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Re-Examining the Immersion Factor For First-Person Shooters

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the be-one-with-the-rox dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 130

An opinion piece on Gamasutra looks into the common perception that a first-person view provides a much more immersive experience in shooters. The author argues that this concept needs to be reconsidered, as immersion nowadays is more dependent on what you see, rather than how you see it. The question is further complicated by ever-improving technology and new control schemes. "It's important to realize that making a first-person game almost necessarily means making a game for the dedicated gamer. Innovations on the interface side could help lower the casual block, perhaps through the Wii, Project Natal, or the PS3's new motion controller. Regardless, it will take a lot of work and concerted effort to penetrate the casual audience with a first-person camera. The question is whether we even need to, when there are so many camera systems that games have yet to fully explore."

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Symantec closes in on Vladimir Syrkine, cracker (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321527)

Here's one scumbag's capture

http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=1334140&postcount=6 [xda-developers.com]

http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=241557&cid=19649963 [slashdot.org]

Saw this on pocketinformat.com and slashdot

http://www.pocketinformant.com/Forums/index.php?s= [pocketinformant.com] 7c5317a05ae84814ac6bb4ab9a83e2ea&showtopic=11368&s t=0&p=61900&#entry619003 [pocketinformant.com]

cracker iFalleni
aka Fallen
aka F/\LLEN
aka Syrkine, Vladimir
aka Vladimir Syrkine
russian living in australia, undergrad at university of sydney (honor roll according to univ.)

vsyr4253@it.usyd.edu.au

vsyr4253@mono.ug.cs.usyd.edu.au

As of 27-Jun-2007 (one day after this first posted) Vladimir Syrkine
has gone into hiding. Vladimir Syrkine had cracked and distributed 100s of software titles before being caught.

pirate mmtorrent
formerly pirate aBroad
formerly pirate bathrinath
formerly pirate sertoli
aka Anderson Barbosa de Oliveira
aka Anderson Barbosa
aka Anderson B Oliveira
aka Andros
aka androabo
aka mike terr
aka Barbol
aka tttsmith
aka bathrinath

As of July 2008 Anderson Barbosa de Oliveira is using the alias mmtorrent. He may also still be using the alias aBroad, which he has for more than a year, but only sporadically as that alias is mainly used by him as he tries to cover his tracks: all bathrinath warez uploads he's done the past year (1000s) were changed to the alias aBroad, though board software being what it is, he's not been successful in doing much covering up.

As of 27-Jul-2007 (one month after this first posted) Anderson Barbosa de Oliveira (androabo) uses bathrinath as his alias/aka. androabo has pirated more than 1000 software titles in the last year. He continues distributing warez to this very day, as he has every day for many years.

living in brazil

andersonbarbosa@cardiol.br

Know them? They have pirated your stuff. Google them to see what it is these two hoods do.

http://games.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=241557&cid=19649963 [slashdot.org]

Re:Symantec closes in on Vladimir Syrkine, cracker (0, Offtopic)

negRo_slim (636783) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321575)

I thought the Fallout3 immersion factor was quite hi due to it's sound and lighting.

Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321549)

The Star Trek arcade game [wikipedia.org] (you remember -- the kind you had to put quarters in) had both a first person view (ok, first ship view) and a top-down view. The first person view was nice eye-candy, but a useless distraction in actual combat. The top-down view had so much more usable information and no distracting eye-candy. It was all you needed to play the game effectively (as long as you wanted on one quarter once you mastered it).

That doesn't mean Crysis would be better without the first-person view. It's the realism that makes that kind of game.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (2, Funny)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322315)

That doesn't mean Crysis would be better without the first-person view. It's the realism that makes that kind of game.

No, it's the framerate. AvP2 is much more immersive than Bioshock on my integrated video card.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322453)

Uh.. no. The framerate only affects the immersiveness of the game if it's interfering with it. Watching a movie at anything less than 30 fps will also break the illusion. Its reasonable to assume that in the article they're assuming you actually have the hardware to run the game. If you can't power the game system then of course, all bets are off.

Stating that the framerate is key to immersiveness is like stating that bsods are as well. While technically correct it's out of the scope of what's being discussed.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322541)

While technically correct it's out of the scope of what's being discussed.

No, it's not. The very act of making the game more "realistic" is what destroys any chance of me being able to play it without frustration.

In an FPS, where the gameplay requires a response time as fast as possible both from you and your computer, you don't really watch the shiny effects while being "immersed".

For the record, the laptop in question is newer than the game I tried to play.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (2, Insightful)

maharb (1534501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323049)

What AC is trying to say is that frame rate is not an inherent characteristic of a game. Any game, if played on the wrong hardware, can have frame rate issues. So for the purpose of evaluating a game you cannot look at frame rate. That is like saying Zelda sucks because you don't have a nunchuk controller and it requires one. Get the correct hardware before playing top end games. Also, laptops are not 'gaming rigs' regardless of the marketing that the company used to sell it to you but that is a different story so I will leave it at that.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323229)

What AC is trying to say is that money is not an inherent characteristic of a job. Any job, if done while living in the wrong house, can have income issues. So for the purpose of evaluating jobs you cannot look at income.

Apologies for not buying $1000 hardware for a $20 game.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

maharb (1534501) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324005)

That is a terrible analogy since income is an inherent characteristic of a job. You work the job and you get a defined paycheck. Also, quit being so narcissistic, it seems you have had a very specific incident with a specific game and then you are extrapolating that out to "frame rates (which aren't constant for a game) are a measure of a GAMES immersiveness". Obviously if you tried to follow this through logically it wouldn't make any sense. Let me explain.

Frame rate alone can be a factor in immersion, but you can't tie frame rate to a game, thus a game's immersiveness is not related to 'it's frame rate' because it doesn't have a frame rate.

You can't say that because YOU get a shitty frame rate on a specific game that the game lacks an immersive experience.

FYI you don't need to spend anywhere near $1000 on hardware to play the latest and greatest games unless you want to max every setting.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29324685)

I like his analogy, actually (this is a different AC) - yeah, if you want to live in a $1,000,000 mansion, you won't be able to use your $8/hour job at Burger King to pay for it.

Similarly, if you want to play your $20 game that requires pixel shader 2.0 (Open GL 2.1 shader extensions) you won't be able to do it on a Geforce 4 MX. Even if you paid $150 for the card when it first came out, you can consider the decrease in value of the card the same as the increase of inflation compared to the wage at Burger King.

So it's a really apt analogy if you think it through. Jurily just needs to accept that he can't afford the mansion on his current budget. Sorry if it makes you bitter, but you have to find a better job (get better computing hardware) in order to afford (run) the mansion (game with more advanced graphics/processor requirements).

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29325277)

There are plenty of shitty games that still run at shitty framerate on hardware 10 years newer than the game. For example, Windows 3.11.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29323105)

Newer doesn't mean anything. You could try and play a game like age of empires 3 on a new netbook, and guess what? It will probably suck.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (4, Informative)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322571)

Watching a movie at anything less than 30 fps will also break the illusion.

Movies are shot at 24fps. This has been the standard for almost 90 years. It hasn't had to change, despite technical improvements, because the eye and brain haven't changed.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322925)

Yeah, because the eyes of aging directors and the average eyes of the audience are crap. Also, motion blur helps.

But it's still distracting. You just learn to ignore it if you don't have the budget to make your own films. "Good enough for most" is all you get, I'm afraid.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

moxsam (917470) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323079)

No, it's the people's habits that didn't change. But really their brains and eyes are capable of so much more. If your brain is accustomed to high FPS games, then you will know what I mean. That is if you get past the motion sickness. On the other hand, watching too many movies ruins your perception of reality, really. I wish TV and movies would have a minimum framerate of 60 progressive images. Stuff in the TV studios is produced in 30 Hz or less, btw, and not 60 Hz.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (4, Interesting)

ld a,b (1207022) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323173)

To be fair, there are studies pointing that this is due to the frames in movies having ghost images embedded.
With photo-realistic games, each frame is rendered separately and thus more are needed to recreate the illusion of continuous motion.
What's fun is that Anime and old school sprite games are completely unaffected or even improved by having a much lower frame-rate.
It turns out that if you avoid trying to be realistic, immersion is easier.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (4, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324095)

That's where you start to get into the uncanney valley [wikipedia.org] . Once things start to look too close to real, it messes with your head, and you start to see all the subtle flaws. If something looks completely not real, we just forget about the realness entirely, and start to enjoy the game.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322583)

That doesn't mean Crysis would be better without the first-person view. It's the realism that makes that kind of game.

There is relatively little "realism" in a first-person view.

Real field of vision is much wider than an FPS gives you, since most of us have peripheral vision. I always feel like I've suddenly developed tunnel-vision when I try First-Person pov.

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

Briareos (21163) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324165)

Well, Mirrors Edge is 16:9 all the way through - which of course prompted people to ask why the game is broken, showing those white/black bars at the top and bottom all the time...

Can't please everyone I guess.

np: Tim Exile - Don't Think We're One (Listening Tree)

Re:Reminds me of the old Star Trek arcade game (1)

centuren (106470) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325865)

That doesn't mean Crysis would be better without the first-person view. It's the realism that makes that kind of game.

Crysis may look pretty, but I found realism as a major failing for immersion. I'm in the jungle, and it hasn't worked out well (I only bought the game recently and haven't played through too much of it). It doesn't seem like brush and current rendering technologies work well. You can make the plant life look pretty, but I need to see through it realistically. It been my experience that brush provides impenetrable cover for the enemy, and a giant blind for me. If I'm creeping through the jungle I need a better implementation of peeking through leaves and branches than a virtual "wall" of textures obstructing my view.

A counterexample... (4, Insightful)

dcposch (1438157) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321567)

"It's important to realize that making a first-person game almost necessarily means making a game for the dedicated gamer." ...emphasis on the "almost." I think Portal is a great example of a FPS that's interesting to serious gamers while still accessible to casual ones. One of the main reasons I don't play more FPS titles nowadays is their length: a lot of games, like Half-Life and GTA, build these epic saga storylines and take many days to play thoroughly. In high school, I thought both of those were awesome (especially HL2 and Vice City, respectively) but now, in college, I just don't have time. Portal is so short, I played it in one sitting. It's also simple: you have exactly one kind of gun throughout the game, and only a handful of opponents. It's the antithesis of a game like WoW, (which I realize is not FPS), and which requires a lot of in-depth game-specific knowledge and deep time commitment to become good at. Portal goes to great lengths to teach players how to play as they go along. The developer commentary is fascinating... each of the first few levels has a specific concept that it's designed to convey. If you understand quickly, these levels go by fast. If you've never touched a controller in your life, I'd bet money that you could still do them. It's all part of the challenge.

Re:A counterexample... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321809)

I think Portal is a great example of a FPS that's interesting to serious gamers while still accessible to casual ones.

Portal isn't any sort of a shooter, even if they do call the ashpd a "portal gun". First person puzzler or something maybe. Turning it into something reasonably describable as an fps, even while retaining as many other elements as possible, would have made a completely different game and at least arguably yes, that would have removed the casual appeal of it.

Re:A counterexample... (1)

DemonBeaver (1485573) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322073)

I must disagree. I'm an experienced gamer and breezed through Portal like through a dream. Excited at the game, I let my older non-geek brother have a try. He was utterly confused at the controls, and the portal gun, even though he's seen me play it before. I let him play from the beginning, thinking that the game eases the player very much into it. But he couldn't pass the first 4 rooms without my help. I agree with the author of this article, First Person perspective might be totally intuitive if you played other similar games before, but it's scary and disorienting for anybody else.

Re:A counterexample... (2, Interesting)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322211)

Portal is an exception. I hate FPSs and I paid good money to play that game. It's also pretty much the one single first-person game that isn't about a testosterone-laden game of "RAR I SHOT YOU".

Re:A counterexample... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322327)

Portal is an exception. I hate FPSs and I paid good money to play that game.

Duh. It's not a FPS, it's a FPPG.

Re:A counterexample... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29324601)

Thief

Re:A counterexample... (3, Insightful)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322463)

Ugggh. No way. The last thing we need is an excuse to make games shorter! If anything, be it racing games or FPS, all this money is poured into development of the engine and controls and whatnot, and yet they only have 8-10 levels, which get old fast. Almost every game I can think of would benefit from more levels! I don't care whether they're in the first game or not, there are so many that(even ones 5-10 years old) I'd happily pay for level packs on.

Re:A counterexample... (1)

ricotest (807136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322881)

Crysis Warhead is a good example of this - they invested so much into the engine and assets for the first game, it was good to see an extra set of levels that built upon Crytek's experience and was a vast improvement in level design and pacing. The problem with FPS games is they tend to get boring unless they regularly switch up the game play (e.g. Half-Life 2), which seems to be difficult for most designers who are content with churning out level after level of the same thing.

Re:A counterexample... (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324253)

Crysis + AvP... Now that might be interesting :).

Re:A counterexample... (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322913)

Games don't need to get shorter... story arcs do.
Imagine if GTA 4, had 3 short character campaigns instead of one long one.
I enjoyed the story, but never got around to finishing the game.
A lot of games have been guilty of taking a story that's only worth a couple of hours and stretching it out to fit a 20 or 30 hour game.
It's not necessary.
But of course if a publisher sees that your game has more than one story, they're going to say "Let's package this up as individual games, and sell them at full price, even if they only have 5 to 7 hours of gameplay".

Re:A counterexample... (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322977)

MetalGearSolid4.

How do you want that playthrough? Stealthy? Kill em all? Want to explore every inch of the world, pick up every powerup or use the bonus items that you won on the last playthrough?
No problem. You will get a reward for each and every way you complete the game and unlimited saves.

A lot of games could benefit from the lessons of the MGS series.

I loved that game so much I paid £300 for it (I bought a PS3 to play it on).

Re:MOst FPS are 7-8 hours (1)

megalomaniacs4u (199468) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322505)

I think you'll find most FPS these days are pretty lame at only 7-8 hours gameplay. There a few that topp 8 hours and I've not played a new one that lasted longer than 8 hours play in years.

Re:A counterexample... (1)

ricotest (807136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322867)

You're right, that's exactly what we need, shorter games. Never mind that most FPSs out today can be completed in an afternoon, and have very little depth (exploration, multiple routes, etc.) compared to the 20-60 hour RPGs on the market. I'm sorry that you can't spare the time in your busy life to play something longer than a couple of hours, but I think most of us want value for our money - especially if we're paying £35+ for the game.

Re:A counterexample... (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323425)

Portal and GTA aren't FPS.

Vision is not the only immersion factor. (4, Insightful)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321593)

My thoughts are really disjointed tonight, so forgive me.

I do agree with the author, sometimes a first-person perspective may not be the only way to immerse a gamer. Video games, especially first person shooters, used to rely solely on vision. The original Wolfenstein 3D on the PC did not have a rumble feature or 5.1 surround sound, but was still considered groundbreaking because of the perspective it put the gamer in.

The best games, however, do more with existing technologies, such as using a vibration in the controller to indicate either a pulse or that danger is nearby. The use of dark ambient music, creaking noises in floorboards while walking around, or the sudden screeching noise when something pops out also helps. While we cannot do anything with our sense of taste of smell in video games yet, (thank GOODNESS...) we can at least emphasize certain sounds and touch a little more than just pretty graphics.

Going along with the article, the first person perspective brings the dilemma of the "silent hero", because that hero is supposed to be you. However, you rarely get to interact with anything beyond acknowledging an NPC's request to retrieve something for them. You don't get to forge a bond with any of the characters based on your personality traits. I think this is key -- I was way more into Final Fantasy VII because of the level of interaction with the characters. You get to know them and you get to like them. Rockstar Games tried to get characters more involved with NPCs in GTA IV by having the players go out and spend time with them, but you really never get to know them. You go out with them, but only hear side-conversation going on. You're not really allowed to say anything in that game beyond clicking on the NPC to get the next quest.

There are still limitations. There are only a finite number of dialog choices and while you can allow the gamer to make their own dialog (as with the original Police Quest series), NPCs won't understand most of it and will only give canned responses. MMORPG's will allow gamers to say whatever they want to other gamers, but are still bound to the NPC's world. Most games don't have that story-telling feature to allow the gamers to create their own quests.

So yes, it's not all about the first-person perspective. Sound and touch also play a role, but the biggest factor of all is the depth of interaction with other characters and the unique, likable personalities that let you identify with them.

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (4, Insightful)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321663)

I do agree with the author, sometimes a first-person perspective may not be the only way to immerse a gamer. Video games, especially first person shooters, used to rely solely on vision. The original Wolfenstein 3D on the PC did not have a rumble feature or 5.1 surround sound, but was still considered groundbreaking because of the perspective it put the gamer in.

I disagree strongly with the idea that Wolf3D relied only on visuals to promote a sense of immersion.

"Mein Leben!"

Or maybe it was, "Meine Liebe." I never could quite tell. But, the audio was a significant factor in making Wolf3D interesting. The visuals get more credit, and they were certainly very significant at the time. But, hearing the German soldiers call out in real human voices was something that made the visuals seem like they were showing you a real world. The music also set the mood and helped you get into it.

Playing Wolf3D without SoundBlaster and Adlib support was just disappointing.

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (0)

Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321741)

Playing Wolf3D without SoundBlaster and Adlib support was just disappointing.

Point well taken - I remember the days of SoundBlaster and getting it to work on my PC to hear those very voices that you describe in Wolf3D. My little write-up did no justice to that game.

Oh and regarding the phrases spoken by the German soldiers, I did a search and found a site that lists them all:

http://www.mac-archive.com/wolfenstein/talk.html [mac-archive.com]

You're right, it was Mein Leben!

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (1)

Andreas Mayer (1486091) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323331)

I would like to add that most of those phrases are horribly wrong. Like google-translation-wrong. ;-)

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (1)

rickwood (450707) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325269)

For the record that music is from the movie Where Eagles Dare [imdb.com] , starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It's a pretty entertaining WWII yarn, especially when the music swells and you hear that iconic drum roll. I didn't know about the movie until late one night when I was in my twenties I caught it on cable and said, "Hey, that's the music from Wolfenstein!" It's one of my favorites now.

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321749)

Not true Wolfenstein 3D could be played with Soundblaster sound which was awesome on a Bose system. Pro-Audio Spectrum 16 and Soundblaster were the surround sound of the day.

Thoughts on Bioshock, Oblivion, Mass Effect, Halo (2, Interesting)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322401)

Agreed on immersion using all the available features: when I was playing through Bioshock I got so used to listening for creaking floorboards, doors and footsteps that every time I heard a noise in the house whilst working I would have the urge to spin around wielding a wrench.

Oblivion is interesting in that it's a first-person (you can play 3rd person but reviews say it's not so good) RPG, including some ongoing conversations with characters who give you quests and sometimes help you. To a certain extent that makes you feel a connection to them that you wouldn't necessarily get in an FPS. But the connection I feel with the characters is nowhere near the level I'd got from playing Mass Effect, though that's primarily due to the cinematic nature of the (3rd person) dialogue scenes as opposed to the rest of the 3rd person gameplay. The presentation of these, plus people's reactions to the different characteristics you could display (i.e. whether you were being paragon or renegade) made the characters really come alive for me.

On the other hand, Halo is a true FPS where I nevertheless like and have sympathy for the other characters. Maybe it's partly because I really like the game but I think it's also due to the cinematic presentation, the good voice acting and the fun characters and plot. There's no control over the interaction with the other characters, dialogue-wise but they nevertheless have distinctive personalities, so it matters what happens to them.

Re:Thoughts on Bioshock, Oblivion, Mass Effect, Ha (1)

a1291762 (155874) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322801)

I like the third person camera whenever I need to _see_ anything (eg. while moving about above ground or engaged in a sword fight). But I'm playing an archer now so I need the first person camera whenever there's enemies nearby.

I could handle having only a third person camera if the game handled archery a little less precisely but a first person only camera would be annoying unless the game came with ultra-widescreen wrap-around 3D glasses. There's a reason why FPSes tend to feature underground levels so heavily. It's hard to see the world when you're looking through a 90 degree lens.

(not so) silent hero. (1)

Anne Honime (828246) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322439)

Going along with the article, the first person perspective brings the dilemma of the "silent hero", because that hero is supposed to be you. However, you rarely get to interact with anything beyond acknowledging an NPC's request to retrieve something for them. You don't get to forge a bond with any of the characters based on your personality traits.

Never played DN3D, did you ? I guarantee you're ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum after you leave the game, however well bred and polite you may be before.

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322707)

Let's also not forget what makes the FPS an FPS, emphasis First Person.

Re:Vision is not the only immersion factor. (1)

Bat Country (829565) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323557)

I'd like to amplify that point by noting that vision in video games, even with the newer 3d display technology, is far from human quality. The dynamic range of the human eye is pretty impressive, and if you take an individual with good night vision and one with more average night vision, you'll have trouble finding a happy medium in rendering settings that won't leave the user feeling disoriented.

Leaving out peripheral vision, you still have the uncomfortable divorcing of visual and sound information from tactile feedback and the lack of proprioception [wikipedia.org] breaking immersion. You get a sort of "uncanny valley"-like effect with existing VR which makes it very difficult for a person to ever be fully comfortable with the first person viewpoint (for instance, jumping, climbing, etc) in that the closer you get to reality, the more the user will miss those missing senses.

However, with third-person perspective, you lose a great deal of the expectations. People understand the concept of working through a proxy - my parents used me for a remote control when I was a kid to change the channels on our old TV. My mother could understand Super Mario Brothers, but wouldn't touch Doom. With a proxy you don't expect to feel their pain or feel the earth move under their feet or to know exactly what they're doing at all times. You're accustomed to being divorced from other people by exactly the kind of disconnect present in the player/videogame relationship. You have to make up with empathy and attentiveness what is missing in sensation.

By acting through a proxy you place the player in a position with which they are familiar (from television, movies, even novels) wherein they are an observer of what happens to the main character. This immediately gives the player something to sympathize with.

In addition, certain cinematic events which would not be as easy to convey in first person are immediately accessible in third person. Suspense is built when the player can see something that the proxy could not. An increased sense of competence on the part of the player is built when their proxy can intercept incoming attacks from a direction they weren't even looking, giving them the sort of Bruce Lee/Batman bad-ass sensation for little expenditure. By being able to see a majority of their proxy's body, they are more confident when attempting jumps because they can see where the proxy's feet are, how fast they're moving, and observe their stride length without breaking line of sight with the gap they're attempting to cross.

First-person perspective can be quite immersive and add that a kind of verisimilitude to the "everything's collapsing around you" scene that you feel less when you can see all around you (compare Half-Life 2: Episode 1 &2's environmental collapses to those of God of War or Super Metroid). First-person cameras can make reflex aiming extremely comfortable and provide an extremely believable scope/binocular experience. First-person cameras do make it a lot easier to look straight up. But they're not necessarily the best thing for immersion in all games.

immersion also isn't the only factor (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321621)

There are a lot of things you might want out of a game, of which immersion is only one. You might also want engagement, fun, thought-provokingness (okay, maybe less from an FPS), and lots of other qualities. There even some research [stanford.edu] showing that perfect immersion might harm some of these other properties, and may not be the sweet spot--- playing games on some perfectly immersive, like the Star Trek Holodeck, might not actually be what a lot of people want. I know I personally enjoy some mediation between myself and the virtual world; I like to feel that I'm playing a game, not actually in the world. But then i like turn-based and 2d games, too.

Re:immersion also isn't the only factor (3, Informative)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321649)

There are a lot of things you might want out of a game, of which immersion is only one.

This.

The author also seems to be assuming game developers are using the first person perspective for the sake of immersion. This is not necessarily true. The camera greatly influences gameplay. Aiming a gun is much more natural from a first person view than some sort of overhead view with a crosshair floating over your character's head or something. Maybe the developers are first deciding that a first person view is optimal for gameplay and then trying to make the game as immersive as possible given the chosen camera.

Re:immersion also isn't the only factor (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322793)

There are a lot of things you might want out of a game, of which immersion is only one.

This.

The author also seems to be assuming game developers

Please help me understand what the second paragraph means, or is trying to communicate.

Re:immersion also isn't the only factor (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324277)

thought-provokingness (okay, maybe less from an FPS)

Are you sure about that? [wikipedia.org]

The most immersive game. (4, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321631)

The most immersive game I've ever played is Nethack.

Re:The most immersive game. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322531)

The most immersive game I've ever played is Nethack.

That's because you're standing in the {.

Re:The most immersive game. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324127)

Nethack dreams sure are weird, aren't they?

Can play one, can play them all (3, Informative)

DinkyDogg (923424) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321677)

Nothing kills immersion more than having to look up which button does what. But if you've played one FPS, you can sit down with any other and have an immediate, intuitive understanding of how it works. In real life, you don't have to think about how to walk, run, drive a car, swim... So if you want immersion, you have to make all that as intuitive as possible -- easily accomplished if every game of the same genre has the same control scheme.

Re:Can play one, can play them all (1)

ElAurian (133656) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323039)

Okay, so how do you change weapons? How do you open windows? How do you jump? What, you can't clamber over a thigh-high wall? Yeah, this is so immersive. Right.

Re:Can play one, can play them all (1)

raynet (51803) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325091)

Weapons are changed by the scrollwheel on the mouse, windows are opened with E (and are doors and other object manipulation), jumping is done with D. And I'll just jump on that wall with the help of rocket launcher, just like in the real world.

Generally agree with the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321685)

But I would go a step further and say that the immersion in many FP games is not due to you associating with the character or good story, but rather because in PVP the avatars actually represent people you know. When I kill oddjob, I beat my brother. (yes he was cheater). And when bond dies, I just lost to my brother. Same sort of deal in WoW.

Sematics... of course... (2, Interesting)

popo (107611) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321693)

Let's be clear about some issues with this question --

For one.. let's talk about "aim": The third person shooter can never be a natural "shooter" in the sense that aiming one's weapon will always be a product of interface, and not visceral line-of-sight.

This of course, is fine for some games -- but if we're going to call a game a "shooter", then we should incorporate the visceral sense of "aim" into that definition.

If "aim" is something that is virtualzed -- as it is in 3rd person shooters -- then the game is by definition not as visceral -- and *may* not be as immersive. (But of course this all depends on one's definition of "immersive". If one defines a visceral -- "real" experience as "immersive" then 1st person wins. If one defines other plot/strategic elements as immersive -- then maybe not....)
.

Re:Sematics... of course... (2, Interesting)

Compuser (14899) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321963)

Agreed. And to add another point...
To this day, human and animal motion is unrealistic in games. Skin, lothing, and hair rendering has gotten better by leaps and bounds but still sucks because of lack of detail. Wounds are not realistic. And this is all so bad that within a few seconds of playing any game you just know it is a game. Perfect immersion is impossible for that reason alone (at least for me). First person view helps with this because at least your own character is moving in ways that you do not see. When I see my avatar in out-of-body view, it is usually the biggest thing on screen and all its rendering and physics deficiencies are there all the time. In first person, I just see the enemies in the distance so it is easier to suspend disbelief.

Re:Sematics... of course... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322279)

Not true. A third-person over-the-shoulder camera can accommodate pretty much the same approach to aiming as a first-person camera, while still providing a phenomenal (literally) avatar with which gamers can subjectively identify (or can objectify, in the same way that cinema moves between those two operations).

Re:Sematics... of course... (1)

Undead Waffle (1447615) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325313)

Not true. A third-person over-the-shoulder camera can accommodate pretty much the same approach to aiming as a first-person camera, while still providing a phenomenal (literally) avatar with which gamers can subjectively identify (or can objectify, in the same way that cinema moves between those two operations).

Until you try to take cover behind a box and start wondering whether you'll be shooting right into the box because the tip of your gun is behind it or whether you'll shoot the target in your unobstructed crosshair. If it's the former have fun drawing imaginary lines between your model's gun and the target all the time.

Granted, even first person games suffer from this sometimes but it isn't nearly as bad.

Re:Sematics... of course... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322287)

Frankly, I think games that are primarily shooters should by default be set up around a first person perspective, with a caveat: if the game has significant platforming or melee components, then a third-person perspective becomes a consideration, but not mandatory (witness Portal). The third-person perspective is awful for a firearm-focused game. From a third-person perspective, aiming at close range is usually difficult. This is amplified if the view is "over the shoulder" rather than directly above the avatar, because it becomes difficult to get the crosshairs properly onto something at close flanking range. Firing around cover is non-intuitive in the third person, since the player can't see the world from the avatar's viewpoint. A corollary to this is that it's terribly easy to actually lose track of your own character when moving through heavy scenery. With a perspective that floats above or behind the avatar, it's easy to turn around and wind up with a face full of pixelated foliage instead of a view of the enemy that's in plain and unimpeded sight of the now-vulnerable-and-blind avatar. And, simultaneously, the third-person perspective also winds up giving the player a massively unrealistic bird's eye view for looking around corners and over ledges without necessarily moving their avatar into the enemy line of sight. Also, I've yet to see a third-person perspective that handled a zoom scope terribly well -- the worst are those that zoom in FROM THE BIRD'S EYE POSITION, although these are thankfully rare. Last, once the novelty has worn off of the game, the avatar itself represents a blind spot and a chunk of dead visual real estate; the closer the POV is to the ground, the more space is wasted showing off the character's shoulders.

If the avatar just must run around whacking targets with swords, fists, or tentacles, then I can at least empathize a bit with developers including a third-person mode for melee; some casual gamers have trouble using melee weapons in first-person shooters It's also an accepted convention in platforming-heavy games; visualizing the location of feet below a first-person shooter's perspective is honestly more difficult than being able to see those feet directly (one of the myriad flaws of Mirror's Edge). It's harder to show off the artwork of the main character in a first-person shooter. First-person shooters often take the best graphics in the game -- those of the character itself -- and show them off only when a reflection is present in the game world. As it happens, this HEIGHTENED immersion for me in Portal, as the generally dull avatar gained novelty when viewed at off angles through portals; I remember messing around for some time just positioning the portals properly so that I could tell what the struts on Chell's calves were. However, to be honest, the Portal example is an exception fueled by the game's unusual movement convention, and doesn't generally apply. If a game's selling point is Lara Croft, it may a smart call on the part of the developers to let the player look at her. Forced bird's-eye view can also be used to save production costs, I suppose; if the player cannot raise the perspective to the horizon, there's no need to worry about drawing ceilings, backdrops, or skies.

All the same, I personally prefer the flaws of the first-person perspective to those of the third-person perspective. I'm sick of stealth games where protagonists have "magic eyes" peering around cover without their exposure. I'm usually not impressed with character graphics after the first half-hour of play or so. In a good game, I SHOULD be too busy worrying about or admiring my surroundings to care about the appearance of my character. From the first-person perspective, what you see is what you get, and the mechanic doesn't change with distant or close-range combat. A sniper rifle is still hard to use point-blank; a submachinegun, shortened shotgun, or pistol is still preferable up close. I can even look up at the sky, even though it has no relevance whatsoever to the gameplay. This, for me, is immersion. I'm peering out of my avatar's skull, looking over a rifle, wondering what's around the corner and whether I should stick my head out to see, not sensing the enemy sneaking up behind me with a knife. Third-person is Mario; that little fat plumber running around over there doing something I asked him to do. Jump, Mario, jump. Why didn't you jump where I wanted you to jump? Throw! Not that way, you buffoon...It's very much a thing "not myself," at least as far as appearances go. Yes, my palms can sweat when I'm getting down to the more difficult stages of these games, but they'd sweat there regardless of perspective -- that's a matter of meeting a good challenge, not a function of my viewpoint.

Kind of thinking about this the other night, (3, Insightful)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321847)

one of the reasons I really don't give a shit about FPS is that all I can see when I'm playing is whats right in front of me.. but in real life all of us have peripheral vision. We tend to notice things happening besides us.. and if we're in a jungle surrounded by people with guns we want that peripheral vision but games only offer us what lies directly in front.

I don't know but maybe games have support for triple-headed displays ? If that were possible then I might consider adding two more monitors on either side of the main display. This would work very well with 5/7 channel audio. I'm just a casual gamer so my ignorance is showing here.

I pretty much take issue with the whole article... (1, Insightful)

johncandale (1430587) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321861)

..and will quickly go through just a few points why from top to bottom
"saves developers from having to develop a camera system independent of the playerâ(TM)s control."
FP cameras are not set in stone, do you show movement with head bod, or weapon bob or neither or let player choose? Handling peripheral vision focus, do you see your shoes when you look down., etc.
"...Wolfenstein 3D for the Atari Jaguar. ...my first interaction (in perhaps '97 or '98) ...with proper fps...had me pretty convinced that first-person games werenâ(TM)t for me, all the way until Halo 2"
wow, someone who hadn't played doom even 4 years after it was out, played Wolfenstein on a TV, and generally didn't like FPS's till halo 2. Yeah, He sounds qualified to comment on the pros and cons of FP camera.
"used to [third-person view] Having an avatar gives us a strong frame of reference, and allows us to better navigate the world. If I see a little running guy, and I try to make him jump, I can gauge that distance."
That is so subjective it's useless. I could turn around and say 3d person games lack a frame of reference, FP camera lets me better gauge the distance. Even if you think the quote is right, that doesn't make it a better or worse game on that point. maybe the fun is knowing in the fray when you would jump in quake you might fall through the cracks and learniing how to judge them.
"Consider the last time you felt like you actually were the character in a game you played. Iâ(TM)d be willing to guess that most people will say âoenever.â
go away, learn not everyone thinks the same way you do
"how do you identify with a character you canâ(TM)t see, a character who usually doesnâ(TM)t even talk or have any opinions about the horrible things going on around him? This goes back to the âoesilent heroâ dilemma..."
Not all FP camera games have slient hero's, sounds like you have been playing shitty games, and what does that have to do with the camera? 3d person games are just as likely to have silent hero, just because you can see them doesn't mean they all talk, sounds again you are just picking the right 3d person games and the wrong 1st person ones. anyways a lot of this goes back to small budgets and marketing
"Innovations on the interface side could help lower the casual block,"
Are you a gamer or a publisher? Can't we have both the Casual games and the ... other? As a critic you should want more artisic games, not dumbed down ones. Only the sellers would want the art dowmbed down. Why do you care about 'helping casuals'? Thats like a film critic saying she hopes they make more formulaic movies casual people will see them. huh?
I could go on, but yeah.

Re:I pretty much take issue with the whole article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322399)

From a viewpoint of examining "immersion" for the average gamer these days, yes, an inexperienced FPS person probably *is* the best to comment on FPS games.

As for reading his lament about "silent heroes" and jumping to the conclusion that he's "been playing shitty games", I'm just a little baffled. I guess you're unfamiliar with the history and current culture of the FPS market, because Valve's Half-life titles present the most prominent example of a silent protagonist. It's practically a shtick, and like them or not, you really can't pretend to be an experienced FPS gamer if you call the Half-life series "shitty".

I think you missed the point of the article by about a kilometer. He's not arguing that FPS games are bad; there's no need for you to defend them against that charge. He's arguing against the assumption, common throughout the game industry today and exemplified by heavyweights like Bethesda, that the FPS perspective is *inherently* more immersive.

Nice misquoting there (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325073)

Get off my lawn!

"...Wolfenstein 3D for the Atari Jaguar. ...my first interaction (in perhaps '97 or '98) ...with proper fps...had me pretty convinced that first-person games werenâ(TM)t for me, all the way until Halo 2"
wow, someone who hadn't played doom even 4 years after it was out, played Wolfenstein on a TV, and generally didn't like FPS's till halo 2. Yeah, He sounds qualified to comment on the pros and cons of FP camera.

1997 is 12 years ago. Why on earth does that fact that he might have "only" got into games 12 years ago, and not 16 years ago, make him unqualified? There have been quite a few FPS games since then. And why does playing on a console make a difference?

You also conveniently failed to quote an important part:

Not having been able to afford a computer growing up, this was my first interaction (in perhaps '97 or '98) with a proper FPS.

So in other words, you call him unqualified, because 12-16 years ago when he was growing up, he wasn't able to afford an expensive PC to play these games. Nice showing your prejudice, there.

So what are your credentials, then? Do you have something better than "My daddy bought me an expensive PC, so I was able to play Doom when it first came up"?

Graphics are the least important (5, Insightful)

RenHoek (101570) | more than 5 years ago | (#29321959)

There are a few games that really got to me:

1) Alone in the dark. The first incarnation of this. The graphics were horrible but the immersion was immense. This game had me actually scared of what was coming next.

2) Half-life 1. Much more so then Half-life 2.

3) Alien vs. Predator. Where you play the squishy marine, and you just gone inside a long tunnel. You end up in a chamber where one of you fallen comrades is, only to find he's been encapsulated into a wall. Then your motion sensor goes berzerk, and you start running.. back through that long tunnel. When you look back now and then the walls and ceiling are crawling with predators trying to catch up with you. Every now and then you have to hit a switch to close a door. _This_ was some fucking immersion, nearly had a heart attack, but I'm still happy I made it out of that tunnel alive.

4) Some incarnation of Splinter Cell. I played the whole game with the self-imposed restriction that I wouldn't kill a single character. Turns out there were 2 situations in there where I was obligated to kill a key figure. However by stocking up on stun gas grenades I was able to defeat one 'boss' by stunning him (after _many many_ tries). Come the cutscene, he was dead ;)

5) System Shock 2. Oh god.. I'm alone on a huge space ship.. Somebody hold me!

There are a number of other games that I can't recall the name of, but immersion seems to be independent of graphics to me, as long as the graphics don't hinder your immersion. To reach immersion I think you need to heed the following points:

- Don't put anything in the game that will irritate the user. I'm talking interface here, so go for a minimal, but useful HUD. Use sane controls that can be reconfigured by the user to his/her liking. Make sure you take out the bugs.

- Make it a whole. Make sure there is a backstory and that the character and his/her actions fit into it. Let the user find out that there is a whole galaxy out there with strange and wondrous things. You don't have to show it all, but make some references to things that 'happened' without going into too much detail. Leave the gamer with questions. This is the reason why Star Wars was so popular as a genre.

- No jumping puzzles.

- Make the game challenging. Make it 'hard' without actually even having be hard. But give the gamer a sense of accomplishment. You don't do this by making him have to shoot 30.000 of identical aliens btw.

- Give the user choices. _REAL_ choices, not a 'good' and 'evil' choice that end up with the same result anyway. Give the user some actual influence in the game. World of Warcraft is an example of how not to do this. Everybody is 'special' but you are indistinguishable from all the other players.

- _NO JUMPING PUZZLES_, no really

- If you do introduce puzzles, make them logical. On the other end of the spectrum is Monkey Island, where you have to combine the extendable rubber hand with the pepper shaker so you can make the skeleton sneeze to blow out the candle so the room goes dark so that you can safely steel the treasure without the skeleton seeing it. It's just not logical. :)

- Make the player care for the main character and cohorts. You can do this by not making him invulnerable. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of horrible games that implement the 'one glance from an enemy and you are dead' principle, but that is not good either.

- Personal development. RPG's are fun because you get to 'build' your own character by improving those things you enjoy/think are important. So introduce some RPG bits to your FPS. Classic examples are Deus Ex and Bioshock. Don't let players have it all, make them choose.

I can think of a lot more things, but graphics is not one of the components that define immersion in my book.

PS.

(no jumping puzzles)

Re:Graphics are the least important (2, Informative)

megalomaniacs4u (199468) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322549)

You missed out:
  • No Quick Time Events
  • Don't steal my damn weapons
  • No out of place stealth levels (sudden changes of gameplay style suck)
  • Zero/Low Gravity levels only if they make sense
  • Gravity gun puzzles - it works through a forcefield but not through a window?
  • Respawning "push" phases

Re:Graphics are the least important (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322983)

No insta-death. - I don't mind making a mistake and having the game eat away at my health or a series of errors kill me but making it so there are situations where a single mistake kills you instantly sucks. Double if this includes a jumping puzzle and a bottomless pit. Immersion is seriously hampered by pissing off a player to the point he doesn't want to play any more.

No infinite respawn - If I am in an isolated town that had a population of 20k then their should be at most 20k zombies after the zombie plague outbreak. Likewise a WWII German watch tower should not hold an infinite number of soldiers until I reach a certain check point.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323507)

You missed out:

  • Gravity gun puzzles - it works through a forcefield but not through a window?

A forcefield is not glass, duh. It's also not made of matter. :D

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322969)

"- Make the game challenging. Make it 'hard' without actually even having be hard. But give the gamer a sense of accomplishment. You don't do this by making him have to shoot 30.000 of identical aliens btw"

See: Serious sam : The First encounter

http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/serioussamthefirstencounter/index.html [gamespot.com]

One of the best games since Doom / Doom 2. Sometimes there is a LOT to be said for simple over the top arcade game style.

Still one of my all time favorite games.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

PReDiToR (687141) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323067)

And for $DEITY's sake, write cheats in from the start, don't put them in as an afterthought or even patch them in a couple of months/years after the game is released.

Playing a game with cheats is like watching a movie you can interact with.

Some of us like that, honest.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

ion.simon.c (1183967) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323499)

- Don't put anything in the game that will irritate the user. I'm talking interface here, so go for a minimal, but useful HUD. Use sane controls that can be reconfigured by the user to his/her liking. Make sure you take out the bugs.

SS2 would not have been the same without the bugs. *shudders*

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

Backward Z (52442) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323637)

I disagree with your Monkey Island statement. The good MI games all had mostly sensible puzzles (except for the chicken with the pulley in the middle, that was supposed to be obscure). I thought the fourth MI was pretty bad (it shipped with a walk-through) as many of the puzzles in that game didn't even make a lick of sense, but in the same breath I don't really consider MI4 a true MI game.

I'd recommend you have a look at the new Tales of MI games that Telltale is releasing. They're excellent so far and the puzzles make a lot of sense (the same is true of the other Telltale game I've played, Strong Bad's...).

On the other hand, I always felt like Sierra's puzzles were totally whacked out from left field and there's no way I would have ever gotten through a King's/Space Quest game without some sort of walk-through. Not to mention that there were points in those games where you could get "stuck," having missed an essential item that by the time you need it you've been locked out of the area where you can obtain it.

I dunno, I'm just really fond of the Lucasarts adventure games. I guess I still think that combining the rubber hand with the pepper shaker to blow out the candle is a lot more fun than combining two halves of a hexagon so I can open the door with the strange hexagon seal on it in Zelda/Resident Evil/Doom/etc. Even if a puzzle doesn't make sense, trying to reason it through is a lot more fun to me than fetch quests.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324221)

Haha at AvP, that game still goes down as one of the scariest games I played whe I was younger. I played the jaguar version...I still remember going up to floor 1 as a marine and walking out into the middle of the hallway and then looking right and seeing about 50 aliens charging me. The ambient noise is partly what made it so scary...it was pretty much quiet except for alien and predator screams. Proper sound can make or break a game.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324547)

Two words: Metroid Prime.

Re:Graphics are the least important (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29324587)

Another one who is stuck in games he played 10 years ago and think he still know what's going on.

Re:Graphics are the least important (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325843)

Speaking of System Shock 2... Did you ever use the Psionic power "Enhanced Motion Sensitivity?" I picked it up one play-through after missing one of those damned red eggs on the Rickenbacker.

"Enhanced Motion Sensitivity" gives you a sort of "radar" image of all nearby enemies. It's incredible how easily that psionic ability kills the tension and sense of immersion in the game.

What's the penalty for premeditated rape? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321961)

"Regardless, it will take a lot of work and concerted effort to penetrate the casual audience with a first-person camera."

 

penetrate the casual audience... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29321979)

concerted effort to penetrate the casual audience with a first-person camera

DO NOT WANT.

FP is not inherently immersive (1)

Huntr (951770) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322125)

I agree with the author that games are not immersive by simply being FP. I've never played a game where I forgot I was playing a game. That, for me, would be the total immersion for which FP perspective strives. In fact, I kind of find "immersion" being touted as a major factor in why I should buy a game annoying (hello, Fallout 3). No matter what, I will never forget I'm sitting in my easy chair playing my console or at my desk looking at my 20" monitor. There's just way too much between me and the action and in my peripheral vision.

Biggest obstacle (3, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322185)

You know what's the biggest obstacle to my immersion in games such as Call of Duty or GTA? The way it's all scripted. It's a bit too much like a movie, the game designers want too much control over what I see. As a result, I know the story is waiting for me, no matter if shit is hitting the fan all around me and that NPCs are yelling that I have to hurry up. I know that if I die it's a minor convenience, I just have to do again exactly what I did for the last 40 seconds or so (at most, except for GTA, where every time you fail you have to do the same fucking thing, seeing the same cutscenes, for minutes all over again) and try again until I succeed.

These game fail me at immersion because they're just the sophisticated equivalent to turning the pages of a book. The story will unfold as scripted no matter what you do, even if it might need repeats (funny thing about failing, failing is always mostly non-canon. That too ruins the immersion.). I was really excited the first time I played GTA III, because I was really into it, until I failed a mission. I wondered a bit scared what would happen next, and to my relief I could try it again. Then I felt less immersed, because I can kill my boss, I can kill myself, I can fuck up everything, but the story will have to unfold, even I suck really hard.

Such games may be geographically open, in that you can go anywhere, but everything that matters is on rails. Well actually that's something that Battlefield 1942 got right. You could get defeated, it was canon, you didn't *have* to win, the war unfolded as you were making it happen. Well the idea wasn't pushed very far in that your failures didn't affect the rest of what would happen.

TL;DR : The problem with games is that they're full of very carefully created content; places and storylines, to the point that the designers make sure that you get to see all of their content. They wouldn't design a whole map if odds were you'd fail to get there. I think that instead of designing maps, they should design worlds, and instead of designing carefully crafted stories they should make great AIs so that their interactions with you result in a story (i.e. in a war game, have strategic AIs, which decide of where to take the war next as to try to defeat the other strategic AI. In other words, AIs would play a RTS, while you'd play one of their units).

tES - Re:Biggest obstacle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322493)

The Elder Scrolls.

Re:tES - Re:Biggest obstacle (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322507)

What about it? (Never played it so I have no idea what you mean)

Re:tES - Re:Biggest obstacle (1)

Anenome (1250374) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325763)

Elder Scrolls is very much a complete world. But, what you say is insightful. I like the idea of AI's playing an RTS while you play a unit in the war. That could create non-repeating gameplay. Very cool.

Re:Biggest obstacle (1)

JAlexoi (1085785) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323571)

I believe that is why Fallout and Arcanum drain so much of my time :) Just another quest, results in going to bed at 7 AM the next day...

eyetoy sold (1)

markringen (1501853) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322197)

eyetoy sold well over 10million units, sony already knows what sells and what doesn't to casual gaming people. (even though i don't believe in "casual", as eventually everyone becomes a regular gamer (as people eventually grow tired of idiot games)

I've never understood the immersion argument (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29322249)

I don't believe immersion is why Doom was written as a First Person Shooter.
If it wasn't a FPS, then I would be able to see enemies that my character would not be able to see. With a third person angle, I would know what was around the next corner without having to put my character in danger.
This would then lead to me attempting to figure out how far around the corner I had to be to be able to shoot the enemy.I don't want to go to far because then they will see me. In most FPS, if the wall isn't blocking the cross hairs, then I can shoot the enemy.
Doom also loved the trick of opening hidden doors behind you to release enemies. With a third person viewpoint, you would see them sneaking up on you.
Finally, don't even think you can pull off any real 3D aiming in the Z axis. The best you can do with a third person view is really bad 2D aiming. No more head shots. In early sprite looking third person games (Doom era), there were only so many ways your character could be rotated (4, 8, 32...) Aiming the gun meant aiming your character directly at the enemy and then firing. The game then decided if you were close enough for a hit. And it was usually nice and counted hits that shouldn't have counted. Most games that employ a third person viewpoint with a true "hit-test" also have visible slow moving bullets so you can see why you missed. And you wont find a sniper type weapon in any of these games. Every gun sprays bullets everywhere.
I realize there are some exceptions to this rule (007 on Dreamcast), but I still found aiming in that game difficult.

Re:I've never understood the immersion argument (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324075)

I don't believe immersion is why Doom was written as a First Person Shooter.

One reason may have been that they didn't want to pay the cost of rendering your character too (an inherent advantage of FPSes)...

Finally, don't even think you can pull off any real 3D aiming in the Z axis. The best you can do with a third person view is really bad 2D aiming. No more head shots.

Actually RE4 & 5 pull this off quite well -- your weapon has a "laser sight", that projects a beam where it's aiming, and gets a little brighter where it hits the enemy. This really works great, and is quite intuitive and fast. [For sniper rifles, it switches to a first-person scope view though...]

TPS's (2, Informative)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322791)

I know this is about FPS's, but I think this issue somewhat applies. Mod me offtopic if you must:

You know how to *ruin* a game's immersion factor? Make it *third person* behind the friggin' back.

Thankyou, Dead Space, I forever will appreciate the giant, virtual avatar taking up half my screen as I desperately attempt to maneuver the camera to see what unseen monster has popped up out of nowhere to slice me in half. Kudos to Resident Evil!

Like what? (1)

Taylor123456789 (1354177) | more than 5 years ago | (#29322975)

The author says, "there are so many camera systems that games have yet to fully explore." Like what? There is first person and third person. What else is there?

I think the author blurs immersion with point of view. POV is first person or third person, or other general camera placement.

Immersion is based on interactivity in the environment and identification with the character. Half Life 2, with its advanced physics and material properties broke ground on environmental interactivity. Fallout 3 excelled at character interaction and plot choice, as well as, creating a non-linear map.

POV can aid in immersion. As someone said above, a first person POV is more like the real world.

If game developers want to make games for more casual users, they should decide on a standard control pattern. That is, "f" for forward, "v" for back, "mouse1" for fire, etc. This way, users would not have to learn a whole new set of commands for each game.

Re:Like what? (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 5 years ago | (#29323889)

hasn't wads been the standard control pattern for sometime? before that, wasn't it the arrow keys(which my roommate STILL uses)?

Re:Like what? (1)

Taylor123456789 (1354177) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325149)

I'm not sure; most games use some variation of those. I do know that my gamepad is preprogrammed to keyboard keys and different games get different results. I usually end up re-mapping games to my gamepad. Of course, each games has unique key functions, but a reserved portion of the keyboard could accomodate that.

Some standards body should come up with a strict keyboard mapping protocol. This default configuration would be easier for players to learn new games and would lower the barrier for experienced users to try new games.

Re:Like what? (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325303)

Some standards body should come up with a strict keyboard mapping protocol.

i'm looking at you IEEE

Re:Like what? (1)

raynet (51803) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325329)

That is why games allow you to reconfigure the keys, like I always use SZXC instead of WASD. At most I need to relearn 1-3 new keys for each game, and that is only if they have radically different controls compared to "normal" FPS games.

Graphics and Immersion are Overrated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29323023)

I played Contra on a NES Emulator yesterday. It was fun and refreshing. After all these years of PC gaming, I think it is still the best game ever made.

Immersion ishmersion (1)

Graymalkin (13732) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324187)

For one I take issue with the characterization of game players as either "hardcore" or "casual". There's a lot more to gamers than this false dichotomy. Gamers have a wide spectrum of likes and dislikes and skill sets. Someone might be a "hardcore" Halo player as they're really good at it but might only play RTSes occasionally and only "casually" because they're not good at them. Are they hardcore or casual? Oh no the stupid two-party classification has broken down! Also whenever you read "casual gamer" on a blog or in a magazine mentally replace that term with "retard" because that is the connotation the word has anymore and it is ridiculous.

What is worse is when developers somehow target "casual/retard" or "hardcore" players with their games. They want to consider their target audience as "hardcore" so they leave out any and all features which might lessen the challenge of the game for their precious hardcore strawmen. You can play Fallout 3 without ever really using VATS but it is a nice feature for people who aren't terribly talented aiming in an FPS with a console controller. VATS makes the game more approachable because you can be a good RPG player but bad at FPSes and still enjoy the game. The opposite also happens, developers will target "casual/retard" players and not include any features which might challenge players too much or assign their third string development teams to make the games.

This article is filled with such bullshit and and presumes that more immersion is somehow needed to make games good. It's nice to see someone wondering aloud that maybe new camera angles need to be tried in games or that there's too little innovation in control schemes. What pisses me off is the suggestion that FPSes are too hard for "casuals/retards" and "hardcores" aren't properly served by them. Just because someone doesn't live and breath Halo multiplayer doesn't mean they are somehow discombobulated at the mere thought of a character's point of view being the exact same as that of the player. Just because you live and breath Halo multiplayer doesn't mean you don't want to chill out playing Tetris every now and again.

This article's suggestion that somehow "casual/retard" players will have to wait until the Wii, Natal, or PS3 motion sensor dumbs down FPSes for them to play is ludicrous. It's not only the "hardcore" strawmen that can use an XBox controller. If a developer's game is so hard to control that only the most dedicated players can make it past the second level then the developer fucked up. They're games, a form of entertainment, they shouldn't require absolute dedication to beat or even get far enough to make it interesting. Unfortunately these games get passes on the controls because they turned the graphics to 11 or more realistically render blood splatter patterns. Games don't need to be divided into "unplayable by anyone with a full time job" and "press X to win".

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29324193)

The difference between an FPS and a 3rd person shooter is not about what you see in an FPS, but what you don't see. As opposed to a 3rd person where you see everything.

Metroid, anyone? (1)

supersloshy (1273442) | more than 5 years ago | (#29324883)

The absolute best gaming experience I've had when it comes to immersion is definitely Metroid Prime. The game completely blew me away the first time I played it. It's just you, nobody else, on a planet fighting against ETs and Space Pirates while trying to figure out what the heck is going on. Retro Studios never made the game too unlike the previous games in the series as well; this isn't an FPS, it's a First Person Adventure. The puzzles were innovative, expansions were well hidden and fun to find, and the controls, while awkward, worked surprisingly well. The graphics were absolutely beautiful to look at; your HUD would show things like raindrops hitting it or condensation appearing from steam/heat!

The reason why I think the game was so immersive was this: Retro never made players care about the story! The game went on without any real "story" happening. You had to figure out for yourself where to go next, how to beat certain enemies, and everything! You had to "scan" items and enemies to figure out parts of the story and how to defeat enemies. The game gave you this feeling like the world in the game was going on without you animal-crossing style; go to an area one time and something happens, go there another time and different enemies/sequences are present. I was only a pre-teen when I played the game first, so you can imagine how thrilling it was to watch a metroid breaking out of its casing to attack me, and after wondering where to go next for a split second a space-pirate jumps through the window and attacks me.

If more shooters want to be successful, make the design choices that Metroid Prime made.

The first FP game (2, Interesting)

noirpool (1631915) | more than 5 years ago | (#29325183)

The author is basically correct. It's how you "feel" in a game which causes the immersion.

He had me when he asked "when was the first time you cared" about a character in a game, and then brought up Ico, which was exactly what I was thinking.

In Ico, I not only cared about the boy, but the girl also. When you held her hand and started running, there would be an uncomfortable "tug" on her arm as you started to drag her along. I quickly started using the controls in a more delicate way so I would work up to a run, rather than drag her off. The game didn't care, and she wasn't even real, but I stared becoming concerned for how "she" felt about my demands.

Now. Immersion is more than about graphics and sound. A really, really, good book can immerse you without any special effects altogether. (Neverwhere comes to mind..) In fact, Infocom had a tag line stating they had the best graphics of any computer games out there. They were just in your head.

The first, first person game I experienced that had true immersion was Myst. [I notice that myst was one of the tag words used in this thread, though it has not been mentioned yet.]

Many gamers deride Myst as "not a game", after a wit wrote a review calling it "a sideshow".

The real reason why most players don't like it is its pace..

In Myst, when you materialized, you were suddenly slapped with the view, the sounds of the wind, the waves, the water slapping the underside of the dock, the sounds creaking wood; and a small seagull circling overhead up in the clouds.

These techniques nowadays I recognize from some of the more sophisticated anime.

Later on you found Messages to Catherine, which were rushed, urgent.. Later still you found burned books in a library [Why?] in which you found some amazing journals written in pen, with beautiful and often enigmatic drawings. While you were reading the books it was just you and the image of the book, complete with the rustling of paper when you turned the pages (yes it was a simple wipe), and just the sound of the wind blowing through the open library door.

This was true immersion. I fell into the world. I can see it still. 10 years after I was there, despite the fact that the graphics were static, had dithering in some places due to the color pallet, the movies where the size of postage stamps and had to play in small areas, and the music quality was a bit scratchy in places due to audio compression.

However, the overall effect was magical. You didn't notice the small movies, because of where they were, they had no frames, but were part of the environment. Everything was seamless.

[In fact, playing the old Myst games in a PC environment nowadays, I DO notice these bits. Mostly because the movies play and you can see the rectangular areas where the boundaries don't match up... Progress I guess.]

Interestingly, just a few years ago, I read a review of the original Myst where the author talked about the waves crashing into the dock. I actually had to play the game again as my memory told me that the waves were moving (a later innovation for distant water in the sequel "Riven",) to ensure that, "yes", they were actually static.

Now, immersion is being discussed here as being tricks of sound and light to make you feel you are actually walking the halls. One person talked about the creaking of the floorboards as you moved about, and the shrieking sounds as something jumped out at you. However you can only transmit shallow emotions- unease, fear, alarm, excitement, hate, with these little tricks borrowed from the movies.

It is much harder to transmit other emotions, such as disgust, loneliness, loss, sadness, love, happiness, wonder- you know; the other emotions which are largely left out of movies now a days as there is no time to do them due to the pace.

As an example. Try watching the films; 2001, Solaris (with George Clooney), Lost in Translation, and Gandhi. There are others, but the common thread is that their pace is slow. This generally makes them "bad films" for most moviegoers, but they are the only types of films which can make you care.

When I played Riven, the sequel to Myst, it was much more photo-realistic than the original. The immersion of the game started immediately upon arrival by having the opening movie, then the title credits, then your arrival, all being one seamless whole.

In fact, Riven was the first time I *forgot* I was in a game. Near the end, when I had finally found and freed the mysterious Catherine, she gave me some instructions and raced out of sight down a hall. And I was suddenly again left completely alone again. As I retraced my steps, I found machines I had repaired inoperative, doors previously opened, locked; and my areas of movement circumscribed to a tiny part of the world which I had just spent several weeks opening up. My feeling was unease, then growing panic as I worried that I was now trapped in the world which Catherine had been previously been held and I had been betrayed..

Oh.

That.. Is.. *True* immersion in a game.

Now barring a holodeck (it is much easier to provide direct neruo stimulation BTW.) When you forget that you are *playing* a game and are *IN* a game, that is truly remarkable and an achievement by the creators.

By the way, I should mention that TV has already created a virtual reality which people think is real. The fact that we might have something like "Real Life" from Red Dwarf is rather horrifying seeing how addictive interactive media (or even non-interactive TV,) already is.

I fear the majority of humanity would immediately volunteer for a Matrix style existence where they would never have to think again. [But that's another rant.]

And yes. Major props to 7th Guest, Amber Journey's Beyond, and Obsidian also.

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