I’m reading yet another 20 year old book on interactivity and interaction design. It’s written by Chris Crawford and so far, together with Derek Burill’s Die Tryin’, is one of the lest dude bro-y books written by men that I’ve read.
It also puts the finger on an issue I have with the current state of games. One – it points to the utter boredom it means to only kill stuff. Two – it points out that we need choice, or at leas the illusion of choice, for games to be fun.
So even though the idea of narrative games being pretty neat, you have to give the player at least the illusion of choosing a path. This is where even The Witcher 3 surpasses a game like God of War. The Witcher may not actually have choices (although it does – tiny ones) but it lets me as a player think that I do.
Any BioWare game would leave The Witcher 3 in the dust as well, at least on the outside.
The illusion of choice is important, unless you as a game designer expect your audience to play along with any narrative you’ve set up and the character the player has to play.
I’m sure that Kratos character development is fascinating to many players, but to me he’s a two dimensional cardboard cut out of a man.
There’s no real depth in him, and to me, his flat emotional life comes across as a caricature rather than a man who’s actually in pain and mourning the passing of his wife.
The lack of choice aggravate the sense of flatness and my sense of being locked into a railroad track, take it or leave it, the game says.
My inclination is to leave it. This game is not really interactive It is a story that allows you to upgrade your axe and armor and – reluctantly – do favours for other inhabitants in the realm, but otherwise it’s about as exciting as being glued to a railroad car, one direction only, no branching, no deviations.