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Author Topic: Glorifying 'Woo'  (Read 1449 times)

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Offline Rig

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2014, 04:28:10 PM »
Just want to say that as a game designer I'm finding all the insights in this thread super valuable.

Cool stuff, guys :D   

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 05:37:09 PM »
Is any of it on target?  I can't get my 'armchair psychologist' degree until I figure out how to light this bubble pipe.

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2014, 07:49:48 PM »
'You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?'
I think that's a fantastic line, I don't think it's exactly wise, it's certainly creepy, and it's not out of left field from a player's point of view.

Also now it has a meta connotation for the Zelda games.

What's worse than being forced to rescue princess's in perpetuity. :)

 

Offline consortium11

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2014, 09:19:15 PM »
It's basically just a rehash of the "Magical Negro" thing isn't it?

In essence you have a mysterious character with a vague backstory and vague powers who says vague things which sound important and as such is treated as being a guru of some kind. As for why, it's a plot device that's incredibly simple to use. Want to have your hero experience significant character development? Well, rather than go into any detail exploring how their character's changed instead have a shaman say something that seems to vaguely apply and have the character remember it at a later date. Have an unsolvable mystery/trap/puzzle to deal with? Have the shaman say something that seems nonsensical at the time but suddenly makes sense in this one very specific situation. Want to direct a character in a certain direction but don't know how to do it without breaking the sense of disbelief? Have a shaman tell them something vague that points them to the jungle/shrine/mountain/cave/town etc where the plot continues.

While treated with a lot less reverence the effect is little different to the trope from detective fiction where a character says something completely innocently that suddenly kicks the detectives mind into gear and makes him put the clue together; it's an easy shortcut to an end result.

Offline DTW

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2014, 09:45:42 PM »
I don't think it's fair to Judge Video Games the way you judge Movies or Books.

When I go to see a Movie or read a Book , I'm there for the story.  But with a video game I'm there as much for the mechanics/action  if not more so then the story itself.


Video Games are more like Porn then anything else in that regard. Look at a game like Street Fighter. Does anyone remember the plot to street fighter? I sure as hell don't but do I remember Zangrief's awesome ass  spinning pile driver? Hell Yeah  FINAL ATOMIC BUSTER was the bomb.  No Pun Intended.


Honestly half the video games I love have terrible stories.   like the  mid-2000s NFS series or    Doom 1 and Doom 2.

All I remember about doom is that we were a space marine on MARS and we  ended up unleashing space hell onto a base and then we shot the crap out of some  Cacodemon  and  Hell Knights.

Offline Rig

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #30 on: January 14, 2014, 09:48:30 PM »
Is any of it on target?  I can't get my 'armchair psychologist' degree until I figure out how to light this bubble pipe.

Everything that's been mentioned is on target, to lesser and greater degrees.

What's made this topic difficult is the fact that what the OP is experiencing is not a single, easily quantifiable failing of Far Cry 3 or Dennis Rodgers but a collection of four or five design decisions - ranging from the structural integrity of the narrative, Dennis himself and the nitty gritty of the gameplay mechanics - coming together to create a disconnect that is subjectively experienced. Many people won't even notice the "this mysticism is shallow trite, why do I care?" feels the OP is jarred by. Others will be equally put off. Each of those stances are valid. As for why this occurs in Far Cry 3, my own personal thinking on it leads me to hazard three main reasons. Spoilers will follow.

The first is that, quite simply, Far Cry 3 is a pisstake. While I don't personally believe that this absolves it of the need to include a realistic narrative and believable characters, it also doesn't change the fact that every character in that game is an over-exaggerated satire of themselves. This worked for them, for the most part. Buck, Hurk, Agent Willis, Dr. Earnhardt and Vaas were among the most memorable and well written characters I've seen in a game. The downside was that the less interesting archetypes - namely Dennis and Citra - suffered badly for this approach. More than that, the associated subject matter of these characters suffered too. A lackluster Amazonian-Warrior-Priestess and Wise-Man-Sage makes for a lackluster, context-deprived portrayal of mysticism. The line between a well written cliche and a poorly written one is thin, indeed.

Secondly, there's a philosophy in game development that dictates a developer should leave room for "player generated context" within story driven and particularly first person story driven experiences. I believe that rather than hiring extra writers or extending the development cycle to facilitate the creation of a well defined, prescriptive lore for Rakyat mysticism [a feature that, considering the first point, would arguably be very out of place in this experience], Ubisoft elected to leave the ritualistic elements intentionally vague as a way to coax emotional investment out of their players. Some players will internally shape the Rakyat as scalping, merciless savages. Others might see them as misunderstood and downtrodden druids. Whether or not they executed this attempted tug at the imagination successfully is another question entirely but they're certainly trying to bait players into projecting their Western or otherwise ignorant ideas of mysticism and piracy onto relatively blank NPC canvases.

Last is something game designers have taken to calling ludo-narrative dissonance. This term describes the jarring, immersion breaking feeling that strikes a player when the narrative or aesthetic of an experience does not mesh with its gameplay. An over-the-top example might be an NPC quest giver lecturing the player character at length about the value of human life and including a proviso to his quest that you must not kill any enemies while fulfilling the objectives only to then arm you with an AK-47 for the task. It's a pretentious, fluffy term I'm not fond of but it's useful for this discussion. Far Cry 3 creates this experience both unintentionally and intentionally. Unintentionally, as touched on by the OP, Ubisoft introduce mysticism as a key component of Jason Brody's character growth only for that mysticism to be woefully under explored through gameplay. Outside of a collection of generic minigames, a few barely interactive drug trip scenes and a cinematic nipple shot, they're isn't a whole lot to it. This is probably, in my opinion, the core reason for the OPs frustration. If you undervalue any story or gameplay element - mysticism, in this case - throughout your design process it will come off as trite to players, the same way shoehorned in multiplayer does.

The intentional creation of the dissonance, however, comes in the form of those same drug trip scenes. They were so intensely different from the tone of the rest of the game that I can only conclude that their role within the narrative was to shake the player out of the experience and break their first-person-habitation of Jason Brody. It's well established that if you construct your game from a first person perspective it becomes difficult for a player to see that character - who they project themselves into far more than they would if the game was third person - as evil. The big exception being when they consciously elect to play that way, of course. Separating the player from their character, forcing them to look upon him as a spectator, casts Jason in a light where his blossoming similarities to Vaas are far most pronounced. A very nifty narrative technique but also a great way to further distance the taking of the hallucinogens from the mystical creed that requires their ingestion.

Tl;dr - I'm a ranty asshole who likes to talk about games and agree with the OP that this was a weakness of Far Cry 3. Sorry for the wall of text! I hope it at least somewhat contributed to this discussion without driving it over an off-topic cliff. As a sidenote, "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt." has replaced "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" for me as my all time favourite impact one-liner in games. Nostalgia be damned.   
« Last Edit: January 14, 2014, 09:54:37 PM by Rig »

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #31 on: January 14, 2014, 09:59:39 PM »
As a sidenote, "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt." has replaced "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" for me as my all time favourite impact one-liner in games. Nostalgia be damned.   

Nostalgia, hell.  The little Oni has been watching Game Theory for the past three weeks.  ;D

Offline Rig

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #32 on: January 14, 2014, 10:11:54 PM »
Great channel! Wasn't till I started watching them that I realised exactly how dark Majora's Mask is haha.

If little Oni is interested in making games or even just knowing stuff about games you should point him/her in the direction of "Extra Credits". They're pretty much my design textbooks in palatable , ten minute videos.

Offline consortium11

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #33 on: January 14, 2014, 10:31:22 PM »
When I go to see a Movie or read a Book , I'm there for the story.  But with a video game I'm there as much for the mechanics/action  if not more so then the story itself.

Video Games are more like Porn then anything else in that regard. Look at a game like Street Fighter. Does anyone remember the plot to street fighter? I sure as hell don't but do I remember Zangrief's awesome ass  spinning pile driver? Hell Yeah  FINAL ATOMIC BUSTER was the bomb.  No Pun Intended.


Honestly half the video games I love have terrible stories.   like the  mid-2000s NFS series or    Doom 1 and Doom 2.

All I remember about doom is that we were a space marine on MARS and we  ended up unleashing space hell onto a base and then we shot the crap out of some  Cacodemon  and  Hell Knights.

It's very much dependent on the game in question though.

You don't even have to touch of "bad" stories... you can simply look at some that have no real story at all, most notably sports games and simple puzzle/reaction games (Pong, Tetris etc). In such cases, yes, plot (if it even exists at all) is very much a minor part of the experience.

But on the other hand then you have games like Planescape Torment where the plot is the biggest attraction... hell, you get games like Heavy Rain which don't really have any gameplay to speak of. Even in FPS's... a genre normally derided for all too often having little to no plot (and what there is being terrible)... one can look to Spec Ops: The Line to see a plot driven game.

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #34 on: January 14, 2014, 10:39:35 PM »
It's very much dependent on the game in question though.

You don't even have to touch of "bad" stories... you can simply look at some that have no real story at all, most notably sports games and simple puzzle/reaction games (Pong, Tetris etc). In such cases, yes, plot (if it even exists at all) is very much a minor part of the experience.

But on the other hand then you have games like Planescape Torment where the plot is the biggest attraction... hell, you get games like Heavy Rain which don't really have any gameplay to speak of. Even in FPS's... a genre normally derided for all too often having little to no plot (and what there is being terrible)... one can look to Spec Ops: The Line to see a plot driven game.


I kind of disagree with Fps's  often having little to no plot. I think they just have different plots then other types of games.

It's like Film in that regard. Die Hard has a good plot. Is it's plot as good as say Moon or Blade Runner? No but it has a plot and it's one that works for it's genre. The same  can  be said for FPS's.

Then again I have a weird taste in video game plots.  Like I really dig Mortal Kombat's plot despite the fact that many people hate it.
I also really really dig F.E.A.R's plot which  has always been one of the most underrated games of all time IMHO. The mechanics were crisps and the story was enthralling.

It's not a 10 by any means but it deserves a better legacy then it has.


Yet on the other hand I didn't really enjoy Kingdom Hearts or  any of the  Ni No Kuni  for that matter.


I just have an eclectic taste in video games I guess. I dig trippy Indie Games like  Off and Calm Time yet I'm also a sucker for cliche AAA titles like Grand Theft Auto V and  Sleeping Dogs.

Offline Inkidu

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Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #35 on: January 15, 2014, 05:59:27 AM »
Everything that's been mentioned is on target, to lesser and greater degrees.

What's made this topic difficult is the fact that what the OP is experiencing is not a single, easily quantifiable failing of Far Cry 3 or Dennis Rodgers but a collection of four or five design decisions - ranging from the structural integrity of the narrative, Dennis himself and the nitty gritty of the gameplay mechanics - coming together to create a disconnect that is subjectively experienced. Many people won't even notice the "this mysticism is shallow trite, why do I care?" feels the OP is jarred by. Others will be equally put off. Each of those stances are valid. As for why this occurs in Far Cry 3, my own personal thinking on it leads me to hazard three main reasons. Spoilers will follow.

The first is that, quite simply, Far Cry 3 is a pisstake. While I don't personally believe that this absolves it of the need to include a realistic narrative and believable characters, it also doesn't change the fact that every character in that game is an over-exaggerated satire of themselves. This worked for them, for the most part. Buck, Hurk, Agent Willis, Dr. Earnhardt and Vaas were among the most memorable and well written characters I've seen in a game. The downside was that the less interesting archetypes - namely Dennis and Citra - suffered badly for this approach. More than that, the associated subject matter of these characters suffered too. A lackluster Amazonian-Warrior-Priestess and Wise-Man-Sage makes for a lackluster, context-deprived portrayal of mysticism. The line between a well written cliche and a poorly written one is thin, indeed.

Secondly, there's a philosophy in game development that dictates a developer should leave room for "player generated context" within story driven and particularly first person story driven experiences. I believe that rather than hiring extra writers or extending the development cycle to facilitate the creation of a well defined, prescriptive lore for Rakyat mysticism [a feature that, considering the first point, would arguably be very out of place in this experience], Ubisoft elected to leave the ritualistic elements intentionally vague as a way to coax emotional investment out of their players. Some players will internally shape the Rakyat as scalping, merciless savages. Others might see them as misunderstood and downtrodden druids. Whether or not they executed this attempted tug at the imagination successfully is another question entirely but they're certainly trying to bait players into projecting their Western or otherwise ignorant ideas of mysticism and piracy onto relatively blank NPC canvases.

Last is something game designers have taken to calling ludo-narrative dissonance. This term describes the jarring, immersion breaking feeling that strikes a player when the narrative or aesthetic of an experience does not mesh with its gameplay. An over-the-top example might be an NPC quest giver lecturing the player character at length about the value of human life and including a proviso to his quest that you must not kill any enemies while fulfilling the objectives only to then arm you with an AK-47 for the task. It's a pretentious, fluffy term I'm not fond of but it's useful for this discussion. Far Cry 3 creates this experience both unintentionally and intentionally. Unintentionally, as touched on by the OP, Ubisoft introduce mysticism as a key component of Jason Brody's character growth only for that mysticism to be woefully under explored through gameplay. Outside of a collection of generic minigames, a few barely interactive drug trip scenes and a cinematic nipple shot, they're isn't a whole lot to it. This is probably, in my opinion, the core reason for the OPs frustration. If you undervalue any story or gameplay element - mysticism, in this case - throughout your design process it will come off as trite to players, the same way shoehorned in multiplayer does.

The intentional creation of the dissonance, however, comes in the form of those same drug trip scenes. They were so intensely different from the tone of the rest of the game that I can only conclude that their role within the narrative was to shake the player out of the experience and break their first-person-habitation of Jason Brody. It's well established that if you construct your game from a first person perspective it becomes difficult for a player to see that character - who they project themselves into far more than they would if the game was third person - as evil. The big exception being when they consciously elect to play that way, of course. Separating the player from their character, forcing them to look upon him as a spectator, casts Jason in a light where his blossoming similarities to Vaas are far most pronounced. A very nifty narrative technique but also a great way to further distance the taking of the hallucinogens from the mystical creed that requires their ingestion.

Tl;dr - I'm a ranty asshole who likes to talk about games and agree with the OP that this was a weakness of Far Cry 3. Sorry for the wall of text! I hope it at least somewhat contributed to this discussion without driving it over an off-topic cliff. As a sidenote, "Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt." has replaced "You've met with a terrible fate, haven't you?" for me as my all time favourite impact one-liner in games. Nostalgia be damned.   

Actually, I didn't experience any of that on the my playthroughs of the game, and I'm going to tell you why.

The quote at the beginning of the game. Why?

Because that quote is a red-flag to anyone who's even moderately well-read that surrealism is about to come and park itself right on the ceiling of your lawn.

It provides the booster shot for the willing suspension of disbelief (at least it did for me). Did you ever wonder why the knife fights looked like something out of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

To further expound on my point. Ever played the multiplayer? It's a whole lot less surreal than the main game. So other than not avoiding some of the pitfalls of sandbox game design I didn't find that the narrative detracted at all.

That only matters if that line triggers for you I suppose.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 06:01:23 AM by Inkidu »

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Glorifying 'Woo'
« Reply #36 on: January 15, 2014, 06:18:44 AM »
This is probably, in my opinion, the core reason for the OPs frustration. If you undervalue any story or gameplay element - mysticism, in this case - throughout your design process it will come off as trite to players

Your half correct. It's that they devalue it, while also trying to make it seem important. They want to have their cake and eat it to, because, as has been said previously, people react predictably to these tropes.

This predictability and the prevalence of the tropes is my main frustration. It's no one example of a game or movie, it's just the universal reverence of woo. That's all.