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Thread: The uncertain future of games like Deus Ex and Dishonored

  1. #26
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Sorry, I should have been more clear; that post was specifically regarding the directly comparable systems in the two games. Such as stealth, or NPC reactivity. Hitman's equivalent systems just feel significantly more robust and flexible. Dishonored 2's have noticeable bugs and janky outcomes, such as upon release, being unable to get non-lethal in the museum level due to a bug where an NPC would unavoidably die after knocking out the main target.
    I think it's the finessing of the point where scripting interleaves with systems, and IO just seem better at this than Arkane, who in turn are better than Eidos Montreal.
    And at it's core, I think that's one of the most important factors when making an immersive sim. That transition between scripted behaviour and behaviour governed by systems needs to be as seamless and bug-free as possible.

  2. #27
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I'd argue that many of the "immersive sim" elements have been incorporated into other games to a degree. Like stealth, RPG elements, some level of inventory management (not necessarily via a viewable backpack / storage container).

    If you were to compare a FPS game of now, compared to say 15 years ago, there is QUITE the difference.

  3. #28
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Yeah, I think the Ubi template in particular has nicked a lot from immersive sims. Stuff like Far Cry 2 onwards, the recent Tomb Raider games, Assassin's Creed for the RPG elements, the Batman games, they've all implemented elements of immersive sims, but usually without the sim bits (Far Cry is better then most in this respect). All these progression systems you see in a huge swathe of modern games owe a lot to the immersive sim.

    One thing I will give the recent Deus Ex games credit for however; they're probably the only modern takes on the genre that include varied and meaningful dialogue interactions (or any interactive dialogue at all outside of full-on RPGs). The social aug is great fun in both games. More of this kind of thing!

  4. #29
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Quote Originally Posted by henke View Post
    It's more of a straight up stealth-game than an immersive sim, isn't it? Gotta say I'm not entirely sure why Thief 1 & 2 gets included in the ImmSim category either, other than coming out at the right time by the right developer.
    Totally disagree. Wide open levels, minimal UI, open ended/emergent gameplay with multiple paths to victory. Very minimal scripted events (conversation are the only thing I can think of). Think of levels like The Haunted Cathedral or Shipping and Receiving, they're just big gaming playgrounds where you can proceed however you choose.

    Thief 2014 really didn't have much of any of that. Just the fact that you could only use rope arrows in very specific, designated spots kind of tell you everything you need to know.

  5. #30
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2006
    Location: Germoney
    There's loads of games incorporating eventually elements on a purely mechanical level. Environmental storytelling is all over the place, as are RPG elements, physics simulations, weapons that can be upgraded. In itself those are means to a bigger end to me. The core of the general idea, the spark that spawned these initial games in the first place, that's something hardly ever fully pursued. Sometimes that's done for commercial reasons -- there were "elements" found even in the original Shock/Underworld games that were deemed annoying by a few back then (every time I see an Alien:Isolation complaint about the back-tracking in a supposed-to-be persistent realistic game space such as the Sevastopol makes my heart sink). Sometimes that's because it's a demanding task. Any garage developer can make an adventure game via AGS, at least on a technical level (rumour has it even Yahtzee did a few), however as soon as simulation rather than scripts come into play, artificial intelligence rather than breadcrumbs, object interaction rather than pre-determined "hot spots" as the only scripted things to "interact with", it's getting increasingly tougher.

    Quote Originally Posted by Malf View Post
    One thing I am certain of, and probably won't go down well here, but I think we need less RPG-like ability and stat progression in immersive sims, and more unlockable tools that open up new potential play-styles on subsequent play-throughs.
    http://www.thief-thecircle.com/darkproj/manifesto.html I love those guys. [Nothing against RPG trappings as such at all... I bought all more recent Obsidian oldschool isometric RPGs for instance. But that ability to think outside of those boxes is/was phenomenal]. Btw, not do go into a semantic argument what is and what isn't a sim, to me that's pointless exercise. To bring that on the topic of the article, I think it is quite right that it isn't just these games that "failed" to hit hard, or not as hard as what hoped. It's the game's market as a whole. With that said, if Arkane et all couldn't creach their core markets, that'd be troublesome [perhaps even amongst the diehards there probably is only so many spiritual successors to System Shock / Deus Ex you can take at a time... in a sense, it's becoming a formula all itself, fantastic as it still may be!].

    Quote Originally Posted by dishes View Post
    Core 2 Duo E6850, 8 GB DDR2, GTX 750 Ti. (Factory OC'd, and I believe 2 GB GDDR5.) The game is mostly CPU bound; Afterburner says both cores are pegged but the GPU is only half used.

    Game settings were set to all Very Low 720p with 50% adaptive resolution, so the game will switch to 360p before dropping frames. It can sometimes look ugly but the art style is pretty enough that it compensates for PS2-level graphics, and it stays between 30 and 60 as a result. Unless you're a PCMR übermensch, this is completely fine by me.
    Cheers, personally not that demanding too, but a better experience is desirable (30 fps minimum at a decent resolution). My 2011/2012ish Intel system is still fine for this, however a 750 seems stretching it as it reaches its limits quickly. Prey overall seems a far less demanding game overall, maybe should try the free trial when finished on Prey (didn't even know they had put one up). By the way, Prey has one too now.

  6. #31
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Only real complaints I had about Alien - Isolation were:

    * The Alien(s) invulnerability, which clashes with pretty much every other Alien game ever.
    * The Alien nearly always finding you at some locations. The rest it was completely fine.

    Rest of the game was great. Games a masterpiece imo. The DLC was average, but good whilst going for the length that it goes.

  7. #32
    PC Gamering Smartey Man
    I <3 consoles and gamepads

    Registered: Aug 2007
    Location: New Zealand
    We've got Otherside working on Underworld Ascendant + System Shock 3 and Night Dive making System Shock 1. Even though Prey, Deus Ex 5 and Dishonoured 2 all flopped I'd say that the Immersive Sim genre is in good hands. All we need is for Otherside to make a Thief spiritual successor then we'll have come full circle.

  8. #33
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2000
    Location: Near Brisbane, Australia
    Thief 1/2 still focus on player agency within a simulation. There are big differences to other immersive sim games, but I think it absolutely counts as a sim.

    A typical moment of player agency in DX, say, will have the player setting of multiple interacting effects which are all going to coming together at the same time and make something cool happen, which is the payoff. In thief there would be a more drawn out period during which the player takes stock of all the interacting elements in some situation and handles them probably one or two elements at a time. The payoff is more about the buildup and release of tension over time. But both are different flavours of giving the player agency within a simulation.

    (BTW, someone mentioned Yahtzee's games. Completely off topic but Art of Theft is rather good IMO. Maybe less impressive nowadays in light of all the other indie stealth games that have come out.)

  9. #34
    If you have problem with narrowing down what ImSim is, it all boils down to multiple, non-level-scripted systems "listening" to each other and allowing emergent gameplay, in ways often not anticipated by developers. Thief 1-3 games meet these requirements perfectly.

  10. #35
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Hey, look, another thread devolving into a semantic discussion about what does and does not count as an immersive sim. There's a reason the title eschewed the term...

  11. #36
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Traditionally, I'd be all over this and yell 'LET'S DO THIS' because I feel like I'm a minority of the population wired that way. But, as all past discussions have been inconclusive, we've shown a certain tenacity and stamina for it. I think imposing a moratorium on the topic in a forum dedicated to it is going to last as long as the average male refractory period.

    Which is to say, 15 minutes.

    Good job, lads.

  12. #37
    I always thought there isn’t much point in discussing what ImSim is “to me”, that's why I'm merely stating what's been said or written by guys like Smith or Spector. It’s not really up to players, fans, or anyone except developers. They make games, they coined up the term, and it’s interesting to see what they mean by that, just by playing their games. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but I’d argue whether it’s interesting to get into that, just for the sake of the discussion. I prefer playing games.

  13. #38
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Aaaaaanyway, I think we can safely say that the immediate future of the immersive sim is looking okay, but that the future of triple-A efforts is looking shaky.
    I think if you're an immersive sim developer dependent on a publisher funding your games, you're going to be pushed into developing games in other genres. Bethesda seem to have fostered Arkane's efforts, but they'll only be patient for so long, and I really wouldn't be surprised to see them looking to drop Arkane or at the very least, re-direct them.

    The future does seem to be with indies and crowd-funding at the moment.

    IOI thankfully appear to have landed on their feet and should hopefully be able to provide more Hitman, but I'm worried about exactly how big the audience is for their games. While every gamer knows about Hitman, I'm not sure that many of them have played a Hitman game comparatively speaking.

    I also wonder if CDPR might get involved in making immersive sims if they see there's a gap in the triple-A market.

    Here's hoping Underworld Ascendant and System Shock 3 pan out and are a success for Otherside, but even there, it'll be a niche catering to enthusiasts rather than widespread commercial success.

  14. #39
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    The developers who formed the genre can't really agree on it, either.

    Back around the time of Deus Ex's release, I read an interview with Doug Church and Warren Spector in some gaming magazine, and the point of the interview was basically how they respectfully disagreed with each other on what constituted a more immersive simulated experience (I'm not sure they were using the term immersive sim yet).

    Doug Church -- who Spector frequently refers to as big influence on him -- was the Project Director on the first System Shock. He though game abstractions should be minimal and unobtrusive, so he favored minimal to no HUD, no inventory systems and no character stats. His philosophy on that was partially what led to Thief being the way it was (minimal HUD, no RPG stats, no separate inventory screen).

    On the other hand, Warren Spector saw immersive simulation more like putting the player in a flight simulator, but as a, um, people simulator, and argued that these abstractions were necessary to fully simulate a wide range of verbs in the game world.

    I think they both made great points and I respect them both, so I don't feel strongly about favoring one side or the other. Like in the original Deus Ex and Thief games, both philosophies can work if executed well.

  15. #40
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    I've come up with the best name: these are all post-FPSes.

    I joke, but like most post- genres, there's a degree of shakiness to what it can and can't encompass, and the genre set of games that belong to this idea of the ImSim don't always completely lie within the boundaries set by Spector et al. -- in fact, we're better off talking about the genre gradient here instead of lines to colour within.

    Anyhoo, I echo Malf's concern for Arkane under a big, maximal-profit focused publisher. It's the same fear I have for Relic with SEGA, and CD with Squeenix. The solution as I see it is simple: go smaller. Stop wasting so much time on photoreal art assets and do something with stylised art direction that is easier to iterate upon, as the games aren't meant to be easily marketed blockbuster action extravaganzas anyway. Go wild and experiment with the priority being on strong gameplay and design first.

  16. #41
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2006
    Location: Germoney
    Quote Originally Posted by icemann View Post
    Only real complaints I had about Alien - Isolation were:
    * The Alien(s) invulnerability, which clashes with pretty much every other Alien game ever.
    * The Alien nearly always finding you at some locations. The rest it was completely fine.
    Yeah the second one oft spoilt it a bit. When I first heard about this my head went wild and my thoughts approached this from a more realistic/simulation perspective as well. The Alien freely traveling the station, and you being able to evade it for significant portions of the game, in essence, less scripts, more simulations. Of course in retrospect the game's story justifies it all somewhat that it nearly always hangs around, but in line with the actual (first) movie this is based upon, the Alien wasn't actually on-screen for very long. It's that tension of knowing it's there somewhere, and it could pop up anytime. Problem is that such a design probably could not carry a 10-20 hours game, just getting teased and teased, but I'm that sort of weirdo that would still completely buy in to that. (Probably one of the few, sigh). As for the first point, there is still a game based on Aliens to be made here where that balance could be struck, whilst being more faithful to that movie's fiction as well. Without turning to the running and gunning you get from Aliens inspired games typically (last time I saw that movie, it wasn't about Marines kicking butt, but getting their butts kicked, the games miss that completely). Unfortunately, the prospect of any kind of follow-up are slim.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Ithe games aren't meant to be easily marketed blockbuster action extravaganzas anyway. Go wild and experiment with the priority being on strong gameplay and design first.
    Seeing those oft misleading trailers too makes you cringe, because they make the games look just like that. Kill counts, explosions and over the top stuff everywhere... it's so juvenile. It's the ultimate gaming paradoxon perhaps, it's only the big loud and "dumb" games that oft really justify significant budgets and those which tend to fall somewhere in between are being sold like it. You don't have that anywhere else to this degree in my opinion. The entire crowd funding movement seems to have slowed down a bit, but maybe same as Obsidian there is space for doing different projects of different scope... they are doing their big stuff whilst doing their crowd funded games at the same time, and oft there is a bit of an overlap between audiences, such as when guys who'd never played a "Baldur's Gate"-like get to experience something a bit different, and enjoy it. Does Arkane even have a proper "community" by the way?

  17. #42
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Anyhoo, I echo Malf's concern for Arkane under a big, maximal-profit focused publisher. It's the same fear I have for Relic with SEGA ...
    Totally off-topic, but I feel like Relic are already past it, considering the huge flop that was Dawn of War 3.

  18. #43
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2006
    Location: Germoney
    Quote Originally Posted by Abysmal View Post
    Any new developer trying to design a new game around those original 1990s LGS principles would end up with a dated-feeling game anyways.
    Looking forward to it, because that looks like a pretty bright future. The lesser developers or those holding onto nostalgia would naturally ape every single element for all the wrong reasons, never understanding the original intent. Like the majority of adventure game developers, for which making a Point and Click™ has trumped being awesome, partying like it's 1990s whilst forgetting that the standouts of the day such as the first King's Quest were in the context of their time (!!!) perhaps amongst some of the first graphical "3d" open world exploration games ever conceived, etc. Only if you go fully-on retro charming would a successor to Police Quest still play 1:1 like back in the day, rather than perhaps similar to L.A. Noire with a few more brains. It speaks to reason that early 1990s tech placed quite a few limitationsalso on LGS. If you mean "character interaction" with "social interaction", that's perhaps a good example. One of the core reasons why LGS did away with much of dialogue to begin with post Underworld was that they felt dialogue trees of that era wouldn't cut it as far as character/social interaction was concerned, so for System Shock they killed all the guys you could meet off before the game had even started.

    Out of that was born the now infamous audio log, which (slightly adjusted) still holds together quite a few nuts and bolts in "Prey" -- some 25 years later (and it still works well in particular on that scenario, but it's still threatening to become formula, and the challenge of possibly better systems not getting tackled.) [If that sounds like criticism, play PREY, because that future isn't here yet, it really isn't, it's also a really good game worth playing]. If there's a lesson to learn here it's that you never repeat, always surprise, think out of the box and don't shoehorn all the ideas to tightly fit into some "stupid-ass labeled" box before you even start -- in particular if that box is that tiny it barely managed to hold your grandfather's 80386 DX/33 and is attracting increasingly more cob webs rather than still being much relevant. With that mindset, games like Thief or Shock would have never been conceived, turning the world of gaming upside down as they went along. For studios such as Arkane, one day marketing games as the "spiritual successor to X" may lose meaning or pulling power, as even back in the day, those games were neither Doom nor Half Life, as influential as they were also for a generation of then to come developers.
    Last edited by samIamsad; 18th Aug 2017 at 17:48.

  19. #44
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Quote Originally Posted by samIamsad View Post
    One of the core reasons why LGS did away with much of dialogue to begin with post Underworld was that they felt dialogue trees of that era wouldn't cut it as far as character/social interaction was concerned
    And yet, that hasn't changed - no one has been able to come up with anything better than dialogue trees.

  20. #45
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    I thought Fallout's system (not counting Fallout 4) was quite good, where you have a general selection of dialog + extras that would only be available if you met certain requirements (eg having a certain perk, having a skill level of something etc etc).

    Shadowrun Returns also used this style of conversation system to good effect.

  21. #46
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Fallout 3's was kinda crap too, everything was basically checks against your speech skill with a percentage of failure for some reason.

    I think my favorite dialog system is in New Vegas, because it lets you know if a dialog line is the result of a skill check (I can see why some would prefer the way 1 & 2 just give you different dialog options without telling you why, though) and if you don't have the skill to pass a check, you get a joke failure option that is usually genuinely funny. Oh, and almost every attribute and skill has a dialog check somewhere in the game. It made me smile when I met the one vendor who refuses to sell you any of his good stock unless your character has a high enough gun skill and is like "I know a thing or two about guns, buddy".

  22. #47
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Is that really anything other than "dialog tree with a extraordinarily terrible way of picking your option"? The old text parser dialogs certainly worked that way (ref Ultima IV+).

  23. #48
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    Fallout 3's was kinda crap too, everything was basically checks against your speech skill with a percentage of failure for some reason.

    I think my favorite dialog system is in New Vegas, because it lets you know if a dialog line is the result of a skill check (I can see why some would prefer the way 1 & 2 just give you different dialog options without telling you why, though) and if you don't have the skill to pass a check, you get a joke failure option that is usually genuinely funny. Oh, and almost every attribute and skill has a dialog check somewhere in the game. It made me smile when I met the one vendor who refuses to sell you any of his good stock unless your character has a high enough gun skill and is like "I know a thing or two about guns, buddy".
    In NV's case it lead to completely different outcomes being possible. When it's the "illusion of choice" (aka Fallout 4's system) then it's just stupid and pointless.
    Last edited by icemann; 20th Aug 2017 at 00:15.

  24. #49
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    I think Pyrian was referring to microphone-based conversations, not to the improved conversation trees that FO:NV and V:TM:B use.

  25. #50
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I think icemann was replying to Jason Moyer instead of Abysmal or me?

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