Putting story before gameplay 'a waste of time' says Jaffe

Gamasutra: "I don't have any slides," Jaffe apologized at the start of his DICE 2012 speech in Las Vegas on Thursday. "I've been spending the last few days offending women," he joked.

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versusALL2078d ago (Edited 2078d ago )

I don't know about that. Too me, story and gameplay are are almost on the same level of importance.If the story isn't good, then the game lay would have to be fucking amazing. but not vice versa. Batman Arkham City's opening where you controlled Bruce in chains drew me more into the experience.
Too me if a game has a good story and characters, then it draws me into the gameplay that much more making it more fun.
Final Fantasy X and XII, L.A Noire, Metal Gear Solid series are great examples.

LX-General-Kaos2077d ago

I would love to see the reaction if Cliffy B were to say something like that.

inveni02077d ago

This, my friends, is why Jaffe hasn't created a decent game in YEARS. Where do I sign the petition for his retirement?

Also, @LX-General-Kaos, Cliffy B works for 360. Games are different on that system. The PS3 crowd is used to story-centric games. It's what we like.

roadkillers2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Yeah people piss all over him. He actually pisses me off too, the way he chews gum while talking to people, his cocky expressions, and the way he poses with a lancer acting tough... That son of a *****!

He does make really good games though.

Lazy_Sunday2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

@inveni0: Yes, the PS3 crowd is used to those great story centric games, like Gran Turismo 5, LBP, and Warhawk. Certainly some heavily story driven games, right?

Look, games are games--story or no story, or even a story you have to make up, if it's fun, it's fun. Don't try to classify gamers by console, it's a prejudiced we've finally begun to overcome at N4G. I play totally cross-plat--PC, PS3, and yes, 360. There may not be many story driven first party games on the 360, but you have to admit, it has some pretty decent games that you'd be missing out on if you choose to neglect it as 'different.' Story-centric games don't make a console--good games do, and both consoles have a lot of them.

-Alpha2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )


His games are just fine, Twisted Metal is a testament to how gameplay is a focus over cinematics

Too many games this gen have put gameplay on the backseat to push cinematics and shiny presentation so they can wow people to buy their products. But gameplay is the utmost of importance-- this is the gaming industry. If you can't tell a game with the uniqueness of interactivity and gameplay, and if you focus so much attention on mimicking movies, then you are missing the point.

Take Battlefield 3 for example-- they tried and failed to push the story and engine so hard that so much of the BF2 features were lost when those gameplay features should have been nailed down first. The shallowness of seeing a cinematic fades away far faster than great gameplay features

"I think that it has stuffed the progress of video games, to our own peril....[I'm] not talking about video games that implement player-authored stories, where the in-game interactivity "is so compelling and engaging that the player by the very nature of playing the game ... is the story"

I could not agree more with him.

Why o why2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

'Putting story before gameplay 'a waste of time' says Jaffe'..for some games

Put that title up and there wouldnt be such a furore of his words which make so much sense. Some games DONT need well crafted and solid stories. Anybody could say that and they'd be right. We aren't some type of unchanging consumer. Some days we want to play an Alan Wake or Heavy Rain and other days we want cod or street fighter xyz.

You could also argue that a great gameplay trumps great story when it comes to games BUT I personally think nothing is a waste of time if implemented correctly so im 50/50 on this one. No need to defend Jaffe like a newborn or send in the attack dogs.

Did shadow of the colossus have a great story told or was it played... thats kinda what im getting from his point

darthv722077d ago

A game like twisted metal would obviously be more centered around the game play than story. Yet take a game like God of war and its the story that drives the game play.

And go figure...both were originally crafted by the man himself.

inveni02077d ago

Yes, I may have overstepped my bounds talking about ALL PS3 owners' preferences. But for me, games from Naughty Dog trump Jaffe every time. (And not liking the way Jaffe presents himself as a person doesn't help, either.)

pain777pas2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Is Gears of War amazing mechanically? Yes and no. The game is limited. Unreal 3 is a better game mechanically to gears of war believe it or not. I agree that both go hand in hand but I cannot get over clunky unresponsive controls. I don't mind non realistic animations that just look cool like DMC, GOW and NG. The mechanics in the GOW are near perfect and the game is perfectly playable in a button mash style or more methodical. Unreal 3 needed a better story of the great gameplay that was there. I had a ton of fun in Gears 1 and that is the only game that played extensively in the series and never will forget the graphical leap into the next generation at the time. No jumping, climbing ect... Uncharted nailed 3rd person gameplay. The game has alot of set piece moments and exhilaration but when it comes down to mechanics Uncharted is tight. Gears is great though especially at the time it came out.

LX-General-Kaos2077d ago

I do completely understand where Jaffe is coming from with this. Some of my favorite games of all time (Super Mario Galaxy, Unreal Tournament) have ZERO story. I still play them like no other. I guess I could throw Twisted metal on that list as well, because story or not it looks like we will all get the chaos that we have been waiting for.

NewMonday2077d ago

-IMOO story and gameplay are like hands and feet, different but important to be whole. take Just Caus 2 for example incredible gameplay but no interesting story to keep you going on.

-GOW1 was a game with a great story that blended gameplay and story telling and it was made by Jaffe so give him credit for that.

morganfell2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Contrary to comments above Jaffe obviously cannot talk and chew gum at the same time. Nor, as he recently admitted, can he live in one location while working on a game in another. It seems Jaffe is capable of only thinking about one thing at a time.

There are some games where story takes precedence, and others where it is about the gameplay.

But Jaffe is nearsighted if he believes gaming is best served by a case of one or the other. Strike that, he is actually in favor of just action. One can draw their own deductions about the fact he obviously sees gaming as best suited for fun yet shallow entertainment. It isn't.

Some action movies can be fun but they are vapid and not the sort of thing most people can watch over and over again. The same can be said of story heavy dramas in that most people cannot rewatch the same movie over and over ad nauseum. The movies with which you can do this are most often the ones that have found the way to strike the balance between the story and the action.

And if anyone doesn't believe the two features can co-exist in gaming, all one need do is say two words.

Naughty Dog.

And never mind the thing for which he is most remembered isn't gameplay but rather the story creation of a certain very angry character. Ironic, to say the least.

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killerhog2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

that makes no sense. story is crucial, if the story is execrable wtf would pique my interest to continue? i dont care how good gameplay is if theres no incentive to continue. pay $60 for gameplay lol? really?

ill admit, i played games with great stories but bad gamplay but never the other-way-around.

Kushan2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Your incentive to continue IS the gameplay. Going by your logic, games like Tetris, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Super Mario, hell even Call of Duty (Yes it has a story, but most would agree that it's poor and many wouldn't even know what it was because it's all about the MP), shouldn't interest you or millions of others, but they do. If a gameplay element is engrossing enough, you don't need a story at all. Your incentive will be different, it'll be a high score, or a new unlockable, or a level up, but you'll still have plenty of incentive to play.

Xof2077d ago

Putting story before gameplay is an awful way to approach game design.

Of course... putting gameplay before story is ANOTHER awful way to approach game-design.

Both elements are (or should be) intrinsic to each other, and should be major focuses of development from day 1.

Areeb112077d ago

hey! hey how about before you make a judgement call, actually fucking listen to what the man has to say.

ShabbaRanks2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

@Killerhog imo gameplay is more important then story. My ultimate example would be Halo:Reach. The Story was the stupidest I had ever seen in a Halo game.... BUT the gameplay is so fun that it kept me playing it online and eventually finishing the campaign just for the fun of it.

Oh and what about the mario games lol ;)

SCW19822077d ago

You should play Vanquish. That game pretty much has no story but the gameplay is the SHIT!

WeedyOne2077d ago

The incentive to play is the bad ass gameplay that has you hooked...a good story is just a plus! Most games have crappy generic stories anyways.

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Kurt Russell2077d ago

Story is crucial on certain types of games, but not all. Some games are just fun without any storyline... e.g FIFA - Bomberman - Streetfighter

In a case like the up and coming Twisted Metal... I have no idea what the storyline is, and frankly have never cared... I just love the gameplay.

It's too genral a statement on a broad subject.

killerhog2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Majority of the games you and Kushan mention are progression type games that doesn't involve story (like MAG and GCI). Games like twisted metal and street fighter involve story to explain the characters background and purpose to build up a world within the game. I play single-player first then multiplayer or go back-and-forth between them like my bro.

I guess this new generation is all about multiplayer and gameplay. Might as well develope games with empty white spaces and bland characters and add gameplay.

By the way gameplay is how a game runs/works. I don't care about gameplay as long as its playable. Cod, no thanks, because both story and gameplay suck. I can tolerate bad controls if the story is good and worth playing, but not if the story is shit. I'm not gonna pay $60 for gameplay/multiplayer (if it's not a progression game).

wolokowoh2077d ago

@killerhog You're forgetting games like Bayonetta, DMC, and Ninja Gaiden where the stories are horrible but the games are just fun. Then there's Demon's Souls, Shadow of the Colossus, and many other examples of completely minimalism when it comes to story but focus heavily on gameplay. These are some of the best single player experiences there are and they have no story. I would prefer to have both a great story and great gameplay but when choosing one or the other is gameplay is far more important.
The other side of the argument would be something like Enslaved. Heavy focus on story and gameplay that isn't really all that fun. I couldn't make it through the game even though I wanted to for the story. It wasn't broken or anything I was just completely bored with it. I would say that the more is story focused on over gameplay the worse the game is but there's the exception with Heavy Rain. The reason I didn't get bored with it is that the gameplay though not all that amazing was woven so deeply in the story I was focused on nothing but the story the whole time. It is truly no more than an interactive movie and that works for it.

Outside_ofthe_Box2077d ago


"where the in-game interactivity "is so compelling and engaging that the player by the very nature of playing the game ... is the story""

Yep this is how games should be.

E2M2077d ago

we'll see how that favours the game in its reviews XD.

Stryfeno22077d ago

Mass Effect Jaffe, Mass Effect.

IMO when I first got it, I thought the gameplay was horrible playing it for the first 20 min....A year later I decided to play it before I traded in and playing it was a wise choice.

It changed my view.

_Aarix_2077d ago

Any and all games should have gameplay come first as a main priority. I enjoy cut scenes here and there but I dont pay good money for a movie. Games like red dead redemption and bayonetta does a great job with gameplay AND keeping a good story in the mix.

SephirothX212077d ago

FF XII has great gameplay imo but the characters and story were subpar for an FF game. I'd still rate the game 9.5/10 because it had a huge amount of content and very enjoyable and challenging combat.

Ranma12077d ago

FF12's story was nowhere as good as FF4-10's story.

FF stories are going downhill

JsonHenry2077d ago

For me it depends on the type of game. I can't imagine playing Mass Effect without the story. It MAKES the game what it is.

But then one of my fave games of all time, Dark Souls, had almost zilch in the way of story and I loved it.

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doctorstrange2077d ago

"Lots of people are officially stupid. I never said games should not have stories. F*** sakes."!/davi...

NiKK_4192077d ago

I was going to post this.

Drekken2077d ago

Lots of people are stupid. Just too bad the stupid ones don't realize its them.

JonnyBigBoss2077d ago

People blow what Jaffe says out of proportion. I believe the gameplay should come first, but story is important in many games, and really makes the difference between a fun game and an unforgettable game.

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WrAiTh Sp3cTr32077d ago

I don't care how good the story is, if a game has terrible gameplay Im not wasting my time with it.

RememberThe3572077d ago

Thats Jaffe's point. I with you too. I really covet great story but if it's not fun to play, I'm not going to play it (i.e. Lost Odyssey).

upallnightgamer2077d ago

Hey, Lost Odyssey was awesome. I cried a few times at the stories offered up from Kaim's memories. And I enjoyed the gameplay options that came with the immortals being paired up on the field with the humans.

_Aarix_2077d ago

Don't talk bad about lost odyssey. Its an amazing jrpg and there really isnt much in tail of jrpgs this gen.

soundslike2077d ago

All he's saying is that games are better off as 2 parts game 1 part story than 2 parts story 1 part game

Nac2077d ago

Oh, so he wants Devs to make toys.

GameTavern2077d ago

No he wants them to make games.

Not interactive novels or cinematic experiences.

Nac2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Whats wrong with interactive cinematic experiences, those are the types of experiences ND wants to create, afterall. Hell, I loved the beginning of Arkham city becuase it kept me engaged, it wasn't about "being" Batman, I was with Batman. A cutscene would have ruined that for me, breaking immersion and halting momentum. We have, at our finger tips, the most intimate medium, one that depends on the person with the controller in his hands to tell the story.

If Jaffe had it his way, I would have never experienced Chapter 18 of Uncharted 3. The twenty or so minutes set in the Rub' al Khali are my personal favorite moments with a controller in hand, offering the presentation of cinema but the intimacy of this medium. Once again, a cutscene would have ruined that level of connection to the events and characters. I would like to think that I am advanced enough not to need something that makes me respond with a "Wow! Cool!" every five seconds. While there are moments that I do just want to sit back and switch my brain off, there are other moments when I like to be provoked with thought and complexity.

I am not saying there shouldn't be "pure games" out there, hell, I love them myself. I just don't think that they should push out experiences others want. Is it so dangerous to have two experiences in one medium?

Come on Jaffe, things have to rise above their station, if not for this would you not still be Birmingham, Alabama?

GameTavern2077d ago

Well you are the one who made it sound like games without stories are toys...

And different strokes for diff folks.

Nac2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

Just paraphrasing his stance. He criticizes the medium's ability to evoke emotion, a concpet that is clearly identified as part of the medium's weakest attribute/characteristic. We know this, we acknowledge this and people, like ND, are working to fix that. Writing must and will get better. I just know we cannot leave the story telling of one medium up to another. The interactive medium has the ability to tell the deepest stories and offer the deepest experiences out there, it just needs to perfect the formula. Unlike books, movies, or comics, we can experience true character connection via immersion. We aren't just the characters, we are with them every step of the journey.

Jaffe should go out and make the experiences he wants to make, I am sure they will have quality. I just don't think he should be telling the medium as a whole how to run itself.

Ducky2077d ago

"If Jaffe had it his way, I would have never experienced Chapter 18 of Uncharted 3. The twenty or so minutes set in the Rub' al Khali are my personal favorite moments with a controller in hand, offering the presentation of cinema but the intimacy of this medium."

You mean the unskippable section where you push your analog stick forwards and watch what is essentially a cinematic? O.o

Also, Jaffe is talking about story, and guess what, ND didn't give priority to the story in Uncharted either. They thought of cool set-pieces first, and then strung the story around that.

Nac2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )


As opposed to just flipping the pages of a book? Regardless of the action that is the vehicle into the story, you are still involved. It doesn't matter how I interact with the story, as long as I interact with it. ND has experimented with dynamic camera angles in the past and UC3 showed they are still willing to do so. Yeah, it could have been a cutscene, but it would have lost the attachment to the experience. Simply watching something is not the same as being involved. It was intimate, personal, more so than any film has done so in ages.

He is not just talking about story, he is talking about it's implementation into gameplay, how you make gameplay more than just filler. Hell, I loved the beginning of Half-Life 2 and Arkham City. I like Uncharted 3 more than UC2 because there was more than just action sequences, offering more interactivity. The best stories create a world that we want to explore beyond what is seen, a world to interact with. This medium offers that and more. Film is too limited a medium to offer what others think this medium shouldn't.

To "just make a movie" results in a bastardization of the original concept contained in 2:30 to 3:00 hours. I don't want a condensed experience for the sake of the medium it is offered in. Take a serious look at this medium, it has the potential to embody the strengths of all and the weaknesses of neither.

When it comes down to it, I would take scripted and context sensitive movements over cutscenes anyday. The medium has matured and it should continue to do so by offering all types of experiences. You might have been disappointed by UC3, I wasn't. I knew what they were going to offer and enjoyed every second of it. I am not going to criticize Twisted Metal for not being something I wanted it to be, it is afterall, very much a "game" as Jaffe has made it clear. ND set out to create "interactive cinematic experience," as Amy Hennig puts it. While story might have not been their focus, immersion was, and I am going to respect that.

If a creator wants to tell me his/her story, a story I am interested in, they have that right. If I don't want to experience their story or any story at all, I have the right not to purchase it. But I am not going to fault someone for giving me the "designer's narrative" if that is what I want to experience.

Ducky2077d ago (Edited 2077d ago )

"Take a serious look at this medium, it has the potential to embody the strengths of all and the weaknesses of neither."

Nothing ever works like that. Some weaknesses are inherent in the route you take.
In this case, you can either give the player freedom, and sacrifice story, or shackle the player with the story through a linear game.

I don't fully agree with Jaffe since he mentioned ArkhamCity's intro, but it seems he overlooked that the sequence doubled as a tutorial, hence why it was linear and scripted.

At the same time, I only disagreed with you on the desert sequence bit.
I wasn't disappointed by UC3, and that desert sequence was good on the first playthrough, but eventually, it becomes annoying mostly because the sequence is long and unskippable (to my knowledge at least). In that regards, it isn't a good implementation of interactive storytelling.
This is in contrast to other sequences such as the boat or the airplane which are done correctly because, despite also being unskippable, are short and have a decent amount of interactivity.
I don't feel like I am just watching a glorified cutscene when I play those sequences, but I do get that feeling in the desert part, but that's just me.

As for my actual opinion. I am fine with cut-scenes turning into scripted or contect sensitive sequences. Just as long as it's only the cutscenes that are doing that (and are skippable on multiple playthroughs), instead of bits of actual gameplay turning into linear scripted sequences.

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SilentNegotiator2077d ago

That's what games are anyway. Digital toys.

Neo Nugget2077d ago

I think "a digital experience" is a better way to put it.