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bset

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  1. So as we saw recently, Tim now has a generated concept he is working with, and I think it's fairly intriguing and has a lot of potential. Also however, I have recently replayed Day of the Tentacle (which explores a similar parallel story concept) and find myself mildly concerned about running into some issues that I would not like to see in a multi-story narrative. Now there are two routes which generate concerns. One in which the stories do not interact with each other until a given act (effectively creating a linear chapter-driven story) and one in which stories directly influence one another at any given time (like the cross-time puzzles in DotT). ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Pros of a dual story structure: * We are free to broaden the narrative at convenient points so that the user can take time to chew over the events of the last act of that sub-story. That is to say, I can tell stories about Ren and Stimpy, and when Stimpy makes a revelation, I can switch to exposition in the Ren story while the events of the last act sink in. * We get to be very clever with cross-referencing stories. We can litter elements that connect the stories if the user is clever enough to make the connection or even apply some meta humor by acknowledging the other narrative within a story or directly breaking the fourth wall on the subject. * We leave the door open for user choice regarding allowing a user to determine which world they want to spend more time in. Why spend all your time with the goofy and lovable character, when you would rather spend your time working towards world domination with an insatiable madman (I'm looking at you purple and green tentacles). * We also leave the door open for a purposely branching storyline. By presenting two narratives off the bat, we begin with a premise of choice that can be built on to produce many possible results based on alternate solutions to puzzles, choices made given either of the characters, or exclusive choice to pursue one narrative at a given time versus another. Cons of such a dual narrative for a linear storyline (chapter-driven): * If the user identifies with one narrative more than the other, every other chapter will feel like a trudge. * We miss the opportunity for clever cross-story puzzles (though we trade this for a better unified narrative). * We risk sizing chapters poorly creating long waits before returning to a narrative. * We risk over-isolating narratives so that the game does not feel like a single integrated experience. Cons of such a dual narrative for a non-linear storyline (cross-story interaction): * We risk making bad cross-story puzzles: ** Puzzles that break the flow because each narrative is at a different point and requires "maintenance" on other storylines to solve a puzzle ** Puzzles that fail to be logical in nature because we must interact-cross narrative arbitrarily. DotT did this a few times in which there was a "treasure hunt" for items in one timeline that needed to be utilized in another for no obvious reason. Enforcing logic behind puzzles is difficult enough, but is even easier to slip up on when support multiple narratives. * We risk breaking the flow of the non-linear interaction with linear plot devices. Again, DotT has a number of examples of this. You could only even play two of three characters until a particular linear event unlocked the third, which then provided all kinds of tools to be used in the other storylines. * We risk over-inflating the narrative by failing to hold on characters long enough. Scoping puzzles or sections too short leaves the narrative feeling highly erratic and potentially difficult to remember. * We face increased challenge in scoping the storyline experience as the user is heavily in control of when rising and falling action occurs. A large scoped puzzle may be completed before a smaller scoped one making the second puzzle seem insignificant. When solved in the reverse order, the first puzzle builds up to the larger one. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I think those are all the concerns I have for now, but perhaps people can see what I mean. The dual storyline has definite benefits, but it also has increased challenges to consider when crafting the narrative and world. I wish good luck to the team at Double Fine and look forward to seeing them execute this idea well. I sincerely hope you're enthusiasm goes to 11.
  2. I don't think this pet peeve of mine has made the list yet: Puzzles that are presented before their solution is made available by some linear triggered event. For example, I find a door that appears to be locked because of an incomplete statue in front of it. I remember where two pieces of the statue are but not the final one. I go hunting for the one I didn't find only to discover I needed to trigger an event by collecting the first two before the final one appeared. In general, forcing linear solutions to a puzzle is a problem for me, particularly when it isn't obvious. Sure, I need to get the cops to buzz off before I can free the criminal, but I shouldn't need to solve a puzzle to find a lost cat before I can get the key to his cell. This also has a tendency to feel like an arbitrary game extending mechanic because you need to backtrack over places you have combed several times just because a recent event could have changes some small piece of content there. Telltale has a bad habit of doing this from time to time.
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