Jump to content

Cliffy B calls MGS4 "passive entertainment"


lazygecko
 Share

Recommended Posts

http://www.ripten.com/2008/06/25/cliffyb-calls-metal-gear-passive-entertainment/

What he essentially means is that a game that focuses so much on a plot that constantly takes control away from the player defeats the entire point of the medium. This is a viewpoint I have championed over the years, and I'm glad an industry profile is finally shedding some light on it too. If you cannot properly tailor a plot to the gameplay experience, it's just poor design IMO.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cliffy over there can talk as much as he likes about "playing through story" as opposed to watching it, but I'd like to see exactly how much story he can cram into one game STRICTLY through the player actually playing it.

I would also like to see how intricate and detailed he could make such a story...and no, I wouldn't have my hopes up for that one.

Personally, I've just always thought there was a balance between how much game you want, and how much story you want. If a game is story-heavy, then you have to do something realistic in terms of cost and development time to actually fit it into a game.

I mean, Gears of War is an awesome title...but its storyline isn't what I would call MGS-caliber. The characters in that game, such as Marcus Fenix, shine their brightest when they're ripping locusts apart with a chainsaw-gun. Solid Snake...well, he's a hell of a lot deeper than that, along with pretty much every other character in the Metal Gear series that I can think of. So he can call it passive entertainment all he likes, but in the end, that quality is what makes MGS4's storyline so much better than a game like Gears of War.

I'm not bashing Gears, I'm just saying that it's a more gameplay-centric title, and that gameplay comes at the cost of an intricate storyline.

Who knows, maybe someday we'll have a game that has a story as detailed as the Metal Gear series, and yet has minimal cutscenes. Weirder things have happened, right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think Bioshock's audio journals was an acceptable method of dispensing story without interfering with the gameplay. The only point at which control is taken away from you is when your character literally has no control of his body.

Also I'm playing Half-Life 2 at the moment, and I'm noticing a pleasant lack of cutscenes. You have full control even during important dialog sequences.

I haven't played MGS4, but these are just a couple examples that narration and interaction don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MGS4 is definitely passive storytelling, but I'm not entirely convinced that passive storytelling in games is a bad thing.

It's very easy for us to make broad assumptions about what games are supposed to be. But they're still such a young medium. There's all sort of untapped potential in games. To shoehorn games into a narrow concept of what they should be would stunt the medium's growth.

I think there's room for the completely immersive storytelling like Half Life 2 and the passive cinema stories of MGS and Final Fantasy. At this point, what developers should really be focusing on is adding decent writers to their staff. If you can't put a decent story together, it doesn't matter how you tell it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's true...Heh! I'd just woken up, and I guess I forgot Half Life. Really good example, actually.

But even so...those games *aren't* heavy on dialogue, and rely very heavily on inferences from the environment around you, to convey its story. Half Life 2 has a lot of nice "cutscenes" that are more just walking around, listening to and watching people talk and interact with the environment. Bioshock really relies on radio chatter and audio diaries, as well as inference from the environment...neither of which I could really see working for the type of story that MGS4 has. Metroid Prime is also a really good example...but even so, the story doesn't seem as complex as a Metal Gear game. I guess you could actually argue that MGS4 is a little *TOO* complicated, right?

All those are definitely a way to convey a deep story through gameplay, though.

So...uhm...Yep, you guys got me :) But even so, I still don't think the way MGS4 does things is necessarily bad. But that's me.

Thanks for clearing me up there though. How'd I forget Half Life? *needs coffee*

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we need to shed light on the difference between video games and interactive storytelling. The former is not the same as the latter. If a story were truly interactive (that is, you the character can literally do anything in an environment that you could if you yourself were actually there), there would be so many variables to keep track of that actual gameplay probably wouldn't be an option. Facade is the best working example of this, and even then the conversation tree isn't all that great.

I myself don't mind not having control over the story flow, based on my experience with Metal Gears 1 through Solid, along with all the JRPGs I've played. The whole idea of "craft your character and transplant yourself into their shoes" never appealed to me because I never felt like I was actually that character. Instead I would always be playing with some dressed up model. Controlling characters who are not you (and make no claim to be) is more exciting to me because I can actually care about who they are.

Of course, in order for these characters to be characters, they have to have personalities and make their own decisions. When I play these games, I don't feel like I'm being forced into a particular path as much as I'm helping the characters make the decisions and accomplish the objectives that they, based on who they are, will inevitably head towards.

Metroid Prime is more about the world around you than the main plot itself, much like the Elder Scrolls games.

The issue here is that personal conflicts and journeys are by far more interesting and lasting. The Tolkienverse is incredibly detailed and conplex, but when you say "Lord of the Rings" people remember specific characters and their conflicts, not worlds.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The resident evil games have also successfully unraveled plots without too many full blown cutscenes. The use of diaries scattered throughout the game lets you (as well as the character) learn more about the story. And with RE4, which is totally moving in the right direction, has QTE's during its cutscenes.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has nobody else realized that the story is the only thing going for MGS4.

I mean the sneaking is way too simple now and the fighting has always been shitty as fuck.

If it didn't have gigantic cutscenes with an extensive plot it'd be a pretty fucking terrible game.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has nobody else realized that the story is the only thing going for MGS4.

I mean the sneaking is way too simple now and the fighting has always been shitty as fuck.

If it didn't have gigantic cutscenes with an extensive plot it'd be a pretty fucking terrible game.

Finally, someone says it. Thank you for pointing out what has been a unspoken but much thought concept.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

http://www.ripten.com/2008/06/25/cliffyb-calls-metal-gear-passive-entertainment/

What he essentially means is that a game that focuses so much on a plot that constantly takes control away from the player defeats the entire point of the medium. This is a viewpoint I have championed over the years, and I'm glad an industry profile is finally shedding some light on it too. If you cannot properly tailor a plot to the gameplay experience, it's just poor design IMO.

This is not the most disappointing thing about it. Comments however by Hideo have made certain i will not enter this phase of the console wars even with GT5 on the horizon.

If someone can find the article this is in i would be grateful.

He basically said the PS3 was pushed to its limits and could NOT get the job done for the game they wanted to make.

However Konami holds all the cards when dealing with moving to other platforms with this game.

MGS Started on the PS...the story will not end there. This game looks to be best experienced on a PC. I can not wait for it to be put out here.

Originally Posted by Bleck

Has nobody else realized that the story is the only thing going for MGS4.

I mean the sneaking is way too simple now and the fighting has always been shitty as fuck.

If it didn't have gigantic cutscenes with an extensive plot it'd be a pretty fucking terrible game.

Yep. It is a pretty fucking terrible game. But as i stated its not konami's fault this time. Not the way Hideo is talking. Wait for the PC version. If they dont do a crappy port we will get the game we were hoping for.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue here is that personal conflicts and journeys are by far more interesting and lasting. The Tolkienverse is incredibly detailed and conplex, but when you say "Lord of the Rings" people remember specific characters and their conflicts, not worlds.

This probably differes a lot from person to person, and I'm not sure whether you were implying that Metroid Prime wasn't very compelling. Personally I was more interested in the Combine and City 17 rather than Alyx and her friends in Half-Life 2.

He basically said the PS3 was pushed to its limits and could NOT get the job done for the game they wanted to make.

Overambitious game designers will always exist in the industry, no matter how powerful hardware we get. The trick is, as Peter Molyneux learned the hard way, is to not announce any ideas until you are sure they are implemented and work in the game.

It's no secret that Sony likes to completely overstate the capabilities of their hardware though.

Also, Hideo wanted to end MGS at the second installment. The sales said otherwise though, and I'm sure history will repeat itself for number four. I bet he's crying. All the way to the bank.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

True enough. But if there is one thing i have learned in playing the games by this guy: If he wants it to get done its going to happen. He couldnt. I have heard of HEAT issues with the PS3 concerning this game on top of that. I will no longer be considering buying a current generation console. I dont care about the next FF nor the next Gran turismo.

If konami wants to end the series right this game wont stay on PS3 solely for too long. I expect a christmas PC launch. (If the PS3 cant get it done i have no reason to believe the 360 can.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I read that interview a while back and I think they blew some of his statements out of proportion. He didn't say he wasn't satisfied with the end result. Also the consoles never get better than the coders working with them, and Sony's hardware is a notoriously tough cookie to crack. It'll take several years before they figure out how to get the most out of the hardware, but when they do they'll probably be able to ecplise MGS4 on a technical level.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The issue here is that personal conflicts and journeys are by far more interesting and lasting. The Tolkienverse is incredibly detailed and conplex, but when you say "Lord of the Rings" people remember specific characters and their conflicts, not worlds.

And it's the world and environment that has inspired or influenced pretty much every fantasy book, movie, and game since. Similarly the Star Wars and Star Trek EU would not be possible without the incredibly rich world and lore, regardless of how interesting the characters were.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So...I'm curious. You guys who say that MGS4 is a terrible game....Have you actually PLAYED it?

It's DAMN good. I'm having a blast playing the game, and the extremely well-done cutscenes are essentially icing on the cake for me. Not saying that your opinions are wrong of course, since they're your opinions...but seriously, PLAY THE GAME before you say how bad the gameplay is.

It's probably got the best actual gameplay that the MGS series has seen yet, really.

I'll definitely admit that the older games in the series have had some frustrating gameplay that can turn off some audiences, but MGS4 pretty much fixes it. So don't bash the game simply because the other games in the series needed a controls and gameplay overhaul; it was received, and it works extremely well in MGS4.

But...yeah....back to the topic at hand....(Wow, when I started this post here, what I was talking about was actually on-topic. You guys type fast, hehe)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At the end of the day, whatever his opinion on games, Cliffy B stands more to gain by statements like these than internet fanboy discussions. I wouldn't imagine he really gives two shits about the shortcomings of MGS4, other than by disparaging the game he'll end up hyping up his upcoming GOW2 even more.

A lot of times, these developers know better, and know what the other companies are up to and their strangths and weaknesses - Like when Perrin Kaplan was first shown a PSP after the DS was announced and shown and all she could say about the PSP system - which was stylistically and graphically gorgeous compared to the 1stGen NDS - was "How long do the batteries last on that thing...2 hours?

It's a game they all play, but now big time game designers are either saying more or simply being heard more (through the internet, etc). Whatever the case though, MGS4's lengthy cinematics are now pretty much universally known to fans whether or not they've played the game or not. Most likely if you're a fan of the series, you'll have no problem with them.

It's kind of like the ridiculous cinemas in SSBB - on the unnecessary side, but the fans love that shit...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This probably differes a lot from person to person, and I'm not sure whether you were implying that Metroid Prime wasn't very compelling. Personally I was more interested in the Combine and City 17 rather than Alyx and her friends in Half-Life 2.

I haven't played either game, so I wasn't implying anything. But I am talking about a central key to storytelling, regardless of the medium. Stories need to focus on characters, at least to a degree. Even if you're describing a lush world, examples of the people or things living in it are going to be needed in order to have something happen, even if you find the world itself more interesting. A world in stasis (ie, where nothing happens) is not appealing.

And it's the world and environment that has inspired or influenced pretty much every fantasy book, movie, and game since. Similarly the Star Wars and Star Trek EU would not be possible without the incredibly rich world and lore, regardless of how interesting the characters were.

Characters inspire other characters as well, so it's not like the world is alone in that regard. At any rate, irrespective of what inspired what, whatever universe comes out is still subject to what I indicated above. The Star Wars world has expanded exponentially since the original film releases, but all the stories which added this background involved characters and events.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So...I'm curious. You guys who say that MGS4 is a terrible game....Have you actually PLAYED it?

OF COURSE NOT! Why would anybody post opinions on something they haven't played yet? :roll:

Unlike GameFAQs or most other places, the general population here can make opinions and statements basd upon actually having done something. Pretty much anyone posting here has played it or played the series, or something that gives their statements validity. Don't lump us in with the rest of the ignorant childish internet, please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I haven't played either game, so I wasn't implying anything. But I am talking about a central key to storytelling, regardless of the medium. Stories need to focus on characters, at least to a degree. Even if you're describing a lush world, examples of the people or things living in it are going to be needed in order to have something happen, even if you find the world itself more interesting. A world in stasis (ie, where nothing happens) is not appealing.

Things do happen in Metroid Prime, but there is no dialog or character development to speak of. The story is presented by deciphering your surroundings via the scanner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Passive Storytelling /= Bad

I like the style of Metal Gear... but I can acknowledge that games have to be very special to use this model of storytelling. I don't know that many other games would work because of this. However, it's not bad, per se, it's just difficult to pull off, since we all want gameplay in the end.

It's just a different style. When I want some "active" storytelling I'll play through BioShock or Half-Life.

I think the connotations (and implications) that passive is bad, is dangerous to the industry, because a lot of good games have stories that unfold outside of the gameplay, and I'm okay with that, I'm sure others are too. To expect games to change out of this model entirely seems silly, and not to appreciate it is almost sillier. So I understand he was trying to make a punchy hit on "MGS4 as passive entertainment," but really, if anything, he's merely describing the way the story is set up. It would be next to impossible to create a game with the story of Metal Gear Solid and have it be anything different. They could do it for parts, but for it to be effective, it must be in the way it was made.

And anyway, who cares. As long as the games are good, I couldn't care less what the style of storytelling is. Metal Gear, since it's inception, ALWAYS sought out to mimic Hollywood. Always. The style fits for this game. I don't know that it would work for others, but for MGS4, yeah, it is especially effective.

Meh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...