Films vs Games.

May 11, 2022
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Okay so I'm trying to think this through. There has been a lot of cross over between films and games and that's understandable.
Films were the art form of the 20th century.

But I'm not sure how successful it is when both forms seem to be feeding off each other. There are quite a few films that have game sequences, and also cinematic games, as well as narrative cross over. Not to mention some terrible film remakes of games.

I'm a big film fan(Buster Keaton to Tarantino), but gaming has made films two dimensional to me. I want to control the protagonists. So what I'm thinking is I need a game with more of a film narrative.

I enjoy open world games with stunning landscapes, but I don't find the narratives very engaging. It's like a back drop.

And just the whole 'shoot and loot', solve a puzzle, find an artifact, is getting old.

I'm wondering if both forms should work independently.

Gaming has a lot of potential in terms of immersion, ability to make choices that matter and change the plot, switching between characters to get different perspectives, etc,etc..
 

Frindis

Moderator
Just to be precise, films are from the 19th century, not that many were made, but started there (I might have misunderstood what you wrote there, but pointing it out). I'm not sure what you really want though, since you say you like games landscapes, but not the narratives, then you do like the ability to make choices/change plots, but find solving puzzles old and want both forms to work independently.

To have a game with more of a film narrative is a lot of the things you are just pointing out: Shoot&looot, find an artifact, make choices, switch characters, and different perspectives. It is all part of the narrative, both the cinematography and Mise-en-scène.
 
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Zloth

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It's really hard to do a strong narrative when you give the player a lot of agency. It can be done (see Mass Effect, for example), but it's far easier if you make the game more like a JRPG where the character's major actions are all predetermined. Even the games with lots of impactful choices will still funnel you into all sorts of events to "progress the story."

The more sandbox-like games such as the X series or Kenshi often talk about "creating your own narrative." And you do - but it sure ain't Tolkien.

As for working independently, don't they do that already? They seem pretty independent to me.

There is one thing that's spilled over from movies to games that kinda annoys me: credits. Games took to having opening credits much like movies, then they have CRAZY long end credits covering everyone, no matter how tiny their involvement.
 
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I play games mostly for the gameplay. Good story is a nice bonus, but mostly I make my own story. If I want a great story, I'll read a book. 2nd choice would be 21stC TV, then movie, then game.

I feel criticizing the stories in games is a bit like criticizing the visuals in radio.

Obviously plenty of devs will try to shoehorn a story onto a game, or even make the story the 'game'—eg visual novels. Which is fine, I've heard some very descriptive passages on radio, and if that's their thing, then go for it and best of luck.

But games need to carve out their own identity for what they do best—create player agency—and not fall into the trap of taking criticism from older entertainment forms to heart.

Media which may be of interest:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNqC9Hq3aN4&t=59s


 
Well, I think there are different advantages and ways of telling stories across different mediums. How often do people say that the book is better than the film for example?

I also dont think you can judge a video game story by the same rules as you do a film, book, play, epic poem, or cave painting. The potential for telling stories where you actually play the main character have only just started being explored in the last 30 years.
 
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Just to be precise, films are from the 19th century, not that many were made, but started there (I might have misunderstood what you wrote there, but pointing it out). I'm not sure what you really want though, since you say you like games landscapes, but not the narratives, then you do like the ability to make choices/change plots, but find solving puzzles old and want both forms to work independently.

To have a game with more of a film narrative is a lot of the things you are just pointing out: Shoot&looot, find an artifact, make choices, switch characters, and different perspectives. It is all part of the narrative, both the cinematography and Mise-en-scène.
Yes but films wre considered the major art form of the 20th century and some think that gaming has the potential to be a major art form of the 21st century.

As I say I'm still thinking this through so your different perspectives are helpful.

I suppose one way of saying it is; with a film the narrative and the characters are the predominant drive, but in many ways in gaming the narrative comes after the gameplay and characters.

Two games which I find interesting conceptually are WD's Legion where the characters(NPC's but not, as virtually anyone is playable) have their own lives mapped out in real time. So you can look up their schedule for the day and follow them and see them meeting friends or whatever.
Also I find the Nemesis system(SofW) has great potentail as a narrative generator. The protagonists actions(and player decisions) feed back into the narrative.
 
May 11, 2022
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Well, I think there are different advantages and ways of telling stories across different mediums. How often do people say that the book is better than the film for example?

I also dont think you can judge a video game story by the same rules as you do a film, book, play, epic poem, or cave painting. The potential for telling stories where you actually play the main character have only just started being explored in the last 30 years.
Well I think that each medium is different, so if a film is made of a book, then it's the director's interpretation of that book. The two shouldn't be compared.

There's a theory that the photographic viewpoint(in 20th cent) owed a lot to the fine art viewpoint of the 19th & 20th centuries. It was only when photographers decided to break with those traditions that photography found it's own viewpoint.
I wonder if the same can be said of gaming, but in terms of breaking from the filmic fixed narratives. I know some games are playing with these ideas.

It may require a whole new rethink where instead of the set narrative, the narrative evolves based on the different protagonists actions and interactions. More like real life.
 
Well I think that each medium is different, so if a film is made of a book, then it's the director's interpretation of that book. The two shouldn't be compared.
they are classified as 2 different works then. Well, in copyright terms anyway.

It may require a whole new rethink where instead of the set narrative, the narrative evolves based on the different protagonists actions and interactions. More like real life.
choose your own adventure type PC game (like the books before it). Technically this is how Zork worked but the choices available to user were limited.

While as consumers we want the games to become more complicated like this, release schedules often demand less complex games so it might be released soon rather than never. We want complexity, they want to reskin candy crush and make a killing. The audiences desires are not in line with most games being made now. But are they making games to sell lots of copies or get good reviews? Often you can't do both.

graphics is trumping story, that is the problem I see. They don't have to make story deep and meaningful if you can dazzle people with latest special effects fad. It works for movies, lots of explosions cover for fact nothing is actually happening.
 
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Well I think that each medium is different, so if a film is made of a book, then it's the director's interpretation of that book. The two shouldn't be compared.

There's a theory that the photographic viewpoint(in 20th cent) owed a lot to the fine art viewpoint of the 19th & 20th centuries. It was only when photographers decided to break with those traditions that photography found it's own viewpoint.
I wonder if the same can be said of gaming, but in terms of breaking from the filmic fixed narratives. I know some games are playing with these ideas.

It may require a whole new rethink where instead of the set narrative, the narrative evolves based on the different protagonists actions and interactions. More like real life.
Probably why video game movies have always been terrible, even if they're occasionally fun because they are terrible.

Very interesting point on the photographic viewpoint, that's sort of what I was getting at but explained much more eloquently.

Stuff like This War of Mine puts you closer to the actual place and gives you some small measure of the experience because within the context of the game some of the decisions you make effect you more than if you were just reading or watching passively. There's a part in God of War where some Dark Elves try to abduct Atreus, and as you (Kratos) watch the Spartan Rage meter fills up automatically and you smash everything in sight just to get back to him. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
removes one of your hands from the keyboard in a physical metaphor for how it feels to lose someone very close to you. Everything is harder in the game afterwards, although its towards the end.

I think when used like that game mechanics can put you inside the character more than reading or watching can.

These are just a couple of things I can think of, stuff like, Torment, Disco Elysium and I hear Citizen Sleeper have done other things more along the lines of interactive novels rather than movies, and surely a lot of others I dont know about or cant think of now. Its only going to get more interesting!
 
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That's how I'm thinking. It seem like game developers are experimenting and trying small ways to advance the medium into the future.

I'm mostly thinking about how gaming can develop into the future.

From Brian Boru's vid, I've been thinking about getting Gods Of War, but wanted to wait after playing similar games.

But have just installed Life is Strange(free episode on Steam), which looks interesting.

And thanks for all the suggestions, added to list to check out.
 
May 11, 2022
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While as consumers we want the games to become more complicated like this, release schedules often demand less complex games so it might be released soon rather than never. We want complexity, they want to reskin candy crush and make a killing. The audiences desires are not in line with most games being made now. But are they making games to sell lots of copies or get good reviews? Often you can't do both.

graphics is trumping story, that is the problem I see. They don't have to make story deep and meaningful if you can dazzle people with latest special effects fad. It works for movies, lots of explosions cover for fact nothing is actually happening.
Yes that's a problem in both the film and gaming industries, the bigger companies are focused on profit. But I suppose some of the smaller independant companies are probably still able to experiment and innovate. Senua's Sacrifice was made by a small team of about thirty people.

Many films are not reflective of the real world any more but are just referencing other films or culture, and the 'auteur' has been over ridden by committees and focus groups.

There have been many good cross overs of tech and gaming has improved with things like motion capture, and also many in the film industry have brought their talants to gaming.

An article(by Shay Pierce) about story generating games and linear narratives with a few examples>

 
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It was only when photographers decided to break with those traditions that photography found it's own viewpoint.
Good point, in line with what I was getting at:
games need to carve out their own identity for what they do best—create player agency—and not fall into the trap of taking criticism from older entertainment forms to heart
Sport stands clear on its own two feet without making any concessions to other entertainment forms. Chess has stood clear in gaming for centuries, one of the greatest ever but not a hint of story in sight.

Almost the only time a movie is better at telling a story than a book, is when there's no book about it. Movies' 'thing' is the visual experience, and that's their place in the entertainment spectrum. I've yet to see a movie which told the whole story per the book, they typically cut swathes of characters and entire sub-plots. You can say the movie tells a story—because it does—but it's so much inferior to the book its based on that 'story' can only be a marketing term.

Movies' 'viewpoint' is visual experience, which they usually do very well. Games need to find their unique viewpoint contribution also—for me it's player agency, but early days, who knows how it'll evolve.

Within their unique competence, most mediums can tell a story. But it's an add-on, not what they're best at, not what the medium should be judged on.
 
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I've been reading a few articles, watched YT vids.

It seems developers are well aware of the limitations at present and that gamers will get bored.

So the major break from films is dispensing with the linear narrative, or keep it very loose.

The idea is that each gamer will create their own narratives through their actions and decisions(RD2's Honour scale, and SofW, play with these ideas).

Also they are incorporating more AI, so that the game is taylored to each player, matching their strengths and weaknesses. But always pushing them to improve. Also developing NPC's to have meaningful interactions or just act more realistically.

There are some interesting AI producing games being trialed. AI is already capable of matching the physics of movement in the real world as well as creating virtual worlds.
 
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If we are only talking about 3d open world games that makes sense. Theres a lot more to games then that though.
Yes I've tended to mostly play open world games, hence my focus. But I pulled 12 games to check out from above posts and some like SOMA look interesting. I think I needed some new games with different ideas to raise my interest again.

I used to get my human stories from books, Crime and Punishment and Steppenwolf, stand out. Then from films, Apocalypse Now or Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. But they both seem like dated formats now.
 
Soma is a good one!

Oh man, I read half of Steppenwolf a long time ago and stopped for some reason, but I really liked Siddartha. Never delved into any Dostoyevsky but I might some day, read more classics when I was younger. I listen to lot of audiobooks rather than reading mostly recently, that doesnt necessarily suit stuff like that. Sci fi and fantasy are great, but the more literary stuff are my favourites, Gene Wolfe or Ursula Leguin.

When I was younger I would go through heavy phases of watching a lot of films for months, then move to books for a time and back to games and repeat the cycle. These days my time is much more limited so I do a little of everything as they come to my attention.

Anyway I wouldn't say other mediums are dated and games are superior at all, just different. Definitely worth exploring further than the AAA 3d space if you're interested in story.
 
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Just been playing Life Is Strange 2. It's interesting, although there's something a bit clunky about the way to choose options.

I think with those two books the author actually made you feel like you were the protagonist. Which in those cases was slightly disturbing.

But I don't read anymore or even watch films.

I actually see gaming as an empowering medium. By playing as and feeling like you are to some degree the protagonist with individual violition makes you an active participant rather than a passive observer.
 

Frindis

Moderator
@ipman In case you have not seen these ones: I can highly recommend Dziga Vertov's The Man with the movie camera, It really flips up and down on the narrative. Not to mention the Jean-Luc Godard movies which also do this a lot by making fun of the straightforward classical-made movies by cutting them with different types of camera puns. Perhaps the most enjoyable movie would be Walter Ruttmsans: Berlin, Symphony of a Great City in which the narrative itself is in the spotlight. Rain 'regen' by Joris Ivens is also a very beautiful movie I highly recommend.

Hiroshima Mon Amour is another example, a bit darker-themed bringing some intersubjectivity between actors, movie, and story. It all depends on how you look at it, do you feel like you are in the movie, watching the movie, or perhaps just a fly on the wall. I believe it relates to games also, regardless of how said games are making use of the narrative. Sometimes you are the story of what you see, at least I feel like that at times when I am exploring and making my own life in an RPG.
 
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Thanks, I have seen quite a few of those avante garde films, not the Walter Ruttman's, or the Ivens.

I think in some ways you choose a whole ream of books and films that educate you culturally, but I felt like I reached a sort of limit with both. (Studied conceptual art and film)

I really do see gaming as the future of entertainment.

Or maybe it shouldn't be called gaming. 'Virtual immersion narratives'.

In a hundred years people may look back at films as a glimpse into our lives, like we do of cave paintings(and I rate cave paintings).
 
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In a hundred years people may look back at films as a glimpse into our lives, like we do of cave paintings(and I rate cave paintings).
May? Its a for sure yes lol, we do it now with films that came out 100 years ago already (Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton) and we for sure do look at cave paintings to make judgements about life at that time. Its really the only clues we have though 100 years from now people will have more, clearer info to digest.
 
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