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

  1. #1
    New Member
    Registered: May 2017

    The uncertain future of games like Deus Ex and Dishonored

    Article from PC Gamer on the uncertain future of our favourite genre, the immersive sim.

    I myself love these kind of games, as should everyone on this forum, and don't really get the same kind of satisfaction as I do from other kinds of RPG-lites/stealth games/etc; despite any flaws. (I'm looking at you, obvious vents.) This is disappointing seeing how much I loved Dishonored 2, (ran fine on my PC with a *Core 2 Duo* - of course I turned down graphics settings, but it was totally playable) although I haven't played Prey (System Shock 2 is my least favourite immersive sim, so I'm hesitant) or Mankind Divided (unsure about performance) yet.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Well you tell me. After System Shock 2 and Deus Ex 1 came out, it looked like the "immersive sim" was dead a few years later.

    Fast forward to many years later and we got Bioshock, then Dishonored, Prey and so on. I think we're going to be just fine and that it's FAR to early to be saying anything one way or the other. Let's wait 2 years then see how things pan out.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I'm with icemann on this one. These things tend to come and go in waves. I've seen the return of various genres that seemed to be dead. I'd absolutely say it's a shame if we have to wait half a dozen years until another Dishonored 2, but I also think that gaming these days is pretty varied, so while there may not be many AAA immersive sims for a while, I'm sure there will be games that push those particular buttons. Perhaps not all at the same time, but I also don't particularly want games to copy the Deus Ex template but to develop their own takes on that template.

  4. #4
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Since it's defined by experimentation and non-linear gameplay, I think it's a genre ripe for the mid-budget treatment instead of AAA. It's a shame the space between AAA and indie has all but disappeared, though.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    What about Underworld Ascendant? Mid-budget immersive-sim made by a lot of the original Looking Glass folks.
    I imagine that will be the next major Imm-Sim we see.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    And System Shock 3 + the System Shock 1 reboot (which I'm still half half on, but am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on for now).

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    Jensen tried so hard, and got so far. But in the end...
    Duuude, that's messed up (in light of Chester Bennington's recent suicide).

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2014
    Isn't the problem the writing? Hard to get into an immersive sim when the world isn't believable. This is the biggest hurdle to my enjoyment of the new crop of immersive sims.

    P.S. Breath of the Wild has many immersive sim elements and it did just fine.

  9. #9
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Even now just fine isn't the term I'd use. There's maybe one big example of something vaguely immersive sim-ish every three years or so, and even those are somewhat compromised compared to the late '90s versions. I don't think they'll ever go entirely extinct, but I don't think the genre is in very good health these days either.

  10. #10
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    Funny that the article doesn't even mention Thief 2014 (sales of 1.5 million according to Steam Spy).

    I guess I'd worry a bit about the new Ultima and System Shock. What are their chances of success if big time names like Deus Ex & Dishonored (& to some degree Prey) couldn't produce a hit between them. Ultima and System Shock may be legendary to people here, but I'd guess most of the young crew in their 20s and 30s don't really care that much.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Underworld, not Ultima.* Not sure those games (Underworld Ascension and the new System Shock) are AAA, though; my impression is that they're more AA, which means that you won't need as many sales for them to count as a success.

    *I would kill a man for a worthy new Ultima-alike. Not very virtuous, I know.

  12. #12
    Southquarter.com/fms
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Akkala Highlands
    I always do that. I've actually never played any of the Underworld or Ultima games.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2004
    I wonder how much of the issue with DX:MD, DH2, and Prey is the fact that they all came out in a relatively short amount of time? I have every intention of picking up DH2 and Prey at some point...

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2002
    Location: Pennsylvania
    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I think these types of games could make a big comeback in VR, because they're a natural fit (in both directions). Lone Echo has a little bit of the same flavor.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I think these most recent games also just faced something that every higher cost game faces these days: a significant percentage of the game-buying public

    1) Has a huge backlog of games already to work through, so they're less likely to buy games when they first launch;
    2) Are used to games being cheaper -- whether from buying indie games or from waiting for seasonal sales -- so they're less likely to fork over full price for a AAA game;
    3) Have their attention split in so many different directions by everything that's available these days -- in gaming and streaming media -- that even if they're not concerned about their backlog or about paying full price, it's more likely now than in the past that they may not notice or develop buying interest in a particular game during its narrow launch window.

    Right here at TTLG -- where we have the ideal target demographic for these games -- I've seen multiple people explicitly post something about their backlog or about waiting for a Steam sale before buying either Dishonored 2 or Prey.

    In addition, fair or not, the core audience for these games often tends to be pretty cynical about anyone trying to replicate the games at the origin of this sub-genre. Not only does that inhibit sales, but it influences word-of-mouth.

    There are other factors that have nothing to do with the quality of the games or their commercial viability. For example, I think it was stupid for Bethesda to use the Prey brand for this new, well, Prey. Several Prey reviews spent a sizable word count explaining to readers that this was not that other Prey starring a Native American and it had nothing to with that, or that this had nothing to do with the much-discussed Prey 2 involving an alien bounty hunter. It's better now, but at launch if you Googled Prey, Prey mods or Prey images, you saw as many if not more results for the 2006 Prey as you did for the new Prey. (I could go on about the number of ways Bethesda botched the launch of Prey, but this is enough of my rambling, and yes I know Arkane Austin was the developer, not Bethesda.)

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Ireland
    Another factor is that a lot of the recent games (that is, Dishonoured 2 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided) shipped in a really buggy state.

    It's not a motivating factor to buy a game at full price when it comes out (or to pre-order it) when that means you are paying to be a beta tester.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    Yeah, and Dishonored 2's crappy launch influenced Prey's launch, too, even though Prey launched in much better shape with a completely different engine. It's just hard to fight back against the ill will of such decisions. I still blame Bethesda more than Arkane on that one, too. I don't know if they'll admit it, but Skyrim launched on 11/11/11 and has been an incredible success for them, so I think somebody superstitious was stubborn about pushing Dishonored 2 out on 11/11 as well, whether it was finished or not. (*adjusts tin foil hat...)

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Melbourne, Australia
    Have to say that I COMPLETELY agree with the name choice for Prey comments from above. If it linked in with the other game then cool that's fine. But when it doesn't then they should have used a new name. Games companies are just so risk adverse about new IP these days.

    It's a shame as Prey is excellent. I'd also argue that things like this have the knock on effect of causing people to forget the early entry (when the names are identical).
    Last edited by icemann; 17th Aug 2017 at 05:56.

  19. #19
    I feel like people (including that author, and probably me at some point in the past) give the new DX games too much credit for being immersive sims. They're better games than Invisible War was, but I feel like instead of presenting problems and giving the player's avatar tools to solve those problems in a highly systems-driven worldspace they just created a few alternate routes for different builds. I forget which Youtuber mentioned this, but DXHR and DXMD feel like really great Metal Gear-inspired sci-fi stealth games that aren't especially similar to or building on the original game, even if they're better games than the sequel made by the original devs. I also hate the mid-action camera switching and having some SplinterCell 5 style third person cover-stealth instead of the ability to lean. You can handwave stuff like objective markers and the radar thing away because AUGMENTATIONS but I doubt Jensen has an augmentation that shoots a camera at the wall to show his badass takedown and sneaking abilities.

    Having Dishonored 2 and Prey come out like 6 months apart and nailing the fundamentals of an ImSim didn't help with the feeling that the new DX games aren't really part of the same subgenre.

  20. #20
    Level 10,000 achieved
    Registered: Mar 2001
    Location: Finland
    Quote Originally Posted by Brethren View Post
    Funny that the article doesn't even mention Thief 2014 (sales of 1.5 million according to Steam Spy).
    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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Twist View Post
    Right here at TTLG -- where we have the ideal target demographic for these games -- I've seen multiple people explicitly post something about their backlog or about waiting for a Steam sale before buying either Dishonored 2 or Prey.
    *raises hand*

    Yup, haven't played either yet. I'll get to them eventually, but I feel like the next time I wanna start up a new emergent, systems-rich stealth game it'll be Hitman.
    Last edited by henke; 17th Aug 2017 at 01:37.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    I feel like people (including that author, and probably me at some point in the past) give the new DX games too much credit for being immersive sims. They're better games than Invisible War was, but I feel like instead of presenting problems and giving the player's avatar tools to solve those problems in a highly systems-driven worldspace they just created a few alternate routes for different builds. I forget which Youtuber mentioned this, but DXHR and DXMD feel like really great Metal Gear-inspired sci-fi stealth games that aren't especially similar to or building on the original game, even if they're better games than the sequel made by the original devs. I also hate the mid-action camera switching and having some SplinterCell 5 style third person cover-stealth instead of the ability to lean. You can handwave stuff like objective markers and the radar thing away because AUGMENTATIONS but I doubt Jensen has an augmentation that shoots a camera at the wall to show his badass takedown and sneaking abilities.
    I love when people talk sense about the modern Deus Ex games. I used to hate Human Revolution with passion. I don't know if the authors misunderstood what Deus Ex is about or they thought that it has no place in market, or the publishers made them make a game that is nothing like the original. I am still baffled that Human Revolution is almost universally loved, it has everything I hate about modern triple A games like health regen from the beginning, mission markers (yes I know you can switch them off but then you are simply lost in a maze). Here is a funny post from other forum about Human Revolution/Mass Effect 2:

    I don't know if you played mass effect 2, but the story starts very much in the same way...

    the events aren't in the same order but pretty much the same. Writers don't give a .

    Have the game start with a 10 minute long movie on how cool the main character is, place a well "augmented" hot chick who probably wears that skinny outfit to work everyday, briefly present the environment so the player can see how cool it would be to actually live there, and splash a bit of storyline that is confusing but thrilling so that at the end of the movie you won't have any idea what was that all about.

    Suddenly when you get to actually move the mouse and walk about, some disaster has to happen that leaves you shocked and confused about (again) what was that all about. Then the character somewhat dies only to be resurrected and pass the next 10 minutes or so having conversations with people who are so amazed you're alive.....

    I don't know how much they look alike since I've never played ME2 beyond that point, I couldn't bare it.

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2006
    Location: Germoney
    Part of the problem if you fully run with the initial idea is that these are complex beasts, and require a certain amount of development time/budget, unless it is narrowed down to a very specific experience -- as the article outlines, various survivalist games take big cues off all of this. The core of this is tackling the idea of "Virtual reality" from a software perspective. I think the Underworld 2 manual still says this best.



    The other is that it's not an inherent sell as such. Outside of places like these, people barely if at all recognize or care about the design principles targeted back then. Hence the many taglines how "Prey would be Bioshock in space", whilst Prey is a lot closer to what Church and co. were trying to do 25 years ago -- though to be fair, it doesn't try anything hugely particularly new here outside of some new twists and turns -- whilst Dishonored wasn't a straight riff on Thief either, Prey is pretty much the game you pictured System Shock picking up from ... in about 2002, had this line of development not been "cut". (Buy it, it's well worth it). However, as "Virtual Realiyt" is becoming a thing again on the hardware side as well, there is perhaps an opportunity to get it better across.

    It seems a bit premature though to conclude from three games not being mega hits this would be the end of a line. I hope it isn't. I too agree though that some publishers seem to set up products to fail. Dishonored 1 was reportedly developed on a (comparably) modest budget, which turned it into a surprise hit of kinds probably even for Bethesda. Eidos meanwhile... they make IPs such as Tomb Raider tank. 'Nuff said. This industry is all about diversification at this point, but it seems some higher ops don't get it.

    Quote Originally Posted by dishes View Post
    This is disappointing seeing how much I loved Dishonored 2, (ran fine on my PC with a *Core 2 Duo* - of course I turned down graphics settings, but it was totally playable
    Core 2 Duo sounds intriguing, but I'm currently in that in-between period where I either have to upgrade a few parts (the core CPU+chipset are still totally fine) or have to delay those too. Most games outside the AAA market place simply don't require any kind of bigger hardware (you would barely ever need to upgrade at this point, and still had games until the day you die), and the first Dishonored running on Unreal Tech was pretty modest here as well. I've just ordered a few additional Ram, out of interest, what video card did you run this on and which resolution?

  23. #23
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    I think one of the problems with the design of the modern Deus Ex games is that they're designed around achievements, as well as heavily relying on the UbiWorld game design ethos.
    Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy them, but the systems don't feel well implemented, and seem to be straining at the seams too often.
    In Manky especially, coming off of recently having played MGS V, the systems seemed incredibly rigid by comparison. And they were also notable in how you could break them and exploit those breaks. Hence my long play-through of one level using a plastic bin to get the attention of NPCs one at a time, because even on the hardest difficulty, they'd never investigate in pairs, and would never investigate missing companions.

    And there's multiple times I'd experience negative, buggy breaks in the awareness systems as well, where hostile NPCs would become aware of you through walls and set off alarms, with this being especially prevalent after loading a quicksave. That was in both HR and MD.

    And this was ultimately massively annoying when pursuing the stealth achievements, as you could get through the whole game thinking you'd fulfilled all the criteria to get the achievement, only to be told you'd failed, and you wouldn't know where or why.
    MGS V featured no such ambiguity, and the systems and rankings were flexible enough to allow some wiggle-room in the way you played. In addition, it was easy enough to go back and revisit levels to increase ranks and pursue missed achievements without requiring a full playthrough of the entire game.

    Dishonored 2 was definitely better than Manky, but again, was made to look a bit silly by a contemporary, this time Hitman. Where Dishonored 2 could feel constrained and limited in approaches, Hitman was a glorious playground of possibilities, all of which were enabled by its excellent systems design.

    I've not bought Prey, even though I want to, because I've decided not to buy any more Bethesda products until they stop being such dicks, setting their lawyers on everyone and strong-arming small studios into giving up their IP.

    If "Immersive Sims" are to survive, I'd much rather they follow the examples set by MGS V and Hitman rather than the modern Deus Ex games, or een the Dishonoreds.
    Whether they can survive at a triple-A level is an interesting question, as I still think they may be too niche for publishers to feel comfortable with.

    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.

  24. #24
    New Member
    Registered: May 2017
    Quote Originally Posted by samIamsad View Post
    Core 2 Duo sounds intriguing, but I'm currently in that in-between period where I either have to upgrade a few parts (the core CPU+chipset are still totally fine) or have to delay those too. Most games outside the AAA market place simply don't require any kind of bigger hardware (you would barely ever need to upgrade at this point, and still had games until the day you die), and the first Dishonored running on Unreal Tech was pretty modest here as well. I've just ordered a few additional Ram, out of interest, what video card did you run this on and which resolution?
    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. Besides, only a few places trigger extreme framedrops - the second mission, and the fourth mission were bad, but everything else was stable in resolution and frames. If I start streaming, then I get always just under 30 and the drops get to unplayable framerates.

  25. #25
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Quote Originally Posted by Malf View Post
    Dishonored 2 was definitely better than Manky, but again, was made to look a bit silly by a contemporary, this time Hitman. Where Dishonored 2 could feel constrained and limited in approaches, Hitman was a glorious playground of possibilities, all of which were enabled by its excellent systems design.
    I think this is doing a disservice to Dishonored 2, though, a case where assigning it the label of "immersive sim" becomes problematic. Like Thief (though not quite to the same extent), it's much more about doing one thing (or in this case two things) and doing them right. Like Thief it has a focus that Deus Ex doesn't have, and that's both a limitation and an asset. In comparison, I find that this also gives Dishonored a visceral directness that Hitman doesn't have most of the time. Unless you get spotted and are hunted by AI, Hitman almost feels more like a graphic adventure at times: USE GUN ON MOOSE HEAD, USE KAFTAN ON SELF, GO TO EXIT, that sort of thing. (I could absolutely imagine a LucasArts-style demake of Hitman.)

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