Author Topic: First person narrative  (Read 12064 times)

NON

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First person narrative
« on: December 10, 2013, 03:11:03 PM »
Hello,
I'd like to hear your opinions on first person vs second person perspective in log messages.

For more than a year now, the narrative in Infra Arcana has been in first person - "I hear a growling voice!(NE)". The idea was that this would increase immersion, by putting you in the main character's perspective.

However I've started to doubt it. It feels weird that the player character is talking to the player about himself. For some reason it's easier for me to accept that the game is talking to the player (second person perspective).

Also, second person has more "classic" roguelike feeling, which is a strong argument for me.

What do you think of this?

If you play Infra Arcana, would you be upset if I changed to second person perspective? :P

Edit: I mean "second person perspective", not "third" - thanks George.


The topic was briefly discussed in some episode of Roguelike radio, I think it was this one:
http://www.roguelikeradio.com/2012/02/episode-24-themes-and-settings.html
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 04:37:21 PM by NON »
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george

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 04:25:20 PM »
Just a quick question, do you mean third person ("Gar hears a sound!") or second person ("You hear a sound!)?


NON

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 04:30:00 PM »
Oh, yeah I suppose it should be second person! :-[

I mean "You hear a sound!"

Thanks.

« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 04:31:50 PM by NON »
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george

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 04:54:46 PM »
I read an interesting thing once that said second-person in RPGs is actually first-person as we understand it in graphical games. It said,

Quote
We can conclude that the “first person camera” as it is discussed in games studies and the “second person narration” of RPGs and IF are not in fact two categories, but rather two perspectives on the same category of simulated immediacy. This immediacy is distinct from the more mediated “first person narration,” which creates much the same distancing effect as a “third person camera.” It does this in much the same way, by introducing a separate self into the frame.

Vanguard

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 06:06:36 PM »
The first person narration is cool.  It's like I'm reading my character's journal.  Hearing the protagonist tell you about their descent into madness and death in a completely dispassionate tone feels off in a good way.

NON

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 06:17:37 PM »
Quote
[...]distancing effect [...] by introducing a separate self into the frame.
This is interesting! I understand exactly what they mean!

The first person narrative, which was supposed to increase immediacy, actually distance you from the events. This is totally unintuitive, but it's true! Instead of just the game and the player, there is a third entity - the character - who, because of this form of narrative - is clearly something different from the player. It was supposed to make the player feel more "in the character's shoes", but it does the opposite.

With regular second person narrative, YOU "hear something from the north", YOU "are confused", YOU *are* the character.

Quote
The first person narration is cool.  It's like I'm reading my character's journal.
Yeah this is a benefit of this form - the narrative becomes journal-like, which is cool. But I'm thinking the benefits of second person narrative outweigh this...
Happy is the tomb where no wizard hath lain and happy the town at night whose wizards are all ashes.

Paul Jeffries

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2013, 11:41:54 PM »
The first person narration in IA is one of the things I really like about the game - it's pretty unique and feels very lovecraftian.  The idea that it makes the character a separate entity from the player is not something that particularly bothers me any more than it bothers me that the 'ugh's or 'hyaaah!'s of Link (or any other videogame protagonist) are not in my own voice, so I think the argument that it reduces immediacy is over-egged - in my mind it all falls well within the reasonable bounds of suspension of disbelief.

With second-person narration you are effectively still introducing another character - some all-knowing narrator.  In more Dungeons-&-Dragons-based games that is quite thematically appropriate (i.e. it's the voice of the Dungeon Master), but for a horror game like IA an additional benefit of FPN is that it increases the sense of loneliness and isolation by removing that explicitly external presence (though certainly you could alternatively add tension by having it be an overtly maelevolant presence - a narrator that obviously wanted you to fail would be pretty cool, though not something I would recommend for IA).

In short; I think you should keep the first-person style.  Indeed it seems entirely appropriate to me to model character, narration and player as id, ego and super-ego respectively - three aspects of the same being.
« Last Edit: December 10, 2013, 11:46:03 PM by Paul Jeffries »

Vanguard

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 03:30:13 AM »
Too many games get caught up in the importance of making me feel like I am my character imo.  The benefits aren't as strong as you'd think, and they impose unnecessary limitations on what you can do.

Samildanach

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #8 on: December 17, 2013, 01:58:37 PM »
Quote
[...]distancing effect [...] by introducing a separate self into the frame.
This is interesting! I understand exactly what they mean!

The first person narrative, which was supposed to increase immediacy, actually distance you from the events. This is totally unintuitive, but it's true! Instead of just the game and the player, there is a third entity - the character - who, because of this form of narrative - is clearly something different from the player. It was supposed to make the player feel more "in the character's shoes", but it does the opposite.

With regular second person narrative, YOU "hear something from the north", YOU "are confused", YOU *are* the character.

Yes, the first person entries in Morrowind's journal made me a bit uneasy. It was all "I think he might be hiding something" etc which was fine except that I didn't necessarily think he was hiding something. Either the player 'is' the character or not; first person camera with first person narrative actually feels pretty weird.

Back to Infra Arcana though. I honestly haven't noticed it being first person, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it. It's clear that you're controlling a character, so I don't think having the character address the player is inferior to having the game itself do so. In a way it adds a little charm to the game - the first person narration feels more Lovecraftian/Eternal Darknessy.

zasvid

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2013, 05:29:12 PM »
I also haven't noticed the narration being in 1st person, which probably signifies that it works - if it was somehow inferior to second person, it probably would've been jarring to at least a significant minority of players.

I also agree that now that you've pointed it out, it fits the theme.

NON

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 08:28:55 AM »
Alright, 1st person stays for theming reasons (journal-like narrative).
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Darren Grey

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Re: First person narrative
« Reply #11 on: December 18, 2013, 10:03:59 AM »
I used first person narrative in Broken Bottle and I thought it worked pretty well for that. I think you can do more things in first person that you can't get away with in second person. "You feel afraid" just doesn't work for instance. "I feel afraid" is an interesting story, on the other hand. This results in a different dynamic from trying to make the player feel like they're in the character's shoes. Instead you give them a character, let the character tell a story, and then the player will empathise with the character and worry for their well-being.

The first person in particular works well for the Lovecraft setting, and it's one of the things I really like in Infra Arcana. I think you could play with it more, expositing emotions and memories that would sound silly in second person.