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Spector: "Games shouldn't emulate movies"

Spector: "Games shouldn't emulate movies"

Warren Spector has called for the games industry to stop emulating other forms of media. Ahem.

Deus Ex and System Shock designer Warren Spector has called for the games industry to stop emulating other forms of media, telling developers that “If you want to make your game as a movie, you should be making movies” in a keynote speech at GDC Europe.

Spector, who's renowned for his work on titles such as Ultima Underworld and Thief: The Dark Project, is currently working at Disney on the new Wii title, Epic Mickey.

We are in a sense an amalgamation of all these other media,” Spector told attendees at GDC Europe, according to Develop.

But is that all we are? That question has always really bothered me. I just can’t believe that. We don’t want to make games like other media. We cannot be bound by the conventions of other media. We have to make our own conventions.

Spector reckons that, where films offer single magic moments, games are unique in that they offer "the reality of choice" to players - something no other medium can do.

We all know about those moments in games [such as in Resident Evil] when dogs fly through windows,” he said, “but games are not about magic moments, or one-shots. Games are about the repeated action. Our job is to change the context around the repeated action.

"We need to stop telling players what to do. We need to get them to tell their own story.

Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

20 Comments

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UrbanMarine 17th August 2010, 13:52 Quote
I wish games let you think and free roam again. But since everyone gets a trophy and we're all winners those features have become rare. I really miss Resident Evil puzzles and FF7 free roam...those were the good old days.
NikoBellic 17th August 2010, 13:56 Quote
I don't think that all games should move away from the movie style, I like story and obviously if the gamers have too much choice which affects the story, then the developers can't really bring out a second game that continues the story from where you left off because they wouldn't know where the story line finished for you
Dreaming 17th August 2010, 14:00 Quote
Everyone likes a different kind of thing, some of the best games are in some ways just interactive movies - think bioshock. There was no 'real' choice except for the ending, and hey in films now you can just see the alternate ending anyway :p.
CardJoe 17th August 2010, 14:17 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by NikoBellic
I don't think that all games should move away from the movie style, I like story and obviously if the gamers have too much choice which affects the story, then the developers can't really bring out a second game that continues the story from where you left off because they wouldn't know where the story line finished for you

Tell that to Silent Hill 1 + 2
Jim 17th August 2010, 14:22 Quote
Or like Mass Effect, the sequel loads up your save data from the first game.

Ideally though, there wouldn't be any sequels. Games could have proper endings, and free choice for you to reach whatever ending you want. Then next year you'll get a new game.

Like that's going to happen though.
tad2008 17th August 2010, 14:34 Quote
There is nothing wrong with games drawing inspiration from Films, Music or any other media for that matter, how the inspiration is used and the overall benefit to the game and the player(s) is surely what counts?

For Warren Spector to be telling us what should or should not be included in Games is simply wrong, especially when he is working on a Mickey Mouse game whose leading character happens to have starred in a few Films.
liratheal 17th August 2010, 15:19 Quote
Games emulating films?

Couldn't films be accused of emulating books?

Story telling devices are all very much the same. Some games have more long winded story sections than others (see MGS4), but they are still story telling devices non-the-less.

Games without a story, free roam only, are unlikely to be successful because players need a reason to carry on with the game. Even WoW, a grind fest, has a story of sorts to drive the quests that enable the grind.

An entirely empty, free roaming game, would be phenomenally large, phenomenally complicated, and no doubt leave a very, very, sour taste in peoples mouths - Something they considered essential probably wouldn't be included.

Normally I agree with Spector, but in this instance, he is very, very, wrong. In my opinion.
CharlO 17th August 2010, 15:31 Quote
My hero! Yeaaaaahh!

Drawing inspiration is not traying to emulate.
leeroy 17th August 2010, 15:48 Quote
i think a lot of people are missing the point here, spector sounds like alan moore when he says that games are a unique medium, games can do things other media forms cant and that is to bring choices to the player, i think all he is saying is that at the moment games do not play to those strengths, a game does not have to be open world for there to be meaningfull choices and consequences, there is of course a place for on the rails shooters or challenging puzzle solving but when it comes to evolving narrative, you can see a lack of emagination in the games market
Ending Credits 17th August 2010, 16:01 Quote
As far as I'm concerned there's nothing wrong with games emulating films, take a look at visual novels for example. Games are much more immersive than films and have access to things films don't.
MajestiX 17th August 2010, 17:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
Games emulating films?

An entirely empty, free roaming game, would be phenomenally large, phenomenally complicated, and no doubt leave a very, very, sour taste in peoples mouths - Something they considered essential probably wouldn't be included.

Normally I agree with Spector, but in this instance, he is very, very, wrong. In my opinion.

there are few games out there that are popular that have no story and just grind fest.

ragnarok
eve online

etc..

there might be an overall theme but no real story
liratheal 17th August 2010, 17:49 Quote
I can't speak for Ragnarok, but for EVE in particular - There was a structure, of sorts. While it may not have been story driven, it was cause/effect driven. If I wanted to continue with the corporation I was in (I very rarely play EVE at the best of times, something about having more important things to do..) I'd have had to play along with their chosen alliances to build my rep so I could do the better missions. While I can hardly be accused of paying attention to the "Story" offered by the NPCs in MMOs, there was an overriding theme for the mission givers, in terms of "kill x for Y reason". While it's not "story" in the traditional sense, there is a system in place to drive you, the player, should the appeal of gigantic ships not be all that great to you.

In my opinion, anything that's not a disjointed collection of "Do this for the sake of doing this" is a story of sorts.
Javerh 17th August 2010, 17:54 Quote
I'd love to see a game that uses player's freedom of choice to tell a story. Not a story that folds out depending what the player chooses.
Faulk_Wulf 17th August 2010, 18:21 Quote
Sounds like a bunch of QQ in my book. I get the point he's trying to make but he does it poorly. Metal Gear Solid 4 is actually an interactive movie with good production values and a great story, especially if you invested time in the rest of the series. (Even if MGS2 was a mind-screw more then the rest.)

He's right that games shouldn't be afraid of new things (Braid, Limbo come to mind for example) but some classics emulate that whole movie style, and do it well. (Halo, MGS, most JRPGs, etc etc etc) It really comes down to what the PLAYERS want to experience. I love campy action movies. I love the game Wet despite it being pretty panned by critics. Do I think it deserves the game of the year label? No. But I don't think it deserves to be labeled as an example of what's wrong with the medium.

Sometimes I want to play the main character from an action movie or sci-fi flick (Half-Life anyone?) and sometimes I'd rather think a bit more. Other times I'd like to not be confined, and for that there's Spore, Fable, Saints Row, GTA, Just Cause, and I'm sure many more.

THAT'S the point of the medium. Not to just be unconfined by what other entertainment mediums are doing but to also not be confined by the gaming medium itself. Just because another studio is or isn't making a certain type of game doesn't mean everyone should/shouldn't.

Also.. He loses all credibility for having his QQ fest while being involved with DISNEY and making a game called EPIC MICKEY. ... Right. I mean maybe it'll pull a Kingdom Hearts and blow me away, but come on... Just reeks of spilt milk and left a bad taste in my mouth.
Sloth 17th August 2010, 18:57 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
An entirely empty, free roaming game, would be phenomenally large, phenomenally complicated, and no doubt leave a very, very, sour taste in peoples mouths - Something they considered essential probably wouldn't be included.
See Minecraft linked in my sig. A literally infinite world in all directions which is continuously generated as you go. No story what-so-ever, just a player in the world with the ability to dig and build. Though I enjoy the game, you're right. The game is made up of lego-style blocks and is already complex enough, and already pushing the boundaries on how empty and expansive a game can be before players get a sour taste.

Where things really get bad with Spector's point, imo, is that once you do have that empty free roaming game, what's the point in ever developing another game? It's a total dead end for gaming to follow such a route.
liratheal 17th August 2010, 20:11 Quote
I actually did check Minecraft out, but as I said - (Although could have said more clearly) What some people consider essential, others don't, and for me Minecraft was just very.. Meh.
Cthippo 17th August 2010, 21:20 Quote
It reminds me of GTA. Most people started out randomly driving around jacking cars and creating mayhem, but that got pretty dull after a while and so they moved on and started playing the story.

I think the best execution of this was in the original Stalker. Even from the very first moments of the game you had the choice to play the story line or else go out and wander around on your own, or start grinding for booty. There was plenty of map to explore from the get go, and by playing the story line you opened up even more areas. There was a very definite plot line, but you weren't locked into it. I just wish Stalker had a better reward system for grinding. I found it fun to run around and collect the interesting little bits that were out there, but they didn't have any real value, you couldn't trade them for anything that was not available otherwise.

I really wish they would make a Stalker MMO. The game's open layout, multiple factions, and RPG elements make it a natural canidate IMO.
Sloth 17th August 2010, 21:25 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
I actually did check Minecraft out, but as I said - (Although could have said more clearly) What some people consider essential, others don't, and for me Minecraft was just very.. Meh.
Totally understandable! As I said, it's really on the border of how little you can put in a giant space and still call it a game. If that's what Spector wants then... there's a problem. That little thing called personal taste that makes people unique :D
Krayzie_B.o.n.e. 18th August 2010, 00:58 Quote
I prefer Free Roaming games as they are the best like Stalker and San Andreas.

the pure fun of running around exploring and finding out stuff before you start the story is awesome. This way you get to see the whole game and all the hidden areas. Freedom of choice rules!

Linear games are dull and boring. I understand the concept of "Playing a Movie" but it never really works out that way. More like forced into a movie.
Cool_CR 19th August 2010, 00:17 Quote
ME2 was a movie with annoing clicking in between scenes and it is rather well regarded.
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