Video game storytelling is getting better, if it's only taking small, incremental strides.
Certain developers are seeing the importance of better stories and plots, too. Take Dylan Jobe, Lightbox Interactive president, for instance. In speaking to a panel (which included Gamasutra journalists ), Jobe said that games can't just be "systems- and mechanics-based."
Although it's true that his last project, Warhawk , was an online-only action game with no story, this new project features a lengthy single-player campaign. It's one of the reasons we're plenty excited for Starhawk . But Jobe's comments are clearly general and apply to all interactive productions:
"With [Starhawk predecessor] Warhawk, the mechanics were crazy fun but the universe was just hollow. A good story and a hero makes the whole thing more compelling, and we brought in talent from the film industry to work on the universe of Starhawk before we even began to think who the characters would be.
Writing is something video games still need to improve on. There's a lot of really bad writing in video games and also in the way that the story is integrated."
Filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo, a Spanish director, agreed and elaborated, mentioning EA's popular Dead Space series:
"I feel frustrated when I play a game like Dead Space that has great mechanics, but a lack of ambition in the story. If it was a movie, with its plot it would be a B-movie, not a big-budget film."
Jobe added that developers need to "more deeply consider the way their storytelling structure matches their design." Basically, it's all about incorporating a great story with the mechanical aspects of a game, and that can prove difficult. Apparently, though, we can expect something special from Starhawk 's campaign, right?