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Twisted Metal Designer Rails Against Storytelling Games 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the are-you-a-bad-enough-dude-to-rescue-the-president? dept.
eldavojohn writes "Twisted Metal designer David Jaffe gave a DICE Summit presentation in which he argued against 'games that have been intentionally made from the ground up with the intent and purpose of telling a story or expressing a philosophy or giving a designer's narrative.' He went on to say essentially that it's a waste of time and resources when the focus should be on gameplay, not story. While some parts of his presentation are warmly welcomed by the gaming community (like his instructions for game execs to get a BS filter), this particular point has some unsurprising opponents. His argument against a 'cinematic narrative' was probably strongest with his comparison to the movie Saving Private Ryan, where Spielberg made the Normandy Beach invasion scene as close to a documentary as possible. The audience could sit back and appreciate that. But if you made a game where the player is in that position of the soldier then that historically accurate imagery and top shelf voice acting doesn't really matter, the only thing the player should be thinking is 'How the **** do I get to that rock? How do I get to the exit?' Is Jaffe right? Have game makers been 'seduced by the power and language of film' at the expense of gameplay?"
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Twisted Metal Designer Rails Against Storytelling Games

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  • by wierd_w (1375923) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:09PM (#39024503)

    I would say that his advice applies in some circumstances, and not in others.

    For instance, I refuse to play a "serious" game that doesn't have a compelling story. I avoid FPS for that reason, for the most part.

    Better suggestion: don't overspecialize. Don't overexert one part of the game's development to permit somebody on the team to produce "their opus".

    A good game is engrossing, and a good story helps with that. A good game is enjoyable, and good gameplay helps with that. Sacrificing one for the other does not improve the final product. If you focus too much on story, and your gameplay sucks, people will hate it. If you focus on gameplay and ship a terrible story, people will only play the multiplayer or freeplay modes.

    Balance the work, and make a "good" story with "good" gameplay. Don't fixate on "epic story" or "rivetting gameplay", at the expense of the other. Similarly, don't forcefeed the player wasteful eyecandy. If you do, you end up making "the phantom menace: the game!", and people will hate it.

    "Good" and "balanced" is the key.

  • Track ride (Score:5, Informative)

    by Animats (122034) on Monday February 13, 2012 @05:10PM (#39024519) Homepage

    He's railing aginst what, in the industry, is called a "track ride". The player does A, then B, then C, with obstacles along the way. At one time, that was due to technical limitations; building a big free-play world was out of reach. That hasn't been the case for a long time now. Good large-scale free-play worlds like the GTA series have been very successful even as single user games. MMORPG games are big open worlds by necessity.

    To some extent track rides are coming back, because of the tiny screens on mobile. Angry Birds is a track ride.

    Big, open worlds are expensive to build, because a big, interesting world has to be built and populated. Track rides can be cheaper, because there's no need to build the parts of the world that aren't on the track. This may be more about economics than story.

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