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News & Features Discussion  » [Column] General: Making Stuff, Breaking Immersion

13 posts found

Associate Editor - News Manager

Joined: 6/28/10
Posts: 16254

OP  7/11/13 7:26:12 PM#1

Immersion is always a hot topic when it comes to MMO players. Some want it desperately, others not so much. In today's Devil's Advocate, we take a look at the issue of player content and immersion. See what we've got to say before heading to the comments to discuss it further.

A good number of the comments in that article were preoccupied with anachronisms and immersion-breaking in the context of user-generated and developer-made content. That discussion is fine and all, but I thought to use this week’s Devil’s Advocate to discuss why the ability to make stuff and to have it reflect in a game world is a powerful thing, and what game developers may want to consider doing if they want to create a world that maintains their worldview while allowing people to add onto that world. 

Read more of Victor Barreiro Jr.'s The Devil's Advocate: Making Stuff, Breaking Immersion.

Associate Editor:
Follow me on Twitter: @MMORPGMom


Apprentice Member

Joined: 1/21/07
Posts: 1729

7/12/13 3:18:16 PM#2
I think the wow quests you bring up speak to the incredible abilities of the wow art and lore teams to create a world where we not only accept, but embrace the humorous anachronisms that we're given throughout the course of that game.

I think my problem with the racecars and pepsi machine in AA is that it seems more like a "srs bzns" sandbox world sim rather than the lighthearted humor-forward world of wow.

Thx V as always for the interesting read

RIP Ribbitribbitt you are missed, kid.

Currently Playing EVE, DFUW

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.

Dwight D Eisenhower

My optimism wears heavy boots and is loud.

Henry Rollins


Hard Core Member

Joined: 4/30/06
Posts: 624

7/12/13 4:27:27 PM#3

Personally copying Starbucks but changing the name slightly shows no creativity.

If they created their own coffee shop and tailored it themselves i'd be far more impressed.

I'm probably a bit biased since huge multi-nationals piss me off enough in the real world without seeing them creep into my gaming worlds in any type of form. Part of me is also cynical enough to think its someone's idea of a clever marketing ploy to cunningly introduce advertising into online worlds.


Novice Member

Joined: 1/07/06
Posts: 366

7/12/13 5:19:12 PM#4


What game is the starbox coffee one?


Novice Member

Joined: 3/18/13
Posts: 259

"You are mine, I'm yours, and if we die, we die. But first we'll live." Ygritte

7/12/13 8:29:53 PM#5

Rant mode Activated.....

The people crying foul about immersion being broken are so FULL of crap! Saying that anything breaks immersion is total bullpoo. Last I looked unless you enter the game from start to finish speaking "thee's" and "thou's" and "Good day to you sir." then finish with a tip of your hat then sure your not breaking immersion. This sadly is far from reality, more often then not we see "LFG BLAHDUNGEONBLAH No noobz!"

Are they picketing general chat or blasting other people for breaking their "immersion"? No they accept that hey its a game! Immersion only goes so far. Especially in the MMO space.

If you whisper your friend "Hey you done using the john?" guess what? That breaks immersion doesn't it?

UGC is the only way that MMO's are going to thrive and evolve and the thought that anybody would say anything bad about it is laughable and downright silly. Should there be regulations? Yes. That's what a wonderful report button is for. Also the best part of UGC? You don't have to take part in it! You don't have to swallow it. Move along. If it is inappropriate then yes do something but otherwise your idea of immersion? Isn't everybody else idea of immersion.

The only true immersion is a book. When you throw people into the mix in any form, immersion is going to go poof.

End Rant....

Which brings me to my positive part of my post. UGC is a beautiful thing.

I quote Charles Caleb Colton. "Imitation is the sincerest of flattery."

An original idea is a rare thing, everything has been done under the sun. Now taking an idea and innovating or adding a fresh idea to it can be a amazing and bring something into new heights never conceived. People who take the painstaking time to learn how to work these developers tools, are not there to make something to ruin your day. They want to contribute in form of story telling or for the sake of fun.

As Victor pointed out that any idea can be changed and twisted to fit within the conforms of said reality. Giving that reality a fresh fun idea. You don't like "Bored of the Rings" then don't play it. Don't say it breaks immersion. Then come up with your own original idea and submit it for scrutiny and see how many holes are punched into your idea.

Maybe its a masterpiece? Well done, you just successfully contributed to the community and helped preserve your game world.

MMORPG Gamers/Developers need a reality check!


Elite Member

Joined: 5/12/10
Posts: 2667

7/13/13 4:05:31 AM#6

Though I agree that immersion is important and breaking it can harm the experience, I don't think all the examples are fit...


Bored of the Rings is a nifty little mission where a mage sends the player on a quest to destroy a ring. As you wrote, it's plausible and not breaking the world, it's just funny and a nice mocking of LotR :) I mean yep, you should drop the ring into the lava, there's a fight on a stone bridge with a big monsta called Ralbog, and you stumble upon a little pale fella all the time... still, it's a common working day of an adventurer in a D&D world.


Trek allows even more (your borg mission sounds decent as well), and I don't mean just the holodeck with Picard's adventures as Dix, Data as Sherlock, heck, Reg Broccoli even created alternate realities with the crewmembers... What I mean is Kirk and Spock in the 3rd (or 4th) Reich, even that wasn't immersion breaking, it was an official episode. And since you can create holodeck mission in the Foundry where literally anything goes, it's great to see that most missions are lore appropriate in there. STO Foundry people, /prosper :)


In TSW, the whole gameworld is based on the actual world, with the additional "everything is real". I don't think a whip, a fedora, and a train to Cairo would be immersion breaking :) but that's maybe just me.


Novice Member

Joined: 10/19/09
Posts: 957

7/13/13 10:49:57 AM#7
UGC in MMO's (done right) is win, win. Neverwinter is a great example of allowing players to share their stories without allowing exploits & generally the descriptions are honest (does it follow D&D lore, is it a parody etc) because in the end users are rating the content. Immersion be damned, UGC is great.

Elite Member

Joined: 1/06/05
Posts: 18485

7/13/13 12:14:19 PM#8

Can’t a world that amalgamates high fantasy and steampunk, with some fictional maneuvering, enjoy the equivalent of a cola or a coffee that comes from something that looks like a real-world vending machine if that very machine’s roleplaying backstory is that it’s a steampunk or magical artifice?


Well, yes, of course.

It's one of my issues with some roleplayers as some think that any inclusion of "anything" that doesn't fit their "game world view" will wreck roleplay. Even so far as to say "if the mmo has a pre-made story it ruins roleplay" (SWToR for example).

and this is rubbish. I've attended many improvised theater performances where the spine of the story as well as "what happens" is already written (had to, a few were musicals ) but it was up to the performers to get us to these story points.

Same goes with anachronism. Again, part of learning improv is to be able to take disparate story elements and make them work in the moment.

And the same goes with writing or video games. The creators have to make a plausible reason why a Star Bucks exists while knights wait for their lemon cake and their buddy is starting their 1930's car outside.

All of this can work.

However, it doesn't mean we are going to like it.

I suppose part of it could be how serious the game world is viewed. I think the more comic a game world is, the easier we can accept what is going on or at least the easier was can buy into the fun of it.

However, if players are looking for a more earnest game play experience where they can start and grow a character they might not want to buy into a game that has a giant, dangerous dungeon crawl only to find the reason the dungeon has attracted so many "big bads" is because at the end there is a giant "Soft Serve Ice Cream Maker".

and evil just LOVES its soft serve.


Hard Core Member

Joined: 9/27/12
Posts: 332

Why is it said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Is there a shortage of bad ones?

7/13/13 2:17:00 PM#9

In my mind I see immersion in a different light.. its not about the random events, its not the lore as in WoW, its not about coffee shops..


Its about pulling a player into the game to give them the best experience possible. Star Citizen with its focus on the Occulus Rift to give players the feel of being "in" the universe is a great example of this. I know of few if any games that truly try to pull a player into the game.


Visual models need to feel "real" whether its a cartoonish character in WOW or a high detail 10 million polygons per facet character in Star Citizen. The whole 3d failure tried to do this with the stereotropic glasses and 120hz monitors/Televisions. It just didnt feel like I was in the game. sure it made it look like it was popped out but that was it.

Now in the case of Star Citizen... you wear the Occulus VR Helm, look around in game and its full panoramic view field. with a surround sound system you could almost feel like you are in the game...  now they just need to get the feel of it through our brains and a smell - o-graphic simulator and itd be true immersion.

I understand a players need to have simulated content, personally i liked the Harris Pilton humor character in Shatrath City. It was a nice parody these things have their place, however I wouldnt call it even partial immersion.


Immersing:  To engage wholly or deeply; absorb


That definition doesnt happen in many games WoW included not wholly. they try but really i dont feel like i am being pulled into any game... I followed the lore and loved it of WoW.. that has changed over the years as they went Monty Python and twisted it into stupidity but thats normal for anything long lived.


For Full Immersion it will be many years before it happens and no crafting system, coffee shop, nor character is going to pull a player fully into a game.


Played: UO, LotR, WoW, SWG, DDO, AoC, EVE, Warhammer, TF2, EQ2, SWTOR, TSW, CSS, KF, L4D, AoW, WoT

Playing: The Secret World until Citadel of Sorcery goes into Alpha testing.

Tired of: Linear quest games, dailies, and dumbed down games

Anticipating:Citadel of Sorcery


Apprentice Member

Joined: 3/09/05
Posts: 288

7/15/13 8:54:23 PM#10

One person's immersion is another person's "Oh, c'mon."


Likewise, one person's infringement (barring sometimes debatable legalities) is another person's homage -- and that goes for the actual devs, for what it's worth, too.  


There are many a random NPC named archly after a random character out of fantasy or science fiction lore from another property.  Is this an easter egg?  Homage?  Or just lore-breaking, immersion breaking, goddammit the devs couldn't think of another NPC name to save their lives that day event?


Barring extremes, it comes down to taste.  If you allow user created content, without editorial control, eventually you will end up in Second Life. :)


Novice Member

Joined: 7/31/04
Posts: 38

7/16/13 8:05:18 AM#11
I personally think you can't derive much immersion from an MMO world unless it's a close-knit game where everyone is forced to adopt a roleplay persona. Basically what MUDs did. That said, I personally dislike it when developers add vanity items to an MMO that totally and utterly screw with the setting, such as modern sunglasses and outfits in an otherwise medieval themed game. That's my personal pet peeve, even though I like playing silly dress-up from time to time.

Apprentice Member

Joined: 2/13/12
Posts: 243

7/16/13 9:04:52 AM#12

Zoning.  Works for municipalities (except Houston).

I agree with previous posters. No restrictions on building and you will end up with a poor copy of 2nd life.

One thing we are doing in our project is restricting what you can add based on the zone make up. Ex. Forest Region can only have certain types of structures, traps, and creatures.






Apprentice Member

Joined: 12/06/05
Posts: 134

7/16/13 7:39:15 PM#13

As the comments show immersion is really too subjective to bother talking about.  Get 1000 people together and you'll have 1000 vehemently held and defended opinions all professing to be "right"


For one person "immersion" has to mean that you are living in the holodeck and feeling real pain if you get hit - anything "less" isnt "immersive".  For another person it is incredibly important how people speak in game and if they ever speak out of character there is no immersion


For other folks it is about how "into" the game they get.  This is something which has really almost nothing to do with anyone other than them and how much the game managed to align with sensibilities that they may not even know they had.


And yet even given all of the above, there are people that are just fine with the Starbucks opening up in ArchAge even as some hulk out over it because they have an anti-globalist agenda that they cant leave behind.


"Immersion"?  There is no such thing.  It is everything and nothing.  No single game feature either can make or break it since any single game feature is both making it and breaking it depending on who you ask.