Reasoning and plot holes

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Hyouryuu-Na, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. Hyouryuu-Na

    Hyouryuu-Na Poker-faced girl who is on a break Veteran

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    This thing has been bothering me for a long time. The main reason why I haven't been able to complete a game till now is because I'm really picky and kind of a perfectionist. I really want everything to be super neat. I've been suffering from this problem where no matter what I write, it turns out to be non-realistic. I write parts of the story as a novel before working on that part for my game. I'm at a point where nothing is making sense (maybe I just chose a very complicated concept for this game) to me. Maybe it's just me. But suppose I think of new challenges for the player. I find myself thinking "why would this happen? Why would the player do this?" I write a sentence and wonder... why? Maybe I'm running into so many whys because I'm making a horror game and it's not actually a realistic thing I guess.

    So, my question here is: would you play a game that has some form of bad reasoning? (Like how people go investiagte a creepy sound in a horror movie when they should not). Would you play a game where you constantly need to go from point A to point B to point A again and again to Point C? I mean, you constantly need to go from one place to another again and again?

    Sorry this was sort of long but my brain isn't functioning very well (stress) and I couldn't arrange what I was going to say. Thanks for reading.
     
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  2. Nivlacart

    Nivlacart Glue my hand to the tablet pen. Veteran

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    There's nothing wrong with making a player go from place to place over and over again. Resident Evil made use of the various mansion rooms really efficiently and it felt more like familiarising.

    The most important thing would be the motivations to move.
     
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  3. Tai_MT

    Tai_MT Veteran Veteran

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    I see this problem a lot. Usually it crops up with newer or inexperienced writers. Keep in mind, I'm not a veteran. I have nothing published. I do not claim to be an expert writer or author.

    Here's the problem:

    You're making your story secondary to the gameplay. You need to prioritize.

    Do you want a gameplay heavy game? If yes, your story should be secondary. You can tailor it later to fit the narrative. But, it will be difficult for you to go into a game without at least the standard "10 Plot Point Structure". At minimum, you will need this. You can ignore every other writing step once you have this and "improvise" as you go along. After all, you're making a game primarily for the gameplay and not the story.

    If you want a story heavy game... Then you need to design every single aspect of your gameplay around that story. You can't just "think up a new challenge" and try to justify it later. You need to already have the entire story planned (maybe not all the details, but absolutely every major aspect of it, including the path the player will take from the start to the end), start to finish, before even opening the program. You can fill in the blanks with gameplay if your primary purpose is storytelling.

    You have to choose one.

    The issue you're having is one which I see primarily in "Quest Creation" in most RPG's. That is to say, the dev wants to add a quest so that there's "content", or a "reward" they want to give out, so they start with the reward, then work backwards to what they think is worth the effort of getting this reward, then backwards again to try to think up a reason to get the player to engage in this effort, and backwards again to try to fill in what's left of the story and find a good place to put it.

    The key word in all of that is: Backwards.

    A storyteller doesn't work backwards. A story teller doesn't give the player a Quest unless they have a story to tell. Here's the story I want to tell. Self-contained. Links in with the Main Plot. It's relevant to one of the party members. It fleshes out the Lore of the world. Etcetera. Without a story to tell, a quest will not exist with a storyteller.

    The storyteller then creates the story of the Quest, all its twists and turns and plot points, all its locations, and then decide on a reward for completing it when the story being told is done. They don't work backwards.

    A mechanics type dev will work backwards. Trying to justify the existence or order of things to be completed after the fact. This isn't the wrong way to go about things, but it will fail to appeal to anyone looking to your game for a good story. If you want people to enjoy the gameplay, you can use as weak of justification as you want for getting the player to engage in more of the fun gameplay. No story required.

    Think of the two as the difference between a "popcorn action movie" and "an award-winning cult classic". They are both great in their own right, but they appeal to different audiences because of what they do well (though there is usually some overlap. I enjoy big dumb action movies as well as intellectual pieces).

    Yes, I would. See, I play Earth Defense Force. I also play other games somewhat like it. Here's the gameplay of Earth Defense Force: "Kill B-Movie Tropes (giant insects, kaiju, giant robots, space ships, etcetera), collect upgrades, and move on to the next level as the difficulty ramps up and the map changes." Here's the bad reasoning: The plot is delivered primarily over "radio comms". That is... other soldiers alongside you, generals, tacticians, scientists, equipment liaisons, etcetera. Almost all of it is super hammy and stupid. In one of the games, early on, the scientist says, "we can beat the Giant Insects by using our Wing Divers (girls in jetpacks, using laser/plasma weaponry that fly around)! No matter how much the Insects have evolved, they can't fly!" Two missions later, the Wing Divers are caught in giant spider webs that are easily seen, easily avoided, and relatively easily destroyed. 40 missions later, you encounter giant wasps, and the scientist guy is horrified. 20 missions after that, and you encounter Dragons. Is it a stupid set up that "yeah, there will definitely be flying enemies later"? Yes, yes it is.

    However, the entire game is played as a "big dumb action movie". That is to say... it's dumb fun. You run around, shoot stuff, collect items, and do it all again the next mission. There's nothing complicated about the gameplay. You don't have to protect civilians, buildings, troops, or your bases. You don't have to escort anyone, anywhere. You don't have to fiddle with objectives at all. The objectives never get more complicated than "you need to destroy this one specific enemy to end the mission". That enemy is usually a boss monster or a monster that spawns other monsters.

    Does the game need a story? No. Do you get one? Yes you do. Is it silly and hammy and over-the-top? Yes it is. Does that make it enjoyable? Yes it does. Why? Not sure. But, it fits in with the gameplay. Why can't we blow up these space ships yet? Because the story says we don't know how to blow them up. Why else? Because the gameplay doesn't have those space ships expose their weak points in this mission to allow you to blow them up. Story to justify the ramping up of challenge, training, introduction of new enemy types, and location changes.

    That's it.

    It's still immensely fun.

    I enjoyed Gears of War 1 for this same reason. Is there a story explanation for much of the game? Not really. Lore? No. You have a chainsaw gun. Cut enemies in half and shoot them in the face. What's the plot? Pick up a bomb, plant it in an underground tunnel to kill all the enemies you've been fighting in this war you know nothing about. That's it. Big. Dumb. Fun. Plot necessary? Not really. When I played it, I didn't even really know what the plot was for 90% of the game, until the final mission when they told me, "Hey, there's a bomb on this train, protect it and activate it, and you win". Okay, cool. I'll gladly shoot my way through 5 levels for that. Who are these characters alongside me? No idea. Their stories? Don't know. Game doesn't say. It doesn't matter. They're pretty funny, mostly. They banter to fill time between combat.

    You need to decide what kind of game you are making. Is it a story-driven game or a gameplay driven one? If story, then you need to plan all of that out before you commit to doing gameplay. If gameplay, then you need to commit to making the game fun and then creating a story as a weak justification later.

    After all, what's the story of Five Nights at Freddy's? Is there one? There's some Lore. But, it's silly and stupid at best. It makes absolutely zero sense in the context of the real world, or even the world the games take place in. But, how popular was that series? Why was it popular? The gameplay mechanics and the scares. Do people still want to know about the Lore? Sure. Why? Because even in the weak justification they had it provide for the context of the game... they left a lot of mysteries and weird things to pique curiosity.

    A story doesn't have to be great to produce a great game. It just needs to fit the gameplay. The reverse is also true. You don't need great gameplay to make a great game. You just need gameplay that fits the story (the Last of Us has pretty subpar gameplay, but people play it primarily for the Story).

    I hope that helps.
     
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  4. bgillisp

    bgillisp Global Moderators Global Mod

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    To add onto that, some games have almost no plot and were very successful. To name a few:

    Doom
    Tetris
    Lemmings

    As for plot holes...I'm of the belief that not every little thing has to be explained. In RL you don't know all that is going on and all of the motives and how everything is going to wrap up nicely. Sometimes you have to put it together yourself with the info you got. Sometimes you just never know and it is an unanswered question. However, I feel that if you do that it needs to be believable that it would be done this way. If you do that though you may at least want the party to wonder about it (like maybe say I wonder what happened to x at the end), so the player knows it is meant to be an unsolved mystery. If the plot hole is there just because your party has the IQ of a turnip and can't figure anything out themselves, nope.
     
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  5. phamtruong1992

    phamtruong1992 Mage Art - Green Dragon Veteran

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    I think you need to get some rests after reading these posts. And think about it. Just take your time and analyze everything logically from the starting point, when you have a fundamental base for your project it will become easier and your thoughts become more solid
     
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  6. ave36

    ave36 Veteran Veteran

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    My game has a story which motivates the characters to move from place to place. For example, in Chapter One, the protagonist is a member of an order of magic knights and receives orders and missions. In chapter two, the big bad is revealed, and protagonist travels the world trying to learn the big bad's motives and methods. In chapter three, an all out war with the big bad is going on, and the protagonist travels wherever it is needed to stop the big bad.
     
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  7. woootbm

    woootbm Super Sand Legend Veteran

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    I have 2 main things I say that make character decisions make sense:

    1. Don't require characters to act "stupidly" in order to push the story forward. To the original post's concern, it is immediately frustrating whenever a character suddenly has a lapse in judgement, observational skill, and reaction time. By that, I mean that a character should be trying their best to defeat an obstacle. Obviously, part of the charm of a character like Rocky Balboa is that they are not very bright. But you wouldn't see Rocky, say, get frustrated and hit an opponent with a low blow. He knows the rules of boxing. Something he might do? Make a bad business deal, which he does in... uh, Rocky V? Anyway, the point is, he's stupid but he's not stupid when it comes to what he knows.

    2. A character's decisions should relate to their personality, perspective, and goals. So, I'll talk about the horror genre (like the original post mentions). Take the example of someone investigating something spooky that's obviously a bad idea. Using point 1, it would be frustrating to have the character have a lapse in judgement and investigate the spookiness for no reason. But imagine your characters are, say, a group of teens. You've got a jock dude-bro as a main character. He's a jerk and kinda dumb. He isn't bothered by trespassing. He is fully confident in his disbelief in the supernatural and likes tormenting his other friends by dragging them to a spooky place. His friends are more submissive (followers), and he is able to manipulate them into going even though they don't think it's a good idea. Now you've not only got reasons for these characters to be doing something stupid you've also got built in tension between them. And you can give your audience someone to be scared for (the friends) and someone to root against (the jock).

    Now, this example isn't the best because it's so cliche and overdone. But hopefully it gets the point across about how things feel like they have a reason and structure. One thing leads to another. The audience can get that sense of dread knowing more bad things are coming as the story tends to "write itself". When characters are overly stupid, there is neither hope nor dread because it feels like things are just happening because the writer wants them to happen. There won't be satisfaction if the heroes win because it feels arbitrary as to whether the character is clever or stupid.

    TLDR: a story that's driven by defined characters will always make sense. In addition, many people- such as myself- subscribe to the idea that the best stories are driven by characters.

    Here are a couple good examples of horror stories with good character motivation (for me personally):

    1. John Carpenter's The Thing: the characters are all scientists or engineers. They're also hearty adults. But they're trapped in this research facility (because that's their job) that's in the middle of nowhere in a snowy tundra. Their options are severely limited. The creature is entirely baffling to anything seen on earth, so even though they try their absolute best it still is a hopeless situation. The Thing can also imitate stuff, so they don't trust each other because of that rather than the usual idiotic, pointless in-fighting that happens in horror movies.

    2. The Last of Us: in particular, there is a decision the main character (Joel) makes at the end of the game that could arguably be described as "massively moronic." But because we know this character so well, it makes sense why he would do such a thing. Leaving the audience with the intended uneasy feeling rather than just rolling their eyes.
     
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  8. StaticUndertones

    StaticUndertones Veteran Veteran

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    I was actually just playing an entire series of games like what you described on my phone, called Cube Escape. It sounds like you're describing the premise of escape the room games, which are actually some of my favorite kind of games. There's usually not a clear reason why you're there, and why you have to do what you have to do, except that you are motivated by the clear need to solve the way out of the room/rooms, which usually means going from A to B to A to C, etc. As long as it's a little more cerebral, there is definitely a player base for that kind of game.

    Seriously though, I understand what you're saying because plot holes to me become plot graveyards. I definitely am also stuck with the perfectionist problem. Sometimes it feels impossible to actualize what you're thinking. What helps for me is actually to stop thinking about it, because I do the exact same thing, I try to reason absolutely everything. I get more clarity when I stop trying so hard to figure things out.

    Imagine putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Generally most people know it's best to start with the edge, because it gives you a base to work from. If you started with a blade of grass, you have a much bigger task ahead of you. Analogies aside, I think questioning things is never really a bad idea though. Critical thinking can lead to your central idea developing into something more than you even thought it could be, so try not to be so hard on yourself.
     
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