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Amy Hennig calls single-player games 'just a harder and harder proposition'

Amy Hennig calls single-player games 'just a harder and harder proposition'

February 26, 2019 | By Emma Kidwell

February 26, 2019 | By Emma Kidwell
More: Console/PC, Design

"I don’t think anybody would say single-player is dead. Look at the current crop of games. It’s just a harder and harder proposition."

- Amy Hennig discusses how single-player games aren't dead. 

There's a growing concern among developers and players that single-player experiences might be left behind in favor of live games, but game designer Amy Hennig discussed how that might be avoided during a recent interview with VentureBeat.

Hennig is best known for her work on Legacy of Kain and the Uncharted games, where she developed and fleshed out characters who were layered and flawed. According to her, "writing something that’s simpler and more two-dimensional feels dated."

When it comes to speculating about the future of single-player campaigns with a linear story and an interesting cast of characters, Hennig isn't worried. She writes off the "single-player is dead" notion and explains that they're just becoming harder to pitch. 

"I don’t think anybody would say single-player is dead. Look at the current crop of games. It’s just a harder and harder proposition," she says.

So why is it becoming more difficult? Time and expectations, according to Hennig. 

"We used to make games in a year. Jak III we made in a year. Uncharted took three because we had to build the whole engine," she explains.

"Uncharted 2 and 3 both took two years each. That’s unheard of anymore. Three years is short. Right now you can already see, that’s a lot more expensive than it used to be."

"A lot of games are taking four and five years, sometimes more. Teams are bigger. The fidelity is higher. There is an apparent requirement, whether it’s coming from publishers themselves or players or whatever, that games have more features and are bigger."

As Hennig has said before, she believes that if the first Uncharted game were pitched today, it most likely would not be greenlit.

"The idea of a finite eight-ish-hour experience that has no second modes, no online — the only replayability was the fact that you could unlock cheats and stuff like that. No multiplayer, nothing. That doesn’t fly anymore."

But single-player games have something special that live games struggle with, Hennig says, and that's story. 

"All of those things — I don’t know the word I’m looking for, but they play less nicely with story. They’re less conducive to traditional storytelling," she says.

"That has a shape and an arc and a destination, an end. A game that is a live service, that continues, does not."

Be sure to read the entire piece over at VentureBeat, were Hennig also talks about literary easter eggs, her work on the Uncharted series, and more. It's definitely worth the read. 

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