Gordo’s Gaming Blog

My adventures in the many worlds of gaming.

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Theorycrafting – Immersion

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Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

Naked Mailbox Dancing...

 

I was interested a few weeks ago to read this article at Massively. But I guess what was more interesting were the comments. It seems the majority of people (well, Massively readers at least) don’t feel that attached to their characters. Most simply, when they’ve had enough of a game, log out when they get bored, and if they don’t log back in again, well, no sleep will be lost over it.

But I got thinking. Recently, I’ve dabbled in Morrowind and Oblivion (two of the finest games I’ve ever played) and I found myself, as I approached the end of a gaming session, riding to a city to close the game down in my house, or an inn. Of course, there’s no benefit of this. No benefit at all, except maybe the peace of mind of knowing that I won’t boot up straight into a fight. But, most areas would guarentee that. Then I thought of MMOs again. The only time I’ve ever felt the need to log out in a certain area is for the rested XP bonus for logging out in an inn or a city in WoW, and similar things in other games. That in turn, got me thinking. In some ways, it’s a bribe for immersion. You act “immersed” and you get rewarded. So why do MMOs feel the need to bribe you to do something that CRPGs provide naturally?

MMO developers like to have the buzzword “immersive” attached to their products. It’s a neat little word that conveys a lot of positive emotions about that product. If something is described as immersive, I think;

  1. There’s lots to do – you become a part of the world
  2. Character progression is good – you develop alongside the character you play
  3. Once you play, you want to keep on playing – it’s the “can’t put it down” effect that you get with books, or “can’t switch it off” effect with a TV show
  4. You’ll play lots, so you’ll get good value for money – even more important these days
  5. Most importantly, it’s fun – that, after all, is the reason we play games

The thing is – if I’m being bribed into feel immersed, I don’t feel immersed. It’s simply min-maxing – making the best of the time I play the game. But, am I an average gamer? I have an awful tendency to overthink things, and to attempt to simplify things. Does that mean, that, even though I don’t feel immersed, most players do? I’d love to hear your opinions. Do you feel immersed in MMOs? How about single players games?

Part of the reason why I think I feel immersed in single player games is, they feel more realistic. There’s no addons, and often a minimal UI. There’s no leetspeak in the chatbox, no goldspam. The graphics are invariably better, the world is quieter. Monsters don’t respawn after two minutes. People behave like people – they don’t sprint everywhere (except me), in good games, they eat, they drink, they gossip, they live like people. There’s nobody standing on the mailbox dancing naked. I think, ultimately, that’s the reason I feel immersed in single player games. I don’t have to worry about guild politics. I don’t have to worry if I make a huge cock-up – there’s nobody to laugh at how noobish I am. I can simply relax and enjoy the game. I can concentrate on the dialogue, often I have choices (as opposed to MMOs where questing simply involves running through dialogue boxes, which all end up at the Accept/Decline screen). I guess that, at a basic level, immersion is simply feeling a connection with the game you’re playing. And if I can concentrate on the game, as opposed to what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s easier to be immersed.

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Written by Gordo

April 11, 2009 at 10:15 pm

Posted in MMO, PC

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Fallout and the Fallout.

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So it’s that time of the year again. E3. One of the most exciting games for me is Fallout 3. Made by Bethesda Softworks, creators of one of my favourite games of all time Morrowind (and also its sequel, Oblivion, which I also enjoyed). It’s got a great setting, outside of my comfort zone somewhat, as in, no orcs, elves or trolls, but with an essence of what made Bioshock great. As for the gameplay, that’s where I believe it’ll truly shine. It gives choice. I’ve seen videos showing how you can play it as a real-time FPS, or as a series of queued moves that play out after you’ve planned the combat in advance. Your character, too, can be whoever you wish. A sneaky character, a manipulative character, or a brutal combatant. I’d love to play the game through a few times in the different styles. But perhaps one of the best things I’ve read about the game so far is that your choices aren’t ignored as you progress through the game, but they have consequences. I’m not talking ‘if you break a law, you’ll get hunted by the police’, I mean that your actions throughout the game really influence how the game ends for you. Todd Howard said there would be 10,000 possible permutations.

And the world is large. The whole of post apocolyptic Washington DC is up to explore, with many different factions and organisations struggling to survive.

I’m genuinely excited about Fallout 3. It has atmosphere, it has grit, it has action, suspense and consequences. And it’s being worked on by one of the most talented teams in the industry.

In other news, the fallout to the announcements of Black Friday are now becoming apparent. Countless bloggers have talked in detail about their thoughts of the announcements, but my initial fury has subsided somewhat. If you haven’t done so already, see Syp’s silver lining piece, it raises some good points and it is true that too many people were expecting too much of WAR. I’m still excited about it, still locking away my beta codes in the safest place in my house. All in all, I look to the fall.

Written by Gordo

July 17, 2008 at 2:25 pm

The future: My next MMO.

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So, I’ve ditched Age of Conan. Now which MMO should I play? It’s a tough choice for me. Clearly there are no AAA games out for launch soon. WAR, I’ll definetly play, and am very excited about, but what will I play in the mean time? Tricky.

Here’s my shortlist:

  1. WoW – not imaginative, not original, not brilliant. I’d rather not go back there, but maybe I would have fun if I tried again? After seeing the lack of questing in AoC, and the need for grinding, I might appreciate having quests instead of grinds to get levels. I might get to 70 (my character was 65 when I left him), and get immersed in the masses of endgame I’ve so far, left untapped.
  2. EVE – I’m personally torn on this one. I’ve done a trial before, and I found it too slow MMOsfor my liking. But people say, once you get ‘into it’, there’s nothing like it. They claim it’s the richest, deepest MMO experience out there. Does that make me shallow? I’m not sure, but my philosophy is, a game must be accessible. Forget all notions of depth, if the swimming pool has a layer of ice on top, no matter how deep it is, you won’t be able to swim until you’ve done a lot of smashing. So maybe I should try it again, and do some hacking at the ice until I’m immersed. Or would I be better admitting I’m not the kind of gamer that EVE is designed for?
  3. Everquest 2 – Kind of like WoW’s younger brother, not quite so smart, not quite so handsome, not quite so good at sport, but still not easy to write off. It has quite a large playerbase, but can it really be suitable for a complete newcomer like me?
  4. No MMO – A strange notion for me, I’ve played an MMO pretty much solid for a couple of years now. But maybe taking a break from the MMO world might allow me to enjoy some of the delights the non-MMO side of the industry has to offer. I’ve still got LoZ: Twilight Princess, GTA IV, COD 4, Super Mario Galaxy, to name but a few, that I’d like to play. Normally though, I play an MMO alongside these other games, at the expense of pace, allowing me to jump between them depending on how much fun I’m having in each at a certain time.

Written by Gordo

June 21, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Posted in MMO, PC

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Spore Creature Creator – A cheap trick, but fun.

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SporeEA, the kings of money-making when it comes to game, have got another corker with the Spore Creature Creator. They charge you £5 to get it, which in turn, signs you over to become cheap labour for them. The creatures you create and share are then used in the full game to populate it. As well as that, it shows you a fraction of the game, smaller than most demos would, but you’re paying for it! Well, fourtunately, there is a trial edition of the creature creator, and I’m happy to sacrifice the extra parts to at least cost EA one sale.

It is fun though. You really can customise to your hearts content, you can create all sorts of combinations of legs, arm, heads, feet and horns. It’s the kind of game, where if you have a spark of creativity, you can be addicted to for months. If you’re less creative (ahem, me), you might find it fun for a while, but the chances are it’ll wear off. That is where EA get you, as the full game allows you do nurture these creatures as a race, not just as a creation. I’m looking forward to Spore, it should be a real treat. I wonder if it can emulate the success of The Sims, and have everyone glued to the PC as their whole civilization, not just their family, grow and multiply. It’s one to look out for, indeed.

Written by Gordo

June 21, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in PC

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