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Ninja Theory – Story More Important than Gameplay

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Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades  has told Videogamer that he believes a game’s narrative can be more important than its gameplay, something he discovered during the development of Heavenly Sword.

Now working on Multiplatform Enslaved, he once believed that the story was an unnecessary component in a game – where gaming itself should take precedence.

"In Heavenly Sword I thought, "Actually, let’s try and do a story." “Working with Andy and everyone else, working with Weta and having people talk about story as something serious – not something throwaway like we do in games – was quite eye-opening to me," he explained.

"I still see a prejudice, actually. I still come across a lot of people who say, ‘it’s a game and it doesn’t need a story.’ You’re trying to make a particular point of storytelling, trying to refine it, and somebody says ‘it’s just a game, it doesn’t matter.’ What’s more important – the gameplay or the story? If you’re doing a [story-based] game, it’s got to be the story, actually," he said.

He used Capcom’s Action-oriented Resident Evil 4 as an example. "I played it from start to finish, I didn’t want to let go of the controller and I was driven through it. I just wanted to know what happened next. As soon as I completed it, you get those mini-missions, ‘kill x zombies in an amount of time’," he explained.

"So there’s no story, it’s stripped out of all that and it’s just shoot however many zombies in however much time. And you realise – have I been doing this for the last 10 hours? Because it didn’t feel like it, as I’m bored within about a minute of doing that”

It’s an interesting point of view – and one that I largely agree with, although it really comes down to the individual game. I’ve put up with some pretty rubbish games in the past, purely because I had to see what would happen in the game’s narrative. On the other hand, I’ve happily plugged away hours and hours on games with no more than two lines of text as a plot device.  In my old age now, I’m far more partial to games with a good narrative though – and just don’t really find arcadey “beat your own high score” kinda games all that compelling anymore.

He does emphasise though that you really do need both to make a good story-based game. "So there is something, there is an importance. There is a symbiosis where, if you get it right, both story and gameplay can be elevated. But it’s really hard to know when you get it right or not."

What do you think? Would you take a good, strong narrative over gameplay, or is it all down to the gaming?

Source : Videogamer

Last Updated: July 28, 2010

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