Better Exposition in Gaming

Matt Barton's picture

More code, less codex, thank you.More code, less codex, thank you.I was recently kvetching about Dragon Age II for various reasons, but then decided to zero in on something that seems to be a problem for almost all modern games: crude exposition. By "exposition," I mean the parts of any narrative where you have to break from the action and provide context. For example, if you're describing a spy breaking into a safe, you might need to stop for a moment to let the reader know who the spy is and what he's doing there, where and what time period this is taking place in, etc. Most authors break this stuff up and distribute it throughout the piece, so you aren't just suddenly hit with page after page of facts, but get them piecemeal as you proceed through the story. For instance, the author might mention in passing that there's a flag with a swastika above the safe, thereby letting you know this is probably taking place in Germany during World War II. Then she might put you in the spy's head, imagining scientists building a missile based on the schematics in that safe. Without any kind of exposition, the reader will have no reason to care about what's taking place and probably stop reading. One sign of a good author is that the exposition doesn't impede the action too much, but maintains a certain flow that keeps us turning pages.

I've encountered so many examples of crude exposition in games recently...the "codex" in Dragon Age 2, the tape recorders in Bioshock 2, the consoles in Halo ODST, the pages in Alan Wake...It seems when confronted with presenting context, the first instinct of a game designer is to make it superfluous.

As you can imagine, the business of exposition is tricky for any medium. Watch some of the early X-Files episodes and you'll see a lot of rather blatant expositions, usually something like this: "Stonehenge? Oh, yes, the ancient druid stones that researchers think may have served an astronomical function, but some conspiracy theories think could not have been built by anyone but extraterrestrials," etc. I mention this show because the exposition is usually so blatant that it feels forced and thus obvious to viewers. Obviously, they didn't expect the audience to know much, if at all, about the subject matter of the show. Games shouldn't ever have this problem because designers know exactly what the players know--assuming they have done their homework and not made the context superfluous to the content.

Let me say here that it makes no more sense to interrupt the gameplay with a screen full of text than it does for a bag of fried chicken to include an instruction manual. If your game requires players to read text, re-design it so that it doesn't.*

But anyway, back to the kvetching about Dragon Age 2. I was upset because even in a modern game like this, the designers still expect us to read static pages of text if we want to understand the context of the narrative. Some people complain about the cutscenes, too, which are another form of exposition, but I'd argue they work better than just text. Consider also the tape recorders you find in the Bioshock games; they serve a similar purpose, but instead of just showing you a screen full of text, you hear a recording. Both are very clumsy; arguably, it makes more sense to stumble across a book or journal than a tape recorder, but neither way seems particularly fun or interesting to me.

So I was trying to think of ways that Dragon Age 2 could have done better than just displaying those pages of text. I came up with a few ideas, none of which are original to me. Firstly, they could have just all the text in the mouths of the characters, so if you came across a book, one of them might have picked it up, flipped through it, and given you a summary (or let you ask them more about it). The same could have been done for character-specific stuff; so say the Dwarf finds a book or statue about the city, he could have said something like, "Hm, now that's interesting--I could tell you a story about that statue," and clue you in to talk to him. The game does a little of this already, so I see no reason why it couldn't just be extended to cover anything that ended up just being shown as text. Still, just sitting there listening to a character tell a story in this way doesn't seem very fun or innovative to me.

If you're gonna have them read, at least print it.If you're gonna have them read, at least print it.Another way is the old school manual or journal that used to ship with games (back in the ancient times). In the 80s, it wasn't uncommon for a game to include a lengthy introduction in the manual or even a separate novelette. Some games, such as Pool of Radiance and Wasteland, came with printed journals of numbered entries. Intermittently throughout the game, you'd be told to "look up journal #42," and you were supposed to stop playing and read that entry. This might sound a bit contrived, but it did have the advantage that you were reading print, which is better (in my opinion, at least) than reading something lengthy on a screen not designed for it. A more modern way to do this would be to "unlock" PDF files or some type of ebook that could be accessed on a Kindle, iPad, or whatever. It'd be a bit tricky, but theoretically this technique could help deal with the old problem that some people would just read the printed journals cover to cover and learn the secrets. Supposedly you could do a better job locking them out of parts they weren't supposed to read nowadays.

Still, both of these approaches will probably fail because they involve taking you out of the action; the worst sort of exposition. I have little interest in stopping the gameplay to hear the dwarf talk about the history of a city than I do reading about it on screen, hearing a recording, viewing a cutscene, or looking at in on a Kindle. Ideally, I wouldn't have to resort to such tactics to learn what I need to know to savor the context. How then, could the game be designed so that I can get at all this detail without exposition?

There are three basic techniques that authors commonly employ to this end. A good example of this is Homer's Iliad, where almost every bit of exposition takes place as actions. If he's describing a shield, for instance, the description will include something like "spear-shattering shield" or some such, not just "metal shield" which shows no action. There's not a moment in Homer when nothing's happening. Unfortunately, almost all exposition in games is like that--whatever IS happening stops so that the designer can tell you stuff he or she thinks you should know. This is rather odd considering how easy it would be to make all exposition in games of this type, so that you never see a textual description--only how it works. So if I find a shield in a game, instead of seeing a label or stats for it, I just see what happens when a spear hits it. There's no need to show stats or numbers or anything when I can just look at the screen to see what's happening to it (and to the character using it). You can also show this by the characters' reactions to things; perhaps they gasp or laugh if the player isn't grasping the appropriate context and doings things out of place. For instance, if you're entering some sacred site, one of the characters could admonish you for running instead of walking. This would be a lot more effective at giving you the context that this is a sacred place than just putting up on the screen, "The Sacred Place of Spaghetti, blah blah blah." When you realized that the place was special this way, you might slow down and start paying attention to the details such as the statues representing a historical event (again, the statue should depict an action, not just a figure with a plague beneath explaining it. If it needs a plaque, design the statue better so that it doesn't).

By the way, if you haven't read Homer's Iliad, get a copy right now and read it. There is no better sourcebook for learning how to show, not tell.

A second approach is to let the player be the detective or archaeologist, piecing together or deduce the context from the clues you present. A lot of games do some of this, such as showing a bunch of corpses or blood in the room to let you know a battle has taken place there. But so many still rely on the clumsier form, taking you out of the action to show a cutscene in which someone proclaims, "There was a battle here!" or, worse, showing some text letting you know what should be clearly evident. Is it better to have text on the screen saying, "Humans and orcs fought it out here!" or, show some human and orc corpses strewn about? Likewise, is it better to show a lengthy textual description of an ancient elven city, or just depict the city on screen in such a way that you can see for yourself that it is quite old? I think this is why a lot of us like the open world games, since you frequently encounter interesting stuff here and there and get to imagine your own scenarios. I recall this happening frequently to me in Fallout 3, such as stumbling upon a children's playground (or think of Charlton Heston seeing the Statue of Liberty in the first Planet of the Apes). In such situations, you're better off leaving the deducing to the viewer or player rather than slamming him with exposition.

A third approach is unique to games: literally putting the action in context. Some games are already doing this; instead of a cutscene flashback, for instance, we get a flashback in which the player is suddenly at an earlier point in time, performing some important historical action himself. Imagine that at some point of your game you want to tell the player about the execution of Joan of Arc. What's better, then--they find a book and six or seven pages worth of exposition are there for him to read? Or a "flash back" kind of thing where the player is performing the execution, or perhaps a member of the audience, walking around and witnessing it? (Probably not as effective just to witness something, but still a lot better than just reading about it or having it told to you).

As I've said, a lot of this is being done already, but not nearly enough. In almost every modern game I play, when it comes time for exposition, we get something clumsy--some kind of text on screen, or at best a pre-recorded, non-interactive segment such as a voice recording or cutscene. If this were the 80s or the 90s this would make sense, since there wasn't enough memory or storage. But now that these things are basically unlimited, why not get rid of exposition altogether? Why have anything told in a non-interactive fashion when you're working with a medium that is inherently interactive?

In most writing classes this is all summed up with "show, don't tell." Instead of writing, "Famine is a terrible problem in Somali," for instance, students are instructed to describe the scene--show us some kids that look like walking skeletons are fighting over a rotten piece of bread. Ideally, if you do it right, the reader will realize that "famine is a terrible problem in Somali" without you ever having to write that out. Furthermore, the impact will be more profound and long-lasting.

To finish up, my message to game designers is that any part of the game's narrative that cannot be shown in the context of a performable action by the player is not important enough to distract him from the parts that are.

* Unless you're designing a text adventure. Perhaps, though, in that case the more conventional sense of exposition applies, and it is still just as important to avoid description divorced from the player's own actions.

Comments

clok1966
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One thing I think is nice

One thing I think is nice about books/ page of text or tape recorders is.. I can indulge or skip it. But as most people skip it, how can you tell the story? In an action game, how? As for an RPG, other than people talking, books, notes on a wall, how else do you do it? I wont argue a tape recorder or data disc sitting with ONE SINGLE entry is not very realistic. but even movies use this.. they just have somthing like ereased tape so just this part is recoverble, or stuff like this.. single entries.. I alwasy liked FEAR for the voice messages left on machines, at least a single voice message made some small sence.

I myself wouldnt mind a short novel included with any game that tells a short story and fleshs out the game.. but on condition its not a bore.. now Im not talking high art, but at least comic book story wise, enough to make me read the next page, not a history book.

No answers from me.

Matt Barton
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Internal Monologues
clok1966 wrote:

One thing I think is nice about books/ page of text or tape recorders is.. I can indulge or skip it. But as most people skip it, how can you tell the story? In an action game, how? As for an RPG, other than people talking, books, notes on a wall, how else do you do it? I wont argue a tape recorder or data disc sitting with ONE SINGLE entry is not very realistic. but even movies use this.. they just have somthing like ereased tape so just this part is recoverble, or stuff like this.. single entries.. I alwasy liked FEAR for the voice messages left on machines, at least a single voice message made some small sence.

I myself wouldnt mind a short novel included with any game that tells a short story and fleshs out the game.. but on condition its not a bore.. now Im not talking high art, but at least comic book story wise, enough to make me read the next page, not a history book.

No answers from me.

Your response got me to thinking, Clok. A lot of adventure games use a sort of internal monologue type system, where the character is speaking but you're intended to take it as that character's thoughts. It's not very common in movies, but I see no reason it couldn't be more common in games of most types. It was put to good use in the Max Payne games IIRC.

It also depends on how you set up your game. You can always play around with flashbacks and flashforwards to flesh out the story, and of course dialog (though not the obvious expository kind) is all but essential in most cases. My main objection is the text, though. Can you imagine a movie that would regularly pause to show you some screens full of text? I mean, what is that, silent picture tech? Yet for some reason we accept it in games. Same thing with the recordings and such. True, it is used in some films and TV, but it tends to be very limited. I haven't seen many movies that expected you to just watch a tape spinning for 5-10 minutes as a story is told.

My preferred approach is just to have whatever it is played out for you. Not really a cutscene, since that's not interactive, but just do like a movie would do and flash out to whatever it is you need to explain. If, for instance, you want the player to learn the history of a certain weapon, put me in the shoes of the blacksmith forging it, the first hero swinging it, etc. These need not be big lengthy things here--just long enough to get the story told.

Let's say I want to tell the story of how someone got murdered. Most games would just show you that in a cut scene; others might stoop to just showing it as text; others would probably have some dialog or something mentioning it. Why not just flashback to that, putting the player in control of the victim or, if applicable, the murderer or even an innocent bystander? If nothing else, make him a fly on the wall that can buzz around to get a better view of the action.

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clok1966
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There are a few game with a

There are a few game with a narartor.. I think it works in some game (especialy funny ones).. It seems to be a thing in hollywood now to hate movies that tell you everything (Harrison ford really been bitching up a storm in interview latkley on it as well as othe actors). I agree.. feeling your aduiance /gamer is to stuipd to understand a bloodstain and knife on a floor means foul play.. having to have flashback or vido of the "killing" so dence people cant figure it out is silly. I do agree an inner "vocal thoughts" would work fine in alot of games.

GO watch http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387808/ Idiocracy

I love this movie, and i think there is more than a kernal of truth in it. Really watch it and pay attention to the silly stuff at the begining (i love the trailor trash stuff). its all exageration but .. wow.. i see it in everyday life.

Shawn Delahunty
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Seen it done "right" on 2 or 3 occasions

I've been thinking about this issue a fair bit lately: how to balance the "narrative" or "scripted" portion of game-play with the free-form, open-world, make-it-up-as-you-go portion. My thinking thus far had been constrained to the mechanics of the thing; how do I architect and code a game engine that easily allows scripting (of NPC actions, of environmental triggers, of revealed exposition/back-story) to be mixed with the more interesting part--how to have NPC's and "the world" respond meaningfully to player actions?

In the various games I've played from the early 1980's onward, I've seen most of the methods:
- Chunky back-story novelettes included in the game package (Myst and Stonekeep come to mind immediately, though the CRPG status of Myst is debatable.)
- Look-up page #XYZ when the game prompts you. (Matt Barton points out countless examples of this, on his blog and in his book Dungeons and Desktops.
- The first 'cut-scenes' with live-action stuff (again, Stonekeep used this, though it was by no means the first game to do so.)
- Pre-rendered CGI cut-scenes (Diablo 1, etc.)
- Cut-scenes which used the game engine itself. Half-Life was a great example, revealing things both interactively (the initial bit where the machine goes crazy and pops a portal) and non-interactively (the wonderfully creepy scenes with the G-Man agent).

I have to say that I favor the latter method, as it "breaks the immersion less", but it still isn't great. Half-Life 1 was the first game I played which got close to the ideal, but the non-interactivity of the scenes is a little bit disconcerting. (Game won't let you shoot the G-Man, won't let you leave the scene while he's blabbing on, there's no way to escape being captured at one key point in the game, etc. Essentially, you are forced to watch/wait. There is no gameplay branching built to handle your actions.)

Two other games which handled it "well" are Gothic 3 which I bought as a triple-pack of RPG's, and the FPS horror-shooter, F.E.A.R. That last one scared the poop out of me on a couple of occasions--you have to play this one in the dark, with headphones turned up, and late at night. Be sure to take your heart medicine beforehand.

There is still much room for improvement though. Gothic 3 still had some issues with triggering the narrative, as it is entirely possible to play the game "out of sequence" as I did on my first 2 playthroughs. The open-world, explore anywhere you want capability of the game is amazing--it's one of the best, if not THE best example I've found for that in any game, let alone an RPG. As a consequence though, you can trigger "pre scripted" actions and "narrative events" ahead of when you normally would hit them.

The net result? You can get the game into a very confused state, where your player-character is suddenly attacked by exceptionally powerful enemy NPC's who 'normally' wouldn't be aggressive towards you at such an early part of the game. Enemies, I might add, who can give you the ass-kicking of a lifetime when you are level 4. There are other side-effects of this kind of "out of bounds" play as well. The problem boils down to programming, and handling all possible outcomes gracefully/sanely.

Of all of them, F.E.A.R. comes the closes to handling it "the best" I think. The game is held much more closely "on the rails", because of the nature of the level-design. So you don't get the problem of the player "triggering the scripted stuff too early." Also, when you hit a "cut-scene", more than 75% of them are fully interactive little "horror mini games". Your player-character collapses at certain points of the game, and drops into a horror/hallucination world, running from flames (which do real damage), aggressive bluish ghost-demons (which you have to evade or shoot), and dodging a ghostly variant of the main protagonist of the game (which can also injure you). The hallucinations get more vivid, longer, and more intense the further you go into the game, but each one is "scripted" in the sense that they unveil more of the narrative back-story of the protagonist, and your character.

Some questions which come to my mind are: F.E.A.R. is a horror game. How much does this affect the effectiveness of the "in-game, in-engine, mostly interactive flashback" method? The FPS format also plays into it, as you are "battling demons" both literally and also figuratively in the player-character's mind. Does this also enhance the effectiveness? How would it be played out in an RPG with the same effectiveness? What about something not in "first-person perspective"? Would it feel as "immersive" as in the first-person?

Those last questions are pertinent, as the size of a game development team directly affects the technical possibilities of what can be realistically accomplished in a financially prudent time-frame.

As a programmer, I believe the hard part is figuring out HOW to make the engine do the "right thing" or the "cool thing" for revealing narrative. This, I think, is what has limited the expository forms chosen in games until about 2003-2005 or so.

When it had to fit on an 880Kilobyte floppy, with 500KB or 2MB of RAM in the system, the novelette was your buddy--there really was no way to pack it all in there. Now, there is plenty of power on even a low-end netbook to handle it "more properly", but most games still don't. Why?
- Is the reason technical, as in, "How the hell do we code this?"
- Is the reason a limitation of thinking on the part of the designers? "We've _always_ done it this way?" or "I don't know how to do it any differently?" or "We've blown our budget! Just have the new interns jam it on a bunch of 'scrolls of historical learning'?"
- Are the designers "inexperienced writers" as Matt hinted at?
- Are the designers just lazy? (John Carmack is famous for deriding the 'need for story'. In his book Masters of Doom, David Kushner relates how Carmack believed that "..story in games is like story in a porno film. People might expect it to be there, but only peripherally in the background..." (I'm butchering the quote, as I don't have a copy of the book in front of me, but that's the gist of it.)

I personally don't agree with Carmack's viewpoint at all, and believe that this led to the decline of id. I feel that after about Doom2, id Software games felt incredibly boring to me. Playing one was like playing a "tech demos" of the id game engine; like they were trying to woo licensors of the engine.

Curious as to thoughts others might have on these ideas.

Cheers,
-Bitsweep

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Matt Barton
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I think it's all of the

I think it's all of the above, Bitsweep. You hint at the problem when you mention a "script," or "scripted action." That's film thinking there--"we gotta have a script." Why? The end result of that logic is a game/movie hybrid, which is about all we've seen so far even including the great examples you point out.

The problem is that designers are asking themselves, "What happens in this game?" "When does X happen?" "What does the player need to do to trigger Y?" etc. The better approach is to see the game itself as a happening, in the sense of the 60s. I encourage you to look at that on Wikipedia about happenings; you can't help but get insights into how games COULD be if designers were asking, "How awesome can we make this happening?" rather than "what will happen?" There's already some boring terms like "emergence" out there for this, but it's obvious to me that any kind of planned narrative where the designer is thinking in terms of plot points is a dead end. Think about the holodeck from Star Trek, for instance--the whole reason it's compelling is that it isn't scripted or linear. You just set up some basic parameters and let it go.

This isn't the same thing as a sandbox game. At least, that's not what I have in mind. I've come to really despise sand box games because I feel like the designer is expecting me to do too much of the work myself, especially when it comes to WHY I should do it. A lot of these games even boast about this--"you make the game." That's fine in principle, but it can also lead to sandbox fatigue, or realizing that everything is procedurally generated. That can get very lonely and boring very fast. If something is procedurally generated, to some extent it doesn't matter. The fact that it CAN be procedurally generated already says that it doesn't matter, that's it's coincidental, disposable, etc. It lacks purpose.

In short, I think something like a sandbox game is what we're after, but it should never be obvious that it is a sandbox game. In a perfect game, you'd never guess that stuff was happening procedurally and that it was all created by a talented and obsessive designer.

I realized suddenly that this is almost getting metaphysical. I guess you'd want evidence of an "intelligent designer" throughout the game, even though that evidence would actually be procedurally generated. Geez, do you think God is a game designer??

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Shawn Delahunty
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More mulling of "exposition"

I kind of figured this was what you were getting at in the original blog post Matt. The "ultimate goal" being that a we, "create our own story" as we play, but that "the AI world" responds intelligently to it.

I guess my prime assumption is correct: It's a technical issue. As I mentioned, I've been thinking for months about how to code an engine to handle pre-scripted versus "reactive" content. It boils down to, "How the hell do I code this?!?"

Frankly, (and I know you point this out in the last chapters of Dungeons and Desktops) this is why people, developers and gamers, have flocked to the MMORPG "game-space". Why play against 'inferior' or 'unrealistic' AI, when you can play against other humans? Why bother to try creating content when you can offload it on humans, let them interact, create their own drama, create their own "content", and so on?

I'm not going to speculate on the nature of God or about this universe being a "game on a holodeck." Honestly, I'm in no way qualified to debate meta-physics. Although if you really want to blow your mind, go read some of the literature summarizing quantum mechanical theory as it currently stands. In a nutshell:

(1) we consist of atoms (themselves being 99.9% "empty space")
(2) those atoms consists of particles which are in turn composed of quarks
(3) those quarks are "quantum entangled" with similar sub-sub-sub-nuclear particles, some of which may be in another galaxy, in the core of a star, floating about in a cloud of gas at the other end of the universe
(4) the sub-sub-sub-nuclear particles themselves are only a 3-dimensional "shadow" of a higher-level N-dimensional "reality".

There's a great Scientific American cover article about this from a few years back.

P.S. I have a pet hypothesis that "The Singularity", or true AI, will not come from a research lab or company. It's going to "emerge" from malware. The various Trojans and Worms and Malware-Bots, existing on multi-tens-of-thousands of systems, are being programmed to "battle" one another for control. At what point do these start to resemble "cells" and "an organism?"

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Matt Barton
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Matt's Skepticism of Science
bitsweep wrote:

I'm not going to speculate on the nature of God or about this universe being a "game on a holodeck." Honestly, I'm in no way qualified to debate meta-physics. Although if you really want to blow your mind, go read some of the literature summarizing quantum mechanical theory as it currently stands.

I read stuff like this and just think, man, we might as well be talking about angels dancing on the heads of pins. Seems like it doesn't take very long in science before you push things into realms that, for all intents and purposes, might as well be metaphysical or what some would call mystical or others spiritual. I've never been very interested in the AI discussions about whether robots can have a soul or whatever, either. I don't even care if the AI in a game acts like a human. The only thing is whether it acts in an entertaining way, keeping me engaged.

Some of the problems you're looking at have been solved (IMO) by Will Wright and his Sims games. He didn't try to script dialog for everything, but instead abstracting it out in his "Simlish" language and the various dials and such for mood. That seems like a good place to start for any game where you want human characters to interact with. I'm trying to imagine something like The Sims, but, say, ten times more sophisticated at what it does. It wouldn't take long before you'd end up with something really intriguing and probably just as interesting to interact with as a human would be. Another fascinating (to me) game is Facade. It's admittedly underdeveloped, but again I like to imagine something like that but with ten years of active development behind it. Maybe if you combined the Facade system with the Sims algorithms you'd come up with something pretty darn neat.

Hell, I'd be impressed if my character walked into a village and I genuinely felt that some of the people there were curious about me. We talk about dogs and cats being curious, so I wouldn't imagine that would be too tricky to program, but I guess I could be wrong.

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Ben Leggett
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Pretty much, but..

I really do like the idea of "data mining" in games, Morrowind was a great example of this as you really could only appreciate the fullness of the story and the sociopolitical interplay of the factions by coming across books and other things.

But that should always be totally optional, never mandatory, and no, I never ever read anything in those in-menu "Codexes" either. Sloppy. Cutscenes and audiologs are often handled at least as sloppily though.

With a few notable historical exceptions, yeah, game exposition sucks.

Matt Barton
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Data Mining
Ben Leggett wrote:

I really do like the idea of "data mining" in games, Morrowind was a great example of this as you really could only appreciate the fullness of the story and the sociopolitical interplay of the factions by coming across books and other things.

But that should always be totally optional, never mandatory, and no, I never ever read anything in those in-menu "Codexes" either. Sloppy. Cutscenes and audiologs are often handled at least as sloppily though.

With a few notable historical exceptions, yeah, game exposition sucks.

There are a few examples of that in Fallout 3 that really stood out. I remember going in one dungeon (er, mine?) and gradually piecing together a story about a guy who had become infected and became a mutant. As you fight your way to the bottom, you eventually find him, but he's just another infected with no sentience at all. They didn't have to come out and tell you, "HEY, EVERYBODY, THIS GUY DIED AND BECAME AN INFECTED! SEE!" (Big flashing arrow pointing at him). Granted, they did have to let you find some recordings to set it up, but it least it does make sense in the context.

Just a small thing, but let's say you find some notes in a game. Instead of showing the note on screen, why not have the character read them or, better, summarize them for you (if you wanted to show the passage of time, have a bar filling up as he reads them, then let him go do whatever as he talks or thinks about what he saw). If it was a skilled voice actor, of which they are thousands, he could really make that part worth listening to--and if the writer was just as skilled, it'd be mesmerizing.

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clok1966
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it is strange, you mention

it is strange, you mention fallout (and bioshock earlier).. I look at games like WOW, there are books all over that tell little snipets of the worlds back story (there are webpages with it organized that make it much easier to read). I have clicked on several of those books and read a few.. and they kinda bore me.. The web pages with them in some sembalance of order is a bit more interesting, but you have to be prettty bored to really read it all while not in game.
But back to fallout.. here it is.. I actively looked for those recordings, data terminals so I could read, and I listend to and read it all, every fragment.. I was interested. SO in that games case I wanted to read it, it made my game more ejoyable. Its one of the few games where I looked forward to this type of thing. I also enjoyed it in bioshock.. not as much as Fallout, but i wanted to read and hear them all.

But then I look at DOOM3 that had them all over, after a few I didnt care. I grabbed um and hit play and seldome listened. I just didnt care.

Whats the mean? I think if the story is good enough we wont mind it in any form.. but it slows us down, makes us feel likeits work to understand it, its just INFO, not part of your sotry its no good.

Most of the vaults in Fallout have some story. Did you catch the info about the 2 vaults , one had 1 man and all women, and one had 1 woman and all men.. stuff like that. How about the fact that the vaults are not really "fallout" shelters but research facilities desguised as fallout shelters. Fallout hs a pretty good backstory if you read it. maybe thats the key, the story has to interest you (i know, WOW key to the universe, Capt NO duh!) :)

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