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Maintaining the Illusion

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  1. Maintaining the Illusion • Virtual worlds that keep the player in the game

  2. Player perception is Key • The game cannot be infinitely large, completely non-linear, or as smart as the player. Instead of achieving these, control what you can: the player’s perception of the game world. • Many games go nowhere due to simple oddities that break the player's experience.

  3. “Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange.”

  4. Destroying the Illusion • Unreasonable boundaries • Unnecessary hand-holding • Uninteresting environments • Strict linearity

  5. The first Assassin’s Creed had a lot of promise, but the blocked-off areas were very distracting. Unreasonable Boundaries OPEN WORLD • Giant blue walls in the world really take me out of the game. The promise of free exploration in an open world...

  6. Unnecessary Hand-holding • Don’t explicitly remind me that I’m in a fake world; that doesn’t help keep me entranced in your game. That annoying owl in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. He wouldn’t stop talking!

  7. Uninteresting Environments Superman 64 will be forever known as one of the worst video games of all time. • It doesn’t get much more boring than this. PONG was more interesting to look at.

  8. Strict Linearity • Don’t make me walk the line. Final Fantasy X was so linear, you had to walk back through every single area to get back to the beginning.

  9. Maintaining the Illusion • Reasonable boundaries • Show, don’t tell • Environment depth: layering, backgrounds, and skyboxes • Controlled freedom

  10. The boundaries in Left 4 Dead 2 feel so reasonable that the player’s first thought isn’t “why is there a wall?” but “how do I get around?” Reasonable Boundaries • Good boundary placement makes the player forget that there could’ve been other options.

  11. Non-diagetic dialogue should be uncommon and very brief. Show, Don’t Tell • Give me something to do right away. Teach me how to play by letting me play. Everybody remembers those first exciting moments from Final Fantasy VII.

  12. Show, Don’t Tell Portal 2 throws you right into the game with a “good luck.” Catch on quick or Wheatley and GLaDOS will kill you.

  13. Layering Donkey Kong Country 2 had two background layers, a terrain layer, a sprites layer, and a foreground layer. • Even flat games can have layered worlds.

  14. Crash Bandicoot: Warped had background objects that became foreground objects later in a level. Backgrounds • Themed objects with which the player doesn’t interact; unnecessary for the gameplay, necessary for the game.

  15. SkyBoxes • God gave you more than a blue gradient to look at in the sky. Give me something worth seeing. The Halo skybox was not only interesting but also thematic to the game.

  16. Controlled Freedom Diagrams taken from gamedesignreviews.com

  17. Controlled Freedom Diagrams taken from gamedesignreviews.com

  18. Controlled Freedom On the small scale, a critical path with branches is a good combination. Diagram taken from gamasutra.com

  19. Controlled Freedom Diagrams taken from gamedesignreviews.com

  20. Controlled Freedom • On the large scale, controlled networks are an ideal solution. Diagrams taken from gamedesignreviews.com

  21. Maintain the Illusion • Make sure to have reasonable boundaries that the player won’t think twice about. • Show (don’t tell) the player how to play, or you will break the player’s experience. • Use layering, backgrounds, and skyboxes to provide an interesting environment that convinces the player there’s more to the world than they are seeing. • Provide the player with direction and control his movements, but be careful not to make a strictly linear game.

  22. Maintain the Illusion