Ubisoft Chief Creative Has Had Enough of Linear Narratives

Before you read this one, watch the Watch Dogs 2 *story* trailer below.

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During an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Ubisoft chief creative officer Serge Hascoët said that he’d prefer to move away from linear narrative structures, in favor of more player-driven approaches, Game Informer reports.

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Hascoët sees things like cutscenes as a restriction of player freedom. “During these scenes, I’m not doing what I want to do, which is evolve in this world,” he said. “I don’t want us to write one story, I want there to be tens of thousands of stories, that each character has one, and I can speak to them if I want to know that story.”

“What interests me is to create worlds that are interesting to me as well as anyone else,” Hascoët said. “If I have a game set in San Francisco (like Watch Dogs 2), I’d want even my mom to be able to have fun, drive a boat, helicopter, car… There has to be interesting people to meet, too, and that they come across well.” He wants the player to be able to enjoy themselves on their own terms. “We want to give them many methods: private detective, assassin, hacker, hunter… You can try out these professions along with their problems, and to become more powerful.”

All of this raises the question: Will the Ubisoft space game teased in Watch Dogs 2 have a linear narrative, or will Hascoët get his way?

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Avatar image for khosatralkhel

I agree with him, one of the most annoying things in Assassins Creed are the cut scenes you have to go through to do any story mission. I don't want those as it just breaks up the flow of the game. Missions should be integrated into the game world seamlessly like GTA, I don't like control taken off me in a game.

Looking forward to the new Assassins Creed if they follow this idea and I haven't looked forward to one for a long time.

Avatar image for thekazumalord

most of us like liner stories written by professionals... having extra stuff to do afterwards at your leisure is fine, but the main linear story better be good. once again, ubishit is out of wack with the rest of the industry

Avatar image for kanekan-slaugh

Nothing wrong with linear. Ther're many great linear games. Uncharted, Tomb raider, Sunset Overdrive are the first things to come to mind.

Avatar image for Hurvl

I welcome this new way of thinking about narrative structures. I haven't played any recent Ubisoft games, because they've all seemed like they followed the same recipe, one that doesn't allow a flexible approach, basically an anti-Deus Ex. Maybe that's wrong, but disregarding that they still haven't seemed much fun as a whole and I've got a backlog full of great games.

"Before you read this one, watch the Watch Dogs 2 *story* trailer below" No, I won't and you can't make me (stickin' it to the man, just like the "heroes" of Watch Dogs 2)!

Avatar image for starjay009

In other words..... we want to become like 'BUG-TEST-DA' !!!! Where we create huge, buggy worlds and drop y'all right in to do whatever you want. Then, we will patch the game a 100 times over, then release a Special Edition and then patch that version at least 50 times over before releasing another buggy mess. *Shakes head*

Avatar image for GRADERBLADE13

Translation: We don't want to pay for quality writing so we'll disguise our games' lack of decent narratives as player driven worlds...

Avatar image for Oloryn

I can see the appeal of non-linear stories for many people, but to me, unless they have an amazing creative team writing those stories, they tend to fall a little flat, and can often feel very trivial or even skippable entirely. Unless the game has a phenomenal and coherent core gameplay package that compels me to consistently dive into those characters and stories, I tend to only want my time spent on JUST the gameplay, or a very well told, linear story, if there is one. If you wow me with a great story, I don't mind letting the cutscenes flow and sink in.

A great example of a blend of gameplay and non linear story would be The Witcher III, where even the sidequests feel fleshed out. That tends to be the exception, and not the rule, however, which is largely based on the resources the teams have. The larger the team gets, the more likely their bosses want them to churn out money machines, which means the games can often lose some of those far reaching goals and fall more into the realm of, say, Watch Dogs, where neither the story OR the gameplay are particularly excellent.

Avatar image for xxmavr1kxx

I wonder how long it would take to make a game like he is talking baout. Where every NPC has an actual story instead of a couple programmed lines.

I want the NPC's to react like the hosts in westworld.

Avatar image for Thanatos2k

You know how to write a good story? Linear narrative structure.

You know how to write mediocre stories? Open World Games with "thousands of stories"

Avatar image for starjay009

@Thanatos2k: Like No Man's Sky or One Man's Lie !

Avatar image for Flyin3lvl

""Ubisoft Chief Creative Has Had Enough of Linear Narratives"" looks at naughty dog game titles :d

Avatar image for Gamer_4_Fun

Linear narratives by structure often tend to be the best thought off.

Avatar image for Pyrosa

UBI has not made a linear game in years (Jade decreed "all open world" ages ago), so let's read between the lines here...

In other words, "cut scenes are disproportionally expensive, so let's not do them anymore."

I don't entirely disagree, however in-engine scenes with skippable text dialogue would be fine IMO.

Avatar image for profchrisk

I actually have to agree, i've always said non-interactive cutscenes are a crutch for the industry. If you give me a choice of what I can do in the telling of my story, in engine, i'm ok with that. Allow me to decide to be the action hero i've always wanted to be instead of forcing that option..

Avatar image for snugglebear

If you look at the way open world games work, theres a main narrative and tons of offshoot stories to expand upon and dig into. GTAV you didn't have to join a cult or track down a murderer or shoot invading weed aliens. All those things are there, but there still has to be a main motivation to tie it together. Even Minecraft has that: to build for building's sake or just to survive

Avatar image for bigdegs

You missed the train on that one Ubisoft. Other games have gone this route already, with varying degrees of success. If done right, it can be a wonderful experience. If done wrong, it becomes a slog. Considering Ubisoft games have become a simple collect-athon with very mediocre stories, I'm thinking they'd fall into the latter group.

Avatar image for Prats1993

Ubisoft have a long way to go until they can build worlds that are as convincing and polished as the ones made by Rockstar.

Avatar image for Atzenkiller

I really hope that guy has no say in the direction videogames are going. And I hope the game flops if it represents his vision.

Yeah, who wants to watch boring cutscenes if he can instead hack generic wifi access spots you can find everywhere on the game's map, to get the chance to spy on people doing stupid and irrelevant things? Of course through a cutscene as well.

There are sandbox games and there are story based games. And I think at this point it's really time that devs focussed more on telling a great story again instead of on adding more and more clutter and irrelevant sidemissions, more shiny objects to collect, etc., etc.

Avatar image for chiefwiggum16

ship this jackass out

Avatar image for deactivated-58a78a043e9d4

Two words: Half Life. If you don't like the way cutscenes interfere with gameplay, integrate them better.

Avatar image for Prats1993

@pongley: This. You dont have to hijack control away from the player just to show them a scripted sequence.

Avatar image for wtf_666

-generic I hate Ubisoft comment

Avatar image for brownyyy

Jack of all trades master of none. Ubisoft 2017

Avatar image for Runeweaver

I hate to say it whenever someone at Ubisoft speaks I look for their self interest, So I read this as they can cut costs by using less Voice acting and not making cutscenes.

for me cutscenes help you connect to the characters in a story, they don't have to restrict what you can do, but without them its hard to care about any npc, most MMO's have few or no cutscenes and I never care about what the NPC's say or what happens to them, they are just quest carriers.

Avatar image for cboye18

Ubisoft AAA games suffers from inconsistent narrative, uninteresting characters and boring dialogue. The lack of a focused, linear narrative in their open-world games along with bad writing are the cause of that. Have they not learn from GTA?

They need to get this clown fired.

Avatar image for Jasurim

I think there is room for both. I love player choice and freedom within a game and its narrative. It's great and it can be really fun to play around with the world. On the other hand a more linear experience, especially when focusing more on the narrative side of things, they can be a lot richer in detail, more refined and can provide a more fulfilling experience. Variety is the spice of life as they say...I'd rather they mix it up. Not every game needs to be the same.

Although this is Ubisoft we're talking about.

Avatar image for so_hai

If your story decreases gameplay enjoyment - discard it. Besides, the highest rated game of all time has a rudimentary story that only feeds gameplay moments, not rudimentary gameplay that feeds story moments.

Avatar image for Acillatem1993

@so_hai: What game are we talking about here? OoT?

Avatar image for so_hai

@Acillatem1993: Yes.

Avatar image for G-Corleone

I'd rather have one good story than thousands of crappy ones.

MGS, old FFs and Zelda are perfect examples.

Avatar image for quothage

What'd be great is a massive open city or even world, where the path you choose and what you do isnt defined at all. You could start out as an infant, learning skills and knowledge and hope that it gives you the required tools to go out in to the world and forge a path for yourself in an unforgiving, ruthless and dangerous environment. I'd call it "Life, The Non Linear Game".

Avatar image for Flyin3lvl

@quothage: minecraft? or bad example ......

Avatar image for ltjohnnyrico

@quothage: I'd call it Fallout 3!

Start as an infant - Check, Learn Skills/Knowledge - Check, Forge a path in anunforgiving, ruthless and dangerous environment - Check. Yup its all there !!

Avatar image for Barighm

Hey man, just because you suck at creating linear narratives doesn't mean we're tired of them.

As for the rest: when you try to please everybody, you often please nobody.

Avatar image for silversix_

STFU and give me a tower climb.

Avatar image for spaced92

Neither is better than the other. 'Player Freedom' is not the end goal, an entertaining experience is, and if the story, characters, writing and such is good people are going to enjoy cutscenes. You don't have to feel rail roaded in a linear story, look at some Obsidian games that disguise it brilliantly or kind of mix the two, you can actually have a lot of player freedom in a linear story.

Avatar image for G-Corleone

@spaced92: true, my fellow gamer

Avatar image for hordicus

syndicate and FC primal had pretty good stories thie like far cry blood dragon show a certain sense of humor and self parody and the pirate assassins creed black flag and rogue were pretty heavy on historic stuff for who enjoy it.

Avatar image for derceto

Guessing he hasn't had enough of linear production quality though, as Ubisoft continues to release some of the most hilariously broken piles of garbage on the market.

Avatar image for hansond_jaysond_lee

nah-nah-nah, fak off, mate.
it doesn't matter if your games has linear naratives or not as long as you can tell a good story.
some of the best games of all time has linear naratives.
now I don't play alot of your games, Ubi, but I know for certain your games aren't popular because of their naratives or story.
so yeah, you still don't have the right to say something like that.

Avatar image for Barighm

@hansond_jaysond_lee: Yeah, really. You'd think they'd realize WHY games like Primal and Blood Dragon were so much fun. Had nothing to do with the stories. Just goes to show, their upper management is completely out of touch with their work force.

Maybe they need to grab the writers behind Child of Light.

Avatar image for gamingdevil800

Barely any linear games these days and when they are they tend to still have semi open worlds like Dishonored 2.

Avatar image for livedreamplay

@gamingdevil800: Regardless if it's an open world or not, I haven't seen any proper non-linear game when it comes to narrative. You either make some decisions and get one of the 2 or 3 possible endings, or the conversations change, or the world around has some changes (at best). Never have I seen a game where my decision actually changed the way the narrative went.

Avatar image for livedreamplay

I would understand a statement like this coming from the likes of Naughty Dog or Rockstar, who are masters at their linear stories, however this coming from Ubisoft is a little strange since they're struggling to make an impact even on a single narrative.

Avatar image for iandizion713

Sounds good on paper. But can you give it true depth.