Pages Navigation Menu

Let's Talk Video Games

Blueprint : The Open Narrative

VoxelArcade Blueprint # 007

I generally hate open-world games. With a passion.

It’s not the inevitably watered-down graphics or the huge environments that get under my skin. Nor is the endless grind or the incessant map-reading that bothers me. And even though the very last thing that I normally want to do after a busy day making decisions is to come home and have to make more decisions in a game, what really gets me down, each and every time, is the utterly shitty story.

In comparison to a tight-knit and carefully woven linear experience such as Half-Life, Unfinished Swan or Alan Wake, open-world games always feel like a schizophrenic mess – as though someone has taken a perfectly good story, cut it up into a thousand fragments and then pieced it back together, drunk and blindfolded. Sure, there might be the essence of a good yarn in there somewhere but it ends up being nothing more than a skeleton upon which a saggy lump of side-quests and treasure hunts it adorned in the vain hope that we won’t notice the disfigured mess presented before us.

I mean, seriously: in what other medium would this kind of user-driven car-crash pass as credible story telling?

Blueprint Open Narrative Screenshot

The Never Ending Story had the right idea. How have we overlooked this?

So here’s the idea: If you’re going to insist on making them, I want an open-world game that has no core narrative whatsoever. I don’t want there to be any overarching moral-lessons woven in, no boy-destined-to-save-the-kingdom crap or gangster-rags-to-riches bullshit getting in my way. No, I just want a world to explore. I’ll make my own story, thank you very much. And as I approach people within this world and as they seek my help, I want that to dynamically trigger other events in the world – perhaps even randomly, as though the background code was some kind of wonderful chaos theory in action. I want the experience to be utterly and completely different each time that I play it, for the lives of the NPCs to be influenced in a myriad of different ways by my actions or reactions or those of others and for the whole experience to be a rich tapestry of  subtle simplicity, normality and intimacy.

Rather like real life itself, wouldn’t you say?

The following two tabs change content below.
Husband. Parent. Gamer. Go figure.

Latest posts by Luke Martin (see all)

No Comments

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Hindsight : Far Cry 3 | VoxelArcade - [...] something I can let pass. I’m not even really fan of the open-world genre – quite the opposite –…

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Adsense