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Downward Spiral of Characterization and Plot

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It probably would have been better if he didn't reach lost hex

 

*plotshot*

 

The character writing might have improved slightly, but they still can't write a story plot for shit, yeah lets throw some ancient hidden world into the story by saying "this must be lost hex!" with no context or introduction as to how Tail's knew what it was.

 

Even if the character writing is slightly better executed, they still managed to sour me with how Tail's seems to undermine Sonic in every aspect most of the time, the story was pretty much hijacked by Tail's new character as Sonic played the stupid jock character than dun-goofed and cracked lame puns or simply was an accessory to what Tail's had been saying during cut scenes. The more I think about Lost World, the more angry I get with Sonic's current portrayal.

 

Granted the story doesn't really go into details about what's the Lost Hex or the Deadly Six and its history but does it really have to? Is it really going to hurt anyone when we know the history of the LostHex sure it might've been better to know more about the Zeti but does matter to the overall plot?

 

Tails does all the computing and hacking stuff while Sonic does all the kicking the enemy's butt stuff, this was the case since Unleashed (I think) so what makes Lost World any worse? Sure he was cocky but in Lost World, he was rather serious after Tails was kidnapped in Silent Forest. After that, Sonic was rather serious for most scenes. I think you're overexaggerating the light-heartedness of the story and ignoring most of its dark elements. 

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Granted the story doesn't really go into details about what's the Lost Hex or the Deadly Six and its history but does it really have to? Is it really going to hurt anyone when we know the history of the LostHex sure it might've been better to know more about the Zeti but does matter to the overall plot?

Acknowledge that it exist in some way, before actually bringing it in out of nowhere...

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Even if the character writing is slightly better executed, they still managed to sour me with how Tail's seems to undermine Sonic in every aspect most of the time

 

I'm sorry, but Tails never "undermined Sonic in every aspect" (that's what Knuckles did, when at the end he says "eh, I could have wrapped it up sooner").

 

Okay, Tails is not impressed anymore and his swaggering about himself is annoying, but when exactly did he undermine Sonic's credit?

 

Heck, the very first thing he says after Sonic defeated the Zeti is

nicework_zpscd668e7f.png

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Acknowledge that it exist in some way, before actually bringing it in out of nowhere...

 

Well we didn't knew the Wisps exist prior to Colors or we didn't know about Dark/Light Gaia prior to Unleashed, so what's the problem here? Why is Lost World getting a lot of flak when other games had similar issues as well?

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Well we didn't knew the Wisps exist prior to Colors or we didn't know about Dark/Light Gaia prior to Unleashed, so what's the problem here? Why is Lost World getting a lot of flak when other games had similar issues as well?

Well the Wisps had their little explanation of what they are and who they are after they were introduced.

Dark Gaia had the Gaia Manuscripts exposition from Professor Pickle.

Lost Hex and the Deadly Six...nothing. They're just there.

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I don't know why we need some in-depth explanation of them, though. I mean, you sure as hell could make a story based around that, but I don't think it's necessary to focus the story around their origins. Sonic's world is full of weird fuckin' shit, that's pretty well established at this point. I don't have trouble believing in another weird planetoid, or in a bunch of horned jerkbags living on it. And the fact that the game doesn't really expand on it or them means there probably isn't any kind of big cosmic significance to it or them; it's just a World that was Lost and the jerks who live on it. It/they aren't really the focus of the story they wanted to tell, just an appropriate setting/villains for it.

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Well we didn't knew the Wisps exist prior to Colors or we didn't know about Dark/Light Gaia prior to Unleashed, so what's the problem here? Why is Lost World getting a lot of flak when other games had similar issues as well?

We got an introduction to the wisps, they were weird looking creatures being chased by Eggman's robots, obviously even more of them were captured by Eggman...after that we actually got a proper introduction to what they were, what their species name was, and why they were there to begin with.

 

Dark Gaia, Light Gaia...goes about the situation in a way that...Dark Gaia, its released by Eggman at the beginning of the game, it collapses as an energy field soon after, and we find out more about it as the story progresses...Light Gaia, released by Eggman at the beginning of the game, lost memory of its original purpose, and we find out more about it as the story progresses.

 

The Lost Hex is, what is this Planet, how does Tails know about it, and how did it move to right above Sonic's Planet? It really just throws the viewer at this and doesn't bother to explain anything about it before or after.

 

When the explanation is given doesn't matter(depending on circumstance)but there atleast needs to be one in the story itself, how much it goes in depth...is also depending on circumstance.

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Personally I can't see how the writing in recent games appeals to anyone that isn't a child. Not that that means anyone that likes it is childish, just that the dialogue is. I can't emote with any of the characters. Another thing that is impacting my views on this are the overdone, annoying voice overs. This is the reason I can't watch something like Spongebob anymore. It's generic and grating on my ears. I prefer the low key vibe that Adventure Time and Regular Show use. Performance can make or break it, and this voice direction breaks it for me.

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The lack of context for Lost Hex and subsequently the Deadly Six means everything that happens there with those characters is inconsequential in a meta sense, because nothing needed to happen at that specific place with those specific characters for the game's narrative to function. It's Generations Syndrome all over again in that these decisions are arbitrary by lack of connection to anything else- even within the game itself- so whatever compelling qualities they could have are shot in the knees out of the gate. It really does strike as more of a decision to just get Sonic, Tails, and Eggman away from Earth so Sega wouldn't have to deal with explaining why the rest of the heroes weren't going to be there than it does one of any actual artistic merit.

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It's funny how people call LW Sonic an egotistical jock jerk, but he's ironically one of few portrayals that I don't feel oversimplified him as such in their attempts to make him look flawed. I actually tend to cringe at most alt medias at giving Sonic his 'attitude', making him odiously narcissistic and vindictive, acting like a glorified version of that bully that used to bug you at school. Lost World on the other hand I felt did a good job deconstructing his ego, but still maintaining his usual personality. He's obnoxious, sure, but his repentance felt genuine and his redeeming aspects are still kept in tact throughout it. They even shown him cracking and losing his cool in a manner that felt in character with his mellow games self.

 

I don't mind Tails much either, I kinda like Tails being a more energetic brat, especially since I've always felt his 3D era appearances were kinda bland. So long as this doesn't end up the formula for every story, and Tails constantly having to babysit Sonic's suicidal ego all the time, I'm not too worried, but even that's no worse than what seems to be the defining chemistry between Sonic and Sally from Satam and Archie; two 'dark' medias which tend to get recurring credit for characterization and plot.

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 but even that's no worse than what seems to be the defining chemistry between Sonic and Sally from Satam and Archie; two 'dark' medias which tend to get recurring credit for characterization and plot.

Okay, really dude?

 

While everyone knows SatAM is dark, you know full and well Archie isn't dark all the time. Nevermind that it gets credit for what the people behind the games refuse to do as far as characterization and plot elements goes.

 

It's one thing to not like it, and it's perfectly fine that it's not something your fond of. But we've already had this discussion once before - you know exactly why people give it credit for these things, regardless of whether you personally dislike them, especially in making such a one-sided, mocking accusation of it being dark.

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Okay maybe 'dark' is oversimplifying (albeit not as much for Penders era), it is however a clear attempt to remake the series with a more tight complex plot that is made to be taken somewhat seriously.

 

I think if Satam is considered 'dark' (which arguably has as much whimsy and 'played for laughs' stipulations), Archie (which refers to more mature elements such as death, domestic abuse and corrupt politics) is at least comparatively.

 

I'm just saying that particular chemistry in particular is no different.

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Okay maybe 'dark' is oversimplifying (albeit not as much for Penders era), it is however a clear attempt to remake the series with a more tight complex plot that is made to be taken somewhat seriously.

 

I think if Satam is considered 'dark' (which arguably has as much whimsy and 'played for laughs' stipulations), Archie (which refers to more mature elements such as death, domestic abuse and corrupt politics) is at least comparatively.

 

I'm just saying that particular chemistry in particular is no different.

Well, for one dark does not equal maturity. It really doesn't; games like ShTH are dark but it comes off as incredibly immature, for example. We need to keep this in mind when we're talking about these things.

 

As far as that chemistry goes, I see quite a difference when someone like Sally is a bit more commanding while Tails is more of an advisor, as one expect you to follow what they say while the other wants you to listen before acting.

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Well, for one dark does not equal maturity. It really doesn't; games like ShTH are dark but it comes off as incredibly immature, for example. We need to keep this in mind when we're talking about these things.

 

As far as that chemistry goes, I see quite a difference when someone like Sally is a bit more commanding while Tails is more of an advisor, as one expect you to follow what they say while the other wants you to listen before acting.

Most of Sonic's 'dark' bouts do at least attempt to garner more dignity than the comical ones. ShTH was TRYING to be taken seriously, it was just doing a really REALLY bad job, which is part of the reason it's considered badly done.

 

I can understand it in the sense of characterization, I do mean in the sense it is no more formulaic or one note about it though. 'Smart lucid character tries to stop dumb cocky character from killing himself, and vents neuroses over it'. Most of the medias have formulas with the cast they keep using over and over without a lot of deconstructions, the games aren't any worse about this.

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Most of Sonic's 'dark' bouts do at least attempt to garner more dignity than the comical ones. ShTH was TRYING to be taken seriously, it was just doing a really REALLY bad job, which is part of the reason it's considered badly done.

 

I can understand it in the sense of characterization, I do mean in the sense it is no more formulaic or one note about it though. 'Smart lucid character tries to stop dumb cocky character from killing himself, and vents neuroses over it'.

They do, and like the comical ones there's some successes and failures to it. ShTH was trying to be taken seriously and be an escalation to what people enjoyed in SA2, but because it did a bad job, it highlights the point that being serious and mature needs quality and care. You can just throw a dark tone on something and expect people to like it, just like you can't throw a joke to lighten the mood and expect people to laugh.

 

Now as far as the smart lucid character and dumb cocky character goes, it would do both if they weren't done in a rather black and white fashion like that. It's not like the cocky character has to be dumb and the lucid one has to be smart, they could each have their own strengths as well, such the cocky character's not dumb so much as being a guy of high-risk high-reward, where his risk taking allowing better opportunities to be grabbed while failure gets heavily punished; the lucid character by contrast can see things much more clearly, but because they lack the risk-taking the cocky character has, they're more cautious allowing those same opportunities to be missed but keeps things safe and sound.

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Since when has the story of sonic been that important. It is by far no where near MGS standards or even other story driven game. And I have never known the story to be the driving factor that leads many to continue to support the series. For me it is cause he was a childhood hero of mine back in the early 90s.

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They do, and like the comical ones there's some successes and failures to it. ShTH was trying to be taken seriously and be an escalation to what people enjoyed in SA2, but because it did a bad job, it highlights the point that being serious and mature needs quality and care. You can just throw a dark tone on something and expect people to like it, just like you can't throw a joke to lighten the mood and expect people to laugh.

 

Now as far as the smart lucid character and dumb cocky character goes, it would do both if they weren't done in a rather black and white fashion like that. It's not like the cocky character has to be dumb and the lucid one has to be smart, they could each have their own strengths as well, such the cocky character's not dumb so much as being a guy of high-risk high-reward, where his risk taking allowing better opportunities to be grabbed while failure gets heavily punished; the lucid character by contrast can see things much more clearly, but because they lack the risk-taking the cocky character has, they're more cautious allowing those same opportunities to be missed but keeps things safe and sound.

I think however plot holes or bad writing will show up a lot more serious stories than comedic ones. I do agree that comedic stories with bad jokes are a failure, but they don't aim as high as the serious ones. Stories that take big ambitions take bigger risks so if it fails, it falls harder than a simple one.

 

Pretty much every damn media of Sonic has utilized an Idiot Plot at some point for example. This affects comedic works less because in a light hearted story where most of the cast are wackos to begin with, people aren't going to take plotholes that seriously. Serious works that intend to have a tight believable characterization and plot formation can only take suspension of disbelief so far before it makes it look pretentious.

 

Sometimes I just feel writers oversimplify Sonic and Sally to just 'the female character is always right' formula, and often results in Flanderization and characterization traits being sacrificed to keep it going (eg. Sonic randomly becoming the bad tempered or vindictive one so Sally can be his rational foil). It took up more than half of Satam's second season for example and Archie seem to hit a wall even when they are TRYING to make Sally the 'wrong' one. I feel that old sitcom dynamic is no less one note than the chemistry with Tails in Lost World.

 

Lost World made Sonic flawed, but it kept some sort of maintenance on his good aspects too. Notice he is still the more even tempered one of the bunch for example, trying to keep civility between the two sides, and even as he starts to feel pressure later on, his anger is kept somewhat controlled and in character. It's those small bits of attention to characterization that made me appreciate it more, they know there's more to making Sonic flawed than just turning him into cliche narcissistic jock, a flaw I feel many medias tend to suffer (though STC Sonic was this full time so it's kinda moot point there).

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I think however plot holes or bad writing will show up a lot more serious stories than comedic ones. I do agree that comedic stories with bad jokes are a failure, but they don't aim as high as the serious ones. Stories that take big ambitions take bigger risks so if it fails, it falls harder than a simple one.

 

Pretty much every damn media of Sonic has utilized an Idiot Plot at some point for example. This affects comedic works less because in a light hearted story where most of the cast are wackos to begin with, people aren't going to take plotholes that seriously. Serious works that intend to have a tight believable characterization and plot formation can only take suspension of disbelief so far before it makes it look pretentious.

Plot holes, no. It can hurt comedic stories equally as much as serious ones if there a tight continuity to it (and fans are hardcore enough to point them out). So it's completely neutral to tone. Plot holes are a problem with continuity, so for them to not be serious is if the continuity is incredibly loose and disconnected to begin with. Generally speaking, if you established something previously, only to betray that establishment later on, that's a plot hole. See for example, the Blaze/Silver/Nega plot hole that people argued about, as that had nothing to do with how serious the stories were.

 

Bad writing, yes. As comedic stories don't often take themselves seriously, they can get away with mess ups due to intentionally trying being silly about it. Not the same with serious stories which has differing principles and standards unique to it.

 

 

 

Sometimes I just feel writers oversimplify Sonic and Sally to just 'the female character is always right' formula, and often results in Flanderization and characterization traits being sacrificed to keep it going. It took up more than half of Satam's second season for example and Archie seem to hit a wall even when they are TRYING to make Sally the 'wrong' one.

To be honest, I can't remember all of SatAM as it's been a long while. All I know is that it kind of hasn't aged well as far as the writing goes. Archie seems to wrap things up too quickly and make Sally a bit of their favorite, although that may change come the effects of the Genesis Wave.

 

 

 

Lost World made Sonic flawed, but it kept some sort of maintenance on his good aspects too. Notice he is still the more even tempered one of the bunch for example, trying to keep civility between the two sides, and even as he starts to feel pressure later on, his anger is kept somewhat controlled and in character. It's those small bits of attention to characterization that made me appreciate it more, compared to far too many other medias that just oversimplify the 'Sonic acts like an arrogant idiot' aspect or even grant him Compressed Vices (granted he was pretty much this full time in STC so it's kinda moot point there).

I'm one for a bit more variety and dynamism when the time calls for it. I wouldn't mind Sonic exploding in anger when pushed to the brink anymore than I wouldn't mind him keeping himself under control so long as the circumstances are done with tact and timing. I like more ranges for the characters to express themselves beyond they're default mood, hence why Lost World really isn't as bad as people say it is compared to his more one-sided portrayals in other mainstream titles after the Adventures.

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Plot holes I admit may be a bad term there, but still the comedic ones are meant to be silly so suspension of disbelief is less likely bother audiences than with serious ones. Arrogant goofballs like Eggman and the Deadly Six performing acts of Bond Villain Stupidity is less likely to make the story look broken than with ones like Mephiles or Black Doom that the story constantly tries to boost as competent, sinister and menacing. Similarly the 'Sonic gets easily framed and condemned' plot tends to gain less ire with cases such as 'Too Tall Tails' and 'Man of the Year' than it does with 'Endgame' and 'SA2'.

 

I genuinely think the comics struggle finding a characteristic flaw for Sally (compare below), like they feel only the Closer To Earth elements of her are consistent. Most of the times she just gains a Compressed Vice or acts as reckless as Sonic, which I feel defies the point of a character establishing flawed moment. I don't think that will change with the new alterations really unless Ian finds any new understanding of her personality. This is where I feel some medias go wrong, a formula is more important than an actual personality, and when they eventually try to deconstruct it or try something new, they hit a wall.

 

That's the thing though, Lost World added a new display of personality to Sonic, but in a way that still felt in character. Characters execute the same emotions in different ways. There'd be a difference between 'Sonic angry' or 'Amy angry' for example, or 'Cream happy' or 'Shadow happy'. That's what makes them unique as much as the usual recurrence of said traits for each of them and that's why I feel Lost World was a very good sign of life writing wise (if admittedly still rough around the edges), the writer shows an ability to be flexible with personalities.

 

There are cases where acting against character works (hence the trope OOC Is Serious Business) but it's better to actually establish consistent characteristic moments first so there's a characteristic to break. Sonic usually undergoing Tranquil Fury under pressure would show there is a good temper to break and would make a rare outburst more effective. Having him snap tall order in every display of temper would make you wonder why he is implied to have a good temper to begin with.

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Plot holes I admit may be a bad term there, but still the comedic ones are meant to be silly so suspension of disbelief is less likely bother audiences than with serious ones. Arrogant goofballs like Eggman and the Deadly Six performing acts of Bond Villain Stupidity is less likely to make the story look broken than with ones like Mephiles or Black Doom that the story constantly tries to boost as competent, sinister and menacing. Similarly the 'Sonic gets easily framed and condemned' plot tends to gain less ire with cases such as 'Too Tall Tails' and 'Man of the Year' than it does with 'Endgame' and 'SA2'.

You're making false equivalences and putting comedy as being better than serious. There are differences to them on what makes them work. One could equally criticize comedy of being silly to the point of being embarrassing in the writing like that of the cartoons and the early comics, and there is a thing called being too juvenile and silly; another could praise a more serious work by tackling a subject with maturity and balance or shaking things up to a new level, like they did with Endgame and SA2. But the problem has less to do with one tone being less likely to bother audiences, and more within its execution - it's not in the tone of the plot, it is in the way it is handled. Granted, after the Adventures, the writers didn't seem to have a grip on how to make a serious tone work for Sonic, but that lead to a consequence of them fumbling it and people calling foul, but in the same instance they gave us Heroes and Generations which was more comedic than SA2 and people give it ire over SA2 for being really incoherent in Heroes case or lacking in Generations.

 

It's like I said earlier with having things go in extremes and no mix, hence the reason why, in the games, Lost Worlds is much better over the likes of say Heroes or Colors despite the three of them being light and comedic in mood. It's the same thing with serious plots, with the Adventures over the likes of ShTH and Sonic 06; in short, you can't give one tone more credit just for what it is. It has is strengths, it has its flaws, the point is to work with the strengths.

 

Heroes, for example, is much more juvenile and wacky than SA2, yet SA2 gets less ire for its story while Heroes is criticized by contrast. ShTH is more serious than SA2, yet again, SA2 comes out on top. Comedy meaning to be less serious doesn't always mean they can't be a bother, particularly if it is off putting or has bad timing. The thing comedy gets away with is because it doesn't require as much tact as serious plots.

 

But at the same time, there's a reason they get ire whether you're being serious or comedic. There's nothing wrong with having funny moments that lighten the mood, but at the same time there's nothing wrong with giving things more tension. People criticizing something like Lost World want more tension and serious atmosphere, which doesn't always mean Sonic should forgo having light and silly moments.

 

It's simply about care and tact, you just need to know where to apply them to get the results.

 

 

 

I genuinely think the comics struggle finding a characteristic flaw for Sally (compare below), like they feel only the Closer To Earth elements of her are consistent. Most of the times she just gains a Compressed Vice or acts as reckless as Sonic, which I feel defies the point of a character establishing flawed moment. I don't think that will change with the new alterations really unless Ian finds any new understanding of her personality. This is where I feel some medias go wrong, a formula is more important than an actual personality, and when they eventually try to deconstruct it or try something new, they hit a wall.

Well Ian had to soft reboot the continuity, so he's given a lot more room to reconstruct her differently than she was before.

 

 

 

There are cases where acting against character works (hence the trope OOC Is Serious Business) but it's better to actually establish consistent characteristic moments first so there's a characteristic to break. Sonic usually undergoing Tranquil Fury under pressure would show there is a good temper to break and would make a rare outburst more effective. Having him snap tall order in every display of temper would make you wonder why he is implied to have a good temper to begin with.

But we've had these consistent character moments prior to Lost World, with hardly any breaks to them. Now the problem with that until Lost Worlds was because it was so stagnant, and we were waiting to see something new and intense, such as when it looked like Sonic was about to fight Tails in Colors only for it to cut at the last second.

 

No one is saying for Sonic to snap in every display of temper, but rather that they want to see what his tipping point is, an example being when Shadow ruined his reputation to the world in SA2 and actually piss him off.

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Since when has the story of sonic been that important. It is by far no where near MGS standards or even other story driven game. And I have never known the story to be the driving factor that leads many to continue to support the series. For me it is cause he was a childhood hero of mine back in the early 90s.

 

It's not been treated as all that important but I'd argue that doesn't mean it is so, especially if you care about the characters and the world they inhabit, the stagnation of the platforming genre, or both. For one, I see conflict in creating interesting characters and locales if you're not going to actually do anything with them except use them as window dressings for control mechanics and invisible platforms.

 

Second, the platforming genre feels pretty stagnant to me now despite the quality games we're getting, and I'd argue it's due in part to the genre following the lead of the guy who does nothing interesting with context and narrative because the developer assumes the strange conclusion that we're not supposed to care about that stuff anyway without having ever qualified "why" we're not supposed to care. It's leaving unique ideas and experiences locked in the closet for mere tradition.

 

Platformers are pretty much just a colorful rendition of the FPS genre: linear, emotionally-shallow experiences who succeed only on mechanics to a certain degree, and it's all because we're not "supposed" to explore or question concepts and ideas in a meaningful way in platformers because apparently that stuff is only for Metal Gear Solid for some also-unqualified reason. 

 

Oh video games. You make me love you and hate you at the same time.

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Oh video games. You make me love you and hate you at the same time.

 

Strange. I both profoundly agree and profoundly disagree with you here.

 

I don't think interesting locales and characters are or should be window dressings for control mechanics. But it bothers me that it seems implied that they should have some other treatment and belong to another narrative altogether. There's this strange misconception that gameplay is one thing and story is another - and I've already tried to deny this notion exhaustively. In fact, it's reached the point of caricatured repetition. "Yeah, Palas. We get it. Gameplay is narrative. It's a cute opinion you have there". But what bothers me now is the notion that cinematics equal story.

 

I mean, cinematics can be just as un-narrative as control mechanics and invisible platforms supposedly are. It's a tool like any other, with codes and conventions and principles and whatnot. If we want characters to be explored in their psyché, why is it assumed that a film would be the best way to do it? I can't buy the idea that the platform genre is a more colorful rendition of the FPS genre because I don't even think the FPS genre is what you claim it to be. Call of Duty is one hell of a experience in the single player campaign. In the platformers' case, we have Braid, which is anything but emotionally shallow.

 

On the other hand, I'm talking about punctual examples and I do think it's fucking stupid to make a game without thinking of anything beyond the "fun" factor. The notion that "if it works, then it's good" seems to prevail in the mind of an admirable number of designers. There is merit in it - there's nothing wrong with a game that relies solely on its mechanics. That's how we got Tetris, damn - but when people put a story just as a topping for the gameplay, then you might as well get rid of said story altogether and make another Tetris. If you're to give me a story, do it in full. Explore it, tell me in clever ways. Metal Gear Solid has its story in the gameplay, too, and it's the best part of it. The Sorrow is one of the best gaming moments I have ever experienced not in spite of the story, but precisely because it's all in one.

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Strange. I both profoundly agree and profoundly disagree with you here.

 

I don't think interesting locales and characters are or should be window dressings for control mechanics. But it bothers me that it seems implied that they should have some other treatment and belong to another narrative altogether. There's this strange misconception that gameplay is one thing and story is another - and I've already tried to deny this notion exhaustively. In fact, it's reached the point of caricatured repetition. "Yeah, Palas. We get it. Gameplay is narrative. It's a cute opinion you have there". But what bothers me now is the notion that cinematics equal story.

 

I mean, cinematics can be just as un-narrative as control mechanics and invisible platforms supposedly are. It's a tool like any other, with codes and conventions and principles and whatnot. If we want characters to be explored in their psyché, why is it assumed that a film would be the best way to do it? I can't buy the idea that the platform genre is a more colorful rendition of the FPS genre because I don't even think the FPS genre is what you claim it to be. Call of Duty is one hell of a experience in the single player campaign. In the platformers' case, we have Braid, which is anything but emotionally shallow.

 

On the other hand, I'm talking about punctual examples and I do think it's fucking stupid to make a game without thinking of anything beyond the "fun" factor. The notion that "if it works, then it's good" seems to prevail in the mind of an admirable number of designers. There is merit in it - there's nothing wrong with a game that relies solely on its mechanics. That's how we got Tetris, damn - but when people put a story just as a topping for the gameplay, then you might as well get rid of said story altogether and make another Tetris. If you're to give me a story, do it in full. Explore it, tell me in clever ways. Metal Gear Solid has its story in the gameplay, too, and it's the best part of it. The Sorrow is one of the best gaming moments I have ever experienced not in spite of the story, but precisely because it's all in one.

 

I've not assumed that film-making is the only way to do narrative. Regardless of how you tell a story, you need to keep in mind that context separates good storytelling from bad storytelling. Everything must have a reason to exist within the overall whole; the level choices, the level design, the bosses, everything. As I learned in my studies, each moment in a visual work with narrative should simultaneously ask a question and give an answer, and no, this doesn't mean explaining every single detail of a world. It means focusing the audience's attention on plot elements through careful construction of scenes or levels and leading them along.

 

For example, if a shadow appears in the clouds, you can reasonably assume the viewer is going to ask "what is that?" in their mind. You answer this by showing a large metallic entity with portholes and bolts on it. You don't see the whole thing (you don't need to, especially if you want to get across the idea that it's huge and imposing), but a gamer can still reasonably assume "air ship." Without any hand-holding, you've given the answer to the original question and simultaneously given another: "Now that it's here, what is it going to do?" You have multiple choices here. You can have the air ship notice and attack, which can either force the character to A.) flee, in turn setting up the next level as the place they fled to, B.) Attack back, setting up a boss battle. Or you can have the air ship not notice, which causes the character to investigate and sets up the air ship as the next level instead. 

 

Every event, every level, every boss, should be a set-up that results from the last happening. Good storytelling in any form is a domino effect, and if you proceed to not answer a question your audience reasonably asks, (if the air ship simply left, for example), then you do them a disservice and they lose interest in your work. The world becomes fake.

 

In the case of platformers, going from tropical world to cake world is fun because it introduces new scenery and new mechanics and challenges. The new art can be beautiful even, but without any kind of context to assess why we need to go there, why cake world needs to exist here instead of ocean world or castle world, or even just allowing us to form an emotional connection with cake world, then the game world feels ultimately trivial and artificial. It becomes a level pack instead of an adventure, and that's what the entire genre feels like now: level packs. Even though the mechanics and graphical fidelity have improved significantly, I still feel in ways that I'm playing the same old game, and again it's due in part to developers telling me that I shouldn't care to ask for more due to the circular logic that it's a platformer and thus there's nothing else but mechanics worth caring about in them.

 

As for the FPS comment, I was comparing platformers to the stagnation people level towards it. As far as they're concerned, CoD doesn't change- even if it may be good fun- and more and more shooters are trying to hop on CoD's bandwagon to certain extents. I don't see this as all that different than current platformers riding Mario's coattails. Mario, the guy who lives off mechanics and really nothing else, and as a result people have been complaining more and more that the series is stagnating despite its polish, and that it's not enough to get Nintendo's ass out of the fire anymore. Really, it's two sides of the same coin to me.

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I've not assumed that film-making is the only way to do narrative. Regardless of how you tell a story, you need to keep in mind that context separates good storytelling from bad storytelling. Everything must have a reason to exist within the overall whole; the level choices, the level design, the bosses, everything. As I learned in my studies, each moment in a visual work with narrative should simultaneously ask a question and give an answer, and no, this doesn't mean explaining every single detail of a world. It means focusing the audience's attention on plot elements through careful construction of scenes or levels and leading them along.

 

For example, if a shadow appears in the clouds, you can reasonably assume the viewer is going to ask "what is that?" in their mind. You answer this by showing a large metallic entity with portholes and bolts on it. You don't see the whole thing (you don't need to, especially if you want to get across the idea that it's huge and imposing), but a gamer can still reasonably assume "air ship." Without any hand-holding, you've given the answer to the original question and simultaneously given another: "Now that it's here, what is it going to do?" You have multiple choices here. You can have the air ship notice and attack, which can either force the character to A.) flee, in turn setting up the next level as the place they fled to, B.) Attack back, setting up a boss battle. Or you can have the air ship not notice, which causes the character to investigate and sets up the air ship as the next level instead. 

 

Every event, every level, every boss, should be a set-up that results from the last happening. Good storytelling in any form is a domino effect, and if you proceed to not answer a question your audience reasonably asks, (if the air ship simply left, for example), then you do them a disservice and they lose interest in your work. The world becomes fake.

 

In the case of platformers, going from tropical world to cake world is fun because it introduces new scenery and new mechanics and challenges. The new art can be beautiful even, but without any kind of context to assess why we need to go there, why cake world needs to exist here instead of ocean world or castle world, or even just allowing us to form an emotional connection with cake world, then the game world feels ultimately trivial and artificial. It becomes a level pack instead of an adventure, and that's what the entire genre feels like now: level packs. Even though the mechanics and graphical fidelity have improved significantly, I still feel in ways that I'm playing the same old game, and again it's due in part to developers telling me that I shouldn't care to ask for more due to the circular logic that it's a platformer and thus there's nothing else but mechanics worth caring about in them.

 

Why, yes, you're right. McKee has gone through the principles of good storytelling with so much strength that I find it hard for anyone to contest him. But-- every medium has its inherent narrative properties. You know, there's this book by Paul Auster named City of Glass - in fact I think it's quite famous in the US but around here it isn't so much - and it isn't the most exciting thing I've ever read but it does say quite the cunning thing about mystery novels: when you are telling a story about a mystery, every word the writer writes will count. In the reader's mind, that is. The reader is very likely to get suspicious not only of the events of the story, but of the descriptions provided and even the choice of words. A very specific use of a word is taken by us as a possible clue, if only in the back of our minds.

 

That's important. Every detail will be taken into account by the viewer even if there isn't anything there. It might happen in a movie or in a game, too. What I mean to say is - storytelling is a fluid process and is more about who views than about who tells. Even if there is the better way to do it, it's still subject to a lot of variables within the medium.

 

So games, for example. Sonic, let's be specific. Sonic 1, to be even more specific. Why does Marble Zone come after Green Hill and Spring Yard after Marble Zone? There doesn't seem to be an underlying reason, right? And yet, why is it that we feel we've come a long way when we are at Starlight Zone and we remember Green Hill? Strange, right? But it's a story that "tells itself" through level progression.

 

Now, of course, this makes it all the more important for platformers to know what the hell they are doing. I'll always be the first one to diss Sonic Generations because of how lacking it is in this department. But really, you don't need a set-up and a payoff in the traditional sense as long as the elements are so harmonic that the player can connect the dots by themselves.

 

Mario, the guy who lives off mechanics and really nothing else

 

 

I wonder about that. Mario thrives - or used to thrive - on the brand he formed around him. Everything is just so iconic. Perhaps this is what's starting to fail, not relying on mechanics. Because anyway, don't we have Angry Birds and Candy Crush and Flappy Bird storming the market every now and again? Games that live off mechanics and really nothing else, aren't they?

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