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beantas

Immersion

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What aspects of a game immerse a player into the gameworld? I'm sure everyone will mention sound and music so let's get that out of the way. Yes, good sound/music will immerse a player. And yes, a good story will too. And cutscenes will definitely immerse a player. These I think are pretty obvious and straightforward. But what else? Can better graphics immerse a player or do they actually work against immersiveness? Or is this all just a matter of opinion with no correct answer? Does it depend on genre and the game's underlying gameplay? Or is gameplay the only aspect that can immerse a player? What about voice acting versus text? I think back to games where I've completely been sucked in. Fallout 2, FF3, FFX, Half-Life, etc. They've all had varying aspects. I'm beginning to think there are different types of immersion. "Imaginative immersion" where your imagination takes over and fills gaps, and "non-imaginative immersion", where the game provides most of everything. We can quickly sort text games, older 2D games into the first. Newer games like FFX and Half-Life fall into the second. I guess a ton of games fall into a bit of both. What do you think? [edited by - beantas on November 8, 2002 9:55:31 AM]

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Showing the player that his actions make a difference. In Half-Life, the simple fact that you still lived was causing problems for the military dudes, in some RPGs a lot of things are optional but can greatly affect the game world.

A game doesn''t have to do this to be immersive, but it can be more fun that way.

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On a first stage it''s a storyine.

Good intro and clear goals helps a lot. (all ur listed games have that)

Than in addition great role playes graphic and sound (atmosphere).

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On a first stage it''s a storyine.

Good intro and clear goals helps a lot. (all ur listed games have that)

Than in addition great role playes graphic and sound (atmosphere).

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I find that cutscenes can actually spoil immersion.

If you are playing a game, and suddenly you lose control of your character or are forced to sit through some FMV it merely serves to remind you that you''re playing a computer game.

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
I find that cutscenes can actually spoil immersion.

If you are playing a game, and suddenly you lose control of your character or are forced to sit through some FMV it merely serves to remind you that you're playing a computer game.

Ah ha! So there's even more different types. Within "imaginative immersion" and "non-imaginative immersion" there is also "story immersion", or immersion into a story, which a cutscene helps provide. But there is also, like you mention, "game immersion" or the belief that you are not just playing a video game, which a cutscene can ruin.


[edited by - beantas on November 8, 2002 2:56:43 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Kugels
Showing the player that his actions make a difference. In Half-Life, the simple fact that you still lived was causing problems for the military dudes, in some RPGs a lot of things are optional but can greatly affect the game world.

A game doesn''t have to do this to be immersive, but it can be more fun that way.

So I guess this falls under "non-imaginative immersion", since the game changes itself for you rather than you imagine it changing. And also "game immersion", since it makes you feel like you''re in a real world where you can change things, rather than a video game.

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If you want the player to feel like he is part of a movie or book, it is crucial that the game rules and setting are consistent and believable IMHO.

You mentioned Fallout 2, which I think fail in doing this. For a humorous 1950''s style game with unrealistic rules, modern real-world weapons felt out of place. Adding FN FAL, M60, etc. just for the coolness factor was a poor design decision. If a game gives me a Desert Eagle .44 with hollow-point ammo and allow me to aim for the eyes, I expect it to kill if it hits. Not so in Fallout. Moreover, the chance-to-hit calculations felt simplistic and better suited for a pen-and-paper RPG. To me, the game ended up feeling like it aimed for some realism, which I usually like, but failed miserably.

I can make a similar case against Half-Life. The whole world seemed very real and life-like, very different from Quake and Unreal. But when I then shot a soldier in his unprotected forehead without him taking much notice, he just kept on shooting, well, the illusion shattered. Same thing when you pumped bullets into a guy''s legs and he still could run.

Nevertheless, both games tell their stories well and can be quite immersive at times.

And it''s OK to make games like Super Mario and Worms, of course.

-------------------
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but watch your step

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quote:
Original post by beantas
[quote]Original post by Sandman
I find that cutscenes can actually spoil immersion.

If you are playing a game, and suddenly you lose control of your character or are forced to sit through some FMV it merely serves to remind you that you''re playing a computer game.

Ah ha! So there''s even more different types. Within "imaginative immersion" and "non-imaginative immersion" there is also "story immersion", or immersion into a story, which a cutscene helps provide. But there is also, like you mention, "game immersion" or the belief that you are not just playing a video game, which a cutscene can ruin.

The other side of this coin is a device used from filmmaking for generations, which is very effective and we can freely borrow from: sometimes you can increase the immersion by giving the viewer (or player in this case) a break.

Example: After a kick tail shootout, the hero has a moment of rest where the lovely senorita dresses his wounds, and everyone in and out of the immersion experience gets a chance to breat after the action, something useful and oh, natural.

A cutscene where you get lose control of your character is a badly designed and thought out cutscene, a cutscene that you are glad you got to (remember our customers are not as good a player as we are; so don''t hold them to our sense of standards about gameplay) cause that level took a ton of effort (albeit gladly given) was a great cutscene that belonged there.

The bottom line here is that action after action after action will become artificial and your going to lose immersion commitment in the worst manifestation; the player quits the game.
Players are aging, and they are becoming more intense, as recent publications correctly indicate. Don''t mistake the intensity definition as blam after blam after blam, but more of the old storytelling concept proofer, "What''s at stake?"

Intensity is often gauged by context, such as, does the guy go looking for the murderer of his wife and child (Max Payne) or The empire is at stake (Star Wars) Both are valid intense conflicts, one internal and empathic, one external and destinic, but the levels of immersion are approached by all viewers being equally paying and interested based on individuality. Perhaps "omniplot" can save us in the long run, but for now, individual quirkiness is a big factor in choice to immerse or not, and to what degree.

I think the trend in realism we are all trying to get a handle on will actually immerse people more on a general scale.

Damn fine thread!

Addy

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if a game has a general feeling of intimacy, this should help. the details will be subtle eg a cut-scene camera at eye-level indicating you are a bystander, not watching on a screen (a tip i noticed is often used on TV, typically with a load of people around a table)

one surefire way to destroy immersion is to allow something unconvincing happen. suppose you have a time travel story, establish the rules of time travel as soon as possible. never break them or make them look even a little bent or dented.
if the rules change in favour of the enemy, the player thinks "than''s not fair!", if the rules change to benefit them, there is a lack of control

given that the methods for creating immersion are many and small in effect, and that the margin of error is nonexistant, a cynic might suggest the way to look immersive is to focus the effort on avoiding mistakes. the game won''t be very immersive but will stand out against others who tried and failed. ie it doesn''t matter wether the game sucks the player in as long as it doesn''t let them snap out of it.

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quote:
Original post by adventuredesign
The bottom line here is that action after action after action will become artificial and your going to lose immersion commitment in the worst manifestation; the player quits the game.

Yeah I agree. Pace really affects immersion and cutscenes can be used to control pace.
quote:

but the levels of immersion are approached by all viewers being equally paying and interested based on individuality. Perhaps "omniplot" can save us in the long run, but for now, individual quirkiness is a big factor in choice to immerse or not, and to what degree.


What did you mean by "omniplot"?

[edited by - beantas on November 9, 2002 1:58:09 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Sandman
I find that cutscenes can actually spoil immersion.

If you are playing a game, and suddenly you lose control of your character or are forced to sit through some FMV it merely serves to remind you that you''re playing a computer game.


Well, it''s not like I ever forget that I''m just playing a game and start thinking I''m part of the world I experience. And I don''t expect to.

But the reason I''m posting, is that experiences from Red Alert suddenly came to mind. The FMVs with actors performing were really good. They gave you a sometimes welcome break while, more importantly, advancing the story. The animated action scenes OTOH, should have been cut IMO. They looked cool, but at the same time they made the actual missions seem boring in comparison. The problem wasn''t that the in-game graphics were poor, but that terrain, unit abilities and general rules were very limited when playing.

The lesson is: Don''t have cutscenes that make the actual playing seem uninteresting.

-------------------
Aim for the horizon
but watch your step

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Going broader, it really comes down to the point from my first post: Everything has to be consistent and believable in the game's context.

Couple that with good gameplay and atmosphere, and you should get immersion.

I guess we're all more or less in agreement here.

-------------------
Aim for the horizon
but watch your step

[edited by - EasyRaider on November 9, 2002 7:36:03 PM]

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quote:
Original post by EasyRaider
If you want the player to feel like he is part of a movie or book, it is crucial that the game rules and setting are consistent and believable IMHO.

You mentioned Fallout 2, which I think fail in doing this. For a humorous 1950's style game with unrealistic rules, modern real-world weapons felt out of place. Adding FN FAL, M60, etc. just for the coolness factor was a poor design decision. If a game gives me a Desert Eagle .44 with hollow-point ammo and allow me to aim for the eyes, I expect it to kill if it hits. Not so in Fallout. Moreover, the chance-to-hit calculations felt simplistic and better suited for a pen-and-paper RPG. To me, the game ended up feeling like it aimed for some realism, which I usually like, but failed miserably.

I can make a similar case against Half-Life. The whole world seemed very real and life-like, very different from Quake and Unreal. But when I then shot a soldier in his unprotected forehead without him taking much notice, he just kept on shooting, well, the illusion shattered. Same thing when you pumped bullets into a guy's legs and he still could run.


So because these two games sacrificed realism in favor of gameplay, they hold the risk of ruining the player's immersion. But I think this risk is just a matter of individual opinions. Some people are fine with a mix of non-realistic rules with realistic ones, regardless of its context. And other people only want straight realistic rules. Hence the subgenres of simulation vs. arcade games. I guess neither is correct or superior in terms of immersion, just catering to different people.

[edited by - beantas on November 9, 2002 8:01:36 PM]

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Sacrificed realism for gameplay? I disagree. A somewhat realistic damage model could have been just as well balanced, and would have made the games more enjoyable to me.

But I have to admit that for Fallout, the right decision would probably have been to use only generic and imaginary weapons. I''m sure gun fetishists liked the selection of FO2, but it really added nothing to the game.

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quote:
Original post by EasyRaider
Sacrificed realism for gameplay? I disagree. A somewhat realistic damage model could have been just as well balanced, and would have made the games more enjoyable to me.


For many gamers it would have been a waste. There''s 2 ways to implement what you speak of.
1)Make the bots so rediculously easy to kill that, it''s just a rambo-match ala Serious Sam with a story slapped on in.
This equals commercial failure.
2)Make yourself(the player) AND the bots rediculously easy to kill. In which case anyone who bought the game would probably end up sadly disappointed when they can''t even get through the first level because there''s 100 of them and 1 of you.
The balance in half-life can be a little silly at times, yes(double-barrel shottie to the head, no kill) but it''s better than the alternative.

quote:
Original post by EasyRaider
But I have to admit that for Fallout, the right decision would probably have been to use only generic and imaginary weapons. I''m sure gun fetishists liked the selection of FO2, but it really added nothing to the game.

You didn''t play Fallout did you?
No, I don''t think you did.
This is not: "In a galaxy far away a nuclear war destroyed a world" game. The weapons are real because this is(sans comedic-stylings) a game based on earth. *This* earth. Sure, argue that we don''t have power armor and plasma rifles. Gauss pistols or cybernetic dogs. But there''s your imaginary gaming for you. The rest is exactly the same as you''d see if we had a nuclear winter today. A bunch of people with a bunch of different guns. Real guns. Guns currently in use today. Imaginary "super dooper laser blaster mega-man arm thingy cannons" wouldn''t pop up out of nowhere. And humanity wouldn''t just forget how to read the "Desert Eagle .44" printed on the side of the barrel and decide to call it "generic big pistol".



-Ryan "Run_The_Shadows"
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quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
For many gamers it would have been a waste. There's 2 ways to implement what you speak of.
1)Make the bots so rediculously easy to kill that, it's just a rambo-match ala Serious Sam with a story slapped on in.
This equals commercial failure.
2)Make yourself(the player) AND the bots rediculously easy to kill. In which case anyone who bought the game would probably end up sadly disappointed when they can't even get through the first level because there's 100 of them and 1 of you.
The balance in half-life can be a little silly at times, yes(double-barrel shottie to the head, no kill) but it's better than the alternative.



Or
3)Make yourself and the bots easier to kill, but not rediculously so. Central headshots (not a bullet nudging a helmet) kill. Significant damage to the legs result in limping. Hits in the arms sometimes result in a carried weapon being dropped. The player can shrug off some damage because of the HEV suit.

Why would these measures unbalance the game so much that it couldn't be fixed?

quote:
You didn't play Fallout did you?
No, I don't think you did.
This is not: "In a galaxy far away a nuclear war destroyed a world" game. The weapons are real because this is(sans comedic-stylings) a game based on earth. *This* earth. Sure, argue that we don't have power armor and plasma rifles. Gauss pistols or cybernetic dogs. But there's your imaginary gaming for you. The rest is exactly the same as you'd see if we had a nuclear winter today. A bunch of people with a bunch of different guns. Real guns. Guns currently in use today. Imaginary "super dooper laser blaster mega-man arm thingy cannons" wouldn't pop up out of nowhere. And humanity wouldn't just forget how to read the "Desert Eagle .44" printed on the side of the barrel and decide to call it "generic big pistol".



I have played through Fallout twice, and then some.

AFAIK the game is based on 1950's sci-fi. There were no Desert Eagles back then. Any real guns should have been based on the weaponry from that period and earlier.

Most of the game's weapons are generic ("10mm Pistol", "Hunting Rifle"). The "generic big pistol" could have had a made up name like in many other games.

Anyway, Fallout didn't annoy me in this sense. Fallout 2 OTOH, really goes overboard with the weapons. It's not freaking CS, you know. Having so many real guns in such an unrealistic game is worse than useless. I don't want to have a nice Porsche or Ferrari in a game if it can only do 100 km/h even on a straight, flat road. Likewise I don't want to have a Desert Eagle or FN FAL if it rarely kills even when I hit in the eyes. But if you don't care much about how it performs, fine.

[edited by - EasyRaider on November 11, 2002 12:03:19 PM]

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quote:
Original post by EasyRaider
Sacrificed realism for gameplay? I disagree. A somewhat realistic damage model could have been just as well balanced, and would have made the games more enjoyable to me.

But I have to admit that for Fallout, the right decision would probably have been to use only generic and imaginary weapons. I''m sure gun fetishists liked the selection of FO2, but it really added nothing to the game.


When you get used to the simple hit them anywhere model, a welcome change came with the later engines that made use of head shots, and damage to the legs would cause slower movement (although I personally haven''t seen that yet).

Realism doesn''t always make a game more fun. Sometimes it just makes it easier. When I was playing Jedi Knight II, I went for the head shots just to end the battles more quickly rather than enjoy the realism. Those stormtroopers were annoying until I got Group Force Pull.

For realism''s sake, It''s easy as a player to want to make use of other strategies and it''s frustrating when the game you are playing doesn''t offer them.

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quote:
Original post by EasyRaider
Or
3)Make yourself and the bots easier to kill, but not rediculously so. Central headshots (not a bullet nudging a helmet) kill. Significant damage to the legs result in limping. Hits in the arms sometimes result in a carried weapon being dropped. The player can shrug off some damage because of the HEV suit.

Why would these measures unbalance the game so much that it couldn't be fixed?


You could definitely put those measures in and balance them to make a fun game. But that would have been a different game from HL. The creators of HL were looking for a certain feel to the game and they found it and it was fun. There are many different ways to make a fun FPS and they don't all involve headshots or realistic damage. Since you seem to prefer realism in a game, why not stick to the Clancy shooters?

quote:

AFAIK the game is based on 1950's sci-fi. There were no Desert Eagles back then. Any real guns should have been based on the weaponry from that period and earlier.


According to the Fallout Bible, the game was set in a divergent earth. It was the future extrapolated from some of the ideas of 1950's sci-fi. It wasn't actually set in the 1950's, hence the surrealistic combination of kitschy old stuff and modern-day technology. So the Desert Eagle is there to provide some familiar things to balance the fantastical things. You'll notice that the original creators of Fallout went on to create Arcanum, which has that same surrealism to it (old-style magic with modern technology).

[edited by - beantas on November 11, 2002 6:38:48 PM]

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i think that in First person perspective games immersion can increase if the character you control has a body which you can see if you look straight down; you can see your body as well as other players see you, this gives the feeling that you are there and not just controlling a camera hovering above ground.

a game can be more immersive if enviroments and structures look strange, because they give you a queer feeling, if you are exploring an out-of-this world enviro, you will be more interested , and you will act as if you are there.

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i think that in First person perspective games immersion can increase if the character you control has a body which you can see if you look straight down; you can see your body as well as other players see you, this gives the feeling that you are there and not just controlling a camera hovering above ground.

a game can be more immersive if enviroments and structures look strange, because they give you a queer feeling, if you are exploring an out-of-this world enviro, you will be more interested , and you will act as if you are there.


((work for the world like you will never die, and work fopr the hereafter like you will die tomorrow)) - Prophet Mohammed.

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quote:
Original post by beantas
You could definitely put those measures in and balance them to make a fun game. But that would have been a different game from HL. The creators of HL were looking for a certain feel to the game and they found it and it was fun. There are many different ways to make a fun FPS and they don''t all involve headshots or realistic damage. Since you seem to prefer realism in a game, why not stick to the Clancy shooters?



I think most of Half-Life''s combat was not fun, but I could live with it since the story, atmosphere and general polish were so great. About me prefering realism, well you''re probably right, but I like the Unreal series of games better than the Clancy shooters.

quote:

According to the Fallout Bible, the game was set in a divergent earth. It was the future extrapolated from some of the ideas of 1950''s sci-fi. It wasn''t actually set in the 1950''s, hence the surrealistic combination of kitschy old stuff and modern-day technology. So the Desert Eagle is there to provide some familiar things to balance the fantastical things. You''ll notice that the original creators of Fallout went on to create Arcanum, which has that same surrealism to it (old-style magic with modern technology).



OK, I just don''t think it fits. The names give associations to real guns, and for me that leads to an anti-climax in combat when the guns don''t behave anything like real ones.

-------------------
Aim for the horizon
but watch your step

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