Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Appeal of an Open World - Ryviews Ryport

Sorry about the short hiatus everyone! (let's be honest, there are probably about 2 people that regularly check this blog, so I'd like to thank both of you right now)

At any rate, I'm back from my short vacation and ready to entertain you with some more of my rambling, pointless thoughts about video games!

For awhile now, there's been a growing trend among gamers to essentially tailor make a game to their own desires. A perfect example of this is the recent Minecraftian (yes, it's a word if I say it is) mod on Trials Fusion. It's taking a racing game and completely flipping it on it's end. And if you look at what Achievement Hunter has done in Minecraft, it's staggering. There's a whole lot of wonderful examples of games being played in no way resembling what the designer intended. And I think that's exactly what gamers are into right now.

Minecraft: The Game Where People Do Manual Labor For Fun

Ever since the rise of the GTA style open world a few years ago, gamers have been fairly addicted to the open world, user choice model of gaming. RPGs, survival games, and even some racing games have embraced the idea of letting the user craft the experience. And while that may take some extra up front effort on their part to make sure multiple different avenues can be explored, it seems like their work pays off when gamers are able to enjoy games in their own way, basically meaning two players could have completely different experiences.

A game like Minecraft exemplifies that model, where the game was practically designed so that you could play it however you choose. There is a fairly standard direction you're supposed to take when you're playing in survival mode, but in creative mode the idea is actually to build shit and do things. And there's a new game called Project Spark that's literally a game about creating other games!

Project Spark: Do Our Job For Us

Less extreme cases like Mass Effect or Fuel have shown that being free to explore and make choices can improve the gaming experience because you're able to free yourself from certain rail requirements. You don't have to always shoot the bad guy. You don't have to follow the normal level progression. Do you know how many water levels I would have done in Super Mario Bros. 3 if you I could have just skipped them by taking my Mario spaceship and/or Ferrarri around those levels?

Source: http://images-mediawiki-sites.thefullwiki.org/00/3/9/5/270040851055010.gif
Hint: the answer is 0, if that wasn't clear.

People who want to play Minecraft without worrying about food or creepers can do just that. And people who want to play Burnout Paradise and just play that mode where you're trying to brutally murder your opponents can do just that as well, without bothering to wade through that nonsensical racing crap.

The point is, being able to craft games to your own interests is a major breakthrough in gaming because it means games can apply to a much wider audience. Even small choices can radically change how a game is played, and sometimes that small difference can mean the game gets a few more fans. And with how much gamers care right now, any game that doesn't offer choices is basically shooting itself in the foot.

This is assuming games have feet.

I think the trend will die down eventually. But for right now, I'm going to go back to playing Saints Row 4 trying to pick up cars and shoot them skeet-style before they hit the ground and trying to build a realistic moat  and castle in Creeper World 3.

Until next time,


Images courtesy of Wikipedia except where noted

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