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A workable definition for "immersion"

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I see a difference between "immersion" and "zoning".

 

You know when you play a game like tetris or Unreal tournament or whatever, and you're compeltely in the gmae. You don't take notice of hte outside world. You're in the zone. Some call that immersion. I don't. That's zoning... your brain being so preocupied with the gameplay/mechnics that you dont' see anything else.

 

 

Immersion is to be a different thing. A thing that is only applicable to games/books/movies with interesting settings and stories. It's when you are taken in by the world - when you *are* the character you are roleplaying. The words feels REAL.

Gameplay (machnics) can help or hinder immersion. But immersion itself is a fragile thing, easily broken - and to a point depends on the palyer knowledge. The more you know, the easier is to break immersion.

 

Versimilitude. Common sense.

Thigns should be intuitive and work intuitively. No pointless limitations (and yes, I do consider your warrior not being able to use bows because he's a warrior utterly pointless, serving nothing but to artificially and forcuflly distinguish classes).

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* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

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You have something there, TrashMan. I think immersion in a game is a combination of zoning and suspension of disbelief. That makes games particularly tricky, as they have to both craft a world believable enough to live in, and mechanics workable enough to pull you into the zone. Few do both well.


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I consider zoning and immersion to be different, but familar.

 

Zoning is something more for logic/action games, while immersion is for games that have more to offer than just fun mechanics.


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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The mathematical function which I had in mind would permit what you're talking about, Trashman. Since the quality of immersion would be an additive product of problem solving congruence and emotional congruence.


"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

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Nonononono

 

Reality is more complex than that. TI's

 

IMMERSION = problem_solving * congruence / time + SQR (versimilitude)/pop-culture^2 + SIN (PIE/MC Hammer)

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* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I'm sorry... Just as a quick aside, the "MC Hammer" would be an excellent sentient weapon. And by "excellent," I mean "hilariously ludicrous." It would rap whenever you attacked, and would require you to cease all action for a few seconds before beginning hammering.

 

Also, I like where your head's at, Trashman. And you can definitely have zoning AND immersion in the same game. But they're still distinct. And yeah, immersion involves the player sort of placing himself into the experience, as something resembling himself (some manner of sentient being to which he can relate). It's hard to feel like a Tetris block. I mean, sometimes you can zone and SORT OF "be" the Tetris block, but you're not really relating to the Tetris block, or feeling like you're experiencing some sort of life from the Tetris block's perspective. You're simply blocking out reality's stimuli with an imagined zone involving nothing but the mechanics of Tetris, like you said.

Edited by Lephys
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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I agree with TrashMan that coherence is the key to immersion.  That said, I've got a degree in medieval history, so I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.  Political structures don't make sense, social organization's barely articulated beyond standard tropes, economies don't even seem to exist, religion's passed over and not fleshed out, societies have extreme technological stasis, the ramifications of magic use are brushed aside, etc.  That's why I'm excited about Josh's attitude towards building the world of P:E, because I think his approach gives a reasonable chance that the world might be believable.

 

And that's all I want out of immersion.  To believe that in a world which developed differently (even to the extent of magic being real), these events could be happening.  I don't want to feel like they are happening, just that it's possible they might in this fictional world.

 

EDIT: @Lephys: The MC Hammer could never be parried.  It would simply announce "can't touch this" and strike wherever it wished.

Edited by tajerio
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I agree with TrashMan that coherence is the key to immersion.  That said, I've got a degree in medieval history, so I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.  Political structures don't make sense, social organization's barely articulated beyond standard tropes, economies don't even seem to exist, religion's passed over and not fleshed out, societies have extreme technological stasis, the ramifications of magic use are brushed aside, etc.  That's why I'm excited about Josh's attitude towards building the world of P:E, because I think his approach gives a reasonable chance that the world might be believable.

 

And that's all I want out of immersion.  To believe that in a world which developed differently (even to the extent of magic being real), these events could be happening.  I don't want to feel like they are happening, just that it's possible they might in this fictional world.

 

EDIT: @Lephys: The MC Hammer could never be parried.  It would simply announce "can't touch this" and strike wherever it wished.

LOLCANO! Best... joke supplementation... EVER!

 

Also, I just want to back you in saying how great it would be to work in at least pretty accurate economics, political structures, etc. (with fantasy/fictional artistic license, of course), and that they wouldn't even have to be fully represented. What I mean is, you don't have to let the players directly play the economy, just to verisimilitudinously represent legitimate economic causes and effects as a result of quest/scenario outcomes, etc. A lot of it is simply having the lore foundation make sense. Even if something like the economy hardly ever changes significantly within the player party's little bubble of perspective, it can easily be quite coherent. And if something effects the entire region, or a whole city, etc, just have some economic change. That would be interesting.

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I see a difference between "immersion" and "zoning".

 

You know when you play a game like tetris or Unreal tournament or whatever, and you're compeltely in the gmae. You don't take notice of hte outside world. You're in the zone. Some call that immersion. I don't. That's zoning... your brain being so preocupied with the gameplay/mechnics that you dont' see anything else.

 

 

 That's a good distinction to make. These are almost two dimensions (since we're getting all mathematical in this thread) though not orthogonal dimensions (see, mathematics  :dancing: ).

In an RPG, I think there are periods of being in the zone, during combat mostly, and then popping back out into the story. 

 

 

 Using the IE games as examples, I think BG1 and IWD1 are similar enough in mechanics, but BG1 probably ends up being more immersive (for most people; as  Lephys pointed out, it probably makes more sense to think of elements which support immersion rather than being intrinsically immersive) for two reasons: the story line is more personal in BG1 whereas in IWD1 your character is some anonymous adventurer with no clear motive to follow the main quest line. Secondly, in BG1 the non-linear exploration involves decisions that you can imagine your character making (Do I go with the hamster carrying guy to invade the gnoll stronghold? Sure, why not, he'll just get himself killed otherwise).

 

Regarding zoning, mechanics that are two easy keep you out of the zone and mechanics that are too complex, in a certain sense, also keep you out. What I mean is that if you have something that requires a very specific solution that isn't readily apparent when it needs to be ('ugh, here he goes again with the math' - an exponential tree with a too few viable goal states). E.g. IWD1, early in the game, you get to a dungeon where, if you had known what you were in for, you would have purchased a weapon with a higher enchantment level for one of your party members at the expense of better equipment for others. Since you didn't know that, you now don't have the money to do it and have to shoot a magic missile at each of the monsters, go rest, and repeat ad nauseum until you've cleared the place out (or just reload to an earlier save and equip differently). Ack, you're out of the zone (and not a lot of motivation to get back into it).

 

 If that situation came up in BG1 you could elect to do other things first and come back later (e.g. if you went to the 'Farm' map with all of the ankhegs too early (without a scroll of acid protection and a ton of healing potions), you might decide to come back later). The immersive benefit of exploration is also a zoning benefit in this case. 

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I agree with TrashMan that coherence is the key to immersion.  That said, I've got a degree in medieval history, so I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.

....

That's why I'm excited about Josh's attitude towards building the world of P:E, because I think his approach gives a reasonable chance that the world might be believable.

 

 

 Related to this, the in-game elements need to strike a balance between orienting the player (with familiar things) and describing the novel parts of the world. Planescape:Torment did a great job of this with the sounds; e.g., in the Flaming Corpse Bar, it sounded like a ****tail party that had demons invited (oh wait, '****tail' is going to be censored by the forum software, isn't it?; I mean the kind of party where people stand around drinking mixed drinks and having discussions about subjects not pertaining to ****). 

 

 

 

EDIT: @Lephys: The MC Hammer could never be parried.  It would simply announce "can't touch this" and strike wherever it wished.

 

 

 

 It's worse than that. The developers might build such an uber weapon to make testing go faster and then when they remove it .... it will... you know ..

proclaim that it's "too legit to quit" and remain in game forever.

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I agree with TrashMan that coherence is the key to immersion.  That said, I've got a degree in medieval history, so I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.

I get that, but it's also the differences which make it fantasy, not historical fiction. It can be different.

Like you, I like that there is an entirely new universe being constructed, which gives us a lot of possibilities for our imagination to work from.

 

I think Yonjuro hit the nail on the head with this:

Related to this, the in-game elements need to strike a balance between orienting the player (with familiar things) and describing the novel parts of the world.

In that sense, verisimilitude takes a back seat to internal consistency for creating an immersive experience.

 

As for "zoning" as Trashman explained, I call it hyperfocus (which I think is what Ladycrimson described in her example), someone else might call it flow. That too is definitely a thing. And when you experience it, it generally feels great.

 

I also notice that when I experience this, I generally play much better, have better attention, things feel intuitive, like they play themselves.

I'm not a great sportsman, but I recall one game of basketball I played where I felt "in the zone" and while normally I suck, during that game I would make three-pointers throughout.

It has this feeling of empowerment which I imagine is what it would feel like if "the force" was a real thing. Maybe it's our midichlorians speaking to us.


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I think Yonjuro hit the nail on the head with this:

Related to this, the in-game elements need to strike a balance between orienting the player (with familiar things) and describing the novel parts of the world.

In that sense, verisimilitude takes a back seat to internal consistency for creating an immersive experience.

 

I guess I made my point poorly.  For a fantasy game, I consider verisimilitude to be more or less the same thing as internal consistency.  If all the disparate parts of a world make sense together, more or less, then I credit the world with "the appearance of being true or real" on its own terms.  But I didn't choose the best terminology there.

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I agree with TrashMan that coherence is the key to immersion.  That said, I've got a degree in medieval history, so I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.  Political structures don't make sense, social organization's barely articulated beyond standard tropes, economies don't even seem to exist, religion's passed over and not fleshed out, societies have extreme technological stasis, the ramifications of magic use are brushed aside, etc.  That's why I'm excited about Josh's attitude towards building the world of P:E, because I think his approach gives a reasonable chance that the world might be believable.

 

Same here. Medieval fantasy settings still ostensibly share many things in common with history, and "it's fantasy" isn't reason for passing over something historical unless the nature of the fantasy expressly supports that. In other words, if we had a fantasy where money grew on trees, then maybe it would be excusable that economics in that setting aren't realistic, but- in settings where there's no reason for it not to work the same- it does (assuming you take the view that roleplaying is more about a social role than exclusively about roles in combat) detract from immersion if such things aren't fleshed out.

Edited by mcmanusaur
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I've played exactly zero fantasy games that had an acceptable level of verisimilitude.  Political structures don't make sense, social organization's barely articulated beyond standard tropes, economies don't even seem to exist, religion's passed over and not fleshed out, societies have extreme technological stasis, the ramifications of magic use are brushed aside, etc.  

 

 ...in settings where there's no reason for it not to work the same- it does....

 

 I just wanted to underline this point. It's an opportunity to make something excellent. A favorite bad example of this is Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. There are statues galore that are supposed to make it look like you're in Rome. Some of them have the Roman names of gods others have the Greek names. The cost associated with building that place would have dwarfed the hour in the library (now, it would be the 15 minutes on Google) it would have taken to name them consistently. A tiny bit more work than that could have told an interesting story about the mythology. As it is, shiny crap. Why not spend the (minuscule, in comparison to the total) extra effort?

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In terms of balance, I believe the M.C. Hammer has you lose 100 gold every time you use it, eventually causing you to declare bankruptcy. 

 

We must also have nun-cucks then

 

nunchucks.png


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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A solid control scheme is number one for me.

 

A game can have the greatest story/plot/graphics/ui/whatever in the world but if I have to wrestle with the controls I'm not gonna get immersed no matter what.

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