Submitted by Crazyreyn 1160d ago | news

Ken Levine criticises video game storytelling

BioShock Infinite creative director Ken Levine has criticised video game storytelling.

Speaking to Digital Spy, Levine explained that many video games overdo storytelling by including too much information.

"People tend to overdo it with their story and not strip it down to the bare minimum," he said. "There is a rule that you start the scene as late as possible.

"When two people are going to discuss their divorce, you don't start with them waiting outside, going inside, picking up their menus - you come in at the last possible moment while also giving all the information required in the scene, and then you end it as soon as you can." (Industry, Ken Levine)

Trainz  +   1160d ago
Oh look its the guy that made 1 game this gen and is criticising other devs again after telling them to go f*ck themselves a few weeks ago.
Animals_as_Leaders  +   1160d ago
You only have 1 bubble but in order to ensure that comments like yours are kept to a minimum I'm giving you negative feedback.
dgonza40  +   1160d ago
that one game happens to be my favorite..

the twist was incredible, and the atmosphere was fnatastic.
Hufandpuf  +   1160d ago
Who or what the hell is he talking about?
kevnb  +   1160d ago
this is so true, story telling in video games is mostly terrible now.
Nac  +   1160d ago
About time we had someone trying to push more than just graphics forward in this medium...
Harelgur  +   1160d ago
This is Ken Levine, hes like Chuck Norris of the gaming industry. and he's right.
RBLAZE1988  +   1160d ago
He's not...He's full of himself and the industry and hipsters are up his ass. There is no right way to tell a story. There is no set rule or structure. You have to look at your audience, what kind of story you want to tell and most importantly, what kind of game you are making in terms of genre, immersiveness etc...you guys gotta stop holding all these guys up on pedestals and start realising that it's not just one guy that creates games...stop making them figure-heads and sucking up everything they do while snubbing all other games and or developers.
Harelgur  +   1160d ago
He never said theres one way to tell a story.
He criticises those who cant do it right. most games today suck at storytelling.
Tony P  +   1160d ago

He's not the Source or anything, but raises great points if you understand anything at all about what it takes to tell a story in a medium that is both interactive and often non-linear.

A *lot* of people don't.

Including these Hollywood writers many publishers hire to write up a plot.
RBLAZE1988  +   1160d ago
So, what you're saying is that, by criticising other methods for not doing it correctly and then laying out the method that he uses and saying it's "the rule" he's not saying that it's the one way to do it?? Uhh ok
mistajeff  +   1160d ago
i get what he's saying, though i think that should apply more toward western games, i feel japanese storytelling has different conventions and handles things like that differently.

i think valve plays their storytelling the way he's saying it should, and i think valve and irrational are some of the only developers to have done first-person narrative perfectly.
#6 (Edited 1160d ago ) | Agree(4) | Disagree(1) | Report | Reply
WhiteLightning  +   1160d ago
Yet he says Uncharted 2 is one of his favorite games
deno  +   1160d ago
cool beans!
Kakihara  +   1160d ago
It is true that all too many games rely on huge blocks of exposition rather than trusting the gamer to piece together the deeper story from bits and pieces. I had my problems with Bioshock but it did tell a rather complex story in a very elegant way. A discarded 'Ryan doesn't own us' sign here and a few before and after surgery pics taped to a wall can provide just as much information as an NPC ranting for five minutes straight while you jump around the room out of boredom and try to see if you can punch the ornaments off a nearby fireplace.

Still, these kinds of articles make it sound like the person quoted just walked up to a mic and started bitching when in fact the quotes were most likely taken from an explanation of a much larger point. I loved the Team ICO collection but I really hoped it would come with more info about The last guardian. If I was a game designer and said that in an interview you can be sure it would be reported as 'Kakihara thinks Ico collection lacks content' and I'd get a reputation for bitterly attacking other games.
PandaJenkins  +   1160d ago
Video game story telling quite frankly sucks on the whole these days. Yes there is some with great narratives still, but most suffer from problems such as what Levine stated here.
CrimsonEngage  +   1160d ago
This guy is a moron who cares? The stories in movies are garbage these days. God of War, Gears of War, Halo, Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid all have stories that put a lot of Movies to shame. Halo could be a great movie if done properly. The live action shorts prove that.
Somebody  +   1160d ago
There are many ways to tell a story (whether in gaming, movie or even literature). I enjoyed the way Bioshock first introduced the tape recorder stuff to add more flesh to the story. Then when other game started to copy that feature, it annoyed me. Who would leave tape recorders lying around with the hope someone might find them and be interested in their predicament. Some even recorded their feelings during battle or while fleeing the enemy. Then they leave the recording behind, full of sensitive information about their strength, where they are going and what weapons they have. If I were fleeing some bloodthirsty mutants, I wouldn't leave a giant poster telling everyone that I'll be holed up in ventilation shaft with just a pea shooter and five bullets left while the entrance is just barred by a single wooden plank. Not to mention two of my friends have suspiciously strange boils around their face....meh, might be nothing...

Besides, EVERYONE who left those messages tend to die. I've just rebooted Singularity and I'm stumped how the tape recorders in the game survive 50 years under harsh weather with a giant EMP blast at the start of the game and a devastating singularity explosion that caused the disaster. Although, I like how that game used spiritual/temporal echoes to show ghosts of the people in their last moments before/during the disaster. It's relevant to story (time rip)and it's much logical than some kid recording how he hated the seating arrangement in the cafeteria.
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