Using mechanics to tell a story 遊戲之所以感動–淺談機制敘事

 I previously introduced a game called 428: Shibuya Scramble. It had a very emotional story, and after thinking about it for a while, I felt like it could have actually been made into a movie instead.

In that’s the case, then can those feelings you get from a game be replaced by what you get from movies, comics, and other form of media?

Well, since I’m writing this post, the answer is obviously no. Games have their own unique way of storytelling called narrative game mechanics. It refers to making the player feel what the game character is feeling through various forms of interaction, in order to increase the player’s understanding and empathy towards the character.

I’ll be going over two good examples of this below.

1. The Liar Princess and Blind Prince

Setting: The player takes the role of a wolf who accidentally blinded the prince. She felt very guilty about it, so she exchanged her singing voice for the ability to transform. After that, she took human form and proclaimed herself to be a princess and hid the fact that she’s a monster.

Narrative Gameplay Mechanic: When the player takes the role of the wolf, they are not allowed to touch the prince, and must prevent the prince from finding out that she’s the monster who blinded him. However, the player can transform into the princess at any time, and the princess can hold the prince’s hand and lead him. When she is a wolf, she is invincible and can instantly kill the enemies, but she can’t stay with the prince. However, when she is the princess, she can stick together with the prince, but that isn’t true self.

As the princess leading the prince.

As the wolf protecting the prince.

The mechanics creates a situation that allows the player to experience the wolf’s hard decision first hand. Even if the player doesn’t read and merely plays the game, they will realize that the princess is happiest when she’s the princess (when she’s lying), and her gaze never leaves the prince.

What they will eventually feel is that “She’s a very self-depreciating wolf, she doesn’t accept herself for who she truly is”.

So why is it so moving?

Various events happened at the game of the game (I’m not going to spoil it for you), which made the prince to accepting the princess as a wolf, and led to her accepting herself as a wolf as well. If we call narrative gameplay mechanics rules, then it means that this form of acceptance is something that surpasses the rules, which puts a heavy emphasis on it and truly makes the players feel for the characters.

2. Time Travelers (by Level-5)

Setting: There are 5 time travelers in the game. When they are in danger, they will instinctively use their powers and reset the current timeline to avoid danger. The actual time travelers don’t actually know about this power of theirs. The entire game happens within one day, where the time travelers will influence each other, and when one survives, it may cause another to die. The player must find out how to save all 5 time travelers.

Narrative Gameplay Mechanic: In the game, the player is like a god who can decide the decisions each time traveler makes in different scenarios, which then influences how the story roles out. After playing after 5 hours, a player would have gotten used having a character die, getting the timeline reset, then making a different choice to prevent the character’s death.

And when the player finally enters the final chapter without any of the 5 time travelers dying, a shocking thing occurs!

What makes it so moving?

No matter what choice the player makes in the final chapter, one of the characters will die. But, there is a single character who will not reset the timeline when he dies.

Why? Because he dies for the future of his loved one. His wish surpassed his desire to live, which is why he doesn’t instinctively use his powers.

The game is able to show the player a situation when love is so great that it even surpasses one’s own life.

Narrative gameplay mechanics are often part of the actually setting of the game, and also reveals what the point that the developers want to deliver, something perfection shown in Time Travelers.

The one who dreams of being a hero finally breaks free of the game’s rules and becomes a true hero.

Conclusion

I believe I mentioned it in the post “Using Games to Tell a Story“, I don’t intend to devalue other forms of media. Games cannot hope to compare to the beauty writing from novels, but games do have their own uniqueness that other forms of media cannot measure up to.

The beauty of narrative gameplay mechanics is that it breaks the limit of languages, meaning the player is no longer a bystander.

I’m someone who places a heavy emphasis on this as well. You can download our latest game and try it for yourself! (Remember to add the game to your wish list as well!)

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之前曾經介紹過一款遊戲,叫《428 ~被封鎖的澀谷~》,裡面的故事滿感動的。但思考一輪後,又覺得其實它拍成電影應該也可以?

那麼,遊戲的感動是電影漫畫等其他媒體能夠取代的嗎?

我會寫這篇文,答案當然為否。遊戲有一種它獨有的敘事格式,叫「機制敘事」,意思是以交互的形式讓玩家主觀體驗到遊戲內角色的真實感受,從而提高玩家對角色理性上的理解和感情上的投入,最終令玩家感動。

本文會提出兩個例子,是我覺得製作得相當到位的,非常適合作為本文的例子。

一、《說謊公主與盲眼王子》

本作雖然有繁中版,但由於 Sega 繁中區幾乎在香港零宣傳,因此它是香港接近零人氣的作品。

世界觀背景:玩家扮演一隻怪物,有天她誤傷王子,令他致盲。她很內疚,因此用歌聲換取變身能力,此後牠可變成人形,並對王子自稱為公主,隱瞞自己是怪物。名副其實就是「說謊公主與盲眼王子」。

機制敘事:玩家扮演怪物時,不可以碰王子,因為不能被王子發現她就是傷害王子的怪物。但玩家可以隨時變成公主,公主可以用手牽住王子的手,帶領他走路。怪物形態是無敵的,可秒殺敵方怪物,但她無法陪伴王子。相反,公主形態可以和王子像糖黐豆般相處,卻不是她原本的自己。

公主形態跟王子相處、互動

怪物形態保護王子

此機制想營造一種氣氛,讓玩家第一身體驗公主的自我身份認同,玩家即使不看文字只玩遊戲,都能夠發現,公主是公主(說謊)時是最開心的,她總是望看王子,總是面露微笑。

「她是一隻很自卑的怪物,她並不接納自己」,這是玩家親身的感受。

那麼它何以感動?

在遊戲的最後,發生了一些事(不想劇透所以有興趣自己去玩),王子接納了怪物形態的公主,也因此公主她尋回自己的真正身份,她就只是一隻怪物。如果說遊戲機制是規則,這就代表著「接納」這一過程有能力打破常規,間接彰顯了接納的偉大,也同時打破了玩家的淚腺。

二、《時光旅行者》(level 5)

本作只有英語和日語,因此同樣香港零人氣。它在日本 Fami 通登上了白金殿堂 (36/40)。

世界觀背景:本作有 5 位時光旅行者,當他們遇到危險時,會下意識使用能力,重置掉當下的時空,以此避開危險,而這一點本人並不知道。遊戲發生在一天內,5 位時光旅行者會互相影響,當其中一人生還,可能又會導致另一位時光旅行者死亡,玩家要在眾多可能性之中憑著推理去選出可以拯救 5 位時光旅行者的時空。

機制敘事:在遊戲內,玩家就像上帝一樣可以決定每位時光旅行者在眾多事件下的抉擇,以影響當下時空的故事發展。在這樣的架構下玩過5小時,玩家已經很習慣一個流程:角色死亡->時空被強制重置->重新選擇->避開死亡。

就這樣 5 位時光旅行者以不死身之姿步入了最終章,驚人的事情發生了!

那麼它何以感動?

到了最終章,每個選擇都會有角色死去,這下麻煩了。就在此時,只有一位角色,他死後時空沒有被強制重置。

為何唯獨他死後沒有被重置呢?因為他為了愛人的未來而選擇了死亡,他的這一願望超出了他對生存的慾望,因此下意識並沒有使用能力使時空重置。

遊戲用這個手法去讓玩家理解愛情的偉大甚至超越了自身生命。

遊戲機制往往是世界觀的一種體現,並為創作者想表達的觀點埋下伏筆,而這完美體現在《時光旅行者》上。

整天發著英雄夢的傻瓜,卻打破了整個遊戲的常規,成了真正的英雄

結語

其實我在 遊戲敘事的優勢 一文中,都大概說過,我並不是要眨低遊戲以外的媒體,正如小說裡面文字的優美和空間也是遊戲所無法攀比的,而遊戲亦有其他媒體無法比擬的魅力。

機制敘事之美,在於它打破了語言,玩家不再是旁人。

實際上我自己做遊戲亦十分重視機制敘事,大家可以下載我們最新的作品,自己體會一番:(記得把遊戲加至願望清單哦~)

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