Recently, I was intrigued to find very, very opposing sides regarding info dumps. I’m kind of torn on the issue, while I like discovering things about the world on my own, sometimes without an info dump I feel lost and the cultures/religions/character actions don’t make sense. Personally I prefer an optional info dump place, (like a library you can choose to go to). What do you guys think?
Good idea to switch it to another thread!
This was my reply:
I’m vehemently against them. Reveal backstory and word building through dialogue, protagonist thoughts, and behaviors. I’ll die on this hill.
I think it depends on the story, there are information that you just can’t throw at the readers without context, it is good to have a journal or a glossary where the reader can go and find out stuff for themselves. I am totally for them and included them in my WIPs if it is relevant.
Then we shall die, together, as brothers in arms.
That’s completely understandable!
An important thing is that if somebody gets interested in a work, it can feel satisfying to uncover more mysteries. I’m a victim of that. And getting too impatient looking around the game while ending up with hours on a game wiki site is quite common for me.
If the author drips out points of interest that I end up caring about, then I will go out of my find more information.
My favourite games for lore right now are Hollow Knight and Hades. The former’s approach is “good luck!” and the latter’s approach is “you already know most of this stuff, just go start cracking skulls”.
I’ll be blunt and say that I think infodumps suck. Majorly. Nothing is gonna destroy my interest more in a story if I open it and on page one there is either:
A) A list of all the characters with their traits and what real world actor the author imagines them as. (This just feels unprofessional)
B) A giant out of context pile of information delivered, not through a character’s inner monologue, their interactions, or the world around them, but just through disembodied prose.
If you gotta have an infodump (a lot of authors do, they tend to be a necessary evil), then wait until the reader is invested in the characters and plot before you start checking details of the world at them.
Purely out of interest (Totally didn’t do this in my story cough)
How do you feel about something like this at the beginning of a story to make the rest of it easier to understand?
In my personal opinion (don’t take this as objective fact, and I still enjoy stories that do this overall), if you’re gonna have big world drops in the beginning, you gotta frame it somehow. Maybe an old nursery rhyme or a song, sorta like XOR.
Honestly, and I’m probably in the minorty when I say this, but I don’t really care too much about lore in games. It can enhance the experience, yes, but I’m in it for the plot and characters.
Damn, well good thing @will came to me about this, maybe I’ve managed to make it a bit more functional.
I’m going to ruffle some feathers, but well-made info dumps are some of my favorite content to read. As long as they’re framed right and justified, I am more than happy to have information spelled out to me.
I think it can be genre-dependent, too. Science fiction lends itself more to info dumps than, say, romance. The more a story’s world departs from the norm, the more you may need a bit of a roadmap to understand it. Dumps may not be the ideal way to convey it, but they still get the job done.
I agree that context is important. Sprinkling throughout is also great, and making it optional can also help, especially if the player can return to it at their leisure.
Opening with an info dump can be a turn-off, but unless it goes waaaaaay too long. I’m not going to come down on one side hard, but I’d prefer something more subtle or natural.
IMO, all authors write info-dumps in one way or another.
The latest release by @ Moochava has several types of info-dumps and has written them well. I suggest looking at Night Road for both examples and inspiration.
Let’s go over what a few of the different types of info-dumps are:
An author can make “optional” info-dumps – Journals, maps, glossaries and many more different types of info can be structured into the stats pages … stats themselves can include inventory dumps and other info-dumps. @ Cataphrak’s Infiniti war series has a full range of these optional info-dumps.
An author can make a choice and its subsequent body an info dump – Kyle does a really good job of designing this when you are asked what clan of vampires you belong to are … the choice you make goes into an explanatory “dump” of a summary of that clan and then lets you back out of the choice if the summary does not appeal to you.
An author can make a prologue or introduction that sets up the story. This is best done in @ Havenstone 's XoR story. Having a prologue that explores the character’s life-path or “childhood” can be a way to explore the story-world without needing to affect your story. Havenstone is one of my all-time inspirations, and I try to follow his footsteps in one of my projects.
An author can write a change of perspective info-dump. @Bacondoneright has a wonderful “Singing” experience in their WiP which then is followed up by a change in perspective info-dump that emphasizes the impact of that singing experience on NPC characters that happen to “overhear” the singing.
There are a “hell lot more” done in games, both CoG/HG and graphical that can be looked at as well, but this short list should be enough to get you going to research and develop your own.
One last thing… I do suggest looking at sequels to see how they handle the transition from old game to new. Often there needs to be an info dump of one nature or another. @ HannahPS’s current WiP is very well done.
This is one of my favorite techniques. You can acquire as much additional knowledge as you need, or leave it alone if you want to leave it to imagination. And I absolutely agree @Eiwynn, XoR does a fantastic job with this whole concept
Depending on the story, you can frame them as discovery. If its something new for your character, you can describe. So a complete new planet, society or creature can be describe if its the first time your character sees, makes contact, etc.
On the other hand, you can have the MC explain that to an NPC if you want to make the MC an insider. Or make fun/be condescending with someone who “doesn’t know what everyone else knows”. As in “you really didn’t know that Minion world have 2 suns?” Or “of course pugcers have purple Bloom, that is why they real faster!”
That usually work to offer information.
I agree that a story always needs a certain amount of exposition, but how it’s presented makes a world of a difference.
Starting the story with exposition is something that rubs me off the wrong way, unless it’s really short. I might not blink an eye at a story that has a paragraph of exposition before getting to action, characters and choices, but having a massive wall of text be the first thing I see will make me lose interest very fast.
Then again, I’m something of an extremist that way. I don’t like reading through pages of text (even if it’s just one or two) before getting to make my first choice in a game, and when you go through a huge prologue/lore-exposition, and then the first choice you get is the gender one…
If that happens I just feel like the author just wanted to make things easier on themselves, by getting all the boring stuff out of the way first, rather than thinking of player experience and weaving those things into the story in a way that draws you in from the beginning.
I always thought it would be difficult to convey everything in a story through dialogue or monologue alone. Not saying it couldn’t be done of course lots of talented authors here have. But I’d think a little exposition should be available for the reader, if they wanted to read it? Maybe it shouldn’t be necessary plot info in that case, just some extra little tidbits. But it could be incorporated into the story in an immersive way, like the character could be reading a book for example. But yeah, lots of people like it, lots of people don’t. So if you want to, put the exposition in but make it optional reading.
Edit: and this has all already been said.
One aspect for me is if the seting is intresting in the first place.
The more i like it. The more tolerant of info dumps i tend to be.