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70 comments

  • Jackonomics2.0 - February 6, 2014 7:24 a.m.

    Not every game has to be GTA or Skyrim. As long as you know what your doing linearity can do a magical and amazing experience, Story wise and Gameplah wise. Just look at that bastard Mario, people love to shit on his 3D Platforming because it doesn't have an Open World like Sunshine or 64 but at the end of the day, a shit ton of people are praising what? THE LEVEL DESIGN that otherwise makes the linearity in the galaxy games and 3D World worth it.
  • BladedFalcon - February 6, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    ...I wouldn't really call Mario 64 and Sunshine open ended at all... but I guess that's just me.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - February 6, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    True form, they really arent, but in the open 3D Plaforming sense of the past, they consider it that. People keep asking for it but i dont see it coming back, Epic Mickey is the stamp of this fact because of camera problems. I can guarantee that A Hat in Time is gonna only turn out decent if its only gonna focus on Exploration 3D Platforming in a collectathon sense.
  • stefan-heisenberg - February 6, 2014 6:57 a.m.

    Going to have to disagree with the premise and history lesson. All stories are linear. Even Skyrim's main stories follow a linear path. As does Batman: AA, GTA, etc., which the author has stated is more fulfilling. It's not that the open-world game play is oh-so-distracting, it's just that some stories -- in an open world/sandbox environment or not -- are just told poorly. Or aren't very interesting stories. That is partially the fault of many factors in storytelling (pacing, scenes, characterization, etc.), but it's also an issue of the viewer: Skyrim's story, or main plot, for whatever it's worth, is boring. Rage has a poor story with (fun) Borderlands like game play. The problem isn't non-linear stories in games, or sandbox game play: it's simply a lack of good writing.
  • Tyrlanae - February 6, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    One thing to keep in mind is there is a clear difference between linear and non-linear narrative and linear and non-linear gameplay. Often non-linear gameplay carries with it a non-linear narrative and these narratives have the potential to be watered down and lacking in potential due to the factoring in of choice or other variables. On the whole, many games with non-linear gameplay do have a linear narrative like Skyrim and Arkham. I have to both agree and disagree with you, sometimes the open world is overly distracting which causes the pacing issues you mentioned. Sometimes non-linear gameplay bloats the game with too many characters and too much side content, so you don't get a lot of primary characters that stick around and make an impact, or you get dragged too far from the main path and by the time you return to it you've either forgotten what was going on or no longer care. There's arguments for both sides, and while poor writing is a part of the issue I don't think it's the entire issue. Structured linear narratives just lend themselves better to telling powerful and immersive stories. The real issue with writing is that it's exponentially more difficult to write a captivating main story that will drag over a 150+ hour game and not get lost in translation while the player digs in the sandbox. That's why some of the more structured non-linear narratives that are done exceedingly well tend to be a tad shorter with slightly more linear gameplay but still a feeling of open freedom, I think, such as The Witcher or Mass Effect (ignoring the ending)..
  • FlyWire2 - February 6, 2014 6:53 a.m.

    Well, the best non-story experience I've ever had came from a game that did the closest thing I have seen to true sandbox, and is the original Mercenaries. It emphases that the only objective is capturing the big bad for the big bucks, and the how is up to you. You can piss off every single faction in the game, do no missions but the ones to capture the Ace cards and complete the game, sure is hard, but what blew me there is the fact I didn't need to work with others, I was freelance with a job, not like GTA, which had a semi-linear mission sequence. Obviously they suffered alot in the story department of course, but when it came to gameplay and objective freedom, they had no match. Mercenaries lists highly in my lists of favorites purely for its fun gameplay and true sense of freedom among the the likes of story based games like Deus Ex HR, RDR, the Metal Gear Saga. Maybe what 'sandbox' games need is the freedom of objective, to allow us set an objective or like Mercenaries, to the objective to be set from the start, without the need of a plot twist to change it and emphasis on having freedom of how to reach it, instead of just roaming in map with many combat-related ways to complete linear placed objectives like most 'sandboxes' do.
  • MultiverseJumper - February 6, 2014 6:29 a.m.

    Sometimes I want to do what i want and blaze my own trail. And, other times i just want to ride the roller coaster and have a short but fun ride..
  • BladedFalcon - February 6, 2014 6:18 a.m.

    Amen, fucing amen! About time an article about this was written. I'm tired as hell at having to explain the clear virtues of linearity versus open design every time a sucker online comes claiming that linear games inherently suck >_>
  • Malakie - February 6, 2014 7:10 a.m.

    Linear games inherently suck. PERIOD. Why? Because there is NO replay value once through the game. Especially for someone that does not forget thing or experiences. The sucker is the one that buys a game spending $60 or more just to play a 10 scenario linear campaign and once complete has no reason to play it again because, well, they already did and already know the story behind the whole thing. While linear maybe ok for a few games out there, overall linear is what is really killing the entire industry. And why? Because if you have not noticed, games are starting to use the same pie plate cookie cutter pattern we now see in the music and movie industry.. Lot's of flash, no substance and push it out the door quickly for the bucks then do it again as quick as possible for the next one to keep that bottom line money piling in.
  • Jackonomics2.0 - February 6, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    Hey buddy, pro tip, stop being dilusional and thinking every linear game in existence is a first person shooter with multiplayer focus.
  • BladedFalcon - February 6, 2014 8:05 a.m.

    What a dumb, extremely narrow way to think. Must be sad being you. Sure, linearity severely limits replay value... so? That usually happens BECAUSE that linearity brings quality in both game-play structure and storytelling, sure, you might only need to play it once, but if what you got in return was extremely gratifying and satisfying, then why wouldn't it be worth it? You could say that EVERY single movie in existence is linear in nature and you only need to see a movie once... does that mean every single movie sucks? Based on your initial, extremely stupid assessment, you're claiming they do. (again, supremely stupid on your part.) I suppose there's something to be said for nimrods like you that apparently all they need to be content is a finite sandbox playground that gives the illusion of freedom, even though anyone with enough brains would realize that after a few hours, you're doing the same shit over and over again. But hey! There's no story or structure, so I suppose that's enough to fool a dumbass into thinking they are doing new things. Also... are you really going to claim linearity is to blame for cookie cutter mentality? THAT APPLIES TO EVERY SINGLE SUCCESSFUL GENRE you imbecile. Same claim can be made for the heaps of GTA clones out there, or all the shitton of lame multiplayer shooters that are clogging up steam. And again, if you haven't noticed, indie gaming are breathing fresh air into that tired AA business, and guess what? most of those games are linear, and actually extremely short experiences.
  • Malakie - February 6, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    You guys are hilarious. You make a comment about my "narrow way to think" which is EXACTLY what LINEAR means.. a narrow PATH you follow with NO break. And maybe YOU play open sandbox in a circle. I do not. I have a couple games that constantly run that have campaigns that continue on even if I am not there at the time. One is the X3 series from Egosoft. Another always running is Falcon 4.0 campaigns in real time. And there are a couple others I also will start a campaign and they run for days and weeks or more. BTW, you can call someone names all you want. That does not change the facts of the argument. And if you are equating everything to some idiotic game like GTA then I understand now where your point of view is coming from.... and it probably explains why some of you have such scrambled brain cells to boot.

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