Discussion Show vs. Tell
#1
For those of you who don't know:

TVTropes Wrote:This is a writing or directorial choice that involves the use of demonstrative techniques, rather than blatant or thinly-veiled narration, to establish narrative elements.

In Pokémon, an example of "tell" would be to stick an NPC next to a one-way ledge who informs you that you are standing next to a one-way ledge, while an example of "show" would be to stick an item at the bottom of the ledge to entice the player to cross over it, forcing them to learn the hard way (probably by having to jump over a second one to return to the main path) that the ledge is one-way.

What are some other good examples you guys have come up with, of one or the other?
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#2
Hm, well, I'm not quite sure that this is quite what you're thinking, but the use of HMs seems to be something similar to this. Sometimes, clicking on obstacles will reference the HM needed-"It's a small tree. It looks like it can be CUT down"-while other times, there will be something visible past the obstacle that hints that the player will be able to get past it at some point.
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#3
I think it depends on the obviousness of the situation. I'd "show" the player the more obvious things, like that ledge example you gave, whereas I'd "tell" 'em about the less obvious ones.

For example, wild Ralt and Surskit are extremely rare to encounter in Pokémon Ruby on the route connecting Petalburg and Oldale. It'd be nice if there was an NPC telling the player that you can encounter them in the grass, but that it may take a long time before one shows up. This way the player knows that they are available to catch, and also clarifies why they possibly haven't found one yet.
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#4
Main series Pokemon games are probably some of the worst for looking at show verses tell from both a narrative perspective and a mechanical perspective. Firstly I do want to break up those two categories because there are vast differences in how a game mechanic and a story mechanic can be explored. This is more a look of how the difference in those things work and improving them more than plain examples. 

Mechanically, letting the player experience how something works and be told how something works is pretty simple and both have their place. In an RPG like Pokemon, it's most often the case where you're just told how the core mechanics work because just letting you push buttons on a UI doesn't really teach you anything so being told there is effective. So whenever a system isn't immediately obvious on how it works, it's better to let the player know instead of keeping them guessing. In contrast, being able to experience a mechanic in isolation is a simple and more powerful way to show the player how your game works. Tall grass is a way for the game to show you how encounters work by forcing you to walk through it in early routes in the game. Outside of that though, more often than not the format of pokemon doesn't lend itself to showing off how it's systems work and you're usually told explicitly and that's alright because of the nature of the game.

Narrative feels like it tends to be a tell thing more than a show, especially in pokemon, but that's not always true. Being told the story by delivering it in exposition dumps, either through a character or a cut scene, is a pitfall this style of game falls victim to. This is what most people think of as telling the narrative, and it's not as bad as it sounds when done in moderation. An option for letting the player explore this themselves is when they aren't rushed from objective to objective but are allowed to stumble upon it themselves by walking down the right route, or talking to the right person. Having multiple dialogue options is another way to accomplish this that is not very well utilized in many pokemon games, and it means extra writing but giving the player agency is important. Another show method would be Environmental Storytelling, which is also a bit harder in a pokemon game. Having art assets that directly pertain to an area or character and letting the player connect the dots seems like a detail more than anything, but it's a big part of experience in narrative driven games. A nod at this would be placing items in places that make sense like the magnet in the power plant, or nevermeltice near articuno. More effective examples would be like the dude in hoenn who lost his glasses, and near by are the black glasses and he then lets you keep them.
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#5
(01-11-2017, 12:46 PM)Arma Wrote: For example, wild Ralt and Surskit are extremely rare to encounter in Pokémon Ruby on the route connecting Petalburg and Oldale. It'd be nice if there was an NPC telling the player that you can encounter them in the grass, but that it may take a long time before one shows up. This way the player knows that they are available to catch, and also clarifies why they possibly haven't found one yet.

I remember bringing this up a while ago in passing - what if instead of an NPC that outright (or subliminally) told you that Ralts and Surskit were available, a few of the trainers you were faced up against used them on their teams?

(01-11-2017, 03:26 PM)Jayrodd Wrote: Narrative feels like it tends to be a tell thing more than a show, especially in pokemon, but that's not always true. Being told the story by delivering it in exposition dumps, either through a character or a cut scene, is a pitfall this style of game falls victim to.

Now I want to know what you think of the game using misleading text to troll the player. "Everybody knows NPC Billy is a massive twat." [NPC Billy turns out to be the nicest character in the game]
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#6
As an English student, my teachers are always encouraging me to "show not tell". I guess that, in Pokemon fan games, it really depends on the situation as well as the player. You've got players who like to be straight out told what to do and then the players who like to adventure and figure it out by themselves. 
It also depends on the situation. If the object is blatantly obvious, there's no point telling, but if it's hard to see, maybe a bit of a nudge would set them in the right direction.

Ultimately, I think that a bit of both is good. It engages the player, but doesn't make it so frustrating that they have to give up.
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