You know, when we’re playing a game, a lot of times we take little details for granted. I know that I’m guilty of that, instead focusing on issues like PvP, questing, spells, and the rest of the store front systems we’re so used to discussing. Today, I’d like to take a moment and look at some of the little details I’ve really appreciated in games.
The thing that got me thinking about this was the latest episode of the MMO Fo’ Show podcast. The hosts, Syp and Snafzg, decided to do a retrospective on World of Warcraft and one of the things they commented on was how cool they found some of the smallest details, like seeing your breath puff out in front of your character, outside of Ironforge. I appreciated the comment because I also found those things very cool when I first started. Yet, I stopped noticing them within about two days.
Like so many other things, you start noticing them again when they’re gone. In my case, this happens the most when I’m dabbling in several different titles. Thankfully, my ADHD gaming style has let me see some of the nicer touches the different game studios have tossed into their MMOs. Here are some of my favorites:
* Seeing your breath in cold areas
* Leaving footprints in the snow or sand
* Seeing stones go flying as slide down a steep incline
* Ambient sounds, like birds or the creaking of trees in the woods
* Pulling a leaf out to hide from the rain in Aion
* The way your griffon’s wings flutter in the air in WoW
* The drunken haze effect when you’ve had one too many, especially in LotRO, which left me a little dizzy in real life after completing the Inn League quest line
* Realistic NPC dialogue, not related to your character
* Being able to climb up hills and mountains
* The “ping, ping, ping” sound of mining
* The fact that water current actually pushes you in Darkfall
* Realistic buoyancy, when you jump from high cliffs, also found in Darkfall
* The fun pet animations in Free Realms
These are just a few amongst the hundreds, if not thousands, of little flourishes found in our favorite games. It’s these little details that turn an MMO from a playground into a world and give it the breath of life it takes to really immerse.
On the other hand, when a game lacks some of these features it can be a little jarring. For example, it always bugged me that characters couldn’t jump in Guild Wars. Does it really damage game play? No. Still, I feel like something’s missing without that ability whether it really serves a purpose or not.
Another one that I really missed was the lack of footprints in many games outside of WoW. This bothered me especially much in WAR. Their graphical style tended to look like things were wrapped in a protective plastic coating. Your character not leaving footprints where they so obviously should made it feel like I was climbing hills made of plastic instead of dirt and stone.
It’s easy to forget about these things but when you really stop to take notice, you see how many small moving parts these games really have. It can really be awe inspiring.