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Old 12-09-2006, 11:15 PM   #21
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The problem I can think of with the idea of "the nothingness" eating up the world of imagination, as you put it, is that in The Longest Journey it was simultaneously eating up the world of science; planes falling from the air, all sorts of deaths and maimings from sudden malfunctions, etc. It was on their news and everything. I only saw the film version of TNS, but the "regular" world was unphazed by the destruction of the world of imagination.
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Old 12-10-2006, 12:49 AM   #22
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I didn't really have time to address the Neverending Story/Longest Journey issue earlier, but I'd like to do so in greater depth here. Spoilers abound here for both works.

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The twin worlds of Fantasia/Arcadia and harsh reality or science (called Stark in TLJ). What's happening to them and why. The big nothing or chaos (this really nails it for me) eating up the world of imagination.
Ende's novel didn't really emphasize the "twin worlds" concept as much as Longest Journey did; the real world wasn't "the world of science," nor was Fantasia/Fantastica (depending on the translation) "the world of magic" so much as it was the world of stories. Whereas in Longest Journey, Stark and Arcadia represented the worlds of logic and magic, only Fantasia represented a concept in Neverending Story, while the real world simply...was. Also, individuals from the real world could change the landscape of Fantasia but not vice-versa, while Stark and Arcadia were independently functioning (ie, something that happens in Stark doesn't have to happen in Arcadia). The overarcing theme of balance between worlds was also absent from Ende's novel.

Also, the Chaos Storm wasn't eating up Arcadia; it was certainly causing havoc, but it wasn't tearing Arcadia apart or causing it to stop existing. Nor was it a force of nothingness. It was the half of Gordon Halloway that belonged in Arcadia, the physical representation of an individual completely composed of the chaos that is emotionality. The half of him that belonged in Stark was the cold, emotionless represenation of a being composed entirely of logic. The storm wasn't indicative of a problem with Arcadia as was the Nothing in the Neverending Story, it was an individual creature created by splitting Gordon in half. What was happening in The Longest Journey was that the Balance between worlds was breaking down in the Guardian's absence, and both worlds were suffering equally because of it. However, the way the worlds suffered struck me as very different than the way Fantasia began disappearing in The Neverending Story.

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The troubled father-child relationship. Dragons.
In Ende's novel, Bastian and his father are emotionally distant from one another. In The Longest Journey, April's father physically abused her rather brutally. Bastian still loves his father in the Neverending Story, whereas April (for most of Longest Journey) despises and fears hers. Their relationship is much more than troubled.

Dragons have been featured in stories for ages, so I don't think they really hold up as evidence for The Longest Journey being based on Ende. Besides that, the dragons in the two have almost nothing in common besides the name "dragon."

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The stories-within-stories theme.
I don't recall this featuring in The Longest Journey at all. Both worlds existed; they weren't stories, and the nature of stories and storytelling had nothing to do with The Longest Journey's themes as far as I remember.

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I would have no problem with any of this except that TLJ seems to have nothing to add on the subject.
I see The Longest Journey saying many independent things on the subject, personally. The fact that a fragile balance exists between logic and magic in the human mind, for instance, or the idea that destiny isn't predetermined, but chosen by a person's actions both strike me as valuable things that other world-jumping stories (Alice in Wonderland, The Neverending Story, The Talisman and Black House, for instance) haven't said.
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Old 12-10-2006, 01:03 AM   #23
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I have not played Dreamfall yet so I only refer to the first game here. To me the science-versus-magic theme of the game is less intriguing than the physical reality-versus-imagination theme of the book because I do not see science and magic as complementary (or symbiotically opposing) forces the way I do reality and imagination.

I have also developed a dislike to stories about a One who will make everything all right. The One who will bring balance to the Force. Or The One who will bring Balance to the worlds. This is an adolescent vision of heroism compared to the more mature conception that it will take many to save the world. It's also the kind of thinking we see in Rambo or the policies of the current U.S. administration, where The One is without exception "this one": we or I. Ego, hubris, life as war, dialectics as state religion, theology sustaining the centrality of ego.

I notice I've strayed from the TLJ/TNS discussion (on which I'm happy to agree to disagree) into more general territory. What disappoints me most about games is their uniformity of world-view. It is very rare to come across an adventure game that really has a different take on things, the way the Dalai Lama has, or Paul Chadwick, or Pierre Estève, or Lovecraft.

What about a genuinely mature game where maturity does not equal violence or pessimism or exclude humour? Why is everything a murder mystery or thriller or conspiracy or war? What about the far more interesting mysteries of life at its starlit or sun-warmed best? The lapping of waves or the rustle of leaves as opposed to the dripping of blood or the sliding of blocks? Why not adventure predicated not on tension but vital enjoyment?

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Old 12-10-2006, 02:55 AM   #24
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Once again, heavy Longest Journey spoilers ahead.

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To me the science-versus-magic theme of the game is less intriguing than the physical reality-versus-imagination theme of the book because I do not see science and magic as complementary (or symbiotically opposing) forces the way I do reality and imagination.
On the surface The Longest Journey's two worlds are divided along lines of science and magic, but thematically the division is along lines of logic and emotion. Stark is a world governed by the mind, while Arcadia is governed by the heart. When Gordon Halloway is split in two, the side that stays in Stark is his cold, rational self, untempered by emotions and thus unfeeling, while the side in Arcadia is his unpredictable and chaotic, the result of pure emotion without intellect or perception to guide it. This division to me is indicative of the nature of the Divide, and why the Balance is necessary. Either side, without the other to keep it in check, becomes dangerous.


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I have also developed a dislike to stories about a One who will make everything all right. The One who will bring balance to the Force. Or The One who will bring Balance to the worlds. This is an adolescent vision of heroism compared to the more mature conception that it will take many to save the world. It's also the kind of thinking we see in Rambo or the policies of the current U.S. administration, where The One is without exception "this one": we or I. Ego, hubris, life as war, dialectics as state religion, theology sustaining the centrality of ego.
I don't think The Longest Journey is about a single person who will make everything all right; I think it's actually pointing toward the opposite. For the entire game, April is heralded as the hero of different peoples, she proves herself to be a strong individual who shows compassion for others, and then at the end, she's...not the right person to save the worlds? The guy who's spent the entire time killing people is? And the one who's risked her neck the whole time so everyone wouldn't die doesn't get so much as a thank you? Various dialogues throughout the game indicate that this one-guardian-every-thousand-years strategy isn't cutting it, and that something needs to change. I don't want to ruin Dreamfall for you, but this theme that the guardian isn't the best solution continues into it; also, that game uses several different characters to tell its story, and none of them are "chosen ones."

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Why not adventure predicated not on tension but vital enjoyment?
A story, by definition, begins with conflict and ends with the resolution of that conflict (or at least the conflict's conclusion). If a story lacks some form of tension, no matter how small or ridiculous, it's not a story, it's an anecdote. You can't make an adventure game out of something like "Person basking in the moonlight with a loved one on the beach," where that concept is the entirety of the story.
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Old 12-10-2006, 08:20 PM   #25
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A story, by definition, begins with conflict and ends with the resolution of that conflict (or at least the conflict's conclusion). If a story lacks some form of tension, no matter how small or ridiculous, it's not a story, it's an anecdote. You can't make an adventure game out of something like "Person basking in the moonlight with a loved one on the beach," where that concept is the entirety of the story.
Absolutely disagree with all of the above. The definition of story as requiring conflict, or drama as conflict, is nothing more than a western prejudice of very recent invention.

Conflict is not necessary, nor is resolution. Creating conflict is beating up a person in order to get them to pay protection money, a storyteller creating an artificial need for their services.

One could perfectly well make an absolutely delightful and life-enhacing adventure game from the scenario you mentioned. The first two Cryo Atlantis games gave clear evidence that exploring beautiful surroundings, surrounded by beautiful sounds, is enough.

Godfrey Reggio, Ron Fricke, and Philip Glass did a similar thing in film with Koyaanisqatsi and the results were spectacular, liberating. They did not trap the viewer in the ubiquitous tentacles of western psychodrama, whose basic aim is to increase the tension in the audience rather than release them of it.

Audiences actully think this is a good thing. They think being hooked is something desirable. It is an arbitrary and narrow-minded view, also in great part the reason the world is in deep trouble.

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Old 12-10-2006, 10:12 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Simo Sakari Aaltonen View Post
Absolutely disagree with all of the above. The definition of story as requiring conflict, or drama as conflict, is nothing more than a western prejudice of very recent invention.
If it's so recent, where are all the pre-prejudice, conflict-less stories? From the very first stories we have preserved, such as the epic of Gilgamesh and so forth, conflict seems pretty much universal.

I'm reminded of Tolkien writing about how the times that are most pleasant to live through are the least interesting to hear about, and to tell about.

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Godfrey Reggio, Ron Fricke, and Philip Glass did a similar thing in film with Koyaanisqatsi and the results were spectacular, liberating. They did not trap the viewer in the ubiquitous tentacles of western psychodrama, whose basic aim is to increase the tension in the audience rather than release them of it.
I have never seen Koyaanisqatsi in full (I often listen to the CD), but I've always been under the impression that the film was about different ways of life, and how our modern world is "out of balance" with nature. That's a conflict. I'm sure many people would say that the movie doesn't have a story, anyway.
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Old 12-10-2006, 11:19 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by Simo Sakari Aaltonen View Post
One could perfectly well make an absolutely delightful and life-enhacing adventure game from the scenario you mentioned. The first two Cryo Atlantis games gave clear evidence that exploring beautiful surroundings, surrounded by beautiful sounds, is enough.
I seem to remember a conspiracy against the queen as a main plot point in Atlantis. Atlantis 2 is trickier, because it hardly has a story (much like many would accuse Koyaanisqatsi of). However, incomprehensible as it is, player's objectives in each chapter still resolve around defeating some kind of adversarial characters or forces.

Just because exploring the surroundings made a bigger impression on you, doesn't mean the conflict(s) didn't exist in these two.
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Old 12-11-2006, 01:25 AM   #28
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Exactly so and I never claimed otherwise. The games gave an indication of what could be done.

Conflict is conflict only if it is perceived as such. There are other, non-dualistic worldviews.

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Old 12-11-2006, 04:49 AM   #29
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One could perfectly well make an absolutely delightful and life-enhacing adventure game from the scenario you mentioned. The first two Cryo Atlantis games gave clear evidence that exploring beautiful surroundings, surrounded by beautiful sounds, is enough.
Never played those games, nor seen the movies you refer to, but I'd argue that the experience of exploration and discovery is not, in itself, a story at all. So it doesn't really go against that definition of a story; It only demonstrates that an adventure game can have a focus on world design rather than a focus on story and be very entertaining.

I also have trouble seeing how the emphasis on conflict in stories is "in great part the reason the world is in deep trouble". Are you implying that everyone in the world is simply imitating the entertainment they see, and without that entertainment there would be less conflict? And how is it "arbitrary and narrow-minded" to enjoy witnessing conflict? It seems to me that this is a natural predisposition, not something which has been cultivated by our media. The media is only taking advantage of the human truth that we enjoy conflict and resolution by using conflict and resolution to entertain us, which I don't see as a problem at all.
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Old 12-11-2006, 05:36 AM   #30
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Never played those games, nor seen the movies you refer to, but I'd argue that the experience of exploration and discovery is not, in itself, a story at all. So it doesn't really go against that definition of a story; It only demonstrates that an adventure game can have a focus on world design rather than a focus on story and be very entertaining.
What he said. Myst is an excellent example. Many of the fans love it for a peaceful and slow-placed exploration it offers, but it also have a (back)story, and almost as violent and dramatic one as they get, if you think about it.
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Old 12-11-2006, 05:47 AM   #31
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An adventure is by definition either a risk, or a series of events.
Unless there is a situation that must be resolved, or a task that must be fulfilled, a game becomes more of a strategy or simulation game.
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Old 12-11-2006, 09:36 AM   #32
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An adventure is by definition either a risk, or a series of events.
Unless there is a situation that must be resolved, or a task that must be fulfilled, a game becomes more of a strategy or simulation game.
I don't see that. Riven wasn't at its core a series of events, didn't pose any real risks, and certainly wasn't a strategy or simulation game. And to AFGNCAAP I'd point out that it could still have been very entertaining indeed even without its backstory. And I might seem to agree with Simo in that I think Riven would have been even more effective without the conflict and resolution added on top, but only because I do not agree that Riven is primarily telling a story.
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Old 12-11-2006, 11:20 AM   #33
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Looks like we are beginning our inevitable descent into a futile argument about the definition of adventure game.
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:12 PM   #34
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You're right- it's the wrong discussion. In order to stay away from there, let's limit the posts to come to games which focus more on story than exploration or puzzles, okay? That is, unless someone would like to broaden the topic to include other types of content which adventures are reusing too often.
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Old 12-11-2006, 12:38 PM   #35
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I don't see that. Riven wasn't at its core a series of events, didn't pose any real risks, and certainly wasn't a strategy or simulation game. And to AFGNCAAP I'd point out that it could still have been very entertaining indeed even without its backstory. And I might seem to agree with Simo in that I think Riven would have been even more effective without the conflict and resolution added on top, but only because I do not agree that Riven is primarily telling a story.
Eh. The whole Riven game is about saving Catherine and as the story go on you eventually have to do more which I wont write her since it's a spoiler.
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Old 12-11-2006, 04:08 PM   #36
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Eh. The whole Riven game is about saving Catherine and as the story go on you eventually have to do more which I wont write her since it's a spoiler.
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It's the wrong discussion. In order to stay away from there, let's limit the posts to come to games which focus more on story than exploration or puzzles, okay? That is, unless someone would like to broaden the topic to include other types of content which adventures are reusing too often.
I'd love to argue about how to analyze Riven, but this isn't the place.
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Old 12-12-2006, 12:23 AM   #37
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The definition of story as requiring conflict, or drama as conflict, is nothing more than a western prejudice of very recent invention.
I can think of many non-western examples of conflict-oriented stories from long, long ago in the east, mid-east and Africa. The Japanese tale of Susanoo and the Eight-Forked Serpent, for instance, or the Persian tales of Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu? What about the innumerable tales of Anansi? Look through almost any mythology in the world and you'll find conflict present in most tales. I'm not going to say it's present in ALL mythologies, because that's a blanket generalization that I can't possibly prove, but I can say with confidence that it's a major feature of many non-western myths.

And, assuming the concept WAS western in origin, why is that necessarily a negative thing?

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Audiences actully think this is a good thing. They think being hooked is something desirable. It is an arbitrary and narrow-minded view, also in great part the reason the world is in deep trouble.
If someone thinks being hooked is a desirable thing, then it's a desirable thing for that person. Maybe it's not desirable for you, but you're not everyone. Thinking that being hooked is desirable is neither arbitrary nor narrow-minded, it's a matter of taste; you can't say that enjoying the taste of peanuts is arbitrary and narrow-minded, can you? A person enjoys what they enjoy. If you believe it puts the world in trouble, that's your opinion, but I think that's a bit like arresting a gun for murder. People's tastes don't threaten the world, people's actions do. I don't think governments go to war because they read about it in a book.
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Old 12-12-2006, 01:47 AM   #38
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Nemel, I am in awe of your wisdom.
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Old 12-12-2006, 02:32 AM   #39
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he forgot to mention the conflicts of E. Honda and Chun-Li
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Old 12-12-2006, 06:43 AM   #40
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I'd love to argue about how to analyze Riven, but this isn't the place.
I was still on topic.

One ingredient in Riven is a "Save the Lady" storyline, which is by topic an "old theme". But in my opinion, dissecting the ingredients of a story, movie or game will make you recognize patterns that allow you to call anything new as something old. It's only a difference between how people see the game/story/movie based on previous experiences.

Was there an old story in Riven? I say so.
Does it really matter? I do not think so, because the storyline is not Riven's strongest point.
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