So where is the immersion?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Lord_Darkmoon, Jun 20, 2016.

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  1. Lord_Darkmoon

    Lord_Darkmoon Avatar

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    Where do I attack?

    As for Portalarium and Richard stating that they will work on a great single player mode, true. BUT: We still have to have patience even after three years with Episode 1 looming ahead by the end of this year. Also every new feature or every change done to the core systems seems to be another step away from an immersive and great single player game. The more development is done for the MMO part the less I can see this game feeling and playing like a true single player RPG. I would really like to know how they plan to have a great SP game in SotA without having to change so many of the MMO system so that it feels like a SP game.
    Even if we would take out the online part the core of the game like it is now is nothing like a true SP game. If SotA would be single player game with everything we have now (minus the online part) the game would still play like an offline MMO - and I am not talking about the lack of content here. I am talking about the game systems. As for content I am still waiting not only for much more to do in the game but also for really deep and complex quests as well as a presentation of the story that is atmospheric and not like a text-adventure - but that is another story.
    If they manage to pull of a really great single player mode that feels and plays like a true single player RPG and not like an offline MMO until the release of Episode 1 then I will bow before the team. Until then I remain sceptical because everything that has been done in the game pulls it more and more away from a single player RPG. And every feature that has been included for the SP part has been half-baked and appears to have been included on a rush just to have it inside. But the heart of the team seems to lie with the MMO part and not with the SP part and - sadly - this shows - at least until now.

    Somehow it feels as if I would tell me daughter that we would go for a ride but instead I take the bikes and disassemble them completely, watching the face of my daughter that shows how disappointed and sceptical she is, knowing that we cannot go for a ride with the disassembled bikes. And even when it is getting dark I insist that we will go for a ride still sitting in front of the disassembled bikes...

    As for me posting the exact same things again... I thought that this was common here on the boards with all of the full loot PvP stuff etc. ;)
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
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  2. Brass Knuckles

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    Heck yea Id love for this to be uo2 but its impossible at this point. I loved the single player ultimas but they are impossible in a multiplayer game. At this point im hoping sota is good as its own game.

    Sure this game has a RECORD number of bad calls but I view that as something I signed up for in this early stage of development.
     
  3. Freeman

    Freeman Avatar

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    I've said this before, and I'll say it one more time here.

    Immersion is the ability of the entire product to feel like a uniform thing where the rules, interface and story all connect in a way that feels seamless.

    The game world can be rich and deep with lore and story. The combat can be innovative with new elements and new directions. The UI can be full of stats and numbers and still easy to read. But if they all feel like they're from different games the whole of the game will not be fun to play. It will be constantly jarring the player to switch gears and remind them they're playing a game.

    Pac-man is immersive. Not deep. But you can lose yourself playing it as things speed up and the real world falls away as the controls jive with the graphics with the sound with the game play with the world. It allows you to buy into what's happening because nothing is feeling forced or broken as the game plays out.

    Shroud is suffering from lots of good ideas with no consideration of them working with any of the other ideas. Garriott makes deep compelling worlds that expect the other elements to keep up with, and in this case they're falling short. The interface has abandoned the 1-1 style of UO, and become a grid based mess similar to other MMOs. Magic is now a tech tree, instead of some deeper near physics level system. Dialog gets folded into all the other stuff and is neither truly text based nor keyword based, leaving us with a hint of what could have been and a shallower way of interacting with the world than some of us old timers are used to using. Combat, well, I've said more than my piece on combat, but it's a gameist mechanic in a simulationist setting. It will always be divisive and anyone attracted by it will be pushed away by some of the other simulationist elements in the game. A world where virtue and heroics are supposed to be how you pave the way, are gilded by a cash shop for vanity items.

    If any one direction had been picked and followed and applied to the other elements, the game would do better. It would alienate some people, sure, but the people it draws would find the rest of the game appealing. But as it stands now, no matter what you're into, something else is there distracting you from just letting go and enjoying the game. Some piece of it is not just making it a "well, it was close to perfect but they needed a little more polish here" but instead a "why is this here? This doesn't fit."

    Another immersive example is Civilization. It's known to suffer from 'just one more turn'. In some late stages of the game, I don't even notice my turn ending, I'm just in the zone. Civilization is immersive. The theme of each game, the way units move, and interact with the world, always feels right. To quote Chris Spears: What would Civ do? Answer: Not this.

    Some of you will say "Just ignore the parts you don't like. Enjoy the parts you do." Sound advice, but like the fly buzzing around my office right now distracting me from my actual job, it's not blocking my screen, or holding my fingers down to keep me from typing. It's just on the edge of my vision, annoying me, keeping me from achieving focus on what I'm trying to do. Games should attempt to have your focus continue from element to element, and only break it when no other way is achievable. This seems to have no care for how the pieces fit together.

    And now, with final wipe fast approaching, and launch seemingly in sight, this is how this is the game we'll get. The lack of immersion

    I know there are a group of you who like it. That's great. I'm glad for you, and wish I was one of you. And you'll never believe me, or what i just said up there. That's OK. It's nothing new to me here. You'll dismiss the steam reviews. They're just people who don't get it. And hey, as with all things, maybe I'm wrong. Wouldn't that be nice?
     
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  4. Poor game design

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    I hate Civilization. I don't find it to be the least bit immerssive. I realize a lot of people like it though. Still, I personally know a lot of people that weren't happy with the last version of it.

    I find it difficult to believe that anyone finds Pac-man immerssive. But again, to each their own.

    So what's that leave us with? You gave some examples of other games you think are more immerssive than this one? How does that help them develop a better game?

    Also, ya know what's interesting about Pac-man and Civilization? I don't show up on their forums and ask them questions about their games. I think it would be funny if 1. Pac-man had a forum I could post on, and 2. if I posted "Where's the immersion?"
     
  5. Sir Frank

    Sir Frank Master of the Mint

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    @Freeman is correct. Immersion is not the same thing as realism.

    As long as the interface with the game flows and is consistent, players can become immersed in the game. Whatever our game winds up being becomes the world of Shroud of the Avatar, and people will settle into it. But it will never be the same as other single player RPGs.
     
  6. Freeman

    Freeman Avatar

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    See my definition of immersive. Immersion is not achieved by simply having an deep story, or highly interactive world. It's achieved through all the pieces working together.

    For you, in my examples, the cohesive part of the whole is your buy in to the premise. There's no accounting for taste. But if you can get into the premise all the other parts should jive.

    So you might not like playing in that world. Examples Civ and Pac-Man. And that's cool. But there are few points in either game where the unity of all the elements break. I'd be happy if Shroud was that way for me. Something I didn't like, but at least well executed.

    But, you want a list of (semi-recent) games I'd say did immersion well?

    Wasteland 2
    Pillars of Eternity
    Minecraft
    Elite Dangerous (one I found I don't like, but REALLY good immersion)

    Honorable mention: Divinity: Original Sin.

    I actually didn't like this game when it first came out. It was good, but had some parts where you really felt funneled and it felt obvious.

    But lets talk about what's probably common ground.

    Ultimas in order of immersion (based on my opinion): UO, 5, 7, UW1, 3, 6, UW2, 1, 2, 8, 9
    Now, just for clarification, Ultimas in order I liked them: 5,3,1,UO,7,UW1,UW2,6,8,9,2

    I know a lot of people mistake interactivity for immersion. And by the scores above, you can see it helps. But being really interactive, but hard to interact with, or interacting in a way that doesn't fit the feel of the game, loses immersion. It makes interacting with it unfun/interesting. And when that happens, you lose immersion.
     
  7. Poor game design

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    No, I don't want a list. I want you to explain exactly what would make SOTA more immessive.

    You seem to be saying that you'll know it when you see it. It's like some kind of existential art form that only you can point to. That doesn't help anyone. It hasn't helped for the last 3 years.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
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  8. redfish

    redfish Avatar

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    @Sir Frank,

    Its not the same thing, but realism may be important depending what you're talking about. There are many types of immersion, including what you'd call "world immersion", which might be the feeling that the world is convincing enough to make you feel like its a real place. Its usually what people are talking about when it comes to RPGs. @Freeman also at the same time made the point that if you're trying to simulate a world, certain game elements might add to that, and add to the seamless feeling of the reality of the simulation, and others might distract from that. Its exactly true. So, someone might make the point that floating nameplates distracts from the feeling that you're in a real world.

    How much this is important in comparison to other game elements is open to discussion, but this type of world immersion was an important aspect of later Ultima games, especially Ultima VII.
     
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  9. redfish

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    @Freeman,

    I've personally found late game Civ extremely tedious with newer versions.

    It was fun in the first Civilization game, when the game was relatively simple, but in later games, after they added culture, it often feels like a slow slog. Conquest victories either becomes very painful, or predictable because of the size of your forces. Cultural and science victories are boring. A way to make it more bearable is to decrease the size of your map or speed up the game, but that takes a lot away from the epic feel which makes the game attractive in the first place.

    So I usually quit before I finish the game.

    Anyway, I think you're right about some of the UI aspects of the game, like the way NPC chat works. I personally am not bothered by either the combat mechanics or magic trees in themselves. I don't think they're really such a big break from the simulationist aspect of the game; people make a much bigger deal of these things than they are, IMO. However, what does turn me off about them is the UI around them.

    Acquiring a skill is hugely clumsy, for instance. There's only one skill UI -- the skill tree window that comes up when you press K. If you go to a trainer, you get the exact same window. You'll notice you can click on some skills, and not click on other skills. But its not immediately apparent why; because there's nothing obvious to tell you the Shield trainer you visited can train Shield Bash, but not Dig In. So, if you're not familiar with the system, you'll just end up clicking on the skill you want, not understanding why the trainer won't give it to you. You can also go to other skill trees which the trainer doesn't specialize in, for some reason. Its just a bad user experience.

    Added to that, it contradicts the simulationist aspects of the game. Gaining a skill becomes about nothing more than clicking the boxes in your skill window. Gold is spent, and you magically have the skill. This adds to the feeling that @Lord_Darkmoon is talking about that the game is about managing spreadsheets.

    But this is largely a user experience issue, rather than an issue with the basic progression mechanic.
     
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  10. Freeman

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    Actually, over the last three years I've spelled things out time and time again in detail and will answer people in detail when they ask. I've talked to devs both on and off the forums, in detail. You're being a little rude, but I'll do it again anyway.

    Short answers Pick a direction and stop designing by committee. Is it a simulation or a game? Is it a role-play sim's like experience, or an adventure game with role-play pieces? Is this old school, or modern design themes?

    Until that's answer, I can't give anything more specific. The pieces are all pointing at different play styles and game ideals. It's not magic that only I can see. I didn't start this thread, did I? Lots of people see it, see the problems.

    You know what hasn't worked over the last 3 years? A group of fans who push back at others raising these issues early. It's nice when we can actually offer better advice than "I don't like it". When and where possible I did. Working with the community and the devs to answer questions about my issues, and others issues, as best I could But at the end of the day, it's not our job to do that. It's not. It's our job to be a barometer for them. They're the professionals. They're the ones expected to design the game, and build it. This onus on us to not only talk about problems but fix them as well? Come on.

    Yes, with any creative endeavor that goes into the public, you'll have some jerks who only want to tear it down. But if most people are the 'jerks', maybe, just maybe, there's a reason behind it. If you're watching your community shrink, and the boards get quieter and quieter as you get closer to launch. Maybe, just maybe, it's time to stop pointing the fingers at the people who tried to raise the concerns in the first place.

    It can be. It depends a lot on how you set up the game and what victory you're going for. It's not a perfect game, but "one more turn" isn't a running joke because people don't get immersed in it.
     
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  11. Womby

    Womby Avatar

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    To some, immersion simply means deep mental involvement. By that definition, Pac-man can be immersive.
    Too others, immersion means the ability to suspend disbelief to the extent necessary to imagine yourself in another world, a world constructed by the game. You are in the game, and not just an observer. By that definition Pac-man is not immersive.

    It all depends on your definition.
     
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  12. Freeman

    Freeman Avatar

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    I would argue if you can forget you're in this one, you've imagined yourself in that one. If you've ever lost track of time playing a game, you've been immersed in it.

    You can lose track of time playing arcade games like Pac-Man.
     
  13. Poor game design

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    I'm not trying to be rude. I'm also not trying to discount any contributions you may have made in the past. I was pointing out however that coming into this thread and saying "this isn't immerssive for me" is not helping anything.

    Not sure that's helpful at this stage in development either. It's a crowd funded game and as much as they listen to people in the community they're clearly making their own decisions about what the game is and isn't.

    Name one specific and we'll talk about that. But broadly say "there's problems and many people can see that" is pointless.

    I agree it's not our job to code the game. But it's also not our job to turn the forums into a cesspool of unactionable feedback.

    I'd say that the reason is complicated, but to your point if it's not a good game it's not a good game. I agree that the best cure is to make a good game. I'm just frustrated with the same people saying the same pointless crap that doesn't specifically help anything. I'm not saying people can't give feedback however they want, but for god's sake don't expect the game to get better if the only thing you're going to say is "it's not immerssive". It's like saying "it's not my cup of tea" or "I prefer more sophistication". If you can't (or have decided to stop) giving examples, then I fail to see the value of continued feedback.
     
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  14. Poor game design

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    I've lost track of time playing Pac-Man too. But I've also lost track of time mowing my yard. I don't know if that's a good barometer for making a good game. WOW was incredibly addictive for some people, but from my point of view it was a game I never wanted to play. Now I can give you 100 reasons for why I think WOW is a waste of my time, but I wouldn't expect the developers to understand all that by simply saying "it's not immerssive."

    Do you see what I'm saying?
     
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  15. redfish

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    "One more turn" was true for me in the earlier Civ games, but I think people are greatly overrating how much this is true in the later games. Anyway, this is off-topic I suppose.
     
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  16. redfish

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    Yea, this is true. So for example, I can lose track of time play FPS games. But after the gaming session, I feel like I've just wasted a lot of time on something stupid. So, I don't play them. While, on the other hand, I play games that have more depth, like survival RPGs, and which are a lot slower paced, and easier to take a break from, but my time playing them feels a lot more satisfying.
     
  17. Poor game design

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    So a few months ago, one of these forum guys that only cares about single player mode screamed bloody murder that the larger cities felt dead because "there were not enough NPC's walking around". He said the cities should feel busy and have tons of NPCs everywhere. So now when you walk in Brittany there's this huge group of stupid NPC's walking around doing nothing, just milling about or pacing, probably based on this one loud voice in the community. Perhaps in further iterations of the game the NPC's will do more, and perhaps that will lead to a more meaningful experience, who knows?

    In my opinion, it doesn't look good, it probably makes the server stability less optimal, and as far as my immerssion goes, all I can think of when I see that is here's someone's idea that was half baked, but because they couldn't think more than one move in advance they gave feedback that wasn't very good and because they screamed about it the devs said ok here's the best we can do on that and created something that isn't very meaningful (let alone immerssive). Now that guy that made that request probably doesn't even notice the "improvement" and certainly doesn't understand that the feedback was poor to begin with. But whatever, now we have a group of pointless NPC's walking around.

    Regardless of my opinion though, the devs listened to him and acted in good faith to put that into the game. But he didn't appreciate that because the move was incremental and didn't magically turn into an immersssive paradise so he just continued to criticize the game for not being "immerssive" as well as many other things broadly related to single player mode. At the end of the day, some people just want the game to be good and don't want to take the steps to get to that point. That's the problem. That's the only problem.

    I'm waiting as much as ANYONE for pvp to get good. But the difference between me and a few other people here is that I understand that Rome wasn't built in a day, it wasn't built in 3 years, and it's not going to be built tomorrow just because we make some posts in the forums that say things like "Where's the Immerssion?"

    Either you're on board for step by step development or you're not. Either you're contributing to the ongoing and future success of the game or you're not. But if you're not (and I'm talking to the community as a whole here), could you please tone down some of these pointless arguments? Not because I don't want to hear negatives, I'm fine with negative feedback. I'm just really tired of pointless feedback.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2016
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  18. Freeman

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    Garriott is known for designing by committee. I'm not just talking about community input, which should always be taken with a grain of salt. But even from his team. A lot of the things he talked about at the beginning are gone.

    Is it useful to bring it up now? Meh. Not really. Was it useful to bring it up a year ago? or 2 years ago? or 3? Only to be told "Give them time, they're the devs, they know what they're doing". If one person out of this learns that development needs input, even negative input, early and help keeping on focus, and not blind faith it's a win.

    If the developers learn from these mistakes, and either work towards fixing it post launch, or make their next game better, it's worth it.

    Why...? Like you said, this is pointless at this stage. And while my personal elephant in the room is combat, lets shift gears and talk about conversations.

    PICK. Is it click to interact, or read and converse with a chat bot? This mixed system gives the disadvantages of both. I'm not reading what's being said, I'm clicking on key words to advance the story (something specifically said they didn't want in the beginning) but it's muddled in an interface that actually makes it hard to read with all the other stuff going on. I can't just talk naturally to NPCs either, I apparently have to click on them, and the hit box is wonky.

    But how do you fix that? Until they pick "I want it to be driven by clicks" or "I want a chat bot" there are no answers to go forward with. And it's in the same window as everything else, just making the whole process a hot mess. Instead we get them trying to placate my old school curmdgeonyness (that's a real word... shut up), and an attempt to not alienate people who don't want to switch from modern conventions. Wasteland 2 did it better, but I'd still rather see one direction or another picked.

    All feedback is actionable. It might not always be fluffy, but it's always given you some insight into what's happening.

    Keep in mind, I actually AM a software developer. Have been for 15 years now. I deal with clients who want their interface to feel purple. Not actually be purple. FEEL purple. Still don't know what that one means. But, you look at what didn't work, and hone your craft, and cross off what didn't work and try something else.

    One of my favorite stories from some developers was that they went to a Chinese restaurant and asked for the non-English menus. They couldn't read Chinese, but would point to symbols to get what they want, and try and figure out what they'd get. Sometime's, that's how development goes. "I don't like the interface!" "Ok, lets remove this piece... how about now? Is it better or worse?" It's clumsy, time consuming, and frustrating. But ALLLL feedback is actionable. You might not know where to move to yet, but you know where you can't stay.

    Not quite, but I can see why that's what you're hearing.

    I've actually said:

    And that basically, it needs to pick one or the other from those things and stop doing both. That is about as actionable as you get. Commit to a less interactive MMO interface and world, or go back and alienate some of the new players. Leave magic as is, sacrificing some of the thing that makes a Lord British game a Lord British game, or accept that we're going the gamification way, and it's not about 'creating worlds'. Separate dialog into it's own interface, breaking the flow, but easing the use or turn back to chat based conversation that works more like you're talking with other players. Combat... yeah.... see my comment history for all my suggestions there. Back off the cash shop push, scale back game scope, and push out a focused game on your adventures, or stop pretending this is something that is about creating worlds.

    YES! Actually it is!

    If the lawnmower kept changing speeds while you pushed it you wouldn't be able to lose time. It's consistency is what let you just get lost in the activity. If a game keeps changing speed and direction on you, you won't really ever just lose yourself in it.
     
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  19. Poor game design

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    That's great feedback, and I agree with that feedback. I don't think it has anything to do with immerssion, but it good feedback because it's actionable. They can choose to pick one or the other. They can tell exactly what you like and don't like.

    Here's the problem though, as they make these decisions (and develop publicly) there are thousands of stakeholders that all think their opinions should be equally important. I doubt that actually happens to the same degree in your development shop. Sure you have multiple users, but at the end of the day there are managers that decide if you've done a good job or a bad job (which is certainly going to be based on the users reaction to whatever you created). The point I'm trying to make though is that Portalarium has to make choices between having an overworld map that was fine and did the job, and one that they "promised" during the kickstarter demo, and even now some people are yelling about because it's not "immerssive" enough.

    It's a crazy situation that Portalarium can't win. All they can do is push ahead making the best game they can, and all we can do is follow and support them. If our support is pointless and non-actionable, well then we're probably going to get a game that is worse off than if we tried a little harder (and for some people that probably means, take a break and come back in 7 months).

    No, that's not true, "I don't like it" is not good actionable feedback. Yes it's still feedback that can be used to get a temperature gauge on the community's feelings as a whole, but that doesn't always drive change (and shouldn't). It's also not helpful if the same people say "I don't like it" over and over again.

    This assumes that all of the player base wants that type of game play. I don't. I don't want a non-changing environment. I want to impact the world. I want to change the world.

    So yeah, it's great feedback to identify who their playerbase is, but obviously there's a fundamental difference between single player and multiplayer people.
     
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  20. redfish

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    This is a good definition of grinding, though ...
     
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