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Twisted Metal Designer Rails Against Storytelling Games

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the are-you-a-bad-enough-dude-to-rescue-the-president? dept.

Businesses 313

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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Good luck getting Japan to listen (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024357)

Most of what he's railing against seems to be the heavily cutscene-driven stories in games like the Final Fantasy's and Metal Gear Solid's. He says he actually likes games like Skyrim, by contrast, where the player becomes the story. I personally sympathize with him on that. There have been a few games I've liked that were more cutscene dependent (like the Mass Effect series), but mostly I like to feel that *I'm* the one driving the game, not that I'm just taking occasional control to set up the next long cutscene.

But this love of cutscenes seems to have gotten crazy-prevalent among Japanese developers in particular since the 90's. Maybe that's just a cultural thing (everything out of Japan seems to be more on-the-rails than their Western counterparts, even the non-cutscene stuff). But those developers are also incredibly stubborn about changing their style. Good luck if you can get through to them. Maybe they'll be more inclined to listen to a guy who mainly develops for Sony. I will say that a few, like Capcom, do seem to have gotten a little more "modern" of late.

Someone had to say it, though. The cutscenes have gotten way out of hand on a lot of games. At some point you need to decide if you're making a videogame or a movie.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (4, Insightful)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024581)

I guess a lot of people will mention examples of stuff that works well (like inFamous, in my opinion). But that's because it's a game with ability to make decisions that affect how the game world responds to you. And it's gameplay-driven, rather than cutscene-driven.

But the games with stories driven by cutscenes to create narrative are generally boring. Some of these are like an animated movie with some gameplay elements thrown in to drag out the story.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (5, Interesting)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024621)

I don't understand the fundamental problem with "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." Likewise, I don't have a problem with games that are 100% about gameplay and don't bother with any sort of meaningful narrative or story.

While I love Skyrim, I also love heavily story-driven games with lots of cutscenes as well (like Uncharted). To me, they're a nice reward and a way to help break up the gameplay a bit. Moreover, it's a fun way of merging my love of videogames with my love of interesting narrative, storytelling, and lore. Also, there are times it's fun to see personalities OTHER than the one you impose on characters in games. In other words, not every game is a Western-style role-playing game where the main protaganist is suppose to be a blank slate. It's entertaining to me when you care about the characters in your story and look forward to seeing the plot develop. Why do people try to shoehorn everything into one box? I think the world of "videogames" is big enough to fit both philosophies quite nicely.

Frankly, it just sounds like he's a big fan of more free-form worlds in gaming, and is just annoyed that there aren't more Skyrim-like games out there. I agree it's a shame, but if there's a demand for these games, then companies will fulfill that market space, especially as the gaming market continues to expand.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (4, Interesting)

Dr Max (1696200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025107)

Maybe I'm a bit biased cause I'm all about the game play. Give me a bunch of maps and really clever bots over scripted, one path to victory, invisible wall games with a really clever plot; but isn't it easier to turn an open world free game into a game based around a plot, than the other way around. You can reuse all the open world stuff again and again then improve it and use it again. With plot driven games a lot can't be reused, because too much is depended on having the exact environment and timing as before.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (2)

harl (84412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024705)

Dead Rising 1&2 (from Capcom) are prime examples of Japanese designers taking things off the rail. It's mechanics driven and the story is completely dependent on what you choose to do, including multiple endings.

Also it's from an old school Japanese developer, he created Megaman.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (0)

Narishma (822073) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024977)

I guess you didn't read the whole post since he mentioned Capcom as one of the few Japanese developers who get it right.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024775)

I'm sure if the game is not balanced right, with action and story, people wouldn't be interested in it. So what's his point? He knows better than the consumers?

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (1)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024871)

I'll agree that Japanese games tend to be more linear, but that doesn't say anything about whether they are more or less guilty of that offense. In fact, I'd say that in many cases, games with branching plots tend to be more guilty of this, since writing multiple plotlines means more resources are put into cutscenes and voice acting. The only thing worse than trying to make a movie is trying to make 3 or 4 movies, and the illusion of an open but still very detailed world seems to me to be often used to compensate for uninspired gameplay, which would be the heart of the problem being discussed.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024879)

Someone had to say it, though. The cutscenes have gotten way out of hand on a lot of games. At some point you need to decide if you're making a videogame or a movie.

I wholeheartedly agree. Among the many other fanboyesque reasons I liked FFVII is that it seemed to walk that line. On one hand, you needed some moderately boring exposition to understand certain story elements. On the other hand, you had pretty and/or amusing stuff to look at most of the time. And on the gripping hand, most of the time when you play a JRPG you're running in circles anyway, a little exposition is a welcome opportunity to bite your sandwich.

I've just bought Septerra Core from GOG, it being on sale for three bucks, and me missing the JRPG experience. And the running back and forth is what I am finding tedious, not the cutscenes. I can file my nails or whatever while watching a cutscene, all the running back and forth takes user intervention.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (3, Interesting)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024907)

And why can't there be both genres? Story driven games with great gameplay? Bioshock is a great example of how to combine both really well.

If you give games no narrative and only gameplay you're doing Tetris, bejeweled or angry birds. Those are the kinds of games where you spend 10-15 minutes at a time and then leave to do something else.

But the thing that really defeats his thesis is the commercial success. If there is a market for story driven games (like the millions each Final Fantasy sells) then there a case supporting their development. His personal opinion is that games should have fun gameplay, but I enjoy the Final Fantasy kind of mechanic (I've played them all top to bottom up to the 12th and skipping) and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent on them (even going back and playing some of them more than once and even twice).

It would be really easy to make a compelling argument that all games should focus on story only, but it'd be highly biased and irrational. There is space for both.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024909)

I have to agree about becoming part of the story through gameplay, vs cutscenes. Take Bioshock for instance, there was a part of me that related to those Little Sisters as little girls, like I do to my own daughters. It made it practically impossible for me to kill them for their Adam. It was a real emotional struggle, just like a good piece of art

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024931)

Well some games like Final Fantasy the strong story is really a key component to the game and the game play. However I think the issue is that there is an attempt to put a story around all the games where your main goal is to kill whatever moves.

What I really miss are the Old Sierra Quest games. The non-action adventure game. However if I want to play an action game I really don't need a story to make me want to kill all the guys in the game, just as long as you give me points per guy I have a motive.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024993)

Most of what he's railing against seems to be the heavily cutscene-driven stories in games... I personally sympathize with him on that.

I can understand that you might not like that type of gameplay, but there are people out there want different things out of the games they play

Ultimately, playing a video game is about satisfying some emotional desire. Games like WoW satisfy my desire to manage statistics and give me satisfaction through acquiring items and improving my character. Games like Quake or Unreal are satisfy my competitive desire to beat other players. In the same vein, games like Final Fantasy with long epic cutscenes and deep, involved storylines satisfy an emotional desire to connect with a group of characters, identify with their plight, and see them through to success. Really, the first two items in the list I can do by reading a book or watching a movie. Adding an interactive element makes it seem like I'm the one enabling their success, even though I'm really just along for the ride.

I mean, let's distill the gameplay of Final Fantasy for a second. You have a group of characters, you find weapons and abilities, and engage in battle repeatedly until a final ultimate battle. How fun would a game be that is purely that? It might actually be reasonably fun... Infinity Blade comes to mind as an example of such a game. But it wouldn't be nearly as good without the deep involved story in there. To this day I remember how I felt watching Aeris die, and that was 15 years ago. I never felt anything close to that beating the 500th level in Infinity Blade. To reiterate my point, I doubt I would have felt the same about way if Final Fantasy 7 was just a movie.

Re:Good luck getting Japan to listen (2)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025273)

I'm glad you mentioned the Mass Effect series because that is what got me back into gaming. I had long grown tired of the cut & paste FPS. It's rather ironic since I had not even heard of the game until somebody on a forum called me Garrus in reference to one of my posts. I didn't get the reference so I looked it up. I decided to try the game and I loved it! Despite it's story driven underpinnings it has been very re-playable to me. I have several Shepherds I have played through as. Modifying my play a little each time to see the possibilities of the character. I found myself engrossed by the game and characters. In fact I found myself developing genuine feelings for the characters and I am not alone. So my response to Mr Jaffe would be OK I get it you don't like stories but some of us do.

Nope (2)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024435)

Jaffee is wrong. Some of the bet games in the past two year have been emotionally engaging narrative-driven. If you ignore the arc of characters and plot, and only focus on gameplay, then you end up in the same box as angry birds. And that box is worth $.99.

Re:Nope (2)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024579)

And they're worth $0.99 because they require less effort to build and most gamers are of the casual type with a severe case of ADHD. Knowing that this is a competitive market and every industry is fighting for a slice of someone's personal time, the fact that there's still money to be tapped in this market speaks volumes.

Personally, I prefer older games like FF2 and FF3. But I also know that I'm in the minority.

Re:Nope (4, Funny)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024589)

Jaffee is wrong. Some of the bet games in the past two year have been emotionally engaging narrative-driven. If you ignore the arc of characters and plot, and only focus on gameplay, then you end up in the same box as angry birds. And that box is worth $.99.

Yeah, that's what was missing from SimCity... 20 minute cut scenes and plot development of the citizens.

Re:Nope (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024771)

and civilization, and every hex based military strategy (my specialty) and every board and puzzle game (words w friends etc) Also every driving and flying game ever invented.

Imagine how simply awful Mario Kart would be if you had to sit thru 15 minute cutscenes full of plumber's helper jokes. super mario galaxy was ... pushing the limit a bit of what I can tolerate. Or the awfulness of trying to turn any of the Gran Turismo series into a really poor cinematic reinterpretation of "the fast and the furious"

I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024611)

Jaffee is wrong. Some of the bet games in the past two year have been emotionally engaging narrative-driven. If you ignore the arc of characters and plot, and only focus on gameplay, then you end up in the same box as angry birds. And that box is worth $.99.

Disclaimer: I submitted the story and I am 100% in disagreement with Jaffe and I hope I did his argument some justice in my summarizing. However, nor do I entirely agree with your assertion. Angry birds has turned out much more money (probably) than one of my favorite long running RPG series "Tales of (Symphonia|Vesperia|Xilia|etc)" So by that measure, he's giving sound advice. Angry Birds didn't need cinematic or great voice acting (which he cites to be high budget features of games) so it didn't need to cost more than 99 cents.

And I can easily cite counter examples to your rule. Every so often a really novel gameplay mechanic comes out. I remember the advent (or at least the advent to me) of real time strategy games like Age of Empires and Warcraft I & II. These were amazing and the plots were pretty much phoned in (hell, one was just history). And if you implement an old gameplay mechanic really well or come out with a novel new gameplay mechanic, you sort of get a free pass on story and cosmetics. Hell, look at Minecraft. Where's the story there? Or even amazing graphics? I beat a dragon at the end and was like ... huh, it really could have done without "the story."

I sympathize with Jaffe but I don't think we should just have gameplay mechanics. In the end, there's probably a healthy balance and as a former Tetris addict turned RPG enthusiast, I see the benefits of both sides. When a game blends these two things together, that's when you get magic. Currently I'm obsessed with Star Wars: The Old Republic but I can see how that's just not for everybody. I think Jaffe was just pushing back after seeing a focus on gameplay taking a back seat to Hollywood for too long. But either extreme is bad for gaming.

I haven't written any games but if I had, I would be completely fine with being condemned to "the same box as angry birds."

Re:I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (5, Interesting)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024849)

To jaffe's comment on the beach war thing... The player wondering how to get to the next rock. For me, the more important question is why do I want to get to the next rock? What are the character drivers? What is the character trying to achieve?who am I, anyway? Personally, I see vid games as a new frontier in storytelling. Whether you're Ezio, batman, or whoever, it's ALL about story. Otherwise gameplay becomes button mashing.

Re:I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (2)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025137)

Agreed, people play games in different ways. There was a time when I would take every opportunity to shoot every scientist in the face just to see what would happen.

But when the game is doing a good job I settle into it. I wonder what my character would be feeling. I look where the game wants me to look, because I want to extract maximum value from the game with the short time I have with it before I get back to work. I'm not always actively looking to break the game. I get that jaffe doesnt like storytelling in games and/or wishes it could be done better. I'm already enjoying it and I want more of it.

Heck, multiplayer is all about gameplay and I don't give a damn about multiplayer modes because there's no story to unwrap (with a few exceptions of games with story nuggets in the multiplayer which are able to coax me online).

Re:I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024953)

It's telling that some weaboo jrpg fan would describe the Tales series, while missing the only games (Destiny, Phantasia, Eternia) that were actually any good. "Tales of (Symphonia|Vesperia|Xilia|etc)" are actually atrocious games, derivative stories and horrible cliches.

I don't want people like you speaking for the quality of narratives, when the narratives you use as examples are that bloody bad.

Re:I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (1)

errandum (2014454) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024961)

The thing is, Angry Birds is a nice mechanic that you play for 5-15 minutes at a time. And why is that? Maybe because the senseless act of throwing birds at pigs, even though it is fun, it's not engaging enough.

A good book has no action but it's capable of hooking you for hours at a time. The story is a layer of emotion and it is essential to most games that do not present themselves as depicting some kind of activity (ie. driving, simulation, sports, etc).

Re:I Don't Agree with You or Jaffe (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025009)

I sympathize with Jaffe but I don't think we should just have gameplay mechanics. In the end, there's probably a healthy balance and as a former Tetris addict turned RPG enthusiast, I see the benefits of both sides. When a game blends these two things together, that's when you get magic.

I don't think there is a healthy balance. I think there are many healthy balances. For every combination of action vs plot, there's someone who's interested.

Wow (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025029)

(or at least the advent to me) of real time strategy games like Age of Empires and Warcraft I & II

if you think rtses made their appearance with aoe or warcraft i, you are way too young.

rtses were there before dune 2. dune 2 made rts mainstream. you know dune 2 as command & conquer or red alert now. the franchise is basically the same as it was back in 1993 in dune 2 form.

Re:Nope (2)

Cidolfas (1358603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024653)

Also in that box: Tetris, Dwarf Fortress, Minecraft. Many, many more. That's a pretty nice box.

Re:Nope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024901)

I really want a good back story for Tetris.

Oh wait, there one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris_Worlds#Story
Historical note: I worked on the GC, & Xbox versions of the game.

Re:Nope (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025027)

Then why don't you just go to the movies. If the point of the game is to slug thru levels just so you can advance the plot, you are just putting yourself under stress just to watch the next chapter, you are not enjoying the game, you are using the stress of the game so you can enjoy the next cut scene.
If that is the case. Perhaps the next time you rent a movie you setup a timer for every 15 minutes. Watch 15 minutes of the movie when the timer goes off. Walk a mile on a treadmill then go back and watch an other 15 minutes, you will get the same effect.

Gameplay is important (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024445)

Sure game play is important but so is story. There have been games that had a story I liked so much that I kept playing despite poor or boring game play mechanics. I'm not talking about final fantasy xlvi or what ever either.

Re:Gameplay is important (2)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024607)

In such an instance, would it not have been better to tell that story in a film or book? That way you could enjoy the story without suffering the bad mechanics.

Re:Gameplay is important (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024845)

In such an instance, would it not have been better to tell that story in a film or book? That way you could enjoy the story without suffering the bad mechanics.

The dominant subculture has formed where they'd rather die than read a book, no matter how awful the movie. We may be blessed to be living in this era where we can watch a new subculture form, those who will only adsorb culture via video games.

Personally I think a GTA3 style version of the Old Testament would be kind of cool. Plenty of sex and violence. New Testament would be the obvious sequel. I'm thinking the "no images" thing is going to flare up for the Koran DLC package. Scientology done in a GTA3 style video game... Put a ring on it, that one's a keeper.

Re:Gameplay is important (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025071)

Bible Adventures 2.0

Actually, considering the old testament is about essentially a gang travelling around while fighting and beating more powerful gangs (with the help of an invisible friend according to the book), it would make for a great strategic RPG.

Make sure to tell Pharaoh your wife is your daughter, then release utter destruction when he thinks she's available. Let's not forget the plot where you arrange a marriage between your sister and the other gang, but use it as a ruse to get all the other gang to cut off their foreskin so you can slaughter them during recovery. Without the framework of rich narrative, you couldn't design that into gameplay, but I imagine the killing of people in too much pain to get out of bed would make for one of the more controversial games of the year (that's just from memory of the first book too, very rich content for a game).

Do both! (2)

Jayfield (2317990) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024451)

Valve was able to do gameplay AND storyline, and with a silent protagonist, to boot! Nothing's wrong with a great storyline, and developing one is NOT a waste of time and resources.

Re:Do both! (2)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024891)

Half-life and the sequel were seen as huge improvements to their predecessors (Quake1 and 2). This was because of two things mainly.

1. Interactivity: It felt like you could touch the world a little more.)
2. Story: Not only was the narrative you were a part of better fleshed out, but more importantly, the characters were as well. Most of this story came from the people with you, and not so much what you did.

FarCry came out and it improved on that a bit. Halflife had very small corridors that you were allowed to walk down. FarCry had an entrance and an exit, and how you connected the two was entirely up to you. The story was just told in-between levels.

Call of Duty didn't learn that lesson though and started another 'phase' (which I'd call a decline.) It turned on tighter rails than halflife had. Not only could you only walk down a small corridor, you had to be looking the right way too. The 'vehicle' scenes didn't even allow you to drive, you just were along for the ride. I totally skipped the 'Call of Duty' series because of that. Even up to the current (unreconizable) MW2 variants.

I'd say that COD supports his statement that story has stolen too much from gameplay. However, FarCry is a better example of good balance.

Re:Do both! (4, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024937)

Yeah, it's just one developer (who has had success at his limited model) opinion.

Jaffe's most famous game, God of War, was pretty much the definition of near perfect gameplay for its genre, but had almost no plot to speak of beyond "let's get some revenge!" I got bored and stopped playing about half way though.

On the other hand, Uncharted 2 (which had a lot of gameplay mechanics borrowed from GoW) had brilliant voice acting and a solid plot, and I couldn't put it down until I finished it.

In the end video games basically involve starting at a screen and mashing buttons. If they don't give you a decent reason to mash those buttons, you might as well be starting at a wall...

Doesn't matter if he's right... (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024457)

... because there's no going back. No one is going to un-seduce an entire industry. Well... except for consumers refusing to buy and that doesn't seem to be happening. Jaffe was bitching to the wrong audience; if he really wanted to change this, he needs to persuade consumers of his better way.

Re:Doesn't matter if he's right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024541)

Consumers are already convinced! Look at some of the top selling games ever made. Do the Mario games have strong character development and story arc? But does Nintendo make new, strong, 2D platformers? It seems to me that Nintendo is way more fascinated with 3D platformers (and real 3D hardware). Jaffe *is* complaining to the right people, but they don't want to listen.

Not all games aspire to be legendary (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024469)

Nothing personal but I easily recognize that there is a difference in what some gamers want. Some love intricate storylines, deep characters and that kind of thing (Skyrim, Final Fantasy... etc). Others like straight unbridled action (Modern Warfare, Battlefield... etc). I think he has a very narrow view of things to be honest.

I halfway agree... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024471)

Make a cinematic game with horrible gameplay, you have a horrible game. Having a fun game with no plot, and you still have a fun game.

If your point is to make a game which will sell well, guess which you should focus on?

That said, I don't think making a fun game cinematic is a waste of resources, because they certainly fill a niche... just make sure you've got the gameplay down, first.

Easy way to guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024473)

...ask IW or Activision to release "percentage of cutscenes watched" figures...

Re:Easy way to guess... (1)

BenBenBen (249969) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024547)

There's cutscenes?

Story isn't a checkbox on the feature list (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024495)

Story is good, but it has to be worked into the game appropriately. It's very hard to have a game ride on its gameplay alone; you need to give the player a reason to keep playing, a reason to care about the characters involved, a reason to be interested in the world they're playing in. And this can be done well regardless of the ratio of story to gameplay in a game.

On one extreme, you have a game like Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: being a visual novel/puzzle game, it's 95% story. But it received rave reviews and was loved by gamers of all sorts, even those who hadn't really played adventure games before. On the other extreme you have games like Portal, which have no cutscenes, few characters, and tell their story entirely through the game as you play it -- and they work too. What doesn't work is shoehorning the story in, as if it was some kind of thing the designers reluctantly had to check off on the list of required features.

Yes, he is right. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024499)

Games swayed way too much to the 'long narrative' side. Every other game is a narrative now. in between the narrative, either a platform game mechanic, a fps mechanic, or a mmo mechanic is squeezed in. yes, there are good games in between these, that work. like swtor. or kotor. but, most do not cut it.

first of all, almost all potential narratives that can be told have been told in almost all of the genres. really, how many times you can save a fantasy medieval land from dragons. or, what kind of different world-shattering dangers can a fantasy medieval world can have. they all started repetition.

what was lost was the sandboxing. ie, games in which you created a narrative, as opposed to your game being a 'trigger flag' in between narratives the developer told. like sid meier's pirates.

these games have infinite replay value. pirates was able to virtually create 16-17th centuries spanish main with all the limitations of commodore 64. and its gameplay and replay value was greater than wow. ( i played 5 years, and i dont remember anything from its story ) i still can fire up pirates (in its sid meier's pirates pc incarnation) and play it without getting bored for hours occasionally, but, to make me replay wow from level 1 again, no amount of money could be enough. well, maybe if you paid REAL good, i would do it.

now we come to the sad part. pirates accomplished SO much depth and replay value with the limitations of 64 kb memory and a tape recorder. imagine how huge it would be, if it was done today, with the excessive power our current gaming setups have. (pc and console - even if pc is stronger, console still could do wonders for a game like a proper pirates remake).

so in that respect, he is right. what the industry has forgotten, has been games that allow YOU to tell the narrative, with infinite replay value.

Re:Yes, he is right. (1)

owenferguson (521762) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024905)

OMG I want a Pirates! remake so bad, you have no idea. Make it GTA:Pirates! where you can steal your way up from a zodiac or whatever and eventually have a fleet with aircraft carriers and whatnot. DO WANT!

Re:Yes, he is right. (2)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025263)

first of all, almost all potential narratives that can be told have been told in almost all of the genres. really, how many times you can save a fantasy medieval land from dragons. or, what kind of different world-shattering dangers can a fantasy medieval world can have. they all started repetition.

In this fast paced platformer RPG set in a medieval world where magic-meets-steampunk our protagonist has been badly injured when Cyborg Raiders ransacked her home and killed her parents. Facing foreclosure of her inherited property due to her inability to work, she decides to take up a crazy inventor's proposition have her wooden peg-leg replaced with a cybernetic ethereal-piston driven leg which allows her to leap tall buildings in a single bound, skate short distances at great speeds, and much more through its power slots & upgrades.

While our heroin quests to pay back her debt to the inventor, she uncovers a dark plot to end all magic and science in the name of purity. Will she seek revenge on the all cyborgs for her parents deaths, will she delve into the depths of wizardry and/or cybernetics in the process, find peaceful balance in them both, or forever remain a troubled self loathing wretch while seeking any form of purity while not being fully human, cybernetic or ethereal?

How will she cope when it's revealed that an ancient alien intelligence is gaining control over those in seats of power? You decide if the world will survive the rise of man, myth and machine.

No, no... I give up. You're absolutely right. Let's burn all the books, movies and music! Every note has been played, every word written, every byte computed! Every game should fit into the lines you've defined, or none at all!
--Or, instead, why don't you just keep playing the classics, there are more there than you can ever complete. I grew up with Pong, Galaga, etc too; I agree that too much narrative is a bad thing, but there's only so much Pac-man, Lemmings, or SimCity I can take, it's surely less than the time I've spend playing FF5... I think it's best to keep on enjoying the beauty that is "everything in moderation". Narrative is now possible in many forms. Now it can be told along side gameplay in a non-intrusive way, see Bastion; Or even told only through the gameplay itself. I, for one, think Pac-Man would have been less of a game without it's "quirky" narrative in it's cut scenes... o_O

P.S. Keep in mind that a lot of "Game Script Writers" would have rather been "Firm Script Writers"... but we're not all like this.

one size does not fit all. (4, Informative)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:one size does not fit all. (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025163)

I agree. If you're following some artificial formula that someone says will make a good game no matter what, you're not making a good game. The game should develop how it should develop.

He's Spot On (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024509)

There's nothing worse in a game that feeling like you're just something the developers had to deal with when trying to tell "their" story.

Stories in a game are great -- as long as the *player* is the one that drives the story. The player must be able to make choices that affect the story, and the gameplay should be where the story evolves, not in cut scenes.

I want to play an interactive game damnit, not watch a movie.

There are two kinds of gamers (0)

Pausanias (681077) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024515)

Those who play primarily for being part of an interactive story, and those who play primarily for the gameplay mechanic.

Neither is better or worse---they just are.

Re:There are two kinds of gamers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024597)

I like both, for replay value I usually want to skip the story and the long tutorial "how to find crap in this world" stuff. Often there's no good way to do it though.

Most of the stories are so stupid though, they could just skip them.

Re:There are two kinds of gamers (1)

CobaltBlueDW (899284) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024831)

I whole heartedly agree. Video game tastes differ just as music taste do. He may not want to be in the business of making interactive movie, just as he may not want to be in the business of making pop song, but that doesn't degrade their market value. --And yes, I think if interactive movies were songs they'd be the pop songs of the gaming world: over produced, over hyped, catchy, low replay value.

Re:There are two kinds of gamers (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024903)

Those who play primarily for being part of an interactive story, and those who play primarily for the gameplay mechanic.

Neither is better or worse---they just are.

This is almost as much fun as watching the hard science fiction and the soft science fiction types battle it out.

Track ride (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024519)

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.

Re:Track ride (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025019)

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.

Don't know if I agree with that summary. David Jaffe created God of War, in which not only does the player go on a track ride to do A then B, then C - THEY LITERALLY PRESS A then B then C to do it! (oh wait, it was a PS3 game... make that X then SQUARE then CIRCLE ;)

Re:Track ride (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025041)

The player does A, then B, then C, with obstacles along the way.

And I would argue there's nothing wrong with that. It's just an interactive story. Stories have been told as long as humanity has communicated, and they have taken all kinds of forms. Given the reader (or in the case of video games the viewer) a choice in the story deepens his or her engagement in it, even if the choice is superficial.

Re:Track ride (1)

roeguard (1113267) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025247)

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.

Right there, you hit on the head why I quite playing WoW.

With the Cataclysm expansion, everything felt like it suddenly got locked onto some rails that you couldn't escape from. Want to do a quest in Zone A? Well, you better have done the lead-in quests in Zone B, or they won't even give it to you. Heck, the quest giver might not even be "phased in" yet. Whole sections of the world are just "paused" waiting for you to do the pre-req quests.

Its a damn shame. Especially since, due to its MMORPGness, I can't even go back and play the game I used to love.

Re:Track ride (2)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025315)

I think you're absolutely right; I interpreted TFA & the poster's comments the same way. It isn't storyline that is disturbing, it's a reliance on storyline as the majority of a game's content/presentation that kills the gaming, and that's disturbing (since so many, successful, low-budget game producers are doing just that, as you point out).

I think Dragon's Lair had the formula somewhat right for the most part -- it's a track ride, but, you could screw up and get a funny animation instead of progressing. However, the only "dynamic" (I use the term loosely) element to the game was that you would end up with randomly chosen sequences to get past.

This brings up a huge, huge topic: how to randomly, or procedurally, generate storyline in an open world game. Roguelike developers have struggled with this for a long time. Dwarf Fortress takes a major stab at it but it's not even a completed game, yet, and so far I don't see the random token-dropping as truly dynamic, procedurally-generated storytelling.

This is really a topic for r.g.r.d., but if you can procedurally generate engaging and interesting storyline (probably involving many dozens, and dozens, of possible "ingredients" to procedurally choose from) then you can tack it onto a procedurally generated world, and good-bye, big worlds that take forever to design and map out, and good-bye predictability. Replayability for a game of the same quality as "Zelda: Ocarina of Time", for all as sophisticated as that game is by today's standards, goes straight through the roof if you can make it a totally new world with totally new challenges and new story every time you play. People can get addicted to games like that for a lifetime.

So, right away, by pointing out that there's this whole procedural generation thing, you can dismiss the article's argument (note: original poster disagrees with the premise presented by the article.) It's just as you point out: the story isn't what's wrong. It's this reliance on story as "the meat", when players have already played a hundred challenge-less platformers already and if they wanted a good story, they'd go read a decent book.

I think when authors realize that if they can get their game across to an audience, and make sales, they can profit. Think about how many young and young-ish gamers are out there who haven't played so many games in their lifetime. Think about how mind-blowing it could be to play a really, really, really dumb and stupid platformer that has animated cutscenes and recorded human dialogue for the script. If you've never played that before, you'd be willing to plunk down five bucks for the "full version" and keep getting your cock passively sucked by the developer.

So, it just run, shoot, run, respawn (2)

brain1 (699194) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024521)

Sorry I have to disagree with Mr. Jaffe. A good game is like a good movie. You become immersed in it for hours. And it should always have an excellent single player version which, in my experience, on many top titles is severly lacking. Too much "Call of Duty" and "Battlefield" type play is out there and it's primarily geared towards selling copies for multiplayer. As someone who really treasures the immersion and cinematic flavor of a good single-player shooter, I refuse to invest my money into something we used to call a "twitch game." It becomes boring as all you do is run and try not to die. You don't get to really experience the game.

There's a market for both (1)

ausrob (864993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024531)

The success of games like Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed (to name but a few) have shown that an immersive storyline works just fine. The fact that successive titles fixed up issues in gameplay also shows that game play is just as important (Assassin's Creed's debut version was tiresome). In the end though, do you remember the gameplay or the storyline more once you've set aside the controller? I think there's a market for both, if not more so for a game with a vivid and memorable story to tell.

Re:There's a market for both (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024743)

Depends how bad the gameplay is. I've had occasion to stop playing games because the gameplay or control system was just so damn infuriating (Hammerfight, Tomb Raider: Anniversary). The two go hand in hand as far as I'm concerned and arguing against "story-telling" and for "gameplay" is like arguing against using scored music in film and for dialogue. One doesn't preclude the other and too much of either at the expense of the other will, most times, make for an unpleasant experience. (You've obviously got outliers like Portal which is storytelling-lite and gameplay-heavy.)

Re:There's a market for both (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025039)

The success of games like Mass Effect and Assassin's Creed (to name but a few) have shown that an immersive storyline works just fine.

Mass Effect is just a bad SyFy movie with a few interactive shooting sequences.

Games with a storyline (or approx. thereof) (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024537)

  • Infocom's Sorcerer
  • Infocom's Deadline
  • Wing Commander (multipath storyline, but there was a fixed number of paths)
  • Wing Commander 2
  • Frontier: First Encounters (the storyline was optional, but it was there)

I honestly don't see anything wrong with any of these games. I regard them as exceptionally good for the time.

Re:Games with a storyline (or approx. thereof) (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024677)

it's also not clear where Amnesia: The Dark Descent would end up. you can ignore the storyline completely and still have a very good game (especially good when you consider that, mechanically, it's actually just a bunch of fetch quests and easy puzzles). the storyline, nonetheless, is quite compelling if you bother with it, and it is actually pretty hard to ignore completely.

Different strokes for different play styles (1)

s.petry (762400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024539)

To me, he's crossing genres.

There are some that thrive on the hand given story. They don't want to be creative, they just want to blow some sh^%$ up! Twisted Metal was one of those games, and at the time was an exceptionally made one. Similar to Unreal Tournament, you get things designed for you and play on maps designed for you. That's not to say no skill is involved, but you don't have to be creative on solutions. Aim well, drive well, learn the maps, and get high scores. Those games are great, but also have limited life. Play for an hour and then go on to something else.

The other half of the gaming community though prefers to make things up as they go, and create their own game. This is the popularity of Skyrim and World of Warcraft. (One may argue that WoW's content is all hand picked, which it is, but the quests one does and which realm they play on and what armor and weapons they choose, etc.. are all up to the player.). Milestones still need to be marked, and a cut-scene is the best way of marking those milestones. These kind of games really don't end, at least in story line. Content can be added, players can go do old quests they missed, or start a new character and see the world from a different angle.

So I agree with him for the more arcade type games. Disagree with him when it comes to story based games.

An old discussion (1)

Grindalf (1089511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024549)

This was a theme plundered by ID software and Epic when they produced Quake III arena and Unreal Tournament in the late 90s. They both went back to narrative based plots after very rapidly ...

Press X or Start to SKIP this scene (1)

GabriellaKat (748072) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024553)

That tends to be the solution I see most often to narrative boring crap. He has a point, how many of you skip ahead?

Re:Press X or Start to SKIP this scene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024835)

However, you will probably lose some juicy tidbit of information or context for the rest of the game. Sure, you might be able to figure out what's going on over the next few levels on your own but those levels were probably originally designed to flesh out and develop the message in the cut scene - not to force you to piece things together.

I think the designer's point is not to put the story into a mini movie but rather directly into the gameplay. This lets players experience the story instead of watching it. Skipping cut scenes accomplishes neither of these.

It's a craft. (1)

Cidolfas (1358603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024567)

There's been a few very interesting takes on this really old (in terms of how long games have been a field with discussion) argument in the past few weeks:

My favorites:
http://www.raphkoster.com/2012/01/20/narrative-is-not-a-game-mechanic/ [raphkoster.com]
http://whatgamesare.com/2012/02/the-narrative-vs-mechanics-circus.html [whatgamesare.com]

My personal take? I'm a grad student working on procedural narrative, hacking the cognitive loop of story building players go through during play. So... I agree with Jaffe? It's really much more of a slider than a dichotomy. In fact...
http://whatgamesare.com/2011/12/the-four-lenses-of-game-making.html [whatgamesare.com]
It's a way more broad than even a single slider. I'm not even sure that Kelly's 2d graph comes close to the rich diversity of experience that can be created though video games.

Want better gameplay? (2, Interesting)

stephencrane (771345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024605)

Go play Breakout. Or Super Breakout, if you need the flashbang. Want an audiovisual literary development with some level of interactivity? Play Planescape, Dragon Age, Bioshock, Fallout 2, KOTOR, etc. You can hate cut-scene-heavy games and still get great narrative. My personal opinion is that cut-scene segments are a bit of a cheat to get there if you're using them for all the heavy story lifting.

Story through gameplay (1)

tiago.bonetti (1995614) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024615)

The most amazing games not only do both, but make them interdependent. e.g.: ICO, The Legend of Zelda, SotC, Mario Bros ...

Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024629)

Flamer uses flamebait. It's highly effective.

Story != Rails, Story == Goal (1)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024633)

Story is fine, rails are not. Unfortunately it's difficult to enforce your story if you don't have rails up. (Difficult doesn't mean impossible.) One of the things that story helps with is giving the character a goal.

On Omaha Beach, it helps to know WHY you're fighting this battle, and what you can expect on the other side. However, as soon as you tell me I can't walk "other there" instead then I could care less about your silly story.

Twisted Metal Fan (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024635)

I think that is precisely what I like about Twisted Metal is that it does not really tell a story. The violence is almost cartoonish. I really liked the original one with that clown van. It was hysterical.

Re:Twisted Metal Fan (2)

brainzach (2032950) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024971)

The characters in Twisted Metal have their own stories behind them which makes the game more engaging.

It depends (1)

willaien (2494962) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024699)

It depends on what you're shooting for. Trying to cram a story onto a game is bad.

But, I do love games that strive to tell a good story - Metal Gear Solid 4 comes to mind. Great game, but practically a very long movie.

Why not use the tools you have available to you to tell the story you want? 3D is here to stay, and, as has been shown by increasing usage in film, it's certainly capable of telling a good story.

Are people having fun incorrectly, Jaffe? (0)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024701)

Maybe he should talk to Tim Schafer, Double Fine, et al. [kickstarter.com] and tell all these people that they are having fun incorrectly.

Re:Are people having fun incorrectly, Jaffe? (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024821)

Maybe he should talk to Tim Schafer, Double Fine, et al. [kickstarter.com] and tell all these people that they are having fun incorrectly.

Apparently, what Jaffe enjoys most is telling others that they're playing wrong.

Re:Are people having fun incorrectly, Jaffe? (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025035)

Point and click adventure games have largely been about the mechanics. The mechanics of those games involve puzzle solving. Good point and clicks have interesting and difficult puzzles, bad ones have simple and boring ones.He's not arguing to abolish story from games; he is simply stating that the primary draw to a game should be the mechanics, since that is what games do best. Other mediums tell narratives better, so if you want your primary draw to be the narrative, you are better off not being a game.

Depends on the game... (1)

Stone316 (629009) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024703)

Some games I play for the story, sometimes for the game play.

For example.. Call of Duty, I rarely play the story mode, just jump straight to multiplayer. However, Gears of War or Uncharted I play for the story. I don't think you generalize and say the focus should be entirely on gameplay.

oddly (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024719)

Twisted Metal is one of my top games everyone else loves but I hate, not cause of story but because of its gameplay. Now granted I haven't been forced to play it since PS1 days but what I remember was for a car game it responded very poorly, and far as a fun factor unless you memorised the maps it was seriously aggravating to be bombed from somewhere, knocked into oblivion and stuck in a ditch or a tree.

What if the gameplay is the story? (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024723)

Remember the old Sierra adventure games like King's Quest and Space Quest? Most of what made those games fun was the fact that you were being told a story. The puzzles were fun in their own right, but hardly ever had any deep relation to the plot at hand. The only real reason for completing them was to advance the storyline. Those games could have easily been published as printed stories, but they were more fun with the animated characters, beautiful scenery, and (in later games) voice acting.

Re:What if the gameplay is the story? (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024983)

Colonels Bequest was a fine example of such. I played that game for years, and still to this day I find different ways to advance the story, which changes who is shown in the protagonist/antagonist light.

Awww (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024755)

Awww, you don't like the way other people are developing their games?

Tough shit, do things your own way and let the market decide; and stop whining.

Some of us aren't exactly serious gamers and spend less than 5 hours a week playing video games.

But that's the wonderful thing about the video games, if you don't like a game, you don't have to play it.

I don't have skyrim, and don't plan to get it.

And with conceited attitudes like that, don't expect me to play twisted metal either; there are plenty of other games out there.

They should be two types not positions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024757)

I think he's upset by the dominance of storytelling in games but they originally were two types of games. Storytelling games were separate from FPS games for a reason, they slowed gameplay if the story took over. I'm against bad storytelling and all but a small percentage wouldn't be fit for a SciFi Channel movie. Where I think his outrage comes from is the fact bad storytelling is being used to cover up for bad gameplay or in some rare cases good storytelling is covering up for bad gameplay. What drives me nuts is a minute or two of gameplay broken up by 5 minutes of cut scenes. Sometimes it's a minute or two of gameplay, 5 minutes of cut scene then 5 minutes of travel followed by another 5 minute cut scene finally leading to a minute or two of gameplay. I'm not against a few cut scenes here and there but a lot of games seem to be made by frustrated filmmakers who aren't good at making films or games.

He's an idiot (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024787)

Games without a plot are all basically Pacman, and wear out pretty quickly. If there's no sense of progression, it just becomes tedious.

Then again, maybe he has a point. Things with an actual story don't seem to sell these days. Just look at the biggest movies of any given week.

Gaming is its own thing (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024841)

I'm not a gamer, but as a comics reader and creator, I often see this sort of issue raised in terms of comics, which is another medium that sometimes tries to emulate other media (especially film). Gaming is its own thing. It's fine for it to borrow from other media (including film and comics), but it shouldn't try to be the same thing. Just as comics draws from the visual language of film, the narrative language of prose, the expressive language of art, and so on, so can games. But they should always be free to do things that other media cannot, because... that's the point of it being its own medium.

Not all games need to be the same.... (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024911)

Some games are interactive cinema, some are interactive worlds, some are freeform (i.e. sandbox), some are on rails.

You can't rail on super mario for being too linear. The whole point is that it's a linear experience. You can argue, correctly I think, that some games can be a bit too story, or a bit too open, or at least in some ways.

In Star wars, the old republic MMO you have this very concrete story line that runs *you* through all these planets and so on. That works well until the point where you hit level cap, and every other sith/jedi you see is a member of the small elite dark/jedi council, and you are into the actual business of an MMO which is the hampster wheel of gear progression and finding stuff to do every day. It's so linear to start, the entire thing, that when you get to level cap it's a jaring experience to not having 4 quests in your log for the next hub and somewhere to go.

Skyrim is an example of a bit too open. There *is* a plot there. But you can almost completely miss major portions of it, and you can't realistically see major plot differences without multiple play throughs of an easily 80 hour game. That *can* be good, but it's so big and vast that you have almost no sense of how alternate versions would play out (think the civil war story line that runs along with the rest of the game). And there's huge parts of the world you can easily miss (the giant underground area for example) even if you are spending a lot of time exploring. You might just find these little elevator you can't get into, which unlocks a whole other world, or just a room with a free sword, and you don't know differently, and you just move on, never knowing what you missed or what you could have done to find it.

Both of those are very nitpicky examples to try and be illustrative with current games. I think as an industry we have discovered that most of the time people want a compelling story or plot that they can play through, and that sort of sits on top of their playing in big open worlds. For every Skyrim or WoW or SWTOR that people have they also want some CoD's, some Uncharteds,and some Mass Effect's. There's room in the market for everything, and when you're competing for gamers time more than money you don't really want to sell them a game they can't play. You can bet big, and win, like skyrim, which is also the 5th in a series, but you could also bet big and have no one know who you are (Divinity II: Ego Draconis).

Re:Not all games need to be the same.... (1)

Kharny (239931) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025143)

Swtor is the prefect example of overkill in this, huge storytelling cutscenes for even the smallest quests, which made me skip more and more of the dialogue.

Worse was that there was very little real change in the storyline, no matter what you chose to answer.

I agree (3, Insightful)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024917)

Games are meant to be played. Watching a cutscene is not playing a game. As one of several metrics, I judge the quality of a game by its level of interactivity. If I am not controlling the story, even if it is as simple as making story decisions like in the Mass Effect and Witcher games, then I am only an observer of the story. In that case, movies and books are much more effective mediums for telling a story. The whole point of automated games is that the level of interactivity can be increased without the player needing to worry about the implementation (such as you would need to do in pen-and-paper RPGs like DnD or GURPS). This is precisely the reason why I don't enjoy JRPGs - to me they simply feel like a very tedious and drawn-out way to watch an anime.

Re:I agree (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025097)

As one of several metrics, I judge the quality of a game by its level of interactivity.

That might work for a personal metric, but I wouldn't take game recommendations for you. Some people like punctuated interactivity.

In that case, movies and books are much more effective mediums for telling a story.

But movies are dreadfully boring. I like stories, but 90 minutes of nothing to do is too much. I can't remember the last time I watched a movie and didn't find myself checking the time halfway through.

Games, on the other hand, are participatory. That keeps me interested. I like the story, but I want to participate, not just hear it rote. As a result, I finish every 80 hour RPG I start.

Omaha Beach (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024935)

Medal of Honor was created by Steven Spielburg, who directed Saving Private Ryan. Accordingly, the assault on Omaha Beach in MoH:Allied Assault is the closest thing I've seen to Saving Private Ryan in game form. And you know what? It works extremely well. That is still one of the most compelling game sequences I've ever played, some 10 years after the fact.

Except... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024941)

He said games have been enjoyed by people for millennia, and that there's no real history of injecting story and emotion into games with really successful results.

Of course, the history of virtual reality is only a few years. We make our VR entertainment game centric to give it purpose and structure, but it truly is a whole new area.

In a word to his point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39024943)

In a word to Mr. Jaffe's point; "Rage"

He is a whiny baby.... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39024959)

Whiny that Mass Effect and Dragon Age games, each version outsell everything he has ever made in his life.

My problem is that ME1 and DA1 both were VERY GOOD in control and customization, then some idiots got their hands on the games and dumbed them down.

Twisted metal was a fun game but it was not a fantastic game that made me want to play it obsessively over a long period of time. Mass Effect and Dragon age as well as Rage, Etc... all give the player a very strong desire to keep playing it until they finish it.

twisted metal was only placed once in a while when friends were over.

Yes (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025007)

One of the reasons I stopped playing many games was because they started making me spend more time in cut-scenes than gameplay, and forcing my character to do things that I would never have done in order to advance the story in the direction they wanted to force me to go. Not only that, but the three-hour-long cut-scene would be created by frustrated wannabe movie director who was a wannabe because they had no clue about how to cut a movie scene, with random cuts between shots and dialog that gives me the same information six times before it moves on to something new.

So, please God, game developers listen to him and stop trying to force a story on top of a game that would otherwise be fun. I have a lot more fun in, say, the GTA games by just driving around doing stuff than playing the tedious story missions.

actually sounds like an arrogant twit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39025091)

Small penis, big ego and can't take criticism: http://www.wired.com/gamelife/2007/05/jaffe_slams_joy/ [wired.com]

I have an opinion! (4, Insightful)

thefixer(tm) (1906774) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025119)

Had to speak up here. Games that don't focus on plot become repetitive and thin. I like Gears of War, I like Vanquish, but at the end of the day you're repeating the same challenges that just increase the difficulty and put a spin or twist on the next level's boss.

I bought an Xbox the day Halo came out, played it all night and beat it by noon the next day. I was CONSUMED by the whole experience. There was a reason WHY I was there killing all those aliens, I felt I understood my character, but most of all, I felt like the days of repeating boring levels that just get a little harder and a little different were over.

The first game I ever beat was Zaxxon, flipped the score back when I was wearing wooden underwear and riding around on dinosaurs. It was fun, when I was 8 or 10. Then I grew up. And funny thing, the games that consumed me in junior high were the games that were all plot. Bards Tale, Wizardry, games that dropped me into a world of fantasy and told me a (good) story along the way.

Today, I have a family, job, other obligations and I only get to play games occasionally. What I choose to do with that time isn't about killing the next boss, it's about the journey through the whole world.

Right now, the few precious moments I spend on video games is in Fallout New Vegas. And while I'm sitting there in my comfy couch with my giant screen and my awesome sound system, the only thing I'm thinking is "What happens next?"

Re:I have an opinion! (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025201)

Had to speak up here. Games that don't focus on plot become repetitive and thin.

My three years of playing Unreal Tournament would disagree with you. In fact, I'd say quite the opposite: games which _do_ focus on plot become repetitive because _the plot is the only thing you can do_.

Or do you think that the NFL should introduce a plot into football games so the audience don't get bored of the repetitive gameplay?

Two Types of People (1)

eegad (588763) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025169)

Without speculating which category Jaffe falls into, I've noticed that there seem to be two types of people - those who go through life looking for meaning in it and those who go through life just trying to figure out how to get to the next [fill in the blank]. While meaning may not be strictly necessary for a challenge/reward based game, it certainly is appealing for some.

And no one cares. (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#39025303)

This strikes me as something similar to what the Sims creator said. And I'll say the same thing I said to that one.
We get it, you lack a critical element to draw people into your game, just shut up and go back to your corner.

Personally? While I do like the more story-lighter games as opposed to the story-heavy games, games with little to no story drive me nuts.
Especially so with games which have the same "Go kill stuff" as the objective over. and over. and over.
I'm not a fan of mindless violence. I prefer my violence to have purpose.
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