1Up - Evolution of the RPG GDC Panel
1Up has coverage of a GDC panel titled The Evolution of the RPG that apparently saw some lively discussion between Peter Molyneux and Ray Muzyka, while Hironobu Sakaguchi sat in:
The question of non-linear gameplay sparked the first hint of disagreement, as Molyneux and Muzyka have rather different ideas about its merit. While Molyneux isn't much of a fan -- "Multiple branches are great, but there's a snag: You have to be careful that people don't think they've made the wrong choice." After all, he says, much of the appeal of story-driven games is sharing the best moments with your friends. Muzyka, however, begs to differ; in his mind, it's much more interesting for each player to take away a unique experience, as the sensation that they've shaped the story adds emotional impact. (Not to mention replay value.) Still, he notes that actually implementing this style of storytelling is "damn hard," as it necessitates the creation of a great deal of addition content, all of which must be brought to an equal standard of quality. And each branch of the story must be made to feel like it's the "right" decision, to avoid Molyneux's concerns. (For his part, Molyneux was having none of it, although he did mention that this was the crux of the good/evil dichotomy in Fable.)
Sakaguchi's thoughts were less heated and not terribly exciting coming from the creator of Final Fantasy: He prefers a grand, cinematic experience that allows players to feel like they're taking part in a movie. Which is to say, non-linear is probably not his ideal.