Tom Chick's top ten games of 2021

At first, I really hated those JRPG avatars popping up in my For Serious Socio-Economic Culturally Specific Simulator. But their enthusiasm is infectious, especially that conductor, who really cranks it up to 11. I’ve come to really like those goofy characters when they pop up to tell me something.

They sure beat that godawful Twitter bird from Cities: Skylines!


Absolutely (I might contend tone and mood might not belong to the story, but the others do) but same as plot is part of story, story is a part of a narrative, where other elements (medium, storytelling, craft, etc… and I think tone and mood belong to this level) come also into play.

For example, plot is one of the elements of a narrative I tend to care less about in general (except when it’s a very strong component).

To me, the elephant in the room of the emergent storytelling vs. authored content discussion is that games are usually not very good at authored content. Or at least the ones that tell their stories through cutscenes, which is a hell of a lot of them. The filmmaking standard of cut scenes is just not very good yet.

The worst example to me is It Takes Two, which was an amazing game, but the cutscenes, yikes. That talking book with the indeterminate accent? For goodness sakes.

I mostly DM, when I play TTRPGs. But for me, TTRPGs are collaborative storytelling and it is impossible to collaborate with mechanical systems. It requires other human beings to co-author the story with me.

My problem with this is that I have never played a game where those emergent events string together to form a coherent whole. They’re single moments, however cool, and as Juan says they’re generally in a sea of other moments that aren’t as cool and do not form things like narrative arcs and ongoing, consistent characterization. In fact for me they’re generally most notable (and enjoyable) when they’re wildly dissonant.

Amen. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. Most game cutscenes are boring and reiterative. I think part of it is that many times they don’t hire trained audiovisual storytellers, and part of it is that jump cut between different scenes is technically challenging with real time engines due to loading times.

To me these are two different things. Even if games have not tended to do authored storytelling well (I think they do better than people traditionally like to credit, but sure, there’s a lot of bad game storytelling out there), that doesn’t make emergent narrative preferable or competitive with authored narrative for me. It just means I’d like them to make more effort to do authored narrative well.

Right? I feel like if authored narrative was what I really wanted out of games I’d have given up on the whole damn medium by now.

You should try having worse, more childish and simplistic taste in authored narratives, my dude! It’s been working out great for me.

* She Ra and the Princesses of Power is in fact the greatest and most satisfying (S5 finale spoiler) love story ever told, yo!

This is interesting in that it seems to be getting at how I view the world; the world is not authored. Perhaps because of this I find media that is heavy on narrative devices feels stilted and unnatural.

I was pretty keen on A-train, but bounced off the Switch demo due to the poor performance. I didn’t even realise it landed on PC! And I have some Christmas Steam bucks sitting there unused, hmmm…

I find it soooo much more manageable on the PC. I put a fair bit of time into the Switch version earlier this year and I thought it worked fine, interface-wise. But once I played the PC version, I never looked back.


“3D” like this?

I have only played Wildermyth of this list, and it is well done but I am usually deciding that I am finished with a campaign well before it’s over.

Do you mean mouse/keys over controller? I still plan to play with a controller, in fact it’s one of the attractions, that I can play a game like this on the couch. :)

4 posts were merged into an existing topic: [Review] Midnight Protocol hacks into the sweet spot between storytelling and strategy

There are plenty of options on the Switch to tune your experience.
The game’s controls are not the best, but having it in a portable console is pretty mindblowing :O

I did play with all the options but even with everything off/minimum it wasn’t great. I’m really picky about smooth scrolling, and it was just too stuttery for me. I appreciate the portable aspect but I’m 90% a docked player anyway. :)

Even having any graphics options at all on a single-sku console like Switch was bizarre. Typically Switch games are tuned to just work out of the box.

I certainly agree that great stories can emerge from all sorts of games – not just board and video games, but also athletic games, like organized sports. Unscripted drama is often better than scripted drama because the story and ending are unknown to everyone, including the “authors.” I’ve been so invested in tense World Series games that I can’t bear to watch. That’s never true of sports fiction, and rarely true of any film (except horror). Even tonight, watching the Washington Capitals play the Islanders in a low-stakes regular-season game, I pumped my fist with joy when the Caps secured the win with seconds left. Sure, great fiction can elicit powerful emotions, but games have a spring-loaded tension that is unique to the genre.

I’ve played (and enjoyed) 3 of the games on Tom’s list: Old World, Slipways, and Remnants. Now I’m adding 3 others to my Steam wishlist: Midnight Protocol, A-Train, and especially Wildermyth. None is on sale now. I suppose I should learn more about how Humble Bundle works. It looks like a nice way to support charity.

Performance also improved with patches. But probably not to the point of your dang steady 60fps you love so much!

Still a fun conversation! But I strenuously object to any notion that I need to choose between the two types of narratives. (Not that anyone is making me choose… I just wanted to strenuously object.)

Hey, I can handle 30 as long as it’s consistent and not stuttering all over the place. But man, I am enjoying playing Monster Hunter Rise again at 120! ;)