Not everyone might know Bruce Straley's name, but they certainly will know his accomplishments. One of the most accomplished video game designers of all-time, during his stint with Naughty Dog, he's had his hand in the creation of series such as, Uncharted, Jax and Daxter, and The Last of Us.
In 2017, Straley stepped away from Naughty Dog -- and for the moment at least, video game development as a whole -- but that doesn't mean he's still not hanging around and playing games like the rest of us. And as a director and creator of a few classics with about 25 years in the industry, he knows a thing or two about games.
That said, apparently Straley has been playing (or played) 2018's highest-rated game from Rockstar Games: Red Dead Redemption 2, which is also one of the highest-rated games of all-time, and surely on its way to be one of the best-selling too.
However, while Straley is probably enjoying the open-world western, he did recently take to Twitter to share a little bit of criticism involving how little freedom Rockstar Games gives players during missions, and how it juxtaposes the vast freedom it gives players outside of those missions.
The game killed me when I tried to flank in that mission - like so many RDR2 story missions. They need me to do what the story requires & continually remove my choices. The env was open & I had the skills, but they punished me for thinking for myself instead of rewarding me. ☹️— Bruce Straley (@bruce_straley) January 14, 2019
I totally agree! The story missions feel epic but they're super fragile. I'm glad RDR2 makes an effort to stay with core controls, but wish they'd tolerate more deviation from the golden path & allow for more player choices.— Matthew Gallant (@Gangles) January 14, 2019
Totally! But I’d argue removing player choice in order to achieve “epic stories” undermines the power of interactivity completely. So, it winds up NOT being epic, because I end up frustrated that the game just doesn’t trust me. Then I’m just ticking boxes to start cutscenes.— Bruce Straley (@bruce_straley) January 14, 2019
Personally, I see Straley's point, though I don't entirely agree with it. I don't think confining a player undermines interactivity. The game has a flair for the cinematic. In many ways, its cutscenes, its story, are more a pull from a Taratino joint than any other video game. But I don't believe how interactive video games are to a play is what defines them. Sure, it's what helps distinguish them from other entertainment mediums, but confining developers to open-ended and reactive gameplay is not much different than Rockstar confining the player to a certain script with guided gameplay. Alas, Straley obviously knows a lot more about good game design than I do, and I've seen his criticism echoed by many.2comments
Red Dead Redemption 2 is available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. At the moment of publishing, there's been no official word of additional ports.
For more news and coverage on the open-world western, click here.