|AvenaOats Goblin Squad Member|
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Can't say what enough what a great job Duffy's map is.
This comes to why I sunk $100 into PFO: Emergent story in games via player interaction and agency and orders of complexity (eg management).
It's interesting seeing others ponder this question such as this blog:-
1. Fixed story: in a game like Half-Life 2, the player has no influence on the story at all. You either do what the characters tell you to and it works out the way the writer wrote it, or you die or stop. I pick Half-Life 2 because it makes this work: I loved the game and cared about the story. It doesn’t feel ideal, though. The story doesn’t add anything to the action or vice versa, it was an extraordinary amount of work to create, and the story gets less interesting each time you replay it.
2. Chooseable story: in a game like Mass Effect, all of the story is pre-written, but you often make big decisions about how it plays out. By the end of the series, there are a huge number of possible eventualities for the characters and races that come about convincingly from your decisions. But you’re still only choosing from a discrete number of eventualities that have all been catered for by the writers, which means a lot of work for them and limited possibilities for you.
3. Generate minimal story: in Spelunky, you’re an adventurer delving into some caves. Everything else is generated by the game’s systems, which are universally consistent and create new experiences every time. The trade-off is that what it generates is rather vague in story terms.
You might do something mechanically interesting to save a damsel, but she’s just ‘a damsel’, a mindless placeholder for a person with no character or uniqueness. It does a great job of making you care about these elements for mechanical reasons, but the stories it generates read more like (good, complex) action scenes than anything with plot or character.
4. Generate rich story: a game like Galactic Civilizations 2 puts you in charge of a civilisation and gives you a lot of choice in how you deal with others: war, peace, trade, non-military rivalry, secret deals to screw over other civs, etc. From what I understand Crusader Kings 2 is even richer, letting you hatch assassination plots against particular members of particular royal families to shift the balance of power the way you want.
These games generate high-level story – ‘plot’ – through their mechanics, and express it through pre-written dialogues that may crop up multiple times. That means they might not be entirely convincing – every few turns, the Drengin in GalCiv2 threaten me with the same line of dialogue about demanding tribute. But there are at least named characters saying specific things, and in GalCiv they have a lot of personality.
These games are probably the closest we’ve got to merging interaction and story in a way where both really add something to each other. But they all tend to be about managing a civilisation, which is just one very particular kind of story.
It's interesting that he does not look at "multi-players interacting to create emergence" at 5.
But it's a tall order to achieve.