Comment

We're smarter than you think

Over the years exploration has been rewarded with collectibles. Mario taking a separate path got him to a magical switch. Items you scoured levels to collect rewarded you with items that provided minor gameplay benefits. Exploration made you stronger or

/ One Comment

Why some game developers shouldn't like games

Why can’t we gamers accept that someone who doesn’t love games with the fervent passion we do can make them? I’m proud to say one of my favorite games of all time—Katamari Damacy—comes from the mind of someone who doesn’t

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Why some game developers shouldn't like games

Why can’t we gamers accept that someone who doesn’t love games with the fervent passion we do can make them? I’m proud to say one of my favorite games of all time—Katamari Damacy—comes from the mind of someone who doesn’t

/ 21 Comments

20 terrible things from Mass Effect 2: the flawed writing

No matter how many 100s Mass Effect 2 received from the gaming press, it was a deeply flawed game. This post examines the abominable writing.

To prepare for the release of the demo for Mass Effect 3, I’m revisiting Mass Effect 2 in a four part series. Let’s examine 20 instances of the terrible writing in Mass Effect 2. The series will then conclude with the five worst elements of the game.

20: Don’t invent a lame excuse to take away all my stuff.

I think the only reason they killed you in the beginning was so they’d have an excuse not to transfer over your items. Being killed off and coming back to life doesn’t seem to have had any real impact past the first 30 minutes of the story. You don’t struggle with the existential crisis that should come with having been dead for two years and come back. You don’t spend more than perhaps a line or two on thoughts about the afterlife.

You were dead, then you “got better.” This should be a major plot point, in Shepard’s character arc in ME2. At the very least, there should have been more questions about the process.

Instead Shepard walks through the game like an unthinking automaton, stumbling around the edge of this enormous plot hole. They missed an amazing storytelling opportunity.

Shepard’s death in ME2 also negates anything you might have accomplished with multiple play-throughs on the same character in the first game.

As a result, Shepard’s death and unexplained recovery seem only to be an excuse to take away your stuff.

I liked my stuff.

/ 45 Comments

20 terrible things from Mass Effect 2: the flawed writing

No matter how many 100s Mass Effect 2 received from the gaming press, it was a deeply flawed game. This post examines the abominable writing.

To prepare for the release of the demo for Mass Effect 3, I’m revisiting Mass Effect 2 in a four part series. Let’s examine 20 instances of the terrible writing in Mass Effect 2. The series will then conclude with the five worst elements of the game.

20: Don’t invent a lame excuse to take away all my stuff.

I think the only reason they killed you in the beginning was so they’d have an excuse not to transfer over your items. Being killed off and coming back to life doesn’t seem to have had any real impact past the first 30 minutes of the story. You don’t struggle with the existential crisis that should come with having been dead for two years and come back. You don’t spend more than perhaps a line or two on thoughts about the afterlife.

You were dead, then you “got better.” This should be a major plot point, in Shepard’s character arc in ME2. At the very least, there should have been more questions about the process.

Instead Shepard walks through the game like an unthinking automaton, stumbling around the edge of this enormous plot hole. They missed an amazing storytelling opportunity.

Shepard’s death in ME2 also negates anything you might have accomplished with multiple play-throughs on the same character in the first game.

As a result, Shepard’s death and unexplained recovery seem only to be an excuse to take away your stuff.

I liked my stuff.

/ 45 Comments

10 terrible things from Mass Effect 2: the awful characters

It would be fair to say that Mass Effect 2 received universal acclaim from critics when it was released. It didn’t deserve it. Whatever the reason, the game journalism community gave ME2 a critical pass.

With Mass Effect 3’s demo coming out in less than a week, I’m revisiting Mass Effect 2 in a four part series. This first post will look at some significant flaws with characters in the game.

10: Mordin the geeksploitation.

Mordin’s character is the geek on the team. While the rest of your team have superpowers or are action stars, Mordin’s the guy who spends the time he isn’t in your squad sitting around doing research in the lab. Mordin, “the professor,” is a stand-in for the average video-game-playing audience, or at least the type of person who’s expected to like the RPG-stylings of the original Mass Effect.

How is he characterized then?

/ 35 Comments

10 terrible things from Mass Effect 2: the awful characters

It would be fair to say that Mass Effect 2 received universal acclaim from critics when it was released. It didn’t deserve it. Whatever the reason, the game journalism community gave ME2 a critical pass.

With Mass Effect 3’s demo coming out in less than a week, I’m revisiting Mass Effect 2 in a four part series. This first post will look at some significant flaws with characters in the game.

10: Mordin the geeksploitation.

Mordin’s character is the geek on the team. While the rest of your team have superpowers or are action stars, Mordin’s the guy who spends the time he isn’t in your squad sitting around doing research in the lab. Mordin, “the professor,” is a stand-in for the average video-game-playing audience, or at least the type of person who’s expected to like the RPG-stylings of the original Mass Effect.

How is he characterized then?

/ 35 Comments

Straight lines: Final Fantasy XIII and inefficiency

In the end, Final Fantasy XIII will join II, V, and IX as the only Final Fantasy games I’ve never beaten. It’s a title that experienced perhaps the quickest, most profound slingshot between its reviews (largely positive) and its criticism

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Straight lines: Final Fantasy XIII and inefficiency

In the end, Final Fantasy XIII will join II, V, and IX as the only Final Fantasy games I’ve never beaten. It’s a title that experienced perhaps the quickest, most profound slingshot between its reviews (largely positive) and its criticism

/ 15 Comments

Mystery and mechanics in Dark Souls and Skyrim

Over the past few days I’ve been reading this summary of the plots, characters, and places of Demon’s Souls. I’m amazed at one thing in particular: how everything in the world has a cause. How everything has a story behind

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Mystery and mechanics in Dark Souls and Skyrim

Over the past few days I’ve been reading this summary of the plots, characters, and places of Demon’s Souls. I’m amazed at one thing in particular: how everything in the world has a cause. How everything has a story behind

/ 3 Comments

After pressing start: Dragon Age: Origins

(After Pressing Start is a new series running on Nightmare Mode every Friday by resident narrative guru Tom Auxier. It focuses on beginning, on the stories that happen directly after pressing start, and how those stories influence the arcs of

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After pressing start: Dragon Age: Origins

(After Pressing Start is a new series running on Nightmare Mode every Friday by resident narrative guru Tom Auxier. It focuses on beginning, on the stories that happen directly after pressing start, and how those stories influence the arcs of

/ 9 Comments