Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Classy_Cojones

Reasons for agoraphobia

This topic is 4720 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

THANK YOU I see myself forced to start this thread by thanking Wavinator. His thread on agoraphobia in games (http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=261605) is what brought me to this forum, and what made me think that a serious discussion is possible here. INTRODUCTION Now to also mention that I am not one who likes to write long, winding posts. I would much rather have a discussion in which I unravel my ideeas piece by piece, and maybe let them be influenced by the ideas of others in the process. AGORAPHOBIA When I find myself entering a large game, especially one with large open spaces, it is not as much the fear of exploring that grips me, but the fear of going outside the limits of the game. We all love a good gaming experience, a story that flows, worlds that contain the player flawlessly. The larger a world is, the more NPC's, the more quests that have to fall into place, the more I fear that when I take for the hills something's going to rip. I felt that way when playing Morrowind. And I thought.. ...as long as a world is created around the player, that world is going to be frail, and the player will be afraid not to mess it up. Maybe it feels a bit like you're walking around in god mode, but more often it's just like a carefully planned charade, a play that might not..play right if you step the wrong way. Of course, developers had to ask themselves "what will the player do/what can we do to give the player options" and all the other questions that relate to gameplay in an RPG (as I write this I am thinking of Morrowind, which is the example discussed in the original thread by Wavinator). But these questions have been answered, and the key now is to create not make-belive worlds, but persistent ones. Worlds in which a player can become immersed without fearing that he's going outside of the rules and boundaries. The truth is that as long as a game's world revolves around the Player, it will all feel more like an RTS than an RPG... ...and from a first person perspective, that's just scary big!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Players have feared "breaking things" since long RPGs became popular. It can be blamed, I think, on designers putting freaking easter eggs in everything. You can't roleplay, because you always have to be guessing what you're SUPPOSED to be doing. Maybe my pirate ninja would spit on that little cripple boy, but I know I shouldn't because there will inevitably be some locked door, some secret treasure, or some bizarre powerup that will only be available to people who gave him a gold coin and patted him on the head.

The bigger the world, the more such pitfalls there will be. Don't get in trouble in town A, or the mayor's brother who lives on Mountain B won't give you the key to chest C in the middle of Lake D. Nobody wants to get to the end of the game and get a laundry list of all the bridges they've burned. In some games, I'll quicksave when it looks like I'm getting close to a tricky dungeon, a boss fight, or a conversation, because those are where you screw yourself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I know exactly what you mean. You can't play a game based on what logically works in reality - you're always trying to do what is SUPPOSED to work in the boundaries of a counter-intuitive game world. Logically, you could blow up the large boulder that is blocking your path - however, the game forces you to fight through x-million enemies before you get anywhere. All the while, you're afraid that if you try and do what is logical, you might step off the path and miss out on something.

Game worlds and engines aren't dynamic enough. Complexity leads to glitches. Dynamic systems root out glitches. If you had a game where everything functioned exactly as it does in the real world - but your character could do some impossible things (like wistand a barage of bullets) to allow you to play the game without dying every few seconds, that game would be perfect. Games should never arbritrarily stop your progress. If you can't jump over a wall of X height, there needs to be a plausible reason. Otherwise, you feel that you are in a 'fragile' game world and playing with unfamiliar and often illogical rules.

Instead of having a door that magically repels your character, put in a door that you cannot destroy without sufficient fire power - but you CAN destroy if you have sufficient firepower. Give the player real reasons for impossibility - and don't limit them when you cannot. Developers often don't think deeply enough when designing limitations. While it might sound great to put an invisible wall in the middle of the level to stop the player's progress until a certain time, it's amazingly infuriating for the player. In this case, the player is not limited by their own abilities. They are limited by the arbritrary bounds of the game world.

Now, having gravity or any similar limitation is not arbritrary. There is a reason that the game world has gravity contingent with the definition of the world. However, there is no logical reason that a game world has immovable boulders, or indestructable cliffs. It doesn't fit the rest of the description of the world. Some of these boundaries are technological - but most of the time, the boundaries exist only in the limitations of the developer's minds.

Naturally, such arbritrary and unrealistic limitations are frustrating to the player and destroy the cohesiveness of a game world. It would be nice to be able to jump into a game and not worry about whether or not 'the game will let me do this' - but whether or not I can actually do this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
The problem isn't a game world inconsistent with the real world. The problem is a game world that's either:

A) inconsistent with itself
B) doesn't show the player some aspect of the game world until he needs it

Basically, teach me all the rules of the world early on, and then stick to those rules. It doesn't matter you can't step over a two foot wall now so long as you never could before and never will in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
No, if a game world was nothing like the real world, the game would be meaningless.

Think about it. If games didn't have to at least follow some rational set of rules, anything could be considered a game. Every single game in existence is either built out of simple concepts (like Tetris) or has something in common with reality in some way. Even some of the most far out games have something in common with reality. The base rules of game worlds are assumed by the player. For instance, in the vast majority of FPS's, it's safe to assume that falling from a certain distance kills you. So does being set on fire. And getting hit with large objects. If games didn't have to have some connection to reality, then developers would have to define every possible aspect of the game world in intricate detail in the manual. They don't - because most of the mechanics of the game world are the same as those in reality (In more detailed games like Halo). Even in abstracted games like Katamari Damacy, you're dealing with humanoid protagonists and familiar locals. If you can find me a game that is not based on reality in any way, I'd agree with you.

The game world needs to be consistent with itself and it should be intuitive (Intuition being based in reality).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
The game world needs to be consistent with itself and it should be intuitive (Intuition being based in reality).


I agree that it should be intuitive, but I don't define intuitive as "mimicing reality". Tetris is intuitive, but mimics nothing in reality except, perhaps, falling "down". I see mimicing reality as a good way to convey lots of rules in a short amount of time. Another way is to follow common conventions (red/yellow = no touchie, wasd = move forward/back/left/right, etc.).

Again, I think Doom was fine without jumping because it was consistent. Not consistent with the real world, but consistent with itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Classy_Cojones
THANK YOU

I see myself forced to start this thread by thanking Wavinator. His thread on agoraphobia in games (http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=261605) is what brought me to this forum, and what made me think that a serious discussion is possible here.


Hey, I'm glad this was a help. Would you believe that I STILL don't have a solution that I'm 100% confident in, though? [rolleyes]

Quote:

The larger a world is, the more NPC's, the more quests that have to fall into place, the more I fear that when I take for the hills something's going to rip.

I felt that way when playing Morrowind. And I thought..


Yeah, I stopped going into tombs for a similar reason of not wanting to spoil story threads. Twice I blundered into the end of some story, had it noted in my journal, and never found the beginning (poss. because they were closed). Because there was little repeatable, self-consistent gameplay (like animal hunting or constant bounties) beyond the missions, the gameplay began wearing thin.

But I also know what you mean about fear of breaking the game scripts. I had to give up on I-War 2 for that reason-- the scripts broke and I could not progress.

Quote:

...the key now is to create not make-belive worlds, but persistent ones.

Worlds in which a player can become immersed without fearing that he's going outside of the rules and boundaries.


I'm not sure immersion is the way to go (if you're talking fully realized worlds) because of the expense. (It's may be the way if you have a 30+ million budget, but likely it's better to spend that on graphics & marketing...)

I think your choice is either scripting or building a self-consistent process like physics or that which governs a lot of combat logic. Scripts are easier to implement and test, but more prone to breaking; a process requires constant retesting with every change, but may yeild a more durable world.

Of course, if you build the world around processes you'll still have to get over the fear learned from other games.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Allright then, let's discuss this. Because I think player-activated scripts are exactly what is ruining the experience.

One of the big problems, in my eyes, are the repeating quests in RPG's, even the best of which never do any good to the story-line. You can have great story design, but when you play it, it becomes tedious because of all the repetitive quests. Why does the mage's guild want said object from the fighter's guild? So that you can gain experience, and herein lies the problem.

Make a world that is purpose based on the NPC side. The basic AI has been around for ages in RTS games. Make relationships between NPC's and guilds and realms and monsters and what not - purpose based. I belive it would be a task of lesser magnitude than that of arranging countless mindless quests in a world the size of Morrowind. Then, really, the player's purpose (be it a natural purpose or an in-game purpose) would be a part of said world, and not the driving wheel.

A game that looks at all these problems and takes steps towards solving them is Outcast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Classy_Cojones
Make a world that is purpose based on the NPC side. The basic AI has been around for ages in RTS games. Make relationships between NPC's and guilds and realms and monsters and what not - purpose based. I belive it would be a task of lesser magnitude than that of arranging countless mindless quests in a world the size of Morrowind. Then, really, the player's purpose (be it a natural purpose or an in-game purpose) would be a part of said world, and not the driving wheel.


In theory this is fine. But the real test (at least, IME) is devising the actual heuristics that drive a world.

You can produce a world with NPCs powered by routines and attractors, which is what The Sims is at a basic level, but that will lack dramatic context.

You can try generating quests based on NPCs who are plotting and planning, but you'll run into difficulties with scheduling, NPCs not being devious enough, not being prepared for unexpected challenges, even basic threat assessment and pathing to targets (which can be huge in an RPG world). And that doesn't even begin to address trying to create a heuristic that covers dramatic plotting (pacing, reversals, revelation of information, motives, etc.)

Quote:

A game that looks at all these problems and takes steps towards solving them is Outcast.


I saw that this game got so many lukewarm reviews (bugs, I think), so I avoided it. But I've heard mention that it was a really unique game. Can you describe it in the context what what you're talking about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I won't go into a lot of detail regarding Outcast. It has a very consistent world, in other words you can't mess it up. And the dramatic context comes from the world's state. You have different situations already in place prior to player involvement. Thus, you, the player, are a righteous problem solver. Of course, this gives you less feedom of choice, but isn't that role-playing?

Outcast is more of an example as far as implementation is concerned anyway.

To discuss the problem at hand. In your original thread you were discussing guiding the player through some in-game tutorials at first. Quite lenghty you made those sound. And that would limit the player's current choices, at the same time presenting him with the choice of making a break for it, of choosing to welcome the vastness of the game world.

I belive that as long as a game world is consistent with itself, and with the ideeas that we have of human nature, it will have drama. Take economics and implement them as you would in a Sim game. Those economics would have an impact at the micro level.

I study psychology, so I can't help but delve into problems related to it. You have basic human needs, for food, shelter, sex. Then, you have human desires, which are obvious...and they are in the lines of pleasure, creation, and war. Which translates into luxury, children and knowledge, power, welath, and let's call it for the sake of conversation "bloodlust". You take all these things, and if you throw an enlightened mind into the equation you will have a persistent, dramatic, ever-changing world. A world which is personal on the micro as well as the macro. I won't say more about what and how, because perhaps one of these days I will have the funds/position neccesary to put my game design ideeas to the test. Suffice is to say that in such a world you can have countless quests for a player...from "do justice everywhere you walk" to "conquer everything"...etc.

Now another possible quest is the quest for freedom. Extend your ideea a bit. What if it isn't just a few tutorials at first. What if it's a huge, wonderful world that is ruled by a number of factions. What if these factions just won't have you wondering about aimlessly doing absolutely nothing of use TO THEM. Again, you have economics and conflicts that are ruled by a simple enough AI. And you have small man syndrome. You're being constantly told what to do, being contantly asked to integrate into the system, with harsh penalties for disobedience. You have to go up against the system, become an outcast, suffer the constant pressure of being hunted down. Or you can work it from inside. At the extremes, it's System Shock versus Thief. Would love to do this one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!