Warren Spector Wants Developers To Encourage Collaborative Storytelling

Warren Spector Wants Developers To Encourage Collaborative Storytelling

Warren Spector has used his keynote address during PAX Australia 2015 to encourage game developers to tap into what is most unique to gaming, namely the inclusion of stories that allow for player agency.

Spector, the creator of Deus Ex, stated that "we are all part of a medium nothing else can do: collaborative storytelling. And I think it’s important that we embrace that capability." To this end, he listed the likes of the Uncharted series, Telltales' Walking Dead series, and Heavy Rain as specific examples of games that do not live up to this potential. Rather than creating interactive movies, he mentions there should be a dual responsibility to create stories in games. By this Spector is referring to the idea that gamers themselves should have as much say in how a story unfolds, coupled with a great deal of ability to explore a game world. 

He states that Naughty Dog's series is an example of a "low expression" game, where the ability for players to express themselves is hampered. He goes on to state that while Uncharted games have "great story... it's not a player story" but rather one set by developers. Of The Walking Dead, Spector notes that while there are "compelling choices" to be made, the path followed by each is predetermined, with choices and their results preprogrammed. Spector goes on to state that Heavy Rain is simply "five movie scripts all mashed together, and you’re just picking which script you’re telling at any given point in time." These latter two were termed "medium expression games".

By contrast, Spector gave a number of examples of games he would call "high expression", or those he sees as living up to the freedom of expression gaming can allow. He mentions fighting games, Fallout 4, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and The Sims among his examples. Spector ultimately concludes that it is the responsibility of all developers to do more to push the medium forward, with consumers encouraged to "vote with their dollars" with experiences that put gamers first.

Source: Power Up Gaming 


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Comments Comments (3)

Posted by Coddfish
On Tuesday 3 Nov 2015 4:07 PM
God, save me from a world filled with nothing but Fallout and Deus Ex clones.

The notion that "player agency" is limited strictly to plot is bizarre. Open, player-driven narratives aren't better than linear ones; they're different approaches with different strengths and weaknesses. Personally, I'll take an emotive, directed story like The Walking Dead or Uncharted over an "open" snoozefest like Fallout any day of the week.

There's a place for both approaches, and this pervasive idea that "you be the director!" is somehow better is become a real blight on gaming.
Posted by Bank
On Tuesday 3 Nov 2015 7:55 PM
Did I just read that. I'll believe that he's not 100% serious.
Na I'm totally onboard with his keynote. Just give me a game with better player agency filled collaborative storytelling than The Last of Us. You know why that game has such "low expression"? Because we're trying to keep Joel and Ellie hanging on for dear life over and over. Why is he telling us that one is more important than the other.

Is he talking about fighting games or is he talking about BlazBlue? What do you mean? - Justin Bieber.
Posted by SpawnSeekSlay
On Wednesday 4 Nov 2015 12:17 PM
Totally agree with Coddfish.
How are Walking Dead, Uncharted, Heavy Rain not living up to player agency? Because they arent made to, and why should they. Sometimes you want to be driven through an adventure or experience.
As much as Im a huge open world fan and love my time in Fallout and Skyrim etc, I totally love going through a more linear or cinematic experience like Uncharted, The Last of Us and The Walking Dead.
We need both. I want/need both.
And I dont think he needs to worry as Open World is certainly becoming more mainstream nowadays more than ever... Mad Max, Just Cause , Fallout 4 etc