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  1. #41
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    Oblivion, Fallout 3, and even Morrowind (which I think is grossly overrated) fail as open world games not because they are open world, but because their worlds are boring and the writing is shit (especially compared to FO:NV).
    I really liked Fallout 3's world. The main story wasn't the most interesting near the beginning ( I felt like it got interesting later ... it just took me a long time to get there because I was busy), but while a lot of people comment that Fallout 3 was insipid and uninspired, I found so many places worth exploring, so many unique locations and quirky one-off characters. I thought the game had personality in spades--perhaps it's more an issue of whether that personality fits nicely into your gaming wants and needs. I haven't played New Vegas, so I can't really compare them.
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  2. #42
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    I think the main problem with open world games for me is really the dismal nature of the AI on the whole, especially in terms of reaction. Despite the overall jankiness I put a good 100 hours into Skyrim, but I just lost my mojo for it when I ended up in some mission where in some demon prince forced me to bludgeon a man to death with a mace whilst my sidekick just stood there and calmly looked on as if this was to be expected. I couldn't help think about a moment in the Sims 2 (a game made years before skyrim) when one of my Sims walked into a room to find her lover locked in a clinch with some NPC AI and how instantly absolute bedlam arose as the recriminations, chest poking, apologies, fighting and ultimately tears broke out, all without me even lifting a finger.
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  3. #43
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    I suspect they'd be too scared to implement significant AI reactions and responsiveness in case things kick off and go crazy in some games, because a) reviewers will on the whole be more forgiving of unresponsiveness than weird responsiveness (it'd be "well it doesn't do x y z but then neither do any other big games 95%" versus "a noble experiment but not polished enough 75%") and b) players would kick off if their game just screwed up. This will apply to meaningful world consequences and dynamic mechanics too. How many gamers would accept "well looks like shit happened, bad luck" in response to "I did x y z and then demons ate everyone in the world in my 200 hour game!" I think they should accept it, but I doubt they would.
    Irrelevant on further examination of the rest of the thread.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    I couldn't help think about a moment in the Sims 2 (a game made years before skyrim) when one of my Sims walked into a room to find her lover locked in a clinch with some NPC AI and how instantly absolute bedlam arose as the recriminations, chest poking, apologies, fighting and ultimately tears broke out, all without me even lifting a finger.
    I got bored of the most recent Sims game pretty quickly, but it really does get the concept that's it's a *Sim* first, not just a glorified dollhouse. Which means it gets all those lovely emergent situations poping up and actually having an impact. They've put a lot of effort into it and I think it really pays off.

    Bethesda games feel like they're coming at it from the complete opposite angle - they say "we're going to create a huge world" and they literally go out and hand create every bit of it. It's a noble goal, but it results in everything being paper thin, and none of the elements really interact properly. And even when it's going smoothly it's not the most polished of experiences.

    It feels like we've pretty much reached the limits of how big a world can get when you're trying to hand create everything.
    Bethesda are probably too stuck in their ways but hopefully we'll see more other games starting to blend procedural content with hand created content. Terrania is a pretty good example I think.

    And as much as I enjoyed Fallout 3, I suspect
    Bethesda could make much better games if they chopped the map size in half. Their games feel too stretched thin and I think they've reached a limit where throwing more money/people at it isn't practical.

  5. #45
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OrangyTang View Post
    I got bored of the most recent Sims game pretty quickly, but it really does get the concept that's it's a *Sim* first, not just a glorified dollhouse. Which means it gets all those lovely emergent situations poping up and actually having an impact. They've put a lot of effort into it and I think it really pays off.
    Sims certainly has it's limitations in large part down to where it goes on the morality scale, but it is the fact that the AI across the board have a degree of autonomy and memory with respect to others and past events that I found fascinating. With Sims 2 I really got into the sims university and ran several different groups all at the same time, so I could build up relationships between them (I was running about 30 sims across 8 groups which tbh was kind of crazy) and naturally you had the situation of there being a lot of ad hoc crossover where sims you control in one group come across as NPCs into the other. It was always fascinating to then go to the group that had been NPCs and see how their wants and needs had changed, as well as their relationships. I kind of think it was one of the downsides with Sims 3 that they took away the ability to run multiple households tbh. I'm hoping that with Sims 4 they bring that back as a possibility.

    Either way. I'd really like to see more simlike behaviour in open world games, especially with regard to reacting to player actions. I guess thinking about it that Fable 3 kind of does that in some ways, though I'd definitely go for something more nuanced.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 07-01-2013 at 12:43 AM.
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  6. #46
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gwathdring's Avatar
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    I think the main problem with open world games for me is really the dismal nature of the AI on the whole, especially in terms of reaction. Despite the overall jankiness I put a good 100 hours into Skyrim, but I just lost my mojo for it when I ended up in some mission where in some demon prince forced me to bludgeon a man to death with a mace whilst my sidekick just stood there and calmly looked on as if this was to be expected.
    That particular sequence in Skyrim bothered me a lot, too. For two reasons. First, because there was no way to formally cancel the quest. To tell the god I've changed my mind. I had an opportunity to straight up side with the Priest, but my character was even less interested in serving THAT god. There was no way to either a) change sides at the altar or b) tell both of them to take a hike. Not a big problem, though, because I was perfectly happy to just walk away and ignore the quest ... I'd just rather have either a formal way to end it or at least a "hide this quest from view" button.

    The main thing that bothered me is what you're getting at. Lydia's been following me for a while and her character made sense in my head as a sort of dedicated vigilante for the side of what is typically thought of as "good". She has her code and she sticks to it, and damn the laws or anyone else's code. She was hanging out with a creepy hedge wizard who dabbled in dark arts, but this is the same country where the college of magic was chill with Necromancy because sometimes it can be used for good. It made sense in my head and fit with her actions. But every now and then I did something "bad" that in Dragon Age would have at least caused a(n unfortunately arbitrary and ineffective) decay in approval ratings with some party members and Lydia just stared on like nothing was happening. My worst wonky AI run-in, though, was in Markath.

    SPOILERS TO A MINOR QUEST IN MARKATH

    So there's this arson plot in Markath.Turns out Vampires are involved. After discovering What's-her-name's vampire-ness and before going to speak to the Jarl about it, I figured I should investigate her house. This seemed to match up with what the game wanted me to do ... sure enough, when I got there she wasn't sleeping in the basement as usual but was awake upstairs with a body-guard who attacked me on sight (and who was connected to the quest). Rather than fight them, I ran outside to where I'd left Lydia. I figured I could use the backup and maybe the guards would help.

    For some reason, the guards ignored the situation entirely until either Lydia or I fired a shot at the woman in question. At this point, never mind that I was clearly not the aggressor (home invasion aside, I suppose ... anyway!) and that the woman was obviously wielding deadly Vampire powers that no one in Skyrim previously seemed OK with ... the guards attacked me as though she was still her ordinary self and not a Vampire. After several reload attempts, I finally managed to sneak into the Jarl's hall, and complete the part of the quest where we agree to go hunt down all the Vampires in a nearby cave and I even mention that WHN is a Vampire. However, when I got outside WHN saw me and attacked with her deadly Vampire powers drawing no reaction whatsoever from the guards or the mob of torch-wielding vampire-hunting citizens now before me as a result of my conversation with the Jarl. When I attacked her, of course, the guards assualted me.

    I eventually just sucked it up, killed her and some guards, ran away, finished the Vampire cave part of the quest, got arrested broke out, snuck into the Jarl's hall, played ring-around the rosy with the guards while collected my reward from the Jarl, ran away, came back, got arrested, got fed up, checked the wiki to see if this whole mess was typically considered intentional or a bug, and ultimately cleared my bounty with a cheat code.

    None of it really made sense. I wasn't the mechanical villain at the start, otherwise they would have joined to help her fight me ... and so on. The only part that was stupid in the fun way as opposed to the annoying way was during one of my attempts when I was talking to the Jarl while Lydia, fortify health potions and clever misused of the AI's shitty pathfinding allowed me to simultaneously hold an assault on the Jarl's guards and companions while also having a chat with her about those Vampires she needed me to take care of. Never mind me killing people in that very room.

    Oh yeah! And then the experience got MORE fun when I for the second time realized the trouble with an immortal companion. Lydia could only kill so many guards (why Lydia is ever ok with killing guards has always been beyond me), but would go right back to fighting once she came to again. Fast traveling, running away ... I couldn't get her to stop trying. I eventually gave up, went to the Vampire cave, and returned to find her sitting right where I left her before the whole hullabaloo ... then the guard's arrested me. Not the woman who slaughtered several of them before sauntering into the middle of town as though nothing had happened. The guy who killed a Vampire, healed dying guards, and saved the village from a cave full of vampires all while working for the the Jarl.
    Last edited by gwathdring; 07-01-2013 at 05:05 AM.
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  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juan Carlo View Post
    Morrowind (which I think is grossly overrated) fail as open world games not because they are open world, but because their worlds are boring and the writing is shit (especially compared to FO:NV).
    Morrowind has a boring a world? Either you didn't play it, or your definition of boring doesn't mesh with 99.999% of people.

    Shitty combat, sure. Frustrating journal and lack of hand holding, sure. Buggy and requiring a beast of a PC when it was released, sure.

    But boring? Shit writing? You're certifiably crazy.

  8. #48
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus jnx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicious View Post
    Shit writing? You're certifiably crazy.
    My thoughts too. I spent a lot of time reading all the books in Morrowind :F
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  9. #49
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    It is mainly about growing up and becoming over exposed. I'm having a much harder time enjoying a number of artforms that I used to love as I come to realise that i've seen/done them before. But then something original will come along and draw me in again.

    For games, and open worlds specifically, my personal sadness comes from the fact that things like AI haven't really advanced in the same leaps and bounds that physics and graphics have. This affects many genres, but it's most obvious and sad in the open world genre, as decent dynamic AI is probably the only way to make them truly into interesting interactive worlds.

    Fetch quests and combat are merely prevalent because there's not a lot else that gaming AI can do. And the only way to get around that is with linear scripting, which then doesn't mesh with open worlds. For decades i've been dreaming of a game with a decent gamesmaster/director AI that would respond to our actions in order to make interesting and open scenarios.

    I think that's what a decent open world really needs to be, a collection of open scenarios that can be approached by players in any way they choose, and then the game responds. I think that's probably a long way off though.

  10. #50
    Network Hub elephant god's Avatar
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    Hmm, very interesting discussion. Long posts. ;)

    I wouldn't say exactly that open world games have failed. But they are in a jam.

    An Open World in a game means two things for me. It doesn't just mean a huge explorable area with linear quests and superfluous joyrides strewn throughout (Far Cry's amusement park, TOS' sometimes-generic fantasy we-do-it-all).

    Looking back at this thread, it also means relevant choices and actions that impact on your surroundings, all of them; subtle changes, not the black&white big budget fateful decision making that the Mass Effect games promoted, because anything more subtle might have been overlooked and thus wasn't deemed economically viable.

    Lacking the sunday papers, you might have missed Cobbet's great retrospective on Alpha Protocol:
    This is how Alpha Protocol rolls throughout. Make a bad impression on a Russian contact, and a guy you need to save won't trust you. A damsel rescued in Rome will quickly undistress herself if she decides Mike is as bad as the people she's threatened by, ambushing him with a taser as he returns to his safehouse. A bungled raid on an NSA listening post can be brought up later, not as a big dramatic moment, but simply to point out that Thorton isn't going to be able to use hero insurance to wipe it off his record. The game will always continue, but that doesn't mean choices don't have an impact. At the very, very least, the characters always act like they care.
    good entertaining stuff.

    I also want to throw the Witcher games into the discussion. They manage to create a world of morally grey choices, and though I haven't played part two, I completed part one and there was a hint of quite subtle but eventually growing player agency. player agency is probably my most important feature in open world games. some will disagree, and games that give us both have become very rare, but I want it all.

  11. #51
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephant god View Post
    I also want to throw the Witcher games into the discussion. They manage to create a world of morally grey choices, and though I haven't played part two, I completed part one and there was a hint of quite subtle but eventually growing player agency. player agency is probably my most important feature in open world games. some will disagree, and games that give us both have become very rare, but I want it all.
    Not sure if you could tell them open-world though because you are restricted to a somewhat linear path and series of events. But what they are doing is making your decisions really matter. Choosing who you go with at the end of the first chapter in the second game determines where you go and who you talk to and then more choices from there.

    The biggest problem with this amount of player agency though is that the game sometimes doesn't give you enough information to make a well-educated decision. There's several crossroads in The Witcher 2 where I had no idea what to pick not because it was a moral grey area, but because I didn't have enough information to pick A or B.

    It was less a matter of "pick the lesser of two evils" and more "make a save and flip a coin".
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  12. #52
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus LTK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    Not sure if you could tell them open-world though because you are restricted to a somewhat linear path and series of events. But what they are doing is making your decisions really matter. Choosing who you go with at the end of the first chapter in the second game determines where you go and who you talk to and then more choices from there.

    The biggest problem with this amount of player agency though is that the game sometimes doesn't give you enough information to make a well-educated decision. There's several crossroads in The Witcher 2 where I had no idea what to pick not because it was a moral grey area, but because I didn't have enough information to pick A or B.

    It was less a matter of "pick the lesser of two evils" and more "make a save and flip a coin".
    Which is exactly what I like about it. If you ask me, unforeseen consequences are a million times more relevant to making decisions than subjective notions of virtue. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People have their own agendas, and you have yours. They're not simply going to tag along with whatever you were planning to do, and they won't care if a plan of yours falls to pieces. Conversely, you are in no way obligated to further the goals of your allies, and you may even choose to collaborate with their enemies if it serves your own purpose better.

    A good example of this in an open-world game is the Tenpenny Tower questline in Fallout 3. A player acting like the virtuous hero is going to get a lot of people killed, something that you could have expected, but you probably didn't because of the way RPG tropes work.

  13. #53
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LTK View Post
    Which is exactly what I like about it. If you ask me, unforeseen consequences are a million times more relevant to making decisions than subjective notions of virtue. As they say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. People have their own agendas, and you have yours. They're not simply going to tag along with whatever you were planning to do, and they won't care if a plan of yours falls to pieces. Conversely, you are in no way obligated to further the goals of your allies, and you may even choose to collaborate with their enemies if it serves your own purpose better.

    A good example of this in an open-world game is the Tenpenny Tower questline in Fallout 3. A player acting like the virtuous hero is going to get a lot of people killed, something that you could have expected, but you probably didn't because of the way RPG tropes work.
    That event in Fallout 3 however gave you a third option where you could ensure no one dies. The Witcher just throws a crossroads at you and waits for your input, either A or B. I ended up looking up guides for the game before making some decisions because I was so frustrated by the sheer lack of any information about who was doing what and how I fit into it.

    There just wasn't enough information available to me to make any kind of decision on my own. There were no NPCs to talk to or any quest events that offered any kind of useful information to make most of the decisions in the game more than a matter of flipping a coin. I loved its ambition and how the choices did matter, but it was not handled as well as it should have been.
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  14. #54
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcompany View Post
    Problem is, many gamers aren't really "young" anymore.

    The average age of gamers is something like mid thirties, now. Yet developers are still writing stories for people in their teens and early twenties. We are men and women trying to get by in a universe designed specifically to appeal to, at best, young adults. Teens, in other words. We are logic, reason, insight, wisdom, curiosity and a drive to teach others and leave a mature, realistic mark on the world, trying to reside in worlds built to appeal to raging hormones, a lust for power, basic greed and subconscious desire for violence and violent action.

    We don't belong here. The role no longer fits us. The games have not moved on, we have. I think that is a big part of why the "hero/power fantasy" games no longer appeal.
    I think your doing the young a disservice here (I'm 46).
    I've met people of all ages full of "logic, reason, insight, wisdom, curiosity".
    However, when it comes to real world "lust for power, basic greed and subconscious desire for violence and violent action" we need look no further than the (largely) middle aged men who run governments, corporations and the military across the world. The grey of hair and wrinkly of skin have the advantage of maturity and worldly experience in their thirst for power and wealth. They are not shy of using it.

    I think your first post was nearer the mark. Schlepping around an 'open world' can become tedious. Preventing that is the job of games developers. That is all.

  15. #55
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chorltonwheelie View Post
    I think your doing the young a disservice here (I'm 46).
    I've met people of all ages full of "logic, reason, insight, wisdom, curiosity".
    However, when it comes to real world "lust for power, basic greed and subconscious desire for violence and violent action" we need look no further than the (largely) middle aged men who run governments, corporations and the military across the world. The grey of hair and wrinkly of skin have the advantage of maturity and worldly experience in their thirst for power and wealth. They are not shy of using it.
    How else do those middle aged men start off but as young with those base desires?

    Bah, this is now turning into a thread about philosophy.
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  16. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    How else do those middle aged men start off but as young with those base desires?

    Bah, this is now turning into a thread about philosophy.
    Possibly young, idealistic, full of imagination and hope?

    Give them a few years making their way through a world handed to them by their elders and they just might become scheming, violent Machiavellian bastards?

    Still, probably not fair top blame them for boring games.

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    That event in Fallout 3 however gave you a third option where you could ensure no one dies. The Witcher just throws a crossroads at you and waits for your input, either A or B. I ended up looking up guides for the game before making some decisions because I was so frustrated by the sheer lack of any information about who was doing what and how I fit into it.
    Yeah, unforeseen circumstances in a game only work if there is some way you could have foreseen them. That's how real life works too. Sometimes stuff just happens, bad stuff, and there's nothing you can do about it. You get mugged on the way home from work, and there were two routes you could have taken home. You picked the longer one that day because you wanted some exercise. Had you made a different choice, you wouldn't have got mugged. But there was no way to know that. So you don't blame yourself for making that choice.

    If, on the other hand, the longer route was through a notoriously dangerous area, and you knew that but took it any way, well that's when you beat yourself up about the whole thing because you should have known better.

    Too many games give you too much information, making the 'right' path really easy to see. And if it's not the normal paragon Jesus route, the game tends to hint really heavily that something isn't right.

    The Witcher was lauded for not doing that, but it goes too far in the other direction. Bad things happen in The Witcher which you could not have had any clue about. Which is pointless. If the consequences of your actions are entirely unforeseeable then... well they're not really even a consequence of my actions. They're just something that happened, that the game inserts an arbitrary link with a decision point to. And sure, that's realistic, and happens in real life too, but it's not interesting there either.

  18. #58
    Lesser Hivemind Node Shooop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deano2099 View Post
    Yeah, unforeseen circumstances in a game only work if there is some way you could have foreseen them. That's how real life works too. Sometimes stuff just happens, bad stuff, and there's nothing you can do about it. You get mugged on the way home from work, and there were two routes you could have taken home. You picked the longer one that day because you wanted some exercise. Had you made a different choice, you wouldn't have got mugged. But there was no way to know that. So you don't blame yourself for making that choice.

    If, on the other hand, the longer route was through a notoriously dangerous area, and you knew that but took it any way, well that's when you beat yourself up about the whole thing because you should have known better.

    Too many games give you too much information, making the 'right' path really easy to see. And if it's not the normal paragon Jesus route, the game tends to hint really heavily that something isn't right.

    The Witcher was lauded for not doing that, but it goes too far in the other direction. Bad things happen in The Witcher which you could not have had any clue about. Which is pointless. If the consequences of your actions are entirely unforeseeable then... well they're not really even a consequence of my actions. They're just something that happened, that the game inserts an arbitrary link with a decision point to. And sure, that's realistic, and happens in real life too, but it's not interesting there either.
    It's not that I'm against unforeseen circumstances, it's that I'm against throwing a choice in front of the player and expecting them to take a wild guess.

    Let's take that "getting mugged" analogy.

    Say that can happen in the game - you go through a town and get mugged because you picked a certain route. The way to make this work would be to offer some information available by listening to NPCs or noticing things in the environment that hint that is a bad route to take. In the real world you could read the papers or talk to people about where crime is taking place and avoid those places.

    Like you said, games have always been terrible at this. They either offer way too much information or in The Witcher's case, much too little. What we need is to make some information a reward of sorts for players who are inquisitive about their surroundings, and who want to know more. So if you rush ahead, it's your own fault if you're tripped up by a decision you have to make. But if you stopped and listened, observed things first you wouldn't necessarily have all the information but you'd at least be able to make an educated decision you can feel is actually your own and not just a click to see what happens.
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  19. #59
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus gundato's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shooop View Post
    It's not that I'm against unforeseen circumstances, it's that I'm against throwing a choice in front of the player and expecting them to take a wild guess.

    Let's take that "getting mugged" analogy.

    Say that can happen in the game - you go through a town and get mugged because you picked a certain route. The way to make this work would be to offer some information available by listening to NPCs or noticing things in the environment that hint that is a bad route to take. In the real world you could read the papers or talk to people about where crime is taking place and avoid those places.

    Like you said, games have always been terrible at this. They either offer way too much information or in The Witcher's case, much too little. What we need is to make some information a reward of sorts for players who are inquisitive about their surroundings, and who want to know more. So if you rush ahead, it's your own fault if you're tripped up by a decision you have to make. But if you stopped and listened, observed things first you wouldn't necessarily have all the information but you'd at least be able to make an educated decision you can feel is actually your own and not just a click to see what happens.
    It isn't "take a wild guess". It is "Do what makes sense based upon limited knowledge"

    Using The Witcher 1 for example, I never felt that I was not qualified to make a decision. I did feel that I couldn't know for certain what the consequences would be, but that makes it feel all the more meaningful. If I wanted to just affect my alignment or my ending, I would get a spreadsheet game. Instead, it is about seeing the consequences of your actions and how it influences the details of the story.
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  20. #60
    Lesser Hivemind Node fiddlesticks's Avatar
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    Aside from a few exceptions I'm not a big fan of open-world games, but calling them a failed experiment strikes me as odd considering they're more popular than they've ever been. Just look at the recent sale numbers for Skyrim, or any Bethesda title for that matter. There's no reason to assume those numbers will decline in the future and there's no reason to assume the lack of innovation will hurt the genre as a whole. Call of Duty still breaks records with every release, despite conceptually being stuck in 2007. For the most part consumers don't buy products because they are new or unique, they buy them because of their perceived quality. I can't see the qualities inherent to open-world games, but apparently there are enough people who do.

    I'm not sure if it's fair to criticize a genre for failing to live up to your expectations, if said genre never had any intention of meeting those expectations in the first place. You can rightfully point out that Skyrim is not as emotionally compelling as Dishonoured. But Skyrim doesn't want to be like Dishonoured, and perhaps more importantly those who enjoy Skyrim don't want it to be like Dishonoured either. Even New Vegas was chastised by many fans of Fallout 3 because it sacrificed exploration for deeper characterization and a more fulfilling storyline.

    Ultimately there seem to be two differing viewpoints. Those who enjoy open-world games precisely because they're shallow and allow the gamer to live out his/her own fantasies, and those who would rather have stronger guidance through the world and a deeper relation to the characters therein. Bethesda games fall squarely in the first camp, whereas New Vegas or The Witcher are examples of the second kind. I don't see any way to reconcile these viewpoints and as long as the first group of gamers is as large as it currently is, I don't see any reason why open-world games would change their ways.

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