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Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Does Story Get In The Way Of Gaming?
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | Comment on this story

IndieRPGS.com has posted a new combined Q&A session with several independent RPG developers. The designers were asked why narrative was necessary in games. Basilisk Games' Thomas Riegsecker and Spiderweb Software's Jeff Vogel were among the developers interviewed.

Some designers have demonized narrative as an inherently limiting and unnecessary distraction from the emergent storytelling arising out of pure gameplay. Why have narrative in games?

Jeff Vogel: Someone is demonizing narrative? Really? That seems odd.

Emergent gameplay is great, if you can get it. It is a very difficult thing to do. But storytelling, whatever the medium, is one of the oldest and most fundamental human activities. Human brains are naturally receptive to telling and being told stories. As long as that is true, people will use games to tell stories.

Thomas Riegsecker: Narrative is certainly not required for all games, and in some cases in can be unnecessary baggage for the player. When it comes to role-playing games, one world think that a strong narrative is an absolute requirement. However, countless variations of Rogue shows that you can have a marvelous role-playing experience with little more than a single sentence explaining the goal. Likewise, many successful mainstream RPGs rely on nothing more than the overused plot of “Kill the powerful bad guy”, and any narrative in between the start and end of the game is really unnecessary.

However, narrative can be exceptionally rewarding as well. It can turn a generic role-playing game into a unforgettable one if done correctly. Certainly, when someone fondly remembers an RPG that they enjoyed playing years ago, it is often the story they remember and not the hours of level grinding and monster killing. Likewise, narration can guide the player through a seemingly immense world, preventing that unwelcome feeling of “I don’t know what I should be doing now”. Overall, it really is a player preference. As a developer, I need to find that balance between not enough narrative and too much narrative that will give a rewarding role-playing experience to as many potential customers as possible.

Visit the page below to read all the responses.

IndieRPGS.com: Why Have Narrative In Games?
Basilisk Games
Spiderweb Software

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