Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Blog Banter 29: Immersion

"EVE Online is renowned for it's depth. Its back story, gameplay and social aspects are all qualities that draw players in. What does immersion in EVE Online mean to you?"

Eve is by far the most immersive game I have ever known. And I had an Atari 2600 before the Spectrum and starting PC's with an 80286!

I love the Eve story! I have read the back story, the Chronicles and even the scientific papers (do you know how a stargate or FTL communications work? Do you know the real name of the system Old Man Star and how it got it's name?). But I'm not a roleplayer! I'm just a sci-fi geek!

In all sci-fi and computer games there has to be some "willing suspension of disbelief". Nearly every game on every platform has some aspects you need to say "well I'll ignore that glaring issue as it is a game and not real". In Call of Duty - can you retreat? No you cannot, you're stuck in a map and every way out is blocked by something that you cannot simply climb over, even though in real life you could easily shimmy over the top of the burnt-out car and leg it! Warning, strong language in the video clip....

When we hit fantasy games it's even more so. World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan. They all contain things that don't exist, have never existed and will never exist, and need you to put some effort into believing in, like goblins*! And secondly there are things you cannot due to game mechanics that in real life you could. There is a hill there but I cannot walk up it! Although it does look like a one-legged dog would be able to climb that incline, I as a young, fit and healthy Elf cannot!

A good game has to deal with these. We need help with the "willing suspension of disbelief" otherwise it nags at the back of minds and lowers our respect for the game. There was a Star Wars game that came out a year or two ago that I bought. It might have been the Force Unleashed, I don't recall. I found the map clipping terrible, hitting invisible walls all the time and blocking me from where I wanted to go. It caused me to stop playing it.

I want to go over there!
Well you cannot, there is something in the way.
It's a ****ing 3ft high bit of pipe. I should be able to climb over that!
If it had been 2.9ft then you could have jumped it. But at 3ft it's just too high.
Hang on a sec! I'm supposed to be Darth Vaders apprentice! I can fire lightning out of my fingers but cannot climb over a 3ft pipe??????

You could say Star Wars has a better and more detailed backstory than Eve Online. However, with Eve I can relate its back story to my character, in the 3ft-high-pipe-of-doom game, I couldn't.

It's also the same in films. You watch the film and the "willing suspension of disbelief" kicks in and you enjoy it. During the film did people think "Hang on, if Skynet never sent the Terminator back then Kyle Reese would have never gone back, John Connor wouldn't have been born and therefore Skynet would not have needed to send a Terminator back in time as John, the reason for it sending the terminator, never existed so.... /splat.... Erm..... my brain just burst". No they got to that later.

We have these issues in Eve too. But the back story explains a lot of it. It allows us to forgive some of the "Why?" moments.

With an immersive game you feel part of the ongoing story. I think this is where the "I was there" campaign came from. You need explanations to the "why is that happening?". Eve deals with this very well compared to most games. There is just so much backstory there it starts to feel real. Why do the Gallente rely on drones so much? They developed them as a counter during the first war against the fast Caldari fighters that were kicking their ass. Why are hybrid weapons so fail? Oh..... we'll skip that one!

Another issue is that Eve is a hard game. Those who have played it for a while have invested a lot of time and energy into the game. We feel a connection to our characters.

There are very few games like Eve that can suck you in so deep, and a main part of that is the lore and story telling attached to the game. Over time the original CCP-created story line blurs with what history the players have created, and in time that becomes part of the back story. To be honest, if Eve didn't have this, I doubt it would have lasted so long. 

I think what I'm trying to say is..... 

We don't play Eve, we take part in it. 

Even if you're not into the roleplay (I'm not and don't think we've got any in our corp) there are the Eve-O forums, corp and alliance forums, Twitter and fan websites that all build on the immersion of the game whether it's "in game" like fan fiction or roleplaying or "out of game" (but still on an Eve theme) with friends shooting the breeze/trolling/flaming etc.

You yourself are immersed to some extent in Eve. Yes I'm talking to YOU. What? Yes you bloody well are! You're reading this blog. You're not one of these log on-log off types are you now? Go on admit it, you're "immersed" ;)

Yes, you don't need to immerse yourself in the back story and the whole Eve universe to enjoy Eve Online.... but those of us (sci-fi geeks) who do, we are really thankful it's there.

Those who came before me...

Truen1ght @ ...Shall We Not Revenge? - Immersion (OOC) (BB29)
Bel Amar (Google+) - Blog Banter 29: Immersion
EVE Hermit @ EVE Hermit's Blog - Blog banter 29: "Immersion"
Rixx Javix -

And those that came after....

Jaggins @ Vive Virtual - Immersed
Ranis Garr @ Amarrian Pilot - Hooked
Sered Woollahra @ Sered's Lives - I was there! With them!
Bel Amar c/o Pod Goo - Blog Banter 29
Ender Black @ Pod Goo - Reality is Immersion
Scitor Nantom @ - A Response to Freebooted
Kirith Kodachi @ Inner Sanctum of the Ninveah - Immersion
CozmikR5 @ Beyond Space - You think that's air you're breathing?

* When is a leprechaun not a leprechaun? When he's got his head up a fairy's skirt. Then he's a goblin.

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