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Default The uncertain future of Immersive Sims

November 20th, 2017, 11:20
Originally Posted by Zloth View Post
Wow, this topic sure got hopping!

System Shock vs. Doom: Doom had incredible graphics for the time and really took off with its shareware system letting you play a BIG chunk of the game for free. I never heard of System Shock 1 until I saw "remember Citadel" scrawled on a wall in System Shock 2.
Actually, it was Doom 2 that it was up against

I can clearly remember pirating both the very same day. I ended up buying System Shock, however.

But there's really no doubt that Doom was a lot more accessible and impressive to a layman. Even at release, System Shock looked a bit weird - and it was very hard to control properly if you had limited experience with complicated keyboard setups.

I can easily imagine the mainstream gamer being turned off almost immediately when contrasted with the lovely shooty and ultra-smooth Doom.

That's something we've been complaining about for a long time - and probably always will. We're enthusiasts. We're happy not just to sink a lot of hours into a game but to sink a lot of consecutive hours in! Imagine trying to play Deus Ex for just a couple of hours every other Saturday. I doubt I could do it. I wouldn't remember who was who, or what skills have been really good for me. Adding complexity makes a game harder to put down and pick up again.
Yeah, my limited free time is the primary reason I don't game that much anymore. It just doesn't appeal to me when I can't lose myself in a great experience.

Regarding BioShock - remember that game didn't have a whole lot of complexity in it. There were just a few classes of plasmid and you levelled those up. Also, the real depth of the story was left in recordings (as it was with System Shock) so players that really couldn't care less could easily skip them all. If you want a big hit, you've got to hit the sweet spot where the game isn't so simple as to be boring but not so complex that people get scared of it. (Lucky for us, not everyone is trying to make a big hit.)
Bioshock had plenty complexity for a straight-up shooter - which it was marketed as. It was a shooter first and foremost - and it was pretty polished and streamlined.

The problem with Prey, for instance, is that it doesn't really introduce itself as a shooter - but almost immediately becomes more complex than it needs to be, if you want to appeal wide.

Regarding the genre - I didn't hear about it until PC Gamer wrote an article on it a few years ago. It still seems pointless to me. Giving me skills and levelling up doesn't make a shooter any more immersive, IMHO. But then, Thief doesn't even have that and it's counted as an IS. The wiki article points at the freedom to solve problems in multiple ways. But what game doesn't do that? In a shooter you'll probably have multiple guns that require different strategies to use. RPGs will have a variety of skills to let you overcome obsticals in different ways. I can look at a game and decide if it has "RPG elements" for certain and I can argue that it has enough of them to be counted as an RPG but I don't really know how to do that with immersive sims.
I don't think people are really getting it. The skills and levels aren't the "immersive" part. They were just part of the first recognised immersive sim, Ultima Underworld.

They weren't a part of System Shock or Thief - for instance.

The people largely responsible for the genre, Looking Glass/Blue Sky, went on to evolve the genre in certain ways, either at Looking Glass or other companies they'd joined.

For instance, Warren Spector made Deus Ex based on the exact same principles at Ion Storm. LG and Irrational worked together for SS2 - and so on.

The immersive part is about…. immersion. At the time, it was about trying to create a realistic first-person environment and simulating a large variety of "realistic" responses and gameplay opportunities. This includes stuff like lighting and physics - as well as gameplay opportunities to take over security and hack into robots, etc. Also, a lot of work went into realistic directional sound - like in Thief which is the first game I know which used that to GREAT effect.

Those things might seem common today - and especially if you're an RPG fan where complexities like that are within the norm. But back in the early 90s - a realistic first-person environment like that was ANYTHING but the norm, believe me.

The ultimate goal was to let the player do what he wanted, without being opposed by artificial restrictions which were so prominent in other shooters or similar kinds of games. They were also among the first to talk about "emergent gameplay" as a result of a realistic world simulation. It really was a distinct approach and one which wasn't easily described using standard genre designations.

The games in question, Thief, Deus Ex, System Shock and Underworld - were all primarily focused on providing the player with a fully immersive experience with a strong world simulation.

Not a lot of games have done that - and most shooters don't bother with any kind of sophisticated simulation. Back in the day, normal shooters didn't have anything like realistic physics or movement.

Personally, I think it's a very appropriate term - and though I don't fret about genres, I definitely think it's helpful in communicating what kind of game we're talking about.

For instance, if I heard an upcoming space shooter was a "hybrid" - I would have no idea what that meant, really. Other than it was more than a shooter.

If I heard it was an immersive sim, I would immediately understand a lot more - and I would have a reason to be interested, as a big fan of the genre.

Surprising to me that people are bothered by such an appropriate term.

Also, once again - it's not like being an immersive sim means it can't also be a hybrid. It's just a way of communicating that the game is going to have many of those elements I talked about.
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November 21st, 2017, 04:28
The problem with Prey, for instance, is that it doesn't really introduce itself as a shooter - but almost immediately becomes more complex than it needs to be, if you want to appeal wide.
More complex than needed? I've got to get this game!

OK, so an immersive sim ideal is to strive to get as many player-imagined solutions in as possible. Obviously we're not even remotely close to being able to put all of them on a computer yet but an immersive sim will at least try to make several possible and will regret it if a lot of players think of another solution and can't do it in the game.
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November 21st, 2017, 04:43
Well the first challenge has nothing to do with shooting and was a real mind fuck. Fantastic!
Last edited by Thrasher; November 21st, 2017 at 06:45.
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November 21st, 2017, 04:47
Challenge? In Prey? You sure we play(ed) the same game?
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November 21st, 2017, 10:40
OK, so an immersive sim ideal is to strive to get as many player-imagined solutions in as possible. Obviously we're not even remotely close to being able to put all of them on a computer yet but an immersive sim will at least try to make several possible and will regret it if a lot of players think of another solution and can't do it in the game.
It sounds like you're deliberately ignoring what I'm trying to say - and what the genre is about - in an effort to support your irrational dislike for a couple of words that can't possibly affect you in any way

To each his own!
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November 21st, 2017, 12:15
Well, count me as a fan of Immersive Sims. I fired up System Shock 2 for an hour and was giggling like a 12 year old schoolgirl gamer!

Don't have time just yet for a full-blown romp through the space station, though. But it looks really promising.

Immersive Sims seem to have lots of buttons to push and thingies to activate, etc.. I love that about games like SS2. That adds to the immersion IMO.
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November 21st, 2017, 12:37
Originally Posted by Fluent View Post
Well, count me as a fan of Immersive Sims. I fired up System Shock 2 for an hour and was giggling like a 12 year old schoolgirl gamer!

Don't have time just yet for a full-blown romp through the space station, though. But it looks really promising.

Immersive Sims seem to have lots of buttons to push and thingies to activate, etc.. I love that about games like SS2. That adds to the immersion IMO.
Savor the experience! It's not a very long game, so you should be able to finish it
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November 21st, 2017, 19:39
System Shock 2 is a great treat!
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November 23rd, 2017, 22:43
Originally Posted by NewDArt View Post
As for the genre, it's described here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersive_sim
Most of these games I'd classify simply as shooters, still.
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November 24th, 2017, 07:57
Originally Posted by NewDArt View Post
Savor the experience! It's not a very long game, so you should be able to finish it
I finish long games, too. But if I jump in right now, I probably won't finish ELEX. And I'm pretty sure after ELEX, I'm going to either finish Drakensang (or start over) or start River of Time for the first time. There's also an NWN 2 module I want to play soon. But SS2 is up there on the list.

Game overload, really.
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November 24th, 2017, 08:25
Originally Posted by NewDArt View Post
A proper educational marketing campaign is definitely one way. Some kind of clever tutorial is another.
You do this, and everyone will cry, "You have an Agenda! Fake news!" People are suspicious as well as dumb.

Also, I'm not sure I like the term "immersive sim". But I've heard worse. I prefer putting games into multiple genres than insisting on a game fitting into only one genre, always.
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