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Mark Cerny discusses the need for narrative balance in games

"Pac-Man was the Metal Gear Solid of arcade games," says PS4 lead system architect

Mark Cerny has stated that modern games don't just need to decide how much they focus on narrative, but also how that narrative is presented throughout.

In a video interview with Rev3Games, PS4 lead system architect Cerny was asked if he felt there should be a balance between how much of a game is narrative based and how much is gameplay.

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"We even had a balance back in the day," he replied. "Pac-Man was the Metal Gear Solid of arcade games because after every stage you cleared you had to watch a mini movie about Pac-Man and Ms Pac-Man."

Cerny went on: "Yes, I think you have the issue about how much narrative, but you also have the issue of how much to interweave the narrative.

"I was a first-time creative director recently [on Knack] and I'm really starting to understand how some narrative goes into the game at such a fundamental level that it just evaporates - it's the quick-time event, it's the thing that happens as you turn the corner - and some of it you're going to lean back and watch. And it's the ratio of those two, more so than the absolute amount of narrative, that's really critical."

When asked why some developers seem obsessed with chasing a 'cinematic' experience, Cerny replied: "We're at the point where these now stand alone on the basis of their narrative. That's why The Last of Us picked up 300 game of the year awards.

"So I think fairly soon we won't need to pursue this with a chip on our shoulder, or a bit of ego there saying 'we've got to show movies and TV', I think we'll be able to relax and say 'yes, we can tell a story, we can do it in the context of a video game, what story do we want to tell?'"