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02-04-2013, 07:57 PM #1
Immersion in Guild Wars 2/ MMORPG.
Hi peeps. I'm Brit, you may have seen me around here, though mainly with the PCG guys over at GW2 as an Officer.
For those who don't know, I'm a third year student at Edge Hill University, studying 'Media, Film & Television' 3 years course, currently on my third and last year. I am writing up my Dissertation, amongst other things, and my topic is:
"How Immersion is the key to the success of an MMO(RPG)"
I'm currently behind slightly, but with my Supervisor absent due to family matters, they saw fit to give me an extension. Now for where you all come in. My choice of case study for this Dissertation is Guild Wars 2. I have many reasons, though mainly I will be able to form a hypothesis from my own experience in the game.
My Primary Research will consist of Interviews of Guild members, and due to time.. forum discussions from multiple guilds. I know RPS is quite active even before PCG left Gunnar's Hold so I would be eternally great-full if I could get your thoughts and opinions on some key points.
Originally Posted by Steve Woyach (2003)
-> Examples you can see within the games mechanics and features that help the players immerse more into the game.
-> What senses of gratification do you get when playing out events, instances, story, PvP/WvW fights etc?
-> For those who use your own key-binds and hardware (like MMO mouses, gaming peripheral like the Nostromo etc) does that help you immerse more into what you're doing and if so how?
-> Choices you made within the game (both story, choice of crafting, roles, class, specs/traits etc) and why you made them, relating to gratification and immersion.
-> Does the Monthly Content make or break the immersion for you, and if so how. If not, do you feel that you're immersed more (like this month's content being a throwback to our childhood, or Karka event bringing the whole Guild together in an epic turnout)?
-> Social contact; Are you a type-chat person, or use voice comms; Mumble... why do you stick with your choice of communication? Do you see an obvious separation between the two types of people?
-> New players/experience players (can be answered for both in MMO's and/or just GW2): As one or the other, how do you think your immersion in GW2 differs from that of the other.
-> What are Immersion breakers within GW2 for you guys?
Sorry for the wall of texts and questions, but I want to be as thorough as I can be, and I'm hoping with such a mixed and vibrant community of ours, that I'll be able to get detailed answers from you guys.... and if I've missed anything out that you think could help me, feel free to post it (like Dynamic Events, Dungeons, and general impressiveness in the game) For now, I'll stick to these points, but I may ask more later on. Regular Mumble peeps, feel free to answer these points here, just in-case I can't interview everyone.
All of this would really help me, and I will greatly appreciate any and everyone that does. If you're unsure about something, let me know by way of PM so that I can clarify it for everyone Thanks in advance.
- Brit -
02-04-2013, 10:43 PM #2
Hey Brit, I'll try to help you out with your questions when I've got a bit time during the next days. Have you also considered setting up a questionaire? That might help you getting quantifiable responses. Just an idea.
03-04-2013, 11:27 AM #3
I'm slightly unsure as to the use of "immersion" in this context and maybe it's subjective.
For me immersion is feeling a part of the world and to me this is one of the aspects I find far more important in single player games than any mmo. This is usually down to a combination of world design, sound & animation and the lack of extra features detracting from this (such as UI elements and social stuff getting in the way).
To this I usually play GW2 muted whilst watching tv/films on the other monitor or listening to the radio. I also find that the constant out of character talk in chat whether by text or mumble also detracts from immersion, not that I mind this and I enjoy the silly banter but it doesn't help immerse me in the world.
So basically I find it a little hard to answer the questions because I'm not sure how immersion fits into it, especially with things like key binds.
03-04-2013, 12:43 PM #4
@squirrel: Thanks, and yeah I have a set of questions, but my goal with them is to be used in Interviews as my primary research for my piece. These forum posts is something my Supervisor suggested to bring up a discussions to get a better understanding of peoples how players immerse themselves in the game.
@apricotsoup: Immersion from what I have gathered initially can be subjective.. and there's no right or wrong answers here so you're input into what you think and how you immerse yourself in games is very much helpful to my work. It's why I asked about keybinds - part of being immersed in something, from what I can tell by listening to others, is that most of the time you don't know you're immersed until afterwards when you realize life around you or time has gone by. Key-binds, and use of gaming peripherals (mmo mouse etc) can sometimes help some be more immersed in a game rather than using the defualt keys on your keyboard. Like using the 1 to 0 skills set to your mouse instead for better/ease of reach (obviously dependent on the person)... or things like ingame settings. Like alot of people, a UI can be an immersion breaker... so people have the option to turn that off to not be distracted by text, obviously it has its limitations. As for Mumble and voice comm; Mumble has positional audio for in-game GW2 now, so having that turn on during gameplay/dungeons for example, give them that extra step into the world they're playing. Again this is, like you said, subjective.. and everyone's different. But again, I really do appreciate your answer and thoughts in Immersion as a whole as it will help me loads with my work
*EDIT: A pre-release article of Immersion in GW2 to help people out: http://guildwars2hub.com/features/co...e-we-there-yet - it talks about the steps ANet have taking in game by copying other genres/games and what they could take and do in future.
Last edited by Brit89; 03-04-2013 at 12:46 PM.
03-04-2013, 05:58 PM #5
I would say that immersion in MMO faces an uphill struggle, considering that the games` design goals push them towards social interaction and out-of-character chatting with friends. This is especially obvious in a guild setting. While talking with your guildmates on Mumble, or TS, or Vent, etc. can make the game much more fun, it also breaks the immersion almost in its entirety.
Being someone who loves logical sense in games, my immersion is broken immediately upon finding out that the Hero of [insert silly name here]`s next task is to murder 20 perfectly innocent bears. This is accomplished by swinging what amounts to a sharpened ironing board at them. And yet it does the same damage as throwing a giant blast of flame at them.
Guild Wars 2 does take a step in the right direction by introducing dynamic events, but these are still the same old fetch/defend/escort quests without the slightest whiff of originality.
As for the keybindings, one must note the difference between immersion and practicality: while a custom keybind is practical, in the sense of not having to reach across the keyboard to set off an important skill, it is not really any more immersive, as you`re still pushing a button to make the guy on the screen stab things.
When it comes to in-game choices affecting immersion, they do, to a certain extent (this is MY character), but ultimately my story immersion in GW2, in particular, leaves much to be desired, which I feel is mostly down to the writing being somewhat shoddy. Actually, it is more like "holy crap, did you guys grab someone off of Fanfiction.net to write this BS?"
Finally, immersion breakers for me are, well, everything I`ve just written. While some games (such as Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, pretty much any BioWare game) can easily make you forget that they are games, MMOs seem eager to shout about it as loudly as possible. Murdering a random deer and finding out that a sword with +5% Magic Find was somehow lodged in its stomach kicks me out of any possible immersive experience pretty much instantly.
Hope that helps!
05-04-2013, 03:00 PM #6
It does alot, thanks guys Anyone else got anything else they want to say about Immersion in GW2 or MMO's in general? If lack of, why that is for you?
06-04-2013, 09:36 AM #7
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- Jan 2013
Hmm. I think I disagree with your dissertation title! Never a good start, I know.
Whilst full immersion in a game is definitely a goal for designers, I think the success of an MMORPG is more based on 1) goal achievement 2) the acquisition of shiny (pixillated) things 3) perhaps less important and your mileage may vary, social interaction with people who you don't want to reach through the screen and strangle.
The general theme seems to be that you have quick gratification goals (kill 20 bears), longer term arching quest lines (save the WORLD and everyone in it), team goals (take that keep, run that raid) and status/ego-stroking goals (run a guild, have the shiniest weapons, the best mount). Through the completion of goals, you are rewarded with the SHINY THINGS, and it is these things that keep you working towards the next goal.
A consideration for the designers is balancing the goal with the grind. For example: grinding out a certain amount of apples is an amusing fifteen minutes, particularly if there are some interesting monsters to fight. But if every quest is an hour long grind-fest with a low drop rate (consider the infamous WoW Murlocs Without Heads), you shed players faster than my cat moults in warm weather. That said, you do have to consider that occasionally the shiny shiny shiniest of the shiny things may be worth an EPIC GRIND to get: examples include the legendary weapons in GW2, the Netherwing mount grind in WoW. Here the ultimate shiny thing outweighs the utter ball ache of getting it. Kind of like having children.
But anyway. Back to your actual question...
I don't think MMORPGs achieve immersion terribly well up to about 90% of the time. It's very hard to accept that you're the roving lone maverick hero when everyone you meet has a nameplate hovering over their head, or asks you to kill fifteen badgers for a shiny object, or is voiced by an actress that you're very familiar with (O HAI FELICIA). It's rather difficult to accept that you're walking the hallowed halls of Divinity's Reach when there are people yelling "OMGLULZ" from every corner, and even harder in WvW when you're both storming a keep and having a conversation about something else on mumble or guild chat. There are odd moments: one which stands out is the ?3rd Lich King dungeon in WoW, where you're running and fighting and running and aaaargh things are falling from the ceiling and running and fighting and fighting and... OH MY GOD WE MADE IT... and then the immersion is immediately broken by another tank and spank fight.
This doesn't make the game any less enjoyable, nor do I think it actually matters. GW2 manages to tick most of the boxes to hold interest, which is why it's doing pretty well. Fights are varied and interesting, there are enough gameplay modes to keep everyone happy and there's a large variety of shiny things.
In terms of successful immersion, I think you need to look at the Elder Scroll games, particularly Skyrim. Awesome, realistic graphics, weather that changes visibility, monsters which leap out at you, real fear for your life and then that feeling of taking a breath again when you die, look around and realise it's three hours later. I must admit, I don't enjoy playing it as much as I do games where there's some social interaction, but it's one of the most immersive games I've ever had a go at. Alright, so I don't actually think that one cat-person and an overburdened sidekick could take down a dragon, but for a little while I believe that I can.
06-04-2013, 09:38 AM #8
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- Jan 2013
By the way, I don't know if you want to speak with some hard-core RPers to get their PoV? There used to be a pretty hard hardcore on The Sha'tar EU WoW server that might help you out. I think their opinion might be a bit different.
06-04-2013, 10:56 AM #9
I too feel that immersion isn’t really successful in an MMO, with the large number of other players who are on the same unique world-saving quest, all the markers and trackers (for GW2 in particular I find the Hearts really breaking immersion) and chatter from different channels. That said, I feel particular immersed during intense combat, though that might be simply because there is no time to think about the distinction between me and the character (this goes for both PvE as PvP, though in PvP less because I don’t know what I am doing most of the time). Custom binds help with this, I think, because I don’t have to consciously press buttons since I assigned them to intuitive places.
What does help with total immersion in my case is mainly the design of the world. Most of the places are believably build; walking through certain ruins I really get the idea that they have been there for centuries. The world itself is “living” and I feel a part of it. The same can be achieved with the Dynamic Events, though that quickly degrades with the number of players – too many effects going on, too many players around, an unrealistic amount of enemies storming at you, trackers for the Number of Waves (who disperse as soon as the timer runs out), the Chat yelling a large Event is going on…
As for the choices, they both make and break immersion. I try to make choices that correspond with my own opinion (with my Character as a manifestation of myself in the game) and do what I think is right. But that only works as long as a) the other elements let me believe the world is real (I am already immersed to a certain degree) and b) my choice actually have an impact. When I think what I do is irrelevant, I choose the options I believe to lead to funny dialogue, however ‘out-of-character.’ I do however build my characters as if they have their own background and storyline beyond the game, with choices in race/class/specs accordingly (for example, my Engineer is an Iron Legion Charr, because Iron has the heavy machinery – not Blood or Ash – and the Charr are known for their mechanical prowess).
In general I think immersion is most successful in first-person singleplayer, with a believable, living world (Dishonored did this really well for me). GW2 constantly reminds me that “it’s just a game”, with text popping up notifying me of events that aren’t that unique once you’ve seen them. Though the architecture certainly makes me believe (it immerses me), the illusion is immediately shattered by these mentioned things and by some of the writing and voice-acting (I find female Charr in particular to be horrible).
I’ll largely skips your remaining questions since I don’t know what to do with them: I don’t know what “gratification” means; I don’t play the Monthly Content; I’ve only played GW (1 & 2) as MMO’s; and I only use the chat because a) I still haven’t installed Mumble and b) I don’t like actual talking on-line (as for the ‘separation’: I have no experience with “voice-chatters” so I can’t answer that).
I hope this helps, and good luck with your Dissertation!
06-04-2013, 12:40 PM #10
On the OP: I feel I have to agree with others here, the MMORPG doesn't appear to lend itself to immersion (as I understand it), here's a kind of list of things that break immersion for me (not necessarily GW2 specific):
1) Everyone's the same. Ever stood next to your identical twin in a game? GW2 has a larger range of abilities than some other MMOs I've played and appearance options help, but if everyone seems to have cookie-cutter builds and the same hair it just turns me off.
2) You must do this now! Too much writing and shouting telling me what I should be doing. In real life I like to experience things at my own pace, telling me to do something can often have the opposite effect.
3) Here is more of the same, but with bigger numbers! I like seeing and finding new things, many games placate you by throwing the same monsters at you time and time again, I get bored of fighting "blokes with swords", "blokes with arrows" and "blokes with magic", even if now, inexplicably, they have antelope heads and are so obviously different from the dog-men, pig-men, artichoke-men and office-stapler-men with identical abilities I've already murdered in their thousands. (On a side note, making your races "man-with-animal-head" is just lazy and old).
4) Your only response is this! If my character is an extension of myself then I don't want to be railroaded into decisions that I wouldn't make. GW2's sin is the voiced conversations, as the story quests went on I couldn't help that at some point my character would have turned around and said "Look, Trahearne, I don't mind saving the world from dragons and all that shit, but I really can't stand you prattling on again, so take this boot in the acorns from me and all the Asura that you send on missions with me and invariably end up snuffing it just for the lulz and pathos!"
5) Other people. This comes back to me playing the game the way I want to play it, I don't want other people trying to enforce their way of playing the game on me. The thing that keeps me in MMOs is other people, otherwise I'd probably get to the end of the game and then stop, I endured WoW for so long because of the people I played with, but if I'm to feel part of a world, not a game, then I need all these other people to be part of the world and not random declarers of their favourite meme and penis size.
However, there are times when I have immersed myself in GW2, namely when I have gone off travelling, not following some sort of plan, just exploring the world and not worrying about killing enough monkeys and collecting enough amusingly-shaped vegetables to complete a certain quest heart. Just me, my wits (or lack thereof), a few random events, the beautifully crafted world, the odd passerby playing the game their way but not stopping me, and the potential to find new things, see new stuff and electrify a few innocent rabbits (I always feel bad afterwards, but the rabbit-death-by-electricity is the third funniest thing in the game after falling from a great height onto your face and lich dancing).
06-04-2013, 04:24 PM #11
Really appreciate your opinions guys, keep them coming if there are others that want to say more about Immersion in MMO's in general.
07-04-2013, 09:13 AM #12
This is a shorter answer than the question deserves: but in a nutshell, the bulk of my immersion in GW2 comes from a combination of stunningly realised locations and epic, appropriate soundtrack to go with them. Never underestimate the importance of sound! Incidentally, I think the same is true of (e.g.) Skyrim.GW2: Saphnabylni & co.
08-04-2013, 07:39 AM #13
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Interesting discussion of same question with the Bloke over the weekend. As a veteran gamer, he reckons MMORPGs lost any immersion effect with the introduction of graphics.
08-04-2013, 08:23 PM #14
Why does he reckon that is? :P No really, would be great to know his perspective.... now that you've brought it up >.<
08-04-2013, 10:57 PM #15
hmm, immersion is a double edges sword, take me for example. Yesterday my day finished 5.30 am after 4 hours of completing levelling my chef to 400; that was painful and not particularly immersive but I got to the point where I was just going to bloody finish it anyway. Then I got up this afternoon and decided to complete my daily (yep Zpingets shiny things; they do work)
I personally don't want the game to be any more immersive; the idea scares me, because I'm the kind of person who would starve to death at their computer. (Can anyone else see a time in the future when games can time you out for meals; and not let you back on for an hour )
But of course game designers want their game to be immersive, because like casinos (of course casinos can also serve you food, GW2 does but it isn't quite the same), they want you to buy into the fantasy while you are in their environment, it makes you spend more money.
So in terms of gratification; GW2 has developed something for everyone (it's all in their press statements); it hasn't always worked, sPvP doesn't seem to have become the money spinner they had hoped for, you can reward yourself with the amount of gold, the look of your character or any number of titles from different areas of the game and it is this that anet have aimed for rather than full immersion that you might get from other games (the lack of penalty for dying demonstrates that they are not pushing the immersion envelope). It does do the same thing though; and that is make you forget real life for a time; what is that quote from Yoda? 'All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was.'
Just so you have some idea of the how much bs I have spouted, I have never played any other MMO (well Runescape for a bit but I found it boring), the last RPG game I played was Neverwinter Nights. So that could make me a very good or very bad candidate for your dissertation.Hawksbane | Ripley Hawkswind | Aconitum Hawkshood | Fuchsia Panthera
Steam ID: Hawksbane
09-04-2013, 03:24 PM #16
It's not BS mate, even if you've only played GW2 your opinion does count as much as an experienced MMO player Thanks.