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The Immersion Breakers

Posted by vajuras Tuesday June 17 2008 at 12:20PM
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Been playing a Theme Park MMORPG alongside EVE Online lately. I enjoy Quests these theme parks offer somewhat but there is still one thing that rubs me wrong. They are sooooo static. Undoubtably this makes things simple for devs. You can hire an army of Scripters and have them all write all these static Quests.

I guess there is a roleplayer inside of me that gets deeply offended when I complete a Quest only to discover the player beside me has turned it in as well. There is no impact, no change.

I realize I am probably a serious minority but this is really, really killing PVE for me. In single player RPGs, like Mass Effect / Elder Scrolls, SW: KOTR, etc- when I complete a Quest I feel like I've really made an impact. I see change in my environment. Gaining XP or that next level is so secondary. Sure, I do enjoy getting new items like the next guy perhaps but I really, really enjoy being immersed in my environment. Perhaps what I'd like to see is games offering a different sort of PVE whatever form that might take.

Maybe my opinion will change later- but I think I can deal with Level grinds, Classes, and so forth even though this all gets reused with little deviation. But it's the immersion factor that's missing for me in PVE.

Also another immersion killer is character custimization. Love it or Hate it- City of Heroes made us all feel unique- at least visibly. I never ever found another player that looked like me. I really don't feel too unique in the average MMORPG. I even appreciate the little character portraits we have in EVE Online. I feel that character custimization can help players feel more unique and bind with their virtual avatar. Again, perhaps it's the roleplayer inside of me. I want to be immersed.

Guild Wars actually did something with their instances whereas you do quests with your group (WoW did something similar in their dungeons). This was fun the first time through or what have you but it all falls down after you do it more then once. So the Immersion Breaker here is when you run through the instance more then once. City of Heroes tried to do something interesting here. They randomly generate the missions. CoH actually made good uses of their instances and they were indeed repeatable. Of course, we were split off from the world.

I do admit Instances ironically- does provide some level of immersion. Perhaps higher then Open worlds due to the way they handle Quests. Still, I do yearn for open world PVE/PVP.

Anyway I think I will summarize the Immersion Breakers in a List. This is just my own personal list:

1. [PvP] Instances sort of break Immersion because we get pushed into the same instance. So here we are staring at the same ground/terrain over and over. If only the terrain could 'change' then maybe it wouldn't be such an immersion breaker. In FPS games we can choose different maps. Granted, I suppose in GTA IV we do stare at the same city a lot but the area is SOOOOO VAST! That makes it more repeatable. I realize there are reasons you Devs don't do it but really what could it hurt to at least have a huge Instance with 100 x 100 *IF* your tech supports it

2. [PVE] Mobs spawn right ontop of us out of nowhere. Yeah, yeah, I am aware of the reasons why Devs do this. I am not sure but I think in EVE Online  the 'rats' warp into the area you are. That is one way to maintain immersion

3. [PVE] Quests break immersion in a bad way when I turn in a Quest and see another person also get the exact same 'animation' from the NPC. Most notably, I recall when I was a noob in WoW when I turned on a Quest where I retrieved some reageants for a Shaman. He did the exact same animation and sequence for everywhere. So when I first turned in the Quest I felt special. But then afterward I didnt

4. [PVE] Instances whereas the dungeon remains the exact same and we get exact same results everytime we go in. For instance, the first time we visited Wailing Caverns was cool [WoW]. But then after helping the 'sleeper' multiple times it got a bit dull.

5. [Social] Inability to dye our clothes and personalize our avatar. Now, I guess it makes sense if we are all 'soldiers' that's fine. But if possible dye would at least be greatly appreciated. Guild Wars had this and it was fun looking at all the interesting armor combos and dye. I suppose GW has the edge though since it's not a strongly stat driven game at least when I last played.

6. [PVP] Instances that use the same terrain. I can actually rationalize 'Arenas' but what breaks immersion is fighting over Alterac Valley over and over

7. [PVE/PVP] Contested terriority in WoW. When I was a noob, I actually believed the lands would change hands. Imagine my horror when we first took over a Contested land and nothing ever happened. No one could actually occupy the fort. I think WAR (Warhammer Online) will at least be a step in the right direction. Even though Instances will be heavily employed (guess) we will still make a difference. And I read on Mythic's features page when we turn in quests we help the area to grow.

8. [PVE] Tabula Rasa. You guys presented an infinite war against the Bane. I couldnt help but wonder why was I needed. It seemed like a never ending war that would go on whether I was there or not. WAR looks more appealing to most gamers because the war (RvR) appears to be player driven. Our personal efforts will eventually (we hope) lead to us taking a Capital city. That appeals to us Achiever/PvP types


Games that maintained Immersion to a Level:

1. [PVE] Everquest II. We LOVED that newbie Isle. We loved it. It felt like a real struggle / war. The only reason it fell down at somepoint was when us newbs realized this struggle would never end. Never change. That is when it became fake for me

2. [PVE] EQ2 the dungeons were pretty fun (at least the Level 20ish ones that we did). The dungeons were 'shared' so you saw other noobs and made groups that. I think they would spawn the final boss in an instance but being noobs I cant recall ever finding one

3. [PVE] EQ2 had actual academies where you could learn magic.

4. [PVE] EVE Online maintains Immersion to a high degree. I think they inherit this as a result of shunning Instancing. However, ironically, the actual PVE combat can get dull at somepoint (which is why I play single player RPGs for really good PVE anyway)

5. [PVE] City of Heroes, WoW, LOTRO, etc does have some level of immersion via the instancing. I am biased in this respect I warn you- I would rather see Dynamic PVE like I mention above but that appears to be many, many years away

6. [PVE] Champions Online promises a feature where you can 'create a villian nemesis to haunt you throughout your career'. That sounds kinda interesting. Not huge. Not earth shattering. But might be interesting

7. [PVE] Bios!!!! I love creating a bio. Thank you City of Heroes this really immersed me

8. [PVE] Class Based Quests! Thank you WoW, EQ2, Guild Wars, etc for giving us this!

9. [PVP] World PvP. Thank you Blizzard for a small time you were almost getting there. Right after you introduced honor system world pvp surged. It was fun. My friends still say its fun now and I believe them but back then World pvp was only way to get honor and you saw hundreds of people out there pking like no tomorrow!

10. [PVE] Cities where you can see the King, etc. Blizzard did this with their major cities. That was really cool

11. [PVE] Please CCP get that Ambulation Patch out! I would spend a lot of time designing my appearance.

12. [PVE] City of Heroes thank you for the awesome costume designing options that entertained me probably much, much more then combat. Too bad you didnt expand on this. should have let players create costumes for each other. We could have had 'tailoring' and it would have been a huge profession for you.

13. [PvP] EVE Online wins the medal here for now. The player driven politics out in 0.0 are a sight to see. The PVE Agent Missions maintain a certain level of immersion due to the way the stories are very generic. However, I actually felt stronger roleplay in theme park titles so I think CCP might have lost a bit there. Looking forward to trying out the Faction Warfare which might actually inject more roleplay and flavor writes:
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