Wednesday, March 23, 2011

3 quick things

...about the "Eastern vs. Western Game Stories" thing, which apparently everyone finds vastly more fascinating than the rest of the episode...


1.) Good Story is not the same thing as Good Writing. It's entirely plausible that Western game-writers write better screenplays - I wouldn't know, because I can neither read speak Japanese fluently nor read Kanji, and it's unfair to critique writing based on (usually poor) translation. So, yes, I'll take "every gonzo thing we can think of regardless of genre of aesthetic plus maybe somebody is a giant walrus just because" (Japan) over "Tom Clancy but shot like Black Hawk Down - unless it's period, in which case shot like Private Ryan, unless it's medieval in which case copypaste LOTR, unless it's scifi in which case Star Wars" (West.)

2.) With rare exception, I will take "characters who emote too much" over "characters who do not emote at all, or only emote flippantly." Also, I am neither an insecure 13 year-old nor a bitter 90 year-old - thusly, male characters who display quasi "feminine" traits, grow out and/or color their hair are not innately infuriating to me.

3.) Just a thought: If HUNDREDS of people rushing in to "disprove" the opinion in question keep citing as evidence, independently of one another, the SAME five or six titles - two or three of which are from the same company running on a VERY similar story engine... that MIGHT kinda be making the point for me. Just sayin.

48 comments:

Dave said...

And yet apparently you are insecure enough that characters that DON'T have hair, or who resemble attractive caucasian men, do infuriate you.

And I think before you claim to be proven right, you might want ton include say... a single example of your own of the superiority of japanese writing. Because even were I to go along with the implicit assertion that people agreeing on the best examples of somehting somehow means those are the only examples, that is still more examples from the west (in the last 10 years even) than have been provided for japan.

counterpoint said...

Bob,

Sorry for the cross-post from your other blog. But I just realized that THIS was the blog I'd meant to post on

Sure, you're right. Yes, "we" keep bringing up the same games over an over again. Why? Because the vast majority of games DONT have good writing. There are only a few good examples. But that isn't the point (at least not for me).

I'd never try to argue that "western video games have good writing." Heck no. Overall, it sucks. But, you implied that they have WORSE writing/story than Eastern games. THAT I disagree with.

You don't like that "we" keep bringing up the same games over and over again - for me it was Psychonauts, Planescape: Torment, etc. Well, what's wrong with that? So there are some shining beacons in the west, some diamonds in the rough, that, for me, trump anything that's come out of Japan since FFVI (when decent story was still a pleasant surprise). How does that diminish my argument? What eastern games trump these in terms of story telling?

One commenter mentioned Silent Hill (2, I'm guessing) and Okami. These are great games. Silent Hill 2 was a well told story, but the scripting - at least in the US version - was early-resident-evil Bad. And Okami... well, I don't get that one, since it is really a lot more like zelda, without much of a story, with atmosphere and the scope of it all taking front seat.

So, again, where are these great games that show J is so much better than W? I think we both agree that 98% of ALL of it sucks, so yeah - we have to compare the best ones. Comparing Medal of Honor to Bayonetta will get us nowhere.

And yes, of course the western world has a different aesthetic, one that doesn't necessarily translate to "our" sensibilities. But so what? Being able to relate to a story and understand its flow/structure/aesthetic is a huge part of that story's aesthetic. So for me the "Better" stories of the west could be due to my cultural biases - but it is impossible to operate without those cultural biases, so for me that "better" is in fact a true statement (if not a universal one).

I've been a viewer and supporter of yours for a long time, but it does feel like you might be trying to annoy people this time. What gives?

Will said...

I'd just like to refer to my comment on the last post about this incredibly silly "debate":

I have a dream.

I have a dream that one day that "western-douche bags" and "japan-fags" can one day live in harmony and realize both respective groups have ENTIRELY different values and ethics on what or how a story arc should be formed and what makes a good story. Which one is better is ENTIRELY up to which side you end up on.

I hope one day we can come to realize that there is no universal concept of "good".

No matter how hard you try, some people will love and some people will hate Modern Warfare 2.

Some people will love and some people will hate Uncharted.

Some people will love and some people will hate Metal Gear Solid.

Some people will love and some people will hate Final Fantasy.

Some people will love and some people will hate "Japanese" writing.

Some people will love and some people will hate "Western" writing.

If we can just realize that no one is "right" and spend this pointless time on something productive like, I dunno, writing your own damn story instead of fighting over you "factual opinion" (aren't oxymoron fun?).

Bob has an opinion. He has set his foot down on which side he has chosen. It is not your holy mandate to raise a crusade against his opinion. You are not right and he is not right.

Live and let live. Everyone go and play their respective "shitty", as according to the other side, games while I go read a "shitty" comic book.

Chris Cesarano said...

While I mostly agree with you, Bob, I actually do have an example of a Western game that is done better than its Eastern counterpart.

Silent Hill: Shattered Memories is a remake of the first game, but without all the crazy paranormal stuff. It's a much more personal story with a little freaky-deakyness. While I'm not a fan of all the different endings, I actually really enjoyed both the plot and the writing. I felt that it was done in a manner to appeal to a crowd outside of just video games, meaning it wasn't merely good "for a video game", but good as a whole. The ending actually had a pretty big emotional impact on me after I beat it, whereas most games just leave me with a feeling of having just run out of ground to walk on (abrupt end with little closure).

However, there are two things going against it in this debate.

1) While it hardly resembles the game it is based on, it is a remake of a Japanese game.

2) It's on the Nintendo Wii, and if we follow popular consensus there is no such thing as a good game on the Wii, and therefore Silent Hill: Shattered Memories doesn't exist and was just a figment of my imagination.

counterpoint said...

One more thing,

Much was made on the other thread about the diversity in Japanese games. A plumber, a hedgehog, a puffball, a star, etc.

This is totally true, but the problem with this argument is that these characters were all created during the bit-generations. Japan's not making as many hedgehogs these days. Sure, there's been some weird stuff - Katamary, for instance - but there's also been weird stuff in the west - DeBlob, Ratchet and Clank, Deadly Creatures, etc.

My point is that we can't look at the 80's early nineties as much of a valuable comparison because there really WERENT many mainstream western games, certainly not in the console space. And, of course, the PC space did get some pretty nifty characters and settings - monkey island, commander keen, etc.

Joe said...

Does anyone have the inside track on the Japanese domestic game market? Because I have a suspicion they still do tonnes of weird and unusual things, but don't feel most of it will sell in the West. (And not just dating sims.)

I have a feeling it's much like anime, where in the 70s and 80s the only anime released in North America was giant robots or related shounen sci-fi power fantasies, until Sailor Moon and Golgo 13 showed there was a market for more of the various genres of manga.

Chris Evans said...

While I prefer western story telling in general, I'm glad the east does such off the wall things, because occasionally they work. You may have a slog through a lot of incoherent stuff to get there of course. I really wish the west would take more risks. Not that I think Dragon Age would be a better game if there were a giant walrus char.

Dave said...

@ Counterpoint

If i might tack on a rider to that, there's also the point where most of them aren't characters.

Mario is not a character. He's a mascot. He has had no more character development than the Trix rabbit. Actually less, since the rabbit gets some dialogue and I seem to remember them explaining his motivations once.

Most the 8-16 bit characters stories were no more varied than your average mad lib.

Everything is happy in the[place name]until the evil[villain] stole the[princess/macguffin]. Now [Hero] must traverse[number] worlds in order to save[ place name].

There's no character growth, no depth. Just a barebones set of places and names for us to forget as we trvale through the ineviatbel fire world, ice world, forest world and trippy lsd lazer world that appear in every damn game.

Regarding your second point, remember that most of those titles back then were japanese or under the direct supervision of japanese managers.

The only definitively western platform was the pc.

Look at 1990. Japan gave us Mario world and megaman 3. The west gave us wing Commander and monkey Island. There isn't much of a contest now is there?

In fact take a good long look at the history of gaming. The more story and writing intensive games were western...but until recently only appeared on the pc. It's only in recent years that the capabilities of consoles and pcs have become so similar that PC devs have moved over and brought all that expertise along with.

Chris Cesarano said...

Wow Dave, you really are ignorant of a lot of gaming history.

The PC specialized in settings where any story was told indirectly. While this was great for the evolution of story-telling in an interactive medium, it didn't necessarily require expert writing (see Half-Life and System Shock). Most of the RPG's from the PC era were basically repackaged D&D adventures with the most creative being Fallout, where debates go on about whether the story was any good versus good quests.

Meanwhile, Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger were two of the best stories on console that are still excellent by today's standards, not just in design and plot but by the writing as well (Locke and Celes are the only actual romance in video games pulled off in a believable manner. It fits, and, as a lot of real life romances, doesn't necessarily work out due to all the OH SHIT going on).

You bring up Wing Commander, I bring up Star Fox. It had about as complex a plot as the average PC game of the time, but the only difference was all the characters were animals.

Again, I bring up EarthBound. Also, want a Mario game that changed things up? How about Super Mario RPG, which was a self-parody of the silent protagonist, a self-parody of the Princess always getting kidnapped and added depth to the Mushroom Kingdom (at a Pixar level, of course).

The late 90's saw Final Fantasy Tactics, which I already mentioned as having a story that's pretty much literature (battle of the classes? The faithful God-loving servant versus the hypocritical power-hungry Church? Back-stabbing politics? Heavy shit there). For playing around with interactive story-telling, Legend of Mana practically allowed you to build the world, and your choices changed how the story of the game went. Wild Arms is probably one of the last JRPG's of the era that I truly fell in love with because of the story.

Yeah, PC developers found the Xbox an easy machine to develop on and decided to move on over. Ever since we've seen an overload of unimaginative shooters since. Glad you made that connection.

My ultimate thesis, which shall also be the end of my argument, is that writing, on average and on the whole, is better in Japan because they take the medium seriously. Jordan Mechner, meanwhile, recently bitched that writing in Western games sucks because they pull writers in late, and when they do it is for an already constructed plot and world created by someone who may not even have any place creating such things.

At least, IF we're lucky enough that they hire a writer at all.

Popcorn Dave said...

Bob, having lots of wacky stuff in a game doesn't mean the story is good, and most of the weirdest, most off-the-wall Japanese games don't have a story anyway (Mario, Kirby et al). Besides, if a Western fantasy game is copypaste LOTR, then Super Metroid is copypaste Aliens and you damn well know it.

In addition, after all the whining you've done about overly-muscled FPS heroes, you've got NO right to say anyone else is insecure about their masculinity.

Bob said...

@Popcorn: While it might not necessarily lead to great writing or a compelling story, having "wacky stuff" like that at least shows creativity, which is more than I can say for most of the bland schlock that western developers make.

counterpoint said...

@Bob,

might disagree with you there. After all, weird-ass-shit (pokemon, chibi-style, etc.) is sort of a staple in japan, much like how space marines are a staple here. obviously that only extends so far, but their drawing from a cultural reservoir, similar to how even the most off-the-wall american comic story arc is drawing from an established tradition of insane stories.

Clayton said...

I think about this way: something WEIRD is always going to stick in your head and that's something the Japanese have in spades (like anything by Suda or Tetsuya Mizuguchi; also see El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron). I also still consider the best game writers to be from Japan (Yasumi Matsuno of FFTactics/Vagrant Story/ Ogre Battle fame being my alpha example).

Also overly emotive scenes can at least be hilarious unlike grim and gritty stuff which just comes off as boring. But anyway, enough of this, moving on now

Dave said...

I think you are confusing ignorance with “not agreeing with you”. There’s a world of difference. Yes the PC had many games where the story was told indirectly. But that wasn’t what I was talking about. If you compare the storytelling of the western developers to that of Japanese developers, you see the western ones are consistently better.
What you and Bob are doing is equating something that appeals to your various biases with being good. Whether it showcases elements of the world you have chosen to fetishize or not has no bearing on its actual quality. Because the only criteria you seem to be using to determine the quality of something is “is it Japanese enough?”.

I already gave two examples of games known for their storytelling and compared them to major contemporary Japanese releases. What genre they happen to be in or how they tell their story has no bearing on whether or not said story is good.
The games I mentioned came out in 1990. Chrono Trigger (which had a fairly simple save the world plot and little character development for all but a few characters) and FF6 came out 4 years later. And the quality fo the writing was still nowhere near what I mentioned.
The rest of your post is nothing but you presenting your opinion as fact, which is irrelevant. FF6 is noteworthy for being one of the few ff games to not stay with the cliche’d resistance vs empire plot al the way through, but it still had very shallow characters. Not to mention the most one note villain in gaming history. Skeletor is a more complex villain than kefka is.

“You bring up Wing Commander, I bring up Star Fox. It had about as complex a plot as the average PC game of the time, but the only difference was all the characters were animals.”
I quoted this just so we can all bask in the stupid. You are comparing wing commander with starfox. If you had any credibility, you just killed it.
And for the love of god can you stop saying things are at a Pixar level, like namechecking a beloved CGI company somehow makes an infallible argument? Mario RPG was fun, but the plot was uninspired. The FF tactics blurb is equally unimpressive. I could get a more complex story structure from the Background history in the manual of a blizzard game.

Dave said...

@ Bob.

That line of logic is what gave birth to crap like assy mcgee and tom goes to the mayor. People foolishly asserting that being unique is the same as being good is the reason adult swim is populated by about 50 godawful cartoons whose only joke is that whatever inanimate object the main character is should not be doing the everyday things said object is doing in the show.


Randomness is not creativity. If I shit on a tarp, light it on fire and then get a 1950s era record player to play Golddigger backwards while doing cartwheels, I have not created art. I'm just doing random crap.

Going by your logic, Tommy Wiseau and Uwe Boll are the most creative people in all of cinema. Since incoherence is tantamount to quality.

Bob said...

Incidentally; THIS is Bob, the owner/writer of the site - the person posting above is a different Bob entirely ;)

@Will,
You realize you're essentially wishing for me to be OUT OF A JOB, right? ;)

@counterpoint,
Oh, I'll gladly compare Bayonetta to Call of Duty. If those are both "phoning it in," lets say... then I'll take "killer-angel/steampunk/scifi/witchcraft/catholic-angst/time-travel/giant-monster/dance-party" phoning-it-in over "Tom Clancy's leftovers" phoning-it-in; not contest.

counterpoint said...

@moviebob

yeah, that's why i stopped posting as "mark" and chose a blogger name... sick of the other marks tarnishing my name!

I think what you're really pro-japan about is character design. yeah, japan can do some way awesomer stuff than the west on that front. but that's not story or writing. yeah, the craziness of bayonetta or no more heroes is way better than the Clancy leftovers. but the content is still pretty garbagy. And is a colorful turd really *that* much better than a brown one?

Patman_Forever_51 said...

@Bob

Then call it what it is: YOUR PERSONAL PREFERANCE. Don't adopt it as if it's a fact and don't insult people who may have a preferance that differs from yours.

persondudeguy said...

Im pretty sure that Bob meant these to be opinions. After all the singles himself out in much of his arguing about this topic. So try and let up on the personal attacks on this one guys.

Anyways. I think its worth saying that really its not fair for many of us Western Gamers to state that our games are better then Japan's. As has already been said; there can be drastically different angles that go about making a game, whether west is better then east idk.

Two things we can all agree on though are that "The West" likely makes many more games then the east. We just have more companies. Second, even if "the west" IS better then "the east" who cares? It was "the east" that even brought gaming to America in the first place. I think we have to be thankful for that.

Will said...

@Bob (the real Bob),
lol, I suppose thats why its a dream.

Then again, I am being a hypocrite (as a friend pointed out to me). I call Western gaming vs. Japanese gaming a silly "debate", with quotations and all, yet I partake in arguments about Comic Books (Western) vs. Manga (Japanese) all the time.

So, perhaps its good that these arguments take place. You have a job and webcomic writers have an endless stream of flamewars to make fun of.

ghdhh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smpoza said...

@Bob
See, it sounds like you're not arguing for Japanese storytelling as much as zaniness. And, yes, Japan wins the zany war hands-down. However, just because something is strange...doesn't mean its good. It'll probably be better than stuff of similar quality because it'll be more memorable, but I'd take a beautifully told, perfect story about something mundane than an utterly shitty one with lots of weird characters and a crazy setting. Now, if you can get both...

O.T said...

@Bob

Whats it like to have everyone take a small, unimportant remark and blow it up, completely bypassing the subject you actually put focus on for discussion? I cant imagine it feels all that well.

@Dave

After looking at your response to Chris there, I REALLY want to know what you consider to have an engaging plot and meaningfull characters in a video game. I really do.

Ryan D Melanson said...

Obsidian/Troika/Black Isle Studios; Basically the same developers making some of the best games ever with some of the best stories ever.
That'd be Fallout 1 & 2 & New Vegas; Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale, assisted on Baldur's Gate; Arcanum, The Temple of Elemental Evil, & Vampire: the Masquerade - Bloodlines; KotOR 2, Neverwinter Nights 2 + its brilliant expansion Mask of the Betrayer, and Alpha Protocol.
Thats one basically one core development team thats jumped around since 1996.
Or I could talk about Looking Glass Studios/Ion Storm, who made everything from Ultima to Madden, to System Shock (which leads to Bioshock), Thief; which influenced Warren Spector as he left to work on Deus Ex. Hell just follow Warren Spector's career. Also go read up on the Cradle from Thief Deadly Shadows. Also look at Anachronox, which was basically a western developer making a jRPG.
Oh yea, and Valve, because if you can name a better robot companion than Dog props to you.

But yea most games have bad stories largely supplanted by having enjoyable gameplay. Let's avoid sweeping generalizations.

Hiding behind "Harmondale" said...

http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Dustin03Comics/news/?a=32570

Hey Bob, I case you hadn't seen ;)

Miles said...

This discussion has been very interesting, and has lead me to do a lot of thinking on what, where and how good and bad games are mad. I have a challenge for the community: name three good games that were not developed in the traditional "west" (North America, Britain and Western Europe) or Japan? If you can, I will email you a No-Prize.

Eyes_Only said...

@Miles

1. Metro 2033
2. Gothic
3. Silent Hunter 3

curtdogg said...

Ahahahaha, MovieBob you're such a fucking weeaboo, it's hilarious. I can't believe I used to respect you.

Chris Cesarano said...

@Dave

Just want to note that you criticized me earlier saying that all the various kinds of characters from Japan are from the 80's, which is why I tried to bring up games from all of the 90's (which you said they had nothing). Then you criticized me for bringing up games from the 90's.

You not only want to be right, you want to be angry. You're not worth the time.

@Bob - I'm sorry, but Bayonetta was so...over-hyped for little good reason. While I may not be a fan of the Call of Duty series post-Modern Warfare, CoD4 did a lot of stuff well that shows Infinity Ward has an idea of how video games as an interactive medium can generate an emotional reaction passive media like film cannot accomplish.

Notice all the games imitating the opening scene, for instance. And the Nuke is a constant go-to for me when it comes to the power of games as art.

That said, it seems to me Modern Warfare would be better off creating more personal stories than trying to create modern epics.

Jonathan said...

The wapanese accusation from curtdogg is definitely trolling, but it is worth taking seriously. Those who are not fond of the Japanese aesthetics are not necessarily all like what the game-underthinker tried to parody.

I personally have never gotten into turn based combat driven "open world" jrpgs, for obvious reasons

There is a difference between brilliant, focused creativity [Evangelion] and just random $#!# [some 900 episode anime not even Japan gave a #!@# about]

The Grey Man said...

@Miles:

1. Tetris
2. Fruit Ninja
3. Serious Sam

Jonathan said...

game anti-thinker
I should get some sleep

Popcorn Dave said...

"@counterpoint,
Oh, I'll gladly compare Bayonetta to Call of Duty. If those are both "phoning it in," lets say... then I'll take "killer-angel/steampunk/scifi/witchcraft/catholic-angst/time-travel/giant-monster/dance-party" phoning-it-in over "Tom Clancy's leftovers" phoning-it-in; not contest."

But the former is just Final Fantasy leftovers. They've BOTH been done to death, it's just you happen to like one more than the other.

Gray said...

Personally I wouldn't say either side of the globe writes better stories than the other. There is definitely a difference in approach, but as far as quality goes I'd say they are about the same.

Still, I can give you "Japs write better stories", as far as an opinion goes, it's not terribly invalid. "Japanese games have good stories, western games don't" would have been taking it a step too far, but then again, I don't think that's what you were implying.

Either way. Can you give some examples of games that you think have a good story? I can see what you mean with liking the Japanese approach better (I'm not a fan of the bald space marine myself), but again, a good concept for a story doesn't necessarily make a good story. It would be nice to see some example where you think it worked well.

Dave said...

@Chris

I didn't criticize you for talking about the 90s. I gave an example of how in the same year,1990, western development and storytelling on the pc were far in advance of their contemporaries from Japan. Then you cited games from 94 and beyond as a counterpoint. It wasn't the fact that you were using examples from the 90s, but the fact that you were using examples 4 years later from the ones I had as some kind of defence. IN 4 years, things BETTER have improved, and it says alot about the respective industries that the japanese games were still lagging.

Reading comprehension is your friend.

"You not only want to be right, you want to be angry. You're not worth the time."

This should be good, and exactly what do you think I'm angry about?

Nick said...

This should be good, and exactly what do you think I'm angry about?

I honestly have no idea, but given that you seem determined to disagree with everything Bob says, in the most contrarian and confrontational manner possible, it's fairly safe to say you're angry about SOMETHING.

motyr said...

I second what Gray said. Very nicely put.

And besides, what does it matter if we, as consumers, are lucky enough to be able to pick the best games from all four corners of the globe? What's the use of arguing? Are Americans in some sort of dick-measuring-contest with the rest of the world?

Nick said...

Are Americans in some sort of dick-measuring-contest with the rest of the world?

You'd be surprised how many Americans seem to think so (and not only when it comes to video games).

Timothy said...

Cliche is not bad if done well. Dragon Quest VIII is one of my favorite RPGs cause it takes cliche and does it in a way so that it's clever.

Star Wars Battlefront is one of my favorite shooters cause although I'm still a nameless mook, I'm not some god-like mook, you die multiple times each mission and so does everyone else. It actually feels like a real warzone.

Both the "Pre-teen group of 4 kids saving the world" and "Nameless marine" HAVE been done to death, but the reason that they've been done "to death" rather than just done "a whole bunch of times" is because people aren't doing it RIGHT most of the time.

Ironically the one piece of story that I want to see is one that has no real meaning behind it. Villain player characters outside of Karma meter games barely exist and even then you're almost always fighting some bigger evil. Can I have a new game that is evil vs good, not evil vs greater evil. I mean hell in the new "dungeons 2011" game, you're not even fighting the good guys you're trying to take back your place as the ruler of hell after your girlfriend overthrows you.

So yeah, the one piece of story I want to actually see because it's so rarely done is "Let's kill a bunch of happiness and sunshine places in a complete monster fashion." Because sometimes you just want to be a jerk.

David said...

I am currently living in Japan and let me tell you there are a lot of games made here. Most of them don't get imported to the West and probably for good reason. Also, very few western games are imported over here. What we do get are the big A list titles (eg. Halo, Modern Warfare, etc). I think it's easy for people in the West to say Japanese writing is superior because most of the Japanese games we are exposed to are the best Japan has to offer.

I remember when I first started watching anime. Everything seemed to be so cool and different. Back then only the A list titles were liscenced and brought over to the West. Now I can see almost every anime made and most of them are crap. By comparison most of Western TV and movies are crap too. It's Sturgeon's law.

Besides, variety is good. Sometimes I want to be a space marine or a Tom Clancy foot note. I want to be in a "real" environment. Other times I want to be in a crazy wacky cartoon land. Same with movies, sometimes I want to have my mind broadened, other times I want something dumb and fun.

Everyone has preferences and they are entitled to them. I like Monkey Island, Wing Commander, Flight Simulator and Mech Warrior (I grew up on the PC). Doesn't mean Mario and Sonic are shit. I just prefer different games.

I know that Bob likes Modern Warfare. He just thinks it's overpriced for the length of the single player campaign and he hates how it has made that genre dominant in the industry which hurts the evolution and development of the artform. Personally, I agree. In the 90's we saw a great variety of experimental FPS's. Now most of them are trying to be Modern Warfare.

Bottom line. There are good and bad games in the East and the West. How you grew up as a gamer effects how you perceive them.

David said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Cesarano said...

I remember when I first started watching anime. Everything seemed to be so cool and different. Back then only the A list titles were liscenced and brought over to the West. Now I can see almost every anime made and most of them are crap. By comparison most of Western TV and movies are crap too. It's Sturgeon's law.

Actually, you know what, while there has been some praise in the "variety" of television and film (though it's interesting to hear game critics praise film for having a variety of protagonists and characters and then hear MovieBob iterate how film is pretty much in the exact same problem as games), the fact of the matter is most of the writing in both suck.

In that regard, maybe we're expecting too much from video games as a whole. I mean, the number of films released in a year where the writing is more than a B+ are few. Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect games to be the same?

The major difference, I imagine then, is that designing a fun experience is a Hell of a lot different than writing a good story. It's where video games cross that area of software design, usability, human-computer interaction and then the psychology and art of entertainment.

Maybe the problem is that it's a medium that requires so many different kinds of expertise and we're still trying to figure out how to combine them (or, in some cases, too busy discussing which is more important, even though they should all be important).

Nate said...

I think the problem is, Bob, that your confusing 2-3 developers with all of Western development. Treyarch and Bungie are not the only western developers out there man. Bioware is best known for its story elements in games and has produced a better story in most of their games than in any Japanese game made since FFVI.

Western games aren't any better than Eastern ones, anyone who says differently is lying. Which is why when you post things like this it really angers people.
because:
1) people respect your opinion, your movie reviews are great, and when you talk about comics you can't be beat
2)this bias you have is really distracting from the points you try to make.
3) you insult your fanbase. Making snide comments about western development. You imply a vast superiority of Japanese games when, quite frankly theres only a few standouts. you call people out on listing only the same 4-5 titles, but theres only 4-5 "good" games that have come out of japan since 2006, even then only 1-2 of them i would say has a good story.

let me end on this note:

Dear Moviebob,

please stop making snide comments about western developers. I really like your views on movies and comics, but your obvious bias on video games only hurts potentially poignant things you may have to say. So please stop, i don't want to hate you.

sincerely,

everyone who complained about the comment

Ezenwa said...

Is the comment war over yet? Can I peer my head up? In all seriousness, I've never played Uncharted, and have no interest in doing so.

At least you all have to give Western Game Stories some credit for at least catching up with the East, or at least trying. For the longest time, the East had the West beat when it came to RPGS, action, and adventure. Now, America finally has something to smile about. It's not perfect, but it's a good start. On the flipside, some say that the Eastern way of storytelling has lost a lot of its luster.

Not for nothing, but am I the only one who seemed very shocked to find that FF13 and FF14 were veritably panned by the gaming public, and not the gaming media, yet Dragon Age was considered an amazing title?

Oh, and two Bobs? TWO? I'm already trying to figure out the whole 3 Daves thing (Dave, Dave Kraft, Popcorn Dave), especially since all 3 sound very much alike in disagreement. Let's see some character development in our names here, people. LOL.

Nick said...

I think the problem is, Bob, that your confusing 2-3 developers with all of Western development. Treyarch and Bungie are not the only western developers out there man.

Interesting that you use this comparison, when one of the things Bob pointed out was that people defending "Western" game writing keep bringing up the same dozen or so titles, most of which were made by BioWare, Valve, Irrational, or Tim Schafer.

Chris Cesarano said...

@Nate:

and has produced a better story in most of their games than in any Japanese game made since FFVI

Final Fantasy VII is no Final Fantasy VI, but it is still a good game with a good story. I may have grown up past the age where I though angry characters were cool (though honestly, Cloud was only angry for two dungeons, then he met Aeris, got a boner and became a nice guy), but I can still enjoy VII's story.

But more to the point, I bring up Final Fantasy Tactics again. If you like Game of Thrones, then you'll like Final Fantasy Tactics.

Also, you may say that Japan has only come out with a handful of good games, but again, what is your basis of comparison? I think you have to consider that a lot of good Japanese studios are smaller, or are focusing their better efforts on cheaper systems.

I use the DS for my good Japanese gaming, when you get right down to it. Other than the recently mentioned Valkyrie Profile: Covenant of the Plume (not a great story, but a good one that has a lot more freedom in outcome than a Bioware game truth be told) how about Phoenix Wright? Not only did they make a game from a lawyer (in fact, everything that was wrong with adventure games around the time of the genre's "death knell" was fixed), but it's fun and written humorously. Usually when the writing is bad is when the localization team covered a cultural Japanese joke none of us would get with some cheesy Internet meme.

Damn, I wish I remembered to mention Phoenix Wright earlier as a creative Japanese character.

Maybe the problem in America is an issue of format. If you keep up with some of the GDC contests and such, a lot of developers try and make games out of ANYTHING. The problem is you're either a AAA game or an indie-ish Braid, Flower or Limbo style indie game. Any games on the DS from America are typically half-assed and complete crap.

Man, now there's like eight topics I want to go on a tangent on about strengths and weaknesses of game development in different cultures. In either case, however, I think the AAA industry in either country is suffering a severe lack of creativity and even trying to recapture what people originally loved (Duke Nukem Forever and Deus Ex: Human Revolution are love letters to PC gamers, Final Fantasy 13 was an attempt to reconnect with FF7, etc.).

However, you'll see a lot of creativity in the West's indie scene, and in Japan you'll see a lot of creativity going to the DS. Maybe it's dependent on the platform you choose.

Dave said...

@ Nick.

Nope. I only explicitly state my disagreement when he says something especially self serving, dishonest or just plain wrong.

It's unfortunate that the "people who aren't like what I think I am are bad!" side of him, which I couldn't possibly have known even existed when I started following him on youtube back in 08 or whenever has rapidly expanded to become the majority of his posts.

And while I'm aware that you weren't the one who posed the question to me, the one who did seems to have realized I don't fit into the sterotype he was no doubt trying to apply to me, so I'll as you:

Isn't the accusation that I'm angry just a more wordy equivalent of "lolumad?". Even were I to be angry for whatever reason, even if I were to fit into even the most obnoxious racist gaming stereotype Bob himself could come up with, that would not invalidate ANYTHING that I've said.

Nick said...

It's unfortunate that the "people who aren't like what I think I am are bad!" side of him, which I couldn't possibly have known even existed when I started following him on youtube back in 08 or whenever has rapidly expanded to become the majority of his posts.

The "majority" of his posts? This entire flamewar got started over one throwaway line in a video.

Then this post arrives, in response to the people who think this one line is more worth responding to than anything else, in which he once again makes several valid points, and one joke at the expense of people you have no reason to assume he or anyone else lumps you in with, and guess which part gets more attention?

Even were I to be angry for whatever reason, even if I were to fit into even the most obnoxious racist gaming stereotype Bob himself could come up with, that would not invalidate ANYTHING that I've said.

That would be a very good point, if anything you had said invalidated anything Bob had said. Half the comments in this thread have had nothing to do with Bob's actual post, and have consisted of you and several others putting words in his mouth.