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 Twisted Metal  man David Jaffe's  Skyrim  theory
Twisted Metal man David Jaffe's Skyrim theory Exclusive
February 13, 2012 | By Staff

February 13, 2012 | By Staff
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    9 comments
More: Console/PC, Exclusive, Design



Many point to Skyrim as a hallmark of open world design, but Twisted Metal creator David Jaffe says that it's the system and resource management that players really find attractive.

Speaking to Gamasutra about his belief that the key to developing games is creating "experiences that speak respectfully and powerfully, using the language of interactivity," he discussed what he thinks makes the chart-topping RPG geat.

"Well, a lot of people look at Skyrim and they say, 'Oh, the graphics' -- or the music or the sound effects -- 'that's what makes it immersive.' And sure, that's true to an extent. It is a combat game, there's fighting, but it's more of a simulation of an experience. So is Twisted Metal, but [Skyrim is] more of a simulation, like, live this character's life," says Jaffe.

"In that game, your brain is engaged in so much stuff that speaks to what we're talking about, which is the language of interactivity," he says.

These in-game interactions and choices may not make for sexy box copy, but they engage the brain, Jaffe argues.

"Walking through the forest, going 'I need to get this shit back to the armorer, so I can sell it, so I can make money, so I can go on this side quest I've been trying to earn enough shit to go on successfully, but I can't go much faster because if I pick up another item, I'm going to be going really slow, and I'm going to get my ass killed going through this forest, getting back to town. How do I deal with that?'"

"If you read the back of the game box, it will promise you that you get to live this great adventure. But in essence, you're really dealing with mechanics -- which is great. And I'm not saying of the box should be like, 'Look! A game of resource management!' You need to live within the world you live in, and appeal to a level that the people can understand."

The full interview, in which Jaffe discusses his ideas about why interactivity is so much more important than story, is live now on Gamasutra.


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Comments


Jesse Tucker
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I would say that for me, I enjoy developing my character and exploring spaces. It's fun to pick up stuff and see what it is, but I would rather not have to go back to town and get rid of it. The beauty of the game is that it offers so many things, and almost everyone can find something to do in it that they enjoy.

Jacob Germany
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First, I find it difficult to tell what Jaffe is trying to say. The tactical decision of choosing what to carry makes it immersive? Where in the interview did he mention the open-world aspect as less of a source of immersion than the resource management? Or was it simply implied because it wasn't mention?



Second, seems like he's offering up a straw man in the first place. I've never heard anyone claim that the graphics, music, or sounds effects, were the main, let alone sole, source of immersion. Rather, I feel that the common explanation of the immersion one finds in an Elder Scrolls game would be the large, open world combined with the world's population of walking, talking, killable characters.



I can see a disagreement if he truly does think that the resource management is more important than those aspects, but does he? Most of the time, honestly, I find Jaffe less "controversial" and more downright confusing.

Matthew Cooper
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This reminds me of the age-old quote:

"Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people and kill them"

Joe McGinn
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He seems to be really stretching the point - beyond credulity, to be honest - to further his claim that games are not a good storytelling medium. Obviously, he picked the wrong game to try to prove that.

Dave Smith
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what he is describing is the thing i absolutely loathed about Skyrim. the world was worth it, but the systems and resource management suck.

John Tessin
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Then the system was successful. It is an interesting trick to keep the mind active with the mundane tasks. Yes, I hate it too, but that actually helps the immersion because you are distracted from flaws. A little pain with the pleasure makes the accomplishment much more rich. If anything, hearing the same V.O. every time you went to the merchant was immersion breaking. Fast travel dealt with the pain of traveling but you had to earn that. Many MMOs would have you earn fast travel and deal with weight management, but that was then.

Dave Smith
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interesting theory, but i dont agree. i like Skyrim in spite of its flaws, not because of them, and they didnt somehow make its virtues more appealing. if anything, it detracted from them.

Richard Carrillo
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I think it's the unique experiences that make the game good. Same for Dark Souls and other games where exploration and customization leads to an experience that differs from your friend's. It gives you water cooler moments and in turn drive you back into the game. This is one of the few games where I took Steam screenshots to share with my friends.

Ramon Carroll
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As a game designer, you'd think that Jaffe would recognize one of the most fundamental facts about our consumer base: People play games for various reasons. Systems and resourcement management? Really? I played Skyrim for the fantasy element. I like the idea of taking on the persona of a master assassin and living out my story in a believable world. For me, the resource management, systems, and mechanics are all there to support that experience, not be the main point of the game.



I agree with Joe McGinn when he suggests that Jaffe may have picked the wrong game to support his point.


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