I love my RPG games. I particularly love those games that focus on combat in a very visually satisfying way. A game that ticked all the boxes for me was Dungeon Siege. I’ve blogged about this briefly before.
What I love about such games is that they don’t ram the story down your throat.
I very much enjoy being left to my own devices to manage a game. Dungeon Siege is essentially an arcade game with loose RPG management thrown in. And it’s this that makes it a winner.
You are fed a small amount of story and then hurled in to the action. Such is the nature of the game you are left to fight your way through each stage and then gather your thoughts and strengthen your party in the “down” times. i.e. the towns and villages.
The game isn’t without its failings but generally it’s a real treat for someone with an over-active imagination.
My tendency to drift off in to my own dream world at the best of times means that the ability to dive straight in to the action and carve out my own imagined adventures is an incredibly good quality for a game.
Often I find that the story is so detailed, so rich and so rammed down your throat that I have little or no room left to add my own spin on it. I enjoy that bit. I enjoy taking the outline for a story, a backstory or a general theme and working on it in my own mind.
Not wishing to decry the efforts of the story teller at all. On the contrary, such is their skill I have no room to flex my imagination.
What games like Dungeon Siege allow me to do is quest in a very satisfying hack and slash style, save progress and then pick up from where I left off instantly. Where, for me, Dungeon Siege 2 fell down in that regard was in its use of the hub. Teleporting to a spot is not nearly as satisfying as just loading a game up and finding yourself in that same woodland clearing or rocky outcrop from your last episode. For me it allows me to “pretend”.
This seemingly immature approach to gaming maintains my interest in games in general. I like to form something of a personal bond to a game. A bond that is lost somewhat in multiplayer arenas. Multiplayer games have rarely floated my boat. Not even Quake. Not even World of Warcraft.
In WoW I made it my mission to fight alone and do all missions as best I could alone. I made it a goal to finish up in as “safe” and visually beautiful place as possible such that when I re-entered the world the next day or week I would feel as though it had been my home for a little while. Sad but true. Such is the bond that I enjoyed forming with these games.
I’ve always been like this. It’s really nothing new.
Back in the 8-bit days one of my favourite games was Mercenary.
With its wireframe visuals and paper thin story it was a perfect world for me to visit. There was enough there to feed my imagination and send it in to overdrive.
Wandering the wastes of Targ and entering numerous hangars and buildings was a great thrill. By todays standards it’s a pretty awful experience but back when games were small and generally the efforts of a one man team this kind of game was enormous.
I loved Mercenary.
More recently the graphically rich worlds of Doom and Quake allowed me to “pretend” in more detail.
Doom’s story was so light you pretty much didn’t care for it at all. For most it was a blastathon with an incredible multi-player aspect. For me it was an intensly rich single player experience set against the backdrop of a story that I had imagined.
Same goes for Quake. In fact more so with Quake since it had the hint of a Lovecraftian setting and all manner of hell wandering its corridors.
What all these games have in common is their urgency to have the player playing the game. There is little or no stop-start to tell you the story in tremendous detail.
For me games that do this risk a serious amount of failure. If rich stories in games is your thing then you’ll disagree. But this is intended to be a personal reflection of what I get from games.