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Building a Successful "Open" Game World

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the invited-to-return dept.

Games 104

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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eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062291)

Eat my shorts slashdot !! /. dying?

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (4, Interesting)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062377)

I don't know. I find Fable II is more entertaining than GTA IV. Itâ(TM)s enjoyable visually and story-wise whereas GTA is just kindof bleh. The problem comes when these kind of dynamic world games spread themselves too thin and try to have a huge world but they don't actually have enough developers to pull it off. A game like Oblivion loses an element of personality and depth in its quest because it tries way too hard to be huge.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (2, Informative)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062505)

I have to agree really, I don't think GTA4 lived up to the hype in all honesty. It was a good game, but only as good as the majority of other games out there but personally I felt, not as good as Saints Row 2.

Saints Row 2's more open world style, it's coop mode and so on made for such a better game. The minigames were just more funny too- seriously, the escort one, driving round at high speed avoiding TV crews and the IRS whilst your mate is in the back performing the "Brown Twister" or whatever on an old granny, hours of amusement! It just had so many semi-hidden elements too from streaking to the suicide guy to the zombie killing section.

But Saints Row 2 wasn't unique in beating GTA4 as an open world game I felt, Mercenairies 2 was rather fantastic, from getting your first chopper through to continuing to play the game after you'd completed it and getting to actually calling nuclear strikes that would whipe out half a city.

I think coop matters as much as anything for these types of games though, Crackdown clearly wasn't as good as GTA4 single player but slap coop mode on and you could have much more fun. Even then coop isn't the be all and end all though because as you say, Fable 2 was more fun, even though it's coop mode was pretty crap. IIRC GTA4 actually has a coop mode but it's just a crappy sub-game.

Whilst we have our Resident Evils, our Rainbow Sixs, our Gears of Wars and that that do have coop modes, there's nothing I look forward to more on release calendars than open world games with good coop modes. One in particular I'm holding out my hopes for is Just Cause 2, I quite enjoyed the first one and if the next one will have coop then it should make for fun times.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27072043)

Saints Row 2 reminded me of the old GTA spirit. Co-op was a blast. Missions were fun. Loads of stuff to do.

The general feel of the game wasn't to constrain you as well. The garage would let you store as many cars as you liked, you could save midgame without having to run off to some apartment. The health-regen meant you could have extended firefights with police....

I felt it was completely let down by the horrible driving physics. Cars had an apparant weight of 10kg - causing mayhem on the road just wasn't as satisfying as in GTA4. Driving was let down further by the horrible keyboard controls on the PC port :/

The graphics were worse than GTA4 which I found irrelevant.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

ady1 (873490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062565)

GTA is not an RPG. Never was. Comparing it with Fable makes no sense whatsoever.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062763)

Noone ever said GTA was an RPG, thats a rather pedantic point to make. Sure they're not the same genre... but both are games, both released around the same time, and both are open world style.

Sure you can't compare the genre conventions of them, but you can compare their fun, their replayability, their success, etc.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062623)

now why did you reply to the troll??

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (0, Offtopic)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062823)

Grandparent:

Eat my shorts slashdot !! /. dying?

Parent:

I don't know. I find Fable II is more....

I'm sorry, but one or other of you appears to have posted in the wrong thread.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (0, Offtopic)

deroby (568773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063389)

Not necessarily, I've had it happen to me too. Threads get mixed up now & then. I *think* it has something to do with :
* post message
* have message replied to
* original message gets modded down
* reply suddenly find itself attach to other parent !!

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064611)

reply suddenly find itself attach to other parent

Note that the reply also shares the same subject like as the original "troll" post, complete with the added "Re:". So this isn't simply a case of misthreading - either the bug is more complex than that, or there isn't a bug at all and he just replied to the first post in an attempt to get his post near the top.

Re:eat my shorts slashdot !! (1)

deroby (568773) | more than 5 years ago | (#27074919)

Not impossible off course, but that's not what happened to me ...

I can't vouch for the subject, maybe it changed, maybe it didn't... but I'm pretty sure that my post (and one of the replies) was originally on a different post.
=> http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1139773&cid=26981295 [slashdot.org]

Idea: (2, Interesting)

Mhtsos (586325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062303)

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:Idea: (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062427)

What? Like Wikipedia?

(oh, and FAIL!)

Re:Idea: (0, Offtopic)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062747)

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...

Re:Idea: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063609)

Slashdot is a pleasant refuge from the "Fr1St POsT" idiocy which is so common on other forums. For that reason alone, I'd like to see the GP moderated into oblivion.

Re:Idea: (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065183)

> "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:Idea: (2, Insightful)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063569)

Like Second Life?

Re:Idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27074133)

About 10 years ago I played an mmo [eh, maybe not massive 100+ online at any given time?] but the game creators [or gods] would take part in the game to a major extent. Well I remember a well trusted merchant who helped people trade. [there was no trade feature so a trusted middleman was often used] one day he was gonna do the largest trade ever. The most powerful weapon in the game, and the only one to boot for a TON of gold. in short, he robbed them. There's fragments of this story in scrolls or books that are in libraries throughout the world, it has always added a sense of joy when you were there for such an event. This is just one example but things like this happened. Now the game has expanded, they're very successful [not WoW but meh] but that kind of thing never happens now.

Idee fixe of first person (3, Interesting)

Grismar (840501) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Idee fixe of first person (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062557)

I may have misintepretid your post, but I have never wondered who is "holding the camera" in a film/game with a sole protagonist. Imagination allows me to get past that...

Re:Idee fixe of first person (3, Interesting)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062937)

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.

Re:Idee fixe of first person (3, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Idee fixe of first person (3, Interesting)

Nebu (566313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065635)

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:Idee fixe of first person (2, Informative)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069785)

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 of a puzzle. Alright, so that's actually a fake death, but the characters nearby talk at length about how they didn't think you could die in a Lucasarts adventure game.

Re:Idee fixe of first person (2, Insightful)

g4b (956118) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063799)

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 from the player.
What you can hope for, is that a game resonates into a story, which lets the player experience another story from his own perspective.

It is a common misunderstanding of game design to think about games like stories. They are not. As is any activity, its taking place in the present. You dont think about how cool you jump and shoot another one in the head. However, you remember it, shortly after, and enjoy the moment of writing "pwnd" in the console or talking about it afterwards. "Remember...?"
And that's why not everything you can do in storytelling will work with games.

Most RTS games let you control a lot of units. So yes, you can identify yourself with a lot of different persons. Even most old RPGs let you build parties. But it's not the same, as experiencing the story of many characters in a movie leading to a plotline. And remember, if there are a lot of characters, their plotlines always cross.
Even if you try different characters, I think especially in an open game, that would not work so much.

Also, there should be a difference between game and toy. A game where you can mix your plotlines to get a movie is more or like a toy, not a game. There has to be some gameplay. Even in SIMs there is. If you play SIMs with a moneyhack you will get bored soon. Even if you can let your characters act out in all possible situations you want to imagine.

Re:Idee fixe of first person (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064193)

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

Re:Idee fixe of first person (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27072069)

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.

Problem solved (5, Funny)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062389)

Saints Row II and Burnout Paradise aren't open game worlds! They don't even run on Linux!

(ducks and runs away)

Wait, what? (3, Insightful)

MWoody (222806) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wait, what? (1)

berwiki (989827) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063667)

Burnout Paradise is pretty sweet though.

Open worlds are still limited by plots though... (4, Interesting)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 a good karma player wanted to help project purity. Or even if a neutral karma player wanted to help them but only if he got paid in caps or guns or something. But a bad karma player? I just nuked Megaton for a laugh and I killed every ghoul in the metro. I don't want to give everyone clean water and risk my life doing it.

And of course with Fallout III, Bethesda hyped up the open-ended world so much, that they proclaimed the game to have over 200 different endings. But there is only one ending, in that the game stops being able to be played. If you kill yourself through sacrifice well then obviously the game ends. If you let another do it, well then you get the ending where you were a giant coward even through for entire story you have had to continually risk your life helping your father and project purity. Not to mention the game won't allow your radiation immune minions to press the button. Nor will it allow you to use the 99 rad-aways and rad-x that you have in your inventory to live. So the world is open ended in Fallout III with the exception of the main story. The main story once you complete it of course forces the game to end permanently for that character unless you (unknowingly the first time through) saved a backup save file).

Of these three games Fallout III received far and away the most criticism for being claimed as open-world by its developers. FFX was praised for taking a very straightforward genre and adding sandbox elements in it despite not allowing the player to continue after the ending. But the ending of FFX was so amazing that it more than made up for not being able to continue. And the ending of FFX was so powerful that fans demanded a sequel and actually got one. Fallout III not only had a terrible ending, but it ended the character and world progression of the user even if you chose to live. So Fallout III was not a fully open-ended game despite being billed that way. GTAIV of course everyone who played the previous games in the series knew that story progression unlocked a larger sandbox that would still be available once you completed the story.

Fallout III was good in that it unlocked the world completely from the beginning, but fell short in that the main quest was always the same, and once you beat it the game was over. GTAIV rewards story progression with even more open-ended play, and the missions often serve as tutorials for player showing how to buy guns, how to use the subway, how to take people on dates, and so on. And when you beat GTAIV you can still play with all the perks you've accumulated. FFX everyone knew was a single-player story driven game, and once the single-player story was over, so was the game play.

In order to have a truly open-world game you can't have a story or a clear cut path for the player to follow. They must chose how to approach the world just as we do in real life. That is true open-ended play. Sandbox games are a sandbox, a set perimeter where the player can play.

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1)

Enki X (1315689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062651)

Clearly you've missed out on Bethesda's previous titles, and haven't experienced the true freedom that is Tamriel...

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (4, Informative)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062769)

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:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (2, Funny)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063399)

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

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

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064239)

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:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1, Informative)

Sciros (986030) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064499)

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.

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067335)

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

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (2, Informative)

Sciros (986030) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064395)

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:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (2, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068291)

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 simple way: the map of the world was true to scale. You could truly walk the entire continent from end to end, but that would require weeks of in-game time and hours of your time, watching your character journey through the land, and an occasional random encounter with some hostiles.

Of course, the whole thing was procedurally generated, outside from special locations such as cities, dungeons etc, so there wasn't much point in travelling around like that... but the very fact that you could do it somehow improved immersion.

On a side note, it's also the only CRPG I know of where you could kill every single living creature you meet, and still finish the plot - none of that silly unkillable NPCs a la Oblivion (and so many others), or "the thread of fate is severed - maybe you'd like to load the last save?" of Morrowind.

Re: Fallout 3 ending until expansion... (1)

Phil Urich (841393) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069821)

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, especially the console crowd who thinks this kind of open world RPGing is somehow revolutionary and new, will be throwing money at them shortly thereafter.

And this is why so many companies are reluctant to have really open worlds, like how WoW still doesn't have player-created cities and other content while other (less successful) MMORPGs do; the less leeway you give the players, and the more tightly you control the extent of their experience, the more you can dole it out in costly chunks. That's the sad part about the system, that it encourages that instead of encouraging what the technology could actually allow.

Where is the godfather of open games: Ultima! (2, Informative)

Kaukomieli (993644) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065511)

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...)

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1)

Nebu (566313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065759)

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 actually molded the full story.

Plus the "Karma" system in Fallout 3 removed any and all moral ambiguity. They specifically showed which actions were "good" and which were "bad". There were no dilemma to go through, no self-examination or personal growth.

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27065909)

PLEASE, for the love of God, STOP TYPING. No-one needs to know your views to such a degree, with so many minute, repetitive details. We all got the point four paragraphs in. Hire an editor or something. Jesus.

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067223)

"In GTAIV, you cannot become a cop or a taxi driver"

Ever steal a cop car or taxi cab in the game? They've had taxi driver and vigilante missions as far back as GTA3, and this one is no different.

Re:Open worlds are still limited by plots though.. (1)

dyslexicbunny (940925) | more than 5 years ago | (#27069841)

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. And my only option for beating the game is to help him with Project Purity? To me, your father is on the same level as a deadbeat dad that leaves the family. I realize that the main gameplay is more important than the child aspect but at some point, you need to want to find him. What about players who don't care about their dad or helping him? What if you want to agree to go hunt your father down and bring him back to 101? Possibilities are endless.

My dream open game world would be something like Thief and set in a similar time frame. You take missions freely and based on what missions you take, different outcomes will happen. Start it in a large city with surrounding areas and progress to other cities and areas similar to the Bethesda approach. Train in weapons and skills, make connections and fences, bribe officials and security, elude security and investigators, etc. And instead of a major story arc, there are mission arcs that can overlap into a unique story experience.

Sadly I'm not a software guy so making these things a reality are outside my skill sets. I imagine I could think of some of the major challenges involved but it would be more interesting to get others perspectives on them.

A website for game development? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062501)

A bit OT but it would help a lot to have a sort of new github/launchpad dedicated to game development, where people cannot just share source code but also artwork, 3D models, maps, sound effects, blueprints and game plots, translations... Easy enough for non developers to be able to contribute, and well organized so that new projects can easily pull resources (and knowledge) from other projects.

Re:A website for game development? (1)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27064913)

Well, that's a great idea. I'd be very interested, really.

I used to be a mapper, I've been creating maps for Q3-based games (I've used GtkRadiant). It'd be cool to have a place to share maps, models, textures, sounds, and other artwork, under some open license (CC and stuff). I've always found it hard to get my hands on some free content of decent quality.

Also, GtkRadiant is rather difficult to get running under Linux - so maybe the project could also host repositories with packages for Ubuntu, Debian, etc, and maybe some additional tools.

Maybe some wiki with advice for beginners? An overview of available tools (Blender, GtkRadiant, GIMP, etc), programming languages and libraries for game development (C, C++, Python, D, libsdl, Allegro, ClanLib, Pygame, Soya, etc), some simple tutorials (step-by-step guide for creating a map in GtkRadiant, compiling it into a BSP file with q3map2, loading it and displaying in Soya, etc).

As you said, some kind of version control service for both code and content, maybe hosting for projects?

Damn, that'd be cool. But who'd pay for it? :)

Re:A website for game development? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27066289)

You don't need a website to distribute GtkRadiant packages: just a team to make the packages and submit them to the distro's repositories. As for the wiki, a simple shared host is pretty cheap. Besides, as the user base grows I'm sure an agreement with an established gamimg websites could be arranged.

If you ask me, I think the main problems is more about the integration with the games themselfs: most games treat mods more like "hacks" to the content than modules, and it's often hard or impossible to integrate different kinds of mods, like playing with a character changing mod in a custom map mod.

Re:A website for game development? (2, Informative)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068505)

> You don't need a website to distribute GtkRadiant packages:

I know. Actually, GtkRadiant is "almost already there" in Debian:

http://mentors.debian.net/cgi-bin/sponsor-pkglist?action=details;package=gtkradiant

The problem is that nobody seems to care about "sponsoring" it. Last year I somehow managed to build it from SVN (there is a crapload of different revisions of the source, each of them broken in a very unique, specific and interesting way) on one machine, but since I've switched to a newer hardware and did a fresh install of Debian Lenny, I was unable to accomplish this feat again. And one would wonder why is GtkRadiant getting less and less popular.

Meh (1, Insightful)

ady1 (873490) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062535)

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:Meh (3, Interesting)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062645)

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 therefore the players are not forced to sit through the lore. It's a community driven game - not a good one to compare to the others.

Halo, agreed. (Don't say 'it's just a FPS' - try the Half Life series)

Warcraft? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063109)

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.

Re:Warcraft? (1)

tnok85 (1434319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063329)

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:Meh (3, Insightful)

Turiko (1259966) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063005)

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:Meh (2, Insightful)

Nebu (566313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065801)

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.

LOL, WOW (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 5 years ago | (#27070355)

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....

Re:Meh (1)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#27070555)

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 event was truly epic, and is something every player should complete.

Just because the gameplay is 10 years old doesn't mean it's bad, it means it's tried and true. I agree some of the questing and reputation grinding pre-WotLK is very tiresome and repetitive, but with the expansion Blizzard have brought in much more variety in the quests. There are less "kill 10 boars" quests and more "jump between high-flying dragons and fight their riders dragonback" quests.

Please ignore any of my previous statements if you already play WoW.

has GTAIV for the PC been fixed yet? (0, Offtopic)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062563)

I was about to buy a few weeks ago but I've heard so many people complaining about it being "broken" on the PC.

procedurally generated history (4, Interesting)

S3D (745318) | more than 5 years ago | (#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:procedurally generated history (2, Insightful)

Carlos Matesanz (1344447) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062843)

that sounds cool, but how do you measure the fitness of a world, Its "aliveness"?. It's something to tink about, though.

Re:procedurally generated history (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063371)

Ever played Dwarf Fortress?

Re:procedurally generated history (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063495)

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

Re:procedurally generated history (1)

ozphx (1061292) | more than 5 years ago | (#27072141)

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...

Re:procedurally generated history (4, Interesting)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:procedurally generated history (1)

Orome (159034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27067635)

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/

Re:procedurally generated history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27069401)

You've obviously never played Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com]

Re:procedurally generated history (1)

Garrett Fox (970174) | more than 5 years ago | (#27072277)

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 when that's a highly subjective judgment, have you heard of the AI research of Douglas Hofstadter? [indiana.edu] His book "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies" describes his 90s-era research into how a computer program can display a form of creativity and aesthetic judgment. There's a description with code [slc.edu] (tricky to get running) of his group's project "Metacat," which solves letter-related puzzles with no objectively right answer. I could see a similar system judging aspects of a game world.

Re:procedurally generated history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063631)

You need to check out Dwarf Fortress [bay12games.com] then, from the feature list,

# The world is randomly generated with distinct civilizations spanning over 1000 years of detailed history, dozens of towns, hundreds of caves and regions with various wildlife.
# The world persists as long as you like, over many games, recording historical events and tracking changes.

Also the latest beta version [bay12games.com] can run natively in linux

Re:procedurally generated history (1)

S3D (745318) | more than 5 years ago | (#27074229)

I have tried Dwarf Fortress of cause, but in my opinion it doesn't go far enough. It generate world and allow to interact with previous player histories. What I mean is kind of Dwarf fortress with dozens of AI keeps and states running for hundreds seasons before player enter. Each state with reputation, agenda, religion and culture.

Re:procedurally generated history (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063979)

This [wikipedia.org]

Merely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27062765)

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'Ãtre: fun systems to play with."

I have a hard time taking game advice for someone who thinks "fun to play" is an unworthy or insufficient goal.

Sorry, GTAIV sucks. The play is alright, but their attempt to make the world "realistic" at the expense of fun makes the game a chore. I don't WANT to have to take every character in the game out for an ice cream cone between missions. I'm surprised they stopped short of making you do your taxes in-game.

Re:Merely? (1)

shotgunefx (239460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063063)

I partly agree with that. In some ways I think San Andreas was superior. I want to fly a plane, I want to strap on a jetpack, I also liked the handling of the vehicles better. Yes it wasn't as realistic but it was more fun. In particular the motorcycles.

Re:Merely? (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063683)

That's why the first thing you do is shoot your date in the head unless she wants to go to the strip club.

Variation (1)

jandersen (462034) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062851)

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 don't think graphics is all that important, as you can tell from my interests above; but a fantasy-universe where you can nurture several interests and styles of play would certainly catch my interest.

Re:Variation (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063175)

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 so random, but designed quests, with NPC interactivity and all, that are extremely rare. Extremely so. So the user will want to continue playing.
The extremely low chance for the best drops is probably the main reason why people still play Diablo II, all these years later. I think that should be expanded to quests too, and special rewards that you only get from those rare quests. Some of which will require an average of 100 hours play time to spawn, and some requiring 1000 or even far more. Preferably triggered and sent by a remote server to random players, so there won't be cheats.

The quest for something new is what keeps the player going. But when you know there will be a new boring quest and a new monty haul every five minutes, a game will get boring.

Re:Variation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27070545)

Some games do have rare missions, eg, Phantasy Star Universe.

Burnout Paradise "fun to explore"?! (2)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062881)

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:Burnout Paradise "fun to explore"?! (3, Informative)

DeathCarrot (1133225) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063147)

- "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).

Re:Burnout Paradise "fun to explore"?! (1)

peculium.infirmus (1261356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063411)

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 fun, smash, crash and slam your way to the finish line in the races, and watching yourself crash during some of the stunt runs is great. The online part of the game is just as fun as well with everyone competing in races to just pulling off some trick to hit the goal. It's the first game I have ever bought points for just to be able to buy the extras they are now offering, from the new cars and motorcycles to opening a new part of the city that was previously closed. It's the best $30 that i have spent on a game in a long time.

Re:Burnout Paradise "fun to explore"?! (1)

Chad Birch (1222564) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065185)

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 effect that looks like a clipping error.

Psygnosis (1)

tttonyyy (726776) | more than 5 years ago | (#27062885)

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 side quests.

GTA IV manages it quite nicely, so it is possible, and clearly successfully appeals to a wide audience.

Re:Psygnosis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063391)

"way before Half-life and putting a story into gaming"

You think half-life invented putting a story in the game? Maybe I'll accept that half-life invented putting a decent story into the FPS genre, thus combining intense game mechanics with a driving narrative. Really, they pulled the narrative aspect out of the RPG and Adventure Game world, where it had been a required element for a decade earlier.

PacMan survived without much of any narrative, because the gameplay was enough. RPG's, especially ones combining tactical elements (D&D Gold box, Shining Force, etc.) needed something to keep you playing through hour-long turn-based battles. The story kept you immersed. Even with the predecessors to those games, without the tactical elements (Legacy of the Ancients, Questron, Phantasie, Dragon Warrior, FF1) the driving narrative kept you involved on a deeper level than the gameplay alone could achieve.

So, now that immersive gameplay has met immersive story, what's next? Based on commentts above, it's 'open' gameplay, but unless it's tied to 'open' story, it becomes a cute little novelty on the side of the game, and maybe just an annoyance. And 'open story' games I suspect are very hard to code...

hmmm.... (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063053)

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 steps towards, but there's an awful lot of room left to explore:

Dynamic Game-play. (I.e. the accompaniment to dynamic content - not the 'generic' dynamic game-play tag you tend to see on most games these days. Again, it means giving the player some power over the type of game-play options aswell as any and maybe all of the development thereof. Though of course there's no reason why any of this has to all be in the players domain, and remain completely separate from the content or reliant on the basic game-play....

The third step is also something a few types of games have done, but again, usually in a very limited and similar fashion. It's usually used as a way of providing different difficulty settings, but elements have also been used in a couple of other games, though rarely under the power or influence of the player:

Dynamic Game-play Mechanics. This is the one area I feel with the most amount of room left to explore, simply because games so far have done so little with it. Even if we take a similar route to the way difficulty settings operate - (generally going from simple/easy to complex/hard), there's no reason why for certain types of game, where player skill isn't as influential, where those two options could be balanced out and made to work in the same game without any overall penalties/advantages - (though probably balanced out by generalist/specialist settings would be best, rather than difficulty). again, though, this is merely scratching the surface of what's possible. Imagine a game where the player could influence the game-play mechanics of both entities under his own control, AND those under the players in different ways...

Okay, so now you've read all that, (and hopefully understood it), NOW imagine a game with all three - (the 'holy' trinity, if you like ;) ):

Dynamic content, game-play AND game-play mechanics, IN THE SAME GAME...

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

(I'm thinking about doing an article about all this for somewhere - (Like gamasutra or something?) - anyone think it's worthwhile?).

Re:hmmm.... (0, Troll)

Keill (920526) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063075)

DOh - *and those under the COMPUTER's control

Re:hmmm.... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068139)

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 runways could get destroyed, captured and so on over the progress of the war, you could also design your own missions.

Since then a lot of stuff has been forgotten or dumped down, so you average FPS today is even more linear then Doom. In the end I think the problem with 'open' games is that they simply are to inaccessible for the masses. While they are extremely fun when you got into them, they can take quite a while to get into, which means the instant gratification crowed is easily scared off.

Open Game Worlds... (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063229)

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.

Re:Open Game Worlds... (1)

franki.macha (1444319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063491)

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

Re:Open Game Worlds... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063585)

People these days seem to have a depressing lack of imagination. It's like when I see blind prejudice against the MMORPG genre, as if they all must forever be WoW clones.

Daggerfall showed the enormous potential of CRPGs. It's really fucking sad that it's all been squandered on the glitzy, hand-holding, dull crapfest that is Oblivion.

Re:Open Game Worlds... (1)

franki.macha (1444319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063659)

so painfully true

I'm Suprised No One Mentioned Oblivion (1)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063457)

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.

Re:I'm Suprised No One Mentioned Oblivion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27063765)

Oblivion is not open at all. You can only play the game one way: find an NPC who gives you a quest, then go and do the quest, which never involves anything other than killing, and perhaps throwing a switch or finding an object lying on the ground (but more often in the inventory of a monster you just killed.) Then return to the NPC for your reward. Repeat until you finish the game, or get bored.

"open world" games are all action RPGs, simple (1)

analog_line (465182) | more than 5 years ago | (#27063615)

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 latter isn't the case anymore). What is the real, effective difference between missions in GTA-and-friends, and quests from any console or PC RPG? What's the effective difference between hunting down all the sidequests and extra easter eggs in and hunting down all the hidden items and stunts in GTA3 and its children?

So why don't we just call them action RPGs, because that's really what they are when you boil it down. Very good and interesting twists on the action RPG concept, certainly, but not all that different really. So if you want to make a good action RPG we know what works and what doesn't. Good story and dialogue, even if there isn't much of it. Responsive controls. Lots to do. There are lots of examples out there. Zelda: A Link to the Past. Sid Meier's Pirates!. Secret of Mana. The Dark Alliance console games. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Most of the pack of so-called open world games have few if any of that. Crackdown was an entirely plot free collection of street races, roof races, and scavenger hunts. Assassin's Creed was a gigantic scavenger hunt and parkour simulator set in the time if the Crusades, with an absolutely horrible story. The "True Crime" games were bad action games stuck in an utterly pointless virtual real-life cityscape. Anything with a really big room you can run around in for a bit is called an "open world" which is ludicrous.

Re:"open world" games are all action RPGs, simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067355)

I'm not so sure about that... Animal Crossing was one of the first "open world" sandbox games I played, and you'd have to be pretty hard-up to call it an "action RPG." Back in the day, I frequently played what I'd call an action RPG, Illusion of Gaia, that was as open as a game of tic-tac-toe. Very rarely could you go anywhere but where the plot took you.

I understand what you're trying to say, and a lot of RPGs are open to some extent anymore, but games just don't fit into neat little categories like you suggest.

Re:"open world" games are all action RPGs, simple (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 5 years ago | (#27068705)

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 love me some open world... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065025)

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.

Procedural World (1)

Iburnaga (1089755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065075)

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 be impossible if the character comes at them with the wrong skills. As for the landscape it would have to be generated within certain constraints just so it looks like earth but to allow different climates, different weather systems and the like and have the people who are produced therein act as though they come from that area or have traveled from another. Also in order to accompany voices someone would have to make a vocal synthesizer that would account for variations between people, different conversations and emotions. And rather than having no voice allow the person to design their character's voice which carries as many if not more facets than the face...A lot of work. A long lot of work.

"Open games (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27065937)

Did anyone else read the summary as "open source Game world"?

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

Open game worlds are overrated (2, Interesting)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

"open" games no one mentioned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067083)

Freelancer, was the first game that really pushed that I could do whatever I wanted. The game was fun as hell too.

EVE online is very similar, and the only mmo I know of where you can really do whatever you want.

Just like to mention 'Elite'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27067523)

And the guys that have made oolite the fun and free game it is today. The basic game is as dry as the original, but the additions expansion packs make it an exceptionally entertaining game. And what's more open than eight galaxies? /answer: nine galaxies.

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