RPG Roundtable #4, Part One

The first installment of RPGVault's fourth RPG Roundtable feature is now available, which includes comments from ArenaNet's James Phinney, Infinite Interactive's Steve Fawkner, and more. Here's a snip from ArenaNet's James Phinney:
I contend that the recent trend has been toward more open-ended gaming. Online, it's been the persistent state world, with ever-increasing player control over the economy and social structures. Elsewhere, it's been single-player games (GTA3, Morrowind, etc.) that attempt to give tremendous freedom within the gameworld. Given that, two games this past year stood out as boldly taking on the challenge of bringing strong storytelling into structures wherein players have a meaningful amount of freedom.

First, there's Final Fantasy XI. Using in-game cinematics, it makes admirable strides toward bringing traditional RPG storytelling to the MMORPG. (If you were wondering, only the player initiating the cinematic sees it. Other players just see that character standing in place.) I haven't found the story to have great impact or resonance yet, but the delivery methods were effective.