Over at The Escapist, they have a piece by Warren Spector about next generation storytelling in games.

He remarks that with next gen machines (whatever that really means; high-end hardware is perhaps a better term), designers ought to be able to create more involving tales.

Tales where the designer and the player are both involved with creating the story, and not simply what we’re used to: the typical railroad line plot.

Most here would agree that’s a good idea; I certainly do. Lately, games seem to be more about telling a story to the player, rather than having the player really involved in it.

However, for all that it’s well-written, the article is also, unfortunately, vague. While a few titles are mentioned in passing, there are no examples given from any existing games. Nor does he conjure up any hypothetical examples of his own.

So the piece comes off somewhere between prescriptive and philosophical, which is unsatisfying. That’s especially true, given Warren’s work and experience in the industry; we’d expect something more concrete for an article of this kind.

At the very least, there ought to have been some mention of situations in a game or two that, even if not perfect, illustrate his points. This would give us a better understanding of what he has in mind with “co-op storytelling”.

Because that’s the really the key, isn’t it? We’ve talked before about linearity, about programmer difficulties with branching paths, about the problems with giving players choice in the games they play.

What would “co-op story creation” mean to you? Is there a way that the designer(s) and the player(s) can, in fact, create a story together? What does it mean to “create a story together”?

While you think about that, read the article and see if anything comes to mind:

Next Gen Storytelling on The Escapist