Playing it Safe

On Grand Text Auto, Andrew Stern writes a good post about the distinction between character-driven games and purely linear narrative (which makes for a poor gaming experience).

No one can disagree that games should be “player-driven”, another way of saying games with high agency. I take a purist’s view on this; I quickly lose interest in games that tell me a linear story, especially in large fixed chunks of exposition, such as cut scenes. I’d rather play a good action game with no storytelling, or if I want a linear story, I’d rather read a good book or watch a good movie.

But Yohalem’s suggestions are misguided in not leaving room for games that make incremental innovation toward being both character-driven and player-driven. Surely there are stepping stones, without the glaring imperfections that can frustrate players, that make progress toward procedural characters with narrative intelligence. For example, The Sims 3 looks to be doing this. I’m guessing those characters will go further towards creating high-agency interactive stories than previous versions, while still speaking abstract Simlish, not natural dialog.