RPG Roundtable #3, Part One

RPGVault has posted the first installment of their third RPG Roundtable feature, in which they talk to six developers about the subject of storytelling. Here's a snippet from Ken Rolston, Bethesda's lead designer for Morrowind:
There is a continuum in RPGs between linear, mission-based RPGs like Thief and Deus Ex on one hand, and open-ended, freeform RPGs like Morrowind. The more linear the game structure of the RPG, the more appropriate is a linear story spine.

In Morrowind, the main quest story is of secondary importance. I use it to drag you across all the distracting crosscurrents of the faction conflicts. It is my profoundest hope that while advancing along the main quest line, you will find some story YOU want to tell about yourself, or some aspect of the world YOU want to explore, and turn at right angles to the main quest narrative and march off on your own.

I'm glad that many players deliberately avoid pursuing the main quest when they start playing Morrowind, preferring instead to explore faction advancement ladders, pump up their skills, search for loot, hunt monsters - or innocent civilians - or just wander around like a tourist.