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Plot is Highly Overrated' in Games, Says Devs

achewon87
achewon87 Mash Out PosseSurvivor Series '97Members Posts: 5,464 ✭✭✭✭✭
Today at GDC, Riot Games’ Narrative Lead Tom Abernathy and Microsoft Game Studios’ Design Lead Richard Rouse III gave a fascinating 25 minute-long speech entitled “Death to the Three Act-Structure.” Within that presentation, the two industry veterans talked a great deal about game narrative, touching on some of the finest examples in recent memory, from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Portal to The Last of Us and Fallout 3.

But they also talked about what extensive research has shown: that plot itself doesn’t resonate with a majority of players. Characters, on the other hand, do.

They point to research conducted by Microsoft, indicating “that players really hardly remember the plots of the games that they play. When they were asked, ‘tell me the plot of your favorite movie,’ they did it at length, and very accurately. When they were asked, ‘tell me the plot of your favorite TV show,’ they did it at length, and very accurately. ‘Tell me the plot of your favorite game.’ Not so much at length, not so accurate.”

The data does indicate, however, that characters are different: “game characters were consistently remembered, but not necessarily for their role in the plot,” the men said, citing Microsoft’s research.

Gameplay events were also remembered as they were tied to plot, according to the data. That’s because, as the pair explained, gamers are using their mind on gameplay, on the action at hand. They can’t expend the mental bandwidth to follow complex plots and stories when they’re always having to do something else. In this way, gaming is unlike film, television, and books. Players are more than mere observers.

Rouse went back to the numbers. “Statistically, most players don’t finish games. We’ve all seen numbers that say something like a third, on average.” (You can read more about this portion of their presentation here.)

“So the question is,” he later continued, “how much does the third act pay off, that you’re putting so much work into, as you’re trying to structure your plot, intricately. How much does that matter, when the fact is that a majority of your players are never even going to see it?”

The conclusion the two men come to is that “in games, plot is highly overrated… Players don’t remember plot. What they do remember, is they remember characters.” Naturally, they also care about their own “experience” playing the game. Thus, these two veterans of the gaming industry recommend that developers and designers focus on the things that are most important – characters, experience – and less on the intricacies of storytelling.

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2014/03/17/gdc-plot-is-highly-overrated-in-games-says-devs
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Comments

  • Splackavelli
    Splackavelli I'll getchu bitch!!! Somewhere drunk off my ass.Members Posts: 18,806 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2014
    i agree with some of what was said I disagree with others. plot is overated when the developers try to make a game seem as sophisticated as a movie such as say the Manchurian candidate. example metal gear solid I haven't played snake eater in years but I can still remember the basic plot every thing revolves around a giant mech machine with nuclear capability. why do I remember this? simple because of the long winded cut scenes I was forced to sit through and the gotdamn 20 minute codec messages from annoying contacts the only ones I really liked was the cute little paramedic and the black dude the weapons expert. did it really take that much storytelling to push the plot of this game. they could have stripped some of those cutscenes down. if they are going to put that much work into it they may as well make a metal gear live action movie. 🤬 like this had my kicking me feet like a frustrated 3 year old whos mother denied him those cookies he wanted siting on the kitchen counter. I was all like "c'mon get to the damn game already!" "i wanna plaaaayyy!"now heres why I disagree with them about plot being unnecessary or whatever they were saying about gamers only regocnize the character and not the plot. I recently been playing uncharted 3 I haven't played in a month I've never played the other 2 but yet I get the concept. a man raised as an orphan who has a partnership with a father figure he's known since age 14 travel the world looking for treasure and ancient artifacts. from about 3 chapters in this game I figured out all I kneed to know. to add to that the game has the right balance of action and story telling to remind you it's a game and only that. same can be said about the latest bioshock. games have had plots since the Atari games although they were simple ergo plumber must save pretty girlfriend form stupid barrel throwing ape atop construction platforms etc. video games have had movie/tv like plots since 2d side scrollers skate or die 2 for example. if games didn't evolve to the level they are now we would still be playing Atari like games only with better graphics or flash mobile games.
  • LUClEN
    LUClEN Absence makes the heart grow fonder of someone else Members Posts: 20,559 ✭✭✭✭✭
    No it isn't. Plot is crucial.

    If there was no Princess in Donkey Kong or Super Mario it would make no damn sense. Why the hell am I running up ladders and jumping over barrels towards this big monkey? Just to do it? Without the Princess there is no point, that conflict is crucial to the person's objective.

    You know what game sucks? Flappy bird. No plot. No point.
  • Alkinduz
    Alkinduz No Prep, No Glory Members Posts: 2,070 ✭✭✭✭✭
    All depends on the game, plots can be simple like the whole "youre 🤬 , humanity is 🤬 , the world, everything is 🤬 " plot of demon's/dark souls. Deus ex or the first dragon age have absolutely brilliant plots with compelling story lines that would be perfect for graphic navels/movies a like.
  • LUClEN
    LUClEN Absence makes the heart grow fonder of someone else Members Posts: 20,559 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I can't think of an amazing game without a plot, except maybe tetris.
  • Wooden Chop Sticks
    Wooden Chop Sticks Members Posts: 59
    Smh..lazy ass game developers..thats why there are so many 🤬 games today.
  • Karl.
    Karl. Members Posts: 8,015 ✭✭✭✭✭
    People don't remember the stories that well because games with memorable stories are few and far between. Films however..
  • stoneface
    stoneface Members Posts: 2,491 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm getting sick of game design, mainly in major titles, being affected by all these blanket statements getting thrown around by people in the videogame industry and fans alike trying to speak for everyone.

    'Everybody wants this' or 'nobody wants that' or 'players tend to only pay attention to this or they tend to do that'. They need to stop trying to throw everyone in the same bucket just because they did some 🤬 half-baked survey.

    Really, though, who are these groups of 🤬 that these companies conduct their research on and how does their behavior or preferences in games represent that of the majority of or all gamers?
  • Neophyte Wolfgang
    Neophyte Wolfgang Members Posts: 4,169 ✭✭✭✭✭
    This dude trying to go against the grain and be different. The Last Of Us damn near had a 🤬 in tears. I bonded with them damn characters, more so then any movie I seen recently!
  • earth two superman
    earth two superman ladies please dont fight. E2S is here all night! Members Posts: 17,149 ✭✭✭✭✭
    a good plot or story is important but developing characters that you develop an attachment to will more than make up for having an overly simple storyline. Would The Last of Us have been as good if the two leads werent as great as they were? Shadow of the Colossus has a pretty barebones plot, but the attachment to Wander and the feeling you got beating a colossus was damn near overpowering. The Walking Dead game has mastered this. They're basically selling you a storybook, but the characters are so powerful that you cant help but need to play it.
  • kzzl
    kzzl Members Posts: 7,548 ✭✭✭✭✭
    That article has so many holes.

    I bet those industry experts work for Capcom or some 🤬 .
  • Broddie
    Broddie just me and my bitch NYCMembers Posts: 11,750 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I don't care about plots. If I want plots I watch TV or watch a movie. Games are about the gameplay and the execution. That's what makes them immersive. Resident Evil to Resident Evil 4 had some of the most hackneyed plots in gaming history and the games were still classic. Ocarina of Time has a basic ass plot but the execution is crazy. Chrono Cross has no real plot at all that makes any semblance of sense and is still a masterpiece. I don't play Symphony of the Night or Super Mario Bros. 3 for the compelling story. I play for the immersion within the atmosphere of the game, the level design, the controls, the escapism. The plot is like the last thing I think about.
  • Shizlansky
    Shizlansky Members Posts: 35,095 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I wish Titanfall had a real campaign mode.

    Looks like it could have be something good.
  • BoldChild
    BoldChild Born alone, die alone. Members Posts: 11,415 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Elrawd wrote: »
    No it isn't. Plot is crucial.

    If there was no Princess in Donkey Kong or Super Mario it would make no damn sense. Why the hell am I running up ladders and jumping over barrels towards this big monkey? Just to do it? Without the Princess there is no point, that conflict is crucial to the person's objective.

    You know what game sucks? Flappy bird. No plot. No point.

    I don't think they're saying there should be no plot, there just saying it's not as important as other aspects of the game, and is not worth focusing on.

    Because for the most part, people are going to play games that they find fun, not games with interesting plots.
  • Sage Wonder
    Sage Wonder project of the inner pride process Members Posts: 3,413 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2014
    i agree with some of what was said I disagree with others. plot is overated when the developers try to make a game seem as sophisticated as a movie such as say the Manchurian candidate. example metal gear solid I haven't played snake eater in years but I can still remember the basic plot every thing revolves around a giant mech machine with nuclear capability. why do I remember this? simple because of the long winded cut scenes I was forced to sit through and the gotdamn 20 minute codec messages from annoying contacts the only ones I really liked was the cute little paramedic and the black dude the weapons expert. did it really take that much storytelling to push the plot of this game. they could have stripped some of those cutscenes down. if they are going to put that much work into it they may as well make a metal gear live action movie. 🤬 like this had my kicking me feet like a frustrated 3 year old whos mother denied him those cookies he wanted siting on the kitchen counter. I was all like "c'mon get to the damn game already!" "i wanna plaaaayyy!"now heres why I disagree with them about plot being unnecessary or whatever they were saying about gamers only regocnize the character and not the plot. I recently been playing uncharted 3 I haven't played in a month I've never played the other 2 but yet I get the concept. a man raised as an orphan who has a partnership with a father figure he's known since age 14 travel the world looking for treasure and ancient artifacts. from about 3 chapters in this game I figured out all I kneed to know. to add to that the game has the right balance of action and story telling to remind you it's a game and only that. same can be said about the latest bioshock. games have had plots since the Atari games although they were simple ergo plumber must save pretty girlfriend form stupid barrel throwing ape atop construction platforms etc. video games have had movie/tv like plots since 2d side scrollers skate or die 2 for example. if games didn't evolve to the level they are now we would still be playing Atari like games only with better graphics or flash mobile games.

    Speak for yourself. The quality of those cutscenes is what made the MGS series GOAT to me.
  • kzzl
    kzzl Members Posts: 7,548 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I'm going to avoid the titangraph and put it simple.

    Games that lack in story only succeed cause of exceptional game play. And a story is only as good as it's told.
  • ocelot
    ocelot Members Posts: 10,019 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Video game writers are not on par with movie/TV writers
  • BoldChild
    BoldChild Born alone, die alone. Members Posts: 11,415 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited March 2014
    And I suspect that this article came about because of the results of this poll.

    http://www.gamefaqs.com/poll/5266

    LoL has no virtually no story whatsoever(afaik), but look how they beat out every character on this list. (I blame LoL fanboys)

    And more examples from that list, the plot/story in Zelda games isn't very deep or complicated, but Zelda games have a huge following.

    ^I believe this is a good example of what they mean when they say the plot isn't important, but characters are.
  • DOPEdweebz
    DOPEdweebz What title? www.facebook.com/DOPEdweebzMembers, Moderators, Writer Posts: 29,364 Regulator
    Alot of irony. If you can read more than 50 pages (like a GodGivBiz text battle) than you can also appreciate a good plot.
  • Bazz-B
    Bazz-B Reaching For Success The Dirty SouthMembers Posts: 1,185 ✭✭✭✭✭
    So why is the walking dead so popular then?
  • Turfaholic
    Turfaholic It's not too complicated, but you're gonna need a bulletproof soul The Bay 2 Sin CityMembers Posts: 20,428 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Karl. wrote: »
    People don't remember the stories that well because games with memorable stories are few and far between. Films however..

    Troof.... I only 🤬 with skyrim, 2k, and GTA nowadays
  • Turfaholic
    Turfaholic It's not too complicated, but you're gonna need a bulletproof soul The Bay 2 Sin CityMembers Posts: 20,428 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Wrong quote
  • Turfaholic
    Turfaholic It's not too complicated, but you're gonna need a bulletproof soul The Bay 2 Sin CityMembers Posts: 20,428 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Smh..lazy ass game developers..thats why there are so many 🤬 games today.

    Meant to quote.....
  • BlackxChild
    BlackxChild Members Posts: 2,916 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Thanks Microsoft by helping to 🤬 and cheapin games even more.... What they're telling you is....

    Story doesn't matter bc dumb gamers that play call of duty don't care about a story

    Graphics... Who needs good graphics when you can sell a 🤬 load of Titanfall games which looks like a last gen game

    Gameplay- it's a first person shooter no one gives a 🤬 about gameplay or making it unique plus it means we'd have to put in more work.

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