|08-11-2011, 07:12 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2007
Blog Entries: 10
The Stanley Parable (Source Mod)
Saw this today on ModDB and decided to give it a go
The mapping/modeling isn't that great, some lighting bugs and lots of low poly stuff, but the concept is great and the narration is brilliant and is what makes this mod IMO.
The game is short, but has 6 different endings.
|08-11-2011, 07:57 PM||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Frankfurt (Main)
Re: The Stanley Parable (Source Mod)
(The following is all spoilers, of course. I haven't played the game, only watched/played the playthrough-thingy. I'm not gonna play a Steam-only game.)
'aight. Just to ensure we're on the same page: The game is a very basic layout of a story-driven video game. No fancy explosions and such, only the core gameplay. I haven't watched all endings, but I get the idea. By doing what you want, you end up with 'bad' endings. By doing what the game tells you to do, you end up with the 'good' ending, being free. However, you followed the pre-written path, so you aren't really free.
The author seemingly wants to make the point that such video games (I'm gonna stay at the literal level for now) give you fake choices, but eventually, all you do is pressing buttons that you're told to press, feeling what the game designers intended you to feel.
So far, so obvious. Really, I didn't need this game to tell me that. As my signature indicates, I'm a role-player. A game master, quite often. I'm extremely familar with the concept. You have an adventure prepared for your role playing group. You know how it starts, what the major plot points are, and how it ends. The specific game in my signature is known for its rich background information and meta-plot. As such, most 'official' adventure modules for that game cannot actually give the players any control: If they could do what they wanted to, they could kill the empress and all further publications referring to the empress would be rendered invalid. So, the official ending to all these adventures can only differ in small details that will never matter again. The way there is, of course, full of decisions and choices. No two player groups will tell exactly the same story when they talk about their experience playing that adventure: But they'll come to the same end, and maybe to the same major points in between. In all cases, 'essential NPCs' will have survived, unless the author intended them to die. In which case they always will have died - if not by the player characters' hands, then by another NPC's. No major differences will be there, yet all the stories will be different in the details. The jokes that have been told, the unimportant redshirts that have been met, killed or befriended, and of course the main characters themselves.
As a game master in such a strict setting (and mind you, not all settings are like that, and even in that setting I could let the characters completely blow the plot if they really tried to, and we'd not be able to go with the 'official' plot from that point on - no problem, but it means we can't use official source material anymore) it is my duty to make the players feel completely free in their choices. Yet, they'll always end up doing what I want them to do.
They have two options: They play along, try to find out where the plot is going and go the obvious path. Or, they intentionally or accidentally break the plot. It's hard to break the plot on accident, as I can always alter details to bring things back on track. If they accidentally shoot the wrong guy, I can make him survive badly injured. Only if they intentionally try to break the plot by making absolutely sure the guy is dead, I'd have to either resort to silly dei-ex-machinae like making the guy come back from the dead by divine intervention, or I let the characters go on in, to quote Morrowind*, 'the doomed world they have created'.
This is essentially the same in most video games (more so, as there is no option for going on in the doomed world they have created, as these options have not been thought of by the developers beforehand and can't be improvised on the fly - except for very well designed open world games that have no strict plot, or have a plot that you can blow and still offer a game world to interact with; or, of course, multi player games in which the world is what you make of it; I'm not talking about MMORPGs with a plot, I mean games like PR in which only the players (inter)action defines the 'story' of a round) and of course very much so in this game.
However, that point is insanely obvious. All my role playing group members play along, knowing that they have no absolute freedom that way. But they want to be told a good story, rather than breaking every attempt I make in creating a good story. Therefore, instead of chosing the 'wrong' doors, to go with the common door metaphor used in Stanley's Parable, they know which ones are the right one and go for those - all they need to do is make it plausible for their characters to go with the 'intersting' choices rather than the 'game breaking' ones. And that's essentially the dramatistic/narrativistic idea of role playing: The game master and all players KNOW they're playing a game. Their purpose is to make the player characters act according to their personalities, and still end up with an interesting plot. As such, the game masters' purpose is to make a plot that fits the characters personalities, and the players' purpose is to make the characters act the way the game master expected - the way they were designed and the way it's written on the character sheets - and it's not the players who are the puppet of the game master, but the characters within the story who are the puppets of the game master AND the players.
To come back to this game: It points out that games don't give the player actual freedom. But that shouldn't surprise anybody. It'd be inhumanely difficult to create a game that gives the player absolute freedom. Open world games come close, but yet, all side quest likes and such have own sub-stories that can have only so many possible outcomes - one of which sometimes is 'the player broke it, the game acts weird now, the devs didn't plan this'.
You can't expect a game to give you more freedom than life. You can only ever expect it to be an illusion, and that's no bad thing or anything to be worried about. Yes, you're sitting on a computer pressing buttons the developers wanted (or rather, expected) you to press. If you don't, you break the game and it's no fun. So you might as well be watching a movie?
Yes and no. Yes in that the purpose of a game is the same as the purpose of a movie, generally speaking: To entertain you. And no, in that there is minor choices you CAN make, leading to one of the several pre-planned outcomes of the game, as opposed to a movie. You have no absolute freedom, but a well designed game will give you several options. But even with one ending only, you normally feel satisfied as long as the illusion was good enough. Expect no more from a game. If you want freedom, go outside and do something on your own. But even then you'll be bound to the laws of physics, in the very least. I won't go as far as starting a philosophical debate about whether there is any such thing as true freedom of choice. That'd go beyond the scope of this thread, I fear.
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Thanks to [R-MOD]IINoddyII for the signature!
Propriety is an adequate basis for behavior towards strangers, honesty is the only respectful way to treat friends.
Last edited by [R-MOD]Spec; 08-11-2011 at 08:02 PM.. Reason: *In Morrowind, breaking the plot triggers this message. You can go on playing.
|mod, parable, source, stanley|