Thursday, 18 July 2013

Bioshocked to the Infinite

I just watched a compilation "movie" of Bioshock Infinite. So I've now seen that, and LPs of some of the previous 'Shock' games. And yes there are common themes.

Exploring levels and finding story. Not that this is particularly evolving story, but more finding out what just happened. Usually in the case of 'something strange happened in this area, and while you run around doing filler tasks to get the key to the next area, we'll unfold that through typically tell and not show'. Disagree? Just how many audio logs do you find? How often does some unseen person tell you something over a radio/speaker? When they turn up, do you get to interact with them in gameplay, or is it some kind of cut scene? All the important stuff is happening around the player, not to the player. And what this leads to is:

Monologue pompous speeches. The audio logs/people are there spouting out huge chucks of exposition. Usually on grand ideas that the creators think are important. Admittedly, some times in games it is hard to show, not tell, because you can't be sure the player encounters the right bit. But this alternative of reams of dialogue is not better. But it is countered by:

Pointless fighting. When you enter a new area, what's likely to happen? Quietly slip through, letting people get on with their business? Or fighting because this is an action game? Well, this is an action game, so there must be fighting. But everyone fights you, regardless of motive. And they are all low level mooks who are just there to be mowed down in fighting scenes. As I indicate, it's pointless! Just filler to pad out the level! And provide the gameplay that gets in the way of the next story element! This is getting to the term ludonarrative dissonance. The pompous story telling doesn't match the mooks you kill.

Now, this may feel different when you are playing the game, but watching from the outside, this is what I'm getting.

And because I have an excuse, here's a great song:


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