Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

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Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by ToxieDogg » Sun Jun 23, 2013 10:00 pm

This is a topic that's come to my mind since my recent discussion with Darran and others on the The Last Of Us thread. Whilst I really do like the game for what it does, I don't feel that it's gameplay is really anything special at all, barely does anything new or different that hasn't already been done before in many other similar games (ie, the stealth bits in Uncharted, Gears Of War), even has some niggling annoyances and that the game overall isn't worthy of all the fawning and gushing near universal top review scores that it's received. On the other side of the coin, there is the argument that so long as the gameplay is basically enjoyable (and it is), then the storyline, characters and dialogue can gloss over any other faults the game may have and elevate it to perfection.

So the question is, are you OK with gameplay not evolving or improving (or in some cases maybe not even being that good) so long as you really enjoy the storyline, and would that constitute the game being 'perfect' or worthy of a top score to you?

Or do you find gameplay the most important aspect, and think that the enjoyment that player has whilst they're in control is a lot more important than an emphasis on good cutscenes and dialogue?
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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by DPrinny » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:23 am

Not as long as theres a "Skip" button

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by r0jaws » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:03 am

There are certainly a lot of games that seem to rely on cut-scenes and narrative rather more heavily than they ever did but I suppose that's the nature of modern gaming. For instance, one of my favourite side scrolling shooters, Sine Mora, has some sort of story going on in the background but allows you to fast forward through if you wish. However sometimes I don't, just so I can enjoy the unfoldoing scene before me. I don't even care about the storyline.
The Walking Dead, however, is all storyline with gameplay being a minor interactive element. But I don't mind that at all, for that particular game. It also works very well.
However, it's the long laborious and totally irrelevant cut scenes that will put me off a game and will stop me playing it. A story should not smother the game, it should complement it.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by Misery » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:31 am

Ah, this topic. This. This is the core reason why I'm disliking most modern console games in the last couple of years and why I've dumped the consoles pretty much entirely.

Last of Us is a good example, actually. I have no intention of bothering with it myself, but as I tend to do I read a couple of reviews out of curiosity, and the one thing that popped up right away in these reviews was the idea that the GAME itself is good.... but the GAMEPLAY isnt all that good. And I just... what.... how.... eh? That was my reaction. To me, it was like saying "Pac-Man is so great but it sucks!!!". Then I realized.... they were more interested in the story and presentation. The gameplay, to them, was secondary.... in a damn GAME.

To me, this is bloody stupid. If I want a damn story.... I will go to other media for that. For me, that means books; I read alot of books. When I want a good story, I've got TONS of the things around my room and can go buy new ones whenever I happen to feel like it. And the often badly written stories seen in gaming (thinking of Square first and foremost here...) not only are never as good, but they're STREEEEEEECHED. A scene that COULD be done in 2 minutes if the game would stick to the bloody point can take 10 because ZOMG GOTTA MAKE IT SHINIEZ!!!!1111 Or gotta make it emo, one of the two.

This also changes the actual game design; it's because of stuff like this that you get regenerating health, infinite lives, gazillions of super-easy-to-use checkpoints, and stuff like that. Because Heaven forbid the player miss out on seeing later parts of the story because their skill level is too low. As story has taken more and more focus, games have gotten easier and easier as a whole.

Just.... arrrrrrgh. If I sit down to play a game, I want to play the damn game! Not watch a movie!

And it's a trend that's very likely not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by koopa42 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 3:40 am

I think they are no more or less important.

Bioshock - average to good FPS game lifted to pure brilliance by story and setting alone with (still) one of the best twists in gaming.

Call of Duty Black C0cks II - Pick up and play chaff with a story (if you can call it that) that I couldn't give a toss about

I like a game with awesome story and character as much as I like a shallow 'throw away' bit of fun gaming.

I think that they haven't quite managed the 'perfect' mix just yet but when they do? Boom, it'll be a world beater.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by nakamura » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:16 am

There are story based games. There are plenty of games without stories. It's always been the same.
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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by The Beans » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:25 am

Nothing is more important than gameplay for me but, as with graphics, I prefer to have it all at the same time - good gameplay, graphics and story (if it's a story driven game).

In truth, storyline isn't that important to me in a game but it's very welcome when I come across something that's half decent. I tend to skip cutscenes and don't really bother with plots too much. The problem I have with video games and story is that they're just not up to the same standard as what I can get from a book or film. They're probably never going to be. Videogames are hamfisted when it comes to characterisation and plotting, even the good ones. The standard is just really low. The real strength of a game as a storyteling medium lies in the interactve nature of it all and this is routinely ignored or wasted. The one medium that can offer intuitive branching storylines hardly ever does. When you do get the chance to affect the outcome of a story it's in a very limited way that usually boils down to a handful of basic options. Until player choice, real choice, is properly integrated into the story being told then video games will always be the poor country cousin of the storytelling media. I prefer open world games for this reason. There's more choice for the player.

I find it funny that gamers often criticise modern games for becoming like movies but then heap praise on games that copy the movie style to a very large degree. The Walking Dead and The Last Of Us prove that what people want are partially interactive linear movies. While the storytelling in both those games is better than usual I don't think the success of such games does the future of gameplay any good.
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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by thebear » Mon Jun 24, 2013 4:33 am

as stated it's nothing new

There's a damn sight more gameplay in something like this than any of the hugely popular point and click or text adventure games of the past (and something like Walking Dead is for me a this gen version of those genres)
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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by Matt_B » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:28 am

I'm more than open to movie-like games with good storytelling. It's just that for every Alan Wake there are ten Metroid Other Ms. Most cinematic video games have plots that Jerry Bruckheimer would throw on the slush pile for being too clichéd, and that's what the criticism of them is mostly about.

Also, a good story doesn't have to get in the way of the gameplay. Look at Thomas Was Alone, for example; you get the whole of the story in the form of narration while you're playing without any breaks from the action being necessary.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by gman72 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:44 am

I do enjoy a good story but don't believe that it makes the core gameplay any better or worse. I do believe that great cut scenes, well written script and high production values can add a point or two to the overall score of a game.
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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by psj3809 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:47 am

In the old days i didnt care so much for the storyline, barely read instructions, always skipped cutscenes, just get me to the action. All about gameplay

Now i like to take my time with games, actually really like the background story or cutscenes and to me 'some' games are now like an interactive movie. Same for point n click games, never used to like those, now i enjoy them with a good intro/storyline etc.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by koopa42 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:59 am

The only storyline to make me feel quite bad? The Purification quest for the DB questline in Oblivion :? I tried every which way to alter the outcome but in the end? The NPCs themselves were telling me I should do it :o bad times.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by Scooby1970 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:10 am

Games are evolving, people are playing games differently, the line between the film industry and the gaming industry is narrowing. It's all good, as it just adds to the choice we have now, anything that evolves has to be a good thing, or we'd still be stuck playing Space Invaders and Pacman. I have loved some of the stories in games, and no doubt when I play "The Last Of Us", the story will enhance the gameplay, just as it did in the Uncharted series.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Mon Jun 24, 2013 6:53 am

It's worth noting as well that there is nothing average about Last Of Us' gameplay. It's very good, it's just not evolved in any great degree when you look at the aspects that developers can change. If you take the third-person genre for example, there aren't many games since Resident Evil 4 which have genuinely added new stuff (Dead Space's movement comes to mind). Is that the fault of the devs though, or because the genre has been taken as far as it can currently go?

I don't think that stories should become more important than gameplay, but I certainly think they need to start getting better, as they're going to look woefully out of place when stacked up against the realistic visuals that so many games are going for next gen. I'd expect most people on this forum to always take gameplay over story, because we're all from an era of gaming when that was more important than anything else. There's certainly a change happening however.

good topic though Toxie and it's good to hear everyone's thoughts on it.

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Re: Are storylines becoming more important than gameplay?

Post by TwoHeadedBoy » Mon Jun 24, 2013 7:28 am

They ARE getting in the way, and stagnating things a bit, at least in my experience. Three fairly recent games I've enjoyed - Bayonetta, Splatterhouse and Soul Calibur V - could all essentially be the same game. Story story story - three to five minutes of button mashing - story story story.

Not to say I didn't enjoy them, but it's the whole "You will not fail, we've a story to tell!" thing that I'm not liking.
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