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Author Topic: What's your guys view on info dumping?  (Read 1584 times)

Offline hyperknees91

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What's your guys view on info dumping?
« on: November 06, 2014, 08:08:59 AM »
Do you guys like info dumping? Do you think its bad writing? Do you think it's a necessary evil at times?

Now granted there are times when some info dumping is executed better than others, but it does seem like a strange concept to me to have a lecture in the middle of a story. Granted as I've discussed with other members, some concepts are very complicated and hard to express without the use of an info dump. Also its going to vary between audience members whether or not the audience is interested in the material being provided.

Still at times I feel that putting a giant "stop" sign in the story just to provide material that is basically saying "study this for this will be on the test later" might be kind of unappealling. Now for educational purposes this is probably ok, but for other stories I'm not so positive about the concept.

Offline thanosmat

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2014, 09:21:36 AM »
Good info dumping seems natural in the middle of the story or makes sense within the context of the narrative. Info dumping is more natural and fluid in the written medium than the visual medium in my opinion, especially when the narrator talks to the reader explaining things, something common in many literary classics.

Offline Marid King

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2014, 10:48:16 AM »
Whether the information being dumped is interesting or not, I think infodumping is a poor form of writing, and a sign of insecurity in the writer. Generally, the audience doesn't need to know everything, only what they have to know for the story to not completely baffle them. Not fully understanding what's going on can draw the audience in more than if they do. On the other hand, having all the little rules known can give fans more to work with when dreaming up their own characters or fanfics. Even so, I'd say spread that butter.
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Offline Shadowmage

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2014, 11:31:08 AM »
It actually depends on the medium for me.  Books (and VNs) are fine for info-dumping because adding a few explanatory sentences to flesh out the motives and histories of actions occurring doesn't break the flow of events but rather enhances them.  It's easy to convey "this is what character X thinks and feels" in a natural manner when its in writing.  There are of course rather unusual products like Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei where the info dumps are part of the core engagement.  This is when the question "is this interesting or not" applies.

The problem is the motion picture medium where info dumps amount to a narrator or a character sitting down and spending seven minutes of non-stop talking to describe something.  This is unacceptable in my mind because it kind of obviates the whole motion part of motion pictures.  Because there is no good way to convey massive chunks of data without it feeling unnatural, I just don't see info dumping as the right fit to the platform.  Basically, the kind of stories and ideas that books can express are different than that of movies.

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Offline KS

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2014, 12:45:42 PM »
It's funny cause this was actually just discussed in an MAHQ podcast I was listening to last night  where the crew were discussing G-Reco and how it doesn't immediately give you all the answers and back story of it's world right out of the gate and expect you to infer a few things as to what is going on in the interim while leaving the full mystery up to explanation.  Chris Guanche the operator of MAHQ and usually the guy that takes point on the podcasts suggested that people wanted a massive info dump right at the start of the story and said that for the kind of show G-Reco is that'd slow down the pace horribly and kind of be like the show blowing it's load really early and even went on to suggest that massive amounts of info-dumping is indeed bad and lazy writing because it cheats the viewer out of learning about and appreciating the world, it's cast and their adventures as things unfold and even creates emotional distance between characters and the viewer because as the viewer we don't get to experience things as they do quite as much. 

Honestly I'm kind of inclined to agree a little and even argue myself that a lot of Japanese media has been following this info dumping model for so long now (part of the problem is the now brutal level of dependence it's visual media has on some form of written...usually poorly at that...media to act as a source and lead in for it's audience because far too many producers are too lazy to come out with their own shit still) that it's almost come to be seen as the norm and more traditional forms of storytelling and discovering things about the show and cast as it goes on (a show like LOGH is a great example of this being done really well I think) and when the time is right to tackle those plots points, discoveries and issues has almost come to be seen now as the wrong way to do things by a lot of people who seem to want everything explained to them right now and just lack any sort of patience and faith to see a show through for the answers they seek.

On some level I do understand a bit why this is the case though as a lot of shows have come out and started with a lot of promise while holding on to answers for far to long and then delivering them in an unsatisfactory manner.  I found Mawaru Penguin Drum for example to be brutal at this, but to me that's because the show pretty much never gave you anything really and just kept piling up symbolism on top of symbolism with little to get directly attached to.  To me that's also poor storytelling and thus I think this is another one of those cases where a happy medium works best.  I don't need massive info dumps at key junctures as a crutch for being unable to string together a proper narrative, but I also like to have something to keep me attached to a show and some sense of foreshadowing that a show does have a tangible plot thread and that there will be some explanations as to the deeper intricacies of the universe on display for me as a viewer as the time calls for it.

Offline Zeitgeist

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2014, 01:16:23 PM »
Simple because anime is a "visual" medium doesn't mean it cant have practical/engaging info dumps. Books have entire chapters/segments of nothin' but info dumping and nobody bats an eye. Why? Because info dumps are somehow more conducive to text-based mediums? Who decided that. Regardless of medium, an info dump represents, at its core, a massive disconnect from the intended tale. Be it at the beginning or some manner of in medias res. When the info dump begins you aren't engaged in the "immediate" narrative. That is to say, they are either presenting you with some sort of preface or bringing the reader/viewer up to speed. I for one would never fault an anime for allotting its first few episodes to establishing its world, so long as it pertains heavily to the proceeding story. Which isnt to say some mystery/intrigue cant add something/everything...Casshern Sins. Different narratives are different. One could chalk this up to our episodic viewing.  Experiencing each episode as they are released with a week downtime. We don't know the entirety of teh story or how it will ultimately conveyed, we can only critique what has been presented thus far.

On the point of insecutiy on the part of the writer, I can definitely relate. As someone who dabbles in writing, whenever I create an expansive, or what I believe to be an expansive, world I find it hard not to shoehorn any and every last detail about it in some way. Be it through forced dialogue, info dumps, or some combination of both. Having said that, I do understand a certain "less is more", or more approiately, "the reader/viewer only needs so much" perspective. I mean, there can be no right answer, obviously. A strong writer can harness and utilize any/all manner of tools/structures. It ultimately comes down to the strength of Mangakas/Light Novelists(oh boi). We get what we get.

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Offline Kavik Ryx

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2014, 01:27:25 PM »
It comes down a lot to the framing of the exposition. The problem with infodumping, aside from the laziness, is that it is unnatural in the context of the characters and story presentation. The discussions between Batou and the Major in the original Ghost in the Shell doesn't feel like natural dialog, but rather a preprepared speech by the narrator. For a moment the characters cease to be and what is left reads off like a concept document. It was the same problem in Gasaraki with the half episode long Nishida speeches, which put the narrative into perspective, but destroy the pacing that had been built up as if they don't actually exist within the narrative, but parallel. It's a little strange how in a medium where imagery and a piece of cryptic dialog can establish the situation in seconds will have an episode be taken up to accomplish a little less.

When writing I try to avoid them altogether. But for where it is necessary, it needs to have the sense that the same thing would have been exposited were someone discussing the same thing in real life, since we do exposit heavily in real life, but it is inter spliced with back and forth to be unnoticeable. Quick and dirty may also be the way to go, just glossing over what is needed at the moment for establishing purposes and let the details be revealed as a plot point or character is in action.

Offline KS

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Re: What's your guys view on info dumping?
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2014, 06:13:49 PM »
It comes down a lot to the framing of the exposition. The problem with infodumping, aside from the laziness, is that it is unnatural in the context of the characters and story presentation. The discussions between Batou and the Major in the original Ghost in the Shell doesn't feel like natural dialog, but rather a preprepared speech by the narrator. For a moment the characters cease to be and what is left reads off like a concept document. It was the same problem in Gasaraki with the half episode long Nishida speeches, which put the narrative into perspective, but destroy the pacing that had been built up as if they don't actually exist within the narrative, but parallel. It's a little strange how in a medium where imagery and a piece of cryptic dialog can establish the situation in seconds will have an episode be taken up to accomplish a little less.

When writing I try to avoid them altogether. But for where it is necessary, it needs to have the sense that the same thing would have been exposited were someone discussing the same thing in real life, since we do exposit heavily in real life, but it is inter spliced with back and forth to be unnoticeable. Quick and dirty may also be the way to go, just glossing over what is needed at the moment for establishing purposes and let the details be revealed as a plot point or character is in action.

Gasaraki was a really weird show that way with so many overlapping narratives and ideas.  First it started off as a sort of ultra detail oriented tactical real robot anime, then it switched tacks a bit and became a bit more of a political thriller, then it added a lot of supernatural elements and Shintoism as well with all the flashbacks to the S engoku era.  One of my favorite episodes though was actually the episode where Nishida had the Gowa family in his office and was just waxing over his political philosophy and vision for the future of Japan.  To me that wasn't so much info dumping as philosophical banter that was really interesting in how it was delivered.  That was such a dense and complex show they pretty much had to do it that way though.
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