OK, OK, I know. Any title with "project" in it can sound really pretentious. I have been toying with changing that title for what, a year and a half now? But still, it's for a good cause. Well, if that cause is to get me to look at games differently than I normally do. Well, I already look at them pretty wackily, of course, but you get the picture.
Since it has been a while since I discussed it, the Immersion Project is a series of rules that I first started using in Vanguard. They governed how fast I leveled (if at all), how many breaks my character had to take, and rules concerning logging out. It really changed the way I play, and I used the Rules so much that they have become second nature to me. When I am first in a game, I set the chat window up or get rid of it (I use only local or realistic chat) and try to look for landmarks that help me find my way around. You would be surprised that even with some of the lesser quest descriptions out there you can still find your mark if you pay attention.
So, I wanted to start thinking about how the rules would work in other games. I have already tried them in these other games, but want to quantify them a bit more.
The Chronicles of Spellborn: This game is begging for role-play and begging for more realistic play. There are no mounts, unless you count the shard-ships in between worlds, so travel is already realistic or harsh enough. There is no "camping" ability, really, but there is something that is nearly as cool: camps and taverns. I will require my character to "rest" at night, either at an established camp or at a tavern. There are generous day/night cycles in game, but I am a little worried about the amount of time to camp. Over the next few sessions (wow, these words I use for play-time) I will check on the timing. There is food in the game, and many of them have natural timers built in that I can use to set a hunger cycle. There could also be realistic trade, or at least realistic hunting/gathering for money, being that my skinshifter can go places that other characters cannot.
Ryzom: I am playing a new trial account in Ryzom to try out the "newbie" experience from the ground up, and it is working just as good as I thought it would. There are fantastic, realistic mounts in the game, but most long-range travel is hard unless you "teleport." Essentially, once you hit a certain transport node you can travel there again as long as you have a ticket on your character. But traveling to that node in the first place is very dangerous, and usually is done in groups for safety. For now I will look into the day/night cycle on the trial island, and will use camps/taverns in a similar way to Spellborn. Your character has to rest, even if you want to make them play for 6 "days" straight! :)
Mabinogi: I tried this really recently, and it actually works really, really nicely because of all the cool choices Mabi provides. You can chop your own wood and make a campsite, your mount stays with you and can be killed, and food actually has a physical impact on your body. Weather effects the world in real time, and stamina plays a role in lots of ways. Funny thing is, I have found that my "more realistic" form of chat works incredibly well because there is no "main" chat channel that everyone screams in. Also, and this is based on a hunch, but the younger players really just roll with role-playing, being that they already chat in such a fantastical way. Day/night cycles are all there, and travel is rarely done in speedy style. This game, by default, already has so many of my Immersion Rules in mind.
So, yeh, it is a little pretentious to call it a "project," but I guess it is one. This is an attempt to slow me down even more than I slow down now. (I play at the speed of a glacier.) This is also an attempt to show others how many systems, like weather for example, have been built into their MMO that gives their game not only depth, but effects the way their character should be acting in game. Next time a snow storm hits, how would your character react? Would he put on heavier clothing or build a fire? These considerations become a game in themselves, but unlike some have accused me from before, this is not an attempt to "make fun" in games that have none.
This is simply an attempt to appreciate the situation that your character is in in the way your character might appreciate it.
It's like role-play, but it is asking you how you would react in that situation, if you were your character. It's different than saying "I am a winged elf, and I have massive powers.." It's a little more humble than that, it's like saying "I have powers, but I am still cautious..." It's also an attempt to look at death penalties, and how our character might really feel about dying. It's an art project, in some ways, a performance piece for an audience of one.
As I was poking around online tonight, I came across another blogger talking about the fault of games and how they are designed to make us go, as fast as we can, to the end game. Of course, this blogger is just another gamer that has also posted about the end game, raiding, and higher levels more often then not. I think we all know that players like him are not exactly stopping to write a bio for their character; more than likely they are adding up numbers to equal perfect DPS. More blaming of the game, as thought the developers included not a single piece of immersive detail. This is the recent trend, this blaming of the game for all your gaming ills. I have always known that the greatest cause of boredom is a) repetition and b) overlooking detail. We humans have a great capacity for growing used to sights, and gaming is no different. There is truly something to be said for training yourself to slow down, to pay attention to details more so that you not only enjoy the journey more, but that you no longer look at the speed in which you progress as a measure of your "success." In fact, you might stop looking for "success," period.
I will gather the details, see how they work out. These games are perfect for this kind of "role-play" so I am excited to put away the "M" key, and to print off more of own.