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Engaging through gameplay.

Most games nowdays follow the same structure - story(the part, where the player is introduced with the characters, setting and visual design of the game) and gameplay( introducing the gameplay mechanics, controls and weight of the NPCs and player).

While this is a good formula for a game, it still restricts the gameplay from blending in with the story, even if some of the story segments are playable. That leads me to one question- Why don't developers mix the elements of the story with gameplay more often? Our actions are closer to us than the actions of a character, even if we control him. The point is that story dictates most of what we do in game and our own direction is left unrewarded and ultimately pointless.

A good example of the freedom that I mean is Dark Souls. The game never forces anything on you, its just gives you a goal and lets you decide how to achieve it. Will you head in a situation relying on your skills, take your time and examine it to find the best way to success or simply ignore it until your equipment and skills are ready?

Another example of that kind of freedom is in Dishonored. Forget about the different fight styles, I mean something different. When I was in the brothel, the heart thing told me that the madame was an asshole, some documents, letters and converstation confirmed it. I didn't like her, so I killed her as a punishment for her crimes. It would have been cool if they encouraged action trought story without making it feel like an order. The same could be said for Thief. I often took the harder path just for the hell of it, or went into the unconnected rooms just to find some more shit to steal. Freedom is the biggest reward there.

The reason why I brought it up is to present my idea for a gameplay mechanic in that same principle of mixing story and gameplay.It starts like this- you are a kid at a huge market(doesn't matter when or where). Then you enter a store with some interesting stuff in it, like manny different clothes and tools, but sadly you lack the money to buy anything. So you leave the store and find a way to earn some. There are manny ways to do so, working at a store, gambling, robbing, begging and so on.

The game won't order you to do something or not, you just have to make some money to buy the things you like from the market. When you finally have all the cash, you make your way to the store, a bandit from a local gang beats you up and take all your money. Thats way the story takes your cash, earned your way then the motivation is more personal. From there on, the game leaves the player alone in the sandbox world to earn more money and power up with new weapons, gear and followers.

You're free to do what you want. Maybe that bandit really pissed you off by stealing your cash, so you'll want him to give it back to you, or punish him for it, then taking back your money. The game would be made around exploration and choice.

However, this doesn't mean that the game can't have a story or context, just that the game would be driven by gameplay, not by story. Here's an example- you've established a gang in a neighborhood, so people will react to your presence differently depending on how you came to power. If you came took over by violence and cruelty they will avoid you and fear you, but if you did it by more rational means, say protecting the people from the old evil gang and making life easier for them, then maybe they'll respect you, be friendly, maybe buy you a beer if you visit a bar.

If you look at Assassin's Creed 3, there was an opportunity for the developers to do something simular, mainly with the homestead missions. Instead of giving you all the assasination tools at once, maybe they could been a reward for playing the side quests. The reward would have been much better if we had to work for her.
I hope that was interesting for you, I could go into much more detail, but it wouldn't be much fun to read or write. I've seen simular ideas in Mount and Blade, but these games are too dry and unfulfilling to play. I hope that one day I could see this idea becoming a reality, maybe working on it myself if I had the opportunity.[img]
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About Balkanerone of us since 11:50 AM on 11.11.2012