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(process) 80-hour main quest

Started by droqen, December 09, 2021, 01:02:38 PM

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droqen

EXERCISE 11: EMERGENT NARRATIVE PATTERNS

Seems ridiculous at first glance, to use this exercise about emergent narratives to explore games with massively long main quests, but it was the most obviously appropriate and... you know, in its own way, an extremely long game is absolutely a feature of an emergent narrative: that it takes a long time. It's not really unexpected, because it averages out over a long period of time. But it describes an experiential quality which emerges from the rules.

droqen

Quote from: p.165Step 1: Ask yourself a question about emergent narratives. For instance, how many player choices are needed in a scene, level, or game before emergent narratives occur? Or, how are the kinds of emergent narratives in a game related to the type or diversity of mechanics in a game? Be creative.

How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete? Literally how.

droqen

December 09, 2021, 01:14:56 PM #2 Last Edit: December 09, 2021, 01:25:17 PM by droqen
Step 2 is always "Find 10 games." This will be difficult, because I don't really have much experience with games that are this long!!!

In this case the specific prompt is "Look at ten games that have an emergent narrative," but I'm going to interpret 'emergent narrative' extremely loosely... For example, the first item on my list is Persona 4, which has a very linear narrative. But as is the case with all games, it also has an emergent narrative.

For my purposes, I am actually choosing games that are more like 20-40 hours long because I don't think I've ever finished an 80-hour game.

Persona 4 [80+ hrs, 50%] - an urban-fantasy anime RPG

Animal Crossing: New Horizons [60 hrs, 20-100%] [to paid off] - a life simulator? time progresses in real time, your town changes and grows.

Diablo II [34.5 hrs, 100%] - an action RPG

Fantasy Life [31.5 hrs, 100%] - an action RPG

Breath of the Wild [50 hrs, 100%] - a third-person adventure game

NieR: Automata [21 hrs, 10%] - a third-person action-adventure game with bullet hell elements

Cave Story [16.5 hrs, 100%] [for all endings] - a platformer game with a story, and characters

Dark Souls [42.5 hrs, 100%] - a third-person action-adventure(?) game that focuses on death and decay

Fallout 3 [22.5 hrs, 100%] - an open world FPS

System Shock 2 [13.5 hrs, 100%] - an immersive sim survival horror FPS

Etrian Odyssey [50 hrs, 100%] - an old-school dungeon crawler / JRPG

Tales of Vesperia [50-60 hrs, 100%] - a JRPG with real-time combat, and local co-op

La-Mulana [21 hrs?, 50%] - a puzzle-solving platformer

The Witness [17.5 hrs, 100%] [for main ending] - a puzzle game

Super Mario Odyssey [14-28 hrs, 100%-ish] [main or main+extras.] - a 3D third-person platformer adventure game

droqen

Quote from: p.166Step 3. For each game you chose, what is the answer to your question for that specific game?

I'm going to repeat the question before each game just so I don't get lost...

droqen

December 09, 2021, 01:37:44 PM #4 Last Edit: December 09, 2021, 01:57:35 PM by droqen
"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Persona 4 [80+ hrs, 50%] - an urban-fantasy anime RPG

The game alternates between non-interactive sequences (cutscenes), visual novel-esque story sections where the player makes choices that can grant them benefits while also steering and receiving the narrative, over-the-shoulder labyrinth navigation with random encounters, and JRPG combat.

A video of the first 51 minutes of PERSONA 4 GOLDEN is broken up as follows:
18 minutes (00:00-18:00) cutscenes and visual novel sequences. (I would like to break this up further)
50 seconds (18:00-18:50) labyrinth navigation
1 minute (18:50-19:50) combat
33 minutes (19:50-51:54) cutscenes and visual novel sequences, also a map where you can choose a location to visit

A video of 1 hr and 17 minutes, "PART 7" of a 100% playthrough of the game...
Many more choices are being made. I will need to further break down 'visual novel sequences' into [menu choices] and [watching] -- where 'watching' includes reading text...
This video contained NO 'over-the-shoulder labyrinth' or 'JRPG combat' sections.
1 hr 17 minutes (00:00 - 01:17:00) cutscenes and visual novel sequences, as well as walking around navigation and some other menus...

PART 8
There seem to be 'free-roaming' situations where you have a large number of choices about where to go / what to do next. It's named 'movement' because you can move physically around spaces, but that's not always the case; choosing from menus is part of it (these menus just let you go in and out freely, rather than having to choose to interact)
RAW DATA:
movement 0:00 - 0:08
menu choice at 0:40
menu choice at 1:16
ui anim at 1:38
ui anim (day change) at 1:54
movement 2:02 - 2:40
menu choice at 3:59
movement 4:56 - 5:00
menu choice at 5:33
menu choice at 6:30
movement 7:21 - 7:50
velvet room 7:50 - 11:14
movement 11:14 - 11:30
menu choice at 12:10
menu choice at 12:21
movement 13:12 - 13:28

etc.
NEW MECHANIC INTRODUCED: GARDENING?

* movement / not movement / movement / not movement
* 10-30 seconds of movement at a time
* 2-5 minute long non-movement chunks which usually contain 2 menu choices (but may be a free-form environment, like the velvet room, with significantly more choices)
oops this is a pattern, but i'm just trying to simplify this raw data! jeez

"inside the TV" but still movement-VN content 26:00-28:00
DUNGEON CRAWL @ 28:00 - 58:00

PART 9 is 1:37:08 of mostly dungeon crawling, with a little bit of velvet room at the start.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Perhaps a revised question is more like "What content fills up the time in a 50+ hour long game?" How are long content-based games as long as they are?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons [60 hrs, 20-100%] [to paid off] - a life simulator? time progresses in real time, your town changes and grows.

A player can spend time on various activities that earn Bells. These activities are active and take time, meaning in order to acquire the necessary amount of Bells to upgrade their house fully, they must spend a lot of time.

An interesting wrinkle: The most efficient methods of acquiring Bells are limited by real time (e.g. you can hit rocks to get money, but only 1 rock per day). By stopping play and returning the next day, these more efficient methods return.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Breath of the Wild [50 hrs, 100%] - a third-person adventure game

Note that the player can skip huge amounts of the content in this game in order to go fight Ganon directly!

The player spends time exploring the environment (it is vast). Many distractions present themselves along the way to completing larger goals. A large part of the experience of Breath of the Wild is getting from point A to point B, noticing interesting things along the way and choosing to engage with or ignore them.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Cave Story [16.5 hrs, 100%] [for all endings] - a platformer game with a story, and characters

The player alternates between
- Watching story cutscenes
- Fighting enemies
- Perhaps dying, and returning to fight the same enemies
- Boss fights, which involve even more dying!
- Being lost, exploring, backtracking.

There are several boss fights and there is a lot of ground to cover (i.e. there are a lot of screens). The cutscenes take up time.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Dark Souls [42.5 hrs, 100%] - a third-person action-adventure(?) game that focuses on death and decay

Entering a new area is quite dangerous. The player either progresses slowly, or dies and must restart, losing progress. Also, it's quite easy to get lost and end up going in the wrong direction. And, there are boss fights which you similarly must fight multiple times -- or possibly with a lot of preparation and conservativeness (though this does not always work) -- to progress.

Dark Souls has many areas. It's not always clear which area you should go to next, so you can spend some time being lost. Each area is quite large and follows a similar pattern... you can get lost within the area. Obstacles are dangerous and must be approached with care; like the area design, fractally, you can get 'lost' and make a mistake about how to approach an obstacle quite easily, losing time and resources, which may cause death or force backtracking or just waste a moment of your time doing the wrong thing, when you could have instead done the right thing.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Fallout 3 [22.5 hrs, 100%] - an open world FPS

It's been a while... I'm going to skip this one, unfortunately.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
System Shock 2 [13.5 hrs, 100%] - an immersive sim survival horror FPS

How does System Shock 2 last as long as it does? It's not even a particularly long game... It has a main quest that passes through several areas, enough areas that I'm not 100% sure that I remember them all. Or maybe that's just a lack of organization. Anyway, you're in this big ship, and the plot has you going from point A to point B, with obstacles in your way. Your weapons are breaking, your skills are going up. Obstacles within obstacles.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Etrian Odyssey [50 hrs, 100%] - an old-school dungeon crawler / JRPG

This is a long game! It's elongated by random encounters, and hard boss battles... you also need to match your characters' levels to the environment's. If you get too far ahead, you'll level up a bit faster but your rate of death and failure will rise sharply, too, and this can cause you to
- waste time (travelling back and forth to rest), or
- lose progress (by dying)

Then there are very difficult boss fights which take time to attempt, and end in failure if your level is too low or you haven't figured out a good strategy.

If your team composition is bad, you can spend time creating new characters but leveling them up to an acceptable level takes time.

Random encounters are repeated content - randomness makes this repeated content more interesting, you can never quite know how a random encounter will go because most enemies have moves that sometimes succeed critically and other times do nothing.

You have limited resources which force you to backtrack and return to town.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
Tales of Vesperia [50-60 hrs, 100%] - a JRPG with real-time combat, and local co-op

- Lots of writing
- Combat encounters with similar enemies who have a lot of health!
- Player characters level up slowly, unlocking major boons after a lot of time has passed

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
La-Mulana [21 hrs?, 50%] - a puzzle-solving platformer

Very difficult strange puzzles that involve navigating the world. Enemies and obstacles that make navigating the world perilous. Fear of death slows you down, makes you play in ways that are 'slower' but make you lose fewer resources; death makes you lose progress.

A lot of varied areas. A lot of puzzles. Boss fights.

droqen

"How do content-based games take 50+ hours of gameplay to complete?"
The Witness [17.5 hrs, 100%] [for main ending] - a puzzle game

The Witness has a lot of puzzles, and you can spend a lot of time on individual puzzles, as well. There is some degree of 'wandering, lost' both to the world and to individual puzzles. Moving from place to place takes time; being lost is more time-consuming as a result. Individual puzzles teach you something but it takes some experimentation to discover what they want you to learn, what they want you to do.

The environment lends itself to moments of peace, just standing and looking around.

Standing and looking around is a core component of certain post-game puzzles as well as basic navigation! "Where have I not been before?" Navigation