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April 11th, 2007, 15:06
The Codex introduced me to the useful destinction between freeform (go anywhere, anytime) and nonlinear (contains a branching plot). One concerns primarily the world design and movement in the world (and content) space, the other concerns narrative structure. One could argue that freeform games alway comprise a certain nonlinearity, since the narrative an individual player experiences is not linearly determined, but freely chosen in content and order by the player. But that does not change the fact that this does not lead to a truly branching story in current games (although minor elements may exist, e.g. choice of your Great House in Morrowind). However, if game actions in a freeform game would lead to longterm consequences, these games could become truly nonlinear (as the possible plot elements would then dynamically depend on past actions, similar to branching quest structures), even if there is no prearranged branching plotline.
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