Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Discuss mods or new games built on the Wolf3D engine or one of it's derivatives here.
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Zombie
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Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by Zombie » 06 Nov 2019 16:20

The recent discussion surrounding plots in mods has me considering just how capable the engine is when it comes to storytelling.

For many mods, story really comes second to just making a game.

For other mods, there's typically a few ways the story will be delivered:
  • Through a text file accompanying the game download.
  • Through the Read This! option available on the in-game menu, and/or the end-screens at the end of an episode.
  • Through intermission screens that work off the Read This! functions, displayed between levels.
Image

There are variations such as Unsung which uses comic book style cutscenes between levels, and Absence which has log-files to be found during gameplay that reveal more of the story, but these are all usually iterations of the Intermission Screen functionality.

But what of other storytelling tools?

Voices - I cannot think of any mods that have the player character speak, and none that have the player say important things relevant to progress or plot. Things as simple as the player character having something to say after a boss is killed can go a long way to expressing motives, emotions, or what to do next.

Cutscenes - We know cutscenes are technically possible to some degree in Wolf3D, as shown by commercial megahits and consistent franchises Corridor 7 and Operation Body Count.

Furthermore, as shown in Dunkelschwamm's little novelty project Operation Drehen, with a little tweaking ECWolf is capable of full motion video.
If this were pushed further it would be interesting to see what could come out of it. I look forward to the remake of Island Peril ;)


There are other notable examples of story-telling in games, exhibited in those few projects like Witching Hour. It tells a lot of story by changing the environment subtly around the player, informing them purely through events unfolding and the sounds in the distance.
These sorts of elements are restricted to more controlled and slower-paced games in most cases, as most Wolf mods are still run&gun at heart, but it's still another important element at our disposal to consider.

Does anyone have any other insight into other ways story could be told? Or any mods you think are particularly notable for the way they tell their stories? Why don't you think there's more story-heavy work?

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by Zombie » 06 Nov 2019 17:42

Serpens posted the following video, which gave me an idea



Laughs aside, in-game cutscenes (Possibly derivative of the Death and Victory cameras) would be another cool and unique approach to delivering story.
To provide some mental imagery with a theoretical concept: player triggers the "end level" event, and it initiates a variation of the DeathCam, providing animated scenes to the player.

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by nexhex4d » 07 Nov 2019 00:21

Deathtrigger had a short and confusing scripted ingame car sequence at start of level 1.
Tekkoudan had a similar approach like Unsung.
Umbrella Beginnings and Project Xs also had log files during the levels.
Doom: Legions of Hell (DOS) had cut scenes though used it only for simple animated story screens + logo.
I think there was one or more mods with a radio playing sound messages.
There have been a few mods with interactive npcs.
Some mods use the level environment to tell some of the story.
Wolfenstein One Goodbye tells all of its story and more by using one epic song.

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by Zombie » 07 Nov 2019 12:29

nexhex4d wrote:
07 Nov 2019 00:21
Deathtrigger had a short and confusing scripted ingame car sequence at start of level 1.
Tekkoudan had a similar approach like Unsung.
Umbrella Beginnings and Project Xs also had log files during the levels.
Doom: Legions of Hell (DOS) had cut scenes though used it only for simple animated story screens + logo.
I think there was one or more mods with a radio playing sound messages.
There have been a few mods with interactive npcs.
I really need to give many of these a play through. I do remember most of them and their features.

Interactive NPCs are great as a storytelling option, yeah! But anything indepth tends to slow the game down and as such be not as common in Wolf mods that don't already have more RPG themes.
nexhex4d wrote:
07 Nov 2019 00:21
Some mods use the level environment to tell some of the story.
Yeah! Would you happen to have any examples, or a hypothetical picture you can paint of what you mean? Do you mean say, encountering scrawlings on the wall from the last person that was there, telling you what was going on as you piece it all together?
nexhex4d wrote:
07 Nov 2019 00:21
Wolfenstein One Goodbye tells all of its story and more by using one epic song.
<______________>

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by AryanWolf3D » 07 Nov 2019 22:30

nexhex4d wrote:
07 Nov 2019 00:21
Umbrella Beginnings and Project Xs also had log files during the levels.
Ah yes, I loved Umbrella Beginnings! Despite the involved storyline, it never felt like it was being put before the gameplay... It was part of the gameplay.
Wolfenstein One Goodbye tells all of its story and more by using one epic song.
I cry every time I hear it.

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by nexhex4d » 11 Nov 2019 09:15

Zombie wrote:
07 Nov 2019 12:29
Yeah! Would you happen to have any examples, or a hypothetical picture you can paint of what you mean? Do you mean say, encountering scrawlings on the wall from the last person that was there, telling you what was going on as you piece it all together?
Yeah such signs for example. I think "Layers of Hell" or "Seasons' Action" of the last DHW Mapping League were trying to tell a story just by level design although not sure if it was planned for the latter.

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Re: Thoughts on storytelling in mods

Post by not_serpens » 12 Nov 2019 09:59

Visual storytelling is particularly interesting. If you play a game like The Witness, it tells the vast majority of the story of its island by graphics and visuals, and it's a pretty intricate, cohesive and mysterious, well spun web. The same is largely true for Myst or Rhem. Not sure if the same is possible for a Wolfenstein mod though... you'd need lots and lots of detailed, specifically crafted assets.

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