Gamasutra's Pierre Gaultier has an interesting interview up with Derek Littlewood of Free Radical on the subject of the upcoming PS3 title Haze. Narrative design and this whole question of making games compelling on a level a little deeper than 'Oooh, shiny!' is a hot topic, and various studios have claimed to have made great strides in realizing games that have some sort of higher purpose. Most of them have fallen short. Way, way short. Free Radical has set out to tackle the challenge, and from what I've read about Haze over the past couple of months, they seem to be hitting a lot of the important points in a pretty deep way - which is more than can be said for a lot of these 'Look, look, we have a deeper purpose!' games out there. What's Littlewood's take on Haze's place among games-with-a-purpose and games in general?
I've always felt that creative media are at their most compelling when they actually speak to the person experiencing them about their own life, and cause them to ask questions, or look at things from a different perspective, than they'd considered before. Haze certainly isn't the first game to try and do that, but it's still definitely the exception rather than the rule. I don't think we're going to cause every gamer who plays the game to look at war and violence in games in a completely different light, but I think the game will at least create a debate about those questions amongst some of the people who play it (to an extent, seeing people's reactions to some of our comments on the game, it's clear that debate is already happening), and that's an achievement enough in itself, I think.
Will Haze also fall short, or will they delivered on their promises? Only time will tell, but Littlewood's thoughts are interesting and not flying off into totally esoteric territory (frequently something to be admired).