What Makes A Video Game World Believable?

In today's Speak Up on Kotaku, commenter Balmung the Apostle Hunter asked what makes a video game world believable and user Fontane has an answer.

It depends on the type of game for me. In RPGs (both JRPGs and Western) it's a combination of interesting npcs and hidden areas/quests. Anything that makes it seem like there's more going on in the world than just what's happening to the main characters. Final Fantasy used to be good at that, especially during the PSX era. I used to explore every inch of each town talking to everyone to make sure I didn't miss anything funny or interesting. Same with Morrowind and Oblivion.

For open world games like GTA I like to see things happening that have nothing to do with me. Police chases I didn't start, conversations between npcs, stuff like that. Life just going on in the world whether the player does anything or not.

I'd have to think about it more for other genres, those are just the big two for me when it comes to interesting game worlds.

About Speak Up on Kotaku: Our readers have a lot to say, and sometimes what they have to say has nothing to do with the stories we run.


Comments

    One of my pet peeves of this whole motion-control fad that the industry has gone crazy for is when they say the use of motion controls is needed to create immersion. It's not. For a game like Heavy Rain, which I thought I would have loved, the quick-time events ruined the immersion for me and took me right out of the game world. I was constantly reminded that I'm just sitting on my couch waggling thumbsticks about. I can only imagine how much worse the motion controls are.

    The only things I need to completely lose myself in a game is a great cast of characters, and an atmosphere and tone that fits the game world. Great examples of this are Alan Wake, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Dead Space (1 and 2) and Red Dead Redemption. All of those games felt like I had been completely transported into their worlds just on the strength of their characters and worlds.

    The moment i'm told to "Kill X amount of X." It's no longer believable then. Or fun.

    For me it would be life without the player (conversations, fights, unscripted events in general), and also a past. For example, the Elder Scrolls games have a rich lore spanning thousands of years, but it's believable within the context of the game world. It doesn't force its history on you, but it's just...there.

    the worlds look, and how its inhabitants live and act.

    If i'm in a worn torn city, things should be glum. There should be destruction and little, people will walk with their heads down and there's no upbeat music or laughter. There is tension in the air, people are irritated and rushed, not knowing what will happen next. Their clothes are likely dirty and they're probably pessimistic.

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