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Shall We Talk Game Design

Hello designers, developers.
Well, I’ve finally took a look at ‘Life Is Strange’ game and after playing it I find myself questioning some recent events around these mainstream games. So, I’ve played also all Telltales’ games and I see there’s a trend of studios trying to replicate their success developing these interactive cinematic experiences and more attempts are to come.
Life Is Strange to me is obviously not a game, but a cinematic experience; just like recent ‘The Order’.
Life Is Strange has been aclaimmed, almost everybody loves this game while most are still raging on The Order. But, why is that? Let’s see…

Life Is Strange, is composed of a bunch of cinematic scenes with QTEs plus a walking simulator. That’s the whole gameplay I’ve seen so far. They try to follow Telltales’ formula. Everybody loves it.

The Order 1886, is composed of a bunch of cinematic scenes with QTEs plus walking simulator plus shoot/cover gameplay. They somewhat believe they did something better than Telltales’ formula; Most people are saying really bad things about this game.

So what is it? What did Sony do wrong and what should they’ve done right for things not endup like this for them??
People claim that “the game is **** because it’s $60 and there’s little gameplay”. Ok, got it.
The same people love Life Is Strange, but the price range is around $55 if you buy each episode not in a bundle and I believe that there’s less gameplay action on this one, much less.
Do the $12 bucks for each episode make consumers lower their expectations while the flat $60 on their faces make they think that what they are buying is ‘of course at least 30 hours gameplay’ ?!
Did Sony do a poor job marketing their game, depicting it as something that the game wasn’t meant to be?
Or maybe the reactions are different because The Order looks like an AAA Action RPG exclusive console tittle and when consumers found out that it is not, they were horrorised by this (sad?) fact?
Or developers still don’t get how to create/market cinematic experiences properly like Telltale has been doing so well?!

Or let’s get into a sensitive dangerous arena here… Maybe deep inside, it’s all subconsciously about a sexist subject?!
Maybe it’s very easy to identify with school girls having a hard time growing up (or beloved parents of a little girl killed by zombies) while nobody could find a way to link themselves to a strong old man, warewolf killer; because you know, fragile little girls…?!

Or maybe there’s something related to the uncanny valley?! When something aims at been too much realistic, people start to look only at it’s falls and ignore the strong good points it has if it is not then 100% real.
Notice how Life Is Strange and Telltale’s games avoid that by assigning toon styled art and shaders whilst telling stories based upon serious and heavy social themes. Making sure they stay away from Uncanny Valley.

Well I liked all those games and for me they are kind of the same, really. This is why I put them under the same topic.
Sony have done something wrong to receive such bad press, what do you think is the real reasoning behind that?
What components you think this trending game style is missing and at same time doing right?

The reason The Order was criticised for the lengthy cutscenes and QTEs was because it was billed as an action game, but then delivered frequent and long cutscenes instead. It was treading an uncomfortable line between interactive fiction and a third person shooter and ended up not being particularly good at either. I hated MGS4’s long cutscenes for the same reason. It’s an action game, so tell the story through gameplay! It’s like watching a movie with 20 minutes of scrolling text explaining the back story.

With regards to QTEs, these things need to die. The only conceivable reason you would have a QTE is to shock the player suddenly (like a “THINK FAST!” moment), and it can be effective in breaking up the monotony of a section of gameplay or to unsettle the player. However, something like that is FAR better done organically to the gameplay rather than having a button prompt come up. If you’re using QTEs during cutscenes to “keep the player immersed” then your cutscenes are too long, and you’re an idiot, because a big flashing X button just reminds me I’m playing a game with a controller.

A bad QTE is one that expects you to press buttons that don’t match the action on screen, for example telling the player to press the jump button to have their character duck under a tree. It forces you to think about the buttons on your controller and breaks immersion. It requires no skill other than your knowledge of the control pad, which a properly immersed player should have forgotten about.

A good QTE is one that happens during gameplay. The player is running around exploring and suddenly a tree starts to fall so they hit the roll button to avoid it. No button prompt needed, you’ve made the player jump and have to react quickly and you’ve done it without flashing a stupid icon on the screen.

My rant is over.

I doubt this statement reflects reality. They are not the same people, generally.

Most of the people who would pick up the Order based on box impressions or advertisements are not even going to glance a second time at Life is Strange.

Those people bought a game and didn’t get what they were expecting, and now they are complaining about it.

I don’t think there is a common definition of “game” out there.
Let’s at least call it an interactive cinematic experience. You interact with it and doing that, modify the outcome (or at least should).
What do you consider a game?

(1) "Almost everybody [who played the game] loves this game

I don’t know if they changed it. But it’s 5 euros per episode and you can’t buy each episode separate. So it’s 22 euros total (or 20 if you buy the whole package)

See (1). People who bought Life Is Strange probably don’t care about action.

Probably this. I didn’t play The Order but it sounds like a solid reason :slight_smile:

I assume many people can relate to having a hard time in school/growing up.

I think the toony art is due to the amount of content the developers need to create. Doing a similar style as the Telltale games can also be considered marketing (putting story/content first). E.g. for me the expectation was to have a story intensive game. I don’t care about graphics if don’t expect them to be great :slight_smile:

So yes, I think the reason most people (who played it) loved it, was that the people who would not love it, stayed away from it.

Interesting points of view. @Neoptolemus’s rant on QTEs makes a lot of sense; But I would argue that God of War popularized QTEs and still many of the players saying they hate QTEs at same time says that “God of War is the best game ever made”.
The Order, and many other games used QTEs for events that are irrelevant to the story outcome and didn’t really reflect the necessity for player’s intervention. I think GoW did it right and made players really feel like their input on the cinematic was needed.

If someone has more points to add to this, please share. :slight_smile:

Why did the The Order stick?

It’s a launch title, it’s not good, it’s generic and boring, plus it lied to gamers.
The box art makes you think it’s a Co-op game, it’s not.
The game supposed to have a supernatural feel to it, but you only fight a couple of werewolves and that’s it.

Forget Life is Strange, since it’s not in the same genre as The Order(LiS not an action game). Look at Wolfenstein: The New Order(ironic title). It did everything else right, good narrative, BETTER gameplay.

About QTE, only one game in my mind did it right, and that’s God Of War. The QTE was fun, but not necessary outside of boss fights.