Quantic Dream's David Cage, the creator of Indigo Prophecy who's currently at work on Heavy Rain, often has good things to say about emotion in games, and in a recent interview with Gamasutra, he's leveling a critical eye on the open-world structures of MMOs and wondering what "emotional value" players are really getting out of them. He first contrasts sandbox gaming in general with the deliberately-constructed "rollercoaster" of linear games:
"From the time you're in the line, you go in the back of the rollercoaster and through the tunnel and everything is defined. We knew while you were waiting how to make the stress grow, how to make you feel something, get you scared, make you feel better, et cetera. This rollercoaster is being conceived by someone to optimize the experience."
Calling MMOs the only "true" sandbox of which he's aware, Cage is a little bit critical:
I've played many MMOs these days, and most of the time, the experience is really poor, because you end up doing not very exciting things. I think the value of the experience is not on that. It's really about building yourself - the vision of yourself, like, "Oh, I want to be a hero, because I've spent so much time at level 16. I'm so strong. Look at my weapons and my helmet." These are the core mechanics these games are based on. I think that's fine for people when they need to build self esteem, and it's a very important core complementing experience, but if you're not into that, what's the real narrative or emotional value? Sometimes it's really interesting when you're in the guild in a massively multiplayer game and you attack the fortress or whatever. Some great things can be told, but it's not guaranteed. The value is not always there."
What do you think, Kotaku readers? Do you get a "narrative or emotional" value out of MMOs most of the time, or do you prefer the "rollercoaster?" Dreaming of a New Day: Heavy Rain's David Cage [Gamasutra]