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MagmaDragoon

Queen's Wish - Romance

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Hello everyone!

 

Feel free to use this thread for salutations as well, I am somewhat also passing by just to say hi to some of the oldies community member here - you know who you are. Feel free to message me privately if you wanna catch up!

 

Moving to the actual content: I have tried to catch Jeff's attention on Kickstarter by proposing a romancing option for the upcoming game, Queen's Wish. I always liked how "personal" you can get with NPCs in RPG game nowadays, if done well it really a nice touch to the game's flavour in my opinion. This is what I wrote:

 

Quote

Hello Jeff! Reading this update got me thinking about dialogue and NPC interactions - one thing that I always liked in RPGs are the "romantic options" where you can pursue intimate relationship with certain character. Are you by any chance thinking about implementing something similar in this game?

 

What are your views on this? Would you like to have the option to seduce the local innkeeper? :)

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Well, since you asked...

I've no more interest in seducing the local innkeeper in a video game than in real life. Moreover, it seems completely unnecessary - it's never been why I play Spiderweb Software's games. Now, if Jeff wants to include that sort of thing, that's his business. But after seeing how the romance in Avadon 2 turned out, I'm can't say I'm champing at the bit for him to write more PC-NPC romances.

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Oh... wow.  MagmaDragoon?  Seriously?  It's been... um, what, 12 years?  Hope you're doing well! -- Slarty

 

On topic: There were parts of the Avadon 2 romance option that were done well, and certainly other parts that weren't.  I don't personally think that first-person pick-your-line-of-dialogue systems are ideally suited to romance.  Love is too dynamic, too interactive, too all-encompassing to reach with choose-your-own-adventure dialogue.

 

No! in the fairy-tale

when she has breathed ‘I love,’ the prince,

all pale,

feels his own ugliness pour up in flame—

but I, beloved, you see am still the same

-- Cyrano de Bergerac, perhaps while playing Avadon 2

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Cultivating political alliances by marrying could be kind of neat, but I assume that as a member of the royal household, you would require the queen's approval. Unless there is the option to rebel, in which case forging a strong alliance with a local dynasty through marriage would be a good way to consolidate your overseas power base.

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I do not think that it would be necessary or wise to include that feature unless it advances a lot point (which tends to eliminate a lot of the spontaneity, much is already lost by the pick your dialog system).  The romance in Avadon 2 met that goal and was kept within reasonable bounds, but was not all that interesting other than "hey, Jeff did something different, lets see how it works out, plus I want to get the medal".  I am not sure that pursuing a romance with an NPC to earn a medal is a great thing.  

 

Adding a romance option to multiple characters would really turn this option from a side line to a main part of the game which I think is not keeping with the reason that most of us play Jeff's games.

 

While I agree with Minion's statement, the system that he describes seems far removed from the type of RPG that Jeff normally writes.

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Hi, MagmaDragoon! It's been a long time. Over a decade!

 

Romance in video games was interesting when they first appeared because they were something new to games. Then they became an expected Bioware game element, just another design box to tick off. I would rather not have perfunctory romance put into a game unless it serves a storytelling purpose. A well-told romance can be its own purposes, to be sure, but I don't think that's where Jeff Vogel's inclinations or writing talents lie.

 

—Alorael, who also thinks doing this well requires a lot of words and a lot of contextual changes. That's the kind of thing that's much easier to pull off when you have a stable of full-time writers for your game rather than a one or two person operation putting everything together. Just like Spiderweb can't compete in the pretty graphics space, it probably for surprisingly similar reasons can't compete in the romance space without substantially giving up on the parts of the games that have been the main draw to its games for twice as long as MagmaDragoon has been gone.

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NOT to denigrate Jeff, really, but do you really want a romance written by a self described nerd/geek, one who has spent the past couple of decades + shut away in solitary confinement while producing the games that delight us so?  True he did manage to woo his wife & continue that long enough to produce his daughters so he's not completely incompetent in that area.  But a master Don Juan I'd hazard a guess he isn't....

 

Seriously though, Avadon 2 was mentioned earlier. I just found that whole romance side story really awkward.  Stuck together out in the woods for a few weeks in isolation (start of the game description), relatively young healthy people (assumption, but given all the fighting/walking around they must do, not outrageous), chances of hooking up - fairly high.  But hardly the basis for eventual risking your life over/being a traitor to all you've known over the years, that's a pretty big jump (& Jeff did it about as well as it could be done).  And as mentioned it wasn't really part of the main story line.

 

Could it be done, sure.  Should it be done, probably not.  Especially in a brand new style of game.  Jeff needs to churn out a game that's new (the universe, objectives, interaction, etc), but familiar enough that his well developed niche market doesn't rebel & say "what's this shiat?  No more for me going forward...".  I'm sure that there are games out there with romance as a part of the main story (Sid Meier's Pirates springs to mind), but games don't & there's a reason for that.

(I suppose we could also add the Leisure Suit Larry series to the list as well...)

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Larry was great...and so was Leather Goddesses of Phobos...that said:

 

I'm one of the only people I've seen in the forum who liked the Silke romance, because I thought it did fit in with a theme of the Avadon games.  Your companions often had side goals that put their own wishes -- revenge, wealth, local interests, or whatever -- ahead of the mission and loyalty to Avadon or the Pact.  The Silke romance gave you a rather extreme chance to put aside the mission for a personal wish, rather than a grander goal.   (I didn't pursue it, beyond letting her escape once, because I wasn't playing as someone that selfish; and because I wasn't doing any "betraying" until Av-3 when I felt justified in killing Redbeard.)   I did wish he'd given me a chance to spare her after routing out the rebels, and set her up in that little house I paid so much for...I like a chance to do a little deed of kindness aside form the main plot.

 

Since I don't know anything about the new game, I don't know whether a romantic subplot would fit it, but I do like that kind of thing.   And if it's not a huge part of the game, well, the problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in the crazy world of a Spiderweb game...

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On 9/13/2018 at 10:50 PM, And my heart too. said:

Oh... wow.  MagmaDragoon?  Seriously?  It's been... um, what, 12 years?  Hope you're doing well! -- Slarty

 

Oh hey! I still remember your infamous quote, "we should make MagmaDragoon's mother an honorary member of the forums". Good times!

 

On 9/14/2018 at 5:18 AM, Leçons Dangereuses said:

Hi, MagmaDragoon! It's been a long time. Over a decade!

 

—Alorael, [...] for twice as long as MagmaDragoon has been gone.

 

🤣 Twelve years actually - Slarty's right. Can't believe you are still here, either - I hope you have achieved at some point the coveted Postaroni, Pizzabella! status quo.

 

Back on topic: Some points here make such interesting arguments for discussion, such as "you can't make interesting romance where dialogue lines are scripted" - my experience with romance and RPGs is literally this! Someone mentioned BioWare, which is a good example in fact. Is there an alternative dialogue mechanic out there I am not aware of?

 

I also do not see having this option as "mandatory" or to fulfill an expectation, but more like a nice touch to our character personality. Surely in all our travels there has to be some people we can at least charm with our good looks, money, or suave voice? Even without going so far out as love, a more persuasive version of charisma would be nice to have, at least for me.

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Comeliness covered good looks, Charisma covers suave voice, and in most of the games money is no problem.  Either Charisma or Comeliness or both could fairly easily become a stat like nature lore where it enables certain things, most of which are non-essential and then we could have multiple posts on how valuable it is or it isn't with completionists (like me) getting the necessary levels to have every option of persuading merchants, officials and members of the desired gender to do what we want while the min/maxers have just enough levels to do what is absolutely necessary and put the rest in hardiness or something else useful.

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20 hours ago, MagmaDragoon said:

a more persuasive version of charisma would be nice to have,

 

Eloquence?

Rhetorical Proficiency?

Dizzying Intellect?

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On ‎9‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 12:25 AM, Minion said:

Cultivating political alliances by marrying could be kind of neat

Well, I didn't know that Jeff was going to do Crusader Kings 3 :D 

 

I really wonder how many gamers like romances, and even more crucially how many RPG players like them. I've never been truly convinced by the BG / KOTOR / Mass Effect ones, for instance.

I haven't yet played Witcher 3, so maybe my views will change, but I think one of the key issues is that RPG romance is just that, romance, not really love story with its depth, complexity and passion, but at best (and rarely if ever, actually) the very beginning of something that might become vageuly more solid and serious in the future, long after the game's over. Not that it's impossible to do it well in video games, it happens a few times, but so far I've seen it in 2 games - where actually it was mixed with sadness if not a sense of tragic -, namely in To the Moon and Max Payne 2.

Besides, I'm not sure Jeff likes to implement that kind of things, if it's his cup of tea, not sure either if he can do it really well (haven't played Avadon yet, though).

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I am not sure there are any video game writers or designers I know of who have the delicacy to write a really great, convincing love story, and I am not sure it is possible to systematize romance in a way that is remotely satisfying in anything but the most simplistic, escapist way.


Also, it's worth noting that in big-budget RPGs like Bioware's, it's standard for each companion character/romance interest to be written by a separate writer, so each one can get enough attention to be developed satisfactorily, and so that each one feels different from the others. A major problem with the Avadon games, I think, was that since the games are written by one person, it wasn't possible for each companion, or the love interest in 2, to get enough attention and care put into them, so they tend to be a little flat and harp on one note in their characterization. I think it's better to simply not have a romance subplot than to have a half-baked one.

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In fairness, most romances in novels are also pretty bad.

 

This is especially true in the fantasy and speculative genres that most frequently find their way to RPGs.

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On ‎10‎/‎31‎/‎2018 at 7:18 PM, Caligula said:

I really wonder how many gamers like romances, and even more crucially how many RPG players like them.

 

In my long-ago experience with tabletop roleplaying (and also some more recent play-by-post), I can tell you lots of RPG players liked them (as I did).  Most, in fact, of the ones I knew.  You didn't need the DM/GM to create something of enormous literary quality either, as the players' imaginations filled in the gaps quite nicely.  

 

I haven't played as many CRPGs as a lot of people here, so I can't really speak to what their audiences like.

Edited by Alberich

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3 hours ago, And my heart too. said:

In fairness, most romances in novels are also pretty bad.

 

This is especially true in the fantasy and speculative genres that most frequently find their way to RPGs.

 

If I had a quarter for every horrible speculative fiction sex scene I've read...

 

The thing about video games (even more so than art in general) is that in my experience, very very few are actually what I would describe as good art, and almost none, if any, are great art. So, at the end of the day, what I want from a video game tends to be just enjoyable escapism rather than insight on the human experience. A romantic subplot can be fun and endearing if done well. But, there are few things more excruciating to read (or play through) than an overlong, poorly-written love scene.

 

The romances in Bioware RPGs tend to be competently written and fun. They are not brilliant or meaningful, but that's fine because they're in games that are not, on the whole, brilliant or meaningful. The best they can hope to be is satisfying and memorable. But, as I mentioned above, it takes dedicated work from a professional writer to get each potential romance into shape and ensure that each major character is consistently characterized and has a consistent voice.

 

The companion writing in the Avadon games, and the romance subplot in 2, in my opinion mostly fails to meet the bar of being fun or memorable, and so has to be considered a failure. Unless Jeff plans to hire another writer to work on things like this, or to take twice as long to write the games himself, I would prefer that in future Spiderweb games he sticks to his strong suits (imaginative worldbuilding, memorable eccentric minor characters).

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19 hours ago, googoogjoob said:

The thing about video games (even more so than art in general) is that in my experience, very very few are actually what I would describe as good art, and almost none, if any, are great art. So, at the end of the day, what I want from a video game tends to be just enjoyable escapism rather than insight on the human experience.

I know you acknowledged art in general above, but I do think the difference is not that great.  There's a lot of really bad writing out there.

 

Obviously, video games as a medium aren't well suited to do some things that novels, for example, can do.  But they can absolutely speak to the human conditions the same way fairy tales and folktales can, and that's sort of the same category as some of the better fantasy & SF lit.  To take one example, if you break down and analyze the story in Final Fantasy IV, it's remarkable how closely it tracks with both Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.  There's just enough subtlety that no one really notices it, but once you look, the parallels are remarkable.

 

Are most CRPGs closer to Eragon than Lord of the Rings?  Absolutely!  But so are most fantasy novels.

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A lot of writing is formalistic where plots follow a certain format. Good writing makes you enjoy it even if you know what is coming or adds new elements that makes it different in memorable ways. You can trace elements back to earlier source material if you want to take the time and are knowledgable about them.

 

Lord of the Rings took elements from Norse and Christian mythology and sagas. But the elements were put together in interesting ways. Star Wars was even more derivative of the hero hidden away so he could come of age and gain power to eventually defeat the evil that could have easily killed him as a child.

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Well, when I say great art, I mean, uh. Art which creates in the consumer an awareness of the Sublime, in the Romantic sense, which is sort of undefinable, and is totally subjective to the consumer. There are books I think are great art, there are pieces of music, there are paintings, etc, but my experience with video games is that maybe none of them ever actually reach that point, and thus might be entertaining or interesting, but I would not describe any of them as "great art". But again, this is a totally personal perspective, and I am sure there are video games that fit the same role in some peoples' experience as a particular work of art does in my experience, and apart from that, what each person would describe as "great" art is unique as well. My former comment should be understood in light of this.

 

Anyway this is all tangential to the topic, I think.

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I'm not sure what you mean by the "sort of undefinable" "Sublime" (but, then, you aren't sure either, so we're even 😂), but I certainly find that some video games are capable of drawing my mind to ponder truth, beauty, and goodness (the so-called "transcendentals").

FWIW, playing Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild earlier this year is what convinced me that video games can be art. Never before have I thought after finishing game that it was such a genuinely beautiful experience to play. (Note: the game is not perfect, but what human art is ever perfect? Also, not saying there are no other video-games-which-are-art in existence, just that I haven't had a chance to play them.) In the past, I've played games that I thought came close to being art but that I wasn't quite sure about, or games that had certain elements I thought qualified as art but not the game as a whole.
 

If we don't have many video games that qualify as art, I suspect it's more because of time than because the genre is inherently incapable of being art. Geniuses like Michelangelo or Bach don't come along every day, and the greatness of brilliant works of art can take time to achieve widespread appreciation. People have been painting, making music, and writing books for millennia, which means that even though most of those works are bad, the sheer amount time means a great many brilliant paintings, pieces of music, and books have appeared. It's harder to point to video games as art perhaps in part because it is such a young art form. I imagine that if mankind is still playing video games in 500 years, we'll have more examples that are widely recognized as great art.

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I think Cliff Johnson's games, and also System's Twilight, have a sort of austere beauty to them as a result of their total dedication to being what they are, and how well-crafted they are. (But also: I played them like 15 years ago and have no real interest in playing them ever again.)

 

A problem with video games being great art doesn't have anything to do with how old the artform is, I think, but is a result of several intersecting and complicating economic factors, which I was gonna explicate in detail but then I realized this post is already much too long so I excised it. It's more possible for small independent developers to make good art than big-budget established developers, but indie devs don't have the same resources (money, time, staff) to devote to something the way a big dev can.

 

Another problem with video games as art is that most video game developers seem to be stuck conceptualizing video games as being, basically, movies shackled to crosswords. I think for a video game to be great art, form and function have to coincide perfectly, with the mechanical and thematic elements reinforcing each other to result in something greater than the sum of its parts. I think Cliff Johnson's games do a good (but relatively primitive) job of this insofar as they sort of slave the thematic elements to the mechanical elements in a way which I think is effective. I think Papers, Please is another good example of a game which has its mechanics and thematic elements perfectly tailored for each other, although it ultimately does not do anything particularly interesting with them. However, most games think of these elements as being essentially segregated, and use the thematic elements either as another little incentive to make the player keep playing (play more unrelated gameplay to see what happens next in the story!), or as an unrelated domain which has to exist to justify the game itself, or as an opportunity to communicate some story or message the developers cannot or do not know how to communicate via gameplay, or more often some combination of these. I hold out hope that eventually someone will manage to synthesize the two elements in a successful, satisfying way, though I have not yet played a game that does so.

 

A last major problem, related to the prior problem, is that the games which do get praised for being good or great art tend to be crude melodramas stapled onto middling gameplay. The people who review video games professionally tend to be uh. Undiscerning would be the polite way to put it, I guess. Video game reviewers tend to be essentially hobbyists who are just glad to be getting paid to write their reviews. They might like or dislike a video game, but they tend to be very poor at explaining why they do or do not like it. Most of them have a sort of lingering defensiveness about whether or not games are a worthwhile thing to write about or dedicate your life to, and many are extremely eager to seize on any opportunity to argue games are "actually art" as a result. Both reviewers and popular audiences tend to favor works that manage to make them feel strong emotions, regardless of what those emotions are or how manipulatively or incoherently the game makes them feel these emotions (although this is also the case to an extent with popular cinema and literature).

 

Video games has not yet developed the robust critical industry that literature or film or music have, which I think is necessary to a healthy artform. (Not that plenty of terrible films or books don't get released even with their artforms' established critical industries, but on the one hand good art criticism allows consumers to work out their own tastes more clearly, and allows artists to learn more effectively from the strengths and weaknesses of other artists; and on the other hand it would be very difficult to find a professional literary critic willing to defend something like The Da Vinci Code as great art, while it is distressingly easy to find professional video game critics willing to go to the mat to defend something as simultaneously dull and reprehensible as Bioshock Infinite as one of the best video games ever, and a crowning achievement of art.) As long as it's possible for a video game (The Last of Us) to get extremely positive "buzz" (however many dozens of Game of the Year awards!) and extreme critical acclaim (95% great on Metacritic!) by being essentially a mediocre third-person shooter awkwardly coupled with a sub-mediocre melodrama plot that rehashes and recycles decades of existing fiction, there is no real economic or social incentive for game developers, already in a risky hit-based business (a large majority of the profits are made by a small minority of the releases, and most games lose money for the publisher), to try to make truly original or brilliant work. (Not that there aren't those who try anyway.)

 

(Sidebar: some games which I think are good art: the Blackwell series of adventure games; The Real Texas; Night in the Woods; Immortal Cities: Children of the Nile; The Deadly Tower of Monsters; the first third of Knee Deep; Windosill.) (Excited for someone to violently disagree with my theses.)

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Oh, hey, "are video games art". Haven't done one of these in a while.

 

Are they art? Depends on how you define art -- I have nothing invested in my definition of the term, and most everyone else is unwilling to change theirs. If you think "experiences" count as art, then certainly video games qualify. On the other hand, once you start using terms like "sublime", then you've probably already decided for yourself. Then there's everyone who would say Rembrandt created art and Pollock did not, at which point you don't even bother bringing another medium into the discussion.

 

One pitfall I see both sides of the debate fall into is comparing video games to film/television or novels. The usual examples cited as "artistic video games" tend to be highly cinematic or highly narrative or both, and the usual rebuttal is reductionist. Oh, the music might be artistic, the writing literary, the cutscenes as good as any film, but the game as a whole? Personally, I find the games that ape what makes film or novels successful to be the least indicative of what makes video games "artistic". The medium has a lot more in common with immersive theatre, or installation art. Or cuisine! And just as you can't judge a meal by looking at a picture without tasting it, you can't judge a video game without playing it (though many, most infamously Roger Ebert, have tried).

 

Speaking of Ebert, one of his key criticisms of the medium, one that's overlooked by most rebuttals, is that art by definition requires authorial and directorial control:

 

"... I did indeed consider video games inherently inferior to film and literature. There is a structural reason for that: Video games by their nature require player choices, which is the opposite of the strategy of serious film and literature, which requires authorial control."

"I believe art is created by an artist. If you change it, you become the artist."
"Art seeks to lead you to an inevitable conclusion, not a smorgasbord of choices."

 

It's an odd place to draw the line, but there you go. In my mind, surrendering directorial control and even authorial control is what makes video games so powerful. With even the simplest "walking simulators", the player can pan the camera (and thus control the framing of a scene) and walk at their own speed (and thus control the pacing of a scene). The result is something far more immersive than most other mediums can aspire to. It's harder to truly surrender authorial control -- an RTS or FPS might have differing results based on mission performance, or a CRPG or visual novel might present the player with multiple choice questions periodically. But until we figure a way to put a miniature Game Master in every computer, it will have to do.

 

Aaaand new post just as I'm about to submit this:

As you might guess, I agree with the "movies shackled to crosswords" assessment.

Papers, Please is a great example of video games doing something other mediums cannot. Other mediums might describe harsh circumstances forcing someone to be part of a totalitarian apparatus, but video games let you be that someone.

And as for the rest: Sturgeon's Law. No lack of films being nothing more than crude melodramas with middling cinematography, and no lack of low effort, undiscerning reviewers.

Edited by Dintiradan
Linebreaks for clarity.

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On 11/4/2018 at 7:11 PM, googoogjoob said:

(But also: I played them like 15 years ago and have no real interest in playing them ever again.)

 

This is a mistake, but do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.

 

Also, CURSES.  And a whole of bunch of other IF, that's just the lynchpin for me.  But I suppose then we're treading the line between video games and writing, anyway...

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Jigsaw is so, so much better than Curses. There's a lot of IF I've enjoyed, but not a lot I would call good art... Jigsaw, Make It Good, All Roads. (Ingold is great. 80 Days was great but only sort of IF; Heaven's Vault looks great.) The Dreamhold, Spider and Web. All of Plotkin's games are sort of mechanically beautiful, but he's so much better at implying than at fleshing out interesting details that they only occasionally really connect satisfyingly. Maybe Aisle. I like or at least do not hate basically everything Emily Short's ever done but I think only Savoir-Faire is really great of her stuff.

Edited by googoogjoob
this is an inexcusable tangent. really.

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I think you hit on a good distinction: I may be happier with implication than you are.  If anything, I think I prefer things not going too far in the direction of being completely spelled out.  Piecing together the running threads in the history of the Meldrews through deduction and inference and incomplete entries in the reference book, which mostly wasn't mechanically necessary and never provided a complete picture, was maybe my favourite part of Curses.  I certainly don't claim it has better elements than the rest of that list (much of which I've played and loved), but I give it credit for a certain freshness, a lack of technical artifice -- "mechanical" actually would be the last word I'd use to describe its beauty.  Sometimes that's more important to me, and that's really why I still play so many old, old games.

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Implication/explication can cut both ways for me, I think. Curses is, to me, an almost-interesting mixture of an initial setting and premise I do not care about at all (a crusty manor belonging to a house of eccentrics; finding a map in the attic), the eclectic fantasy (and intermittently sci-fi) elements, a bunch of lightly-implemented scenarios strung together with very light plot elements, and then the joke ending (spoilers for this 25+ year old game) which never worked for me. Jigsaw means more to me because I'm more invested in 20th century history than in slightly twee British fantasy (and I think Jigsaw has generally better puzzles and a more consistent tone). Even though no given scene or setting in Jigsaw is particularly deep or fleshed-out (except maybe the Titanic), I know and can recognize each historical scene, and the knowledge and feelings I already have about these scenes, I guess, lets me bring what I already have and sort of meet the game halfway, so the game means more to me. (Putting part of this another way, you could say Curses's metatextuality is oriented towards TS Eliot and Greek and Egyptian myth, which don't mean a lot to me, while Jigsaw's is oriented towards real history- and Lenin's sealed train or the ULTRA codebreaking operation mean more to me than the story of Andromeda ever did or could.)

 

So Far has some beautifully-written settings, but you only ever see them briefly and in no real depth. All Roads takes the unifying mechanic/image of So Far (traveling via shadows) but puts it to more focused, deeper use. Neither game actually explicitly spells out its story, but So Far is sort of a series of memorable but disconnected dream-like images and settings, while All Roads uses its little hints and implications to limn the silhouette of a bigger story. At the end of each game the player is left with a lot of questions, but in So Far you get the impression that the questions may not have answers, and if they do, they are irrelevant; while in All Roads you get the impression that the questions do have answers, which you might be able to deduce, and which might make the narrative more interesting or meaningful. Both of these have a sort of beauty, but I find the latter more compelling. (Although I'd distinguish the latter sort of thing- a story which might benefit from close reading or multiple readings- from the increasingly-popular "puzzlebox" mode of storytelling, which I hate, where the narrative is deliberately obtuse but gives you a bunch of hints or clues, and the "fun" comes from simply attempting to work out what actually happened, preferably on Twitter or a popular forum for maximum exposure and buzz and free marketing. It's sort of a fine line between the types though.)

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This sort of reminds me of movies or books that I've enjoyed in part because I never knew what would happen next, but that one of my brothers found a lot more meh because the plot twists I found suspenseful were instead totally obvious and predictable to him. We all have some ability to connect the dots and figure out what's going in a story, but for any particular story (regardless of its medium), some of us are going to do better at filling in the blanks than others will. I've been annoyed by stories that I felt never explained such-and-such important matter, but I've also been taken aback when the aforementioned brother said a story that I thought made complete sense failed to explain things and left him in the dark. So I wonder if the implication / explication distinction is less about enjoying one versus the other in an absolute sense, and more about how successfully / easily one makes inferences for a specific story. Humans generally enjoy solving puzzles (otherwise we wouldn't keep making them for thousands of years), and I think that includes the act of inferring. It's quite satisfying to realize you've worked through the hints to figure out a story. Maybe our final interpretation isn't exactly what the author intended, but we have still used logic and imagination to build a coherent understanding out what the author gave us, and this makes us feel smart. Contrariwise, if we are unsuccessful at inferring some kind of meaning in a work of fiction, we wind up confused and frustrated and dissatisfied. Thus how much one enjoys implication in a work of fiction, versus desiring more explicit details and connections, comes down to how successful one is at drawing inferences from said implications.


Tangent: oh wow weird flashback to discussing Eliot's "The Waste Land" in English Lit as a freshman and boggling over how many literary allusions he loaded into that thing.

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