The Last of Us: Naughty Dog On Elevating the Interactive Medium?
Alright, so this is my first post on the site, and I hope to create some interesting discussion
Today I came across a gameindustry article, see here: http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-07-18-the-last-of-us-naughty-dog-on-elevating-the-interactive-medium
It details an interview with Naughty's Dog's own Bruce Straley, talking about how Naughty Dog will raise the bar for video game storytelling again. While I found the Uncharted series to be a decent set of games, to me they are another example where people give them undue credit simply because the packaging was pretty. Naughty Dog makes pretty looking games, their cutscenes are handled well, with some impressive set-pieces. I'd even argue they've done nothing to push the medium forward, simply create nice production value spectacle like an adventure movie.
However, complaining about Naughty Dog's past games, and peoples’ inflated dumb admiration for them isn't my point though. What actually makes me happy is in this discussion I'm seeing Naughty Dog actually start to move towards meshing gameplay with story.
"We want to make sure that there are a lot of opportunities for action and a lot of opportunities to get your rocks off inside of this world, but at the same time, that has to do with how much you've invested in exploring the world. How much ammo did you come into this scenario with? Have you been able to craft something like a molotov? Do you have two molotovs? Do you have a health kit? What do you have? And you're using the same inventory items for both crafting the molotov as well as the health kit, so you're making a choice: Am I going to be offensive or defensive?" -Straley
Straley continues talking, "The fact that when you're moving through this environment, the tension that you feel in, 'What's around the next corner?' And then trying to say, 'Oh, ok, I see a guy with a two-by-four. I think that guy has a gun. And I'm not sure what that other guy has - crap, I don't know what he has.' And trying to figure out what you are going to do. Are you going to be quiet and stealth around now? Or am I going to try to take a guy out by choking him out and seeing what kinds of items he has on his body?"
What I guess intrigued me about this interview was that Naughty Dog themselves wanted to incorporate more dynamic gameplay, giving the player choices in their encounters, and wanting to involve the player more in the story. Uncharted I feel is the poster child for the scripted game experience, where you go through a linear space doing what you’re told, events happen a specific way, and the story is told primarily through non-interactive means. I find it interesting that to push the medium forward they're going away from that...whether they succeed, who knows, but it's baby steps to me :)
I hear Cliff Blezinski also wanting to break out of the mold they established in Gears of War, where they admittedly guide you along the experience, putting you in scripted encounters…though to be fair their levels got larger with more improvisation from the player as the series went along, especially in co-op. With Fortnite I hear Cliffy B wants to create more dynamic game worlds, where the players are in a sense creating their own fun using the tools the designers give you, than the designer holding your hand throughout the experience.
What do you guys/gals think about this?
Could we be seeing signs that big developers want to stray away from the super-scripted set-piece gameplay experience that has pervaded this gen, and experiment more with dynamic gameplay?
May we perhaps be getting more non-linear games (non-linear doesn’t mean sandbox) that promote player choice?
Are there contrasting opinions from those who prefer these super-scripted linear games, and would even want more of them?