The systems of both games have a lot more in common than you might think.
At first glance, the vehicle combat simulation of Twisted Metal has very little to do with the open-world RPG of Skyrim. But that doesn’t mean Jaffe can’t take what he learned from playing Skyrim and apply it to his car game, or at least show how the two games dole out content that’s inherently to the medium of games, as opposed to a cinematic delivery like cutscenes and dialogue. The two titles may be worlds apart, but Jaffe wants players to think about the mechanics of Twisted Metal with as much immersion as Skyrim.
“In [Skyrim], your brain is engaged in so much stuff that still speaks to what we’re talking about, which is the language of interactivity,” said Jaffe. “Walking through the forest, going ‘I need to get this shit back to the armorer, so I can sell it, so I can make money, so I can go on this side quest I’ve been trying to earn enough shit to go on successfully, but I can’t go much faster because if I pick up another item, I’m going to be going really slow, and I’m going to get my ass killed going through this forest, getting back to town. How do I deal with that?'”
Jaffe explains the connection that level of immersion has with his game. “Your brain is engaged, and it’s a wonderful engagement. It is not that different than the brain in Twisted Metal going, ‘Okay, I need to kill these three guys in [the game mode] Last Man Standing. I’m going to plan a remote bomb,'” he said before describing a battle scene in his game.
“The player is being communicated to through the language of interactivity versus going, ‘Let me show you the movie I want to make.’ I think that’s great,” he said. “But there’s a purer way to those pleasure centers of the brain to really speak to the player and make them love games, and it’s about choices.”
The God of War-creator has been in the business a while, but he is not afraid of refining and learning from his work. “Every year I do this, Sid Meier’s quote of ‘A game as a series of interesting choices’ becomes more and more of a mantra to me,” he said, referring to a concept mentioned at Meier’s GDC Keynote Speech from 2010. “[Twisted Metal] really reflects the best we’ve been able to do once we understood that that’s what really a game is, to engage the brain more than anything else. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
While I don’t think I’ll have the same engagement with Twisted Metal that I do with Skyrim, I’m certainly willing to take the journey with Jaffe’s exploding cars.