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    How Non-Linear Should the Next Game Be?
    • @Advance

      Let me clarify, a non-linear open-world game =/= bad storytelling. You just named a game that pulls off open worlds and non-linearity yet still tells a good story. Now I get stories themselves are linear in nature, but that doesn't mean good stories can't be told in a non-linear game.

      That's what I'm getting at. There's a common belief that when it comes to storytelling there's a tradeoff. You can either have a very linear game and be able to tell a good story, or the opposite and have limited capability in telling a good story. To me that's just not true.
      It's a shame to ruin such a beautiful morning by being awake

      -Bill Watterson
    • But what I'm saying is the story isn't told in the open-world parts of the game. They're told in the linear parts, necessarily. Take out the linear missions and the story wouldn't have been let alone been good. How else will it be told if not through explicit, premeditated actions? Clues and inference from the open-world surely, like most people suggest, but that's lore, not narrative.

      What game has told a compelling story^ without pigeonholing the gameplay itself at the times when it does? That's what I'm saying. The ratio of open-world:linear overall is neither here nor there, just that there is a ratio to act as a substrate for a plot.
    • Then you're arguing something different. I said before I know stories are linear in nature, after all you can't have a story structure without...well the structure. That doesn't change the nature of the game. A non-linear game can still tell a compelling story.
      It's a shame to ruin such a beautiful morning by being awake

      -Bill Watterson
    • If I may weigh in here- yes, an open world game can absolutely tell a good story and provide a lot of interesting lore and background narratives. I still thoroughly enjoy the various story arcs and the overall mythos of Skyrim all these years and playthroughs on.

      But the more open and flexible a game is, and the more options the player is given, the harder it becomes to maintain linearity in places where it would benefit the narrative, and thus the overall story is more likely to suffer and collapse.

      Therefore, yes, linearity is not a strict requirement for good storytelling, and openness does not inherently mean the death of good narrative. But unless balanced very carefully, these tend to be two opposing philosophies that serve to undermine each other. I personally would argue that this was already the case in BotW.
    • So when I started out the thread by saying linear=better story, all I meant by that was that a linear structure is a prerequisite for a progressive central story that unfolds over time. I guess calling that "better" than non-linear storytelling reveals a bias of my own, as I do tend to prefer structured stories.

      That said, for the next game I still would like Nintendo to stick to a largely non-linear nature and see how much more they can expand/improve upon it, including taking advantage of the opportunities for different kinds of storytelling than what the series has been known for (i.e. typical "find three mcguffins"/villain shows up and something bad happens/"find the second set of mcguffins" trope). That narrative structure worked great for awhile, but was starting to become tiresome imo. It would be nice to see more non-linear world building. There was some in BotW, but there was room for a whole lot more.
    • BotW is a great start. They cleared the linear air with that game which had been accumulating. However, I feel like they shouldn't caught in this 'non-linear vs. linear' dichotomy. A good Zelda isn't necessarily all of one or all of the other. The nebulous concept of player freedom is what is most important.

      Link's Awakening is (more or less) a completely linear game. And imo, the replay value does suffer for it. However, there's still a lot of freedom in Link's Awakening. You can collect all of the Secret Seashells and the Heart Pieces. You take Marin out on a date. You can steal stuff and be permanently named THIEF. There are things you can do or not do which impact the game in interesting ways. That is freedom.

      You can tell whatever kind of story you want and still have freedom. To those of us who like exploring the world, ideally the game's freedom would allow us to go into a number of dungeons and complete them. But 100% non-linear progression isn't necessary to make the game fun to explore.

      My favorite example of how not to make a barrier is, "Oh hi I'm a boat. You can't go that way because FU." (One of the strangest KoRL quotes, imo). Stopping people with a text box is just lame. At least put a Power Glove block in the way, Nintendo! :P

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Happy Person ().

    • Happy Person wrote:

      My favorite example of how not to make a barrier is, "Oh hi I'm a boat. You can't go that way because FU." (One of the strangest KoRL quotes, imo). Stopping people with a text box is just lame. At least put a Power Glove block in the way, Nintendo! :P

      I'd actually consider that a pretty excellent way to tie the game's boundaries to the world- no game's map can truly go on forever and there needs to be an endpoint somewhere, so "invisible walls" are inevitable, and it's merely a matter of how they're displayed. Having the character who is a literal boat you are sailing in say "It's too dangerous to go further into open water, we need to turn back," is a pretty organic, sensible way to establish the edge of the map.

      In contrast, BotW puts up a huge chasm that is too large to paraglide across (which is a pretty organic way of walling off the boundary), but then puts an invisible wall and a literal "You can't go any further" error message partway through the chasm anyway. Admittedly, they probably had to do something along those lines as a failsafe, given how people discovered ways to go high enough and gain enough stamina to otherwise make it across, but still, the KoRL turning back around is much more organic and holistic than that.
    • pj777 wrote:

      BoTW's problem was that it didn't tell enough of its story, not the way it was told.
      Among other things too.

      Look, I completely agree with you guys who I thumbed up. Non-linear is the sure way to go.

      However, the majority of you are really missing the true argument of importance: How a gameplay is supposed to be played as the story, tied directly as involvement with, not only character puzzles and mechanical/environment puzzles (ie. not always RPG combat BS being the gameplay) but about having deep relationships with the dynamics of the world and LoZ's trademark "unique tool-items" like masks and hookshot you tell the story through, by attempting to advance and out-think interconnected story arcs and puzzles that tie into Link's adventure: You have a direct impact on the world-building in the different options you can try. This aspect, IMO, needs to be the primary focus of the next Zelda.

      Also, I think Zelda is not only about these clever ideas and items you can use to unfold the story options where even a dungeon setup tells a story, but its about using INFORMATION about the world and people to leverage NPC story development and having choices. Most of these "open world, great story games" you're referencing, haven't achieved this amazing story-gameplay marriage where the story is always directly about your gameplay happening, like MM and old pure-Adventure games. That is because these popular gameplays are primarily "combat RPG" gameplay like too much of BoTW was. Zelda is not that lowly to have quantity > quality gameplay where it's separate from the deep narratives. Zelda is (or was) epic battles out in the overworld!, sure, but mostly, Zelda was the legend and narrative IN the gameplay.

      What I'm saying, is the ongoing discussion I hear about what needs to be what, I feel, is tooo simplistic. I have to always ask myself how I am the only one who truly understands the difference between TWW/MM and the simpler Zelda gameplay structures. Unless someone wants to come forth to discuss creative game/story design, then this new era of fan's "crowd funding" is going to produce something totally different than masterpiece quality, because let's face it,

      The majority of bad games are there because the majority of people say they want that. But then they complain about what they asked for. They don't know what they want. They need to start understanding and talking about what they really want in a gameplay and interconnected world-building experience. All the surface-level drama about battling for "genre" between the linear and non-linear side isn't going to help.

      So in my personal opinion, (I guess we should seriosuly share our game ideas or we're not getting anywhere) I personally think we should always start the foundations of game discussion on good gameplay that is the story, ie. story that is directly about your gameplay happening even if it's you adventuring off and solving lost puzzles. Gameplay and story in the best Zelda games of the past were always one in the same thing, they had meaning and story-solving cleverness in design, even when you find far-off secrets. There was a quest of personality behind everything: That's how the "Legend" was told. Even if it was subtle, there was an obvious story behind everything. The atmosphere and mechanics even pointed to the story references.

      So many region stories are of course built like this. Then when you venture around to try out items in clever ways like the quests in MM. So that's my personal opinion, ie. I wish people would talk about real gameplay instead of just "how do we mix combat RPG nonsense + open world + stories. Something along the line of BoTW." How about this suggestion: No.

      I'm just putting the suggestion out there. How about we focus on quality gameplay design first; puzzle-explorations that are also rich story-telling and world-building. How about we focus on the "Legend" of Zelda. Am I the only one who wants a real Zelda game? Or, what is your idea of a real Zelda game, BoTW and LoZ? I just don't think the planning behind BoTW was the real way to go, because it started with a non-negotiable assumption. It was fine, but it wasn't 2017 Zelda quality. But I want your gameplay input.

      What is a Zelda game? My take on it.

      The post was edited 75 times, last by Aeluras CVII ().

      Post by JPineapple ().

      This post was deleted by the author themselves: Nah not worth it ().

      Post by Aeluras CVII ().

      This post was deleted by the author themselves: Above responder deleted comment. ().
    • Aeluras CVII wrote:

      I have to always ask myself how I am the only one who truly understands the difference between TWW/MM and the simpler Zelda gameplay structures.

      My guess is that the issue you seem to have of not being understood has to do with how you are communicating your ideas. Your posts cover a lot of ground very quickly (i.e. dropping one idea and then moving onto the next one before fully fleshing out the first one) and also use a lot of personal/subjective phrases. Of course, these ideas make sense to you, but if you don't follow up some of your phrases with specific/concrete examples then they will remain vague descriptions to other people not occupying your head space.

      So for instance, when you talk about region stories extending to the overworld, do you mean something like the triforce hunt in the WW, or something more like the three day mechanic deriving from the moon falling in MM?

      In general, I feel like I understand what you mean in terms of the whimsical/magical atmosphere both of those games have (though both feel so in very different ways), but the mechanical connections between them seem less clear.
    • Setras wrote:

      Happy Person wrote:

      My favorite example of how not to make a barrier is, "Oh hi I'm a boat. You can't go that way because FU." (One of the strangest KoRL quotes, imo). Stopping people with a text box is just lame. At least put a Power Glove block in the way, Nintendo! :P
      I'd actually consider that a pretty excellent way to tie the game's boundaries to the world- no game's map can truly go on forever and there needs to be an endpoint somewhere, so "invisible walls" are inevitable, and it's merely a matter of how they're displayed. Having the character who is a literal boat you are sailing in say "It's too dangerous to go further into open water, we need to turn back," is a pretty organic, sensible way to establish the edge of the map.

      In contrast, BotW puts up a huge chasm that is too large to paraglide across (which is a pretty organic way of walling off the boundary), but then puts an invisible wall and a literal "You can't go any further" error message partway through the chasm anyway. Admittedly, they probably had to do something along those lines as a failsafe, given how people discovered ways to go high enough and gain enough stamina to otherwise make it across, but still, the KoRL turning back around is much more organic and holistic than that.
      My favorite because it brings to mind 'FU, I'm a boat', but far from the worst. Fi has a significant number of these. And they're so well thought out. You can try your best to engage in independent thought while playing Skyward Sword, but it's pretty tough. Fi is not going to let you walk away from any plot advancing situation. She uses KoRL style barriers all throughout the game. In a sense, the game is playing you.

      I've mentioned this a couple of times. but it seems like they cheat on collision detection with Beedle's Airshop. It's possible to throw a vase in Skyloft through his bell. It won't make contact because... they want to make you backtrack for the Bug Catching Net?

      In thinking about this, I think I've reached a concise answer to OP's question: Not as linear as SS. :P
    • Personally, I've never gotten why SS gets so much hatred for being fairly linear. I get it, people like a little flexibility and appreciate getting to do things their own way, but does a linear experience really chafe that much?

      Then again, I gravitate significantly more toward story than anything else, and that seems to be the case for a minority of the fandom.
      Black Velvet Inferno

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Setras ().

    • I think it’s because it’s linear, repetitive and constantly reminding you of your objectives. Even when we have been through it before or it’s incredibly obvious.

      I enjoyed SS, but if they actually made Fi only speak when spoken to it would’ve been a far better experience.
      I also only replayed it once, because in spite of my enjoyment if I were to redo it I would know there would be no deviation in my experience. Without the ability to try parts out of order or meander through optional areas it loses much of its draw.
    • In other words, SS discourages exploration, the very theme Zelda is built on. SS says "Okay, now you can explore this area; here's your automated guide Fi to help you every step of the way" while BotW says "Welcome to the big, wide world! Have fun exploring and try not to die! Oh, and here's a slate you can use if you need some help." SS's like a school, BotW's like a playground. In school, you have to go to a specific classroom on time and you have to answer questions the proper way. On a playground, you're free to play on the swings, the slide, and the jungle gym however you like.

      I'll take an open world full of memorable NPCs over a story that forces me to sacrifice freedom for the sake of "plot", because at the end of the day the plot is you're saving Zelda and Hyrule. How you save Zelda and Hyrule is what makes it interesting, and a game with more freedom allows you to express yourself through your choice of "how".

      The post was edited 2 times, last by Miles ().

    • Like this is a pretty tough question for me. Sure it would be awesome with a new modern big scale 3D Zelda with a very good plotline and characters, but here is the thing: I don't know if today's Zelda-team can pull that off. If they bring in Koizumi and other great people in this regard, then sure, I would go for a more linear storyline. But with Aonuma & co, I really don't know.

      On the other hand, Breath of the Wild is a rough diamond. If they just can take everything they did in BotW, but refine and polish everything, then we are close to a modern Zelda masterpiece.

      Sure I guess they could do something in between as well, but I think I prefer that they decide for one direction and try to make that aspect of the game so good as possible. If they try to do both they risk to fail in both regards.