Listener Homework: Lore vs Story - Best ofs?
  • So I was debating in IRC earlier today about the Top Ten Stories in games, and what had an excellent story, and how to make sure you differentiate between world lore and story. So, my question to the rest of you...what's some of the best lore in a gaming world you've ever experienced? Which games have come across with some of the best stories in the world? Most of them don't intersect - a game with excellent and deep lore may not have wonderful stories. So, some of yours?

    One of the best actual STORIES for me was Silent Hill 1. It was deep, when you look into the story, and see exactly how things played out. It was a fresh idea, masterfully done, and just an incredible overall story. Silent Hill 2 and 3 were also very good, but the first one had levels of depth in there that were not easily seen in a casual playthrough.

    A story that was a great game, but a poor story, in my eyes, is Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit. Excellent presentation and game mechanics, but the story itself really fell apart later. Still, a wonderful game - but the story was very flaky.

    As far as lore is concerned, anything involving the Warhammer 40,000 universe has ridiculous lore attached to it - also, the Warcraft world is also quickly gaining a TON of steam. I dig em!

    So let's talk about yours. Post em up here, and back em up. You might just get a coveted A+ grade (a noobie!)
  • What a novel idea! Nice job sir.

    When I think Lore, I think Elder Scrolls. The game set up its own planets, continents, races, relegion, geography, politics, history and more. More noteably is that almost all, if not all, of the lore is found in games themselves.

    So within about 7 games, along with expansions, you find the entirety of the plannet Nirn. The lore and history of the planet is found through characters, stories, quests, and then a massive library of books that appear throughout every game.

    I could go on and on about this.

    When I think LORE, I think Elder Scrolls.

    Storylines to me seem to be more focused on games, and the story very rarely leaves the game, except in the case of sequels. (Ex: We don't hear about Darth Vader in Star Wars: KOTOR, yet we do know that the Star Wars Lore is connected in that universe (planets, etc).

    There are a lot of games with good stories, and to me, there are many many ways to relay that story.

    Some examples would be Halo 1. It seems like a shoot'em up type of game, but when you look at the story, you see a stranded soldier fighting through a world of murderous killing looking for answers about the mysterious place he landed upon, only to find that this place is an ancient weapon,

    (Sounds pretty dramatic now, huh?)

    Despite it sounding cheesy, I liked the StarCraft story. It entails betrayal of an Emperor, the falling of a once-pround ranger (Raynor), the creation of a dark leader (Kerrigan), a planet in ruin after a terrible invasion (Aiur), an outcast's sacrafice (Tassadar), the end of old traditions and new alliances formed (the Dark Templar), and who the hell is Samir Duran anyway?

    Sure, some will say that RTS games don't have good stories, but hell, I am looking forward to see what StarCraft 2 has. We know Raynor will be there, but what about Kerrigan...and who the hell is Samir Duran anyway!? Seriously, what's going on with that guy!?


    Now for something aside to Lore or Story.

    Ever think about the story or lore behind Sonic the Hedgehog 2, or Super Mario World? There was no in-game content that started a story. In SMW, Yoshi gives you a brief paragraph about being in the egg, and then you're off to jumping on bad guys heads. Then think about recent games, like Gears of War? The first grouping of levels ends with the death of some pretty important characters and a dramatic cut scene. How do Sonic 2 levels end? A gate...wow.

    I think in the industry we live in now, games are becoming more than just games, they are becoming entertainment. That's why we have games with such interesting stories. Back in the day, if we wanted a good story, we watched TV or read a book, but nowadays, you can play Halo and be shocked at the deception of 343 Guilty Spark, and feel the anguish at the dramatic fate of Captain Keyes.

    It's in my opinions that the gaming industry has gone from a just gaming to full fledged entertainment, which isn't a bad thing either...All I need now is for my Wii to feed me and help me use the toilet and I wont ever need to leave.

    I will be revisiting this topic for sure. This is a good idea to discuss, Mr. Sunflower.
  • The Great Conflict, the Sin War....

    Duriel, Andarial, Belial, Azmodan....

    Mephisto, Baal, Diablo....

    The Diablo franchise is the king of lore in my book. Timelines and power strugles, good versus evil, life or death, heaven or hell. These games tell a story held up on lore that echoes the very core of human nature and beliefs. Good versus evil.

    The most common theme in literature is, (surprise) good versus evil. Two types are external struggles and internal struggles. From start to finish, the Diablo series explores both routes, and does a damn fine job of doing it.

    Diablo just doesn't stop at lore. It gets started at lore. The story carries it home. Play through the game. Talk to every NPC after every quest. The great lore that this game has extends, connects, and weaves itself into the story.

    Here is a great post that contains some of the Diablo lore.
    http://www.diablofans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1910

    Also a bit off topic, if you enjoy the Diablo lore and story I would reccomend the HBO animated series Spawn. Similar concept of Heaven vs Hell, with an American anime style. One of my all time favorite series even though it was cut short and the story never finishes.
  • Metroid games usually have a huge lore. I mean monsters, planets, weapons, vehicles, history and more. I love those games.
  • cooleo1208 said:
    Metroid games usually have a huge lore. I mean monsters, planets, weapons, vehicles, history and more. I love those games.


    On that note, I agree - scanning in Prime games was key for this - a lot of very good stuff to read and see about. I loved it~!
  • I would have to agree with sunflower, while there arent a lot of warhammer 40k games, the lore that games-workshop (the company that makes the model figures) put into their world..from each faction such as space marines, chaos space marines, eldar, tyranids, necrons, tau, etc. is so detailed.
    For fans of the table top game, they have like, 100pg books for each faction just on their history, the different legions of the faction, their enemies, etc. The 40k lore is so mallable as well, since players can make their own fiction for their armies.

    But I disagree with Sunflower in the regards of Warcraft lore...it really seems like are doing w/e they want to add on to the story of the game (and they can, since they are the creators)...Making blood elves part of the horde, making a eredar demon race part of the alliance...
    While they can make excuses and justify why these things happen, it just feels out of place.

    What I think has potential is the Bioshock world. I think they can add a lot of cool stuff, prequels, the rise of andrew ryan, and the rise of our character Jack, and why he is...ya know.
  • Metroid Prime 1 is nothing but lore. Metroid Prime 3, not so much.
  • It's probably obvious to go on about Final Fantasy in this sort of thing, but FF 10 was strong on both fronts, I thought. The story overall was one of the more compelling ones from the last few games

    [spoiler:38aaacdb0d]young man, struggling to save the woman he thinks he may be falling in love with, knowing that doing so will kill him. Coming to terms with the rejection of his father and the death of his mentor[/spoiler:38aaacdb0d]

    ...And the lore was rich enough to make the 'world' live for me.

    [spoiler:38aaacdb0d]Espers + Summons. Yevon. Thousand year wars. A whole world terrorised by an unstoppable monster for generations...[/spoiler:38aaacdb0d]
  • Lore t me is backstory that doesn't pertain to your characters story in anyway. Warcraft is filed with it. So as far as lore goes I would say that is pretty much the bar currently.

    Story? FF7. I know it's cheesey just to mention it, but really the story was great and [spoiler:96cf000196]Aeris dying was a nice plot twist that hasn't been pulled of since. Really, the nerve of developers to kill of the healer![/spoiler:96cf000196] Not sure if I need the spoiler it was nearly 15 years ago.

    Also, Chronotrigger was a good story that meshed real well with the illusion of time travel. such an excellent title, and unlike FF7, it doesn't get nearly as much fan service as it deserves.
  • Lore: The Neverhood. Nuff said really.

    Story: Final Fantasy X

    [spoiler:774fe4e496]
    And not the story Littleg put up, the whole "Kids father who was a dream being dreamt by the "god" was sucked out of the dream world, became the final aeon, destroyed the previous final aeon, then was possessed by Yu Yevon who makes him evil and destroying the world, so the kids father sucks him out of the dreaming to kill Yu Yevon, even though he doesn't know this and realises that if he kills Yu Yevon he will cease to exist and not be able to be with Yuna who he fell in love with, but does it anyway.

    That last scene, on the airship where Yuna goes to hug Tidus but falls through him, one of the saddest moments in gaming history.[/spoiler:774fe4e496]
  • Tsuyoi said:
    Lore: The Neverhood. Nuff said really.

    Story: Final Fantasy X

    [spoiler:537ab71495]
    And not the story Littleg put up, the whole "Kids father who was a dream being dreamt by the "god" was sucked out of the dream world, became the final aeon, destroyed the previous final aeon, then was possessed by Yu Yevon who makes him evil and destroying the world, so the kids father sucks him out of the dreaming to kill Yu Yevon, even though he doesn't know this and realises that if he kills Yu Yevon he will cease to exist and not be able to be with Yuna who he fell in love with, but does it anyway.

    That last scene, on the airship where Yuna goes to hug Tidus but falls through him, one of the saddest moments in gaming history.[/spoiler:537ab71495]


    Yeah, you said it better than me.
  • In terms of Lore I have to move to the tabletop and suggest Dungeons & Dragons. Sure, it's had some rocky times (and I don't quite yet know what to feel about 4th edition--I've always been an AD&D 2ed kinda guy), but overall you have a game engine which has been refined, redrawn, and expanded for over 30 years. Further, though it draws heavily on Welsh and Celtic Lore, with a liberal helping of Greek Mythology and Tolkien, it has also spawned some of the most well known realms and characters to date. That is, it has very, very deep pockets.

    Neglecting to reach back that far in light of more electronic efforts, I really enjoyed the Xenosaga trilogy ( and it's predecessor Xenogears --which is one of my all time favorite games, even hearkening so some of the best SciFi films/books of all time--Soylent Green anyone?). Despite the inherent flaws in its execution, and the failure of it's production team/company, it casts a world that is both vibrant and intellectually derivative. Not only do I feel it had an exquisite depth of Lore, it's story, IMHO, is absolutely brilliant. Drawing on Milton's Paradise Lost, The Bible, Beyond Good and Evil & Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Frederic Nietzsche, Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, and just about everything by Hegel, Goethe, Marx, with a dash of Foucault and Lacan, the story is a space opera that is so pretentious and self aware that it either borders on intellectual snobbery or melodrama--exactly what I like in a game. Further, though the script is wooden at times, the game play lacks something to be desired, one needs an encyclopedia/literature reference dictionary to catch all of the embedded allusions, and it has received vast stores of bad press, despite the apparent convoluted nature of the story, it reeks of depth and intrigue and stands, from this players point of view, as one of the best stories to either be cast aside or overlooked.

    Apart from that, I would have to say:
    Final Fantasy Tactics: angst, childhood friends, betrayal, death--need I say more.
    The Legend of Zelda: most notably The Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker
    And I agree:
    FF7 and Metroid were brilliant: I want Samus, and I love to hate Sephiroth
  • To break it down properly....hmmm....


    Lore:

    Yar's Revenge - Broken down between a comic, the manual, and a record put out later the depth of the galactic war between the Yar Flies and the Quotile was much deeper than you might think. Obviously not a lot of in-game story telling. :D

    Zelda - The fun of playing a Zelda game for me is not the story. In fact game-wise there is usually a BIG set up and then you basically spend the rest of the game getting from point A to point B, rinse and repeat. So I'd say Zelda games are ALL Lore and light story.

    Doom/Quake - Let's be honest they have a cool very solid universe full ofhistory and lore, but no one really gives a flying turd. All you really want to do is kill stuff. Doom 3 best represents to me why the story just didn't matter. :D



    STORY

    Parasite Eve - A game I played through for hours just because I wanted to see how it played out and ended. It was an amazing game and really was all about the story.

    Infocom/Lucas Arts/Sierra Adventure Games - Written by real writers who's urpose is to tell an excellent story in the boundaries of a fun game. The adventure game is sadly and quickly becoming a lost genre and we are loosing some truly great story telling in gaming in the bargain.

    Donkey Kong - The first real attempt to tell a story in Video Game has to mentioned. The whole existence of the game is based on the fact that Myamoto wanted to do more than just blast space ships. He envisioned a time when games could tell stories and created the very first one, simple as it was.

    GREAT TOPIC!

    -Ray
  • What a great topic!

    I'm so torn with all of these great suggestions. 40k, metroid, zelda, elder scrolls. I think probably half life2 fills both story and lore rolls well. The whole backstory of the mysterious gman (seeing him just off in the distance in some parts), the vortigaunts, the combine. I can't wait for episode 3 to come out after that horrible plot hang in episode 2!! (by horrible I mean it really drew me in before telling me the game was over 2 minutes later).

    Other games:
    Fallout
    FF12
    Deux Ex
    KOTOR
  • pocketmego said:
    Parasite Eve - A game I played through for hours just because I wanted to see how it played out and ended. It was an amazing game and really was all about the story.


    It played like a movie. I loved this one as well as it is on my top 5 PS1 games list.

    Great story choice.
  • For Lore I'd have to say a warhammer 40k game as well. They have origin stories, rebellions, battles, betrayals, everything you could ever want in a story. I've never read the books, but some of the stories in the army books are just amazing. I once read one about a space marine who dreams of Khorne and killing. For those of you not associated with 40k, Khorne is an evil god, and space marines aren't supposed to dream at all. Also, the introduction video for the original Dawn of War game was spectacular. I was teary by the end of that clip. A story of herosim, honour, comradery all told in 40 seconds. Loved it.

    I just think it's so deep.

    For story i'm having trouble...i truly loved GTA IV's story but it isn't really as epic as some others. I loved Gears of War's story too! Grr i can't choose. I was screaming at the TV when[spoiler:9ee53013b8]Carmine was sniped[/spoiler:9ee53013b8]
    I'll probably be back to this story at some point
  • In terms of lore I'd have to suggest Grim Fandango, not only for its complete originality, but also for its ability to keep me thoroughly immersed throughout the entirety of the game. I consider it a testament to the talents of Tim Schafer and LucasArts that I can play this game time and time again and still be embroiled in its story and characters without experiencing any sort of compromise, graphical or otherwise - even after the 11 years or so since its initial release.

    I would be tempted to say that GF's story is deserving of equal praise to its lore, but to be honest, Manny's adventure is what I would only consider to be a fairly standard Good vs. Evil affair. However, to answer Sunflower4000's question, I'm inclined to agree that many games suffer from lore that does not live up to story, and vice-versa. But in GF's case, the story is infused to such a great extent with the game's lore, that at no point do I feel any lack of integration or sense of detachment from the plot, and that is part of what makes it such a fantastic game.

    Ultimately, the success of any story is greatly influenced by the lore that surrounds it, and I think you'd be hard-pressed to find many otherwise great games with abysmally awful stories :D .
  • Prof. Sunflower has proposed that story and lore, as a ven diagram, are either mutually exclusive, or at least have a very small overlapping area. I am of the opinion that since the two are related, they can not be mutually exclusive. In order to determine what diagram correctly shows the relationship of the two, I'll look at the four possible cases.

    1. Good Lore, Good Story. This is the easiest case for me. Final Fantasy X comes to mind. The story is about this group of characters moving towards a goal of defeating Sin. The Lore explains why they are on this journey, both the group goals, and individual motivations. At the same time the story, the characters is why we care about the lore. Without the story, the lore is just an interesting scenery. Without the lore, the story is just another group of heroes attempting to defeat evil.

    2. Good Lore, Bad Story: This is the second easiest case in my opinion. In these, the story is very flat: good guy attempts to defeat bad guy, with a plot twist somewhere 3/4 the way through. To me, games like Zelda fits well here. The story is always the same, but you keep playing because you're intrigued by this world and how this world differs from the other worlds that you've played in by the same name. Metroid Prime also fits well here. Your story in metroid is to discover the lore.

    3. Bad Lore, Bad Story: This category has a flat story and a simple world in which that story lives. Mario seems a good candidate. Gameplay is the reason to play the game. Every game has the same princess, the same little toad men and turtle bad guys. Every time the story is bad guy kidnaps helpless princess and hero plumber with incredible jumping abilities saves the day. Lore and story exist, but only just enough to give you a goal to strive towards.

    4. Bad Lore, Good Story: This is the category myself, as well as every other post i've read are having troubles finding examples. So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it doesn't exist. Good stories create and are founded on good lore. Its tough to have a story without a backstory and a setting. Even if the lore isn't spelled out for you, its hinted at by the scenery and characters and your imagination fills it in as needed.

    My conclusion is then that the correct diagram is that the story circle is completely inside the lore circle. In that way, Prof. Sunflower is 1/2 right. When you think of great lore, you might not think of a great story since, in order for the lore to outshine the story, the story must be very flat, like in Metroid, Zelda, or Sun's example of WoW. However, when there is a good story, it is built on good lore, which may fade to the background. We remember stories like from FF7 but the lore of the planet underpins all of that story. We don't always give credit to good lore in story games because lore is, sometimes unseen and undercelebrated foundation of an excellent story.
  • Taeryn said:
    4. Bad Lore, Good Story: This is the category myself, as well as every other post i've read are having troubles finding examples. So, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it doesn't exist. Good stories create and are founded on good lore. Its tough to have a story without a backstory and a setting. Even if the lore isn't spelled out for you, its hinted at by the scenery and characters and your imagination fills it in as needed.

    My conclusion is then that the correct diagram is that the story circle is completely inside the lore circle. In that way, Prof. Sunflower is 1/2 right. When you think of great lore, you might not think of a great story since, in order for the lore to outshine the story, the story must be very flat, like in Metroid, Zelda, or Sun's example of WoW. However, when there is a good story, it is built on good lore, which may fade to the background. We remember stories like from FF7 but the lore of the planet underpins all of that story. We don't always give credit to good lore in story games because lore is, sometimes unseen and undercelebrated foundation of an excellent story.


    Great post. I'd say though, that while the lore of FF7 is by no means bad, I would've liked more. I love it when games hint at a complete and living world with a complex history in the way that, say, Robert Jordan's books do (Tolkein does this as well, but he didn't hint about the history, he just wrote it in a separate book). With FF7 I remember feeling like I wanted to know more about who the ancients were etc., it was a very long time ago that I played it, admittedly.

    As storage media for games get bigger and bigger, they can fit in more and more backstory through added dialogue and locales - remember the days when all you got for lore was the intro sequence which said 'Once upon a time there were some bad doods and stuff happened. Now go and kill some monsters'?
  • It's funny, the first thing I thought of when I read this was Final Fantasy 7 or 10 would fit in both categories for me. But when I considered it for a few minutes i realised that i can put them down only for story, Final Fantasy rarely has any more in the way of lore than is strictly necessary for their stories to develop (completely kickass stories I might add). But Square don't actually build worlds, the history of ff7's actual world is surprisingly basic when you consider how convoluted the story is, and ffX is similar. You have al these different countries that mostly speak the same language, and political\religious relationships between nations and races are rarely more complicated than ally or enemy.

    To summarize my own confusion then, final fantasy, story yes, lore, not so much.

    For lore I think i'm going to have to go with Mass Effect, I really liked where the story went with the origins of the protheans and the other space faring races, and i liked how the histories of the different races connects. Of course, i might change my mind if they don't fill in the remaining gaps in the sequel...

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