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343 Industries: Games A Better Place To Build Universes Rather Than Narratives

Felix Kemp
343 Industries, Halo, News

343 Industries: Games A Better Place To Build Universes Rather Than Narratives

Concluding their long run of interviews, 343 Industries' creative director, Frank O'Connor, explained to CVG that while videogames aren't "necessarily the best place to tell a narrative story", the medium is a far better place to "build a universe", where the game's world and features allow developers to forge a narrative from how you play.

It's an interesting explanation, one where O'Connor admits that, in terms of narrative storytelling, videogames aren't ideal. Take away the Covenant war, the Forerunner architecture and the like from Halo and "it stops making any sense". Think about it. Up until recently, we'd never seen the Forerunners or even had an insight into their culture, and yet through strong art design and universe-building, we can glean such an insight from their abandoned sci-fi monasteries and improbable structures like the Halo rings. It didn't need a long exposition scene or dialogue cue. Simply wandering around when you first crash-land on the ring, soaking in the atmosphere and scenery, was enough to convince you this was a place forged by beings of unsurpassed power.

O'Connor does take a step back to confess "telling a story while you're desperately trying to hold off hordes of Covenant can be distracting". It's true that developers have struggled to properly marry gameplay features with narrative concerns - I'd hoped Bulletstorm had satirically side-stepped that particular fault, but instead it plummeted down making bad jokes - with O'Connor conceding games aren't "necessarily the best place for a narrative".

It's a great interview, with O'Connor in quite an open, honest mood. 343 is gearing up for big-budget production, and although all the pieces don't appear to be in place as of yet, I don't think it'll be long before they pull back the curtain on their first project. [CVG]

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