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Antoniades: Story is more important than gameplay

Tuesday, 27th July 2010 19:28 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

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Ninja Theory co-founder Tameem Antoniades has said he feels story is more important than gameplay, and “if you get it right, both story and gameplay can be elevated”.

Speaking with Videogamer, Antoniades said during the development of Kung Fu Chaos he didn’t think storytelling was needed in games, but changed his mind when Heavenly Sword was being planned.

“In Heavenly Sword I thought, ‘Actually, let’s try and do a story’. Working with Andy and everyone else, working with Weta and having people talk about story as something serious – not something throwaway like we do in games – was quite eye-opening to me,” he said.

“I still see a prejudice, actually. I still come across a lot of people who say, ‘It’s a game and it doesn’t need a story’. You’re trying to make a particular point of storytelling, trying to refine it, and somebody says ‘It’s just a game, it doesn’t matter’.

“What’s more important – the gameplay or the story? If you’re doing a game, it’s got to be the story, actually [and] I’ll give you an example of where that’s true – Resident Evil 4.

“I played it from start to finish, I didn’t want to let go of the controller and I was driven through it. I just wanted to know what happened next. As soon as I completed it, you get those mini-missions, ‘Kill x zombies in an amount of time’.

“So there’s no story, it’s stripped out of all that and it’s just shoot however many zombies in however much time. And you realize – have I been doing this for the last 10 hours? Because it didn’t feel like it, as I’m bored within about a minute of doing that.

“So there is something, there is an importance. There is a symbiosis where, if you get it right, both story and gameplay can be elevated. But it’s really hard to know when you get it right or not.”

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West releases for PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 5 and 8 in the US and Europe, respectively, and you can check out our latest chat with Antoniades though here.

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34 Comments

  1. The Hindle

    This is looking a dam good game from what ive seen so far, id disagree with his statement though, you need both to make a good game.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. DaMan

    well, this is why i don’t play NT games.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Redh3lix

    hmm, what a tosser.

    I didn’t understand a bloody thing when playing Metal Gear Solid 4 on PS3, but it was absolutely great to play.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. DaMan

    was that aimed at my comment?

    #4 4 years ago
  5. Boris Fett

    Steph, you’re better than this. You know that title is sensationalist and taking what he said entirely out of context.

    His point is that story needs to be synergistic with gameplay, not that gameplay should be sacrificed for storytelling. An engaging narrative at the right time, especially when it occurs *during* the gameplay, can take an fun moment in a game and turn it into one of the most memorable experiences you can have.

    You don’t just remember the gameplay, you remember your story motivations for your actions, the way characters reacted, and what conclusion your actions finally led to.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Redh3lix

    lol no DaMan, sorry, not you. I was referring to Tameem Antoniades of Ninja Theory.

    Sos. I really should time my comments a little better. :(

    #6 4 years ago
  7. DaMan

    oh, I see then.

    @5 well, not really though. his point is that gameplay is useless without a decent plot. he’s saying that unless you actually care about what happens, it’s dull to play.

    oh and I for one, do remember just the gameplay in many games.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. DeSpiritusBellum

    @5 “What’s more important – the gameplay or the story? If you’re doing a game, it’s got to be the story, actually”

    I’d say that’s pretty clear.

    Fundamentally I think it’s pretty stupid to try and weigh the two against eachother. There’s no golden rule to making games, some games might need a huge depth to really get where they need to be, whereas others just rely on being an entertaining batch of mayhem.

    I’d say the opposite of his example is true for The Saboteur. I’ve rarely seen a story or a set of characters that lousy, but I still finished it because it was so much fun to run around blowing up nazis.

    (And running over nuns)

    #8 4 years ago
  9. The Hindle

    I think the best games have both personally

    #9 4 years ago
  10. Dr.Haggard

    For me he’s absolutely spot on, although obviously it doesn’t apply to all genres, and with plenty of individual exceptions. Nevertheless it’s nice to hear a developer ackowledge it openly, even if it makes no sense to treat it as a ‘golden rule’ as #8 already pointed out.

    Of course gameplay’s important, that goes without saying, but in many single player games story is more important.

    How many of what are considered the medium’s greatest achievements would still be anything like the amazing experiences they are without their stories? Not many.

    #10 4 years ago
  11. Dr.Haggard

    @9 Of course, and that was essentially his point.

    #11 4 years ago
  12. DaMan

    disagreed with that notion myself, there is such a thing as a game aimed at certain audience.. one that has both will make more money, sure. there have always been different approaches to games, there was Myst and Duke Nukem, Sega arcades and Sierra’s adventure games. for some genres, the plot does nothing but distract you from experiencing the game.

    I might hate it, the other guy might like it, simple as that. it’s all about preferences, how you like to spend your time.

    #12 4 years ago
  13. GwynbleiddiuM

    NO, Gameplay is as important as Story. Sorry Mr. Antoniades you’ve failed.

    #13 4 years ago
  14. Johnny Cullen

    I do agree that gameplay is important, but so is story, and in some cases, is just as important as gameplay.

    I guess you have to find a perfect balance of the two, depending on what the game is.

    Me? I’m more of a story person then gameplay.

    #14 4 years ago
  15. AHA-Lambda

    @14 – yeah thats basically it :P

    #15 4 years ago
  16. Stephany Nunneley

    Just think though, some of our games from childhood didn’t have stories. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Dig Dug, Qbert, Pac Man etc. Heck, even Donkey Kong and Super Mario didn’t have stories, just premises, like: save the princess from Bowser or a giant Gorilla with a thing for blonds, really.

    #16 4 years ago
  17. Anders

    I would finish a game with horrible story if it had great gameplay, but I wouldn’t finish a game with great story and horrible gameplay. Comes down to personal opinion, I guess. As always.

    #17 4 years ago
  18. DeSpiritusBellum

    It’s just the idea that story and gameplay are somehow posed against one another. It’s not a black and white thing, and to me it seems narrowminded to say that one somehow adds more than the other. They should both serve the same purpose – Completing the game.

    Mario strikes me as a good example. The story is completely retarded, but it totally fits together with the rest of the game, and justifies the gameplay. People accept it as a package, and so it becomes more than the sum of its very simple parts.

    Hindle is obviously right that the game that does the most things the best, comes out on top, but I still think that’s more about making things fit together well, than simply focusing on any singular quality.

    @16 Amen, sister.

    #18 4 years ago
  19. asdfasdf

    yes

    #19 4 years ago
  20. Johnny Cullen

    @17 Bingo!

    #20 4 years ago
  21. G1GAHURTZ

    no

    #21 4 years ago
  22. DaMan

    take a fighting game like SF, or Tekken. or After Burner. or Left 4 Dead. they need a decent plot as much as a great soundtrack. a nice bonus aspect, but that’s about it. charismatic protagonist(s) and immersive atmosphere are more than enough for those. different experiences. it’s like, let’s say travelling or something.. you don’t really need a ‘reason’ to do that.

    it’s like saying one that does both SP and MP is better, some games don’t need one of those modes.

    #22 4 years ago
  23. elronathon

    Games that we grew up playing in the playground or in parks didn’t have explicit narratives necessarily. Similarly, many timeless forms of videogame need scarcely any plot.

    Many great films have wafer-thin plots but excellent dialogue, acting and pacing. I can’t think of a medium that requires an explicit narrative (though an implicit one is often drawn)…games included.

    slightly misleading title – a touch sensationalist maybe :)

    #23 4 years ago
  24. Freek

    WOW. How can somebody be in the video games industrie and not understand games at a fundamental level?
    Yes, story is important in a narative driven experience, but it should always be fun to play and whereever possible the story should be told through the gameplay and compliment it.

    Never, ever should story come first and everything else second. Wich was a major problem in Heavenly Sword, the level design felt off, the combat wasn’t that fun, the difficlutly spikes were horrible. But it had nice cutt scenes, that diden’t exuse the rest of the game.

    If you cannot deliver on that, then you should be making movies or writing books instead.

    #24 4 years ago
  25. theevilaires

    Sorry its not and thats why I haven’t finished Heavenly Sword. the game was a fucking button smasher and I hated it for that reason. Story was nice though :)

    #25 4 years ago
  26. Dannybuoy

    And custard is more important than jelly in a trifle…. Yeah right! They are both as important as each other

    #26 4 years ago
  27. Filofax

    Gameplay is king in my book, very few games get any kind of balance between gameplay and story. Its easy to forgive a game with a shit story, but how many times will you return to a game that plays like shit.

    #27 4 years ago
  28. Crysis

    gameplay> features(unlockables, variety, customisation etc)> story> graphics, that’s just my opinion, but it may vary depending on the genre, like with a generic fps & even sports & racing games, graphics would be more attractive than story

    #28 4 years ago
  29. _LarZen_

    I would pick a good story over good gameplay any day. Im so sick of these BRAIN DEAD PICE OF SHIT GAMES.

    #29 4 years ago
  30. Crysis

    if story is so important, then why do mario games sell like hotcakes? it’s the exact same story over & over again, save that damn princess, i say LET THE GIANT TURTLE KILL HER!

    #30 4 years ago
  31. OlderGamer

    Story is far more important then gameplay is … if your a book/movie/or TV show.

    Really, for me personialy, I need just enough story to keep me interested and make me care. Beyond that, imo, the story should stay out of my way and not at anytime stop me from playing and enjoying the said gameplay.

    #31 4 years ago
  32. ivycrew707

    Reminds me of Red dead Redemption, I’m sooooooo bored with the story. After Mexico it just got dull, skipped every cut scene after that

    #32 4 years ago
  33. Newbie101

    Does he really, really believe this? Or is it another case of someone saying something stupid to get their game publicity? I can tell you countless great games which had awesome gameplay and a rubbish story but I can’t tell you many games which had a great story and rubbish gameplay because no-one cares about them. Gameplay always wins IMO.

    #33 4 years ago
  34. Sleazy Bastard

    I love a good story but ultimately, for me, in a game the most important thing is it’s gameplay. Out of all the games I’ve played, only a couple of them had what I call a great story (Read Dead Redemption and Braid, of the top of my head). These two were maybe the only games were I was playing to learn more and more about the story and what would happen. For example, I love Halo but I think it’s insane how so many people think the game has a great story. But even so I’ve play it over and over…

    #34 4 years ago

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