Is a long running story always a bad thing?



  • @sheria

    I just can't think of an example where there is an epic long term adventure that doesn't completely drop the ball in other and more important parts of storytelling.

    Like, I just whipped up this venn diagram quickly. I think it's pretty accurate. You just can't have all three. Or I at least can't think of any.

    0_1651510695735_Game Story.png

    For example, I'd say MGS series is Option 3. Lots of pretty well developed characters and a long running storyline, but the dialogue and plot is completely bungled.

    Uncharted series is Option 1: 3D characters and good dialogue / narrative, but they are short n sweet.



  • I appreciate the diagram but I find it shallow and the reason for my thread.



  • @sheria

    But wouldn't you agree that strong characters is the biggest foundation for any narrative form? I feel as though all parts of a good narrative stem from it's characters first and foremost. It really is narrative 101 and most professionals writers would agree with that.

    You can't have focused themes or challenging topics or really even the ability to say something compelling without focusing on a solid character foundation first. The author should always be trying to say something meaningful with every entry and the viewer should have the right tools to extract meaning from the media if it's done successfully.

    I think in your examples, say, Kingdom Hearts; the criticism that they are pushing newcomers out is valid. But I think the even better criticism is that these games have unfocused characters. They spend too much time building the grand narrative and are skipping out on dialing into themes or something actually worth sinking all of this time into.

    I have more familiarity with Metal Gear Solid as a long running franchise. Those games have distinct thematic points with every entry. MGS1 is about humanizing those on the battlefield. MGS2 is about trust and truth. MGS3,PW, and 5 are about the possibility of peace or how war gives people meaning.

    They do a good job of planting the seeds for the player to extract something meaningful. But due to the nature of constantly trying to tie up loose ends and hypodermically injecting events and characters to fit into the grand narrative, the MGS series on the whole drops the ball in so many departments from: characterization, narrative pacing, dialogue, and the overarching long term narrative too.

    All in all, I think juggling too many bowling pins at once leads you to drop them all. I much prefer when a game is focused on delivering the best quality product instead of satisfying too many needs at once.



  • I really don't have the memory for this to ever work for me.

    I feel like a lot of sequels already rely too much on knowledge of the previous games even if each game is a self-contained story. I don't have a need for more. I really can not keep track of all the storylines of all the video games series I play.

    Creating multi-game stories has also another issue: cliffhanger endings. I really hate them. They are so unsatisfying.



  • @dipset said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    @sheria

    But wouldn't you agree that strong characters is the biggest foundation for any narrative form? I feel as though all parts of a good narrative stem from it's characters first and foremost. It really is narrative 101 and most professionals writers would agree with that.

    You can't have focused themes or challenging topics or really even the ability to say something compelling without focusing on a solid character foundation first. The author should always be trying to say something meaningful with every entry and the viewer should have the right tools to extract meaning from the media if it's done successfully.

    I've personally always been more about the plot. If I think way back when and which games/series I've spent the most time mulling over and discussing on message boards, it's the ones with the more grand and complex narratives. Even something like Silent Hill 4, once we'd got around understanding the central plot of that game, more fun actually came afterwards, simply theorising what possible connections are hidden within tieing it to all the other games in the series.



  • @neocweeny said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    I really don't have the memory for this to ever work for me.

    I feel like a lot of sequels already rely too much on knowledge of the previous games even if each game is a self-contained story. I don't have a need for more. I really can not keep track of all the storylines of all the video games series I play.

    Creating multi-game stories has also another issue: cliffhanger endings. I really hate them. They are so unsatisfying.

    I think the understanding is you maybe go back and replay the previous ones if your memory is hazy. This of course this brings time into the equation, but both time and memory are really very personal issues that of course don't effect everyone.
    I'm in no way expecting every series to attempt this mind, but I think it would be sad to deny the medium of some really unique experiences if we always view it as a bad idea.

    I kinda agree on the cliffhanger thing, or more accurately I agree now. It wasn't much of an issue for me back in the day because I almost always knew the next game wasn't too far away. This is a much bigger issue now though, FFVII Remake being a great example.



  • @sheria I know it's a personal issue but I just don't feel the video game industry is lacking in these experiences. It's a very sequel driven industry and not many series have 100% self-contained stories for each game either. Like I feel like I personally have my fill, don't really crave for more.



  • @neocweeny said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    @sheria I know it's a personal issue but I just don't feel the video game industry is lacking in these experiences. It's a very sequel driven industry and not many series have 100% self-contained stories for each game either. Like I feel like I personally have my fill, don't really crave for more.

    I get what you're saying, I'd just like to see one here and there where the developer's intended from the start for it to be absolutely vital to play the game(s) prior to have any chance of understanding what's going on.
    I find even sequels where I'd expect that to be the case still have their stories marred at least somewhat with slow beginnings again and attempts to bring people up to speed etc. Mass Effect is a trillogy where I'd expect that, but If someone asked me if they could skip Mass Effect 1 and jump in at the second game, it's a definite yes from me.



  • @sheria I understand what you are saying.
    To be honest I think this is more of a gameplay issue that may also have an effect on the storyline.

    Having a sequel start with expecting the players to have the knowledge and mastery of the game's mechanics from the end of the previous is almost never done. Which is why you always have these slow starts. I think many devs are just thinking "might as well recap on the story also while we are re-introducing all the gameplay mechanics and building up the difficulty from the beginning".



  • @sheria said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    I think the understanding is you maybe go back and replay the previous ones if your memory is hazy. This of course this brings time into the equation, but both time and memory are really very personal issues that of course don't effect everyone.

    It's not just about time. Playing a game I've already played before and know everything that is going to happen is just tedious most of the time.



  • @e_zed_eh_intern said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    @sheria said in Is a long running story always a bad thing?:

    I think the understanding is you maybe go back and replay the previous ones if your memory is hazy. This of course this brings time into the equation, but both time and memory are really very personal issues that of course don't effect everyone.

    It's not just about time. Playing a game I've already played before and know everything that is going to happen is just tedious most of the time.

    Well I can't really agree there sorry. I personally love revisiting old favourites I've not played for a long time and I don't really think that's too uncommon.
    Thing is though, that was a response to when you've forgotten most of the game and it's story, so you wouldnt remember everything that is going to happen. 😊