In his opening keynote at PAX Australia 2015, Deus Ex creator Warren Spector said that developers need to make the most of video games as a medium for collaborative storytelling. He is of the view that designers need to do more to “embrace that capability.”
Highlighting the advantages of video games over other media, Spector said that players’ experience and participation should always be prioritized. “If all you want to do is show off how clever you are, get out of my medium! Go make a movie or something, because that’s what you should be doing,” he remarked.
Singling out games like Heavy Rain, Uncharted and Telltale’s The Walking Dead, Spector said that although these games aren’t bad, they fail to fully take advantage of the video game medium. He broke games down into three categories: low, medium, and high expression, and said he considers Uncharted to be a low expression game.
It’s not that games like this are bad, but they limit your ability to interact with the game world, so the story can unfold the way the storyteller wants it to unfold.
You have very limited ability to express yourself; it’s about how do you accomplish a predetermined path to get to the next plot point.
It’s a great story – a better story than I’ll ever tell in a game – but it’s not a player story; it’s not your story.
Speaking of medium expression games, Spector used the examples of The Walking Dead and Heavy Rain, explaining that such games create more of an illusion than anything else.
I love The Walking Dead, but the choices you have to make; they’re compelling choices… but they’re designer driven, not player driven. Every choice in a game like this has been pre-scripted and handwritten by a designer somewhere, and the effects of that choice have been predetermined by the developers.
There’s very limited stuff that players actually get to do.
Heavy Rain is an amazing experience. They can tell great stories; better than I can tell in my life as a game developer. But they tell better stories because no player will ever do anything surprising or unaccounted for. They’re basically like five movie scripts all mashed together, and you’re just picking which script you’re telling at any given point in time.
Spector went on to say that low and medium expression games don’t do “a great job at exploiting what makes video games different.” He considers games like Dishonored, Fallout, and Deus Ex to be “high expression.”
What do our readers make of Spector’s remarks?
[Source: Power Up Gaming]