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The Pub at MMORPG.COM  » The Price of Immersion

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  ReallyNow10

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1724

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/04/13 12:05:24 PM#1

Every detail implemented for the sake of immersion has some price (usually measured in "hassle" units) that must be weighed to justify it.

Having food in the game has the hassle price of having to purchase and carry it, but this is very little (IMO) hassle.  So food, IMO, is a go.

Waste elimination is major hassle and grossout factor and does not justify itself in regards to hassle-to-immersion ratio.

Ammunition (arrows, bullets), well, there is arguably immersion in stocking up on arrows (especially silver-tipped ones) for your bow, but is it worth the hassle?  I say yes, others may differ.

See where I'm going with this?  This is arguably an offshoot of the "Food" thread, but it covers so many other bases, I think it deserves its own topic.

In recent years, devs have been removing "hassles" from the game, without, I think, really weighing the cost in immersion.  Travel may be a hassle, but it is immersive and more importantly involves players bumping into one another.  Maybe you travel down a road and see a player having a tough time with Orcs, so you pitch in and save the day, and maybe make a friend.

Phasing (different realities for different players depending upon quest stage) added some immersion, took some immersion away, and arguably brought about a great many hassles (i.e., I cannot see my guild mate even though were are standing next to one another).  IMO, phasing is not justified, being the double negative of killing immersion (even though it imparts another kind) and being a major hassle to most players trying to group with friends.

Not all hassles justify removal, and some of them add so much immersion to gaming that their cost is justified.  And others, of course, have to go.

Thoughts?

  Adalwulff

Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/18/10
Posts: 1191

"I am not the light, or the darkness, but the twilight in between"

6/04/13 12:12:02 PM#2

Those "hassles" are what make the game.

I am actually not one of those players who craves immersion, but I also do not like how todays games are so focused on "instant gratification".

This instant gratification spills into the hassles that you mentioned.

Things like travel, ammo and food are being taken out in favor of instant travel, no need for food, and endless arrows so you can just keep shooting for hours and not be bothered.

Instant, instant, instant, give me, give me, give me.... that's the players of today, and so that is the kind of games were are getting.

  Scalpless

Advanced Member

Joined: 3/22/07
Posts: 1355

6/04/13 12:23:52 PM#3

Things like food and traveling often distract me from the games and brake my immersion. Why? Because carrying 2390 pork buns with you and eating 20 of them whenever you get hungry is not realistic. Hunger meters aren't realistic. Running in heavy armor and with a huge load on your back for ten minutes without getting tired isn't realistic. Carrying 20 swords on your back, but not being able to pick up one more isn't realistic. Building a sword in ten seconds isn't realistic. Mining the ore needed for that sword in a minute isn't realistic.

See what I'm getting at? Realism has its place in certain genres, but most MMOs don't belong to those genres. When my character is essentially a superhero, having to take care of her "hunger bar" doesn't add immersion. It just feels dumb and reminds me how goofy this MMO universe is. Maybe, if someone made a truly realistic MMO with complex wound modeling, great physics and the inability to take on a 100m long dragon and live, I'd welcome those annoying little things you're talking about.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20673

6/04/13 12:30:30 PM#4

I can do without the hassle. Games are for entertainment. Either invent a lore reason to get rid of the hassle, or just get rid of it.

So what if we lose some immersion, fun is more important.

Look at long travel ... in a fantasy world, it is trivial to invent some mumbo-jumbo to have teleportation. That beats running the same route again and again (the first time may be fun, the 10th time is a chore).

And many people don't even care about that dressing up part .. just have a LFD teleport to the dungeon ... do you see any player not using it because it breaks immersion?

  lizardbones

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10953

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

6/04/13 12:35:22 PM#5

There is a balance between pulling the player into a game with mechanics like hunger or ammunition, and the chance that the mechanics will get repetitive and boring.

In Minecraft, every player has a hunger bar, and it never goes away. Initially, when the game start starving to death is a very real danger and the player must scramble to get resources that keep them from starving. The player will eventually have a couple different sources of renewable food, and it requires some maintenance to keep the sources going. The odds of the player actually starving to death diminishes with time to almost zero. However, hunger is still a key mechanic because the hungrier the player is, the less health they can regenerate and the slower they run. After almost two years of playing Minecraft, the hunger mechanic hasn't gotten old and I don't think I've heard many players, if any, complaining about that mechanic.

I'm not sure why it works so well in Minecraft, and why these types of mechanics are so weak in MMOs. Perhaps it's because the hunger mechanic in Minecraft has more than one level to it. You're not just keeping yourself from starving to death, you're maintaining a performance resource in your health regen and run speeds. The hunger mechanic is also a driver for other activities in farming and animal management.

If resource mechanics can capture this kind of multi level engagement from the player, then they should exist in the games. If they are a repetitive mechanic to try and add "realism", then they should probably be thrown out.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  VengeSunsoar

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4919

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

6/04/13 12:37:24 PM#6

Immersion and what causes it are completely subjective.

To you removing those hassles might decrease immersion, to others it doesn't.

Immersion is also something that has subjective value.  Some people say it is very important to their game, some people say they could care less about it and just want a fun game to play.

To a dev it's a simple question without a simple answer:  Will the addition or removal of said feature cause people to stay or leave.  And/or will the addition of said feature cause enough people to play to justify the cost of making it. 

For me - those features mentioned: food/ammo don't add to immersion at all, they detract from my enjoyment of whatever aspects of the game I'm doing.  Oops I can't fight anymore cause I'm out of arrows, need to lug myself back to town and get some, or build some here, same with food.  More annoyance than help.

To me immersion comes from doing lots of useful and engaging activities. 

Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  waynejr2

Elite Member

Joined: 4/12/11
Posts: 3881

RIP City of Heroes!

6/04/13 1:09:55 PM#7
I would like to know who some minor game play mechanic can break immersion yet knowingly playing on a computer doesn't.
  nethervoid

Novice Member

Joined: 5/01/05
Posts: 531

6/04/13 1:11:43 PM#8
Originally posted by VengeSunsoar

Immersion and what causes it are completely subjective.

To you removing those hassles might decrease immersion, to others it doesn't.

Immersion is also something that has subjective value.  Some people say it is very important to their game, some people say they could care less about it and just want a fun game to play.

To a dev it's a simple question without a simple answer:  Will the addition or removal of said feature cause people to stay or leave.  And/or will the addition of said feature cause enough people to play to justify the cost of making it. 

For me - those features mentioned: food/ammo don't add to immersion at all, they detract from my enjoyment of whatever aspects of the game I'm doing.  Oops I can't fight anymore cause I'm out of arrows, need to lug myself back to town and get some, or build some here, same with food.  More annoyance than help.

To me immersion comes from doing lots of useful and engaging activities. 

Funny thing is those two things food and ammo can be very fun if the lack of them puts you in weird situations and allows you to barely make it out alive. Some of the best memories in games come from situations where you run out of something mundane like food.

I agree with others above. Mundane 'immersion' items are only as good as the systems designed around them. If the support for these items is limited or non-existant, the items become a real hassle. If they're supported heavily as is Minecraft's food, then it can add a lot to the game.

nethervoid - Est. '97
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  lizardbones

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10953

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

6/04/13 1:14:20 PM#9


Originally posted by waynejr2
I would like to know who some minor game play mechanic can break immersion yet knowingly playing on a computer doesn't.


It's like sitting in a movie theater watching and being immersed in a movie, then suddenly the person behind you coughs loudly, or starts a conversation with the person sitting next to them. It breaks the feeling of immersion, unless you're one of the people who can ignore that type of thing without thinking about it. Playing a video game on a computer can be just as immersive as a movie, and things can break that feeling of immersion.

Thinking about having to eat or gather resources for combat can either create or break immersion depending on the player.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  nariusseldon

Elite Member

Joined: 12/21/07
Posts: 20673

6/04/13 1:42:17 PM#10
Originally posted by lizardbones

 


Originally posted by waynejr2
I would like to know who some minor game play mechanic can break immersion yet knowingly playing on a computer doesn't.



It's like sitting in a movie theater watching and being immersed in a movie, then suddenly the person behind you coughs loudly, or starts a conversation with the person sitting next to them. It breaks the feeling of immersion, unless you're one of the people who can ignore that type of thing without thinking about it. Playing a video game on a computer can be just as immersive as a movie, and things can break that feeling of immersion.

Thinking about having to eat or gather resources for combat can either create or break immersion depending on the player.

 

Not if you are the one who have teh choice to start the conversation.

That is, if you look at LFD .. it is not there until you choose to push a button. So if you choose to "break immersion" for some convenience, it is all good.

 

  lizardbones

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10953

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

6/04/13 3:40:28 PM#11


Originally posted by nariusseldon

Originally posted by lizardbones  

Originally posted by waynejr2 I would like to know who some minor game play mechanic can break immersion yet knowingly playing on a computer doesn't.
It's like sitting in a movie theater watching and being immersed in a movie, then suddenly the person behind you coughs loudly, or starts a conversation with the person sitting next to them. It breaks the feeling of immersion, unless you're one of the people who can ignore that type of thing without thinking about it. Playing a video game on a computer can be just as immersive as a movie, and things can break that feeling of immersion. Thinking about having to eat or gather resources for combat can either create or break immersion depending on the player.  
Not if you are the one who have teh choice to start the conversation.

That is, if you look at LFD .. it is not there until you choose to push a button. So if you choose to "break immersion" for some convenience, it is all good.

 




I never saw the LFD tool as an immersion breaker. I'm not sure why.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

6/04/13 3:56:43 PM#12

Afraid there really isn't a simple answer to this one.

It's not a binary proposition, you can have too much (or too little) of a good thing.

Every player's going to have a different level of tolerance for 'fiddly' systems, where plus roleplay is exchanged for minus time.

 

Which is why, presumably, so many Lead Devs arrive at different answers to the same basic problems.

Or why many people, while willing to agree that immersion is indeed a generally good thing, disagree on specifics.

 

Ever read a roleplaying forum? As many ideas as there are stars.

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  ReallyNow10

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1724

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/04/13 4:53:52 PM#13
Originally posted by Icewhite

Afraid there really isn't a simple answer to this one.

It's not a binary proposition, you can have too much (or too little) of a good thing.

Every player's going to have a different level of tolerance for 'fiddly' systems, where plus roleplay is exchanged for minus time.

 

Which is why, presumably, so many Lead Devs arrive at different answers to the same basic problems.

Or why many people, while willing to agree that immersion is indeed a generally good thing, disagree on specifics.

 

Ever read a roleplaying forum? As many ideas as there are stars.

The point I am driving is that every "inconvenience" dev's blindly toss aside might also involve discarding valuable immersion factors, and that things warrant a closer look and evaluation.

Of course it's subjective.  Still, it requires arriving at a decision.

  Icewhite

Made History

Joined: 7/11/11
Posts: 6495

Pink, it's like red but not quite.

6/04/13 5:08:14 PM#14
Originally posted by ReallyNow10

The point I am driving is that every "inconvenience" dev's blindly toss aside might also involve discarding valuable immersion factors, and that things warrant a closer look and evaluation.

Of course it's subjective.  Still, it requires arriving at a decision.


"Blindly toss aside"?

You mean like forced grouping in EQ1 then? The single most-complained-about feature on EQ1s forums for several years? Someone clearly, consciously decided to make a change.

People can't examine exactly the same situation that you do, every bit as carefully, and still not agree with your conclusions?

Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  ReallyNow10

Advanced Member

Joined: 8/11/10
Posts: 1724

Don't give us stories. Give us worlds and we will make our own stories.

 
OP  6/04/13 5:15:40 PM#15
Originally posted by Icewhite
Originally posted by ReallyNow10

The point I am driving is that every "inconvenience" dev's blindly toss aside might also involve discarding valuable immersion factors, and that things warrant a closer look and evaluation.

Of course it's subjective.  Still, it requires arriving at a decision.


"Blindly toss aside"?

You mean like forced grouping in EQ1 then? The single most-complained-about feature on EQ1s forums for several years? Someone clearly, consciously decided to make a change.

People can't examine exactly the same situation that you do, every bit as carefully, and still not agree with your conclusions?

I mean like feeding your pet and pet happiness in WOW, for examples.  Or arrows and bullets for hunters.  Reagents for spells and poisons.  That stuff was not that big a hassle to deal with, was kind of fun in fact, and I felt more immersed and it gave me a non-combat focus prepping out before leaving Ironforge.

Oh, when they expanded underwater breathing to where it was not an issue, was a HUGE hit for me in immersion.  I remember trying to gauge my breath when diving to underwater tunnels and such, and I thought it was fun to try to do it properly.

Dumbing down a game...well...just sort of dumbs it down.

  maplestone

Novice Member

Joined: 12/10/08
Posts: 3109

6/04/13 5:55:35 PM#16

A maze does not become more fun by reducing the number of walls.

A commute down a path does not become more fun by adding twists and turns to navigate.

To me, it's all a question of where the character's attention is focused.  Hassles are fun when the hassle is what you want the player to focus their attention on.  They aren't fun when they are not where you want the player to focus their attention.

The game offers me the chance to buy a boat because swimming is only a fun hassle for so long - it might enhance my appreciation of water as a barrier at first, full of mystery as to what might happen as I swim.  But eventually I know what I may encounter, what I may see and swimming the river just becomes tedium between me and my goal of getting to the other side.  So the game offers me an endpoint to the hassle: a boat.

But hassles do not need to be all-or-nothing.  They can be situational.  I only care about cure poison potions when fighting something poisonous, but there may be no point when I stop encountering the occasional poisonous creature.  I may have flying for everyday adventures, but still need to care about the foot path to Mordor when eagles are too scared to carry me.

 

 

  lizardbones

Advanced Member

Joined: 6/11/08
Posts: 10953

I think with my heart and move with my head.-Kongos

6/04/13 7:17:52 PM#17


Originally posted by ReallyNow10

Originally posted by Icewhite

Originally posted by ReallyNow10 The point I am driving is that every "inconvenience" dev's blindly toss aside might also involve discarding valuable immersion factors, and that things warrant a closer look and evaluation. Of course it's subjective.  Still, it requires arriving at a decision.
"Blindly toss aside"? You mean like forced grouping in EQ1 then? The single most-complained-about feature on EQ1s forums for several years? Someone clearly, consciously decided to make a change. People can't examine exactly the same situation that you do, every bit as carefully, and still not agree with your conclusions?
I mean like feeding your pet and pet happiness in WOW, for examples.  Or arrows and bullets for hunters.  Reagents for spells and poisons.  That stuff was not that big a hassle to deal with, was kind of fun in fact, and I felt more immersed and it gave me a non-combat focus prepping out before leaving Ironforge.

Oh, when they expanded underwater breathing to where it was not an issue, was a HUGE hit for me in immersion.  I remember trying to gauge my breath when diving to underwater tunnels and such, and I thought it was fun to try to do it properly.

Dumbing down a game...well...just sort of dumbs it down.




Those mechanics in WoW were dumb to begin with. Nobody was making choices, they were just going through the repetitive processes to not get debuffed. There do exist ways to make things like that interesting, but WoW's method wasn't the way.

I can not remember winning or losing a single debate on the internet.

  NaughtyP

Novice Member

Joined: 12/02/11
Posts: 795

6/04/13 7:30:39 PM#18

If you look at a game like Skyrim, the only really convenient thing I can think of is fast travel. Searching everything manually, juggling how many items to carry based on weight, finding safe places to sleep, harvesting, skinning, mining, repairing, limited arrows, day/night cycles makes it hard to track down some NPCs, difficult to see in dungeons without spells or torches, and so on. But the game was (and still is) wildly popular. Go figure.

Enter a whole new realm of challenge and adventure.

  VengeSunsoar

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/10/04
Posts: 4919

Be Brief, Be Bright... Be Gone.

6/04/13 8:43:33 PM#19
Originally posted by ReallyNow10
Originally posted by Icewhite
Originally posted by ReallyNow10

The point I am driving is that every "inconvenience" dev's blindly toss aside might also involve discarding valuable immersion factors, and that things warrant a closer look and evaluation.

Of course it's subjective.  Still, it requires arriving at a decision.


"Blindly toss aside"?

You mean like forced grouping in EQ1 then? The single most-complained-about feature on EQ1s forums for several years? Someone clearly, consciously decided to make a change.

People can't examine exactly the same situation that you do, every bit as carefully, and still not agree with your conclusions?

I mean like feeding your pet and pet happiness in WOW, for examples.  Or arrows and bullets for hunters.  Reagents for spells and poisons.  That stuff was not that big a hassle to deal with, was kind of fun in fact, and I felt more immersed and it gave me a non-combat focus prepping out before leaving Ironforge.

Oh, when they expanded underwater breathing to where it was not an issue, was a HUGE hit for me in immersion.  I remember trying to gauge my breath when diving to underwater tunnels and such, and I thought it was fun to try to do it properly.

Dumbing down a game...well...just sort of dumbs it down.

 Feeding the pet to get optimum dps, always having spending coin on arrows and bullets, always having to have room for arrows and bullets and having less pack space than others for those arrows and bullets were a hassle IMO.

They did not contribute to the overall fun.

If it was just a fluff item, fine, but there were definite disadvantages to them. 

Quit worrying about other players in a game and just play.

  Velocinox

Hard Core Member

Joined: 3/15/06
Posts: 675

6/04/13 8:53:41 PM#20

Just like in the hunger thread, you keep coming up with systems you are forced to engage in. That's not a good idea when the payoff is ambiguous as some people's idea of immersion.

Now, if you're going to include immersion systems that are entirely opt-in, with no detriment to not using them, then that is fine. People looking to find a better life in the internet can use every system you throw at them, while the ones that are only in-game for a while before they go back to enjoying their life can ignore them and enjoy the game.

'Sandbox MMO' is a PTSD trigger word for anyone who has the experience to know that anonymous players invariably use a 'sandbox' in the same manner a housecat does.


No game is more fun than the one you can't play, and no game is more boring than the one you've become familiar with.


How to become a millionaire:
Start with a billion dollars and make an MMO.

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