Obsidian Entertainment - MCA: Story not as important as game systems
Chris Avellone speaks to Destructoid, saying story is important - but not as important as some other things:
"It's important. I don't think it's as important as systems design (which is moment-to-moment entertainment), or level design (which gives the systems a context), but the story is an important piece that gives systems and level a reason to exist, and helps to compel the player to move forward," explains Avellone. "Don't get me wrong, I love narrative and character design, but I prefer to create story and character mechanics that are game systems rather than divorced from the systems or levels -- when the story is a mechanic, in terms of reactivity, perks, mission changes, and open/closing of hubs and endgame choices, I think that's the purpose of a game story.
"In terms of improving stories for games, I feel that narrative designers should study writing conventions outside of games, both in scriptwriting and in other media, such as novels and graphic novels. In addition, a story should not be divorced from the actual gameplay, it should reinforce it, give it purpose, and when possible, work in tandem with a game's systems and themes.
I don't think too many people would argue.
In related news, Chris will join a panel debating story vs gameplay at this year's GDC. From Gamasutra:
In the panel 'Clash Of The Titans: Debating Gameplay vs. Story', major game writing notables including Chris Avellone (Fallout 2, Alpha Protocol), Rhianna Pratchett (Overlord series, Heavenly Sword), Christian Allen (Ghost Recon), and Andrew Walsh (Prince of Persia, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) discuss conflicts between gameplay and storytelling, and how to resolve them.