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Default Iron Tower Studio - Creating an "Immersive" CRPG

May 20th, 2008, 15:37
Over at the Iron Tower forums, Vince D. Weller has opened a new section called the Depository to hold reasoned RPG design papers. A handful of articles from Vince are already there (older ones we have mostly linked before) but Scars of War developer Gareth Fouche has added Creating an Immersive CRPG. Since we've agued about that dirty word here before, let's start with his intro:
So, immersion. Immersion's really great, isn't it? To immerse. To be immersed in…stuff. Who wouldn't want that, am I right? Certainly marketers and PR people know this. Every game that comes out these days promises to immerse your pants right off you. That's right. Your pants. Immersed right off your body. That is the kind of powerful…force we are talking about here.

Well, it would probably help to define immersion a bit more specifically so that I can stop using ellipses. The dictionary defines immersion as the "state of being deeply engaged or involved". Hmmm. Deeply engaged? Clearly this is a state of being that can only be induced via Pixel Shader 3 effects. DirectX 10 must be required, surely? Perhaps not. Certainly good graphics help, just as great audio does, but are those aspects all or even most of the story? I don't think so. Books can certainly immerse you. It's easy to find a good book, one that grabs you and plunges you into a world where you forget that it's 3 o clock and you have to go fetch your kids from school, and then the school councilor wants to have a chat with you and the people from social welfare. You can also certainly get immersed in your pen and paper role playing game, with nary a "bumpmap" in sight, unless you count the pockmarked skin of your obese cousin who is, disturbingly, roleplaying a dainty female elven ranger.

Given these facts I am convinced, despite the enthusiastic claims of our friends in PR, that great graphics are not the be-all and end-all of "Immersion". They aren't even necessary. So what is? I'm glad you asked, because otherwise I'd be without a topic for my article.
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May 20th, 2008, 15:37
Aside from the fact that I'd personally never hold Diablo, or even one focused aspect of Diablo, up as a fine example of immersion, if only on principle, I found I agreed with this entire article and enjoyed the read. Thanks for the heads up.
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May 20th, 2008, 16:18
Given these facts I am convinced, despite the enthusiastic claims of our friends in PR, that great graphics are not the be-all and end-all of "Immersion". They aren't even necessary.
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May 20th, 2008, 16:24
When comes an article out on the power of the PR people ?

When I consider everything, marketing and finances have SUCH a lot of power in defining gaming …

Is it even justified at all ?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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May 20th, 2008, 16:45
Thanks guys.

Aside from the fact that I'd personally never hold Diablo, or even one focused aspect of Diablo, up as a fine example of immersion, if only on principle, I found I agreed with this entire article and enjoyed the read.
Well, no game ever appeals to everyone, no matter how you design it. But Diablo is a good example of a consistent aesthetic, setting wise. Compare it to say Sacred, which has vampires, battlemages, dark elves and sci-fi angel amazons… it's just a mish-mash.

Is it even justified at all ?
Unfortunately, like many things in life, what is "justifiable" is often trumped by money, who has it and what makes more of it.

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May 20th, 2008, 19:23
IMO, there will never be a definition of immersion adequate enough to please everyone, because some players have a greater capacity for it than others. They're the ones who experience immersion emotionally as well as intellectually.

It's very much like the problem of trying to define art and for the same reason. But while art can be defined simply as a means for accommodating those who struggle to appreciate it (art as simply anything that provokes thought or feeling), immersion really cannot.

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May 20th, 2008, 19:24
Can you dig it?
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May 20th, 2008, 20:12
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
Unfortunately, like many things in life, what is "justifiable" is often trumped by money, who has it and what makes more of it.
Yes, but this is not really what I meant. I rather meant the PR inside of companies, like, let's say, fractions, or divisions.
Not the whole company (including the PR) as such.

How do gaming PR people view themselves, for example ?

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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May 21st, 2008, 00:02
Originally Posted by Naked Ninja View Post
Well, no game ever appeals to everyone, no matter how you design it. But Diablo is a good example of a consistent aesthetic, setting wise.
Indeed, and I wasn't really holding it against the article. I just felt I had to make that comment in order to satisfy my own personal shoulder-chip against a game that I considered, at the time, to be at the forefront of dumbing-down and actioning-up of my favorite gaming genre. (And despite my grief against Diablo, I still purchased and enjoyed it and its sequel.)

Originally Posted by Squeek
IMO, there will never be a definition of immersion adequate enough to please everyone, because some players have a greater capacity for it than others. They're the ones who experience immersion emotionally as well as intellectually.
This has to be, in my mind, a major factor in this discussion. When I try to explain to non-gamers, casual gamers, or even gamers who have been at it nearly as long as I have, the experiences I've had gaming, they just look at me like I'm a nut. Heck, even I have to admit it sounds a little scary and/or pathetic when I mention gaming experiences where I was so immersed that I later recalled the fictional events, briefly, as personal memories. Novels, as much as I love them, have never done that for me. But that's why gaming is so fun for me (especially now that I no longer find the time to play pen and paper campaigns). For my personal tastes, immersion trumps all other gaming benefits, including challenge, which is what many people understandably consider the ultimate reason for playing games.
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May 21st, 2008, 10:55
Originally Posted by Guhndahb View Post
When I try to explain to non-gamers, casual gamers, or even gamers who have been at it nearly as long as I have, the experiences I've had gaming, they just look at me like I'm a nut.
I have experienced a similar thing.

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction. (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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