Over at Planewalker today, Jason Compton has an article pondering the absence of multiple plot threads in CRPGs.

He mentions a couple of examples from the print world, notably the late Robert Jordan’s Wheel Of Time books, and remarks that so far CRPGs have “resisted” the trend towards multiple story threads.

Sure they have. How many times have we discussed getting developers to put just multiple paths (for “our” character) into a game? This, we’ve seen from designer comments, is tough enough.

Going for multiple threads across multiple characters would be a nightmare of programming. Maybe, in time, in could be done with a MMOG. But I don’t see that happening with a single-player game.

Think about playing different characters in different settings, each with its own plot to follow, which somehow will cross/come together at the end. Trying to keep track of that across several books is hard in itself. At least there, you can flip back some pages to refresh your memory (or re-read parts of an earlier novel).

In a game, that could easily become confusing (I’m getting a headache just thinking about it). That’s not even considering most stories in CRPGs are less than stellar anyway.

To do it well in a game would take far too much design time, especially when this would be just one part. Add in all the other facets that go towards creating a product, along with the testing, and you’re just asking for a life-long project that may not even have enough appeal beyond novelty.

Anyway, read the piece and see what you think.

Multiple Threads on Planewalker