Warning: The following contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for both Heavy Rain and Red Dead Redemption. Read at your own risk.

So I just finished Red Dead Redemption and along with several other excellent titles, including Heavy Rain , it is easily one of my favorite games of the generation thus far. However, after seeing the final act of RDR and contemplating that outcome, something in my head generated a forced combination of Rockstar's gem and Quantic Dream's masterpiece.

Heavy Rain is an example of fantastic artistic and storytelling achievement in the interactive entertainment medium, but despite having more freedom and being able to impact a branching storyline like never before, it remains almost entirely linear. We may participate in different portions of the story – and entirely miss others – depending on our decisions, but we still follow a set path. In Redemption , we see a GTA-like structure that doesn't really show us anything new in terms of storytelling, but gives us the freedom we've come to expect in sandbox-style experiences. …so what if we combine the two? What if we create a game that immerses us into an epic, almost endlessly-branching tale that requires us to think and weigh consequences as we would in real life?

At this point, some will attempt to point to various RPGs we've had in the past, where we have freedom and decision-making. But that's child's play compared to what I'm suggesting. Here's an example- what if Heavy Rain 's world was as wide open as RDR's? What if, at the start, we could leave the house with Ethan and go wandering about? What if Scott had Madison had run into each other earlier? In RDR, let's look at the climax: Edgar Ross and his hypocritical band of government "officials" shoots John Marsten for various crimes. One can argue for Ross and Co., I suppose – depends on what sort of line you take with the law, and whether you believe a man can redeem himself of committed atrocities – but that's not the point. I never trusted Ross. I fully expected him to shoot me the instant Dutch was dead. If I had had my way, I wouldn't have gone home before attaining closure, one way or the other.

So what if I had simply rode to Blackwater and shot Ross? Of course, I probably would've been branded an outlaw once again and I'd be on the run with my family, but is that not an entirely different branch? And what about Bonnie? What if I had had the option to pick Bonnie instead of Abigail, my wife who I hadn't seen in a long time? You know, sort of like the option of either forgiving or not forgiving Madison in Heavy Rain . In the latter, I was never allowed to do any forward-thinking; it was more about focusing on the current issue and seeing where it goes. But that was due to the linearity; if I had seen the entire world in which the Origimi Killer operated, things would've been very different. And if RDR had offered the very intriguing (and very human) options of Heavy Rain , we'd have an unbelievably lengthy and evolving Western tale.

Thing is, I've often railed against games that supposedly have "ultimate freedom" because they don't include any storylines or character development. The "create everything yourself" idea is nice, but I consider it a dodge more often than not; a way for the developers to bypass any need for actual writing and plot. Wandering about aimlessly and doing almost whatever I please in Oblivion isn't what I'm talking about. Wipe out a village or town; whatever, I don't ever feel connected to anybody involved, including my own character, so I really don't care in the slightest. In Heavy Rain – and in some ways, in RDR – we become very close to the characters because of good stories. I said in my Heavy Rain review that it was the "most human" game I had ever played and I stand by that. And I experienced mixed emotions when John Marsten met his end.

That is something I don't want to lose. But at the same time, I would love to be in full control of an established set of storylines; a "choose your own adventure" of epic, RDR or GTA-like proportions that would dwarf Heavy Rain but give a sandbox adventure more humanism than ever before. It would require a ridiculous script of literally a thousand pages or more, with probably an unheard-of amount of voice acting and other aspects of game creation, but look how far we've come. The best we had was Super Mario Bros. only 25 years ago, which is a drop in the historical bucket. I've long since stopped believing I could predict what's next, or what the limitations of gaming might be. Therefore, I'm hopeful that such an idea might actually become a virtual reality at some point…and if it does, I want credit for it.

As if hundreds of designers hadn't entertained this exact theory a hundred times before but recognized the impossible scale of it.

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maxpontiac
maxpontiac
10 years ago

Actually, that sounds awesome man. I really hope Heavy Rain is only beginning for the game type.

But until that happens, the perfect game to me is GT5.

Milonakis
Milonakis
10 years ago

I think this describes Katamari 4ever perfectly.

coverton341
coverton341
10 years ago

I haven't read the article as I haven't played RDR…I KNOW! SORRY!

Anyway, just given the title and the fact that I think Katamari Forever is the greatest game of all time I had to log in and comment on this and give you my thumbs up of approval.

dkmrules
dkmrules
10 years ago

You may want to give a spoiler alert for the RDR part of the article.

And hell yea it would be awesome, but they would have more freedom if it was set in modern times as opposed to the early 20th century


Last edited by dkmrules on 6/23/2010 9:53:44 PM

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

…the huge bolded warning at the top isn't enough?

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

lol

Victor321
Victor321
10 years ago

lmao this made the rest of my night, now time for PS3!!!

dkmrules
dkmrules
10 years ago

@dkmrules

wow ur a dumbass…….my bad guys

King James
King James
10 years ago

Fail and then redemption!


Last edited by King James on 6/24/2010 1:06:07 AM

dkmrules
dkmrules
10 years ago

thats how I roll 😉

MyWorstNightmar
MyWorstNightmar
10 years ago

Maybe the warning should blink. Perhaps.

NeoHumpty
NeoHumpty
10 years ago

I'd like to see more games follow the structure for Phantasy Star III. I loved choosing who you marry and having several generations of different kids that become the main character.

****RDR SPOILER BELOW****
I Deadeyed and got 6 of the bastards waiting outside the barn. I hated that he got gunned down, as I would have put a bullet in Ross a long time back. I liked the "Blaze of Glory" feel, though. Given the choice, I would have went Keyser Soze on him just for messing with my family.

Victor321
Victor321
10 years ago

Hey Ben, maybe you should start up a gaming company, and get to work under work on Sony as a first party studio!! Imagine all the people you'll meet ^.^ (listing all of them would make your article look like a comment post lol).

It sounds far-fetched, but I'm only poking fun, since you're really passionate about gaming =D

(Hey, who isn't on this site?)

Bugzbunny109
Bugzbunny109
10 years ago

Well, I couldn't read the article because I plan on getting Heavy Rain soon. Can someone tell me what was discussed without talking about the plot of HR? Thanks 🙂

NeoHumpty
NeoHumpty
10 years ago

The main spoiler was RDR. What he says about HR really isn't that big of a deal, just a option you come across.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Just how HR is heavy on story and character development whereas open world games don't get you quite as involved or attached, so like, what would it be like if you could join the two? Have an open world game with branching story lines that aren't just fetch and do quests but thick with plot and character.

Bugzbunny109
Bugzbunny109
10 years ago

Muchas gracias 🙂

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

I was kind of hoping for something like this out of LA Noire, obviously it couldn't be quite as in-depth as Ben's vision but some sort of step in that direction. Sadly, the jump to DVD tells me it can't have that kind of content.

natho86
natho86
10 years ago

I was thinking the same thing.

StangMan80
StangMan80
10 years ago

Dude that sounds Awesome. I hope this does happen(I'm sure it will) and when it does I'll remember this article.
Yes(maxpontiac) I agree untill that happens GT5 is the perfect game.

StangMan80
StangMan80
10 years ago

GT5 IS THE PERFECT GAME!!!

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Ben, did you play to the real end of the game, after which the credits actually roll? The presentation was a bit cheesy, but still very satisfying.

One game that comes pretty close to offering an open world, and branching story paths is Mass Effect 2. I know you don't care for it much, but even I didn't play Mass Effect 1, and I enjoyed it for what it offered. As I said before, I'm not a fan of Unreal Engine games, but it certainly is worth a visit. I'm sure you'll dig it.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

Yes, I did play that far. As far as I'm concerned, no game is over until you see credits.

As for ME2, I know what you're saying, but I still call that "faux freedom." It's there, but it doesn't do half of what I would want it to do.

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

About the credits rolling: Same here. That's exactly what kept me going.

Regarding ME2, characters survive/die (I made it out with everybody alive), and their relationships depend on whether you complete the side missions and the outcomes. Not quite Heavy Rain, but it comes very close. I wasn't expecting to like it, but it was pretty engrossing.

CharlesD
CharlesD
10 years ago

Ben, as you may recall I have always said I want a game where I can do anything I want. If I want to live in the city, fine. If I want to start a small business, whatever, I can do exactly as I please the entire time. The idea of a good back-story and some guiding storyline to the absolute freedom of an individual character is a great combination. In fact, if I had it my way, I would want a world the size of earth with all the different countries (in whatever time period) towns and cities. You chose where you start your life which dictates which in depth storyline your character gets to follow. Traveling to different places would take time and money as it does in real life.

However, the scale that these ideas requires is that of a fully operational immersive reality entertainment system with thousands of times the amount of programing and computing power of modern games and systems. :'( maybe one day in the far future this dream will become a reality.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

They were talking about that tonight on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and how it was probably the only way we could ever come close to traveling back in time.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

But remember, I want the stories to take the limelight, not the freedom. The latter needs to be a supplement to the former, in my perfect game.

CharlesD
CharlesD
10 years ago

I saw that episode, through the wormhole and the conclusion that an exceedingly advanced simulation would be the most likely and realistic way to travel back in time. And although he said, "this is not a video-game" what if it was?? I agree the emphasis should be on the story I just want unlimited freedom as a perk of the whole thing. I think it would make the story even more powerful and have more ability to make the player feel emotions of loneliness, fear, etc. when they are in this massive environment.

WorldEndsWithMe
WorldEndsWithMe
10 years ago

Science channel ftw.

King James
King James
10 years ago

Ben!!! YOU ARE ON TO SOMETHING THERE!

Too bad you'll have to wait a decade or 2 before someone puts that much money into a game like that. But if such a game was to come out. I sure it will be a PS5 exclusive. 😉

I think to closest you'll gonna get to that type of game would be Bioware's Star Wars: The Old Republic. Tons of voice-acting. Numerous planets. You get your own starship. Light vs. Dark Side. About 10 different classes (i think). That all have there own story-lines. Man, that game is gonna be sweet!

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
10 years ago

I havnt played Heavy Rain yet, but with the summer slump im sure to pick it up! I just picked up Transformers war for cybertron today and I must say its a very fun game! A step forward for sure!

Anyways, to me and probably only me RDR had a fantastic story regardless of how open the world was. I loved it, and have never felt so connected to a character after what happened in the end. Fantastic story to me, and although a frustrating end, it fit! My favorite game this year by far. I hate to say it as GOW is one of my fav. series but RDR story, and script has me hanging still and I finished it 3 or 4 days ago…

Temjin001
Temjin001
10 years ago

Greatest game of all time in my universe = Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

Shams
Shams
10 years ago

Haha, mine, too…Well, one of them. Master Ninja difficulty's breaking my [email protected]

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

Aww, I couldn't stop myself until it was too late. Oh well, that's my own dumb fault.

That being said, I couldn't bring myself to read the rest of the article once I'd stopped (The first half of the third paragraph), but what you're suggesting is actually really very interesting. My problem would be in that open-world games rarely have a story that makes you focus entirely on it, there are always a bunch of other things to do. They focus on the freedom, which is not what you really want in a purely story-driven game such as what you seem to be suggesting.

It would certainly be a brilliant concept, don't get me wrong, but the ambition is simply over-the-top. I don't see how such a project would be feasible in any realistic time-frame. I mean RDRedemption took 5 years, and that wasn't terrible, but look at the development times of other games such as GT5 and FFVersusXIII. Neither has been in development for an extended period of time, yet people are complaining.

Another thing would be the spatial capabilities of the disc, unless it were a downloadable game. That alone makes it incredibly unlikely that we will see a game such as you are proposing until we have DNA based computing.

My perfect game would feature a quick-time turn-based battle system. The perfect way to appease strategists and 'twitch-gamers'. (The quick-time can be turned off, of course.) I haven't decided on any other features yet, but open-world is almost a necessity.

Also, spoiler warnings only make me want to read things more. I know, I'm very, very, very odd in that respect.
Peace

Ole_Gunner
Ole_Gunner
10 years ago

Wow Ben a 1000 page script!!But I see where your comin from. Over the last couple years I've noticed that I always want a brilliant story in whatever game I play. I always want to connect with my character which the likes of Uncharted, MGS and Heavy Rain allow for.
I think the industry as a whole is following this trend as an emphasis on story telling ability has emerged.
Hence my focus on PS3 exclusives as these games usually serve my appetite 😀

Bjorn77
Bjorn77
10 years ago

That was exactly what I was thinking, I have not played Heavy Rain, But in RDR I missed the fact that things I did not really effected the story.

But I can imagine that such a game would be impossible for this generation console. It took Rockstar 5 years to develop Red Deaad, It would have taken 10 to 15 if they would have to program and make 100 's of different possibilities.

As a programmer myself I know that with each possibility you create you create 6 other possible conflicts.

DeathOfChaos
DeathOfChaos
10 years ago

If Versus XIII doesn't get into that aspect, and I thought of Versus XIII throughout the whole article, I believe that the Next Gen games will reach that idea quite successfully. This gen of gaming is quite far from what we had last gen, but there are still some things I notice that is weird with things like graphical glitches and set backs (things like Uncharted 2 when scaling a wall, he isn't even touching anything or weird invisible barriers or a mysterious force that makes you turn around like in Heavy Rain and some select few RPG games of this gen, or even some patchy/layered lighting effects) I think the next generation of gaming is a promise in that direction, for both graphical perfections AND freedom. The graphical mishaps I noted I can already tell is starting to fade away, mostly in PS3 games.

___________
___________
10 years ago

i still have to say infamous is by far the best game ive played this gen, and one of the best ive ever played.
its so much fun jumping, climbing, grinding, frying enemies.
its very rare i can play a game for months on end without getting bored, ive finished infamous 19 times now and im STILL not sick of it!

not to mention it has one of the best storyline ever put into a video game.
the plot twists, the slow leaking answers, than the massive flood gate open towards the end was just brilliant!

RDR was a little disappointing to me, great game MASSIVE! improvement on GTAIV but its still a little meh.
what lets this game down along with 99% of games these days are there repetitive and boring as bat sh*t!
if im bored out of my f*cking mind while playing a game than theres something seriously wrong!
thats what RDR and GTAIV did to me, they bored the hell out of me.
a man can only ride a horse from point A to point B and shoot some people a certain amount of time before it gets repetitive and boring as bat sh*t!

that proves what i said in the TM article yesterday, developers have become so heffed up on graphics there not spending enough time on the level design and gameplay.

ive always said graphics are by far the LEAST important aspect of a game.
why? simple!

can a game that has bad graphics but is really fun be a good game?
YES!
example just cause 2.

can a game that has the worlds best graphics but is boring and repetetive as f*ck be a good game?
NO!
example killzone 2.
why?
because the whole point of playing games is to enjoy yourself and have FUN!
now last time i checked if im bored out of my mind, fun is the last emotion im feeling!

Lawless SXE
Lawless SXE
10 years ago

I agree with you there, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that Killzone 2 was boring. It was engaging, for me, but not particularly fun. inFamous was a lot of fun though. So much so that it was the first (and thus far only) game that I managed to Platinum.

Red Dead Redemption can be very fun, but you have to throw yourself at trying to have fun. For example, catching a moving train, or wasting every cent you have at the gambling tables just for the sake of it.

Also, yeah, graphics are probably the least important part of the game. Although, great graphics help with the immersion factor. But yes, gameplay and ease of control are the most important IMO.

___________
___________
10 years ago

thats the point, if a games mini games are more enjoyable than the missions themselves than theres something seriously wrong!
KZ2 and RDR were just far too repetitive, they lacked that X factor infamous had that made it so much fun to play.
as jeremy from top gear would say as a technical experiment there both amazing, but as games there pretty lackluster.

RDR and KZ2 are like the Ferrari 599 GTB a technical marvel, but it lacks the X factor, the soul, the passion that makes it a Ferrari.
as he said he would rather a old spider over the 599, yes its crap the crank shaft was not aligned properly so it would shatter very quickly, the car was terrible! it would break every 5 minutes!!!!!
but who cares when it looks and sounds this good?

that fits KZ2 and RDR perfectly!
if a games boring than theres no point.
same for just cause 2 thats the prime example!
yes its buggy, wacky level design but its actually fun!
give me a game thats fun over a game that is a technical marvel any day of the week!!!!!
give me the car made by soul and passion, over the car thats made by science any day of the week!!!!!!!!!!

Jalex
Jalex
10 years ago

I've heard conflicting things about wether or not plot-altering choices will be in the game, but if so, do you think 'Mafia II' would be a step in the direction you're suggesting, Ben?

The first 'Mafia' had a lot of freedom and was heavily story-driven, and the sequel looks better in every conceivable way (from my perspective). I honestly have not been so excited for a game since 'Guns of the Patriots', and I don't think I've ever been so excited about a multiplatform game.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

I'm hoping it'll be good, but I doubt it'll be much different from RDR. The forward-thinking idea where you analyze how the story and characters are shaping up, and take action against that so future situations change entirely is what I want.

CharlesD
CharlesD
10 years ago

almost like the many worlds theory of quantum physics?

Godslim
Godslim
10 years ago

for me to make a perfect game it will have to have one epic story as of the like of mgs and uncharted but also a brilliant mp which is deep and fast paced

Snaaaake
Snaaaake
10 years ago

Well, imagination is easy but it's executing ideas that's difficult.

My dream game is a sandbox game set in a futuristic city.

Yea, and also mecha to control, a third person shooter element(just like RDR).

LightShow
LightShow
10 years ago

i must respectfully disagree. the Perfect game would be Mercenaries and BFBC2 combined.

just imagine, a sandbox shooter plus the stellar game mechanics and physics engine to take advantage of it. all theyd need would be some sort of weird storyline outta Jak and Daxter and i'd never play another game.

Underdog15
Underdog15
10 years ago

The "Perfect Game" definitely depends on your tastes in games, to be sure! Since the games you list are more akin to your tastes, they would be the perfect game for you. I don't think that combo would be quite along the lines Ben (or me, for that matter!) would be looking for. I, too, am a sucker for a saturated and moving storyline.

So, ya, entirely an issue of tastes, it would seem.

XxNoir
XxNoir
10 years ago

I liked bonnie way more than abagail.Seriously like john hunted down his former buddies,killed people,and did everything to get his family back and the thanks he gets is an ungrateful angry wife bi*** slapping him on sight & a moody emo son who likes getting mauled by bears =/

If i had the choice i would have chosen bonnie and/or hung myself knowing my soon would grow up to look like orlando bloom.

Ben Dutka PSXE
Ben Dutka PSXE
10 years ago

You're not understanding Abigail's character. She was a strong, playful woman, which fits Marsten far better. We had plenty of glimpses of her real love for him.

bigrailer19
bigrailer19
10 years ago

I agree with Ben. Everything she did was how strong of a woman she became through her trials, yet it was all playful towards Marston. Perfect fit for him, and he reacted to that accordingly!

As for the son, why shouldn't he be upset. Young men want there fathers around to teach them for instance how to shoot a gun. Thats why in the scene Jack is teaching himself and telling his father to lay off. I mean It all fit perfectly!


Last edited by bigrailer19 on 6/24/2010 7:56:06 PM