Death to Plot: Expanded Thoughts

Hi guys and gals, hope you enjoyed my recent video, and in case you didn’t check it out, I’ve linked it below.
I thought I might put together this blog post to answer a few questions you might have after watching the video.
In case you think I’m a big proponent for structured games, I assure you that this not the case at all. I enjoy and praise games that do things quite organically such as the example I mentioned (Dark Souls) as well as another example that I’ll be talking a little bit about. The Mount and Blade series.
Mount and Blade captures the plot-less game design almost perfectly. Almost.
With the exception of With Fire and Sword I consider the M&B series as a great example of a ‘true’ sandbox game. After a quick tutorial you are plonked into a world filled with characters, quests and a whole lot of bandits.
If you are unfamiliar with Mount and Blade, it’s basically a medieval mercenary/bandit/knight/king simulator. Avoid becoming king of everything, because in an almost philosophical move, a world without enemies is a dull one indeed.
The ability to ally yourself to a faction or choose to ‘be your own man’ is an experience like no other. To this day I have not found anything to the freedom that exists within M&B Warband. However like Tom and Richard said in the GDC presentation, characters are important and this is where the game falls a little short. Also the very fact that any named character in the game cannot be killed is a problem, because there is no gravitas to a battle, because you know they’ll simply come back another time.
Games are uniquely suited to allow this experience and perhaps in a way this is what Tom and Richard wanted to put forth, if only they had explained it a little better. I can definitely get behind this style of game narrative and in no way condemn non linear games. Just a bit of clarification so you don’t raise your pitchforks after watching the video!

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