Good pacing doesn’t necessarily make a story good, but bad pacing can ruin a story on its own. Games have a tense relationship with pacing. The player should have freedom to play how they want, but generally that freedom comes at a cost of pacing. In Grand Theft Auto they’d tell me that they’ve got a friend of mine hostage and they will kill her if I don’t come running. So obviously I drive around aimlessly for a few hours, go through a dozen cars, try to steal a helicopter, start driving toward the mission, get distracted by the cops when I accidentally run over a pedestrian or twelve. Eventually I’d get to the mission and everyone would act like I drove there immediately.
Pacing is something that’s really hard to get right. Most time limits in games are pretty arbitrary. But apparently the world is going to end in a day and mankind’s time limit has run out so let’s look at two great examples of pacing in games. Journey
Unlike the game mentioned below, Journey
has no time limit. You’re dropped into a desert and shown a mountain in the distance. You then meander in that direction. Or not, you could wander around for a little bit, take in the sights, get blown around by wind, whatever. That mountain’s going to be waiting for you. Heading off for your goal is really the only thing to do but you can decide to take it as slowly as you want.
The first time you head up the tower to stop the moon from destroying the world you’re weak, your toughest weapon is a bubble, and you’ve been transformed into something unfamiliar. At the end of the day, you’re overflowing with weapons, you’ve got a new sword, and you know exactly how to save everyone. The game gave you the freedom to complete all this but kept you within its own time limit. Majora’s Mask
makes such a great use of a time limit due to all these things. The game gives you tons of freedom to do what you want but manages to fit a great story of pacing in it too. Compare this to Journey which is the exact opposite but makes it work very well. Can you think of more games that don’t sacrifice pacing for freedom? Do you love Majora’s Mask
as much as I do? Let me know in the comments!
LOOK WHO CAME: