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Immersion vs mechanics: what should be hidden and what shouldnt.

rungardrungard st. john''s, NFPosts: 1,035Member

I have always thought that overexposure to the "numbers" is somewhat detrimental to the actual gameplay, for the simple reason that the use of the numbers would sways you to play the games in efficient, but less fun, ways to get ahead. This may happen either consiously or subconsiously. "the exp is no good here", "this group is too slow", "i can do better solo".

We all do it. We all evaluate the numbers to the best of our ability and find the easiest route. If quests are the easiest route well do that. If dungeons are well do that.

So i wonder.. given out nature..what is it that we should be seeing in our games and what shouldnt we be seeing?

heres what i have come up with:

Levelling

 We should not see this, but it should not be completely invisible either. The visibility of  levelling will lead to negatively efficient gameplay which i believe should be avoided. I think the best method is to have it in a notification type method where you are let know when youve achieved a major or minor milestone. We should not know exactly how much "exp" a mob gives, and we should not know "how much we need to level" Neither of these constructs are needed to play the game, and will only succeed in making the game a lesson in efficiency. Overall i think it takes aways more than it adds to the gameplay experience.

Equipment/stats

We should see this and it should be completely visible. This is one area where being able to see the stats and its effect on the bottom line can produce positive gameplay. The flexibility to make your character a certain way and to micromanage the details is required here. You cant eliminate all the stats from a game and i think this is the best place to focus the micromanagement of them. Micromanagement of a character can produce signifigant extra gameplay through expirimentation and thus would be a positive motivator in the game.

ingame meters

This information should be available but not during your gaming session. I believe having it available during your game session leads to negative gameplay where people will choose to elevate stats often rather than perform as a team. I do think though that there should be a "recapp" and "review" function where you can evaluate your gameplay "after the fact" and this should include video and statistics, but done in an evaluation format. Like watching football videos of opposing teams prior to or after a game.

Combat Damage

Im on the fence with this one, but i think i would rather not see combat damage in the game. I would like to know when i scored a critical hit. I dont think piles of numbers floating over everything particularly adds anything tothe game, but i also dont feel they take away anything either. I would leave it personal preference.

Hitpoints and mana

I believe that these should be very vague and not have exact numbers. I dont see anything wrong with knowing the stats of it ( i have 5000 mana and 6000 hitpoints) but i dont believe you should get a countdown in combat. You should have a vaghue idea as there is gameplay in the vague idea when you are low on health or mana. You will get some "good anxiety" when you get low, and that translates into an improved gameplay experience. Not knowing exactly when you will die or run dry will produce a better emotional response and a less mechanical one.

feel free to discuss.

 

Comments

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    The problem is that trying to obscure the numbers doesn't eliminate them.  It only makes it harder for players to figure out what they're supposed to be doing.  Most players will quickly quit a game if told "you're supposed to be doing something right now, but we're going to make it hard to figure out what".
  • MMOExposedMMOExposed lalal land, DCPosts: 6,257Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem is that trying to obscure the numbers doesn't eliminate them.  It only makes it harder for players to figure out what they're supposed to be doing.  Most players will quickly quit a game if told "you're supposed to be doing something right now, but we're going to make it hard to figure out what".

    I agree. 

     

    Off topic, but how your sandbox MMO you making, coming along?

    image

  • PurutzilPurutzil East Stroudsburg, PAPosts: 2,925Member Uncommon
    I enjoy the numbers, the programmer in me squirms seeing those numbers and all and being able to figure out what to put in and really get myself maximized. It makes me usually like the game more rather then breaking me immersion to the game. Again, Its just me mostly at play, I'm sure others lose immersion when they have stuff like that exposed in the open but I like that type of stuff.
  • DavisFlightDavisFlight Talahasee, FLPosts: 2,556Member
    Quests should be hidden. GW2 does a good job. Pre WoW MMOs did a good job. WoW clones are pathetic and intrusive and make it just seem like systemized busy work.
  • QuizzicalQuizzical Posts: 14,784Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by MMOExposed
    Originally posted by Quizzical
    The problem is that trying to obscure the numbers doesn't eliminate them.  It only makes it harder for players to figure out what they're supposed to be doing.  Most players will quickly quit a game if told "you're supposed to be doing something right now, but we're going to make it hard to figure out what".

    I agree. 

     

    Off topic, but how your sandbox MMO you making, coming along?

    What makes you think it's a sandbox?  Or even an MMO?  :p

  • QuirhidQuirhid TamperePosts: 5,969Member Common

    Atleast skill descriptions should be meticulously accurate. Nothing is more annoying than seeing a description "Divine light smites your enemies." How much damage? AOE or single target? What damage type? Whats the range? Whats the range or the area effect and what shape is it? Whats the casting time?

    Things like that are figured out eventually, so if dev leaves it out it feels like they're just fucking with you.

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

  • AdamTMAdamTM Frankfurt Am MainPosts: 1,376Member

    I honestly enjoy the more obscured types of mechanics.

    I come from a strange game that was my first MMO, its Illarion (still going at http://illarion.org/general/us_startpage.php)

    Back when I played it, Illarion had a system by which your "stats" were color-graded from red to green (red being bad, green being good)

    I.e. you started with the stat "Armor" in red, and then, slowly, by using the armor, you "acclimatized" your character to it going from red over yellow to green.

    Obviously, with a red stat, you had penalties. I noticed that after a while of wearing it, i wouldn't lose stamina as quickly (represented by a blue bar) while moving and my melee swings would go off faster and with less stamina loss.

    I quite enjoyed not being told "how much" my armor stat improved.

     

    I think the trick is to give -clear- feedback on what the stats do even when you hide them under the hood.

    Thats why I liked Fables body-morphing system where strenght gave you a buffer, more fit phisique, agility a more lean taller physique, etc.

    Of course there are limits, but i think that you can come up with an organic system by which you can obscure the numbers and retain critical infromation.

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  • SimphanaticSimphanatic Marion, IAPosts: 92Member

    I don't know, I kind of like where the OP is headed.

     

    I like the idea of starting out with a character that has very minimal "talents" in swordplay, fistfighting, knifethrowing, archery, and even magic -- all evened out in the beginning.

     

    Player may choose to buy a sword and kill some low-level mobs, whereupon his ability with a sword increases marginally. He may continue on with the sword, increasing his talent; or he may purchase a bow, kill some mobs, whereupon his accuracy increases marginally. At any time, he can acquire other weapons and increase skills in those, or choose to specialize. However, as in real life, he'd never see any kind of numeric meter or other indicator reflecting a skill level; rather, his indication of increased proficiency would come from observations of increased ease in disposing of increasingly difficult mobs.

     

    I'm also not a fan of "ever better" weaponry. Except for design, engineering, or mechanics -- per short bows, long bows, cross bows, and compound bows -- the particular lethality of weapons should be dictated primarily by the user's talent, generally, and proficiency with the weapon, specifically. Weapons don't appear with lethality thereupon inscribed, neither should such numeric indicators appear in-game. Again, lethality, use rate, and range should be reflected to the user via experiential feedback during use; for instance: "Wow! This long bow shoots a long way" or "I can't seem to strike as often with this glaive as I did with my broadsword."

     

     

  • dave6660dave6660 New York, NYPosts: 2,543Member Uncommon

    No thanks.  I'm the polar opposite.

    I want to see ALL the numbers.  It's part of the reason I play RPG's and not shooters.

    “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
    -- Herman Melville

  • dave6660dave6660 New York, NYPosts: 2,543Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Quirhid

    Atleast skill descriptions should be meticulously accurate. Nothing is more annoying than seeing a description "Divine light smites your enemies." How much damage? AOE or single target? What damage type? Whats the range? Whats the range or the area effect and what shape is it? Whats the casting time?

    Things like that are figured out eventually, so if dev leaves it out it feels like they're just fucking with you.

    First part is true.  Usually pretty quickly too.  But I don't feel they're "fucking with me", I just think they're hoping it will cover up sloppy work.  It's like Microsoft's "security through obscurity" plan.

    “There are certain queer times and occasions in this strange mixed affair we call life when a man takes this whole universe for a vast practical joke, though the wit thereof he but dimly discerns, and more than suspects that the joke is at nobody's expense but his own.”
    -- Herman Melville

  • DisdenaDisdena Troy, NYPosts: 1,093Member
    If we're talking about immersion in the sense of "losing yourself in the experience", showing me the numbers doesn't worsen it in any way. They're like watching a movie with captions/subtitles on. I don't sit there and think "Well OBVIOUSLY this isn't real life, because in real life you can't visibly read what people are saying!" It's just information. And the less information I'm given about the mechanics of a game, the more I have to think about them... or worse, look them up.

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  • rungardrungard st. john''s, NFPosts: 1,035Member
    Originally posted by Disdena
    If we're talking about immersion in the sense of "losing yourself in the experience", showing me the numbers doesn't worsen it in any way. They're like watching a movie with captions/subtitles on. I don't sit there and think "Well OBVIOUSLY this isn't real life, because in real life you can't visibly read what people are saying!" It's just information. And the less information I'm given about the mechanics of a game, the more I have to think about them... or worse, look them up.

     so if you knew a place had worse "exp" than another place...what place would you pick?

    if you had no idea, which one would you pick now?

     

    sometimes you get more with less, you just need to know which ones you need less of. Its not always apparent. I think its ok to be told your advancing, its ok to be told when youve reached a milestone, but i actually think that micromanaging "exp" is a faulty process due to our own efficiency based nature..which doesnt even make sense since were playing games.

    the desire to get to the top as fast as possible is a major issue in mmorpgs and i think its worthwhile to put in mechanisms to allieviate that somewhat.

     

     

  • IcewhiteIcewhite Elmhurst, ILPosts: 6,403Member
    Originally posted by rungard
    We all do it. We all evaluate the numbers to the best of our ability and find the easiest route. If quests are the easiest route well do that. If dungeons are well do that.

    Actually, no, we all don't do that.

    But I'm too tired to go into it in depth.  In my opinon, doing so is (sometimes at least) part of what ruins games for individuals.

    Self-pity imprisons us in the walls of our own self-absorption. The whole world shrinks down to the size of our problem, and the more we dwell on it, the smaller we are and the larger the problem seems to grow.

  • Psy410Psy410 DesamparadosPosts: 70Member

    The levels and the numbers and the points are really silly to me and for the love of god I dont want to be efficient I want to enjoy the beautiful art of the game without a whole bunch of stuff popping out of everything I touch and CONSTANT REMINDERS of my stat points adquisition, every time I ''LEVEL UP!'' I have to make make choices that I might regret when I am forced to calibrate them.... one cant just ignore them in any game that has them so I hate them, the only numbers I would like to worry about are the amount of items and gold I own. It is not that I find it difficult to addapt or that I am too dumb or lazy to make the most out of them, it is just that I appreciate immersion and I wish that attacks dealt a more tangible sort of damage.

    Why the heck would I want to know how many health points I removed from a bar when I should be evicerating my opponent.

    I completely dissagree with the OP when I say that those little numbers take something away from the game:

    *In PvP you just have to select the foes to know how bad their chances are.

    I think there should be signs to determine that by yourself, you know using deduction (Look! they are crippled, lets attack.... no, wait it was just an act! Everyone fall back, now!) instead of.... points (All take a mana potion, target the player number 3, and be ready to spike on my call, his hp is only 330 and his protective spell has a 6 seconds window of vulnerability)

    *In PvE the enemies suddenly faint after you extract all the points out of their bar! Their death animations dont depend on the type of attacts you inflict upon them, you are lucky if your attacks give believable visual feedback or influence their behavior in small ways. Enemies that look and act exactly the same but are higher levels can wipe the floor with you because their attack points and their armor points are superior oh and the loot they drop (the little inventory windows from wich you can select what you prefer to magically transfer to yours) is also progressively more valuable. Your avatar practically depends on a bunch of charts and counters that establish everything it can do and the specific amounts of it (to me that sounds beyond boring).

    Why a level 2 minotaur can't trow a dam molotov at a level 60 rancor boss and hide until the damned thing burns to the ground, but a level 85 gnome with maximum stats  can tank 4 of them up to the five minutes it takes for them to bleed to death from the shallow cuts of its high level butter knife? Who decides when you should fail or which are the recomended carebear areas for you? The little numbers.... what is the point of hidding them if the whole game is based on them?

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  • 3SulpNietorp3SulpNietorp Cambridge, MAPosts: 13Member
    Originally posted by Psy410

    The...?

    Great post!

    The EQ Next ideas thread: http://forums.station.sony.com/eq2/posts/list.m?topic_id=399389

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