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A house haunted over three periods in history with the narrative blurring the lines between generations of a family that lived in that house. This is a premise I really liked in the recent Lightfields TV drama.

Could it work as a videogame premise? I’m sure it could but other than the over-ripened horror offerings we get the pleasure of playing in a Silent Hill or Resident Evil, I’ve yet to see an engaging and layered haunted house narrative in a videogame. Maybe there’s just no market for such a genre type or that no developer willing to take such a risk?

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  1. Certainly publishers gravitate towards tried and true formats for games over more experimental games. It is a shame, but business is business. I do think there is more roadblocks then purely financial though.

    A successful story focused game tends to eschew gameplay in a way. Which is why the best examples of storytelling in games is usually from Adventure Games which typically take a very minimalistic approach to gameplay or PS1/PS2 era games which were often hampered by technology limitations be it graphical or mechanical. Strip out the atmosphere and story from games like Planescape: Torment, Silent Hill, Heavy Rain and you really don’t end up with that compelling of a game. Stip out the gameplay instead and you will still get an amazing, slightly diminished, experience.

    Walking Dead by TellTale Games is one of the most amazingly told stories that I have experienced in recent history. It pretty much had no real gameplay.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way. Bioshock: Infinite did a fantastic job with a huge budget game that combines an brilliant story with compelling gameplay. But this formula has proven itself to be rather elusive in the industry.

    It would say there is an audience for an engaging, multi-layered story in video games, but most of the audience doesn’t know it yet and big publishers aren’t looking to gamble. Hopefully Indy developers will continue to explore and push beyond big budget limitations. There isn’t a built in expectation for quality narrative in video games. When it happens it is wonderful, but when it doesn’t it is just business as normal. The industry needs to grow up a little though. It is a medium that has unparalled storytelling potential that is being squandered.

    April 2, 2013
  2. Telltale Games have plans to develop a game based on the Fables comic book which I have read a few volumes of. If anything now the pressure is on that developer more now than when they worked on The Walking Dead game. Gamers will expect Telltale to produce the goods based on their recent success.

    For the sake of storytelling in videogames I hope they succeed.

    April 2, 2013

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