Storytelling in The Walking Dead game and the problem of the “interactive movie” genre

Let’s get something straight: The Walking Dead game is not a bad game. But I don’t think it’s a great one either. It is so filled to the brim with flaws and mechanics that are the exact opposite of what I personally want out of video games. The whole concept of a video game where I occasionally press buttons, have to solve puzzles that really aren’t that well designed, and make decisions, it doesn’t entirely appeal to me. If anything, the concept of making decisions is the only thing I’d want to keep, we can throw everything else away and start from scratch and make a completely different video game. I can barely even consider The Walking Dead game a video game. To me, it is using the medium I love very poorly, despite having good storytelling.

The storytelling in the game is quite incredible; I don’t think I can deny that. I did get attached to Clementine and Lee as characters and genuinely felt for them in someway…but I feel like I could have cared way more for them if I was actually playing a real video game. When the game has to stuff in bad puzzles and sequences of just walking around to fill game time, it detracts from the experience in a multitude of ways, especially because a lot of the time nothing else is going on in the game unless I force myself to talk to people which typically aren’t even that interesting side conversations in the first place beyond the main story of the game.

One of the things that has become more and more a mainstay in video games are side conversations that characters have as you play the game, whether it be in Bioshock or The Last of Us, side conversations are going to add to the experience significantly. Understandably, those games I’m sure have much higher budgets than TellTale may ever have for their games. Regardless, I don’t think that completely excuses gameplay that simply isn’t fun most of the time and makes me impatient and makes me wish I could just skip over it all to get to the actual story and decision making that makes the game what it is.

Frankly, the gameplay of the first season already bored me by the time I hit episode three or so, I was sick and tired of it and just wanted to see what would happen to these characters instead of actually playing the game which isn’t what a video game should make me feel. I should feel like I want to play the goddamn game. The strange thing about the first season of the game is that it got amazing reviews pretty much all across the board, which baffles me. Of course, people can have different opinions and the game is subjective as a whole, but it seems strange to me that so many people aren’t bothered by the gameplay of this first season. Besides the story, did you REALLY enjoy the gameplay? I mean, it’s almost hard for me to see how people could thoroughly enjoy the gameplay of something that isn’t really a video game. This isn’t what I want video games to be. Hell, it could almost be a choose your own adventure book (though it’s still better than that).

400 Days, the sidestory DLC that branches in between of Season 1 and Season 2, may be one of the pointless video games ever designed. It’s probably an hour long or so and essentially contains five side stories set in The Walking Dead game universe that are barely even connected to the main game and the stories seem to make sure to cut off right before they have potential to actually become more interesting. Afterwards, they poorly connect all of these stories in an absurd way that makes little to no sense in order for the player to “feel” something more for these characters; yet, I feel nothing at all for anyone in this game. I could care less about a single person in any of these stories because I have no idea who they are, we spend so little time with any of them, the gameplay gives me even less of a reason to care considering most of it is just button pushing to make choices or pushing an analog stick sometimes. 400 Days is a strange experimental exercise in storytelling that bombs in every single way and is seriously one of the most pointless games I’ve ever played. It serves no purpose for anyone. I have no idea why it exists nor will I ever.

Season 2 doesn’t exactly do much to improve upon either Season 1 or the abysmal 400 Days. Instead of controlling Lee, you play as Clementine. I have to admit that it is a bold move to allow the player to control Clementine except it’s in a game where you barely play a video game. One of the few good things about Season 2 is that it cuts out most of the awful puzzles and extremely boring sequences found within the first season, instead most of the game is small action sequences or simply pushing buttons to make conversation choices. Do I like this better? Sure, it cuts out really awful, useless gameplay that does NOTHING to immerse me into the game. But this more simplified “gameplay” also does NOTHING to immerse into the game or the story.

I found myself lacking in any actual empathy or really caring about the characters in this story-especially the newer ones who are so shallowly developed through conversation after conversation of bickering and arguing instead of any personal moments to help me connect with these characters further. Not only is the gameplay a problem this time around, I also found the story writing to be a problem and caught in a vicious cycle of repetitive arguing which is obviously realistic in an post-apocalyptic setting, but there’s a point where it loses its flare.

Don’t get me wrong; The Walking Dead Season 1 and Season 2 aren’t awful video games. They just don’t understand the medium, in my opinion. They think this is a medium that needs to borrow so heavily from cinema and add “gamey” things like conversation choices in order for it to seem “unique” in someway when in reality, it’s sort of a shallow experience where I don’t really care too much about the characters in the end, at least that’s how it made me feel. When the gameplay simply is a drag to play through, isn’t that a sign that your game is riddled in problems? Because I find it pretty hard to believe that people could enjoy playing these games that much. Developers are going to need to find a way to properly balance the idea of these story-driven games. Instead of making me feel like I’m playing an interactive movie, make me feel like I’m playing a video game, one that actually has good gameplay and a good story. Gameplay and story need to work together if you want something that is meaningful and impactful. (And seriously, 400 Days is so laughable. Oh my God. I’m sorry. I needed to make another jab.)

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book Passing Out Pieces for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

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Ubisoft is offering free game, free DLC for Assassin’s Creed Unity launch issues

Ubisoft CEO Yannis Mallat apologized for the Assassin’s Creed Unity launch and is offering free DLC, as well as, a free game for season pass holders.

“I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of Ubisoft and the entire Assassin’s Creed team,” Mallat said. “These problems took away from your enjoyment of the game, and kept many of you from experiencing the game at its fullest potential.” “To show our appreciation for your continued support, we’re making the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Unity Dead Kings DLC free for everyone. For Season Pass holders, we will also offer the choice of one additional game from a selection of Ubisoft titles for free.”

If you purchased Assassin’s Creed Unity Gold Edition, you’re also entitled to a free game as well, though the free game is not available yet. The free games include: The Crew, Far Cry 4, Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, Rayman Legends, or Just Dance 2015. The Season Pass is obviously not for sale anymore; otherwise people could easily take advantage of this deal.

The Dead Kings DLC will be available through an in-game link, but no release date is set as of yet.

Patch 3 for Assassin’s Creed Unity is rolling out this week, with over 300 fixes, but a future patch is expected still. (Source: IGN)

What do you think of what Ubisoft is doing to “make up” for the unstable launch? Good or bad? I can’t say it’s great. Games should launch with stability. That’s a huge problem with both the Xbox One and PS4 right now. Multiple games are launching that don’t work and have aspects broken at launch. That just isn’t right. You can’t launch unfinished products like that and gamers shouldn’t be buying these unfinished products in the first place. Do I think it is “nice” of Ubisoft to offer a free game and free DLC? Sure, that’s pretty great. People can literally get games that just came out: Far Cry 4, The Crew, Watch Dogs, etc. That’s fantastic (and you can get games that are better and more interesting than mediocre Assassin’s Creed games). But it doesn’t change anything, developers and publishers need to stop rushing products and should buckle down and be willing to delay a game every now and then.

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Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring writer who writes this stuff on these blogs to make you learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) He’s trying to be a video game journalist but is probably failing at that. You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally).

Broken Games and Half-Ass Releases: What the hell is going on with games in 2014?

Destiny ended up being empty and hollow and lacking content and has server problems. Driveclub is literally broken. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare has plenty of server problems. Assassin’s Creed Unity is littered in issues of glitches, online problems, frame rate issues, and plenty of general problems. Halo: The Master Chief Collection’s matchmaking is broken and Halo: CE has no matchmaking yet. What the hell is going on here?

Why are developers releasing half-assed games? Why are we getting overhyped games that only sorta kinda work? What is going on the games industry right now? Why are these games released and not delayed? Why are we churning these games out like a machine, instead of making them actual well-polished titles? I have a lot of questions and not enough answers. This year has been a very strange year of overhyped games that are littered in technical problems and basically missing content. Have developers forgotten about the concept of delaying a game? Or are they too afraid to not deliver on time? Frankly, I’m not entirely sure.

The Destiny question is pretty easily solved: Bungie decided to release a game with not all of its content and instead decided to go with DLC to release the ‘full game.’ I don’t think we can really question it anymore. This is a thing that is happening in the machine of big budget titles. It is a business model, whether we like it or not. Destiny could have probably been pushed till next year and had much more content, I’m sure of it, but Bungie took this route and I’m not a fan. I will never be a fan of excessive DLC because I feel like I’m getting incomplete games on a constant basis. It isn’t good. It’s very toxic to this industry, especially if this industry wants to be taken a bit more seriously. I don’t think you want to be known as the entertainment industry that releases half-assed content. Movies aren’t half-released. (Okay a few of those movies are split into two…to make more money just like DLC…but forget about that for now, okay?) But enough on that, the DLC issue is a difficult thing to solve because developers want more money and I don’t know if I can entirely blame them if people are still willing to buy half-made games.

But these technical issues are just pathetic, I’m sorry, they really are. Don’t release games that don’t work. I realize video games are not easy to make. In fact, they could be the hardest to make out of any entertainment industry, so many people are involved, so many technical issues are prevalent, and most of all: so much money is involved ($500 million in Destiny’s case). But should we, as gamers, let developers continue to release games that don’t work on release? As I already said, Driveclub doesn’t even really work. Assassin’s Creed Unity is filled with technical issues, and for a major franchise, that isn’t really acceptable, and maybe, just maybe, if they didn’t release games so often, (there’s two this year from this franchise…I already wrote about yearly franchises here) the games would come out without issues. It isn’t a bad thing for a studio to spend more time on a game in order to fix technical issues and I think, if people are actually sensible and not impatient, they should agree. Don’t be afraid to delay games. Seriously. It’s okay. I think most people understand. I’d rather not have broken games and have games that work, I don’t want this era of games to be the era where we have to wait for patches in order to play games the right way, games should work out of the box. I hope that isn’t too much to ask.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)