Recently I watched a good video by Mark Brown about the Last Guardian. He analyzes how the game communicates story through gameplay and he looks at one specific moment in the game. If you don’t mind mild spoilers on the Last Guardian then go check out the video, it’s pretty good.
This got me to thinking about other moments in games when story is being told through narrative.
Of relevance is an older post I made about Riven and how it manages to merge narrative and gameplay so that they are one and the same. The image at the top of the post is also for Riven, but there’s no storytelling going on there. I just like that view.
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[~8,300 words for all drafts put together]
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So, over a year ago I raged against how terrible and stupid Variks’ dialogue is in Destiny’s Prison of Elders. And to put my money where my mouth was I said that I would write my own version of Variks’ dialogue. Then I just didn’t.
For the longest time (over a year) I didn’t feel like going through the effort. Then about a month ago I suddenly felt like accepting the challenge I had given myself. So, I wrote my own version of Variks’ Prison of Elders dialogue which is much better than what actually appears in the game, although that’s not saying much considering the originals (“Kill them dead.”)
Postmortem of the Seven Tasks: my mod for Lugaru (Part 2)
CONTINUED FROM PART 1
Map 7: The desert sandstorm
I had fun with this level. People enjoyed it even though it’s very badly designed.
I got the “sandstorm” effect by lowering the view distance, altering the lighting, and altering the tint to the “fog”. The fog isn’t actually moving, but it still gives a good impression of a sandstorm. People thought this was cool.
PART 1 of 2
OH MAN! I have been trying to get through a backlog of ideas so that I could finally get to this. I still haven’t gotten through my backlog, but felt like jumping to this anyway.
I myself have dabbled in game design and modding over the years. I haven’t done much. There’s various reasons for this including that I’ve never had quality, modern PC hardware. For most of my life I’ve only had outdated Macs handed down to me by family.
Nevertheless, I figured that with all the analyzing and critiquing of other games that I do that it was about time I did some postmortems of my own extant work (some of my earlier modding, game design, and programming, as well as games I made on my graphing calculator, have been lost to history).
The first thing I’ll look at will be a mod I made for the indie game Lugaru, by Wolfire Games (aka David Rosen) (the sequel, Overgrowth, is currently being developed). I made my mod way back in early 2009 and the forum post where I posted it still exists on Wolfire’s website.
The first image isn’t actually a good example of what I want to talk about; it’s just a cool map in a video game. What I want to talk about in this post are maps that actually represent the level or playable space in a game, but which don’t actually serve a gameplay purpose to the player.
Let’s dive in.
Here’s a brief post about an interesting moment in a level of the real-time-tactical game Myth 2: Soulblighter. The level is called “Into the Breach” and it involves you trying to get your troops to infiltrate the motte-and-bailey castle of a traitorous baron who is creating an army of Thrall (essentially zombies with axes).
In what amounts to the mission briefing, the narrator mentions how in the night he and his comrades saw an army of 1,000 thrall leave the castle and march off towards a friendly village.
This bit of narrative is reflected and reiterated in a moment in the level itself.
Humor can be one the of the hardest things to pull off in any medium of entertainment. It might also be one of the most rewarding for both the audience and the creator.
And if game designers find it hard to combine narrative and gameplay then combining humor and gameplay is even more difficult.
The Secret of Monkey Island is pretty famous for being fun, creative, and, of course, funny. Along with standard forms of visual or verbal humor, one of the things that Monkey Island does well is make sure that the gameplay itself is funny. There’s a few different moments where this happens, but there’s one particular example that exemplifies the idea of interweaving the humor and the gameplay so that gameplay and humor are the same thing. Playing the game is actually funny, not just reading a conversation or seeing something silly on the screen.