Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Zethariel

The boundaries of suspension of disbelief?

This topic is 2637 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

As the thread title suggests, I'd like to explore what are the boundaries in suspension of disbelief, based on a few concepts.

* Inventory -- it has always been there, that intangible space that in many cases was a pocket dimension somewhere around the back or thighs. As far as I can tell, it feels only natural to be able to store an absurd amount of items where they could not possibly fit. In one idea I am having for a game, I would like the players to be animals (wolves, bears, cheetahs), and naturally enemies would drop loot. Would it be unacceptable to employ the inventory mechanic? As a designer who likes a degree of realism, this doesn't sit well with me, but as a player I barelly take notice of 2 ton hammers taking up the same space as a pebble. So far, I haven't seen a game that makes players play something that isn't at least remotelly human (and thus able to carry anything), so some input on this matter would be welcome.

* Items -- We are used to the fact that a legendary sword can look just like that crappy gray item you sold to the NPC a while ago. We care about numbers, and if something looks nice, all the better. Now, in the above mentioned game, where players are animals, it is hard to actaully "show" equipment worn on a character. The best solution I came up with is to present it in a manner of different tattoos, different coloured manes, larger teeth, maybe different expressions of faces. Would it be a feasible way to incorporate equipment worn? I mean, it sounds strange you can "take on and off" a set of large talons/teeth or change the colour/thickness of your fur in a flash. Again, as a designer this does not sit well with me, but as a gamer I would probably not take notice of it being awkward.

Thinking about it now, everything could be brought down to magic. It is magic, so it works. I'm curious if everything can be justified with the word "magic", or "technology" or just "it works that way". What actually makes a player question the authenticy of what he is experiencing? What makes his immersion break, and instead of being in the world he is sitting in front of a PC, giving input through mouse and keyboard to an on-screen avatar?

Some games managed to do that, but I'm not sure MMOs did. Can't recall an MMO I played that didn't feel "right", that I wasn't into. Anyone here experienced that? Care to share?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
To me it would depend a lot on what exactly we're talking about. You say that you're playing an animal, and so I presume that enemies are animals too, so what are they dropping? Teeth? Bones? Skins? Magical items they managed to make somehow?

I also skew toward the realistic camp here in that while it doesn't bug me overly that I can carry 5 guns, all the ammo I want and still be able to pick up a candy bar, I like it when the designers do make this more realistic and force me to choose what to carry. For an animal, this would probably be pretty jarring.

If magic is involved, then yes, you can pretty much explain away anything. Maybe they have a magical pocket dimension they dump stuff in?

As for what they might equip... that's tricky and falls under the same question of what items enemies might drop. If this is a world of animals with shamanistic type beliefs and magic, then it's probably not overly outrageous to have things like skins of enemies worn as clothing of some sort. Maybe even head dresses or masks, but that's pushing the ability of most animals' dexterity to create. Then again, there is magic involved. Tattoos is definitely an option, but it's hard to rationalize collecting something like that from an enemy.

You could also go with special effects. Say you picked up an enchanted rock that adds to your strength or something. Maybe this leaves magical wisps of energy as you swipe at foes, or enshrouds you in a faint aura of glowing magic. Or maybe it provides a tattoo or other marking to signify its presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The boundaries of suspending disbelief are endless. There are people who are still arguing to resolve inconsistencies in the original run of Star Trek, to make them correct according to the canon rather than just admit that the writers were wrong or not paying 100% attention to all details at all times. Players will accept pretty much anything, particularly if it allows a fun mechanic. Especially since players will accept a pretty thin conceit to allow whatever mechanic you want. Similarly, I acknowledge that games can't feasibly simulate reality to a believable degree, so I prefer that resources be put into fun stuff than impossibly chasing realism.

I like realism in a game only to the extent that it provides interesting situations in which I can play. Immersion, while definitely desired, is secondary. I don't care that having a pocket full of hammerspace is unrealistic any more than shooting fireballs and summoning monsters are. I get plenty of realism from reality, and if I'm going to be bound by the same constraints in a game then why play? The only things I tend not to dismiss have more to do with sloppy writing or internal inconsistencies than unrealistic mechanics.

As a designer, does it sit better with you to have a tribe of squirrels (or something) gather, store, and fetch things at the player's request? With a standard inventory window to make a clean and manageable interface? Equipment doesn't make much sense for animals in any event, but they could bring things to a town where humans make things out of the stuff animals bring. Or something. As I said above, if it allows for fun, players will accept your explanation (or even the lack of one), or at worst overlook it.

Games are about fun, and a good designer will use realistic elements in a context that allows those elements to be fun. Portal is a decently realistic physics simulator for what it is, but it would suck if designers decided that portal guns aren't real and therefore didn't belong. You can make a game with realistic item carrying capacity, but would that enhance fun? Is the realism worth the tradeoff?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
To elaborate a bit further on my idea, the main concept of the game is to look through the eyes of a mob in your typical MMO enviroment -- ruthless humans are killing your brethren for fur, bones, livers and something called EXP. While in the beginning the players will encounter corrupted/feral animals, most of the game will be spent fighting humans.

Equipment would be forged in a shamanic way, by means of spiritual energy I suspect. That is the most logical way to explain the rapid changes that may occur in the physical appearance of a player. As such, I suspect I'll have things such as Wild Bear Spirit/Ferocity/Resilence as craft items.

I really liked your insight Khaiy -- you blew away the uncertainty I had towards creating mechanics that do not sit well with reality.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find the idea of being a wolf or cat who can equip shamanistic charms that are visualized as teeth, claws, crests, tattoos, and maybe jewelry to be extremely appealing. *thumbs up*

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I remeber playing a game (or maybe it was a movie?) that used a "magic" bag that is small like a normal bag but has a lot more space inside of it so you can fit whatever you want. If magic doesn't fit your setting than it can be a technological invention.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remeber playing a game (or maybe it was a movie?) that used a "magic" bag that is small like a normal bag but has a lot more space inside of it so you can fit whatever you want. If magic doesn't fit your setting than it can be a technological invention.


you might be thinking of Mary Poppins.



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I very much like the concept behind controlling an animal such as a wolf or whatever kick-ass animal. I'm not sure it would sit right with me to see them going around in armour and other man-made items if the animals are actually going around fighting them. Maybe you could think of other ways to use the same type of 'power-ups', for example instead of having armor, you could have the animal eat something, or rub themselves in some kind of mud or liquid which hardens their fur changing the colour in the process (giving a visual representation for the player).

I also like the idea of the tattoos, although I am not too sure of the best way to implement that into the game; maybe you could have them to represent the level which the animal is at (if you decide to incorporate a 'leveling up' aspect of course) which would be similar to what you find on serial killers in movies where they say each tattoo represents a meaningful kill.

As mentioned previously, don't think too in-depth about trying to make everything believe-able, but at least try to make sure that everything related to the key gameplay mechanics is somewhat explained so that the player is not left wondering how or why their character can do such a thing. Like Khaiy said, as long as you are explaining 'why', don't worry too much about the 'how'.



Hope this helps?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Glad I could be of help (it's a nice change of pace for metongue.gif).

And I'll add my voice to the others who have already posted and say that I really like your idea for your game. It seems like a really fun way to make an MMO style game that's still fresh, and I would be very interested to play.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/27/2011 at 2:14 AM, Zethariel said:

* Inventory -- it has always been there, that intangible space that in many cases was a pocket dimension somewhere around the back or thighs.
...
I would like the players to be animals (wolves, bears, cheetahs), and naturally enemies would drop loot. Would it be unacceptable to employ the inventory mechanic?

Solution 1: Animals with pants.
Solution 2: Marsupials.

Just kidding.

I think the type of suspension of disbelief you're addressing in your post is based largely on the observer having a stable model within which to interpret the material. This, unfortunately makes it somewhat dependent on your observer (as demonstrated by the occasional canon-absorbing, and reconciling, fan-bases mentioned earlier in this thread). But generally, "It's all just magic" works, as long as that results in some sort of self-consistent world which is not just pure random chaos.

Obviously, the problem you're creating is that you're attempting to use animals - something your observer is already familiar with, already has opinions and feelings about, etc. - and trying to establish an order which contradicts what they already know. There are probably a couple things you need to do to encourage your observer's brain to play along.

  1. Establish that these are not normal, mundane animals. Don't have a Bengal Tiger and a White Rhino, or other real-world species. Make them a bit fantastical from the start. They don't all have to be Pegasus or Hypogryphs, but avoiding too close a connection to reality ought to buy you a lot of leeway to define a magical system of body-part upgrades.
     
  2. To the extent that they do borrow from what the observer already knows, they need to generally stay consistent with it. If there are a lot of arbitrary cross-ups, like "groundhogs eat wolves" and "lions spin webs", your observer's internal consistency building mechanism will become over-taxed, break down, and give up. You can, of course still play with, and break convention, but you probably need to do so sparingly, with purpose, and for a specific (appreciable) effect.
Edited by vreality

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you're going for the shamanistic route, why not go all the way?

You play not as a mundane animal, but one possessed by a protective animal spirit. The currency (or crafting widget) you get is spiritual energy, life force, what have you that is collected from other living things (probably by beating them in combat). "Loot" isn't physical objects, but the spiritual essence of those objects.

You don't get a bear claw as a physical piece of loot to stash in your pocket, you get the spiritual imprint of a bear claw to absorb into your spirit (totally an inventory with a different name).

Depending on the machina of your choice, your spirit can simultaneously hold a fixed amount of these spiritual imprints. Maybe it takes a stronger will to hold them, so a lesser deity (low level PC) has a more limited carrying capacity than their stronger (high level PC) counterparts. You can make something analogous to bags if you want, some sort of spirit enhancer thing that increases your carrying capacity and can be swapped out/upgraded as you go. This could also solve the "Why can I carry a 200 pound suit of armor in my pocket but not two more potions" discrepancy by making everything metaphysical.

You "equip" these items by attaching them to your core spirit. Pretty much just a different way of looking at equipment slots. The changes made to the spirit are manifested in the creature that it possesses. You equip the spiritual imprint of bear claws, your creature now grows bear claws. Want something with the body of a lion, wings and a scorpion tale? Go for it.

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.

GameDev.net is your game development community. Create an account for your GameDev Portfolio and participate in the largest developer community in the games industry.

Sign me up!