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Linear or non linear plot?

post #1 of 7
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Personally, I prefer a linear plot. It seems to me that linear plots are better scripted and acted. Look at Naughty Dog's games. They are very linear and they are some of the best games out there. I just finished Far Cry 3 and the plot was very linear up until the very end which I chose the good option. I don't mean that the gameplay was linear in that because you could do whatever you wanted in between quests, but the plot of the story was very linear. I think when making a game if the studio can focus on one storyline rather than 10 at a time, then they have more time to polish it. When a voice actor/actress has too many lines of dialog, they are not able to give each line the attention it needs. For example, many of the lines in Fallout or Skyrim are repeated among many characters which, for me, takes me out of the experience. I prefer the motion capture acting when the actor/actress says their lines in the midst of moving around because they seem to be able to capture the essence of the scene in their voice. Could you imagine Vaas having his lines said into a mic in a studio? It would not be half as good as it was.

Now don't get me wrong, I love Fallout NV and Skyrim. But I do not play those games in a cinematic setting. I will sit at my PC with the mouse and all sorts of macros and mods and what have you. But when I am playing Far Cry 3 or The Last of Us, I am on the couch with surround sound and all of the cinematic joy one can experience. I play Fallout and those open ended games to level up, collect loot, do quests, get Steam achievements, and so on. But if I had to choose, I would choose the linear types of games.

What do you guys think?
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post #2 of 7
I prefer non-linear, preferably without the quality loss seen in Skyrim (though it's just not very plot driven to begin with). It just leads to more options and replayability. I find Naughty Dog's games to be highly overrated, not much different than a typical Hollywood adventure. I'm not dazzled by animations and camera angles, I care more about the writing as well as the gameplay.

New Vegas has a far more intriguing plot and much better writing than any of them, and as a bonus it has a non-linear plot which can change the story considerably. The only reused dialogue are the generic greetings and threats from unimportant NPCs.

If you want even better examples, look at Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect franchise. Also the best written game of all time, Planescape: Torment, has a non-linear plot. They're not as cinematic; they don't have animated cutscenes that try to resemble a film (it would be a nice bonus admittedly), but the better writing, the much more complex character development, the incredibly detailed world filled with lore, thought-provoking material, and the replayability are more important to me than animations and camera angles. I can play these games several times and it will be vastly different each time.
Edited by boredgunner - 3/19/14 at 9:45am
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by boredgunner View Post

I prefer non-linear, preferably without the quality loss seen in Skyrim (though it's just not very plot driven to begin with). It just leads to more options and replayability. I find Naughty Dog's games to be highly overrated, not much different than a typical Hollywood adventure. I'm not dazzled by animations and camera angles, I care more about the writing as well as the gameplay.

New Vegas has a far more intriguing plot and much better writing than any of them, and as a bonus it has a non-linear plot which can change the story considerably. The only reused dialogue are the generic greetings and threats from unimportant NPCs.

If you want even better examples, look at Dragon Age: Origins and the Mass Effect franchise. Also the best written game of all time, Planescape: Torment, has a non-linear plot. They're not as cinematic; they don't have animated cutscenes that try to resemble a film (it would be a nice bonus admittedly), but the better writing, the much more complex character development, the incredibly detailed world filled with lore, thought-provoking material, and the replayability are more important to me than animations and camera angles. I can play these games several times and it will be vastly different each time.

Well said, but The Last of Us is some of the best acted and best scripted games I have ever played including movies I have seen. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE summer action/adventure movies. I am the biggest fanboy of the Marvel movies. I throw $20 bills at the screen because that makes the movie more enjoyable. When it comes to having a different experience every playthrough, I would rather have the same experience each time. I just finished all of the Metal Gear Solid games again for the second time and I loved getting nostalgic and revisiting an old favorite of mine. There is nothing new that I haven't seen before, but seeing it again after all this time is really great.
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post #4 of 7
I can see both sides of the fence, and in the end... it just depends on the story. I've played linear-story games that simply weren't that good, and i've played branching story/non-linear story games that were put together very well and everything tied in well. I think one of the main points in a successful non-linear story game, is having the side-stories/branch stories/whatever NOT being a primary focus, but simply used to build into the main story. I'd use Dragon Age as an example, or Mass Effect. I enjoyed the way the side stories tied into the main and built into the characters... especially Morrigan biggrin.gif

I really enjoy a nice cinematic and story driven game no matter how it comes together. FF7 is still one of my favorite games, and was the first game to ever make me cry (Aerith sad-smiley-002.gif ).

I feel that non-linear story games, or open ended games in general, all blend in inside my mind. Wander, talk to everyone, skip most talking since it gets trite after the 100th side mission to rescue a lost chicken or kill random bandits... repeat ad infinitum. Sure, there is story there.. but it's hard to relate and feel anything for it. I enjoyed all the Fallout games (FO2 the most), Borderlands, various MMOs, but they all feel the same after a while and I lose interest.

With a good story driven game, sure you'll complete it and be finished, but you may not be finished for good. You'll replay at least 1 or 2 times to discover what plot points you may have missed. After it's all said and done, you'll remember a good story longer than you'll remember Character 23 at lvl 45 with xxx gear... bragging rights don't last, but shared memories of a good story do.

Again, I find both enjoyable, but my fondest memories ALL reside with a story driven game. Even old clans from MMOs and multiplayer games are fading, while the stories are still fresh.
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post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valor958 View Post

I can see both sides of the fence, and in the end... it just depends on the story.

I feel that non-linear story games, or open ended games in general, all blend in inside my mind. Wander, talk to everyone, skip most talking since it gets trite after the 100th side mission to rescue a lost chicken or kill random bandits... repeat ad infinitum. Sure, there is story there.. but it's hard to relate and feel anything for it. I enjoyed all the Fallout games (FO2 the most), Borderlands, various MMOs, but they all feel the same after a while and I lose interest.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the bolded statement. When it comes to story, Borderlands and MMOs definitely wouldn't hold my interest either. It depends on the story; some work out well when they're branching and non-linear, others don't. If it has a non-linear plot but lackluster writing, then it just won't interest me. If it has a linear plot but spectacular writing, like Silent Hill 2, I'll stay on for the whole ride.

The Dragon Age and Mass Effect games made me feel more connected than any other game, and one of the main reasons for this is because of the dynamic, branching storytelling and character development, and at the same time they have better writing than most other games. Because the characters and plot react to what I say and what I do, it really makes me feel like I'm a part of the story. This is what separates games from movies/TV, and linear storytelling takes the movie/TV route in that you watch the story play out opposed to making the player part of the story. I'd like to see more games like this, with some really talented writers. Imagine a proper 3D remake of Planescape: Torment, and how much more gripping the story would be if it was fully voiced and more cinematic?
Edited by boredgunner - 3/20/14 at 10:45am
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post #6 of 7
Just imagine a game creation centered around 'Quantum Leap' biggrin.gif
"Here's the basic premise for the life you're in... now fix it!"
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post #7 of 7
Should have a poll.


I prefer linear gameplay. Especially when you need to think quickly. Games like Mirrors Edge and some of the chase scenes in HL2 were absolutely fantastic if you ask me. Linear can be tons of fun, just not when each new section of the map becomes a re-skinned version of the last area.
    
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