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Questing and atmosphere, how important are they to your immersion?

cutthecrapcutthecrap nobusinessofyoursPosts: 600Member

There are many ways that can increase atmosphere in an MMORPG, and they're often not the same for everyone. Since we're all slightly different wired, and what does it for one person can leave another person completely indifferent and unaffected.

The beta gameplay I did of GW2 and TSW recently made me think of it.

TSW isn't exactly a horror game - a good example of a pure horror game would be Amnesia or Silent Hill - but it does have this lingering suspense and sense of foreboding at least to me that permeates the atmosphere in the areas you wander around in. It was in TSW that I noticed how quests when designed right can really add to that mood and vibe of an area. When I followed the mesmerising Siren Song, or tried to solve a serial killing that happened in Kingsmouth years ago by uncovering clues (definitely not a walk in the park as most quests in other MMO's), even on purpose died in order to search for the next clues in ghost form, these quests managed to gradually strengthen the otherworldly detached, suspenseful atmosphere that I felt the town gave off. It surprised me that the quests helped to do it, but I liked it.

Sort of the same but in a wholly different way was in GW2: how the human capital was built, the reactions of NPC's, even the DE's in Queensdale, altogether they managed to give me the vibe that GW's pre-Searing area gave off.

 

On reflection, I had the same in some other MMO's, when the designers have managed to do something just exactly right to deliver - to me - a strong, dominant atmosphere in an area: I had it when I wandered around in AoC in the Cimmerian region in the snowy mountains, when the music grew louder - some of the best ingame music I've heard - it really felt like Conan's Hyboria. And the same with when I first approached the cities of Stormwind and Ironforge or wandered through Teldrassil, with the great background music it really felt magnificent.

It doesn't happen often that an atmosphere feels just right and impressive, that's why those moments stick to memory. I'm glad that the new upcoming MMO's manage to deliver with it too.

 

But everyone is wired slightly different, this is what did it for me. What were moments in your MMO gaming life that you recall that the atmosphere really hit right for you? And did questing ever gave you that vibe? And did you feel it too with the new MMO's, that the atmosphere really got to you equaling memorable times in MMO's of your past?

Comments

  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,669Member Uncommon

    The only quests that drew me further into the game world were live event type things. Static quests have always reminded me that it's a game. Atmosphere and 'immersion' are pretty much the same thing, the latter just being a word created to define the impact of the amosphere of a virtual world. 

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • ZylaxxZylaxx Erlanger, KYPosts: 2,574Member

    I think both are to a large degree. I'll give you an example for each.

     

    Rift is a very polished game, done exceedingly well and has great features. But I only played for 1month post release because

    A. The game is to small and the lore could of been written by a 5th grader.

    and

    B. The questing is nothing more then running from hub to hub, which ruins any immersion I might have with the zone as there is ZERO need to explore and see any other parts other then where my quest tracker sends me.

     

     

    Atmosphere can be best attained through exploration in a LARGE world.  I consider both to go hand in hand.  Removal of quest hubs...or more like Fed-Ex or Kill Task Hubs gets characters out in the world.  When a game has great atmosphere I think it also has great questing with as little hand holding as possible.  Look at Asherons Call, a game which has both atmosphere and great questing.

    Everything you need to know about Elder Scrolls Online

    Playing: GW2
    Waiting on: TESO
    Next Flop: Planetside 2
    Best MMO of all time: Asheron's Call - The first company to recreate AC will be the next greatest MMO.

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  • delete5230delete5230 Posts: 2,963Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by cutthecrap

    There are many ways that can increase atmosphere in an MMORPG, and they're often not the same for everyone. Since we're all slightly different wired, and what does it for one person can leave another person completely indifferent and unaffected.

    The beta gameplay I did of GW2 and TSW recently made me think of it.

    TSW isn't exactly a horror game - a good example of a pure horror game would be Amnesia or Silent Hill - but it does have this lingering suspense and sense of foreboding at least to me that permeates the atmosphere in the areas you wander around in. It was in TSW that I noticed how quests when designed right can really add to that mood and vibe of an area. When I followed the mesmerising Siren Song, or tried to solve a serial killing that happened in Kingsmouth years ago by uncovering clues (definitely not a walk in the park as most quests in other MMO's), even on purpose died in order to search for the next clues in ghost form, these quests managed to gradually strengthen the otherworldly detached, suspenseful atmosphere that I felt the town gave off. It surprised me that the quests helped to do it, but I liked it.

    Sort of the same but in a wholly different way was in GW2: how the human capital was built, the reactions of NPC's, even the DE's in Queensdale, altogether they managed to give me the vibe that GW's pre-Searing area gave off.

     

    On reflection, I had the same in some other MMO's, when the designers have managed to do something just exactly right to deliver - to me - a strong, dominant atmosphere in an area: I had it when I wandered around in AoC in the Cimmerian region in the snowy mountains, when the music grew louder - some of the best ingame music I've heard - it really felt like Conan's Hyboria. And the same with when I first approached the cities of Stormwind and Ironforge or wandered through Teldrassil, with the great background music it really felt magnificent.

    It doesn't happen often that an atmosphere feels just right and impressive, that's why those moments stick to memory. I'm glad that the new upcoming MMO's manage to deliver with it too.

     

    But everyone is wired slightly different, this is what did it for me. What were moments in your MMO gaming life that you recall that the atmosphere really hit right for you? And did questing ever gave you that vibe? And did you feel it too with the new MMO's, that the atmosphere really got to you equaling memorable times in MMO's of your past?

    I'm not to smart.  But I do know I like hot wings !!!

  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,919Member Uncommon

    I find questing has the largest contribution to the feeling of being in a world when I am not forced to do it, and when the motivation for doing it is something related to in-game achievement not just XP progression.

     

    OP mentioned AOC for atmosphere.  I agree.  It too is by far my favorate in terms of quest mechanics.  Entrance into Tortage felt like a tutorial, but beyond that I actually found myself wanting to do quests because the storyline pulled me into the game world as my character not just as a player of a character.  For me it didn't feel like game mechanics, it felt like a world.

     

    I don't solidly understand immersion;  If I did I'd be a whiz-designer which I'm not.  However, I can share how I identify an immersion event.  For me immersion creates a time distortion effect where I am so engrossed in a game that I lose track of time in the real world.  Perhaps others have experienced this.  I sit down to play and become so involved in gameplay that after playing what feels like an hour or two, I realize that I've been playing for more like four or five hours.

     

    The mechanism by which immersion happens I credit as being a displacement, or more like replacement, of reality where the game world becomes real and I am the character in the world.  It's a fantastic feeling but can be a bit eerie when gaming is finished because there is an unplugging effect where getting back into reality is uncomfortable because the gaming experience has been so overwhelming.  I'm guessing it's a game induced psychosis, and although that might sound unhealthy it's a fantastic experience.

     

    Overall, I'd say that the combination of questing when done right, and immersion when it is achieved by whatever means, combine into an outstanding gaming experience.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • XAPKenXAPKen Northwest, INPosts: 4,919Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Zylaxx

     

     

    B. The questing is nothing more then running from hub to hub, which ruins any immersion I might have with the zone as there is ZERO need to explore and see any other parts other then where my quest tracker sends me.

     

    I agree.  Mechanical questing feels to me like a contradiction of being in a world.  Honestly I prefer GW style collectors where they say very little, there is minimal connection to storyline, and they tell me they'll trade me a choice of weapon in exchange for 8 wolf kidneys.  At least then I'm grinding mobs because I have a motivation to do so.


    Ken Fisher - Semi retired old fart Network Administrator, now turned Amateur Game Developer.  I don't Forum PVP.  If you feel I've attacked you, it was probably by accident.  Realm Lords 2 on MMORPG.com
  • LoktofeitLoktofeit Stone Mountain, GAPosts: 13,669Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by delete5230
    Originally posted by cutthecrap

    There are many ways that can increase atmosphere in an MMORPG, and they're often not the same for everyone. Since we're all slightly different wired, and what does it for one person can leave another person completely indifferent and unaffected.

    The beta gameplay I did of GW2 and TSW recently made me think of it.

    TSW isn't exactly a horror game - a good example of a pure horror game would be Amnesia or Silent Hill - but it does have this lingering suspense and sense of foreboding at least to me that permeates the atmosphere in the areas you wander around in. It was in TSW that I noticed how quests when designed right can really add to that mood and vibe of an area. When I followed the mesmerising Siren Song, or tried to solve a serial killing that happened in Kingsmouth years ago by uncovering clues (definitely not a walk in the park as most quests in other MMO's), even on purpose died in order to search for the next clues in ghost form, these quests managed to gradually strengthen the otherworldly detached, suspenseful atmosphere that I felt the town gave off. It surprised me that the quests helped to do it, but I liked it.

    Sort of the same but in a wholly different way was in GW2: how the human capital was built, the reactions of NPC's, even the DE's in Queensdale, altogether they managed to give me the vibe that GW's pre-Searing area gave off.

     

    On reflection, I had the same in some other MMO's, when the designers have managed to do something just exactly right to deliver - to me - a strong, dominant atmosphere in an area: I had it when I wandered around in AoC in the Cimmerian region in the snowy mountains, when the music grew louder - some of the best ingame music I've heard - it really felt like Conan's Hyboria. And the same with when I first approached the cities of Stormwind and Ironforge or wandered through Teldrassil, with the great background music it really felt magnificent.

    It doesn't happen often that an atmosphere feels just right and impressive, that's why those moments stick to memory. I'm glad that the new upcoming MMO's manage to deliver with it too.

     

    But everyone is wired slightly different, this is what did it for me. What were moments in your MMO gaming life that you recall that the atmosphere really hit right for you? And did questing ever gave you that vibe? And did you feel it too with the new MMO's, that the atmosphere really got to you equaling memorable times in MMO's of your past?

    I'm not to smart.  But I do know I like hot wings !!!

    I don't care for hot wings, even when the sauce is mild, which is odd because I do like chicken.

    There isn't a "right" or "wrong" way to play, if you want to use a screwdriver to put nails into wood, have at it, simply don't complain when the guy next to you with the hammer is doing it much better and easier. - Allein
    "Graphics are often supplied by Engines that (some) MMORPG's are built in" - Spuffyre

  • JC-SmithJC-Smith Chiang MaiPosts: 412Member Uncommon

    I don't think I've ever felt immersed by quests in an MMOG. I do them. I enjoy them, but they always seem like a task that I'm just doing to progress.

    That's not an easy problem to solve though. Cinematic effects can help immersion, but with the need for so many quests in an massive multiplayer game, it can become cost prohibitive.

  • DisdenaDisdena Troy, NYPosts: 1,093Member

    The problem I have with immersion through quests is that they end. Whether it's collect 12 imp tails or solve the mystery of the whatever and fight off a dracolich in an exploding fortress, there's a point where the quest ends and you very abruptly return to the status quo. Okay, you've successfully closed to portal to Xyzazth`qqa... now go back to crafting and poking around the auction house. It reinforces the fact that nothing's changed.

    Compare this to a single-player RPG, where you're given a goal and a boss, but everything changes after you complete that task. A new area opens, or a new character joins, or perhaps even the whole world changes and you can't ever go back to the way things were. An abrupt return to normalcy feels lame. This is probably the only nice thing I have to say about GW2's Dynamic Events: doing them is (potentially) your status quo, so you don't ever really have to feel like there's a point where you stop and go back to doing "the regular part of the game."

    Atmosphere is very important to immersion, but I have to say this does not have to mean a large world, an open world (no separate zones with obvious entrances/exits) or a seamless world (no loading times at zone boundaries). I think it's totally possible for strong immersion to occur in a world that meets none of those criteria.

    Originally posted by Zylaxx

    A. The game is to small and the lore could of been written by a 5th grader.

    image

    image
  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    The narrating DM in DDO was a really nice touch but maybe it was just the novelty. It really brought me back to my PnP games tho.

    I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been -Wayne Gretzky

  • tollboothtollbooth grants pass, ORPosts: 298Member

    I hate quest, I don't like that they are made into such a big part of games. 

  • TorikTorik London, ONPosts: 2,343Member Uncommon

    Immerson is different for different people.  Some people need everything to be just right in order to be immersed and their immersion breaks very easily.  Others only need a bit of imagination to be immersed in trivial activities and you need something really jarring to break their immersion.

    Personally, I find quests to be very immersive but straight-up XP grinding I can never get immersed in.

  • EdeusEdeus Stamford, CTPosts: 506Member

    The Mission quests and AF quests in FFXI really immersed me in that game.  They all had cutscenes, and defeating the Shadowlord was just really badass!  And you saw graphics and music made just for that cs and nowhere else in the game (making it seem extra special). 

    The AF quests, basically class specific armor questlines, were also really great because it made you feel like a blackmage, or a monk, or a darknight.  Some weren't even related to being a class, but were well written enough to make it interesting (see paladin AF quests).  They also made these armor quests not focused on attaining new armor themsevles, but solving a plot point in an npc sub-plot. 

    For example, helping a little boy go fishing with his dad, which leads to him wanting attention, which leads to uncovering a conspiracy within the palace royale family, which leads to betrayel, which leads to the prince rewarding you, which leads to the boy going fishing....  The attainment of armor was merely a side-piece to the story. 

    Those to me, plus all the little details put into the map design, and the 100s of subplots going on, really immersed me into FFXI.  Just don't see that too often anymore.  (especially not in WoW clones)

    Also, something in FFXI, is that every single NPC in the game is related to a quest/has a purpose in the game for some reason or another.  There are no filler npc's in the game at all!

     

    EDIT: if a modern MMO had the above, there is no doubt, I would be totally immersed in it. 

    image

    Taru-Gallante-Blood elf-Elysean-Kelari-Crime Fighting-Imperial Agent

  • AlBQuirkyAlBQuirky Sioux City, IAPosts: 3,828Member

    Quests that have my character actively doing things that make sense draw me in fast. In EQ, there were quests for a starting bard's instruments, quests to create a newbie player's armor, and even quests for songs or spells. In WoW, there were quests that introduced your player to new abilities or gave out nice equipment. Quests that involve killing x mobs or fed-x runs bore me and remind this is a game.

    Atmosphere is most important! Take living breathing worlds like Norrath (EQ) or Azeroth (WoW) and compare them to the antiseptic feel of SWTOR and the differences are amazing. Bugs whir, crickets chirp, dark is dark (or was in Norrath). Animals and NPCs seem to live on beyond interacting with the PC, birds screech and fly, bunnies hop about and sometimes get attacked by wolves. NPCs can say seemingly random things just because. Weather gives a sense of time, as do day and night cycles. Having the undead take over a zone between 8PM and 6AM makes the world alive.

    I'd say Questing and Atmosphere are the two most important factors for immersion for me. A very close third would be character creation...

    - Al

    Personally the only modern MMORPG trend that annoys me is the idea that MMOs need to be designed in a way to attract people who don't actually like MMOs. Which to me makes about as much sense as someone trying to figure out a way to get vegetarians to eat at their steakhouse.
    - FARGIN_WAR

  • maplestonemaplestone Ottawa, ONPosts: 3,099Member

    When quests and events are focused and polished, it can be great for immersion and (like the example of first wandering into a capital city) my imagination sees a whole world opening up and I couldn't care less that it's not actually a living breathing simulation.

    Once I've walked the same steps too many times to ignore how static the world and its troubles are, the immersion is lost in a "plastic copy of what I wanted" feel.

    I have to admit that I often underestimate the importance of sound - of musical queues and background "noise".  It's absorbed on an almost unconscious level, but the hum of frogs in a bog make it feel alive, the distant clatter of hoofbeats on cobblestones in a city make it feel inhabited, the regional background melodies make me imagine whole cultures and the fanfare of magestic themes at moments of triumph or tragedy create the illusion of whole chapters of grief or celebration.  And the "shark music" of an elite giant crashing through the nearby woods, or the hsss of a creeper priming to explode behind me ... that gets me twitching.

  • mmoguy43mmoguy43 , CAPosts: 2,442Member Uncommon

    I'll point out that it isn't always just being immersed in the game or not. You can be immersed in the world or character but not the other. Vanguard with huge open world to explore I was very much immersed in the world around me but not so much with my character. In SWTOR the level range divided planets wasn't very immersive but playing through the bounty hunter story and choosing the dialog options that felt exactly like something he would say got me immersed into the character.

    Quests can be immersive but in MMORPGs there are usually so many of them that players do them repeatedly and then the immersion is broken. No longer do you care about the context for the quest, you just want to get it done so you can do the next one. This is why I think having a very limited number of quests at a time and amount that you can do continously is important. Slow the pace down and it may not feel so grindy.

  • rcubanorcubano Gainesville, FLPosts: 68Member

    I was going to quote some previous posts with a "This" response, since there's many good responses.  But there's too many good response to quote, lol.  So I'll list my priorities (which are personal, as the OP stated):

    1. Atmosphere. This is most important to me.   Beautiful scenery that feels "alive" (such as flocks of birds flying overhead, good ambiant sounding, weather cycles, etc).  NPCs that walk around the town and look like they're doing stuff (as opposed to standing in the same exact spot 24/7). 

    2. Detailed character creation, as well as detailed character appearance.  This would include many options for how your character both looks physically, and how your character can dress.  LOTRO's system of being able to wear what you want for appearance overlapping what armor you actually have on is a good example of this; so no "clown" affect.

    3.  Sandbox.  If what I do changes the world of the MMO, it greatly aids in immersion.

    4. Gearing the game to role-playing.  Good mechanism for emoting is a good example of this.  If /dance results in a "Staying Alive" disco dance, it detracts greatly from my immersion.  Also, simple things like letting a character sit in chairs and the like (I'm floored by how many MMOs just don't have this). 

  • LarsaLarsa NurembergPosts: 990Member

    Quests in MMORPGs rather seem to ruin my immersion.

    For some reasons the developers always seem to think I want to play a hero that spends his precious time collecting some apples. No idea how they think that's immersive ...

    I maintain this List of Sandbox MMORPGs. Please post or send PM for corrections and suggestions.

  • rothbardrothbard Oak Ridge, TNPosts: 248Member

    Quests would be better if they were actual quests, instead of hamster wheels.  What would happen if you had a quest to slay Mr. Mean Guy, but you actually had to track down the guy, etc, etc.   In other words, quests without lifeless carboard mobs might be more interesting.  

    Also, non-repeatable quests could be interesting.  i.e., if someone kills Mr. Mean, he's actually dead.  Forever.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,752Member Uncommon

         I actually despise quests to be honest.....To me the most immersive games are the ones where Im just dropped into a world and I go explore....No quest markers, no nothing but me and an unknown world.

  • GorweGorwe Ald'RuhnPosts: 2,474Member Uncommon
    There are two things that help get you immersed: Good World Design and Good Character Design.

    World Design encompasses things such as feel of living/breathing World, logical transitions when speaking of landscape and wildlife(incl plants) that have their habitats, enemies etc.
    Living and breathing World is a World where NPCs do not just stand idly(or do the same action 24/7), they go to work/sleep(seemingly), where the wolf kills a rabbit and then a huntsman kills a wolf. Where the birds flock and sing in the Dawn/Dusk.
    Logical transition of landscape is a feature I do not see often in MMOs. "Neighbouring" zones can be a desert zone divided by mountainous zone ending with an icy zone(wtf?). It simply does not work Like that in reality.
    Then there are broken geographies. Neighbouring zones in Warhammer Online are Nordland and Norsca. Nordland is sort of northern France(Brettonia if I am not mistaken), while Norsca is Like Norway. Interesting fact is that you CAN cross by foot without ever getting wet(that crossing does not exist in Warhammer lore Btw). Without a boat such trip is impossible(both in Lore and Real World), but not in WAR(most probably they were too lazy to code ships in). THAT breaks immersion.

    Character Design is all of the following: Armor/Clothes Design, Design of Character Creation, Quest Design and Story Design.
    Armor/Clothes Design-it's obvious how that effects immersion, so I'll skip it. I'll mention that the inclusion of "Appearance Tab" is HIGHLY recommended.
    Character Creation should be robust and detailed. When the player sees another character that looks just Like him, that player's immersion is broken forever. It should, however, be limited so you can't Design Aion monstrosities. Think of AoC or GW 2 here.
    Quest Design encompasses all of Mechanics that surround quests and their spread. How many quests in row are kill 10 of X and /or FedEx quests? Can the Mechanics be intertwined, so you get FedEx Quest where X of sth MUST reach the destination AND you have to kill Y of enemies? What is the distance between quests anyways(close-hub style, far-exploration style)? How long does a Quest last(short-filler Quest, Long-Epic/Storyline Quest)? Source of Quest-you stumble upon it(item) or always ordered(standard Quest)? Those are questions that need to be answered when talking about quests. There should be healthy amount of quests from each category, because if the player starts thinking "Why am I doing this S#!^?", immersion is broken forever.
    Story Design is closely intertwined with World Design. A player should see the effects of his own decisions, but not at the expense of MMO part(kind of what TOR did). Again, think of GW 2 here. One major Aspect of Story Design is how well it explains its lore(if applicable). Good examples would be LoTRO/GW/WoW, while Bad examples are Rift/WAR/. WAR had amazing storywritting though(sth that many MMOs sorely lack).

    As you can see it is VERY difficult to immerse a player. Yet some games do it Like it's literally nothing(think: WoW). It's Like drawing a painting. It is VERY difficult to leave an impression on someone with it. Yet some painters do(actually did) it without breaking a sweat(think: Leonardo/Boticelli/Rembrandt/Picasso...). It is an art. As is immersing a player.

    Thank you for your attention and reading this Tower of Text :)
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