First, the hook…

A brief digression on story hooks.

There’s this thing Fallout does–all four RPGs, I mean.  I can’t speak to Tactics.  You start out with an important goal, and once you’ve done it, the elements of the world you were travelling through coalesce and you have the second bigger goal.  (You find the water chip, but the important thing is now to deal with the Master. You find get the GECK for your village, but the important thing is now to deal with the Enclave. You find out who shot you and why, but the important thing is now the second Battle of Hoover Dam and the ultimate fate of New Vegas.)

What’s important, I think, is that the first goal is not irrelevant; you do not fail at it, you never discover it didn’t matter.  But the process of achieving it results in you learning about the world, and gives you a chance to care about the second goal.  It’s interesting; and as far as I can tell, it’s fairly unique in video games.  I mean, I need to play more of them, but…

I’m not sure the technique would work as well in written stories or movies; the involvement is a bit more distant.  Still, possibly bits of it are adaptable.  Will keep an eye out for examples.

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11 thoughts on “First, the hook…”

  1. Tactics does follow that kind of pattern. You start out trying to grow the Brotherhood and solve some problems only to find that OMG ROBOTS!

    I agree, it is a good structure. A manageable quest to get you involved, a wide world to explore, and a galvanizing goal in the end.

    Also, ❤ Fallout.

        1. I’ve got them on Steam, and I completely understand. 😀 Have you checked out either of the new games–3 or New Vegas?

          (P.S.: sequel to Wasteland is in the works; the one that predated Fallout)

      1. I am, as they say, obsessed for the post-apocalyptic genre. 🙂 I’ve played the Fallout games more than any man has any reasonable right to admit. I love them. Secretly (not any more?) I started collecting retro lunchboxes and posters to build myself a little Fallout-shrine above my gaming computer.

        Regarding your query, yes, I’ve played Fallout 3 and NV. They’re favorites in my collection. 🙂 I loved the world of NV, but there were just a few gripes I had with it. Some of the DLCs just….weren’t up to snuff in NV. I loved 3 a lot though, and it felt like more of a realistic world. NV got a little too outlandish for me at times.

        If you’re interested in the genre, I’m starting a series of articles about post-apocalyptic literature and Fallout-themed stuff on my blog. I’d welcome your input! 🙂

        http://www.respectthebeard.com

    1. (Damn, apparently I can’t reply to your most recent comments–does WordPress not allow nesting after a certain point?) Would love to take a look–may be slow to comment this week, though, as we’re wrapping a project up at work.

      Haven’t done the DLC for 3 yet, so can’t comment on the outlandishness of it vs. NV; I am looking forward to seeing how Mothership Zeta compares to the Big MT. The Sierra Madre’s my favourite, though; I have a weakness for haunted house stories (which are, I will note, subtly different than stories about a house with a ghost in them).

      Best!

      1. Mothership Zeta was a lil goofy. I can’t deny that. The two DLCs that really rang my bell in NV was the one in the old hotel on the mountain, and the one with the scientist/brain bots. (I don’t remember what they were called, sorry.) I LOVED those. The other DLCs though… not so much. The one in the desert with the tribals was especially bad, I thought.

        All the ones for F3 all had verve. They either advanced the plot or offered a completely different type of experience that was always engaging. I liked them.

    2. …I really do not quite follow this “commenting” thing on WP, I confess. Grump.

      Those were “Dead Money”, with the Sierra Madre Casino (my favourite), and “Old World Blues”, with Big Mountain (or the Big MT). I found “Honest Hearts” (the one in the desert that you mention) to be the shortest and least engaging, but the Survivalist’s journals were pretty affecting.

      Interested, now, though, because one thing all of them *did* do was provide a different experience. The Sierra Madre was a haunted house story, descended in a pretty straight line from /Hell House/ and /The Shining/. Old World Blues was pure 50s schlock sci-fi–migod, it’s a Fallout story in which *there is no villain*, just a misunderstanding. Honest Hearts is a creation myth, a leaving-the-Garden story; pretty much what’s happening with the zombies in /Land of the Dead/, in fact, to bounce off another reference. And /Lonesome Road/ is a war story. I wasn’t a *fan* of it–I found it designed in a way that I found made it actually mildly unpleasant to play–but I can spot the genre.

      Curious now because you said the F3 DLCs offered a different type of experience; did you find the NV DLCs didn’t, despite their genres?

      1. I can see that the NV dlcs did have a changing threads of storytelling, but I just found the F3 dlcs to just be plain more engaging. A lot of the NV dlc just felt like it was wasting my time in a lot of ways. Run here, run back, run here, get that. Shoot those guys. And while I understand that’s kind of the genre, I liked the F3 dlc because I think the storyline accompanying it was more engaging. The simulator dlc gave me a lot of the history concerning the war, the iron-works one put me at the head of a slave revolt, the alien one…well, that was weird, but I felt like it “fit.” It was old-school scifi, like the Fallout series is replicating. I guess my reasons are silly sounding when written out, but I just preferred the narrative and the way things played out in F3 better. 🙂

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