LightBox Looked to Films for Starhawk’s Story Direction

September 28, 2011Written by Zak Islam

A panel of filmmakers recently got together in Fantastic Arcade, Texas, to discuss differences between storytelling in films and games – namely that even big budget games have b-move plots. The panel included various filmakers, as well as LightBox Interactive who explained the decision behind looking at film for the direction regarding Starhawk‘s story.

The president of LightBox, Dylan Jobe, said at the panel:

With Warhawk, the mechanics were crazy fun but the universe was just hollow. A good story and a hero makes the whole thing more compelling, and we brought in talent from the film industry to work on the universe of Starhawk before we even began to think who the characters would be. Writing is something video games still need to improve on. There’s a lot of really bad writing in video games and also in the way that the story is integrated.

Nacho Vigalondo, the Spanish director of Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial and 7:35 de la Manana, added:

I feel frustrated when I play a game like Dead Space that has great mechanics, but a lack of ambition in the story. If it was a movie, with its plot it would be a B-movie, not a big-budget film.

Jobe then replied to the film maker:

You can have plot holes, but camouflage them with the distraction of ‘we’re throwing more zombies at you! It’s something that we had to work on, as before when we had our traditional storytelling ‘three act’ structure in place, we also had all of our timing for the ‘mechanics payout’ in place — when new vehicles, new structures would appear. So we had to consider our need not to just hit our storytelling goals but also the ‘macro structure’ of play.

He concluded:

We pulled an entire mission out to be part of one of the cinematic story moments. It actually worked to make the game flow better and more naturally push the player into the next mission; it wasn’t that we’re trying to make a film or remove the player’s control, but it’s important to understand how story moments can benefit your game.”

Starhawk is currently scheduled for a release in early 2012.