Simple or complicated story telling?

What do you prefer?

Do you prefer how the original KQ series kept the plots mainly stand-alone, with only a few 'plot points' tied together... There are very few 'interconnected' bits between the games (beyond just occasional narrative reference or backstories in the manuals)? With the understanding that later KQ games particularly KQ3-7 started adding more and more character development, and connecting some events and characters (but certainly not every single villain or character together of the series). In general only two to three games of the series were ever connected directly, in self contained story arcs, KQ1/KQ2, KQ3/KQ5/KQ6, KQ3/KQ4, KQ4/KQ7, etc. Sierra gave only simple details bridging the stories inbetween each game in the series(oftentimes mentioned only in the manual, or the following game's introduction cinema). By simple, thus does not mean an individual story or mini-arc will lack depth, just that it avoids 'complicated' plot twists tieing more than one game together by every detail. It is very possible for individual games (or mini-arcs) to contain their own individual depth. Remember simple does not equal 'depth'.

Or do you prefer how many of the fan games do it, connecting every little story together, under grand series arching prophecies... With all villains organized, connected, in unison in an attempt to manipulate the royal family, and rule the world. Most if not all subplots are part of the greater whole.


  • edited November 2011
    Simple. With more GAME. Or more specifically, less material that can't be used for anything other than cutscenes.

    That said, I don't mind overarching storylines and complications. It's just the amount of it that is presented at one time. So really, this poll is flawed a bit in that regard.
  • edited November 2011
    You left out "poorly written and heavily cliched" from the second option.
  • edited November 2011
    Well I think its possible to have detailed, including depth in a 'stand-alone' storylines, or 'mini-arcs'. Nothing wrong with that, but it can be done wrong.

    This question is primarily focued on how the series as a whole should 'arc'. One super story, with everything connected, or a series of stand alone stories, or short mini-arcs (no more than a couple of stories or details connected). Something akin to Star Trek if it was a TV series, as opposed to Lost...

    Yes, you are welcome to see second choice as including 'poorly written' & 'cliches'! But I think the first choice can also include 'poorly written' & 'cliches' as well! So its hard to incorporate that into an 'either or' choice.

    Perhaps I can even use the King's Quest Novels as another example to point out what I'm trying to ask. It stays truer to the normal King's Quest format, in one example, such that the trilogy connects a very minor subplot of the Fairy Queen Culatha and her role over the 'Old Forest', but each game's story is truly stand alone beyond that. There are few other reoccuring characters (William, his father Oswald, and Rokail are the only others that come to mind). These reoccuring characters aren't very important to the series plots as a whole, and are not tied to some complicated series of events.

    King's Quest the games, for example have Rumplestiltskin that reoccurs in three games, but whose role is more enigmatic, than important. But never shows up again. His most important role was in KQ1, and he is reduced more to a cameo in later games. Totally reinterpreted in KQ5 (no sense that he even remembers Graham).
  • edited November 2011
    I know KQ has been traditionally simple... but I think I would rather a story with some depth..
  • edited November 2011
    Well this question isn't exactly about 'depth' either. It's very possible to have 'depth' on the micro level, as opposed to the macro level... That is to say, stand alone or mini-arcs can have depth and detail, and character development. Simple doesn't not necessarily remove the possiblity of 'depth'. They are two different factors. There are short stories that have more underlying depth, than a full-length novels as an example.

    Do stories necessarily have to have some complicated Lost-like story arc that ties every minute detail together to have depth?

  • edited November 2011
    Well... the very first KQ really didn't have any story just a set up.. and no real direction... I want to be drawn into the world and the characters...
  • edited November 2011
    Well... the very first KQ really didn't have any story just a set up.. and no real direction... I want to be drawn into the world and the characters...

    This is true, which is why pointed out that latter games, added detail and depth, while keeping things simple, and more or less stand alone (or limited to mini-arcs).

    Compare KQ1 to the KQ1 remake, and there is alot more depth in the remake compared to the original. But the formula is kept simple. But compare KQ1 remake to KQ6 or KQ7 for example, the latter have greater depth than the former (but the formula more or less remained the same). So improvements in depth on a micro-level is expected.

    But is it necessarily to have 'complicated' plots on a macro-level (of the entire series)l?
  • edited November 2011
    Yes, I believe you can have a story of depth in a smaller story - it doesn't always have to be some kind of world, time and character spawning epic. Sometimes throwing too many ingredients into the pot creates a very complex stew - but it tastes like shit.

    Not saying it can't be done; there's been some epic stories and games that are quite good. I think, though, a lot of writers and designers are going for that these days, and as a whole - we've lost sight of keeping it simple, stupid.

    I think King's Quest works better with each game being more self-contained, and restrained.

  • CezCez
    edited November 2011
    self-contained, but with a great story spawning through the 5 episodes. Obviously I wouldn't mind some throw back references either, but I'd like to see something strong in terms of good narrative. I think Telltale did a good job with Tales of Monkey Island, so I wouldn't mind that direction. That had some ties to the past, but focused mostly on the problem at hand.
  • edited November 2011
    I think plotline arching through all five+ episodes for Telltale's King's Quest is a given. The story should be self contained to the the new story (though episodic), with only minor references to the past games... the story should be all original, and not attempt to tie up 'loose ends'. Unless its done in the way that previous KQ did it, bringing back a character like Rumplstiltskin, Manannan, Cassima, or Edgar (only if they relate to the story at hand), or fit within a needed plot (as long as they aren't turned into mary or gary stus). Again I was always fine with how KQ5 mentions the Vizier, and then we see him in KQ6. Or how KQ7 mentions Lolotte as to her relation to Edgar's backstory and his capture by Malicia. But these references are kept simple.

    I don't want something along the lines of Sam & Max Volume 1, where each episode was more or less stand alone, and the linking arc of the series was secondary. It Telltale followed that format, there wouldn't be much of a story at all... Not within a 3-5 hour increments that Telltale episodes consist of...

    Also, I would be fine with 'Shadrack' appearing as a villain (as he was mentioned in a previous official game, KQ6), but his plotting should be contained to the story at hand. Since there is no evidence that he was tied to every single KQ villain in the series (nor any evidence that he was a 'leader'), he should be treated simply as just another evil wizard. In KQ6 the plan was Abdul Alhazred's alone, and Shadrack was a friend who simply gave a little a advice... If Shadrack is used he should his own original 'evil plan' that is limited to the story being told, and the land visited during the story. Basically like how, while Mordack had a connection to Manannan, his plot was more or less self-contained to Serenia (and not connected to any vast world conspiracies).

    But appearance other past characters are not mandatory...
  • edited November 2011
    The Tales of Monkey Island approach would definitely work best, but Telltale should absolutely be careful to limit the game's "connections" with previous games in the series.
  • edited November 2011
    Totally agree.
  • VainamoinenVainamoinen Moderator
    edited November 2011
    Irishmile wrote: »
    I know KQ has been traditionally simple... but I think I would rather a story with some depth..

    But a simple story can have depth as well! It might not be the the example for everyone, but I think that James Cameron's Avatar achieved a relatively impressive emotional depth with a really simple story. The same is true for a lot of my favorite games. That might not be everyone's cup of tea, though. ;)
  • edited November 2011
    Ya that is true.

    People shouldn't confuse 'simple' with lack of depth. Depth is a completely different factor.
  • exoexo
    edited November 2011
    It doesn't matter how complex a story is if it is told well. Examining authors who have mastered short fiction I think will show that 'smart' writing, foreshadowing, and subtlety will out weigh heavy handed writing any day.

    Unfortunately I think that is where fan games fall - they don't have a "professional" writer outlining the events and making sure each line of dialogue is worth recording.

    We have all played games that are gorgeous visually and full of interesting gameplay, but with horrid voice acting and cliche dialogue. It can ruin an otherwise great game. I think games like Zork and the such show that the average person is much quicker to forgive graphics and technojazz if the story is compelling and well written.

    As far as the game goes, I think I'd rather see a new nemesis. Going back to any previous villain inherently invites more comparison than is necessary, and I just don't see that being a positive thing.

    I agree that the story line needs to be connected, but i fear that an episodic game will ground the protoganist too much in small areas. Part of KQ for me was exploration. If I was forced to play KQ6 island by island, without deciding where I wanted to go next.... well, that would have taken away the expansiveness of the world. KQ always did a great job of making the world feel bigger than it truly was (I think I read this elsewhere on these forums previously). Finding a flower on one island that can be used on another island is key to making the world seem linked, and not a series of bus stops.

    The more episodic it is, then the more linear it is. There is something to be said for walking through KQ4 and seeing the haunted house for the first time at night, or cupid by the pool. As a 12 year old, it made me want to stay away from certain parts of the map at certain times of day - and I don't believe any game ever instilled that sense of avoidance in me before. Going in and conquering those damn zombies was a milestone for me and made that sequence very memorable. Maybe I am wrong, but my assumption is - if you took kq4 and made it episodic.... then you have a very specific part of the game were you are forced to deal with this section of the game, and you can't make the decision on your own to explore elsewhere for the time being.... hence making it much more linear.

    I just love exploration though, which is why I currently live in Skyrim.
  • edited November 2011
    I think a problem with TTG's episodic gaming is that the physical separation between chapters (each chapter it technically its own individual game) creates an unavoidable disconnect in the story. In ToMI, when I was exploring Flotsam Island in Chapter 4, I didn't really feel like I was revisiting Chapter 1's Flotsam at night. The fact that each chapter is its own game forces a barrier between locations. I think the physical separation of each episode into its own physical game, on its own, limits the feeling of exploration. When you start Chapter 2, whatever you did in Chapter 1 didn't matter because you could have physically started Chapter 2 having never played Chapter 1 before. The story suffers if you do that, but the gameplay doesn't. That's not right.

    Here's where I mention King's Quest 7. King's Quest 7 does have chapter separations, but each chapter immediately segues into the next (like the first four Monkey Island games do). We don't encounter the physical break of being kicked back out to the OS and having to run the next chapter. Also, in Chapter 5 we get the opportunity to travel across the entire land at will (with the exception of Vulcanix). This freedom of movement further ties the different chapters together, in how we're not made to feel forced to visit a previous area because we have to, but that we can visit a previous area because we want to. I know KQ3 and KQ5 have their own sections that once you leave a certain area you can't then return to it, but these games do not have chapter breaks with the ability to start the game at any chapter at any time (which makes all previous activity in the game feel predetermined and moot).
  • edited November 2011
    Chyron, you make a great point. I never understood why in many Telltale games we weren't allowed to simply launch into the next episode right from the menu screen. It seems to me that creating a global menu system that could connect to each installed episode without breaking back out to the desktop would not only be pretty simple, but also like you said, ultimately beneficial to the player's immersion.
  • edited November 2011
    Actually in KQ7 one of the major problems is that the chapters are more or less simultaneous/parallel to each other. They are not linear.

    Chapter 1 and chapter 2 are parallel.

    Chapter 3 and 4 begin where chapter 1 and 2 ended.

    Chapter chapter 3 & 5 are relatively parallel to 4.

    And 6 takes place after 4 & 5.

    There are quite a few reviewers found the approach confusing. For example rosella and Valanice would have to pass each other in the woods but never see each other. And Rosella reaches Falderal after Valanice saved the moon, but she doesn't save the moon until the next chapter. Beyond that there really is only the 'Nymph Statue' to offer any clue how the 'two storylines' overlap, as to where Rosella is in relation to Valanice at any given time. For example IIRC, when you first get the statuette, Rosella is just escaping from the underground into Ooga Booga, and later when you get a chance to use it again, she's just about to leave the swamp into the woods (as you are about to enter into the woods).

    With the first couple of chapters you have to wait until, the chapter after to see the ending to the cliffhanger.

    Personally I hope telltale avoids this approach. I don't want to wait 3-5 months for chapter 3 to see the end of the cliffhanger in chapter 1.
  • edited November 2011
    BagginsKQ wrote: »
    Actually in KQ7 one of the major problems is that the chapters are more or less simultaneous/parallel to each other.
    I thought this was clever.
    There are quite a few reviewers found the approach confusing.
    I didn't find it confusing at all. On first playthrough, I did wonder if I could figure out where Rosella/Valanice was and run into her, but it didn't confuse me. If people are confused about the KQ7 timeline when playing the game, how much more would they have been confused by the Lord of the Rings timeline while reading the books? It's not Sierra's fault that some people confuse easily.
    I don't want to wait 3-5 months for chapter 3 to see the end of the cliffhanger in chapter 1.
    You have a point. However, when it all becomes fully available to buy together as one game, it won't matter so much.

    Lambonius wrote: »
    Chyron, I never understood why in many Telltale games we weren't allowed to simply launch into the next episode right from the menu screen. It seems to me that creating a global menu system that could connect to each installed episode without breaking back out to the desktop would not only be pretty simple, but also like you said, ultimately beneficial to the player's immersion.
    Unfortunately, I don't know if this will happen. So many Monkey Island fans asked for this to be done for ToMI (including myself,) but it never happened.
  • edited November 2011
    I didn't find it confusing at all either... I have no problem with the idea that they 'just missed each other' in the woods.

    But judging from the amount of interviews I've read, quite a few people did... There are quite a few fan sites, that claim the story has 'plot holes' as well.

    I know quite a few people who wouldn't want Telltale to mimic KQ7 as the end all and be all of KQ games. Especially since its the closest to a Lucasarts game in style and humor, it would be the easiest for them to mimic... But is that something that KQ should start turning into for the rest of history?

    ...and personally I'd prefer if they stick to one character for the entire story arc, as not to dilute the storyline any further than they have to...
  • edited November 2011
    I'm not saying that TTG should go for a KQ7 style. I was citing only the way in which KQ7 (sort of) overcomes the exploration problem caused by chapter breaks in how it allows for free roaming of almost all areas in Chapter 5 once you obtain Count Tsepish's flute.

    KQ7 is not my favorite game, but it is not my least favorite. My least favorite goes to KQ5 for horrid voice acting and nonsensical puzzle design. No matter KQ7's flaws in its animation, limited interface, and the ability to start a brand new game at any chapter (which I really don't like), these don't bother me nearly as much as the puzzle design and voices of KQ5.

    My most favorite goes to KQ6 for an interesting story, great voice work, and interesting puzzles that make sense.

    I will say that I also want a narrator, multiple interaction options (ie. walk; look; taste/talk; use), and restore/restart/quit on death. KQ5 and 6 both have these, and I like it, but KQ5's puzzles and voice work are so bad in my opinion that these things don't make up for it when comparing KQ5 to KQ7.

    EDIT: And as I said previously, KQ3 and 5 don't quite have free roaming between areas--they just have very large areas to explore at the start of the game (what one could consider as Chapter 1)--but they don't have chapter breaks nor separate executables like TTG's games have, so it's not as obvious the feeling that you're barred from returning to the previous area for the rest of the game.
  • edited November 2011
    Ok maybe I should ask what is 'complicated' to you?

    How do you define 'simple'?

    What makes the difference between complex and convoluted?
  • edited May 2012
    I think there are certain constraints on complexity based on the established King's Quest style and the source material it celebrates.

    For instance, the rule of threes common to fairy tales makes certain structures and rhythms appropriate. And Roberta Williams' historical reliance on common knowledge about mythology and fairy tales tends to favor simple reactions based on archetypes -- King Graham obviously has no moral qualms about pushing witches into ovens, and if there's a boatman handy, we probably need to track down a coin. Ugly people are evil and talk like something is gnawing at their nether regions; good people are beautiful and poetic and probably have royal blood.

    Challenging these ancient stereotypes isn't in the DNA of King's Quest, IMO (Edgar being a rare semi-exception.) And given that "Fables" will be bringing a darker, more complex take on fairy tales to Telltale's audience, I would predict that the "King's Quest" team will go for contrast by keeping it simple and colorful.

    My biggest question about the storytelling is what kind of humor it will feature -- the original games tended to feature puns and "comical" characters, and the jokes usually aimed pretty low. I liked KQ 7 largely because the writers allowed Valanice and Rosella to crack a joke or cop an attitude once in a while.
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