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Interactive Narrative Experiences/Walking Simulators

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To start I'm going to abbreviate Interactive Narrative Experiences and Walking Simulators to INE and WS for the sake of convenience. What's your opinion on the new INE and WS genres? I have mixed feelings on both. I liked INE the Stanley Parable. I thought all the little tricks it did to mess with the player was rather unique. Now onto the WS genre. I can't help but see the whole WS genre as potential threat to video game development as you only need only the ability to walk to be apart of it. Case in point being Everybody's Gone to the Rapture. Critics practically tore it to shreds for what little substance it had to offer. I think the WSs genre might set bad precedent for video game development in general if it's left unchecked because IMO it seems like it's trying to get away with doing as little amount of effort as possible.

I'm not saying I started the fire. But I most certain poured gasoline on it.

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This is a subject and a genre I've grown to like and become increasingly excited about, especially in regards to the idea of VR compatibility - which previously I was rather iffy about. I think the genre is somewhat virgin territory, despite the advanced graphics and open potential of current gaming tech. I suppose it won't be too long before the genre gains an established niche (maybe people will call it "rapturelike", the same way folks say "roguelike" to describe a certain class of RPGs) which is a double edged sword in terms of content. It could lead to more substantial and lengthy titles with quality narratives as good as many other INE/WS games around at the moment, or it could lead to overinflated subpar material with more funding than artistic integrity, not that both scenarios couldn't happen simultaneously in future markets.

 

Misanthropy and pessimism aside this is a genre and a tendency in games that I happen to enjoy. As a modest gamer (i.e. a "filthy unskilled console peasant") I tend to prefer games that draw me into a cryptic and atmospheric plot rather than give my fragile ego a vicious shoeing by being a serious button-noodling challenge. I think that's why I was always been attracted to point n' click games growing up, because the challenge was to engage with other characters and solve problems with cunning and logic. In retrospect INE/WS games seem to be a logical progression and a game-engine middle-ground from a contemporary culture inundated with first person shooter games, as well as a natural need from gamers and developers alike to play/create something with more literary ambition than most games.

 

I personally thought Everybody's Gone to the Rapture was excellent and well worth the wait. It may of been "too short" by traditional gaming standards (it struck me as being a visual/interactive equivalent of a good short story) even I was slightly disappointed with that aspect, which unfortunately felt intrinsic to that game's particular story. I can also see why many would of found it overpriced for what they received, but that price didn't (for me at least) detract from the overall integrity of the game. It felt like an experiment that succeeded outside the usual gaming market, in order to be enjoyed one had to disregard a lot of the usual gaming entitlements and prejudices. For all it's apparent "failings" I couldn't help finding it a succinct and damn near perfect example of a walking simulator.

 

I found Firewatch a bit underwhelming, which isn't to say it wasn't initially very engaging and instilled a sense of the uncanny, plus the banter between Henry and Delilah actually proved to be more amusing and heartwarming than I thought it would be. It also looked gorgeous. Despite the excellent scripting and atmosphere, this one (for me at least) has a an extremely unfulfilling ending. Had it been a traditional game it may of been able to get away with a mundane culmination, but narrative is this genres bread and butter, I wanted some of the mystery and majesty to remain with me at the end. That's not to say the story is bad though, someone else with different tastes might really enjoy it.

 

One of the most accomplished INE/WS titles I can think of must be The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. It feels like a lengthier and broader-scoped proper story than other games in the field, the equivalent of a short novella than a short story. The supernatural themes and psychological thriller elements sat extremely well with me, plus it retained some puzzle solving elements that made it feel less like a hike around a virtual world and more like a "proper" horror adventure. Plus the ending of this one is shockingly good, or bad, depending on how you look it. This one left me enthralled from beginning to end.

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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I don't really play "INE" or "WS" but they are both valid in their own ways. Honestly, VN(Visual Novels) get the same shit as them and don't necessarily even advertise as games - Thus the name "Visual Novel". Walking Simulators are generally the same thing except the visual part is, well, interactive for the most part(not every game does it but still). Stanley Parable was a Walking Simulator with interactivity - That's essentially what it was. This is especially true in the first game (and the second one with the "follow the lines" theme) and it's "Choose A or B" paths. Gone Home is a game that I know got a HUGE backlash and I don't think it was truly because of its "filthy degenerate walking simulator" aspect. Besides, you got to explore and discover things about the characters, the events within the world, etc. The issue I see myself is how bland it can be. Dear Ester, for example, was pretty bland from what I saw of a playthrough and it also had a pretty obscure story, like some kind of pretentious telling of a religious tale(because they tend to use puffed-up words, it's ridiculous despite 99% of them being pretty old and able to be told in modern words).

 

It's pretty much "The people who complain about it don't even use it!" issue that still plagues the whole "sexualization in video games". Point is, it's a genre of games where if you play it, you play it. If you don't, you don't. The fact that the genre gets so much backlash makes me think about how much people like to start any kind of drama on the internet for absolutely no reason. It's a monkey playground that's been set on fire.

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

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So I walked into this thread not even quite knowing what the words meant, so I googled and found this article:

http://www.pcmag.com/slideshow/story/317795/the-top-10-interactive-games-for-story-lovers

 

In essence, they put Telltale Games' The Walking Dead as an example, so I went "Boom, yes, done, sold, I'm a life long fan of this genre". I think I'd like to put Tale of Tale's game The Path in this same category, which is another game that I love.

 

To me, these games represent a true evolution of the concept of literature. The way Telltale Games, for example, utilizes the game mechanic of time limits on your replies in dialogues along with long stretches of game time between save checkpoints in order to force you to play according to your gut instinct is an amazing artistic possibility. Add in the superb quality of the writing in several of these games and, well, like I said - I'm a fan. I'll actually try taking the time to check out a few of the titles mentioned here!

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I've never really been a huge fan of these types of games, mostly cause they don't offer much actual choice or gameplay and I see them less as games and more as glorified storybooks. That being said, there clearly is a market for it so, all power to them.

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I also write content at http://www.bagogames.com

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I cannot reccomment Life is Strange enough- in my opinion it is one of THE BEST games ever, if not the best. Nothing too special in gameplay, but story and its subtle, yet effective handling on many things you come across daily. Thats something, even if episode 5 does nosedive into the ground. Also, first time in my long "career" in gaming, i actually took time off in game for hours and enjoyed several things about it. I dont even mean explore, just sit down on bench and thats it. But be warned, once you get invested, its going to be one huge emotional rollercoaster.

 

I'd also reccommend Beyond: Two souls & Heavy Rain, though they are PS exclusives.

 

As for other PC games that might fit genre, walking dead is most obvious one, but i'd also reccommend few puzzle games, such as monkey island (though thats puzzle game in its core) and Sherlock: crimes and punishments

 

Sadly i dont know any more similar games- probably because not too many are released on PC (which sucks. i want to play those D: )

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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I've never really been a huge fan of these types of games, mostly cause they don't offer much actual choice or gameplay and I see them less as games and more as glorified storybooks. That being said, there clearly is a market for it so, all power to them.

 

It might just be a matter of semantics and choice of words, but to me this attitude has always sounded kind of strange. For one, choice and situations playing out differently is part of the soul of games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. For another, of course they're glorified story books! But you make that sound like it's a bad thing, which I don't understand. Or rather, I would like to call the ones I've played a novel take on story books and story telling, introducing a new level of investment in the narrative. Take something like The Path. While a skilled author can certainly evoke a similarly haunting atmosphere (The fall of the house of Usher comes to mind), the simple fact that it's my choice to lead the sisters, one after the other, off the path and into the forest lends it an extra quality that I love.

 

I cannot reccomment Life is Strange enough- in my opinion it is one of THE BEST games ever, if not the best. Nothing too special in gameplay, but story and its subtle, yet effective handling on many things you come across daily. Thats something, even if episode 5 does nosedive into the ground. Also, first time in my long "career" in gaming, i actually took time off in game for hours and enjoyed several things about it. I dont even mean explore, just sit down on bench and thats it. But be warned, once you get invested, its going to be one huge emotional rollercoaster.

 

Inviting you to simply stop and enjoy, as well as the promise of a real reward for emotional investment. Now that's what selling me on these games.

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also, it has a demo, if you want to try it out, which is rare these ddays

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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also, it has a demo, if you want to try it out, which is rare these ddays

 

Thanks, I think I will!

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@Meelis: I'm gonna be a jerk and state my opinion. XP Life is Strange is a good game, but I don't think it's the game that it tries to sell itself to be. From what I've seen (just watched a playthrough of every episode), the whole idea of; "actions have consequences" is flawed when you have the abilities that you have.

 

I agree it's a great game! But I feel like it was wrongly advertised. People were stating it to be like a sort of Walking Dead type game. But it's not at all. The choices you make seem to have no real influence because usually you're FORCED to go back and change what you decided. And some things seem rather pointless, like, deciding what breakfast you want. :P But other than that, it's good.

 

Feel free to disagree with me here. :)

"Ross, this is nothing. WHAT YOU NEED to be playing is S***flinger 5000." - Ross Scott talking about himself.

-------

PM me if you have any questions or concerns! :D

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@Meelis: I'm gonna be a jerk and state my opinion. XP Life is Strange is a good game, but I don't think it's the game that it tries to sell itself to be. From what I've seen (just watched a playthrough of every episode), the whole idea of; "actions have consequences" is flawed when you have the abilities that you have.

 

I agree it's a great game! But I feel like it was wrongly advertised. People were stating it to be like a sort of Walking Dead type game. But it's not at all. The choices you make seem to have no real influence because usually you're FORCED to go back and change what you decided. And some things seem rather pointless, like, deciding what breakfast you want. :P But other than that, it's good.

 

Feel free to disagree with me here. :)

It sounds like it's very similar to another recent adventure game, the horror title Until Dawn. I really enjoyed it, the first playthrough especially gives a distinct impression that your choices have a real impact on who get to survive and that your choices result in differing fortunes and consequences. Unfortunately the game's weaknesses become apparent after playing it for a second time, third time or more. You can even go back and start from one of the games ten chapters upon completing it for the first time. You start to realize that despite your choices and despite which characters perish or survive in the narrative, many of the game's pivotal events and plot high notes play out in exactly the same way.

[POTENTIAL PLOT RUINER BELOW, YOU'VE BEEN APPRAISED]

 

There's one point in the game when one of the characters has to choose the save the life of his best friend or the girl he loves, in a Saw-style setup created by what appears to be the games psycho antagonist. It doesn't matter who you pick, because the selection is set-up in such a way that his childhood friend will always die instead of the young lady. This turns out to be crucial a little bit later into the game, because the friend in question cunningly faked his death and was the psycho the whole time. When you don't know that the first time around, it's a perfectly serviceable twist. But when you realize that it was going to happen whatever choice you made it starts to ring a little hollow.

 

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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@Meelis: I'm gonna be a jerk and state my opinion. XP Life is Strange is a good game, but I don't think it's the game that it tries to sell itself to be. From what I've seen (just watched a playthrough of every episode), the whole idea of; "actions have consequences" is flawed when you have the abilities that you have.

 

I agree it's a great game! But I feel like it was wrongly advertised. People were stating it to be like a sort of Walking Dead type game. But it's not at all. The choices you make seem to have no real influence because usually you're FORCED to go back and change what you decided. And some things seem rather pointless, like, deciding what breakfast you want. :P But other than that, it's good.

 

Feel free to disagree with me here. :)

hey, we are all entitled to our opinion

And i do agree on wrong advertisment part- but since i didnt pick up game because of advertisment, i dont see problem in that.

As for pointless decisions- it actually pays off to have few such moments as well for game such as this- not every decision needs to be huge and important and i see it more of devs poking fun at themselves, while making game bit more light-hearted (as themes were dark as time went on) and making you pay attention to details.

And here's your flaw here, Jeb- you WATCHED it. Games like this you need to PLAY it. Trust me, its huge difference between playing and simply watching- especially with movie-type games. Especially since this game has quite few mechanics and puzzles designed to get you more invested in game. While you wouldnt have same impact now, im rather sure you'd get lot better experience nonethless if you'd play it.

As for decisions affecting story, well, they did until jumbled mess of episode 5. Not immideatly, like in TWD (you chose to save Doug, Carley died), but later down the road. That actually was one of my favourite parts- almost no choice caused immideate change, but down the line it turned out to be bigger.

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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@SelfSurprise: Oh yes, I think... The game only really decides who lives, rather than what happens. I'm pretty sure there is only one ending. But it's who survives is what your choices matter for. I like that game though. :D The story was intriguing, and I liked the characters.

 

@Meelis: Oh yeah, when Life is Strange came out people were like; "It's just another Walking Dead clone!" But upon playing it, you're either left disappointed that it's not, or glad that it's not. :P I felt disappointed.

But yeah, I have only watched it. So perhaps I should keep my mouth shut. :P

"Ross, this is nothing. WHAT YOU NEED to be playing is S***flinger 5000." - Ross Scott talking about himself.

-------

PM me if you have any questions or concerns! :D

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just try playing it then :)

at least demo- it wont even cost you anything.

Jack O'Neill: "You know Teal'c, if we dont find a way out of this soon, im gonna lose it. Lose it... it means go crazy. nuts. insane. bonzo. no longer in possession of ones faculties. 3 fries short of a happy meal. WACKO!!!!!!!!"

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@SelfSurprise: Oh yes, I think... The game only really decides who lives, rather than what happens. I'm pretty sure there is only one ending. But it's who survives is what your choices matter for. I like that game though. :D The story was intriguing, and I liked the characters.

Not a bad game at all, I'd give it a decent 6/10, for all its shortcomings.

 

[PLOT SPOILER, LIKE SERIOUSLY, BELOW]

 

You can't go wrong with Wendigos!

 

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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I like them, sometimes they're a nice change of pace after playing stuff like Fallout 4 or Europa Univeralis 4. Stuff that requires you to be active or constantly thinking what your next move should be.

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How I feel about these is based solely on the game that would fall in this category(actually that's kinda how I feel about all games, so, moot point I guess). If I feel like they're using pure visuals to make up for a lack of content, I'm probably not gonna like it. Plenty of games out there have amazing visuals as well as actual gameplay so if I wanted I could just fire up, say, Witcher 3 and just walk around for a while instead of quest chasing or whatever.

 

I like Dear Esther because while it really is just walking around, you're basically playing a poem. Not really much of gameplay in any way but the narrative always gives me chills.

 

Games like The vanishing of Ethan Carter I'm hesitant to classify as this because there is some gameplay and substance but at the same time the game has a lot of walking and is relying rather heavily on visuals. Though I would say it's selling point is more the story than anything and for that I like it.

 

I should also clarify that while I enjoy these 2 games, I've completed neither. I like them for what they are and do but in the end my ADHD wins out. :(

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I've never really been a huge fan of these types of games, mostly cause they don't offer much actual choice or gameplay and I see them less as games and more as glorified storybooks. That being said, there clearly is a market for it so, all power to them.

 

It might just be a matter of semantics and choice of words, but to me this attitude has always sounded kind of strange. For one, choice and situations playing out differently is part of the soul of games like The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us. For another, of course they're glorified story books! But you make that sound like it's a bad thing, which I don't understand. Or rather, I would like to call the ones I've played a novel take on story books and story telling, introducing a new level of investment in the narrative. Take something like The Path. While a skilled author can certainly evoke a similarly haunting atmosphere (The fall of the house of Usher comes to mind), the simple fact that it's my choice to lead the sisters, one after the other, off the path and into the forest lends it an extra quality that I love..

I never meant to say it's a bad thing, just that it's not what I'm looking for in a game and thus not interesting to me. In other words, it's not my cup of tea.

Game developments at http://nukedprotons.blogspot.com
I also write content at http://www.bagogames.com

Check out my music at http://technomancer.bandcamp.com

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I like them, sometimes they're a nice change of pace after playing stuff like Fallout 4 or Europa Univeralis 4. Stuff that requires you to be active or constantly thinking what your next move should be.

Having attempted to play a little bit of Europa Universalis myself, I think most things would be a nice change! :P

 

I like Dear Esther because while it really is just walking around, you're basically playing a poem. Not really much of gameplay in any way but the narrative always gives me chills.

That's a really good description of Dear Esther. If that game is like an extended metaphysical poem, then I suppose the same studios later game Everybody's Gone To The Rapture is like some succinct science-fiction novella. It seems like these various "WS/INE" games seem to be an attempt at emulating other mediums through gaming. I think reviewers and gamers alike need to develop a new modus operandi in regards to experiencing games like this, and I think it helps to bring along other influences and interests (particularly literary or visual art tropes) when playing them.

When close friends speak ill of close friends

they pass their abuse from ear to ear

in dying whispers -

even now, when prayers are no longer prayed.

What sounds like violent coughing

turns out to be laughter.

Shuntarō Tanikawa

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I cannot reccomment Life is Strange enough- in my opinion it is one of THE BEST games ever, if not the best. Nothing too special in gameplay, but story and its subtle, yet effective handling on many things you come across daily. Thats something, even if episode 5 does nosedive into the ground. Also, first time in my long "career" in gaming, i actually took time off in game for hours and enjoyed several things about it. I dont even mean explore, just sit down on bench and thats it. But be warned, once you get invested, its going to be one huge emotional rollercoaster.

 

I'd also reccommend Beyond: Two souls & Heavy Rain, though they are PS exclusives.

Ben Croshaw made a pretty accurate assumption of what I think of Beyond: Two Souls.

xiaB8XJqyLs

I fucking despise it. Heavy Rain is pretty good though.

 

And Life is Strange is most definitely an good WS. It's just so brimming with extremely dense detail and backstory with so much information to gather if you look for it, it is kind of like the overly detailed fantasy video game lores. That's not a bad thing for me because I am the type of person who really likes to gather that much of information through reading and listening. Life is Strange sometimes have some atrocious pieces of dialogue, but it is infinitely more enjoyable compared to its competition.

 

@OT: While it is by no mean a walking simulator; Pony Island is a very good "Interactive Narrative Experience". It's kind of hard to explain why is it so great but like Undertale, you really have to play it yourself to understand it. If the name Pony Island kind of turns you off due to the childish undertones, I can promise you that Pony Island has a lot more to do with Satan than ponies.

Actually Yngwie of Haus Malmsteen, feefty eenches of pure Svwedish beef.

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