Narrative Legos with Ken Levine

Ken Levine speaking at GDC 2014 about his initial thoughts on building player-driven replayable narrative gameplay.

Creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games (System Shock 2BioShockBioShock Infinite), Ken shut that company down in February of 2014 to focus on digital-download, narrative driven games for Take-Two.

I watched the video twice (the actual presentation is only 39 minutes long) and wrote up my notes if anyone is interested. It was an interesting talk but, after reading Chris’ book on IS, a bit too conceptual and sketchy for my taste.

I think he’s thinking in the right direction and if he hasn’t read Chris’ book he certainly should. I first thought Passions would map directly to Chris’ Traits but later changed my mind. While there are some similarities, his Passions seem to be focused on external events, i.e. build the Old Gods temple, rather than an internal personality model. There could be something behind the scenes that determines how your actions move the star’s passion bar but it was hand-waved over. I find Chris’ theory on designing personality models and how the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level traits interact much more mature and understandable.

I think his choice of an RPG as a focusing device for the meta-design conversation was okay but wonder what baggage it brings that obscures a good, robust design.

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