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Phaserlight, I think maybe he means that he would rather toss all the meaningless sidequests that are mostly formulaic and repetitive (at every quest hub the cycle just starts again) and replace it with longer and more complex main story arc. I guess people tend to get more invested in the main story arc and couldn't give a rat's tail about killing/collecting X of X at X before X can happen at every hub. For the quests which are blatantly fillers, people tend to just "follow the arrows".
The worst is when people start following the arrows for the main quest arc as well because they are so used to it, or because the main quest arc becomes unengaging. Then all that effort put in by the developers is actually wasted.
Food for thought, especially for empty stomaches!
I find a good story with interesting conversations, lore references and characters really sucks me in or sandbox freedom to do what you want is also very immersive as is heart-pumping pvp in a dangerous kneck of the woods. As stated in the article when the props and tropes become too visible then they loose their immersive quality of suspension of disbelief. Watch a movie too many times and the actors impact feels lessened no matter how good the lines or the acting or plot.
I think an mmo needs that balance of lots of little things to keep tinkering away at as well as branching or even web-spanning cause and effect to the grand narrative so that the world feels in motion in different dimensions and scales to the player: The wheels within wheels effect.
Some good games, the more micro you go the more there is to see/do/learn/improve where originally you saw the original pattern or overarching goal and thought that simple overlay was all there was to have a go at. I think mmorpgs because they try to start from so large there's probably more places for water leaks of immersion to spring/seep from and immersion like water always finds the smallest hole drain out of!
I also think a range of activities at any one time available for players is important so that players feel a bit like a compass and any direction their mind or movement takes them there is an "arrow" telling something interesting leads that way in stead of no matter where you move what you do the compass always faces North as it were, is the prevalent feeling with a lot of mmorpgs.
Having just watched total biscuit play guild wars (both pve and pvp) I have to say, on the surface it does look simpler ... but there was a lot of button changing (sub menus or button swapping) going on (by mashing another button). I do have to agree with you that there may be too many buttons in some games (like i play mostly wow). On my screen I have 4 rows of 12 buttons (plus menu stuff and stance stuff and pet stuff) and one of the 12 rows will change to show more buttons with the alt key, the ctl key and the shift key. There are buttons I have never pushed (I think) But I still must have them. I must have a button for each skill I learn (I have (1-=).(q - ]),( a - .) and f1 to f12 for the 4 rows (the F keys also work for the 3 hidden rows).
But I need these buttons. The more complex my character is the more immersed in the game I am. The buttons are just a means to control "Me". The complexity of my characters skills and such is part of the immersion (to me). Having to plan an attack or react quickly to one is what makes it immersive. It is a game after all and you have to play to have fun.
I use my immagination with books and the like, but I don't "play" them. You and others speak of the immersion and immagination of the old paper and pencil fantasy games ... I am old enough but never played them. I tried a couple of text based computer games (boring). I suppose when I was younger, I got immersed with my toy trucks and soldiers and etc, but I don't want a game of dolls. I like the complexity of wow. People ( as well as my characters) are complex. To me that is more real than some simple to play games (like mario). Maybe I am just wierd, but I get imersed in the complexity of my character as much as in the scenery and environment and ... all that the game is.
Don't get me wrong ... I would much rather have thought control or virtual reality gear or ???? to control my characters actions, but alas sadly my computer only has buttons on the keyboard and a mouse. Some games (wow for instance) do a great job of giving me the most flexible control. I am immersed
If Ya Ain't Dyin, Ya Ain't Tryin
I believe it's because the industry (as a whole) is generally moving away from the MMORPG theme towards the MMO-FPS, MMO-esports, MMO-action, MMO-wargame, MMO-competitive-play formula. For all of those immersion just doesn't matter.
I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.
I come from a background of Japanese SNES and PSOne RPGs and always loved to immerse myself into the storyline. You're right about the part where button mashing is taking up too significant a space in your head so that your immersion gets screwed up. I'd prefer some better storytelling and less button combinations to remember.
Boy, how I agree! With my one hotbar in EQ1 I actually got to see the dungeon, the mobs I was killing, and the players around me. In EQ2 with eight hotbars, I couldn't tell you what the mob or dungeon really looked like as I am too focused on pushing the right buttons.
Play on a Persistent World in Neverwinter Nights, then you will understand what immersion should be
@Storm_seer -- I played a few persistent worlds in NWN. Immersion in those depended a great deal on how the world had been built. Some seemed to be little more than MMO-attempts, but the better ones had a level of GM involvement that you simply can't get in a standard MMO.
I loved NWN, but I don't use those persistent worlds for comparison with MMOs because they're not close enough to do so. Doesn't mean I didn't have a great deal of fun running my own (and other people's) stuff.
good article, before I even read what you wrote I thought of what immersion meant to me, and the following words drifted into my mind; adventure, danger, survival, heroic. These kinds of terms really take you away if you're reading or listening to a story, watching a show or playing a game. A game that is able to capture these types of elements is a keeper. Tough challenge for a developer
I don't know about this, because you did hit the biggest and most important point in your first paragraph:
Immersion means different things to different people, and acheiving immersion requires different things for different people.
I grant you, in the few times I had gone back to WoW in basically each expansion, no I stopped feeling immersed fairly early on. And yeah I remember back in AC when even running something like the Lugian citadel for someone underleveled was far less taxing and memory intensive, though I would argue that watching your stamina bar wear down each attack could take me out of it just as easily. What immersed me in AC wasn't the combat ever, nor the enemies, but the world. The mountains, running across the desert plains to that lone city so you could set your portal there.
And honestly, when I was playing EvE that im,mersion was one of the reasons I kept playing it for as long as I did. I don't think any MMO has ever gotten me to feel as alone as I have out in 0.0 space, watching anyone pop into local and trying to figure out if they're a spy, a neutral, an ally of an ally that's just passing through, dropping whatever you're doing and aligning to a safespot while scanning the whole system as fast as you can for any new signatures, was that crusader always on my scan?
And that was the world there that immersed me, now the combat some of it made sense, much did not and that's fine, but it wasn't the combat that immersed me into making my imagination bubble. And that's what it comes down to, is that different things can and will immerse different people, and immerse them in different ways.
In short, I think I finally realize what's been nagging at me after every post I've read of yours. Some of the things you say I thump my chest and agree wholeheartedly, some of the things you say I simply don't. And that's because you're speaking for a segment on the gaming population, not all of it, and I'm not exactly in it. And that's fine, because it's your perspective, and I do welcome reading how gaming affects other segments of the population and how you react to it. I just wish you wouldn't dismiss things as though everyone else obviously holds your opinion as well, because honestly, that's just too much of a gamer cliche.
@Ph33les -- "I just wish you wouldn't dismiss things as though everyone else obviously holds your opinion as well, because honestly, that's just too much of a gamer cliche."
I think that's rather unfair. I don't dismiss anyone else's opinions. However, I *am* paid to write about my own, and if I spent all my columns disclaiming or considering every other point of view, that's all I'd be doing.
You are of course entitled to your experience and your own [insert whatever]. I'm equally entitled to feel you're being as unfair to me here as I try to be fair to other points of view. Difference being it's mine they hired me to write about, so that's what I do. Not sure what else I could do. /confused
And in any case my tenure here may not go on that much longer, so maybe the next columnist will be more to your tastes.