Table Talk Back - Narrative in Games - cutlassboardgame.com

Table Talk Back – Narrative in Games

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We asked for your thoughts on narrative in games and you answered – join us here as I go over your thoughts and discuss them!

Catch the start of the conversation here:

If you have any comments or questions, please do not hesitate to post them in the YouTube comments below, ensuring you abide by our Code of Conduct: .

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30 Comments

  1. Love the video! 🙂 I’m always a sucker for a good story. If I can get lost in the narrative, suddenly I’m not caring about points or plastic but an adventure with friends.

  2. About the soldier coming back from the dead. Common misconception is that casualty only means people who got killed. The truth is that it also means those who are wounded, listed as missing, or taken prisoner of war. So if that game simulated combat, that soldier might have been wounded, missing or taken prisoner and then got better, found his way back or escaped respectively.

  3. Thank you for taking the time to read, contemplate and reply! You've taken my comment and linked it to the need for employing professional writers in our hobby / this industry. While I was writing the comment, I mostly considered the fragility of written narative and how a gaming group can easility break the immersion. But you are right. The writing and editing can and should do a lot of the heavy lifting, it should not all rest on the shoulders of the players themselves. I'm going to start blaming publishers instead of my friends if a narative game doesn't land :)Thanks for teaching me some new terminology too. I really think any designer or publisher trying to come up with a good narrative game should have a big, bold reminder on their project documents (or their wall), saying: "Ludonarrative harmony!" It helps a game a ton.

  4. My wife and I definitely love narrative in our games. Our favorite game to play is actually Mansions of Madness. But I would agree with the one commenter that atmosphere definitely trumps narrative. We're really big on theme in a game and if the game doesn't ooze with theme in its art, any flavor text, miniatures and even the mechanics then we find it doesn't click with us as much. The theme really helps to tie in our own player-made stories as well.

  5. This series is always enjoyable! So many great points from so many people, and I love considering all of them.I cracked up at fixing Eldritch Horror, too!

  6. i don't really play board games without background music anymore, its especially a must if you're doing solo plays

    like you said Rodney, not too loud but just enough to be in the background

    there are loads of good playlists for board games on youtube

  7. I agree with the person who doesn’t like the story getting in the way. In Waterdeep, my friends and I always say the purple cubes the orange cubes. You don’t look at a cube and think oh that’s its profession. when the pieces are a little more upgraded, then we can consider the theme.

  8. Hey Rodney, could you do a table talk video about discontinued or out of print games. Why is it that games go out of print? There are several amazing games that are really hard to get access to because they are discontinued. If a game is so wanted by the community then why would they not continue to print them. I've seen lots of threads on bbg about certain out of print games that have hundreds of people asking why they're not in print but over and over again we get the same dissapointing responce that there is no Intention from the companies to reboot these games. Thanks!

  9. Absolutely loved this format. Great job storytelling the comments and connecting the dots.

  10. What a great video and discussion! I hope you do more like this. 👍👍

  11. What I learned about myself: I am more accepting — no, maybe even inviting — of deeper stories in proportion to the complexity of the game. Like, I was so in deep with the lore of Android: Netrunner. But if for example you put a story for the cats of Boop, ridonkulous, I don't care, let's just play!

  12. For me, the need for story immersion really depends on the game. For instance, I love reading all of the story elements and most of the flavor text when playing Mansions of Madness, but games like Battlestar Galactica go a lot faster if you just stick to the names of the crisis cards, ignore most flavor text, and let the "story" play out mostly through players accusing each other of being Cylons. Also, when I play a really long game like Twilight Imperium, the last thing that I want to do is read aloud the flavor text on every single planet card and action card throughout the game. I feel that those are meant to be read silently by players during downtime.

  13. Fixing the box gave me a feeling of relieve that I didn't know I needed. No joke. I feel like a weight was lifted off my chest…… I may have O.C.D.

  14. After playing for 10 years. I found sentinels of the multiverse card game, and I've never played a game with more theme, more mechanics, and more excitement then this card game.
    This is my new obsession.
    #sentinelsofthemultiverse

  15. Great video! 🙂 I had not really ever considered ambience for a board game until Mysterium and Escape the Temple had tracks on youtube. I agree with Henri that is is very immersive to listen to music!!!! Sometimes, the music for Escape actually feels TOO intense!!!

  16. One of the absolute best experiences I ever had with gaming was for an absolutely terrible game. 😀 It was a party game of "whodunnit" for Star Trek. I was eleven years old. I had never watched Star Trek, but we were supposed to dress up like our character, so I started watching VHS tapes of the series! I can't even remember who I was, but I do remember 3 things: 1) We all tried to role play 2) We drank 7-up that was dyed different colors depending on what we "ordered" (the host's mom served it to us), and 3) The game was unsolvable and basically we all "did it" in the end, according to the cassette tape included with the game. I don't think anybody really understood the mystery, but we sure loved that party. I thought it was the best party ever.

  17. This was a great video. I personally prefer the ludonarrative (new word!) experience over a more scripted narrative, as well as a complete lack of theme in board games.

  18. I like story in games, but I also like making my own story as well. Dead of Winter, and Betrayal at House on the Hill I absolutely love the story. But games like Deception: Murder in Hong Kong, I like MAKING my story. "I'm a murderer who is acting like a detective, blaming others that they did the crime so I can get away scot free. Why did I murder? Greed, they use to be a partner in a job we created and they kicked me out, taking it all for themselves." But I also have been growing up with TTRPGs also, and I love the GM's stories, but they have to tell it right to get into it. No bland talking, characters that sounds EXACTLY the same. No, "BOOM! someone kicks down the door as you all make a plan of escape!" If a story does have something like that every once in a while, it's not really fun.

  19. I love it when a game has a soundtrack or recommends some music to go with it. I don't often put background music when my group plays, but I find that it can help set the mood of the game really quickly. Instead of having to ramp up into the game, sometimes the music will just get everyone in that space instantly even if fades completely into the background once we get going.

    On a practical note, I will often search for soundtracks of video games that have a similar theme/feel in the absence of a prescribed soundtrack

  20. Really interesting once again Rodney. Linked to the point you made about the historic wargames leading you to want to find out more through reading or watching documentaries. I find the same is true of games based on a location. I have chosen these games sometimes because they are based in a place that I have visited such as the super pick up and deliver game Cinque Terre or Carcassonne. On the flip side, I want to find out more or visit places that feature in really good games I've played like Alhambra, Santa Monica, Burano or Istanbul. Just looked up Tiefenthal and found it is a real place in Germany so hope it has a great tavern!

  21. Great video! Love all of our combat commander stories, especially the legend of Maisky.

  22. Lovely series Rodney. Keep them coming ❤

    For me the story, the setting and the environment of a game is super important. Each game takes me on an adventure in different world. In my group I am the person who learns and subsequently teaches the games and I often pair the mechanisms with the theme, story and setting. It's not just another cube. This cube represents the new baby lama in your household. And this action represents the growing of your colony on Mars. In the beginning my group was very reluctant to this approach because it takes a little bit more time. But lately they shared with me that when they organize board game events and have to teach some of the games I've taught them they are using my approach and the results are much better. Sometimes it takes time, but the Storyteller always win 😉😋

  23. O primeiro e o último comentário me representam muito. Sou do time de mecânicas acima de tema ESPECIFICAMENTE em jogos de tabuleiro, mas amo RPG de mesa que é mais narrativo. Só que é isso, ainda bem que tem jogo para jogarmos com quase todos os tipos de pessoas

  24. I clicked LIKE for fixing the box cover orientation.
    You have brought the world one step closer to nirvana.

  25. Thanks for taking the time to do this follow-up! It's one thing to talk about a topic, but a whole other effort to listen to what others think about it and integrate their views into your own. Doing this makes the whole presentation much more complete!

  26. The beauty of board games is there's some for everyone. I love board games that allow a story to develop through gameplay. Bonus pts if replaying creates different story experiences. Dead of Winter, Robinson Crusoe, The Pursuit of Happyness, Rush MD are just a few that come to mind.

  27. I have never commented before so this is a first but this one was interesting because I have been wondering over the past few years why my tastes in board games do not match my friends'. Not that there was anything wrong with the game itself but for some reason I could not love it as much as they did and last year was when I realised that yes I do like stories (themes) in my board games.

    Ultimately, I come for the theme but stay for the mechanics. The theme is the reason why I want to play this particular game and not want to own others. It is usually why I can overlook the "flaws" or relatively high luck aspects in games especially when they involve dice because I'm just here to have fun even if I don't win. The theme helps with explaining the gameplay workflow e.g. I need a blueprint to know what car parts to push assembly line to test a car which significantly helps my (non-Euro playing) friends understand and engage with the game more than if I explained it like get this tile to get this coloured piece to place this piece to get another etc. I feel that if a game doesn't have a theme, I might as well use regular playing cards or play chess.

    Unfortunately the don't "judge a book by its cover" idiom kicks in and there are cases when I'm not enjoying it as much as I think I did because the mechanics are not clicking for me/my group. As an example, when the Robinson Crusoe tutorial video came out I bought the game soon after because I liked the theme. It had been in my collection for a long while before having to leave 2 months ago because my friends weren't enjoying the gameplay anymore. I'm just saying this so I can thank you, Rodney; that video was the reason I started to buy board games. Anyway, it is interesting how the theme can stop me from exploring other games like Final Girl because I cannot deal with thriller/horror.

    Having said that I am lucky that I am capable of dissociating myself from theme and enjoy the gameplay. I'll have days when I think "I just really want to wreck my brain today. I hope someone with a Rosenberg game is free." So honestly if I wanted to play Final Girl, I can as long as I completely ignore everything that will give me nightmares.

    Fortunately there are so many board games out there with overlapping mechanics that I can choose a game for a theme over the mechanics. I'll try any game that exists but for me to own/love it, it has a likeable story/theme (with some exceptions) and if it has good mechanics it can also stay for a long while. 😊 Apologies for the long comment.

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