Monday, 22 August 2011

A Story of Your Own

Edward Neville was a fairly detestable creature to gaze upon. Not a conventionally ugly man, just disproportionate, meek, the sort of man who appeared he would crumble from the force of a bus driving too close. In the darkness Edward's thoughts quickly turned to his mother and father, a strange mix of love and resentment washed over him, they after all had gotten him into this mess. Edward's father was a Russian, a postman by trade, he had met his English mother whilst she was visiting Moscow. An inspiring love story but one Edward had heard too many times before, and had no wish of unnecessarily recanting in a time of such horror. For Edward was on a mission, the year was 2033 and the Moscow Metro beckoned.

Hope you like rusting tubes.
Just to clarify, no, this post is not a piece of limp-wristed fan fiction. This was the character I decided to guide through the underground depths of Metro 2033. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Artyom and his struggle against the Dark Ones, rather that when I played Metro 2033 it was in short bursts, often weeks apart. Couple this with the fact that the environments, though immersive, are often very repetitive and it soon becomes difficult to know just whats going on and why Artyom puts up with all this shit. Thus, Edward Neville was born, as was a new hobby of crafting my own stories into a linear game.

Far more interesting than a 'Dark-Elf theif'
Granted this is hardly a new practice, role-playing has been a key ingredient in video games since their inception. Take for instance an open-world RPG like Oblivion or Fallout, your main story arc may be as linear as any FPS but the expansive setting allows for hours of role-playing. No more so is this demonstrated as it is in the character creation stage. You form your character from the ground up, instilling in them virtues that you personally crafted. They are the blank canvas that you imprint yourself onto throughout your journey, and they are forever your character.

However, a linear game focusing more on narrative very rarely gives you this option. The characters involved, their motivations, their actions, are not yours, you're merely enjoying the ride. When done well this can be story-telling at it's finest (*cough cough* Bioshock), but when executed poorly a game can quickly become a chore. This was the stage Edward Neville came into being, I'd long forgotten why I was in the Metro, but enjoyed the game mechanics enough to keep playing. Edward and his neurosis, mysterious package, and love for fine vodka, gave me a reason to once again become emotionally invested. For that reason, to everyone with an Edward of their own out there, or anyone thinking of inventing one, good luck.

Edward Neville never made it past the amoebas.     

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