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Drethon

Realism vs immersion

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I've always been one of the people pushing the realism boat. I've always felt that more realism can make the game more immersive. Then I just started thinking, does realism cause immersion or does immersion cause a game to feel more realistic? Now that I've seriously confused everyone I'll go into an example. I'm working on a (not so) simple text based RPG. Being text based everything has to have descriptions. Since I'm only building up the game engine right now my descriptions are utilitarian: North Dock, Hanger, Control Room Hanger Entrance, etc. While this works just fine, it isn't very immersive. You feel like a third person perspective reading a map. On the other hand, the eventual descriptions might be less specific: A room with a desk, a large room with many ships, a small door, etc (though with more thought). Is it possible this is part of what is causing the conflict between realism and fun? Say for injuries, a simple % guage for health with healing powerups work but how much harder would it be to add to this injuries to specific locations and choose to heal a specific location with that health powerup. So am I just crazy or is what people are craving is a more immersive environment to increase fun, not so much a more realistic one?

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Why is there a contradiction?

I think between realism and immersion, what you're looking for is contextual consistency. That the immersion generated by the game meshes with the realism of the world you've created.

Not everyone considers the same stuff to be fun anyway... but you knew that.

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I believe there is an important difference between realism and versimilitude. Realism is slavish mimicry of every real-world detail even when it makes the game less fun to play. Versimilitude, or believeability, is what causes immersiveness and suspension of disbelief. Versimilitude has to do with internal consistency within the worldbuilding and psychological consistency in the way the characters speak and act. As long as everything is internally consistent a story or game can be immersive, regardless of whether the content matches anything in reality or is instead fantastical or surreal.

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What I was looking at is you can have realisim that pulls you into a game and makes you feel like you are there, and then realism that doesn't change anything (caling a room by what it is vs what it looks like). And this may be nothing more than a context discussion that means compeletely different things depending on who reads it, more just a random thought stream I had <shrug>

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Well, I disagree with you, but I'm not going to rate you down for it.

Unless you're working on a historical game, there's really no need for realism. In fact, I think realism actually make a game less interesting. Fictional things, let it either be character, weapon, or technology always gives player something new and not something they are already fimiliar with.

People are curious animals, they are attracted to things that are new to them.

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Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin, Porco Rosso... all animated films that maintain immersion without realism. The realism of a game is a Dead Sea fruit; it amazes one who is used to last years games, then turns to ashes in your mouth when you realize it isn't absolute.

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Here's a real world example. Look at Burnout or Need for Speed or any of the high speed racing type games (other than simulation attempts, I'm talking about games for the average player.) Are there physics? yes. Are they always 100% realistic? No? Could they be? Yes.

Why aren't they then? Because driving at 200 mph through city streets is not fun. It's too fast for your average player to be able to drive a real physics model car through the streets without crashing every moment or slowing down to be cautious. These games rely on speed and adrenaline so they sacrifice the reality of unstability in steering and other things at those speeds in an attempt to make it more immersive for the player.

I think that realism should be left to sims. If you want a game, aspire for immersion and where unrealistic settings detract from that immersion, strive to make it realistic only if it would improve gameplay.

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Realism and immersion are not two ends of the same scale, neither are they synonomous. If you plot them on a graph then you would use Realism as one axis (say the X axis) and Immersion as the other axis (say the Y axis).

You could have a very realistic game, but due to other limitations (such as the controls) it might not be all that immersive. But on the other hand you could have a completly abstract game and the player could be very much immersed in it.

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I agree that realism and immersiveness are completely unrelated in most cases. This is something that is actually researched fairly heavily by psychologists and others involved in simulation/training research. Typically, immersion is something that is sought in tactical type scenarios, and realism (especially in graphics) is downplayed. There are other types of training scenarios, though, where realism becomes important... flight sims, and that sort of thing.

I personally believe that realism in graphics would tend to enhance the immersiveness of a simulation, but so far the research apparently doesn't support that.

Quote:
Original post by lightblade
Well, I disagree with you, but I'm not going to rate you down for it.

So, people actually rate people down because they have different opinions?!? That kinda sucks. Is disagreement considered "somewhat unhelpful"?

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Quote:
Original post by Drethon
I've always been one of the people pushing the realism boat. I've always felt that more realism can make the game more immersive. Then I just started thinking, does realism cause immersion or does immersion cause a game to feel more realistic?

Now that I've seriously confused everyone I'll go into an example.
I'm working on a (not so) simple text based RPG. Being text based everything has to have descriptions. Since I'm only building up the game engine right now my descriptions are utilitarian: North Dock, Hanger, Control Room Hanger Entrance, etc. While this works just fine, it isn't very immersive. You feel like a third person perspective reading a map. On the other hand, the eventual descriptions might be less specific: A room with a desk, a large room with many ships, a small door, etc (though with more thought).

Is it possible this is part of what is causing the conflict between realism and fun? Say for injuries, a simple % guage for health with healing powerups work but how much harder would it be to add to this injuries to specific locations and choose to heal a specific location with that health powerup.

So am I just crazy or is what people are craving is a more immersive environment to increase fun, not so much a more realistic one?


Well, you can't be immersed in the unbelievable. Even fantasy follows some realistic rules - you've got gravity, swords, balls of fire etc. Magic is "impossible" by real world terms but believable because if follows logical rules. Concepts like death, life, victory, defeat, good, evil, energy, spirit, "mana," health and the like are almost universal in fantasy games (as one example) - and they are realistic. You can take so much of a beating before you die, you can dish out a certain amount before you tire (mana). The key is that your world is coherent - and the more depth to your world, the more realistic it has to be. Simple reason: we associate with the real. Your player will never feel as immersed in an abstract storyline with alien creatures and rules as they will with more familiar faces. Pong isn't ever going to be as deep as a game like Metal Gear Solid, for example.

You'll probably hear alot of people saying that realism isn't important, the only thing that matters is that your world follows its own rules. This is false. Take for instance the concept of a "humanoid" character. The moment you introduce a human character into a game, you've set the player up to expect a huge set of rules about how humans act and interact with their environments - you've taken something from reality and put it into your game. Most games assume gravity and properties of matter similar to the real world. Coherence then requires realism, and immersion does by extension as well. Shallow games don't have to be realistic (e.g. pong) - but they're too shallow to be immersive as well. Deeper games (those that tend to draw on storyline and emotion) require realism as the player has to relate to something for the game to be more involving. This thing is going to be, at the very least, personified to give it human traits or somehow have it relate to people in the real world. Thus, you're going to have to have realism. You're going to need to extend this realism to keep the simulation homogenous lest you break the immersion.

But what is this "realism" thing? People will argue against realism assuming that it means "no fantasy magic" or "no flying superheroes" or "nothing fun." This is also a misunderstanding - aren't fantasy characters realistic? They cry, laugh, kill, and die like any other person. Their behavoirs are understandable. They can shoot fireballs, but that doesn't take away from their characters' being realistic. If you associate with it, it likely harkens back to something in the real world. Even in the more abstract games - the gameplay follows some understandable concept.

However, the nature of the beast is that there isn't a strict doctrine for using "realism" and "immersion." The fact of the matter is that if it's fun, it's got whatever it needs. Everything else is theory. You can have debates about theory, but I'd stick to the real if I was trying to get something done. My $0.02.

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