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Questing and Interactivity

I was all prepared to talk about questing and how I think MMO designers are doing it wrong… and then I discovered Jeff Kaplan pretty much said everything back in 2009.

“Basically, and I’m speaking to the Blizzard guys in the back: we need to stop writing a fucking book in our game, because nobody wants to read it.”

That line is a part of a larger commentary on what Kaplan calls Medium Envy – the tendency for game designers to turn their game into a book or movie at the expense of the one quality that sets games apart: their interactivity. The industry has wild oscillations on this subject, with brilliant examples of the Right Way (Half Life series with zero cutscenes) and the Wrong Way (Metal Gear Solid series). Of course, I say “Right Way” but obviously feel that cutscenes and cinematics have a place in expanding the narrative in ways that perhaps interactivity could not (at least without gimmicks).

I definitely recommend checking out the presentation through the summary at the above link, the Wow Insider writeup, or even listen to the whole hour-long presentation via Vimeo (audio only, but it does have photos of the slides). Assuming, of course, you did not already read this two years ago.

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