During his GDC presentation last week, former 'WoW' game director Jeff Kaplan ranted about "medium envy" and how games shouldn't try to be more than what they are: entertainment.
At a GDC session titled "The Cruise Director of Azeroth: Directed Gameplay Within World of Warcraft," former game director Jeff Kaplan (who's now working on Blizzard's new MMO) talked about some of the mistakes that games make, including his own title.
"If it makes us feel better, Shakespeare couldn't 3D model his way out of a paper bag, Scorsese couldn't program ragdoll physics and The Beatles are pretty lousy at balancing three unique races on an RTS battlefield."
He explained that "WoW" quest designers are limited to 511 characters but he wished the number were smaller. "This is a phrase I learned from the forums: 'Too long, didn't read,'" Kaplan said, explaining that his own step-children never read the quest texts. "I think it's great to limit people in how much pure text that they can force on the player. We need to show the story and not go crazy with the text."
Kaplan also said that the reason text is long in some games is because they have "medium envy." Then, in the spirit of GDC, he proceeded to do his own rant on the topic:
"We're so fortunate and privileged to work in a medium that is not only an art but a revolutionary, interactive form of entertainment. That's the key word there: entertainment. It's unfortunate to see so many games try to be what they're not, including our game at times. Of course we should embrace the concept of story. I'm not ranting 'Don't have story in your game' -- I'm ranting about how to tell it.
"Art, literature drama, film, song -- they've all embraced story but they all tell it in their own unique way. I feel like we need to deliver our story in a way that is uniquely video game. We need to engage our audience by letting them be the hero, the villain or the victim. We need to stop being self-aware in our own games. We need to recognize that art, literature, drama, film, music, they're tools at our disposal.
"We need to stop writing a f---ing book in our game because no one wants to read it. There are better books out there to read."
"We're very fortunate that we work in a medium that we can use all those other art forms to tell our stories. But we need to engage our players in an inspiring experience and the sooner we accept that we are not Shakespeare, we are not Scorsese, Michelangelo, Tolstoy or The Beatles, the better off we are. If it makes us feel better, Shakespeare couldn't 3D model his way out of a paper bag, Scorsese couldn't program ragdoll physics and The Beatles are pretty lousy at balancing three unique races on an RTS battlefield. Basically -- and I'll direct this more at the Blizzard guys -- we need to stop writing a f---ing book in our game because no one wants to read it. There are better books out there to read."
Do you agree with Kaplan?