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Story Wars Episode I: Jaffe vs. Slashdot

July 24th, 2006 @ 10:56 am
by Vince Twelve

Slashdot continues their streak of consistantly poor reporting with this little post. From the article:

1up reports on David Jaffe’s latest post to his blog, where he rails against games with stories, claiming that moving forward he’ll be all about play for the sake of play.

Oh, gee. How entirely useful! A link to a story about a blog posting. How about, oh I don’t know… linking to the actual blog posting?

To make matters worse, the Slashdot post goes on to take the article about the blog posting out of context and misrepresents the point conveyed within Jaffe’s actual blog post.

As a result, the tens of thousands of people who read the Slashdot story and didn’t follow the link on to 1up and then on to the actual blog (because 1up is also partially misleading about Jaffe’s thesis), now believe that David Jaffe, famed designer of God of War believes that stories have no place in games.

In fact, his whole blog post was about how much he loves stories in games. Jaffe was merely stating that the process of designing a story-heavy game is an exhausting one and he doesn’t want to go through it anymore. He now wants to focus on designing pure gameplay experiences exclusively.

So, now that we’ve waded through that journalistic debacle, we can comment on what Jaffe was actually trying to say.

When you play one, you get- if you are playing a good action/adventure- one cool scenario after the next, one cool idea followed by a cool story twist followed by some jaw dropping art and level design. If done right, it’s a fantastic roller coaster ride that you never want to end.

But when you make one, you struggle for days, working alone and with the team, to just create ONE of those cool moments; just ONE of those ‘oh sweet’ events. And then, when it’s done, you gotta get back to work and make another one and then another one.

Basically, as a designer, coming up for the idea for each part of a great story-driven adventure is fun, but the endless slog of actually implementing that is exhausting. And the rinse-wash-repeat nature of the process ruins the fun of game design.

This is a notion that I can agree with. I love stories in games. I think that stories can be used to great effect to enhance gameplay experience. This is why, as a hobbyist game maker, I’m primarily drawn to making adventure games. I love using a story to serve as a backdrop to the gameplay. And even though my games are tiny in scale compared to Jaffe’s epic God of War, I’ve felt the drag of coming up with an exciting gameplay idea and then somewhere in the middle of the tiring implementation, beginning to lose interest in the entire process.

Coming up with the concept is 80% of the fun. After that, you feel a little like the party’s over and now you have to clean up.

To counter that feeling, I remember all that stuff that I wrote about in my last post and I make sure to keep my game concepts manageable. No epic journeys from me. Just fun little games.

But I’m keeping the stories around, because I loves ’em!

3 Responses to “Story Wars Episode I: Jaffe vs. Slashdot”

  1. gnome Says:

    I salute you!

    (no particular reason beside agreeing)

  2. Eric Says:

    Have you ever tried to read the comments on Slashdot articles? I’d say that misrepresenting others’ intent and jumping to conclusions without research is really helping them hit their target audience. Good for Slashdot.

  3. xii games » Blog Archive » Story Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Story Says:

    […] All the hubbub in the recent week kicked off by David Jaffe (my comments here) about the importance of story to the gaming experience has led to yet another piece on 1up. This time they get statements from a number of industry vets. […]