Do, Don’t Show: Why I Want SR 3 More Than ME 3

Rampant Coyote wrote a nice blog post last week that took a look at level design. It caught my attention given the old school theme of my blog lately. The map on the left is from Doom, and the map on the right is from I don’t know what, but it made me think of a Bioware game, i.e. Mass Effect and Dragon Age. At no time playing these games did I get a feeling that I was exploring a dungeon like this. I wanted to. I really did. But the Mage’s Tower in DA I was essentially a spiral path, and the Deep Roads funnel you.

I mainly resonated with Gareth Fouche, creator of the Scars of War RPG in development, who notes a trend called passive engagement. This is what I’ve been saying about the similarity of Bioware’s newer RPG’s with Heavy Rain. You’re watching the sequence of someone else’s interactive story go by instead of achieving a sense of creating your own story, which seems like the whole point of a video game format.

In the comments Fouche goes on to say: “TV shows, films, and books have a rule: Show, don’t tell.
Interactive mediums should have something similar: Do, don’t show.”

That is a great way to put it Bhlaab. Don’t get me wrong, I like a few cutscenes occasionally, to set the mood, but in general I don’t want to feel like my role as the player avatar is being overshadowed by that guy in the cutscenes, the one who looks like me but pulls off cooler moves than I can and says things I wouldn’t.

It’s strange and almost crazy to be looking forward to Saint’s Row 3 (which I just added to my Coming Soon list today) more than Mass Effect 3, but I seem to have a better role-playing experience from the open world of Saint’s Row than the trendy heavily-scripted story-based RPGs.

And still more love in the image at the left for the classic games in the form of a poll on RPG Watch.

This is a really complicated topic, but one interpretation of this is that real fans don’t like smaller, dumbed-down games*. Yes, I know Oblivion was supposedly bigger, but it seemed smaller to me due to the insta-travel (no mark and recall) and generic random dungeons. What’s your interpretation?


*“For example, all rings are just called “ring” and have a different number of stars next to it. The higher the stars, the better the ring is. Once again, for someone who loves a pure RPG, this will not be a welcome change.”Lesbian Gamers on DA2.

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About Silverangel

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3 responses to “Do, Don’t Show: Why I Want SR 3 More Than ME 3

  • Xenovore

    Completely with you there — I used to get excited for the next Bioware game, but now after seeing the travesty called Dragon Age 2, I’ve put Bioware and their games on permanent /ignore.

    Morrowind, Oblivion, even Fallout 3… that’s how RPGs should be. (And being able to mod them — Huge! Modding can extend the life of a game like none other, and helps solidify a community around the game. All games should come with world editors!)

    • Jacquotte

      This game landscape make-over has been years coming as consoles build up more and more weight in terms of profit. Bioware was a bastion of greatness, but the cracks were inevitable with their sellout to EA. The original DA was truly amazing as a console achievement. If Bioware thinks they can make DA2, DA3, etc. and milk more and more profit out of the franchise with less investment, they are probably right. I will play eventually mainly for the romances and the city campaign (which is noteworthy in terms of rarity in epic RPG’s and old school roots), when I can get a hold of the whole game, not just this nickel and dime thing–buying the game in bits and pieces to get $100 from the customer instead of $60, or the customer must play an incomplete game.

      As far as modding, Bethesda is emerging in my mind as a successor to Bioware in terms of this kind of generousness and traditional PC game values. Skyrim is on the way.

  • Ultima IV Gameplay Narrative « Significant Bits

    […] videogame equivalent of “show, don’t tell“ is often said to be “do, don’t show.” It’s good advice, and when applied it can make for some very […]

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