In this video, I look at Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, The Last Guardian and Tearaway Unfolded to talk about how they use controls to elicit feelings and create strong emotional bonds.
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Welcome back to this 2-part post series about the Hero’s Journey. In this post, I’m going to talk about the game Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, and how Vogler’s rework of Campbell’s structure is applied to it. Please note that I’ll reference the previous post about Journey a lot, so please read it beforehand 🙂 That said, let’s continue.
The Hero’s Journey is a narrative structure first described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, and later refined for modern age by Christopher Vogler in The Writer’s Journey. Campbell noticed and described patterns in our myths and stories, of the hero/heroine leaving their ordinary world to go onto adventure, and after going through trials and crises, coming back home a transformed person.
It’s a very archetypal structure that one can notice in many stories: The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars, and thousands upon thousands of other works, including games. And I think why we as people are intrinsically drawn to this sort of narrative structure, is essentially because it’s about striding to a goal, facing challenges and getting to the lowest point upon the way, but eventually overcoming them and becoming a better person as a result. It’s what we encounter and go through in our daily lives, even though we might not realize it at first.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag at the moment of writing this post is my most favourite game of the franchise. It’s just so well-crafted, from mission design to narrative, world, how it all connects together. And maybe it doesn’t fix all the flaws inherited from other games (like the still very easy combat system), but as I’ve mentioned a couple times before, it’s not a barrier for some amazing experience and in my opinion Black Flag delivers it. The game is really a ’Best of Assassin’s Creed’ collection, combining all the strengths of previous titles in one cohesive package. But today I want to talk about the narrative themes of the game, as well as how they connect to gameplay.
I firmly believe that what we as game developers do is create experiences for our players. And all the different areas of the game, – cool gameplay, technology, narrative, audio – feeds into those experiences. How the wooshing sound of Hearthstone cards when you move them helps with that feeling of a physical card game. How the different sound cues of Left 4 Dead depending on the special zombie nearby influence the teamwork aspect of the game. How controls themselves are used as a narrative tool in Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. And a game is valued best when it all works as a whole.
I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with video game achievement systems. The ‘hate’ comes mostly from the fact that I tend to really disagree with how they are used nowadays. I believe achievements can and should be part of a game’s design, but more often than not they’re relegated to just some medals for completing certain parts of the game or pure boring grind. There are also skill-based achievements, like getting a perfect run in Super Meat Boy, – I think those are perfectly valid since, well, you have to actually achieve something. But then there’s achievements that can motivate the player to experiment with the game, try out different things, and it seems to me there’s just too few of that.