Butterfly Effect  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Butterfly Effect  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Why "Butterfly Effect" Games are Bullshit https://www.gameskinny.com/a58oi/why-butterfly-effect-games-are-bullshit https://www.gameskinny.com/a58oi/why-butterfly-effect-games-are-bullshit Mon, 08 Aug 2016 13:27:31 -0400 Donald Strohman

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Limited Replayability 

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If you're going to shell out $60 for a brand new game, you'd want to at least get your money's worth out of it's experience right? Well, despite providing some of the most captivating narratives offered in gaming today, you might still not be getting your money's worth.

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Heavy Rain's biggest problem was its limited replayability. No matter what decisions you made, no matter who lived and who died, the villain always stayed the same. Once you've played through the game once, there won't be as much of an appeal to go through the campaign all over again, especially since the mystery behind hunting for the "Origami Killer" will be long gone. And considering that's the entire point of this butterfly effect title, all you're left to do is to see how you can kill off your characters for fun.

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Once you've gotten that ending you were so desperately after, the appeal of "Choose your own adventure" games immediately wares off. Sure, you can pop in the game again and see what you could have done differently, but since it's essentially an interactive movie, things are still going to play out mostly the same. The majority of stories in games go from beginning to end, but they break up those moments with gameplay sections that give freedom to the player to play the game the way they want to. Butterfly effect games don't really do that.

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However, despite the limitations of butterfly effect games, I would love to see more pop up in the near future, so long as developers don't stick to a routine, and actually try to revolutionize the field with age. What once started out as unique and spectacular has slowly devolved into a gimmick thrown about to make it appear that the player is in control, when it's really just the developer jingling keys in front of your face for a few hours. 

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How do you feel about butterfly effect games? How do you think they can be improved in the near future? Be sure to comment and let us know your thoughts!

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There are choices you still can't make

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As mentioned before, endless possibilities aren't realistic for butterfly effect games, but the player should still be given some semblance of control in how they want a narrative to span out. And while Fallout 4 wasn't exactly like fellow butterfly effect titles, it still gave players the option to make choices that would effect the game's ending. At least, a select few options anyway...

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You, as the vault dweller, eventually had to choose a faction to side with. Whether that was the Railroad, The Institute, The Brotherhood of Steel or something else was entirely up to you, but for the sake of context in this argument,I will mention that I chose the Railroad. The final campaign mission involved us liberating synthetic slaves from the wasteland's Institute, which I thought was great. It brought up a valid question of "if a robotic life can think, act, and feel things for itself, does that constitute an individual life?" The Institute said no, but the Railroad said yes. So I was up and ready to take arms and liberate the slaves from their prison!

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However, my problem was when the Railroad suddenly decided to blow up the Institute and effectively kill everyone who happened to be living in it that wasn't a robot. I wanted to choose not to do that, but by that point, it was too late. I couldn't suddenly decide to rebel against the Railroad for wanting to kill innocent civilians who weren't synths, or for that matter, blow up a place that could bring the world back from the brink of the apocalypse. I was given no real free will to decide "I want to free the synthetics, but the Institute must also survive for the betterment of mankind." Nope, the best hope for mankind just blew up right in front of my face. Perfect. 

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This could be chalked up to oversight from Bethesda, but it perfectly showcases how there's still ultimately no free will to play the games however you see fit. You just get a few choices to make, which are ultimately met with a point of no return. And that's very disappointing. Does the Mass Effect 3 ending ring any bells?

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Encourages cheating

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Uh oh. Someone's about to die. It's all up to you, as the player, who gets to survive and who doesn't. Who to choose, who to choose, the timer's running out, you better think fast! Or, you can just pause the game, and look up the results online.

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Why bother making that rash decision yourself, when you can just Google the end results of either decision before choosing it for yourself? Perhaps this isn't always a problem for everyone, at least for the players who decide to live with the results of their actions, but humans are perfectionist creatures that can't handle loosing a dollar out of their pockets one day, you think most people are going to handle being responsible for killing off their favorite game character? 

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But that doesn't necessarily mean you'll get the results you want anyway from cheating. Some games like Infamous and Call of Duty: Black Ops II implement a sort of "choice-less choice" in their campaigns that especially encourage people to look up an action's result online. 

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Within Infamous, main character Cole had to choose between saving his girlfriend or several doctors who could help save the city. If you chose the doctors, your girlfriend died. If you chose your girlfriend, she still dies. You see, the game throws a curve-ball at the player depending on how you play that girlfriend Trish will be one of the seven doctors if you tried to save her, and the person you though was her being someone else entirely. If you save the doctors, Trish isn't among the doctors and dies from your lack of saving her. For lack of a better word, what a gut-punch Sucker Punch! 

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Endless possibilities aren't realistic

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Development teams are only capable of so much. Sure, having endless possibilities to choose from would make for one of the most groundbreaking game experiences to date, but such a task is impossible. The decisions and the results that happen from them aren't left to chance like in the real world, these moments have to be programmed into a game.

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You can't throw caution to the wind and expect anything as a possibility, only so much is actually possible in the world of programming (at least nowadays.) If you make a certain decision in a game, it'll yield a specific result, you can't try the same thing over and over again expecting different things to happen.

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Butterfly effect games are just like a choose your own adventure book, you can only choose so many paths to take, and they're bound to yield similar results regardless of how you get there. It's like waiting in line at the DMV. Go ahead and talk to as many people as you want, but you're still gonna end up with some employee named Desiree who loves making life difficult to those who come her way. 

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They're essentially "Interactive movies"

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Telltale Games has made a substantial collection of butterfly effect games over the past few years. And as they should, most of their titles showcase excellent storytelling with likable characters often spawned from our favorite franchises (Borderlands, Batman, etc.)  

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However, it's not like every new game they spawn out is absolutely unique in every ways, Telltale Games typically follows a pattern: Plenty of cut scenes and dialogue, with only sparse amount of actual gameplay (that doesn't revolve around choosing what you want your character to say.) Essentially, it's just like watching a movie that just so happens to let you walk do something every now and then. But it all ends up mostly the same towards the end. Your character will still have to face the villain at one point or another, very rarely do butterfly effect games give you any other alternative. 

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We still have yet to see a game that transforms based on the way you interact with the environment. Not by what you choose to say or who you choose to save, but by how you play. Yet, such an idea also leads us to the next big problem with butterfly effect games. 

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Don't let the title completely fool you. A lot of the games that encompass the format of butterfly effect games are quite excellent. Heavy Rain was the first game of this "your choices matter" experience I had ever played, and to this day it holds a nice place in my memory, thanks to it being such a unique of an experience in my earlier days of gaming. 

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But the idea that the player is given "complete control over how a game ends" is a complete bullshit statement. There's absolutely no way a gamer can decide to do something that breaks the boundaries of a game's narrative, as there's no real way to allow it. It's not like you can decide to say "screw it" in the Mass Effect trilogy and "nope" the hell out of there to find planet Earth. Narratives such as these can be a lucrative experience, without a doubt some have been groundbreaking for that matter, but let's explore some of the inherent problems in butterfly effect games that continue to exist within this booming genre.

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Until Dawn and the illusion of choice https://www.gameskinny.com/oh2hu/until-dawn-and-the-illusion-of-choice https://www.gameskinny.com/oh2hu/until-dawn-and-the-illusion-of-choice Thu, 22 Oct 2015 18:38:51 -0400 John Adamczyk

SPOILERS AHEAD

Halloween is coming, and being the horror junkie that I am, I figured I would talk a little bit about one of the few horror games that we've seen this year that has received a lot of attention: Until Dawn, a sort of digital choose-your-own-adventure book with quick time events and split-second decisions that seem to influence the story.

But do they really?

Let's take a look at the problems this game has when  it comes to truly giving players control over the narrative.

Problem One: The "killer"

Here is a screenshot from one of the most high-octane scenes in the game, where one of the many characters you take on the role of, in this case, Sam, is being chased by the "psycho" antagonist.

You have mere moments to decide whether Sam is going to throw a vase at the killer or just make a break for it, and even if you make the "right" choice here, you have more sequences down the line that will determine whether she is caught or not.

The real kicker? It doesn't matter. The psycho who chases you for more than half of the game isn't really out for blood, he's just messing around. While this is a great bait-and-switch for when the real monsters show themselves, it doesn't make for great gameplay. 

The psycho doesn't kill anyone, so this entire chase sequence is, essentially, meaningless. Whether you get caught or not, Sam is unharmed. In fact, Sam can't be killed until the very last scene of the game.

Problem Two: Deceptive mechanics

When you're playing Until Dawn, you feel like your choices will have meaning. The game will constantly update and remind you that your choice has had an impact on events to come, specifically through a message that your choice has caused a "Butterfly Effect." The game presents the "Butterfly Effect" as so important that it provides you an entire page with every possible "difference" you can make within your game.

Of course, a lot of these choices are as inconsequential as Sam being caught. They affect how the story will reach its next scene, but those next scenes are going to inevitably happen.

The game tries so hard, mechanically, to hammer into your head that your choices matter, which is often a lie. Beyond the "Butterfly Effect" updates, there are totems lying around throughout the game. A lot of them. And they seem to be little hints and warnings for the player. Picking one up plays a brief, vague animation that warns you of something to come. This deceives the player into thinking that the scenes featured on these totems can actually be avoided, or that the player can play a hand in changing the foreshadowed outcomes.

This is rarely true.

You could go through the entire game without finding a single totem and still receive the most positive outcome, and you could completely botch a number of the "Butterfly Effect" moments and still have all of your characters survive.

Problem Three: Even near the end, the game pulls punches

Now, I enjoyed Until Dawn. It was fun, cheesy, B-movie entertainment in the form of a video game. But the problem is, it makes promises that it just can't keep.

 

You would expect, once the later chapters begin to occur, that things are going to get serious, that character mortality rates will spike. And they can. But even when the monsters are bearing down on you, there are scenarios where, once again, the danger is entirely illusory.

Perhaps most irksome is the fact that there are two "invincible" characters. Besides the aforementioned Sam, there is Mike. At one point near the end of the game, Mike is stranded in an asylum. During this time, he is relentlessly pursued by the inhumanly powerful wendigos. There are quicktime events and choices to be made, but, ultimately, all of these choices are meaningless, because Mike is one of the two characters in the game who, no matter what, will always survive until, at least, the very last scene of the game, because the game's narrative simply cannot handle the possibility of an outcome where either of these characters do not play lead roles in that final scene. 

The finale of the game is where the vast majority of player deaths will occur, unless you fail a quick time event very early on in the game, or somehow manage to make some very stupid decisions, like shooting one of your friends in the head.

Now, I enjoyed Until Dawn. It was fun, cheesy, B-movie entertainment in the form of a video game. But the problem is, it makes promises that it just can't keep.

Problem Four: The ending

Ultimately, the only real thing you can change in Until Dawn is the ending: who survives, who doesn't, and how the characters feel about each other. Sure, some scenes throughout the game might have slightly different dialogue depending on your choices, but where the characters go, what they intend on doing about the problem they're facing, all of these things are outside of the player's control. This makes the choices you made along the way feel inconsequential, as the scenes that will play out in the game are inevitable. 

You are always going to see the final confrontation taking place in the cabin. You are always going to have Sam there to distract the wendigos as she saves her friends, one-by-one, while Mike is getting ready to torch the whole place to the ground. And after that confrontation, the only true variation in the game presents itself in the ending, which is really just a series of police interviews with each individual character who survived. Sure, their interviews will change depending on their relationships with each other, but to have all of your choices build up to nothing more than an epilogue that happens alongside the passing of the credits?

I don't know if I'm willing to accept that as the game taking my choices seriously.

In the end, Until Dawn is a fun horror romp, but it fails to truly deliver on the idea of choice, which makes it feel like it's trying to be something that it's not. The mechanical concepts within Until Dawn that create the illusion of choice make it seem like an ambitious, extensive project, and this can deceive players into thinking they missed a lot in their first playthroughs, but upon playing for a second time, it should be clear to most people: you did very little to change the story.

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Why we love games with the butterfly effect https://www.gameskinny.com/p2woo/why-we-love-games-with-the-butterfly-effect https://www.gameskinny.com/p2woo/why-we-love-games-with-the-butterfly-effect Fri, 04 Sep 2015 02:30:02 -0400 Aaliyah Bandy

Why do we love games that implement the butterfly effect? What do these type of games that others don't?

The simple answer is that you get to make your own choice. Does your character go down the left path or the right? Now you may be thinking that it sounds boring, well, what if the left path lead to a million dollars and the right path lead to your character's death? Not so boring now is it?

Whether it's death or money or something completely different, the whole point of butterfly effect games to give players a choice and have the story change based on their choices. Do you want to go camping with person A or person B? Did you pick B? Well next time you need help don't ask person A , they remember your choice and now the story has changed. Did you pick person A? Better stir clear of person B.

Take the new horror game Until Dawn as an example. Your choice can either help your character survive or be brutally murdered, it all depends on your better judgement and if you don't think fast enough, your character is out of luck.

Butterfly effect games are all about choices and each choice doesn't just affect you, it affects the characters around you. If you ever played one of these games the chances are that you made a choice, saw the outcome, and wondered what would have happened if you made the other choice. That's the beauty of butterfly effect games, they keep you guessing, they make you want to replay it once you beat it and make all the opposite choice you made the first time. Most butterfly effect games have multiple endings and those who love 100 percenting the game love getting every ending.

The beauty of these games is that there is no laid out straight and narrowed path, we all start off playing the same scenario but as soon as the first option comes up we all find ourselves on different paths to different choices that lead to different endings, all  while playing the exact same game, most people don't have the same gameplay experience because everyone has their own ways of handling situations and make their choices based on their own ways of thinking.

Take The Walking Dead for example. Who you befriend and help will change your story. Sometimes you to make a choice between two people and whoever you don't save is killed. Who do you like more? Who is a bigger help to your survival? Who is more trustworthy? All of these things you have to think of in just a short amount of time and your choice alters the story.

Butterfly effect games can have big choices or little ones, choices with happy outcomes and those with bad choices. With the way you get to choose your path and interact the in-game world, it's no shocker why these games are pretty popular.

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Until Dawn Aftermath Trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/fs88p/until-dawn-aftermath-trailer https://www.gameskinny.com/fs88p/until-dawn-aftermath-trailer Fri, 07 Aug 2015 20:13:00 -0400 Anthony Jondreau

Until Dawn, the PS4 exclusive coming out later this month, has already revealed plenty of gameplay, but a new trailer highlights the game's emphasis on the impact your actions have. Giving the player choices that affect the game has become an increasingly popular aspect of story-driven games, and Until Dawn has so far made it look like it could work very well.

The trailer starts out focusing on a wall of butterflies, and not-so-subtle nod to the butterfly effect. As the trailer pans out, you hear glass breaking and a scream, and see a room that's been trashed. Glass is broken, a dresser's on the ground, and the bed is completely unmade. As the camera takes you into the next room, you reach your first decision: go left and fight, or right and evade. While this is happening, there are sounds of a knife slashing and someone screaming. The rest of the video follows in this same vein, eventually panning up and showing a variety of options that you can take.

It's an interesting trailer, not so much because of what it shows but because of what it implies. The impact of choices is a major selling point in this game, and the text in the video shows that. More importantly, though, it shows that your choices aren't just something that can be done and forgotten about. The camera is taking you back through a house that has already seen violence, meaning that someone else's choices are now affecting what you might be able to do. The environment is dynamic and stays changed. One action has led to the results you see, and the choices you're left with. Since the game deals with eight friends, the potential for (tasteful) backtracking is real, and, in turn, one friend potentionally dooming another.

Until Dawn is set for release on August 25th.

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How Life is Strange Proves Teenagers Have Power https://www.gameskinny.com/uto09/how-life-is-strange-proves-teenagers-have-power https://www.gameskinny.com/uto09/how-life-is-strange-proves-teenagers-have-power Sun, 07 Jun 2015 05:37:55 -0400 Bryan C. Tan

Teenagers are often thought of as rebellious beings with no control over their emotions - something to be put under close supervision as they go about their daily lives. While growing up into adulthood can be tough at times, teenagers don't exist simply to do the opposite of whatever adults say. Meaningful thoughts and influential decisions are made by teenagers every day, and Life is Strange is able to show that in a beautifully stylized way.

 Three out of five episodes in, Life is Strange by Dontnod Entertainment demonstrates many issues that play a huge role in teenage life: bullying, relationships, and suicide. Besides teenagehood, Life is Strange also tackles issues that are prevalent in society as a whole: privacy, rape, and drug use. Although Life is Strange is certified as an M-rated game, the issues explored in the game feel important across both sides of the maturity spectrum; it provides a nostalgic perspective for the mature, and a taste of the real world for those not yet mature.

 “I vow to use my powers for good, not evil.”

The protagonist of Life is Strange, Max Caulfield, has the power to rewind time. Throughout the game, she is able to undo her mistakes, knowing full well what their outcomes will be. However, in the most significant moment of the game so far, she loses her power, and decision-making becomes crucial - no rewind, and no mistakes. Despite not having any supernatural powers, Max still has the ability to save a fellow teenager from committing suicide with only the aid of her young adolescent mind. This moment in the game makes Max's uncanny power irrelevant, instead bringing Max's humanity and experiences as a teenager to the forefront.

In real life, similar situations with a solution like Max's rarely happen. The role of the crisis negotiator has been designated to firemen and police with professional training and preparation. The act of helping people with their lives has become a job for a select few, who are never guaranteed to succeed when they are put in unfamiliar settings.

Life is Strange shows that even without the presence of a professional or an expert, a teenager can save another's life by relating to her struggles and resolving to overcome them together. When Max is applauded by her peers and called a hero, she brushes it off and attributes her success to luck. No professional, teacher, or adult could have done what Max did, and no one else even stepped forward to try, because only she had the luck and unique of a teenager, which was the only power she needed.

"I still have to be careful how I use my power; I don't wanna get stuck in time."

In Life is Strange, players have to make many choices. Most, if not all, of those choices have huge ramifications - not only for Max, but also across the entire town of Arcadia Bay. In addition to the students in her high school, the choices Max makes impact teachers, parents, and workers outside of her school, indicating to the player that the consequences of their decisions are not just limited to characters of the same age as Max; they affect adults as well. The reason her choices seem to matter so much can be explained by Max herself: chaos theory.

Chaos theory, or more specifically, the butterfly effect, is where a small change in one state of a nonlinear system results in large differences in a later state. In other words, small mistakes lead to big consequences. Max's choices may seem small, but as the game progresses, the consequences of those choices are big.

This is true outside of the game - the choices that teenagers make may seem trivial to adults as well as themselves, but in reality, every choice affects change. Every decision results in a bigger outcome, and Life is Strange proves that teenagers have that power. Their wisdom and maturity may be minor, but, as strange as it is, the influence of teenagers on everyday life is major. No teenager may have the power to rewind time, but every teenager has the power to make the most of it - forever.

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