"Plot is highly overrated," League of Legends developer Riot Games narrative lead Tom Abernathy said today during a Game Developers Conference presentation at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Abernathy, who previously worked at Microsoft on Halo: Reach, said internal and external research "proves that out."
It's not plot that truly hooks gamers, but rather characters, Abernathy said.
"Users don't remember plot; what the do remember is they remember characters," Abernathy said. Players become "hooked" in a game if they care about its characters, he explained.
"Focus on the things that they will retain, that are going to be most important to them in the long-run," Abernathy said to a room of developers and press. "Focus on character."
But to create believable and compelling characters, developers should make sure that characters' motivations are aligned appropriately with the motivations that they are leading the player to experience as well, Abernathy said.
Also during the talk, co-presenter Richard Rouse III, a design lead at Microsoft, said most players do not finish games. He estimated that only about a third of players actually finish the games they play.