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Reader Comments (84)

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 7:56AM Space Cobra said

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@Critical Mass

It's a bit complicated to explain, but it is not too far off from reading a good book and feeling inspired or watching a movie. Both are immersive, yet On-the-rails experiences.

What makes a game immersive to you? Do you even care? Maybe it is a simple FPS game you want, but I bet, if the graphics were bad or 8-bit, you'd be turned off by it, right? Right there, is your immersion. Also, maybe you like the IP, let's just use Star Wars. You think how cool it would be to be a Boba Fett or Vader owning noobs. That is a bit of an immersion in your own head as you play the game. If it was an IP you didn't know, maybe you would care...or not.

If you feel the adrenaline to track down other players and kill them in the game and thinking how they'd react, you are immersing yourself almost as much as a roleplayer would. If it was just about the gameplay, we could make a game with stick-figures, great game play, and just "call it a day".
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 8:25AM Critical Mass said

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@Space Cobra

Yes, yes, but he mentioned the "my own story" and I fail to understand the meaning of this, unless ofc it was about some special game that had an unprecedented game design offering the player so many options that the gaming experience build up with time and expand on a whim, yet sort of being coherent with past experiences.

Only game I can think of coming close to what I imagined, is Eve Online, with its perhaps unrivaled meta gaming and the jarring consequences in game with item loss and organisational disarray.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 3:25AM Warsyde said

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Immersion does not require telling your own story. Immersion requires the player to feel invested enough in the game to lose track of the fact that they're playing a game. Sandbox or themepark has nothing to do with it, so I'm not sure what Mr. Koster is going on about when he bemoans that games are telling him a story instead of letting him tell his own.

Is it hard to make a mobile game that's immersive? Well, yeah, that's kind of a no brainer. Are successful immersive games a thing of the past? I think SWTOR's sales numbers would have something to say about that.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 5:22AM Critical Mass said

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@Warsyde
I am confused. I take it you argue that if SWTOR ends up with low subscription numbers then we can safely conclude that immersion sucks in SWTOR. Somehow I would have to know how many players were playing since the first day of the games existence.

From what I understand, the sound effects are there, but everything else seem wholly underwhelming.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 8:03AM Space Cobra said

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@Critical Mass

Howdy again. ;)

The thing is, since immersion is a personal thing and, let's face it, we are all at a computer or TV and typing or pushing a controller, Immersion is selective and personal. One still can feel "a part" of something, even if outside influences disturb your focus with a game/movie, right?

I feel, SW:TOR is immersive and you can see RPers getting into the vibe of it all. Sure, it would be nice if it had more sandpark in there, but people are still "getting into their characters" and the game's setting. Some players feel that the "choose-your-own-adventure" way is not immersive, but others are fine with it. Again, it's an individual thing and, I feel, a bit irrelevant especially when you can tilt your head to the right or left and see the Real World around you. People can pop back and leave immersion at any time. Sure, it can be jarring and you want to go back to "playing your game" but you got to think of it realistically.

One can get engrossed/immersed when reading a book at a bus stop and still catch their bus and take the correct stop, without reality harming the story.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 8:41AM Critical Mass said

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@Space Cobra
The problem I have with 'immersion' this way, is that the "feeling" probably leaves one dumbfounded, leaves onself with a notion of the least knowable thing about something. Like deciding that a particular game is "immersive" without having some convincing criteria with oneself that are fulfilled or at least thought of as being meaningful in a coherent way.

As game criticism, I think one would have to realize that what one understands as 'immersion' when acknowledging that one in hindsight was obviously preoccupied with playing the game (having had fun in a general sense), that this notion is really something quite different that speculating that the various aspects in the game can actually be said to be 'immersive'.

Obviously, it is impossible to really know subconciously what the mind really is "wrapped around" when onself is being preoccupied during gaming, yet I think it is helpful to hmm try come to the realization that certain things in a game either works or does not work if only subjectively, but revolving around some limited aspect in the game and not the game as such in general.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 3:56AM Lobotomist said

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Immersion is lost. Tell that to Bethesda and Skyrim...

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 5:00AM Critical Mass said

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@Lobotomist
I was about to wrap my mind around the possible meaning of your use of ellipsis, but then I took an arrow in the knee.

I think Skyrim lacked immersion big time. Void of fantasy, having ended up as some kind of simple fisher price game for kids.
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Posted: Jan 15th 2012 8:47PM UnSub said

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@Critical Mass Ahead of being downrated by all the Skyrim fans: I agree with you. I'm playing through it now and just find it to be a very character-empty experience, with all the fantasy trappings I'd expect to the point of cliche.

There's a lot to do, and you don't have to do it in order, but I find I much prefer The Witcher's narrative than Skyrim's approach.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 4:08AM Grom said

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English not being my native language, I can´t help but feel that I´m somehow must be misunderstanding the word "immersion". I thought when I immersed into a game, it was where I lost track of time, the real world disappeared, and I "was there", just like when I read a great book, or watch a good movie, you know, like the ones that sucks you in.

The only experience I have in "telling my own(chars) story", is through pp rpg, since I never wrote a book, directed a film, or role-played with others i a mmo.

When trying games that are described as sandboxes, I often start out feeling somehow lost and after a while, bored. Not that they´re bad, but from what I´ve experienced, they´re just not for me. It feels like I need to write the book myself in order to read it.. oO

I´m "telling my own story" everyday in real life, and when the time allows me to turn on the pc and enjoy immersion into another "reality"(galaxy atm), I personally prefer prefer to enjoy that good story that makes time and space disappear around me and for the first time, I can do that with good looking cut-scenes and voice-overs.
It really helps me immerse into what I´m playing, along with what I put into it myself, letting the imagination run along.

I´m would never say that Mr. Koster is wrong and I´m right.
However, I´m right from my perspective and taste just as he is from his.
As far as I know, he never was part of making a game I could immerse into, though I get that a lot of others could.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 8:06AM Space Cobra said

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@Grom

No, you are right with that. Others think like you do. They need a few guide rails. Some players don't like it.

People can get "immersed" watching a movie (lost ina movie) and yet they are basically bystanders and they do not control the main character.

Immersion is personal, and different, from person to person.
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 4:14AM StClair said

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The main thing that breaks my immersion in MMOs is other players, most of whom have no interest in it.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 4:52AM Critical Mass said

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@StClair
Hell is other people (No exit, 1944) :D
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 4:26AM Critical Mass said

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*goes off to read the source article*

Ok, I suspect Raph Koster is sort of begging the question, simply assuming that immersion is the root of what he probably thinks are negative consequences with the general MMO environment, an environment with lots of gamers running around distracting each other.

I recently wrote a reply on a forum somewhere that MMO's "need":
• Sustainable fantasy elements, based on a wide range of player options

Maybe if Raph Koster got interested in tailoring for a fantasy experience in MMO games then he would be better off.

Btw, it is obvious that 'immersion' is a metaphor than something concrete or specific, a type of generalization; and as such it is probably a bad idea to foremost design a game around say gamers opinions (or some general consensus) than around the game designer own ideas and the ways in which he understand game design. A game designer ought to know what he is "doing" and believe in it. Success or failure will probably follow. :)

According to the article, it is obvious that the author uses the concept of fantasy against itself, sort of claiming that the suspension of disbelief is not possible, when achieving the 'suspension of disbelief' ought to be the task at hand.

Imo Raph Koster is wholly wrong in denoting 'immersion' as a STYLE.

If 1 fantasy elements does not "work", then make up 9 complementary ones that does work.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 5:08AM Gaugamela said

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I'll just write the obvious counter-argument to this guys statement: SKYRIM!

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 5:49AM pid said

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@Gaugamela Sure. Skyrim. Because it is an MMO. Because it is mobile. Read the article before replying, fool.
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Posted: Jan 16th 2012 2:13PM Space Cobra said

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@Gaugamela

I am posting it later, but he does mention most of the people who assumed he was pointing out SW:TOR are wrong; he was pointing out Skyrim! ;P

(Read the post I will link in a bit!)
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Posted: Jan 14th 2012 7:37AM smartstep said

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Well looking at mmorpg genre and what it became with HUGE IMMERSION BREAKERS namely - cash shops and cross-server auto-teleportation LFG tools fuelling gear grinding instance runners.

Ofc this is imho.

Definately games like that are NOT build for immersion.

So until I get a game that create immersive world I am not playing mmorpg again. I decided that many months ago when I left my last mmropg.

I had fun playing gear grinder themeparks like WoW or late Lotro - I admit. But it got soooooo old, boring and limiting.

Nowadays I resort to books , my imagination and eventually that few good single player games that still get released (like f.e. Skyrim) and some old ones.

I'll throw money at developers that release some mmropg that create nice immersive virtual world with lotsa of freedom and that won't be buggy feature-less indie cr*p.

Until then I prefer good book, good single player game and some random lurking on internetz + meeting with friends IRL over current mmorpg's and awful cash shops :)

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 11:01AM (Unverified) said

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Riiiiight just like imagination isn't necessary for game developement i am so tired of devs telling ME the player what's right and what's good for ME the one spending money on their game. If you don't think Immersion is necessary for a game go play Star Trek Online, immersion really isn't there it's like a ghost town complete with officers no one can interact with just wondering around the place and planets that are just there as backdrops hanging around waiting for you to leave. This guy knows he screwed up and he's trying to cover for it by manipulating the public into an all out forum war between fanbois and those of us who know better.

Posted: Jan 14th 2012 1:23PM Dunraven said

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HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Yes wisdom from the developer of the MMO that was voted coaster of the year not once but three times.

And what Triple A development house currently employs Mr Koster?

Hearing him spout this BS is almost as laughable as hearing Lord British tell us that EA and him are in secret talks over UO 2.


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