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    1. What games have you played the "wrong" way?

      "Wrong" here can be intentional or unintentional. Maybe you completely missed that a character had a certain ability and got through the entire game without knowing there was so much more you...

      "Wrong" here can be intentional or unintentional. Maybe you completely missed that a character had a certain ability and got through the entire game without knowing there was so much more you could be doing! Instead, maybe you specifically challenged yourself to get through the game without using that ability, seeing if you were up to the challenge! Maybe you activated cheats to cruise through on easy mode, or maybe you accidentally activated a cheat and had no idea that the game wasn't supposed to be that easy (ask me about my FF7 playthrough).

      "Wrong" can also be however you decide to interpret it: counter to the developer's intentions, exploiting the game engine, uncovering a loophole in the game's systems, pursuing your own goals instead of the game's goals, etc. It's not meant to be a moralistic judgment by any means (play any game however you want!) but more just an identifier that you went against the game's standard norms and expectations.

      Tell us what you did "wrong", why you did it that way, and what the outcomes were. Did it make the game more fun or exciting? Did it ruin the game for you?

      18 votes
    2. What are some RPGs that really capitalise on player choice and branching story?

      I keep seeing a lot of complaints surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 that it's not a particularly good RPG, because the story is pretty linear and the player choice doesn't really amount to much. I'm not...

      I keep seeing a lot of complaints surrounding Cyberpunk 2077 that it's not a particularly good RPG, because the story is pretty linear and the player choice doesn't really amount to much. I'm not yet done with the game so I don't know how accurate that assessment is. But either way, with my limited knowledge of programming and game design, I assume that doing this sort of thing well is a significant technical challenge.
      What are some games that rise to this challenge and make the most of player choice and branching story?

      10 votes
    3. How should we evaluate narrative tension in videogames?

      I recently played through 2013's Tomb Raider and it was a delight -- a wonderful reboot that modernized a series whose originals I loved but that are quite dated by today's standards. In the game,...

      I recently played through 2013's Tomb Raider and it was a delight -- a wonderful reboot that modernized a series whose originals I loved but that are quite dated by today's standards.

      In the game, Lara, the main character, is in peril constantly, and she is driven into worse and worse situations in an effort to save her crewmates and friend. The narrative of the game demands immediate action -- any dawdling risks all of the characters' lives.

      Of course, we know that games' timelines aren't necessarily time-driven but character-driven, so it is trivial for Lara to stop at any point in the game and not advance the story. The killers who are prepared to murder your friends will patiently wait around as long as necessary. Furthermore, the game gives you plenty of reason to do so! There are collectibles to find and story and lore bits scattered about the levels that you have to go out of your way to encounter. Finding these gets you more XP and resources which unlock skills and weapons that make the game easier. The game lets you fast travel back and forth to different areas as needed, and I spent a good amount of time at the story's height of tension not resolving that tension by advancing to the climax but by ignoring it and scouring the island for all the things I missed instead.

      I use Tomb Raider as an example here, but I'm sure you can think of plenty of other examples where the game directly incentivize actions that outright subvert its story. What I find interesting is that, on paper, I should care about this discrepancy, but in practice I really don't. In fact it's customary for me to do this in nearly every game I play, as I find that I like "checklisting" and cleaning things up rather than advancing the plot (of course -- do I actually like that, or do I merely like that I get rewards for doing so?).

      I don't have a singular question to ask but instead have some jumping off points for discussion:

      • Is this undermining of narrative tension an actual issue, or is it just part of the suspension of disbelief embedded into the medium of gaming?
      • Have you felt that particular games were made worse due to this issue? If so, why? If not, why not?
      • What games are counterexamples -- games whose narrative tension is not undercut by their gameplay? What makes them work? Does that aspect benefit the game, or would the game be roughly the same (or better) without it?
      • If you consider this an issue, does the "responsibility" for it lie with the developer of the game for incentivizing gameplay counter to narrative, or does the "responsibility" lie with the player for ruining their enjoyment of the narrative by pursuing other goals?

      Also, don't feel limited by these questions or my choice of game and feel free to address anything else relevant to this idea that you feel is important or relevant.

      15 votes
    4. Game soundtracks: Listening to them outside the game and how they impact the game itself

      I was curious how many people on here enjoy listening to game soundtracks outside of the game. I personally love when a game has a great soundtrack as it really adds to the atmosphere and overall...

      I was curious how many people on here enjoy listening to game soundtracks outside of the game. I personally love when a game has a great soundtrack as it really adds to the atmosphere and overall immersion in the game. I also like collecting physical copies of them as well.

      If you do, which ones are your favorite? Personally I love Shin Megami Tensei, Final Fantasy, and Blazblue soundtracks the most.

      19 votes