Thank w00t for taking the time to post. I believe your right -- that there is still some hesitancy to just try all the free to play games out there (not much, but some). Perhaps that will change in time, but you'd be amazed at how closely your scores reflect the average so far!
Apparently there's quite a few bloggers and designers who agree. I've posted this on a few MMO-related forums and blogs, and the numbers are remarkably consistent.
Often the argument is made for free-to-play that "it removes the barrier to entry". But as a subset of all players, "developer-like" players who actively voice their opinions still have a small resistance to F2P and score one point less than a 30-day trial.
I'll let this run for perhaps a week on the various forums and post my results. Thanks for posting your thoughts (and more importantly, the reasons for them).
Mratthew, you make a strong point that I don't think about much.
Realistic animation goes much farther for immersion than high polygon count. Journey for the PS3 was in 3D, had minimalistic environments, and stylized graphics. But the animations were spectacular. All cloth moved exactly like cloth in the wind. Wind and sand and snow were animated so fantastically that you could feel the texture under your feet rather than see it.
It seems immersion is partly about good design, but also partly about putting your graphic resources into the areas that count -- like animations.
Thanks for the comments, this has been a real eye-opener for me.
Don't give up your dream, but don't be afraid to change your dream a bit if needed to meet your goals.
It almost sounds like a more complex, simulator-focused version of spore. Kind of like sim city, but with God powers. Not so great as a multiplayer/competitive game, but as a rich simulator it'd be fun, I think. Simulators are a strange genre of game to me, but if you add more features to them and market them correctly, they can be wildly successful (Sims and Sims 2 are both in the top 5 selling PC games of all time).
Start small and build up! With effort and with good game design, you can make your dream appeal to even more people.
Immersion then is related to our emotional response to the story being told (or participating in). Things like fear, suspense, and excitement are among the easiest ones to toss into a game. But when I think about it, it's more than just emotions. There's something present that makes a digital world feel like a living, breathing world. Perhaps ambience, perhaps interactivity, perhaps NPCs or the world reacting to your presence and remembering you.
I guess the core problem here (and one I've not thought about enough) is that I'm at a bit of a loss as to describe what immersion really IS, and that my initial stab in the dark was terribly weak. I know that it's desirable and provides memorable gaming experiences, but I might need some help with that fundamental definition.
The problem then really has nothing to do with 2d or 3d, medium, or format. But first, What is "Immersion" for you?.
[Edit] @Sunandshadow, I'd be interested to hear your take on immersive 2D top-down RPGs. I know that for some they are quite immersive, but I personally have a nightmare of a time 'getting into' older top-down RPGs because (and I know this is shallow), low-quality tile-based graphics to spring to mind. At the time, I was picturing how hard it was for me to be immersed in a world where I could only see 2 isometric sides of buildings, and the top of my head. This is of course, rather narrow-minded so I'd like to hear more from you about it.
Large-scale ambitious next-gen projects are great and all, but they rarely happen in people's garages. If you're an indie developer (or even a hobbyist), it makes sense to use an iterative design and evolve from there.
Personally, I'm always tempted to design too much too early. I usually spend too much time detailing out all the theoretical mechanics, and so many of my projects are never realized. It wasn't till recently that I've move to the iterative approach, and that's made all the difference. I've got a core group of friends and family, and though they're not representative of the entire gamer population, I get constant feedback from them. This is kind of a sanity check to ensure my ideas are even wanted or needed by gamers in the first place.
For me, I've still got loads to learn about design. This was just one of the lessons I had to learn to start designing better.