CD Projekt: Game Choices Should Be “Meaningful and Really Important”
In a discussion with Computer and Videogames that touched on the company’s commitment to non-linear gaming, CD Projekt’s lead level artist Marek Ziemak offered some revealing comments that seem tailor-made for the debate currently raging across the gameosphere about Mass effect 3. Essentially: player choice is the most important thing. “The spine of our whole game,” Ziemak said, “is the storyline and it’s a dark fantasy world where you have to make choices, then later on you have to face the consequences of your actions.” That is in my opinion something all games need generally, but in a non-linear setting, especially a RPG, it’s the essential bit.
Most importantly, those choices need to impact the game, and the player, they need to actually matter, a point of view Ziemak also made clear is close to CD Projekt’s hear. “We were looking for a way to make those consequences meaningful and really important for the players. To show that, we sometimes have to kill some characters, sometimes burn places and sometimes make huge changes in the game’s world.” He added later, “It’s not always enough to tell you that someone died because of your choice, we want to show you those consequences, because you’re the man deciding, then we have to be prepared that you choose one option or the other.”
It’s tangential, but worth noting that the heart of player discontent with the way Mass Effect 3 ended is the fact that at a crucial moment, the mechanic of player choice was removed from the game, essentially robbing the player of their participation. We’ve tried summing up why this is problematic again and again, but Ziemak’s comments do a great job of explaining the problem, if only from the creator side of things. Hopefully, other developers are listening.