freedom over story or story over freedom?

Lnik3500

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Hi everyone! 


Today I was scratching as to whether I should go for the story or more on the gameplay (exploration) and I thought it could apply to someone else from having a constructive advice!


I was imagining myself on making the player explore whatever he wants, but I thought that if I do this, my game could not be story focused since it will be a little bit everywhere... 


So I decided to put my pros and cons and I wanted your advice on it!


Story based


Pros:


-Story is more thought out and is explained little by little with intrigues


Cons:


-Linear experience


Gameplay based


Pros:


-Definitely more freedom


-exploration=replay value


Cons:


-story can be scaterred more and be harder to understand


-can be overwhelming


So I want to know what you guys think about it!


Thank you and sorry for my english! ;)
 

Bloopy

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In my opinion, freedom over story. It really depends on what kind of game you want to make and what experience you want to create, though. But you don't have to sacrifice a strong narrative to give the player more options. Look at games like Dark Souls, which have amazing stories to tell. The background of the world is spread out across the levels, which lets the player discover what's going on at their own pace. It's also a lot more satisfying to figure something out yourself than to have a cutscene shove it down your throat. If you want to reveal the plot of your game little by little, let the players discover it with item descriptions, enemy designs, level designs, and the layout of the world. There are tons of ways you can create an interesting and mysterious game world just by using the gameplay. If you're going down this route however, you need to make sure you have a concrete theme and set of rules for your world that are consistent throughout. It's up to you in the end, but I personally find games that allow you to experience what they have to offer at your own pace more fun. 
 

Caitlin

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Why does it have to be one over the other?  I mean, why can't you have a little bit from both columns?  I mean, you have a well thought out world, a vast cast of interesting characters with Lore and legends and an exploreable world.  If you had a dungeon that doesn't mean anything to the heroes, yeah, you could go through it, but emotionally means nothing the characters.  What if before then, you did a mission or a discovered a journal that lead you to that cavern with emotional connection?  You'd discover something new about your character.  A good set of characters, lore, legends and awesome history can MAKE a great game. 
 

Lnik3500

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If you're going down this route however, you need to make sure you have a concrete theme and set of rules for your world that are consistent throughout.
hmmm, I think I get it but I would like a more detailed example of it. Since a game world needs to be made very carefully, I'm wondering if there is a topic about it elsewhere.
 

Kino

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I would definitely stick more on the gameplay camp; even really good story driven games generally don't make the experience too linear, unless that's the majority of the gameplay.

For example, things like the Final Fantasy series at one point let you explore all you want past a certain point; you didn't have to progress the story unless you wanted to.
Other games, have bonus areas kind of around where the story section is. 

Being too linear I don't think is good. Like, Neptunia was pretty linear for me. The game was basically instance areas with clearly marked areas that would start a story cutscene. Exploration was very limited. It was an alright game to play, but not something I'd play for story, or endearing gameplay.
 

LuLingqi1

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I would definitely stick more on the gameplay camp; even really good story driven games generally don't make the experience too linear, unless that's the majority of the gameplay.

For example, things like the Final Fantasy series at one point let you explore all you want past a certain point; you didn't have to progress the story unless you wanted to.
Other games, have bonus areas kind of around where the story section is. 

Being too linear I don't think is good. Like, Neptunia was pretty linear for me. The game was basically instance areas with clearly marked areas that would start a story cutscene. Exploration was very limited. It was an alright game to play, but not something I'd play for story, or endearing gameplay.


As a Neptunia die hard, all I have to say on that, is it's a niche, and the first game was the nichiest niche of the series. It's a fan-service expose so that's that. Although, I would have to say if you felt the first Neptunia was linear, lack of exploration aside, I think you're crazy. Especially considering how the events worked for bonus characters if you got them.


As for the rest of this, I haven't put much back tracking into the early parts of my game due to wanting the story to move along, however, there is quite a bit of exploration in where you can go and look at. Most of it opens up to tiny little tid-bits of character lore to in-universe lore. I do have one major exploration point that unlocks a party member, which greatly affects the story.


I would say, if you want to have an explorable world, you also need some linearity in the game. Make a plethora of sidequests, but make sure the main quests are where the story resides. I guess, the best solution would be, if in the story you have to get to a dungeon, don't allow them to enter the dungeon until they reach it in the mainstory, I suppose. Like, make it to where they need a key or something, then they can progress as they wish. Know what I mean?
 

Kino

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I actually played Neptunia Mk2, not the original Neptunia.


I do understand that is niche though; that's what comes to mind when I think Compile Heart. I like the characters for what they represent, and a world of video games. But for me, it doesn't suit my tastes, in terms of exploration I enjoyed it partially, but it's a formula I've gotten used to. That, and the fan service has no effect on me at this point. What I did enjoy, was the world, because it's a world about video games so that was the endearing part of the game for me.


Gameplay was alright for me; the combat system reminded me of Phantom Brave, because there is area coverage for some of the skills.


But the execution in terms of exploration while I played was going to the map, then playing the event at my leisure if I so choose. But, my freedom was still pretty restricted, because I could only really go to the map for the next story section, or backwards to where I was before. It was a pretty linear experience for me as a result.
 

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It all depends on what your story is. In my case, the story is a war between different factions, and the concept is the player interacting with this war torn world. The end goal of the story is a resolution of this war and which faction comes out on top. The story presses on in the background regardless whether the player is active in resolving the conflict or not. The world changes, so if they explore a different way in a certain playthrough different things will be available then in previous and future playthroughs. Most of the story is focused on character interactions instead of a large arc.
 

Oddball

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you could start out linear and slowly move to non-linear. while telling the story through quests


really, quests are a good tool for telling a story in an open world or non linear game
 

Lnik3500

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WOW! There are a lot of constructive replies here! I thought that even if it is a personal question, I feel like everyone can make advantage of this topic for your own games and it's really fun to read them!


If there is anybody else who could make suggestions or preferences, please say so!
 

Henryetha

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I find this quite interesting, as I recently finished a demo of my first game which is focussed alot on game mechanics (and battle-heavy).


3 people played the game and all 3 missed the story aspects.


However, when it comes to the game mechanics 2 of them enjoyed them, although one of them found the game overall too difficult (and as I played myself the whole demo on normal difficulty, I guess it's because the player didn't make use of some advantages he could have, like bonus damage with certain elements etc). The 3. player found the features too overwhelming.


I'd usually let the members in this forum try the demo to find out more, if there weren't some stability issues of the game self..

(like random shutdowns usually 1x in 1-3 hours of playtime - and worse, in rare cases it resulted in the safe file being corrupted and not useable anymore, so.. nothing really for the public :( And the main reason, I've stopped working on it since then.... although I usually love the game, but cannot fix it w/o error message)



Anyway, I was worried, if a deep story won't distract too much from the gameplay mechanics self and vice versa.


But there are alot of advices concerning the implementation of the story, so I guess it's somehow finding a balance between it..
 

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