Wanna skip gameplay for the story? Then don’t skip gameplay

It’s been an interesting week overall. Found myself working on different projects that I signed up for, found about interesting possibilities with a print & press company, in which I also found a new material I fell in love with. I though the week couldn’t get bad. Even Jurassic World was an enjoyable movie.

Not even Kotaku’s post on how games should allow you to skip combat could get me down. Don’t worry, that’s an archive link. Then it started to rain today as I was on a cycling trip. I’m pretty sure I’m going ammonia because of that.

Let’s check that Kotaku article thou, because it echoes what we’ve seen from these so-called journalists for a long time now.

It’s a very nonsensical piece. One could argue that it portrays very well how the current younger generation wants everything now on a platter without actually showing the effort for it. Sure, cheat codes and passwords can allow the consumer to play with the game’s mechanics, but they’re never intended to take over the actual content and intended gameplay. Sure, you could open every single thing in THPS2 with codes, but that would mean you just wasted money on game you didn’t even play.

The quote they’re using in the post shows how people take games too seriously. I know, I shouldn’t be the one to talk about taking video games too seriously. Yet, when a person says he gets stress and anxiety from playing a single player video game, the first thing you should do is get some professional help. That’s not normal, unless it’s a horror game. Why would you even yell obscenities to your microphone in a single player game? The game doesn’t hear you, it won’t act to you yelling at it. That is, unless the game tells you to pipe it down like Takeshi’s Challenge.

The post is actually just a very small piece with nothing worth noting, but the reason it’s slightly notable is because it reflects how these people have no idea what games are.

Video games are about the gameplay, after all. Remove that, be it combat or whatever, you’ll end up with a collection of FMVs to watch and text to read. If that’s what you want, and I know this is very expected, but go watch a movie or read a damn book. What you pay for a game is for the game part. Everything else is secondary, and if you just want to get to the story portions, go watch them from Youtube. Don’t do what you don’t like, unless you’re challenging yourself to go outside your own comfort zone. Which is, to be honest, very recommended thing to do. Often.

The reason why gameplay, like combat, should be allowed to be skipped is so that the consumer could advance in the game. By advancing they mean progressing in the story, and I’m not all too unfamiliar with this problem. However, games have always been a challenge, and I do mean always. Each and every game requires knowledge of the set rules the player is expected to follow, both in traditional games from tabletop to sport, and in electronic ones. This applies to martial arts as well; you don’t get to advance before you are able to master the forms properly.

Why should you be allowed to cheat the rules in a video game?

I will stand by the idea of including cheat codes in video games, but not for the use of cheating over yourself. Sure, there has been a small number of games that allow the player to skip a quest or a stage if they fail too much, GTA V and whichever of the more recent 2D Mario’s had Luigi finishing stage for you, and yet these are in a large minority. These aren’t cheats either, they’re essentially your teacher patting you on the shoulder and saying We’ll Jim, you tried your best. Take a candy and go cry somewhere else. Both of the aforementioned title essentially hold your hand and say It’s OK to suck.

But hey, we are talking about the story in these games, right? If you want to skip combat for the story, why are you skipping the story bits that you have control over?

Video games don’t tell a story the same way as movies and literature do. If they do, they suck at using game’s methods. Much like every action you do is part of the story of your life, every action you do in a game is considered part of the game’s story. If you’ve ever read synopsis on video game plots, they’re pretty barren what actually happen between certain points. The key in here is that the player has the power to tell the story as he sees fit. For an RPG they can decide what sort of team there are, what sort of skills the characters will end up using, what actions will be taken and so on. That’s why something like Street Fighter never really needs a clear cut story (even if it has one and CAPCOM screwed it [but really didn’t when we remember every game is in an alternative universe to the others]) because the story is really in the consumer’s actions.

However, it seems that people are less willing to think and create this sort of things anymore and want everything on a platter.

Order 1886 was a game that should’ve been a movie. The developer staff themselves said in an interview that they can’t get around the gameplay bits because it’s a game. Cross pollination between games, movies and literature is nothing new.When it comes to a point where you are one pressing a button to advance a story, then we don’t have a game in our hands anymore. We have a storytelling software like Visual Novels, just with a different nature. So many games would work as a movie better, as more and more triple A games tend to focus on the story and leave gameplay and clean coding a secondary or even tertiary thing to do. It would be like if a movie staff would concentrate on producing, or in modern movies, removing colours in post-production rather than focusing on the story and acting.

If a gameplay is something that’s pisses you off in a game and even after multiple times of trying to beat a section, you should ask yourself if this is what you want to spend money on. If you don’t have time or will to put the effort to beat a video game, then don’t. While you can argue that the possibility of skipping gameplay without cheats does not mean you should use it, that would be fundamentally and philosophically a change how any person would approach games. Games are products that have a clear advancing path, and much like in any other game, you are expected to move on that path. You don’t jump around the board if you die doesn’t give a result you dislike. Of course, there exists the intents of the developers and without a doubt a developer always would like you to see everything they have in the game.

This post may read like a long way to say Git Gud. In reality, I’m saying Get good or watch the story from Youtube.

Then there’s the whole point if a developer actually does include a Skip button, then it shows how little to no faith they have either in their customers or in the gameplay. If the developers think the gameplay is so weak it needs to be allowed to be skipped, why should you put your trust and money in it? I would believe everybody would like to put their money in a game of which the developers will tell you This has awesome gameplay and you will love it rather than pushing the story of a game. Games, when distilled to their purest core form, remove all elements of storytelling to a large extent and will only have pure gameplay without anything hampering it down. It’s just up to you to be play the game.

We’ve had the modern form of video games since the 1970’s. It’s sad that no developer is taking chances in taking advantage of games’ innate ability to be organic and dynamically told stories. They just resort to use movies and text to tell a story the player could be playing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.