Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Adventure Time creator thinks the best games have stories

5:30 PM on 09.24.2011 // Jonathan Holmes

We've already heard a lot from Pendleton Ward, creator of the hit show Adventure Time, about his interest in making a game based on the property. Up until now, I was excited about the prospect of an Adventure Time game. Now I'm not so sure. 

Previously, Mr. Ward said that he wanted to make an Adventure Time game that's like a cross between Katamari Damacy and Monster Hunter. That sounded awesome. Now he's saying that he "... think(s) games are amazing for telling stories. I don’t think that people do that very often. I think story isn’t always the most important thing to game designers, but I wish it were. I think that the best games have stories, and when I eventually make games, story will be front and center." Quite a not-awesome contradiction, considering that Monster Hunter and Katamari Damacy don't have real storylines. 

Read on for a brief write up on why Mr. Ward's focus on story has me a little worried. 

Adventure Time creator sings the praises of games wants to make an A.T. Game  [GoNintendo]

I don't know what it is about people who work in television and film that makes them want to shoehorn story into gaming. I think it must have to do with the storyteller's culture in those industries, the ingrained belief that stories are what matters most, not all the other things that make film great. Sadly, it seems a lot of these brilliant creative minds don't understand what makes their own work worthwhile. 

Adventure Time is a perfect example. For the most part, the show doesn't have much of a story. In fact, some of the best episodes of Adventure Time (like the one with the horse, the one where the Care Bears party in the body of a giant weird thing, and of course, the videogame episode) have almost no story. In fact, it's the near-nonexistence of plot in these episodes that allows you to just focus on being with the characters, sort of like My Dinner with Andre for fans of cartoon surrealism. Narrative and plot take a backseat, so the show's incredibly charming, genuine, and good-natured characters, and the imaginative and unpredictable world they live in, can take the spotlight.

The same is true of most of my favorite videogames. The fact that the story of Monster Hunter dictatea that you have to catch a wild Ludoth, or that the story of Katamari Damacy dictates that you roll up a wad of crap the size of a continent, is almost immaterial. It's the fun that you have in the process of making all that amazing stuff happen that makes those games tick. That's true of most of my other favorite games. The explicitly told narratives of Super Meat Boy, Animal Crossing, the Mario games, the Zelda series, Pac-Man, River City Ransom, the Resident Evil titles, Chrono Trigger, all don't really mean that much to me. It's the gameplay, the characters, and the world that they inhabit that matters.

That's also true of some of my favorite films and TV shows. The events that occur in the Star Wars movies, the films of Studio Ghibli, and shows like Arrested Development and FLCL are almost inconsequential when taken on their own. In fact, you can sum up the events in some of those stories in a few sentences.

In Star Wars, a guy meets some droids and an old man. His aunt and uncle get murdered, so he goes on a rescue mission in space with the old man, the droids, and a jerk who wears a leather vest. They save a princess, then the old man gets killed. That probably should be the end of the story, but then they tacked on an extra scene where the guy blows up a big moon-shaped spaceship. The End.

In Totoro, two kids run around the town and in the woods, where they meet cute furry things of various sizes. Later, one of the girls goes missing. With the help of a giant Catbus, they find her. Then their mom comes home from the hospital. The End.

Those stories don't mean much on their own, do they? It's the worlds that those characters exist in, the significance of the characterization of each principal player, and the way they interact with each other that stick with you (not to mention the amazing music, acting, direction of photography, and editing that make them come to life). If you tried telling the story of Star Wars or Totoro with different characters, with different music and art direction, and in alternate worlds, you'd have completely different (and probably worse) movies on your hands. Again, that goes triple for most videogames. 

I hope Mr. Ward keeps that in mind if and when an Adventure Time game ever happens. I'd love to play an Adventure Time game that lets you revel in the characters of Finn, Jake, and the rest of the land of Ooo. I'd love to interact with those characters like I would if I knew them in real life, while inhabiting their world and going on adventures of my own design. What I don't want is to necessarily have another Adventure Time story spoon fed to me in a semi-interactive format. If that's what I wanted, I'd just... watch Adventure Time

Why waste the opportunity to utilize the superior medium of videogames, where the shackles of linear narrative can be easily broken, by intentionally weighing it down with more linear narrative?

Photo Gallery: (2 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

Jonathan Holmes, Bad Joke Uncle
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Boy howdy, does Divinity: Original Sin take a while to get going. But, it was worth it in the end. Probably the most hardcore RPG I've played. Stellar writing, at that! Combat's pretty amazing too. [img][/img]
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
So it seems I've locked into the Neutral ending for SMT IV and now I need to find specific challenge quests and complete them...? How (un)fun! Google is your friend - the videogame.
Riobux avatarRiobux
Interested in playing some Pathfinder? Trying to arrange a Dtoid Pathfinder group for Saturday nights (GMT) on Skype & Roll 20. If you're new to pen-and-paper RPGs, I don't mind at all and can bring you up to speed quick. Just comment if interested.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Local convention had a great selection of game soundtracks 5 for $20! I got Halo 3: ODST (2 disk!), Gears of War 2, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Darksiders 2 (2 disk!), and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Some of the best soundtracks of the last 7 years!
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Photos and videos are back on quickposts but clipping on some devices. We're going to add a new quickpost editing interface so photos and videos can only be displayed one way (a la twitter) to solve this. Also, a My cBlog link was added to your user menu
Flegma avatarFlegma
Machine-washed my Wii Fit meter yesterday by accident. Took the battery out and let it dry for the night. Luckily the meter still worked - but it had counted a fair number of steps more that day.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Finally killed Ludwig, now if I could only get passed the 2 hunters on the second floor. that 2 some is rather annoying,and her holy blade kills in only a few hits. wish mine was that strong.
Casus Gaming avatarCasus Gaming
After reading a blog post about DMC4 I decided to watch all the cutscenes on Youtube. Tried the games years ago and couldn't get into them, but man that shit was stylish. Likeable protagonists, intense drama... still think DmC reboot wasn't that bad tho.
lewness avatarlewness
me on 1st ff14 raid (void ark): ooh so many people and lights, so many lights, lights, fuck I can't see, what is happening, i don't understand, is it tuesday already, get on the platform fuuuuck, wow void helm
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just a reminder that you have until the 30th to get your Bloggers Wanted post, "Thankful it's over" in. I'm either going to tell you how I ruined my best online gaming experience or rip Twilight Princess a new one. Maybe both.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Huh. I just found out the developers of Hatred (remember that controversy?) region-locked their game to prevent it from being accessed by Australians. Destructive Creations are more censor-happy than Nintendo, it seems. Where's the outrage?
Oh yeah, I have an account on this site.
Parismio avatarParismio
Ever wanted to get that item behind that safe in the beginning of Fallout 4?:
Shinta avatarShinta
Got Resident Evil 4 Wii for $5. Uh ... this might be my favorite version. I'm just getting headshots nonstop. Did I miss any other Wii games that are frequently overlooked? Like, really obscure Wii games that no one talks about? I'm interested.
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Poeple due not aprecciate teh hrdships of bein a squid.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Guys, check out your blogs! Just be sure to bring tissues. I wish I had. [img][/img]
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Anyone see the new Captain America trailer? It's pretty dope!
Shinta avatarShinta You're welcome.
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Update: played through Hyper Dimension Neptunia Rebirth, reminded why I don't like the series, and requested a refund on it and its sequel. Not sure if they'll refund the sequel, but if they honor at least the first, I'll use that money to get Undertale.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
I hope the new Star Wars movie answers the biggest question I have about the franchise; do Midi-Chlorians poop?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -