The Dark Souls franchise is notorious for the amount of effort put into storytelling through gameplay experiences. Rather than force control away from the player, instead the developers put a premium on allowing the maximum number of unique events. Games like these stand in stark contrast to other genres that place emphasis on the harmony between storytelling, the optimal quantity of cutscenes, and breathtaking scripted events.
Lords of the Fallen developer Deck13 Interactive finds itself in the former camp. At a recent preview event we asked executive producer Tomasz Gop how his team strikes a balance between too overbearing of a plot versus not having enough substance. According to him, there's a general rule that experienced developers follow, however, to a certain extent it does depend on what type of product the company is planning on delivering.
Don't compare Gop's title with From Software's unforgiving battle for life however, while Gop admits that there are specific similarities, it's not like his studio was attempting to emulate their success.
"There is a general rule that you have to apply. . .and that’s whenever you have a problem of what to choose and only one of these things can make it: always go for the gameplay," states Gop adamantly.
"We’re that kind of game, so for example, with a sheet of paper we’re trying to plan whether we can have one more type of spell per class (which is extremely important), it adds a lot to the variety, because [in Lords of the Fallen] we don’t have 50 spells per class, we only have four or five, and we say, 'Okay, let’s add an extra one.' That means that maybe some elements of the story may have to be taken out because we already see on the sheet of paper and we always know what the decision should be.
Like we previously stated though, it largely depends on the situation.
"That’s how you pretty much do it," specifies Gop, "but you have to be flexible and that’s [on a] per case basis, there’s no [one solid rule.]"