GDC: 'Plot is Highly Overrated' in Games, Says Devs

IGN: "Today at GDC, Riot Games’ Narrative Lead Tom Abernathy and Microsoft Game Studios’ Design Lead Richard Rouse III gave a fascinating 25 minute-long speech entitled “Death to the Three Act-Structure.” Within that presentation, the two industry veterans talked a great deal about game narrative, touching on some of the finest examples in recent memory, from Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Portal to The Last of Us and Fallout 3.

But they also talked about what extensive research has shown: that plot itself doesn’t resonate with a majority of players."

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Snookies121680d ago

Plot driven games can be masterpieces if done right. However, with that being said... Please don't try to shoehorn a plot into something unless it's really thought out. Some games don't need a plot, and often times when they're forced it just brings the game experience down with it.

ArchangelMike1680d ago

Exactly. Games like Mass Effect have great gameplay, but tying it all together is an excellent plot. The huge furore over the Mass Effect 3 ending proves beyond a doubt that gamers care... I mean, gamers damn well care, about plot!

alexkoepp1680d ago

I agree, if your game is not trying to tell a story, than the plot is not important.

Conzul1680d ago

Yeah. Story is important.

But I do agree that the Three-Act structure should go byebye in games.

cleft51680d ago

If your plot is terrible yes it is highly overrated. But when a plot is well done it elevates amazing gameplay to a whole other level. Look at The Last of Us, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, and Mario. Yes, I said it, Mario. A plot doesn't have to be super deep it just has to serve the game and help move the pace along. Mario games have incredibly simple plots, but it gives context to what you are doing and adds a lot of character to the story. Plots are essential to good games and games without them are less for it.

ABizzel11679d ago

The only devs who complain about plot being overrated are the devs. who can't write a good story to save their lives.

If storytelling and presentation aren't your strengths then you better make sure your game is insanely fun to play and/or offer tons of re-playability.

Bimkoblerutso1679d ago (Edited 1679d ago )

While I totally agree with the idea that not every game needs a story, to say that it does not RESONATE with gamers as much as gameplay is completely off-base. When it has been done right - as in the case of games like Bioshock, The Last of Us, The Walking Dead - it "resonated" enough with us that those games have become some of the most celebrated in the industry.

I suppose plot-driven games will never push COD numbers, but the actual gaming community (as in, the people who play games other than competitive shooters and Madden) absolutely love a good plot as much as they love high quality gameplay, our favorite games being the ones that include both.

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DeadMansHand1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

Agreed. What hooks me more into games are three things; Game play, characters and ambiance. Honestly, I couldn't tell you the story of 90% of the games I have played. I can recite the basic narrative and whatnot,but I am not one of those people who can go on about the entire cannon of Metal Gear Solid and Elder Scrolls. What makes me really member those games are the game play, voice acting (characters) and atmosphere. Portal 2 is a perfect example. I can't tell you what I did except for stopping a crazy computer woman from killing me but I remember all the levels and Wheatly completely. It was so much fun to open portals and do puzzles and listen to Wheatly that it's one of my top favorite games.

badz1491680d ago

this is so classic. when you can't do it, downplay it! nice one! /s but seriously, speak for yourself!

if anybody thinks that all games should just be mindless actions and sequences with no need for any story, you're just stupid! sure, some games don't need a good story to be enjoyable like Mario or Zelda with their beyond abused "save the princess" story, but those games still have plots. Even Angry Birds have plots and what THAT tells ya? it means, you can only do so much in designing a game without the help of plots.

for example, Dead Nation looks like a mindless zombie shooter game but it has plots to help motivate players to move forward without making them feeling stupid that their character goes out of his/her way just to fight countless waves of zombies instead of staying at a safe place. the story and the plot help the game moves forward and giving players THE reason they are doing what they are doing!

in TLoU for example, if there's no plot, who in the right mind would be stupid enough to go outside the safe zone risking to be infected? and why would anyone be bothered to feel associated with a stranger in a world where humans are facing extinction and it's about the survival of the strongest? it just doesn't make sense and I'm not sure many would have want to play a game that mindlessly put you into action WITHOUT telling you why.

Over are the days where gameplay alone is everything. gaming is no longer just a hobby. it's a medium for people to tell stories, send their messages to others and letting people be immersed in the world they created and I don't think it can be done without a plot. but coming up with a good one at that, THAT's a different story!

Irishguy951680d ago

I highly disagree myself. But i'm in the minority. The fact that Uncharted is so highly praised proves it. The plot itself is abysmal at best. But people still love the story. Characters and acting are more important than a good plot to most people. Which is fine, just...not for me. I like a good plot with twists and turns, unpredictable and many elements etc. That's for gaming at least. In TV and movies plot has always been extremely important. Game of thrones proves that as a recent example.

BitbyDeath1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

"The fact that Uncharted is so highly praised proves it. The plot itself is abysmal at best."

"I like a good plot with twists and turns, unpredictable and many elements etc."

So first you say you don't like the plot of Uncharted but then you describe the plot of Uncharted and say you like it, have you played Uncharted or did you change your mind half-way through writing?

-Alpha1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

*Vague Spoilers for LoU/UC*

Uncharted's storytelling isn't exactly top-tier. It's everything else around it that is: Cast, voice acting, dialogue, humour... but the story being told isn't itself tied together in that same way. It's sort of expected with a game of its nature.

Honestly, if there is any comparison, look at the Last of Us. Fantastic storytelling all around. You connect with the characters completely differently, and the storytelling elements/characters are much more stronger with their actions. When Drake gets injured, torn apart or flat out shot in the contexts of the story, it isn't told with the same power of what you see happen in the Last of Us.

It's like The Avengers vs. The Dark Knight Rises. Avengers is really fun to watch, but you wouldn't exactly say it's storytelling at its finest.

BitbyDeath1680d ago

***Uncharted 1 spoilers***

C'Mon, so you expected Sully to be still alive after getting shot and later on didn't wonder if he was conspiring with the bad guys?

Or how bout the undead guys, surely you could not have predicted they would have been in the game?

The game isn't just a straight up treasure hunt, it had a lot of plot twists and various unpredictable elements.

OrangePowerz1680d ago

So Indiana Jones 1-3 have an abysmal plot as well if you think the Uncharted plot is horrible?

spicelicka1680d ago

I agree with that. Characters are most memorable, prime example is Far cry 3. Games have maybe up to an hour of cutscenes spread over an 8 hour campaign, it's hard to remember what happened when you look back in a year.

This is why halo's story is brilliant to me. The plot itself is not that memorable, it's the characters, atmosphere, music, ambiance, but most importantly, the real story is the backstory and it's not even told in the game itself. The universe and it's history is so deep and it's all explained in books and other media. That is why before playing a halo game, I already know what the story will be like and spend more time focusing on characters.

Conzul1680d ago

Game of Thrones is little more than a soap with dragons.

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GusHasGas1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

This is the most bullsh*t ridden article/speech. It basically proclaims that "plot means nothing in a game".

Plot is everything in a game. Games are mostly driven by plot. Wait, let me rephrase that - QUALITY games are driven by plot. The reason that almost everyone they supposedly asked couldn't remember the plot of their favorite game is because their favorite game was probably a game like CoD or Battlefield - best selling games whose story lines mean nothing. I, for one, extensively remember the plot line and lore of franchises such as Infamous, Mass Effect, Bioshock, The Witcher, The Last of Us, Uncharted, etc.

(Either that, or Microsoft made all this up because they're jealous of Sony, who has a high number of games with excellent plots, whereas the best selling games on Xbox are anything but story driven, à la CoD, Titanfall, Plants VS Zombies: GW, etc... /s)

PoSTedUP1680d ago

with ya' 100%. especially your last bit, that is really what it seems lol.

MelvinTheGreat1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

I never understand why almost everyone in this site believes MS is some evil money grabing company. You are making yourself look like a fanboy. To think that MS would waste time and money on an article as trival as this is pathetic. YOU are the problem with the gaming community. Shame on you. Oh ya, one of the best selling games on the 360 (halo 3) sold more than any ps exclusive. Dont get me wrong sonys titles are amazing, but people like you make me cringe.

GusHasGas1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

Microsoft wouldn't have wasted time on the article. They didn't write it. They did write the speech that was held publicly, in front of many at GDC, and shared through articles like this, though.

By the way, forget the whole fanboy part, and and realize that yes, plot really DOES matter in games, and whoever MS "tested" clearly were somewhat out of their minds.

Also notice how i said "/s" after my fake rant.

Tru_Ray1680d ago

I couldn't disagree with your post anymore. I will probably get crucified for this comment, but I think that the plot of the Uncharted series is completely secondary to the great gameplay mechanics, enjoyable banter between Drake, Skully, and Elena, and the exceptional graphics.

What I remember most about the Uncharted series are the spectacular set-pieces (the "train" level in Uncharted 2 comes to mind). Maybe I am crazy, but when I play games my primary objectives are to master all of the gameplay systems and beat the game quickly. If the game has a great plot AND great gameplay then I am all for it. But I have played and enjoyed plenty of games with great gameplay and absolutely garbage plots (KZ: SF and ACIV are some recent examples).


PoSTedUP1680d ago

"i never understood why everyone in this site believes MS is some evil money grabbing company". ROFLL, 'Nuff Said.

OrangePowerz1680d ago

You lost me when you bought up Halo 3 one of the worst games in the series and a big disappointment after Halo 1 and 2.

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PoSTedUP1680d ago (Edited 1680d ago )

so less plot and more dumb linear storys with nothing conflicting and far less intricacy. k got it, my brain is far too slow for teh plotz anyways.. /s

i stopped reading at "MS Game Studios".

i personally love plot driven games, prob. also coincides with why i read books with good plots. a games story doesnt need a plot for me to enjoy it, but history has proven for me that almost all of my favorite story driven games have big plots, and are huge franchises.