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Building a Successful "Open" Game World 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the invited-to-return dept.
M3rk sends an excerpt from an opinion piece on Gametopius discussing what it takes for an open game world to be successful. Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay. The lack of either will be a limiting factor in how many people return to play once the primary plot is completed. Quoting: "A game like GTA IV takes itself and its fiction very seriously. It spends a lot of time, effort, and gameplay resources convincing you that the world you are traveling through is the same world that the story and cutscenes take place in. It may not be a game that allows you to own or control property to the degree seen in Burnout Paradise or Saints Row II, but it wants its world to be cohesive, not divided. ... While GTA IV's game systems almost serve its plot, Saints Row II and Burnout Paradise live for their game mechanics. Sure, these worlds are fun to look at and explore, but any exploration and discovery that the player enjoys merely drives them to these games' raison d'être: fun systems to play with."
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Building a Successful "Open" Game World

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  • Idea: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Mhtsos (586325)
    An open game world should have an open content: An achievement in the game should allow you to add to the world's history. Then other players should validate it to become part of the world's lore. (First post BTW)
    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by N1AK (864906)
      Moderation seems to have gone to shit over the last couple of weeks. As much as I think the parent post is overly simplistic (and wrong) how on earth is he trolling?

      There is a -1 Redundant option for a reason...
      • > "Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay.

        I don't see what's so lacking in entertainment by introducing your own char into an open world with all stats set to 255. Sounds like a fun time to me!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JoeMerchant (803320)
      Like Second Life?
  • by Grismar (840501) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:05AM (#27062331)

    Many games, open world games in particular, put you in the place of the protagonist. Or, at the very least, you play the persona of an observer in the game world.

    This type of storytelling seems to me to be an unnecessary restriction on story telling in this type of game format. When watching a movie, or reading a book, the same limitations can occur, but there are many variations.

    Having a story in a movie be about many characters never bothers me, at least not in the sense that I'm wondering who is holding the camera that allows me to see the story. As a disembodied observer, the story unfolds itself just as convincingly as it would from the point of view of some of the characters. The game can focus on manipulating the game world, changing the rules or even just tracking several characters in an interesting way, effectively playing 'director' of an interactive movie.

    • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @08:12AM (#27062937) Homepage

      Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy does that, the story is told from the viewpoint of three characters and you switch between them every now and then on predefined points. It works pretty well. Dreamfall also does that, even featuring a dialog between the two of the characters where you switch characters in the mid of discussion, which was pretty cool moment. The interesting part is that this is really nothing new, Maniac Mansion had that back in 1987, along with cutscenes that show you what other non-player characters in the house where doing.

      I think a big problem with video games these days is that they try to follow Half Life model of 'cinematic storytelling', which means a single view point that is always attached to the main character, it never ever gives you a clear idea of the bigger picture and limits the story to things the main character experiences, which makes things both implausible and very limiting.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @10:59AM (#27064429)

        Space Quest, Maniac Mansion, King's Quest, etc were quite "open" games in the sense that players were encouraged to try anything they could think of to solve puzzles. Quite often there were multiple answers to a single puzzle (consider the permutations just through the "demo" portion of Zak McCracken and the Alien Mindbenders, for example).

        The biggest problem with so-called "open" or "sandbox" gameplay is that gamers are given a giant, flat piece of concrete and a single toy with which to play around. It can be fun for a while, but quickly gets boring when you realize that the underlying gameplay has no mutability, no change. One of the most famous quotes about gameplay and rules is "before you can think outside the box, there needs to be a box" - which is why systems with underlying rules (such as pencil-and-paper roleplaying games)spur much greater player creativity than "blank slate" mechanics.

        "Storyline on rails", like Half Life, can be fun. Equally fun can be "explore the storyline" or "choose your own adventure" style gameplay. The problem for "open" games, by contrast, is that by the time you finish their weak-ass, boring "storyline" mode, all you're left with is the concrete slab and a single toy. Sure you can do "whatever you want" (defined as "whatever crap minimissions were flagged as infinitely repeatable") but that gets boring as hell. Sure, maybe there's an achievement for screwing and then killing 1000 hookers in GTA 5: Attack of the Censors. Sure, maybe you get a "trophy" for retrieving 2000 kids' balloons in Spider-Man 4: Beating a Dead Horse. You know what? That kind of "gameplay" bores the crap out of me."

        Give me a good, solid exploration/adventure style title over the GTA model any day of the week, please.

        • by Nebu (566313) <nebu@NOSpaM.gta.igs.net> on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:25PM (#27065635) Homepage

          Space Quest, Maniac Mansion, King's Quest, etc were quite "open" games in the sense that players were encouraged to try anything they could think of to solve puzzles.

          Just my personal opinion here, but any game in which, when you try the "wrong" thing, kills you off and presents "Gee, I sure hope you have an earlier save" message box, doesn't really encourage you to try anything you can think of.

          "Companions of Xanth" was a bit better in this regard in that they made custom responses to even the most absurd actions (e.g. "Talk to table" yields "Sorry, the table has taken a vow of silence.") and while a lot of things did kill you in Xanth, instead of the normal dialog with only "Quit", "New Game", "Load", there was also an "undo last action" button, so dying by experimentation became a lot less painful and a lot more fun.

          The "Monkey Islands" series was even better (in this particular metric of "encourage players to try everything"), because there was no way to die from trying things. I believe the series had 4 games, and there was only 1 game you could die in, and even then it was only via inaction (don't do anything for 10 real-life minutes), rather than from experimentation.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by NoobixCube (1133473)

            In Monkey Island 1, you could 'die' by staying underwater for 10 minutes. Guybrush did say he could hold his breath for ten minutes, and it just shows he was exactly right. Also, when you actually get to Monkey Island, there is a joke about death in Sierra's adventure games on the cliff. It crumbles under Guybrush, and the Sierra save/load/quit dialogue comes up. He soon bounces back up thanks to a rubber tree. I forget if you could die in the second game or not, but in the third, it was a vital part o

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by g4b (956118)
      Story telling deals with a story, which is situated in the "not-present", e.g. past.
      The story told is already happened.

      Playing a game takes place in the present.

      Everything you experience creates stories in your life. Like this article you just read on slashdot. You can tell it. But like the tactical post analysis of any RTS session, which is sometimes more enjoyable as the game itself, its just the result of the game.

      You hardly are able to tell a specific story in a game, except through taking away control
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Why would I want to play as anyone other than the protagonist?

      • by ozphx (1061292)

        I'd like to think that if you are put into a GTA4 style open world game, with guns, hoes and fast cars, that if you are not "the protagonist" then you will soon become one.

        Either that, or you are going to commute from Romans apartment every morning to ULPaper Co, and shuffle virtual paper around.

  • by s1lverl0rd (1382241) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:16AM (#27062389) Homepage
    Saints Row II and Burnout Paradise aren't open game worlds! They don't even run on Linux!

    (ducks and runs away)
  • Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MWoody (222806) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:22AM (#27062413)

    A game like GTA IV takes itself and its fiction very seriously. It spends a lot of time, effort, and gameplay resources convincing you that the world you are traveling through is the same world that the story and cutscenes take place in. It may not be a game that allows you to own or control property to the degree seen in Burnout Paradise or Saints Row II, but it wants its world to be cohesive, not divided.

    Burnout Paradise? Is that a typo? Of his five or so examples of open world games, I'd say that's the ONLY one with less control over the game world - particularly in the sense of controlling "property" - than GTAIV.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @06:42AM (#27062499)

    I loved the plots of Grand Theft Auto IV and Final Fantasy X, and that you could do a myriad of side activities within the game world before completing the story mode (and in the case of GTAIV continue playing the game free roam) but ultimately as a narrative experience you are bound to the plot.

    In Grand Theft Auto IV if you want to unlock the other islands etc. you must progress through the story, so the world is only open (from the start) so much. In Final Fantasy X you are limited very much where you can travel until you have progressed up to a significant point in the story where you are finally given the option of roaming the world at your own leisure.

    Fallout III actually had a more correct approach to giving the player a true open world choice in that the entire landscape was available to be explored the moment you exile yourself from the vault. And every sidequest and other task is available to be completed as the player's own judgment and they can go in any direction and order. You can even choose your character's name, gender, race, and some facial features.

    But what all three of these games have in common is that no matter how open the worlds are at any point, in order to complete the game, at least as the developers designed, is to conform to the character's pre-written closed world and isolated story.

    In GTAIV, you cannot become a cop or a taxi driver, or a motorcycle racer, you must find the military men who betrayed you back home to find closure for your character. But the game, once you have beaten it, gives you the brilliant option of playing the conquered world completely freely including finishing the side tasks. Though to unlock this complete sandbox you've had to assume the scripted and not open-ended role of the main character. The story is GTAIV is excellent, but the focus and enticement of having a large sandbox to explore and fiddle with, is usually the driving force for people to complete the game.

    In Final Fantasy X, once you beat the game, that's it, it goes to the final cut scenes and wraps up the story. The only way to replay it is to either start a new game, or to load an older save file. Of course this is the way the developers planned the game, you are meant to finish the game, there is a story and it is the main focus of the game despite you being in a sandbox world at one point the developers are pushing you to finish the story, the game. FFX had such a tragic ending and fans screamed so loudly and furiously for more story, and therefore more gameplay, that Square (who makes the FF games) created FFX-2, or the first true sequel to any FF game in history. So even though at some point the game was open-ended, once you are done doing every side-task, all that is left is the story. But completing the game 100% is no small task.

    Fallout III, you get the entire world open from the beginning, you can lead a good karma life, a neutral karma life, or a bad karma life. But no matter how good, indifferent, or neutral you are, your world is always the same, the quest is always the same, The Waters Of Life. In Fallout III they give the character the choice of being whoever they want. In GTAIV you are Niko the insane immigrant seeking vengeance and retribution at all costs. In FFX you are Tidus and company ridding the world of the giant monster Sin. In Fallout III you can be whoever you want in terms of looks, and even karma, but no matter who you think you may be...you are forced into the Waters Of Life Quest.

    Even if the Waters Of Life Quest can be ended in different ways, the developers force you to help your father in a task that has little emotional connection to you the main character. You have to join project purity. You could blow up Megaton, enslave children, kill the ghouls, enslave the replicant, and become the devil of the wasteland...but when daddy says he needs help with the water filter and fuse box running the generator guess who has to become a handy man taking time off from savagely raping and brutalizing the world. I could understand if

    • by Enki X (1315689)
      Clearly you've missed out on Bethesda's previous titles, and haven't experienced the true freedom that is Tamriel...
      • You are correct. I was actually disappointed that in Fallout 3 the game stopped after completing the main quest, but also that most side quests are closely related to the main quest. In the previous Bethesda games you could actually ignore the whole main quest and still play a round with a world where the main quest didn't bother. Ignoring the main quest in fallout 3 could lead to an instant jump in the main quest progress, which is actually very annoying.

        Bethesda's Daggerfall featured a very open world. Of course the quests eventually became nothing but grind. But you could do pretty much whatever you wanted. You could go into the trading business, busing and selling houses. Or join one of the various guilds/cults.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          You could go into the trading business, busing and selling houses.

          Busing houses only became practical with a high-strength character though.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          In the previous Bethesda games you could actually ignore the whole main quest and still play a round with a world where the main quest didn't bother.

          I did that with Morrowind. Spent weeks running around the countryside, taking every mission I could that wasn't the main quest. By the time I actually wanted to pursue the main quest, I had already found and lost an essential item to finish the game.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Sciros (986030)

            Depending on the item, you could re-acquire it. If it was the Wraithguard, there was an alternate (pretty cool and non-cheating, actually) way to get it, and it went on your other hand. People that went a little psycho and decided to off Vivec himself ended up having to go this route.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              I think it was Sunder. I'd have been happy to cheat to get it back, but I was playing the Xbox version.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sciros (986030)

      The Elder Scrolls games (also Bethesda's) are more open then Fallout 3 in that sense -- you can ignore the main quest easier, and even when you complete it, the game continues on.

      By the way, Fallout 3's third mini-expansion will change the ending and allow you to continue playing once you complete the main quest. Why they didn't think to do that right away confuses me, since they could have just looked to their Elder Scrolls games from the get-go.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I would also like to remind of Arcanum. True, there you couldn't play past the ending, but you could also ignore the main quest, and roam at will. It is also the only game I know which had map of the entire world (a large continent) available for exploration from the very beginning, and you could actually go to any point of it and find what was there (i.e. if there's a city or a camp that you do not know about, you could still stumble into it by walking.

        How is it different from TES and Fallout? In one simpl

      • By the way, Fallout 3's third mini-expansion will change the ending and allow you to continue playing once you complete the main quest. Why they didn't think to do that right away confuses me...

        Second sentence, re: first sentence ;) No, seriously, it's a smart (but dick) move on their part, make people pay to eliminate something they actually had to do more work to program into the game (or at least would have been monumentally trivial to do). Package it up with a few extra morsels and the crowd, especia

    • Especially Ultima VI, but also Ultima VII had a vast world that can be explored freely. You can even harvest crops and bake bread if you like or drift across the sea in a raft...

      I still fondly remember the exploration of Britannia and it took me at least a month to realize there was a storyline I could follow (I only had about 1 year of english at school at that time and game-information was heavily text-driven...)

    • by Nebu (566313)

      Fallout III actually had a more correct approach to giving the player a true open world choice in that the entire landscape was available to be explored the moment you exile yourself from the vault. And every sidequest and other task is available to be completed as the player's own judgment and they can go in any direction and order. You can even choose your character's name, gender, race, and some facial features.

      Choosing your name, gender, race and some facial features isn't really that impressive in terms of "truly open world", IMHO.

      What bugged me about Fallout 3 is how many of what are supposed to be "roleplaying perks" did not actually do much for roleplaying at all. I'm talking about the "Kid at heart" and "Seducer/Seductress" perks (not sure if that's the exact name, I'm reciting this from memory). The opportunity to use these perks were extremely rare, and even then only for "one-off" situations. Never actual

    • Excellent points regarding Fallout 3. While I loved the game, I was disappointed in the options regarding the main quest. I haven't even started an evil character but I can see the problems that would exist. My main problem is that there are so few solutions to problems and characters seem not to respond to a variety of things as you play the game.

      My biggest problem with the main story was having to find my father. I'm introduced to him in through about 20 minutes of gameplay and then I have to find him.
  • Meh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ady1 (873490) *

    Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay. The lack of either will be a limiting factor in how many people return to play once the primary plot is completed.

    Neither of the factor is a must for a game to be a success. World of Warcraft for example. It has no story, weak characters and gameplay which been obsolete for about 10 years. Halo is another example.

    All it takes is to target the right market at the right time and have a huge marketing budget. Everything else is optional

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tnok85 (1434319)

      Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay. The lack of either will be a limiting factor in how many people return to play once the primary plot is completed.

      Neither of the factor is a must for a game to be a success. World of Warcraft for example. It has no story, weak characters and gameplay which been obsolete for about 10 years. Halo is another example.

      All it takes is to target the right market at the right time and have a huge marketing budget. Everything else is optional

      Warcraft actually has a very in depth backstory, moreso than any of the games listed above (with the exception of Final Fantasy, perhaps). There are novels surrounding the universe, a very very detailed history, and so on. The stories, however, play out in quests and raids. Most players don't read quests, just enough to figure out how to get XP, and most raids aren't even touched by the average player.

      So I see your point there - there is no story, but that's because it's not a story driven game and therefor

      • Warcraft actually has a very in depth backstory, moreso than any of the games listed above (with the exception of Final Fantasy, perhaps). There are novels surrounding the universe, a very very detailed history, and so on.

        Really? I would think a novel about getting a steady flow of peons running between your gold mine and base, followed by a massive raid on the humans would be rather boring. Or, to put it in other words, more swobuh than zogzog.

        • by tnok85 (1434319)

          Really? I would think a novel about getting a steady flow of peons running between your gold mine and base, followed by a massive raid on the humans would be rather boring. Or, to put it in other words, more swobuh than zogzog.

          You can describe ANY game by pure game mechanics and make it sound droll.

          "You point your gun at the enemy. You pull the trigger. Your XP goes up. Rinse and repeat 5000 times."

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Turiko (1259966)
      halo is a rather poor example... you are the sole character seeking to save your race. It has a pretty good story; kind of farfetched, but not too much.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nebu (566313)

      Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay. The lack of either will be a limiting factor in how many people return to play once the primary plot is completed.

      Neither of the factor is a must for a game to be a success. World of Warcraft for example. It has no story, weak characters and gameplay which been obsolete for about 10 years. Halo is another example.

      The "Warcraft" and "Halo" worlds are actually pretty well fleshed out with lots of detail, so I don't think these are the best examples for "successful games with no story".

      Better examples, IMHO, include: Tetris, Dance Dance Revolution, Rock Band, most flight sims and racing games.

      • I have to take issue with this, WoW has little to no story. Now, there are volumes of drivel that have been published outside the game, but the game's ideas about plot are one paragraph quest descriptions. You can get the idea of a story, but angsty teenager poetry has more depth than the in game quests....
        • by MWoody (222806)

          You should really not comment on a game you've obviously not played for more than 15 minutes.

          • You should really not comment on a game you've obviously not played for more than 15 minutes.

            main 80, w/ multiple 70+ alts, full t7.5 epics, 50+ mounts, 5k+ achievement points, 4500+ dps currently, cleared all heroic raid instances in WoTLC by December. Guild is #5 on server for progression, based on completion dates. Started raiding when MC, BWL, and Ony were progression raids.

            Now, as I was saying dumbass, the writing in WoW sucks.
    • by Samah (729132)

      Neither of the factor is a must for a game to be a success. World of Warcraft for example. It has no story, weak characters and gameplay which been obsolete for about 10 years

      Actually Wrath of the Lich King has brought in a lot of lore from the Warcraft universe. Its phasing system ensures that the quests you do actually affect the game world permanently (but only for you).

      For example (without spoiling too much), as you complete quest chains in a certain zone, you're helping a certain faction take control of that zone. You recapture towns and gain new flight paths, but they're only available to you (until your friend gets to the same point in the quest). Also, the Wrathgate e

  • by S3D (745318) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @07:36AM (#27062757)
    Really open game world should be procedurally generated IMHO, like roguelike [wikipedia.org] games and their derivatives (diablo etc). The problem is that such world often look sterile and artificial, and need content created by designer to become more alive. I think the solution could be - after creating random seed world it should evolve for several hundreds generations. That way disbalances would die out, factions will have history of relationship, artifacts and places of power would have some logic in their placement. Kind of genetic algorithm for game content.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      that sounds cool, but how do you measure the fitness of a world, Its "aliveness"?. It's something to tink about, though.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ever played Dwarf Fortress?

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I was going to post that. Dwarf Fortress does exactly what S3D describes.

      • by ozphx (1061292)

        No. My housemate plays it, and I could never stand to look at the insanely horrible text interface.

        Seriously - a crap developer on like 45k could put a passable UI on top of that...

    • by tygerstripes (832644) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @09:45AM (#27063545)

      I agree that this is the ultimate goal of procedurally generated content - a whole world built upon a set of "simple" well-defined rules, some starting parameters and a little room for God to play dice.

      Not only would this make the world unpredictable, un-walkthru-able, endlessly inventive and open, it would lend itself to more and more elaborate worlds as developers learned to optimise procedural generation and spawn more and more depth and detail without games becoming unwieldy to install. Forget Spore: see kkrieger [theprodukkt.com] for a real-world example of just how efficient and powerful this concept can be. (I'm also excited about Introversion's latest project, Subversion [wikipedia.org]).

      However, there are problems with this. The first and most obvious is that designing procedural algorithms to generate good quality content is an enormously complex and challenging task when compared to conventional content development. It's like the difference between building a creature by adding and changing organs (again, see Spore), and building a creature by coding some DNA from scratch and chucking it in a cell nucleus. It's much more elegant, but so very much more difficult.

      Add some randomness into the mix to make the world not only procedural but also unique, and you have a hell of a tricky project on your hands. Setting the range of starting parameters, such that the resultant world will always be interesting and varied enough to be playable, would be very difficult, even with a very simple system - see the Game Of Life if you don't understand why.

      Secondly, there is the subtler problem of how to make good game content. Talented developers spend years learning their art and the pitfalls of the trade, and even then can screw it up too easily. Making good scenarios and content is an impressive skill, and the result can only be judged in human terms - how can a computer judge what makes a good mission, quest, set-piece or whatever? Even with a simple thing like Sudoku, hand-made puzzles are almost always more satisfying, more taxing in particular ways, more elegant... Procedurally generating a really good puzzle or quest on a consistent basis is, I suspect, impossible.

      I really hope that what you suggest comes to pass - it's the holy grail of PG games - but for the foreseeable future it's exactly that. Quixotically difficult, and quite probably an impossible fantasy.

      • by Orome (159034)

        This talk between Will Wright and Brian Eno about the joys and challenges of working with procedural content is great

        http://blog.longnow.org/2006/06/26/will-wright-and-brian-eno-playing-with-time/

      • I'm interested in the idea of procedurally generated RPG content too. There's a guy who's set out to post Three Hundred [squidi.net] game ideas, and devotes many of the current 99 to procedural generation in the Roguelike style. Because I'm mainly interested in building a "real" history for a game world as opposed to a set of dungeons, I don't completely agree with his approach, but the site is definitely worth browsing.

        On the topic of how a computer could possibly judge what makes a "good" game world/level/whatever w
  • I am a great fan of open games - like Crossfire or Mana World, but I find that I invariably get bored with a game after a relatively short while because it is too much of just one of two things. Perhaps the problem is that it is relatively easy to implement "killing" as the basic way to advance, whereas almost any other concept is difficult by comparison.

    To be really long-term successful, I think an online game should cater for a wider variation of interests, like teaching, construction and exploration. I d

    • by arth1 (260657)

      I am a great fan of open games - like Crossfire or Mana World, but I find that I invariably get bored with a game after a relatively short while because it is too much of just one of two things. Perhaps the problem is that it is relatively easy to implement "killing" as the basic way to advance, whereas almost any other concept is difficult by comparison.

      Correction: There is another much-used experience giver that is even more hated -- FedEx quests.

      What I think would be successful is to have a hundred or s

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @08:02AM (#27062881) Homepage

    I'm really sick of having to "explore" my way to every event and challenge. Burnout Paradise is a game where its "cohesiveness" really gets in the way of fun gameplay. It could benefit a lot from a little less cohesion and a little more "easy UI".
      - "Retry previous race" would be nice
      - "Reverse previous race" would be a more-"cohesive" way to do the same thing - get back to where you were, but have some fun doing it.
      - "Jump to location" would be a less-cohesive but more what you actually want
      - "Custom Race" would be the more-cohesive variant of that. Just define a point to race to, and do it.
      - "Invincible mode" (or at least a way to enable Burnout: Revenge style "anything but head-on is fine" crashes) would instantly make all the "get from point a to point b before you can do a race" stuff a lot more enjoyable.
      - ability to disable the slow-motion crash cam (at least for driveaways) would make the whole thing more fun

    Burnout: Paradise is NOT a good example of the game's "cohesion" taking a back seat to the goal of fun.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DeathCarrot (1133225)

      - "Retry previous race" would be nice

      It's not intuitively placed, but it does exist. It's in the in-game menu (right on the d-pad by default on X360 controllers IIRC).

      • yeah its there. That being said, I RTFA and I honestly dont know what the article was trying to make a point of, they ramble on about story lines in games being important and then try to throw in some garbled message of how much play mechanics matter and ends the article about how much they cant wait for a game from a lionhead, ok..... Honeslty i havent played any of the games they mention except for Burnout Paradise, and the thing that makes it fun to play for me at least is the fact that it's mindless f
      • This was only added in the recent (early Feb) patch though, it was not always there. The early Feb patch did a fair amount to downgrade the exploration/world aspects of the game, between adding Retry (which they had previously been strongly against) as well as making the "collectibles" (smashables) glow extremely gaudily. HEY LOOK OVER HERE SOMETHING YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO COLLECT DON'T JUST DRIVE PAST IT. It really bothers me that even the billboards you've already smashed continue to blink bright red with an
  • When I was a student, Psygnosis came to the university on a recruitment drive and spoke about their games.

    Aside from that being cool in itself, what did stick in my memory was a comment about what made a game good - getting enjoyment from the playing itself, not just from completing goals.

    But this was way before Half-life and putting a story into gaming. Can't beat a good story.

    So really the best solution has to encompass both, bit of a story and development, and a nice environment to explore complete with

  • It's pretty obvious to me exactly where games should be heading, and 'open world' games, regardless of type - (shooter/RPG etc.) - are no exception.

    The first step, is something certain games are now starting to really get into:

    Dynamic content. I.e. game worlds/objects/characters etc. that react to the player and each other in as many ways as possible. Of course, this means stuff like destructible scenery, aswell as dynamic plot generation etc..

    The second step is something most RPG's have really taken step

    • by grumbel (592662)

      Down side? We'll probably have to wait another 10-20 years before it all gets worked out... :(

      The annoying part is that games where already there or at least going in that direction, a good 20 years ago. Elite had a huge universe to explore back in 1984, then in 1993 there was XCom:UFO where you had to fight war against alien on a dynamic playing field, all with a meta-game where you researched stuff, build your base and so on, in EF2000 in 1995 you had a complete war that was simulated dynamically, so you didn't just flew your missions, you also saw friend and enemy fly their missions, planes and r

  • I've found Oblivion Elder Scrolls to be pretty open for a game world. Not only can you drop off and pick up the main story line as much as you want, but after you complete it you can still mess around in the game world dungeon diving and all other kinds of fun things.

    • Seriously, I nearly cry every time I hear stuff like this, just like I nearly cried the first time I played oblivion.
      Although I don't really play games any more, I'd prefer to play morrowind or daggerfall any day of the week. In fact, if someone remade daggerfall in a slightly less hideously 2D-sprited manner I just might have to drop out of university...

      if this already exists please, for the sake of my future, DON'T link me to it! ......no, please, do

  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is the definition of an "Open" game--and a very well executed one at that. Once you get through the very first area, you have the entire world available. The whole thing. You can do whatever you want. There are a lot of different "quests," and each quest has its own plot. The player can spend hours upon hours just exploring the huge, beautifully rendered world and not even touch the plot.

  • It's become part of the buzzword bingo of the games industry, and on the whole the concept has become tarnished by publishers and developers trying to lift what they can from GTA3 (the free-roaming, side quest and hidden stuff laden setting) into their games as a shortcut to their own success. Why not relabel the entire RPG genre as "open world" games? The only effective difference between GTA3 and Fallout 2, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VII, or WoW is the combat system and camera angle (and even the lat

    • I'd call EVE online an open game world. You're still constrained to the eve galaxy, but all interesting content is pvp, and thus changes quite a bit. Since players can hold space and space is so big (with so many players) there's always some other system to conquer.
  • I loved Oblivion *and* Morrowind. I love all three Fallout games. Never understood the existence of hate camps for some of these games against the others. It's gaming, folks. Games. Fun. Remember fun?

    What's funny is going to gaming message boards and seeing what people expected out of some of these games, or their ideas for improvements. They always fail to explain where I'm going to get the supercomputing cluster to run their version of the game.

  • I'd have to say that in order for a world to be both open ended and free without being tedious and bland, someone would have to come up with a procedural generation method that would also appear to be organic in a ways. Perhaps having the parameters of later areas effected by the player's actions. And also making it consistent for areas already visited if it involves people. A procedural Oblivion would be without a solid main plot just a series of higher level goals and perhaps missions that may or may not
  • Did anyone else read the summary as "open source Game world"?

    Bad soulskill. You should've used "open-ended"! Not "Open"!

  • by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Wednesday March 04, 2009 @12:51PM (#27066005)

    Open game worlds are overrated. There has been an ongoing trend towards every game moving from closed areas and scripted events toward wide-open spaces. "Open environment" is a feature added to any game in order to make it more modern and easy to sell. But adding that feature doesn't necessarily lead to a better game.

    Open worlds were fascinating at first because they were new and full of possibilities. The game levels became vast playgrounds to explore. There was an undeniable appeal to running around in GTA III for the first time and just firing rockets in various directions to see what would happen.

    However, the novelty of this is wearing off. There's only so much of interest to do in these open spaces. My real life town is a big open space, but that doesn't mean I wander around the various streets with my mouth agape. I'm finding that I spend too much time in these open world games getting to the interesting bits, rather than moving directly from one interesting challenge to the next.

    I want scripted events. I want a game to be well written and entertaining, and for all the time I spend with it to feel satisfying. I'm hoping the pendulum will swing back towards careful design, even at the expense of openness.

  • Somehow I suspected this is known since Monkey Island.

    The whole research went like this:
    scientist 1: Oh let's research about open games. So what do we know actually ?

    scientist 2: Open games are games with a huge world.

    scientist 2: Yes.

    scientist 1: Then my conclusion is clear. Interesting stories and characters are important, but they must be balanced by varied and entertaining gameplay.

A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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