Ken Levine is one of the most recognizable game designers out there. As the mind behind Bioshock and Bioshock Infinite, he's one of the West's most distinct gaming 'autuers'.
His games have always been rich with story and strict narratives, but he has been talking about his next game in more abstract and fluid ways. This latest conversation with GameInformer is a prime example of the interesting new ways he is looking at interactive narratives. There is a lot here, but I do encourage you to read through it.
The whole system that I came up with and that we're developing is based upon the fact that tomake an interesting character, you have to have a character who has a bunch of passions, wants, and needs. The player now has the ability to facilitate those wants or needs or go against those wants or needs or ignore those wants or needs.
The reason I think the system is going to work is because it's a very organic way to look at a character. It's a quite systemic game. The character's feelings about you change, they go up and down. But the heart of a character is still wants and needs, and that makes it no different than anything I've ever written before.
If you look at the characters and what they want and need, that's the heart of what the characters are – not their skin color, religion, [or] their sex. It's what they want, what they need, and what's in their way. That's a function of talking about who they are and how they got to this place. Sometimes it's skin color, race, or gender gets them to that place. But that's a story.
This is a pretty high concept way of looking at storytelling and I'm all for seeing what Levine can do with the idea. This could be a new exciting way of dealing with game narratives…or an unrealised concept. My real hope is for it to be the former.