Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A confirmed heart

A month ago I wrote about the Heart in Dishonored, and I'm glad my suspicions (it's a dressed-up radar / hint system / audio guide) were correct in this semi-interview at RPS with Arkane devs.

I can't say I share the author's admiration of its narrative results as meaningful narrative -- I found it way too transparent and instrumental in what "they wanted you to feel", which is why the Outsider NPC fails for me -- the designers want to narrate and interpret everything for me, to explain their game. I don't think it's subtle. (Comparatively, the Outsider's dad, the G-man, usually ends up confusing me more than anything. His magic is genuinely mysterious and Gordon Freeman never gets any access to it. In contrast, the Outsider isn't mysterious -- he's just an unexplained writer mouthpiece / deus ex machina / character with no stake at all in what goes on, it's hard to care about a non-presence)

So now I think the way forward for the industry (I believe in a "way forward" because I think novelty is extremely important in art, not in some game industry myth of innovation) to develop its storytelling techniques is, ironically, to listen to that crazy Far Cry 3 writer and think of an entire game as narrative, rather than confining narrative to an isolated series of dioramas with doomed corpses and "poignant" voice over narration. Some of the best indie games do this already: your entire experience is the game narrative, not just some one-off readables or loading screen lore that a writer typed into a spreadsheet.