"There've been so many times where any story I've attempted to tell will get trumped by some action the player can do in the game systems, and it's a better story for that, and I can't argue with it."
- Obisidian Entertainment creative director and writer on acclaimed RPGs Planescape: Torment
and Fallout: New Vegas
Chris Avellone on narrative design in RPGs
Avellone now believes in brevity and emergent narrative -- and doesn't look back on the fan-favorite 1999 RPG Torment
as the right way to handle story anymore, describing its storytelling as "just the flat-line vomit of text."
"Which we had to do at the time," he admits, "but that's more of a novelistic approach to writing, which isn't necessarily the best fit for games."
He also thinks that emergent narratives -- when AI interacts with gameplay systems to create unplanned situations -- is a crucial part of narrative design now, too.
"Sometimes I get into an argument with designers [about whether] it's better to provide a narrative story arc, or is it better just to provide a bunch of system mechanics and let the player derive their story from that? There's been so many times where any story I've attempted to tell will get trumped by some action the player can do in the game systems, and it's a better story for that, and I can't argue with it."
To find out more about what Avellone considers a "better story" and what other thoughts he has on narrative design, as well as Obsidian's plans for its successful Project Eternity
Kickstarter, read the full feature interview -- live now on Gamasutra