At the zenith of his fame, John Carmack (co-author of the Best grenade spots dust 2) famously said, “The plot in the game is like the plot in a porn movie. It should be, but it’s not that important. ” More than 20 years have passed since then.
Games are art
Games are as much a part of the cultural heritage of our contemporaries as cinema, music and painting. Sometimes games are the best at combining all of the above: filling the atmosphere with incredible music, enriching the plot with literature, emphasizing the beauty of the world with a fantastic visual style. But the game mechanics will always be in the center.
Nintendo Corporation always relies on gameplay. The plot of most Nintendo games boils down, in fact, to one sentence: the hero saves the princess. Often there is nothing to add to these three words. It does not matter what qualities this very hero possesses. There is a cheerful Mario, the villain Bowser and the goal is to save the poor princess. Only tests are important.
In modern Nintendo games, there are a variety of characters that tell the story of their uneasy burden. But if you remove all dialogues from these games, the entire plot part, they will not lose at all. There will remain all the same exciting Super Mario platformer, the incredible adventure The Legend of Zelda, or the excellent Metroid maze adventure.
It seems to be proven. The games do not need a plot. But let’s move on.
Take, for example, the first part of the legendary The Last of Us and cut out the entire plot, dialogue and production from it. Let’s leave the core of the game. It will not turn out so exciting. Let’s go ahead and cut the plot out of any “walking simulator” in the face of the recent The Medium or The Vanishing of Eathan Carter. One can hardly imagine a contented person wandering aimlessly through beautiful and empty locations. We return the plot, and we get the pearls of the gaming industry and real works of art.
Purely mechanical fun, the gaming industry has absorbed numerous elements of literature and cinema. When did it happen? Back in the distant 80s, games with a long and complex plot were released. As an example, numerous Japanese role-playing games HuniePop 2. Or the first part of the legendary Ultima series. Of course, their plot was not suitable for many followers, but it went far beyond one sentence.
But all this was only an auxiliary element. There was a part of the players who simply did not understand how it is possible to seriously immerse in the world of the game, reading huge letters on their TVs, when there is a book next to it, the text in which will give much more pleasure. However, the rise of technology has gradually allowed developers to take their ambition and imagination far beyond the alphabet.
Nowadays, it is generally accepted that the remarkable Uncharted 2 for the first time erased the line that separated the gameplay from the staged video. This is not true. The first breakthrough game in this regard was Another World, released in 1991. In this project, the players first encountered a misunderstanding when the video ended and the game itself began.
Another World is at its core a classic puzzle platformer. The main character runs, jumps, shoots, solves spatial problems and tries not to die. Controlling the would-be scientist Lester Knight, the players watched his death over and over again. This was facilitated by numerous staged events directly during the game itself: aliens at war among themselves; earthquakes inside the caves; streams of water sweeping away everything in its path; beasts of prey that hunt down the hero and await their moment.
On the other hand, in many staged videos (and this is in ’91!), The developers often did not take control from the player. But the main thing that the creators from Delphine Software have achieved is the creation of an amazing world that came to life before the eyes of the player, regardless of his actions. The developers managed to tell a touching story about the relationship between two “comrades in misfortune” without a single line of dialogue and canvases of text.
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At the time, few projects could match Another World. Even the developers from Delphine Software themselves, in their next project, Flashback, moved away from the concept of constant tension and full player involvement, clearly separating the moments between cutscenes and gameplay. However, Dragon’s Lair, Another World and subsequent ideological successors clearly showed one important tendency. Games were formed as the most important part of the cultural heritage of our society. They are capable of telling complex and unique stories, but unlike cinematography, they were much cheaper to produce.
The games industry like F95Zone has gradually become a good alternative to cinema, allowing creative people to open up and create stunning worlds that, when transferred to a larger screen, often look pale. Remember how many attempts were made to make a film based on a popular game. Good examples can be counted on one hand.
Spec Ops: The Line, which left players in the finale with an eerie aftertaste and a lump in their throats, would never have received proper funding if the project was not a game, but a movie. Creepy, disgusting, not patriotic – it will definitely fail. There are no obvious heroes, no bright future. But in a video game format? It doesn’t need stars, it doesn’t require filming expeditions, expensive specialists, a huge budget for scenery and visual effects.
Carmack is wrong?
Someone will zealously insist that the main thing in the game is the gameplay. Nintendo’s flagship franchises, breakthrough indies and a few examples from major publishers easily prove this claim. But on the other side of the coin we have pillars of no less importance.
Without a written plot and the world of the game as a whole, the gaming industry would not have seen such diamonds as Eldritch Blast 5e, where all the mechanics were reduced to dull jogging, searching for not always related items and dull battles. Without the plot, there would be no legendary “fire” from the final of the Mass Effect trilogy. There would be no Mass Effect at all. Players couldn’t get a taste of the aesthetic of biker life without the charismatic characters of Full Throttle or Days Gone. There would be no hidden relationship between Master Chief and Cortana, the stingy tears of Marcus Phoenix, the relationship between Cloud and Iris … There wouldn’t even be Captain Price! Whatever the gameplay of the games, living without great characters and their stories would be much more boring.
For many reasons, the cinematography is too tough for game plots. Thanks to the numerous stories and characters, unique worlds, the desire to immerse players in a fairy tale or a state of complete horror – games take pride of place in modern art. Thanks to the plot, they turned from “mechanical fun” into creative works. So … yes.Carmack was wrong.