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Telltale Games: Gaming Is Stuck In An "Action-Packed Rut"

Well, at least one developer outside of Quantic Dream has called for better writing in the gaming industry.

Telltale Games' Jake Rodkin informed FMV Magazine that game makers frequently overlook the necessity of quality storylines. The result is a mainstream gaming business that continuously doles out substance-less products.

Said Rodkin:

"Video games, like movies, have got stuck in a rut of just being action-packed, bravado-filled wish-fulfillment. In many games, the script is actually the last thing that comes in. A lot of game developers neglect writing because they think the mechanics and gameplay are more important, which is understandable: but often people fall into the trap of thinking that if enough stuff comes flying out of the screen it will make up for the shortfall in plot and dialogue. It’s the same trap a lot of movies fall into."

Rodkin has been working on Telltale's popular Walking Dead episodic series, which many gamers and critics have enjoyed for its top-tier writing and plot. Rodkin wants to see a return to more "story-based stuff," kind of like what we had in the 80s and 90s when there was "a lot of emphasis on personality and character." ...well, I don't know how much "personality and character" the two dudes in Double Dragon really had, but his point holds for certain genres.

And by the way, EA and Danger Close should pay attention.

Tags: walking dead, video games, gaming culture, telltale games, walking dead

10/24/2012 10:11:07 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (15 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Wednesday, October 24, 2012 @ 11:33:39 PM
Reply

I appreciate the sentiment but there have been a lot of great stories and dialogue this gen, Heavy Rain, Dante's Inferno, Enslaved, L.A. Noire, Bioshock, Uncharted. I expect The Last of Us will be great in this respect too.

I don't recall any great stories in the 80's. The biggest actual threat to top notch storytelling is online multiplayer.

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fatelementality
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 8:56:15 PM

Couldn't have said it better. If game developers would aslo quit focusing so much on the multiplayer aspect of story based games and worry more about the story, what a world it could be. Most of the games I own are story driven with the exception of GT5.

I would throw Mortal Kombat in there as well but I think they actually did a decent job of 'retelling' a classic tale. Glad to see it played out in cutscenes and to actually get a visual of what the hell was going on in the first 3 games. Hope the next one will continue with the stories from 4 5 & 6.

I really do hate it when any franchise reboots the continuity from scratch. I applaud MK for doing it in a unique way though. I recently got back into catching up on Batman comics in order to have something with some damn continuity for once. I can't believe what that mofo has been up to lately.

Kinda left of in the mid 90's so I have a whooooole lotta reading to do. It thrills me to no end. DC recently rebooted their continuity as well, but the Bat family has stayed mostly intact through the transformation it seems. Yeah, I'm reading them out of order because some of the older TPBs are a bit pricey.

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fatelementality
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 8:56:16 PM

Couldn't have said it better. If game developers would aslo quit focusing so much on the multiplayer aspect of story based games and worry more about the story, what a world it could be. Most of the games I own are story driven with the exception of GT5.

I would throw Mortal Kombat in there as well but I think they actually did a decent job of 'retelling' a classic tale. Glad to see it played out in cutscenes and to actually get a visual of what the hell was going on in the first 3 games. Hope the next one will continue with the stories from 4 5 & 6.

I really do hate it when any franchise reboots the continuity from scratch. I applaud MK for doing it in a unique way though. I recently got back into catching up on Batman comics in order to have something with some damn continuity for once. I can't believe what that mofo has been up to lately.

Kinda left of in the mid 90's so I have a whooooole lotta reading to do. It thrills me to no end. DC recently rebooted their continuity as well, but the Bat family has stayed mostly intact through the transformation it seems. Yeah, I'm reading them out of order because some of the older TPBs are a bit pricey.

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ZenChichiri
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 12:35:02 AM
Reply

The thing is back in the day you couldn't really rely on graphical presentation to get your point across, so developers had to use writing to bring the world to life. Because that isn't the case anymore, writing has taken the back burner because developers can create a world with not much in terms of writing. Unfortunately, it's the writing that breathes soul into these worlds, and without good writing the world feels uninteractive and boring.

I wouldn't say all developers have pushed it to the back burner, as World mentioned some good story driven games, but in comparison to the PS1/2 era, stories have been pushed aside by many developers.

Last edited by ZenChichiri on 10/25/2012 12:36:39 AM

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tes37
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 2:00:41 AM
Reply

What he says makes sense. I'd believe he actually meant it, if he worked on something other than Walking Dead. Zombie stuff is getting old. I'm not fascinated with the dead or shooters like most people seem to be. I'll just wait on the infrequent gems that come along. The bright side is, gaming doesn't cost me a whole lot.

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Fane1024
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 5:53:29 AM

You clearly haven't played it. The Walking Dead isn't Left For Dead or Dead Nation.

You almost never kill a zombie. Other characters...that's a different story.

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tes37
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 10:10:19 AM

How do you know what I've played Fane? When you spy on people, pay attention. I've played a little of it and I've watched people play it. I have not seen anything beyond the first episode. I don't like stories, movies, or games that deal with the undead.

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jimmyhandsome
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 11:40:05 AM

The Walking Dead is phenomenal, I'm gonna have to agree with Fane. It's a very story driven game that actually reminds me of Heavy Rain. Even if you don't like Zombies I don't think you should disregard what Rodkin is saying about story telling. Telltale has done an excellent job with The Walking Dead so far (I'm on episode 2)

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tes37
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 2:46:00 PM

jimmy, how should I re-word, "What he says makes sense" to keep from sounding like I disregard what he said?

I don't need zombie games when talking to y'all is scary enough.

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jimmyhandsome
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 3:11:28 PM

No need to insult anyone, chief.

I was refering to you saying "I'd believe he actually meant it, if he worked on something other than Walking Dead"; which to me sounds like you don't think his opinions or ideas matter because he made some "zombie game". I was just pointing out that I believe Telltale has done an excellent job at story telling. If you disagree, that's fine.

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tes37
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 3:23:40 PM

Saying your conversation is scary is hardly an insult and I did at least refer to you by part of your screen name. Gaming may be stuck in an action packed rut, but he's helping dig another, imo, with the undead. Hopefully he'll help dig it deep enough to bury the undead for a while.

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deadmanwithin
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 4:35:06 AM
Reply

The Monkey Island games. Fast, action packed in your face combat? No. Great dialogue and storytelling, memorable characters and awesome voice-acting(in the special edition remakes of the first two as well)? Yes. Extremely high production values? No. More fun than 95% of the shooters in existence? Hell yes. Well, provided one has the mental capacity to appreciate them, which is sadly not the case for the modern crowd.

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Dukemz_UK
Thursday, October 25, 2012 @ 8:49:32 AM
Reply

I feel there has been a complete "culture-shift" in the last 2 or so decades, with regard to choices in entertainment genres. Younger people especially, who are by far and large the biggest spenders on entertainment, whether it be games (or even movies, music), are looking for instant gratification in most things. This holds true for the relatively recent FPS online multiplayer explosion. They want to play something they refer to as "fun". Fun is a subjective word, however. My definition of fun in a game would be a combination of refined action, deep puzzles and a complex plot which challenges your intellect while simultaneously pulling at your emotional strings.
Younger players, (and I speak from my experience from relatives and friends' teenage kids) want to shoot things up, preferably everything in sight, where reflexes are paramount. They hardly ever read books, so don't like and are not used to being challenged emotionally or intellectually by complex plots. They also lose interest and give up easily when faced with complex gaming puzzles, as a norm.
Entertainment companies need to make money so try to water down all our entertainment mediums to cater for mass markets. And that's how it will always be.

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DeathOfChaos
Friday, October 26, 2012 @ 12:15:15 AM
Reply

I completely agree. We're lucky we've got a select few game companies that haven't neglected the story elements, like Tall Tale Games here. Pretty much any first person war shooter is extremely guilty very little story or just terrible.

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saintaqua
Monday, October 29, 2012 @ 2:37:38 PM
Reply

I think the PS3 has the strongest storytelling this gen.
As for Telltale, I have been enjoying the Walking Dead but... call me old fashioned, but I think they take the swearing way too far, often distracting me from an otherwise fine dialogue.

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