And yet again it has been brought home that when everything else is stripped away, the story is what really counts.
We had a discussion at work the other day about this. One of our simulators, the newest and shiniest one with the best gadgets and gizmos, isn't doing so well with camper ratings. We were surprised. Don't kids love touch screens and cool gadgets and settings? As it turns out, yes, they do, but they want a better story. The flight director realized that her story left the captain with no choice. They were railroaded during the whole mission. The bad guys always had the drop on the crew. They never felt in control. With some minor reworking, she changed the story to give the captain more control of decisions. Her scores went up.
At work, we run "choose your own adventure" stories that are carefully designed to get the crew to choose what we want them to choose. It's a lot like being GM for a sci-fi role-playing game.
But as we've proven yet again, it isn't the special effects or the props or the costumes that really count. It's the story.
Now if only Hollywood could figure that out.