Gagan, Chris, n Ben talk about Pepsi, Square, Tearaway, Mass Effect: Andromeda, and single player games in an era of patches. 

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Time Stamps

0:00:19 - Podcast begins, mad intro talk
0:19:35 - Gagan played Kathy Rain
0:26:20 - Gagan played Tearaway: Unfolded
0:32:00 - Chris on Mass Effect: Andromeda
0:46:00 - Buying games in an era where everything gets patched
0:59:00 - Yooka-Laylee talk
1:20:20 - Ben played Nier: Automata and the nature of video game stories
2:14:00 - We start wrapping up

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#7 Foolz 2017-10-31 08:40
Jungle Book was horrible. :(

The problem with games journalism, including YouTube, is it requires competence for it to be good.

Maybe I'm bad at reading, but reading this comment I'm writing, is not like reading an encyclopedia. More's the pity to anyone reading this shit.

Ico should be in the "literature" class.

Good show all in all. Was fun listening to you guys after so long!
#6 AngelsandDemons 2017-07-09 04:37
[quote name="skinny_man_69"]

Thanks. I'll check Orwell out. I haven't heard of that one.Yes, regarding choice, the first playthrough is the most important but I thus I can appreciate the tailor made journey. For example, with the Tell tale WD, GoT, and Borderlands series, the central character ended up in the same place; but, whether you chose to save X or Y character carries with you your own sense of angst although they are clearly catch 22s.
#5 skinny_man_69 2017-07-08 23:48
I like the IDEA of player choice in video games, but in many games, even the ones that are championed as prime examples of how to do player choice right, are often nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Games like Mass Effect and Witcher 3 are really good at giving the illusion of plot agency, but a lot of it falls apart on repeat playthroughs. The argument can be made that this knowledge doesn't affect a first playthrough, which is the only experience most players will have with a game, but I like to test games that focus on player choice on the limits of their freedom and often find it wanting. I just played a game called Orwell and it actually handled player choice in a really interesting way that made sense with the story. I recommend checking it out if you haven't. I find smaller, intimate stories are better at allowing players to actually influence the plot in meaningful ways
#4 AngelsandDemons 2017-07-07 21:34
[quote name="skinny_ma n_69"]To grossly over-simplify things, I would say a good story comes down to set-ups and pay-offs, both in terms of character arcs and plot points......

Thanks for your detailed explanation. I would say that you are emphasizing a traditional approach to story telling i.e. an opening exposition, developed plot, and climax with resolution. You also highlight real characters that are believable and that grow within this plot structure in a coherent and logical way as it regards the story's plot. I would agree; however, you did not address the aspect of story telling that the video game medium allows you to do like no other: choice. I think that's why BLOPS, ME2, Colony Wars stand out beyond most is because the player had an actual impact on the outcome. So, perhaps a bit of apples and oranges. But, I feel gameplay must be considered in terms of player choice.
#3 skinny_man_69 2017-07-07 15:49
To grossly over-simplify things, I would say a good story comes down to set-ups and pay-offs, both in terms of character arcs and plot points. Early on in the story, we as the audience should have a good handle on who is who and what is what, which is to say, what role a character might play in the story and what are some of his/her motivations that drive that character onward. Same goes with the plot; we should pretty quickly understand the conflict and what's at stake. This is why I would say Last of Us is probably one of my favourite stories in video games, not because it's particularly unique, but because of how confident and clearly it establishes characters and conflict.

The opening prologue gives us a good idea on who Joel is (a gruff, loving father) and after time skips forward, we see how he has changed (even more gruff, not so loving). We meet Ellie, see the parallels between her and Joel's daughter, AND she is revealed to be the supposed cure to this infection. Boom, we understand what's at stake, who these characters are, and how their relationship might evolve over time. We get to see their motivations slowly change over the course of the story and how they bond, so that when the ending comes, we know exactly what head-space the characters occupy and what inspires their individual decisions. Everything has been set up clearly, and the pay-off is directly linked to the arcs in both plot and character. The Darkness also did this well because it set up what kind of person Jackie Estacado was before he gained his powers, how it changed him, and the consequences of giving himself over to that power.

Most video games are good at set-ups, bad at pay-offs. Endings typically boil down to boss battles or bombastic set-pieces that have little to do with previously established conflicts or character motivations. It might look cool and even be fun to play, but what does it have to do with the story? Open-world games and RPGs are especially bad at this because they have set up so many characters and possible pay-offs throughout dozens of hours that there is almost no possible way to tie everything together in a meaningful way.

What it really boils down to is if everything follows a consistent logic (and I don't even mean logic as in 'things that can happen in real life,' I mean it more in terms of what THE STORY says can happen, which needs to be established as early on as possible), then it's a good story. If a story starts breaking or disregarding its own internal rules or forces characters to act outside their previously established personalities just to add drama or emotion, it starts to lose my interest.
#2 AngelsandDemons 2017-07-06 20:50
BTW....I sent you guys an email at and it got bounced back...FYI
#1 AngelsandDemons 2017-07-06 20:46
In essence, I want to know how each of you define a good story. WD Season 1 vs LoU was discussed in this episode and there are strong narrative through lines with very different gameplay mechanics. Yet, you guys often champion The Darkness which has a completely different narrative and gameplay mechanic but all three put you in the same place with only one with a more player directed journey. Compare that to Colony Wars or BLOPS 2 where you're ending was different based on your success on specific missions. In general, I'd say your actions have to mattered as evident in branching story paths; if not, then the narrative needs to serve the player up with some serious plot highs and lows as evident in FF6 or the Last of Us. I think Mass Effect 2 and 3 (minus the ending) struck somewhere in between.

What are your individual takes on good story and your favorite examples of it?

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