Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stories should also have a beginning and a middle

A follow-up to yesterday's post.

I was thinking today about when a story really manages to hook me, and usually it's in the middle.  Sometimes right in the beginning if there is a certain character or plot point that really engages me, but otherwise it's in the second act.  The characters and motivations have been established, but there is still time for the big reveal before the end.

And that's why I often find DLC so boring.  Again, as I said yesterday, the story has ended.  Everything has been resolved, why are we being given more stuff to do?  If the DLC is an epilogue it can sometimes work, like the Fallout DLC that continues the main story.  Or if it tells a new story it can be engaging.  But the problem with that is by the time I get interested in this new story, chances are it's already over.

A story will naturally have a beginning, middle and ending.  Not necessarily in that order, I've read some fantastic fiction that opens with the ending, and there are plenty of games that do the same.  But once the story has ended, what more can you add?  Or rather, what good will it do the story, the game, and the players to add new material and...gah, I'm rambling.  Let me try to clarify.

Sticking with yesterday's examples, Borderlands.  Just this afternoon I beat the final boss for one of the DLC packs, and now the game is giving me another half dozen random quests for that area.  Why?  When I finished a different DLC pack for Borderlands it had kept the additional quests mixed in with the main ones, so that I felt that extra sense of accomplishment.  Now, with these side quests, I just feel like I'm being forced to mop up.

Incidentally one of the quests is titled "Mopping Up" and the goal is to kill more enemies...that's it.  So the game is pretty much acknowledging that the only thing it wants me to do is revisit the same areas an kill the same enemies...ah Hell, we all know I'm going to do it regardless.

But that's my point (one of my points at least).  This.  Is not.  A story!  This is chores.  If you have to put DLC into a game, fine!  Christ I'm the kind of gamer who lives for this stuff!  I'm such an OCD completionist that I'll do every single mission regardless of how much or little it will benefit my gameplay.  But please, please, please at least try to make it into an interesting story!

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