We need immersion

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by oplek, Oct 10, 2020.

  1. oplek

    oplek Avatar

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    I’d like to talk about immersion and SOTA. Read this while your loading bars go.


    I disagree with the dev’s take on it, which seems to equate it to “realism”. That’s not my view. It’s more about how “into” the game I am. A chess player can be super immersed into a chess game, even if it’s just a bunch of Pokemon figurines arranged on a 8x8 grid.

    More like a day dream, I can fall into being immersed in a game, or I can be snapped out of it. They talk about not having immersion get in the way of having fun, but I’d say that if I’m not immersed, I’m probably not having fun.

    Here’s my categories of what challenges immersion, from most to least.


    Internal Consistency

    I’ve jabbed at the idea that drinking alcohol improves my crafting ability. However, neither that, nor teleporting ladders, challenges my immersion.

    Take No Man’s Sky, which I see parallels to Shroud of the Avatar’s development. It’s been improved a lot… still has a long ways to go, and has some non-zero amount of fun you can have with it.

    I can take molecular hydrogen (H2), and combine it with “chromatic metal”, and get a hunk of antimatter. It’s not in a container. I apparently just hand-craft it, and carry it around. I can also MacGyver together a base computer with nothing but pure chromatic metal.

    … and the planets are uncomfortably close to each other.

    These things aren’t really an issue to me, because the game is so unwaveringly consistent at presenting this cartoonish world of physics, that my mind just accepts it as-is. It doesn’t matter if there’s antimatter chewing gum or I’m playing a game of triangle characters. Realism wasn’t the issue.

    In SOTA, my character’s Truth virtue is very bad. It became this way because I told a bunch of NPCs that my name is “asdfasdf”.

    Yet, assuming I can find a housing lot, I can build a gigantic underground complex of rooms full of zombies, liches, trolls, etc, all with nasty intentions, beneath Central Brittany (Player dungeons). Why isn’t this tossing my virtues into a blender? The city guards don’t even seem to care.

    The Cabalists should be knocking at my door, trying to recruit me. “We humbly beseech you to teach us your ways. We have been besieging the city for years, and have never been successful. But somehow, you’ve infiltrated the city and created a forward operating base for evil!

    I can’t take the game seriously, because it doesn’t take itself seriously. Imagine reading through the Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, where midway through the book, it cuts to Frodo, Galdalf, Sauron and the One Ring (who is human sized and has googly eyes and Disney cartoon gloves), all playing poker. Then as quickly as this asserts itself, we’re thrust back to the regular plot.

    I’d probably set down the book, saying “what the hell was that?”, and would be far less likely to pick it up. Writing a good story has certain best practices and methodology for keeping the reader engaged. So do games.

    How quickly would a D&D session’s fun fade if the DM wasn’t consistently presenting a world to the players?

    … yet that’s how Player Dungeons appear to me. It’s like multiple different games had some kind of transporter collision accident. These may be salvageable if they tied into Cabalists, or played a role in meaningful base building out in the hostile world (Fallout 76 C.A.M.P. style). The game has no internal consistency about these “virtues”, which could hypothetically be a compelling world mechanic.

    I tend to think the movie “The Truman Show” is about a guy whose immersion was broken. He ended up leaving the game in the end, and could no longer be monetized by the game company. It happened because he ran into an internal inconsistency in his world.


    Depth

    Is the game deep enough to immerse myself, literally? Kind of.

    That chess game may appear to be simple, but there’s a lot of thought and depth to strategy and outmaneuvering the opponent. Relative to the game, there’s quite a bit of depth. Something on the scale of an MMO, relatively, needs more depth. How about regional economies? Factional politics?

    The game needs “project potential” on a personal level. It’s about as much of a sandbox as MS Paint is comparable to Photoshop. At the end of the day, I can only do so much as the game provides tools. If I’m spending most of my time imagining mechanics in my mind’s eye, why am I playing the game?

    Decorations and player housing are largely shallow and non-functional. PVP doesn’t exist on more than a dueling level. There’s no point to player dungeons. Why would I enter someone else’s?

    Depth doesn’t necessarily mean complex or convoluted. I see Minecraft as something very deep for how simple it was. That’s why it continues to be very engaging to a lot of people. A few mechanics went a long way. Depth doesn’t mean - keep adding additional unassociated mechanics.

    Depth can mean - does anything in the game matter?


    Relatability

    I don’t tend to get into abstract stuff so much. I liked Fallout New Vegas quite a lot, despite it being a bug, manifest. I also played The Outer Worlds, and was meh-ish. One reason was, I found the post-apocalypic Earth more relatable than random alien planet with unrecognizable things all over the place.

    SOTA isn’t too bad in this department. But I may be more interested, if the physics-challenged shattered moon was explored as a topic more, for example. I can relate to moons. They’re relatable.


    Reminding you that you’re playing a game

    This is when you’re face-slapped out of your day-dream. This can break down into some some-categories.

    Making you feel like you’re wasting your time.

    This would be grind, loading screens, progression bars, teleports, etc. Progression bars while crafting could be a Surgeon Simulator style process where, how well you swing your hammer, and at what angle, has an effect on the output of a sword. Instead, we have loading bars.

    Ultimately, games are a waste of time… unless you’re having fun. I don’t go “WOO HOO” over progression bars.

    Nothing is quite a splash of cold water to the face than wondering where the fun is. I rarely ever felt this way while playing Fallout 76 or Satisfactory. I always felt like I was making meaningful progress, until I felt I exhausted their potential (and FO76 went’ down the P2W-lite path… I mean “sell convenience purchases because we decided not to do qualify of life improvements, but instead make you pay for antidotes for poisons we intentionally leave in the game”)

    Bugs and Performance Issues

    I tend to think people complain about bugs a lot more when there’s nothing else to focus on. But even crashing to the desktop can break my immersion. I don’t think this needs more explanation.


    Conclusion

    I don’t think we should brush aside issues of immersion, as they often are the canary in the coal mine for whether there's game design issues.

    While the bugs and technical issues are resolved, the game needs a creative director, who is still involved, to stitch together a vision of a consistent, deep world.
     
  2. Cora Cuz'avich

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    Unfortunately, SotA has maneuvered itself into a position where removal of elements that ruin immersion would mean losing most of the players we have left. I don't think it's an impossible task to make the game immersive, I just lack any faith in this being the team that can do it.
     
  3. Vladamir Begemot

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    Nice thing about the crafting (and inventory) UI's in both Satisfactory and NMS is they rarely* make me bored, tab away, etc. Thus, they aren't immersion breaking.

    The crafting UI (and all the others that have had constantly complaints for years now) could be improved immensely in Shroud without ANYONE fleeing. It might even bring some back.

    *(I say rarely, because there is this one thing. Though light years ahead of Shrouds inventory UI, in NMS it would be nice to be able to split items while in the Container UI, rather than having to grab the stack, go out to inventory, split it, and go back in to deposit. On the other hand, being able to quick send items to containers in the vicinity without even going to them, automatic refining, single button stack splitting, etc makes that tiny gripe a sliver compared to the timber of Shroud UI problems.)

    Seriously, the UI is like 90% of what is wrong with the game.
     
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  4. Magnus Zarwaddim

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    To my mind, and I'm wrong I assume, Player Made Dungeons were supposed to "add" to immersion. This, at least I thought, was tied into Inky and Conversationalists (or whatever they are called). The whole point was that they seemed to be heading in the direction of giving players the ability to create stories. Unfortunately, it's hasn't really taken off (I'll admit, I haven't checked in months).

    This is partly because of them and partly because of us. First, the tools are SLOWLY being made. Second, players can only do so much with what's available. It's 2020, so personally my attention span is very short. :D

    I know there are a few players that have taken what is available and have tried to make good stories/quests. But these are few and far between. I gave up when the idea didn't seem to get fulfilled. I'd still like to create a dungeon that had a purpose for you to visit. And I haven't dabbled in a while, and I know they made "some" headway into making these tools for us, but by and large, it just seems to be half implemented and half utilized. I don't know if that will change. And I don't know if it did, whether there'd be enough players to take it up to make something interesting to check out.

    But to take up your point, players were supposed to make content. And that would have led to some level of immersion+fun, in theory.

    To use your thoughts about evil lurking under Central Britanny, it could be feasible if the player who made the dungeon had complete tools to introduce you to characters that gave you some idea of what was going on, or gave you something to do to figure it out. The icing on that cake would be rewarding you to partake (Carrot, meet Stick).

    Edit: Thinking about it more, I know it's easy to think up mechanics that implement a player-made quest using the player's dungeon. A lot is in place (spawns, etc.). The problem I haven't seen tackled is rewarding a player. Exploits are the first thing to consider I imagine. But I believe @Lord British once mentioned using a chest and having a mechanism for that chest to reward something - I may be off here, so apologies if I am.

    I also know it's really difficult to implement something like that, but it seems to be headed there. :) I don't know if @Chris has any thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2020
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  5. Time Lord

    Time Lord Avatar

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    True, and any further talk of development funding campaigns are usually pissed on.
    True, and further hindered through the tools SLOWLY being made.

    A fireball in development funding SOTA is not :( We lost our way in funding when we lost our ways in funding.

    It's my belief that our game's "cannon of grand hidden lore" has become an anchor dragging behind our boat when it comes to the question of "what's happened to our immersion", as each step forward must be directed toward that "hidden cannon". Lore Cannon can be a good thing, yet it is a thing from EA Games totally funded games, which cost them allot of money to accommodate for through the demand of everything being developed tied to it. Tying such an anchor to a fully funded project does not hinder or slow down it's development, as that fully funded game's grand vision is delivered complete with no hanging chads. In a crowd funded game's "develop as we are funded" ways of development, many "parts" of it's development which are attached to it's own "Lore Cannon" don't make sense to the onlooking player, who must be enticed to wish to fund that "single part which standing alone makes no sense due to hidden Cannon of Lore". That piece to the game's development doesn't sell to the player because it has no game play appeal on it's own "while hiding our Cannon of Lore". <---<<< I point to this because "players can't contribute to a hidden cannon of lore" or modify it in any way due to the hidden demands of lore... "and Lore MUST BE HIDDEN or it cannot be discovered". Crowd funded games have not handled this develop demand well. The grand design within our games story line was conceived by " @Lord British and @Tracy Hickman " two of the most brilliant minds in the conception of such lore. They are the "Mark Twain/s" of such lore who's gaming lore concepts are deeper, wider and longer and :eek: "larger than any Olympic Size Pool ever made!" :confused: That seems a title wave of potential immersion hu o_O? "BUT IT"S NOT, BECAUSE IT"S NOT HERE", because it's now being developed on the budget drip from a leaky faucet. Our game's funding, "because we are crowd funded", has now become a 7-11 styled funded game, where compulsion player spending in convenience store items is now 98% funding compulsive, convenience development, in the form of small tweaks in combat, to more small COTO Store item tweaks, "to a drip given in development in an attempt to fill Lord British and Tracy Hickman's vast unfilled Olympic Pool of unreachable grand dreams". <---<<< We have now become a small boat dragging a battleship's anchor o_O "and that effects any investment into immersion", through adding $$$ dollar costs into their development, which do not fit into a crowd funded project's budget. Crowd funding is a very new concept in game funding with many unknown pitfalls which this relationship between "grand lore design vs getting everything funded" came into unforeseeable conflict. This is why, in my view, that our immersion development has an anchor around it's neck and always will until it becomes fully seem for what a hinderance it is, which needs to be dealt with through new ways and projects in funding.

    Parasites...

    Chronicles of Elyria was a Vampire to our game... sucking more than 8 million dollars of crowd funding out of the legitimate crowd funded industry, "and in our directly connected genre!" SOTA lost allot of funding because of that Vampire of the industry. It's because of that large sucking sound made by CO-Elyria, our corporate dreams in Grand Lore conceived by Lord British and Tracy Hickman, fell to a drip in ability to be successfully crowd funded. If such funding can be made filled by just a drip, it will never be what it once could have been. "There was/is only so much crowd funding $ available for any games to be crowd funded... and COE sucked $8 Million out of it, developing next to nothing to show for it. Our SOTA has survived only through brilliant financial maneuvering, thanks to Portalarium and Catnip :)

    Yet, this long explanation of why our game's immersion is lacking, I feel, needed to be told to fully understand the forces which stifle much of our game's deeper immersion development, which even the small things must accommodate for when developed.

    Coming up with ways to not only come up with new immersion improvements, but be able to also fund those improvements is our game's challenge to accomplish... otherwise, any approved improvements will be set into a very long line of things our developers would like to do for us... on a convenience store budget, with a single drip going into the development of immersion, hindered through our hidden cannon of lore and grand design. We need more common immersion, no matter what that hidden lore dictates, because we can (maybe) barely afford what direction it dictates.

    I agree @oplek , common every day log in immersion seems very lacking.

    Immersion gaming fans are in the minority priority, because our game will always need "just one more tweak within that deep black hole which is combat"

    I'm waiting for that next big idea in crowd funding larger projects within our game after mounts get through development. If there's no further development major projects seeking funding in larger game investment amounts, then I do fear our game will become a zombie.

    I would really enjoy if any large funding campaign would be one which includes more immersion.

    (I am not talking about the Space Cannon Funding Project, I'm only pointing to it) :D
    The Need for more Immersion! <---<<< A great subject to bring up @oplek ! "one of my favorites!"
    ~Time Lord~



     
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  6. Lord Aventine

    Lord Aventine Avatar

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    A solid observation. This feature remains tremendously underdeveloped from form, functionality, and fun perspectives IMHO.

    Placing NPC monsters in a dungeon ought to be more like placing NPC merchants in town - more free form with plenty of choices so that the player can truly create something that can surprise another when exploring the dungeon.

    As is, the need for special rooms and essences, with limited monster types, makes the entire monster experience in player owned dungeons terribly ... ... ... predictable.

    Taking this feature to the next level - truly enabling more freedom for player made dungeon creation - still might really boost the game as we hoped it could!

    But it needs attention which 'Episode 2' content is now distracting the team away from.
     
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  7. craftymethod

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    I think immersion starts and ends with people believing our characters exist in a brave new world where danger at some level of risk exists at all times and where people don't move faster than a horse. :D
    //although I guess the world has strange new magic so who knows!

    Dissolving when entering/exiting a scene really doesnt help IMO

    (community) Narration of Inky stories, embedding emotes into inky's and recording paths to load into inkys would be cool for player stories, maybe even trading or combat with them?

    and immediate vicinity audio communication between strangers who might bump into each other in a dungeon would bring the richness of voice into dynamic encounters, always a plus :)
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2020
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  8. King Robert

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    I use SOTA as an escape from daily life. No business to run, clients to help or problems to fix in SOTA. I can craft, decorate (ok, I do neither but I could) or I can go to a zone of my choice to battle monsters by myself or in a party. I can work on the skills of my choice or fill up my xp pool hoping for a new skill in my tree to be released. That I can do what I want makes this game an escape for me. That does not mean it works for others - but I tend to avoid the parts that I don’t enjoy (deco, crafting) and focus on xp adventuring.
     
  9. Time Lord

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  10. oplek

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    The stack splitting in NMS is definitely a personal gripe. That, and having to wade through the same multiple never-changing dialog stages when lading on a frigate to repair it.

    The UI was something I definitely enjoyed about Satisfactory.

    When you overdraw the power grid, tripping the breaker, you are given a popup-panel where you have to pull a lever to attempt to online everything again. The SFX, combined with the visual interactivity of it, is very satisfying... but it could have just been a link in a text box that activates the power grid again, but they went the extra mile. I feel like a madman sometimes trying to describe these things, but I can't explain the Matrix... it can only be experienced. And so I can only point at examples like that.

    It's not over-the-top convoluted or even all that complex of an experience. But it's complete and polished.

    Their entire development cycle is the opposite end of the spectrum from Catnip's. They're tight-lipped about upcoming features, but when they do release them, are largely complete and spit-shined. Up until I reached the limits of the space elevator, and it's "under construction" sign, I couldn't convince myself that it was actually early access.
     
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  11. oplek

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    Yeah, that doesn't make sense to me... it'd be one thing if it followed rules of the world.

    I'd settle for having a reason to visit peoples' dungeons.
     
  12. Grumpy Krabnevir

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    I'm having a hard time understanding these statements. Shroud raised more than double the amount you represent that COE 'sucked' from crowdfunding, and more importantly, Shroud raised almost 10 times the stated original amount that the developers said was needed to create and launch the game. I don't think it is fair or accurate to represent the state of the game as being an issue of lack of funding, when the amount funded was extremely beyond what we were told the requirements were. If they received so much more than they ever anticipated, how did that extra funding not translate into a better, more polished, and deeper game and delivered somewhere close to the original timeline?

    I love and continue to play shroud for reasons that outweigh my frustrations with the game, but I can't pretend like the reason we are where we are is because of lack of funding during the main development process. They had all the funding they asked for, and multiple times that amount in excess. 'Brilliant financial maneuvering' doesn't even enter the conversation, if it was so brilliant, how did the seed invest people make out? Brilliant would infer that you did it correctly and exceedingly so, the first time.

    While I wish the team the utmost success, and still hope/believe in a brighter future, I can't logically and morally accept that the development process up until this point has been a qualified 'success'.
     
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  13. Time Lord

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    I think every game in crowd funding "expects" further revenue beyond what they raised. SOTA did collect more than was asked for, or targeted for, but I don't think that was the total amount to complete the game from start to finish (ep1-ep5).

    Success I believe is that SOTA was able to stay alive and not totally close it's doors. I think SOTA constructed a financial parachute at the right time to not only stay alive, but to continue funding development, if even at a snail's pace from here on.

    My fears are that they will not ask for more or have further development funding campaigns, as not having these may indicate that they have less confidence in themselves.

    Free to Play (FTP) has proven itself a successful way to continue funding and developing games, yet the product must be "attractive". Slow developing games will have a need to put on lipstick to continue it's popularity in the form of microtransaction development, which is important in continuing those FTP dollars coming in. The large chunks of money needed for some things must be filled through those FTP microtransaction's slow, small drip, resulting in development slow down.

    "Done correctly, or success, means continuing". If our developers had failed, all our investments in things we accumulated through pledge and purchases would all disappear with the game no longer able to be played.

    SOTA remains, now a gorilla game hanging on in the crowd, and as long as our lipstick continues to look nice, players will still come around and give us a kiss.
    ~Time Lord~
     
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  14. Grumpy Krabnevir

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    Just wanted to add:

    While more money could always be used, I think a more important option for the players/customers to pursue would be to reach out to old players they might know and encourage them to check out how much has changed for the better over time, and even to reach out to new players and encourage them to check out the game, since it costs them nothing to do so. The game is in a far different spot than it was even a year ago and certainly has it's appealing points, and with another 2-4 months of fixing bugs and improving the new player experience could perhaps begin to grow the player base at a much faster rate.
     
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  15. Xee

    Xee Bug Hunter

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    You are correct that the direction of this will eventually allow players to create a lot of neat stuff, but it is slowly coming out which is a waiting game. but in the end I think it will be worth it as long as they can keep expanding the tools players have to make content. I like to use landmark as an example of where things could head. having ability to trigger events , spawns , use items , keys , npc rewards based on outcomes etc can take things a long way for story telling and fill places with more content beyond the developers vision. so like myself are waiting for all of this and have already been experimenting and writing out multi zone story arcs.

    all in good time, last stream noted that they will be adding more to the npc conversationalists which included emotes and sounds like away to offer items to players and special keyword to trigger hidden events. We still very much need a key system for doors and chests along with new pick lock skill in sub so that players along with devs can make some chest pickable which would be pretty cool. single spawners well fun need away to reward players for killing them even if its less xp and very little good / loot it would make things over all better. I also would love to see ability to label spawners with names so we can have named creature to represent out stories.

    look forward to seeing where this all goes :)
     
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  16. Violet Ronso

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    Are you me? This rang way too true lol!