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Thread: The Immersive Sim thread

  1. #151
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    Thief and System Shock 2 had budgets on the order of a few million dollars, right? So great immersive sims can be made with that kind of budget. In fact they should be cheaper now that you have more advanced asset-creation tools and don't have to code your own engine.

    I just don't think the difficulties of immersive sim development come down to budget. I think it's more that it's a genre that cannot be reduced to a template, unlike many other genres, and without a template it's much harder to implement an effective workflow at larger scales.
    Those games were developed 25 years ago by a team living like students and working crazy hours for low pay because they were so into what they were doing. Not to mention cumulative inflation here since 1998 is 90%. The game industry has grown up a lot since then. Game development became a legitimate profession, and our expectations are much higher now. Thief and SS2 graphics wouldn't pass. I think an imm sim has to be at least AA by today's standards to have a chance.

    Look at how much effort went into Night Dive's System Shock remake. Seven years passed from Kickstarter to release, and they already had a playable demo of the medical level at the Kickstarter. Granted, they had to start over in 2018 because the project had gone off the rails, but it still took another 5 years. In 2022, they said they had about 15 people working on the game. Based on that, I'd guess Night Dive was spending $2-3M per year at its peak in 2021/2022. And that was for a remake that's barely an imm sim by today's standards. The AI is basic, there's no friendly or neutral NPCs, no dialogue, no skills system.

    Frictional is making original AA games with similarly small teams, but their games are very light on gameplay, which is kind of the opposite of an imm sim.

  2. #152
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: Sweden
    To me STALKER (with GAMMA mod = all 3 games + 500 mods) is probably the best immersive sim, or maybe NMS. I don't really see games like Thief as immersive sims personally, if so almost any kind of game kind of fits that description. Immersion can be a lot of things, sure, but for a sim-like i expect for example: various weathers, day and night cycles. NPC schedules are important too (e.g goes to sleep etc) but i don't see it as a must. also it would need an open world preferably, not very sim-like to me to be in an enclosed area like Thief. Ultima 7 and Stalker would be my must-plays... perhaps also System Shock 2/1, while it doesn't have day/night or NPC schedules or a big open world it also doesn't need it because of its setting.

    Fallout 3 and NV are pretty good to, though of course its fine to just call them "open world RPG's", but not all open world RPG's are immersive like them or have such "sim" quality to them, far from it..
    Last edited by vurt; 18th Dec 2023 at 15:15.

  3. #153
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Hooooo boy, you done yoinked that there feline RIGHT among the pigeons.

  4. #154
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    Reminds me of the time I tried to argue that Gran Turismo was an RPG. If I recall correctly, Zylonebane was having none of it.

  5. #155
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: Sweden
    ...are you saying it's not immersive sims, while something like thief is. lol. yes, that really is like saying Grand Turismo is a RPG.
    People need to read up about the origin of sim in computer games, it has never been games like Thief or Bioshock.

  6. #156
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I think it's pretty obvious I'm saying that Gran Turismo is the only true immersive sim.

  7. #157
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    People were putting Thief in that category because it had the standard thing imm-sims are supposed to have going back to the original Ultima understanding of it, which is water puts out fires, fires set flammable things on fire, ropes can be climbed, pools of water are swimmable, and then the gameplay revolved around systems like that ("obstacles not puzzles"). The understanding of imm-sim might have changed since that time, but I think it was a pretty archetypal example in its own time.

  8. #158
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I always took the "sim" part of immersive sim to be more about emergent gameplay than being an actual simulation. Like, the world has to be simulated enough to support unscripted and unexpected gameplay, but it doesn't necessarily have to have realistic depictions of all its systems. The immersive part is also important; Tears of the Kingdom has a significantly more complex physics system than Thief, but it's arguably less immersive. Besides, "immersive sim" isn't meant to be a literal definition but rather a shorthand for a design philosophy that originated with Thief among other games. That's why I brought up Gran Turismo as an RPG -- going by the literal meaning, every game in which you play a role (I'm a racing driver!) is a role-playing game. ZylonBane saw right through that argument, though.
    Last edited by Aja; 18th Dec 2023 at 16:45.

  9. #159
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2003
    Location: Sweden
    Thief only simulates the very basic mechanics of the game that needs to be there in the first place, maybe apart from swimming which i guess they could remove and it wouldn't impact gameplay.
    But sure, it's pretty immersive, it's not "out there" as something like Mario, which you can't really call immersive (i think immersive games needs to be more.. grounded.)

    Whatever. To me it just seems odd, Ultima Underworld - absolutely, that's a good immersive sim in my book.

  10. #160
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    Those games were developed 25 years ago by a team living like students and working crazy hours for low pay because they were so into what they were doing. Not to mention cumulative inflation here since 1998 is 90%. The game industry has grown up a lot since then. Game development became a legitimate profession, and our expectations are much higher now. Thief and SS2 graphics wouldn't pass. I think an imm sim has to be at least AA by today's standards to have a chance.
    A factor of 1.9 still takes "a few million dollars" to "a few million dollars."

    There's this unspoken assumption that the creation of great games is only possible within a narrow timeframe, after which history moves on and the prerequisites for greatness change. Why, exactly, couldn't another group of college kids start a commune or a studio with a few million bucks in trust fund money, and create another masterpiece?

  11. #161
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    They did, and it's called Disco Elysium.

  12. #162
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    Quote Originally Posted by Anarchic Fox View Post
    A factor of 1.9 still takes "a few million dollars" to "a few million dollars."
    That's only one factor. Like I said, you couldn't release a commercially successful imm sim today with an engine, art, and assets like that. I think you have to be at least AA by today's standards to attract more than a small niche audience.

    There's this unspoken assumption that the creation of great games is only possible within a narrow timeframe, after which history moves on and the prerequisites for greatness change. Why, exactly, couldn't another group of college kids start a commune or a studio with a few million bucks in trust fund money, and create another masterpiece?
    Because the prerequisites for greatness have changed. And the industry has changed.

  13. #163
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Quote Originally Posted by heywood View Post
    That's only one factor. Like I said, you couldn't release a commercially successful imm sim today with an engine, art, and assets like that. I think you have to be at least AA by today's standards to attract more than a small niche audience.
    This is contradicted by at least two dozen indies. Do you need a list?

    Because the prerequisites for greatness have changed. And the industry has changed.
    MrDuck, where are you? Someone needs a spanking.

  14. #164
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    Just give me one recent example of a commercially successful imm sim made to less than AA standards.

    Another point for perspective... Thief was a AAA title back in the day, funded and heavily marketed by Eidos.
    Last edited by heywood; 19th Dec 2023 at 10:14.

  15. #165
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Gloomwood and Shadows of Doubt are basically being made by individual devs at a pretty basic level, and those seem to be doing well, even with the shortcomings. We could debate how commercially successful they are.

    I think earlier I was trying to argue that it's possible with individuals or small teams, but their complexity just makes it a particular challenge for them. On the other hand, there are also some cases where small teams seem to even thrive on complexity, and in some ways it may even be the better route for them, if you think about cases like Dwarf Fortress and Caves of Qud.

  16. #166
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    I mean, it's much easier to focus on complexity, if your graphics on the low end consist of the alphabet plus some assorted symbols you can find on the keyboard and on the high end of a tileset with a 18-color palette.

  17. #167
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Heywood: I missed the fact that you specified "imm sim" in your remark. A reading comprehension failure on my part. Sorry about that. For those specifically, I only know Demagogue's two examples.

    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    I think earlier I was trying to argue that it's possible with individuals or small teams, but their complexity just makes it a particular challenge for them. On the other hand, there are also some cases where small teams seem to even thrive on complexity, and in some ways it may even be the better route for them, if you think about cases like Dwarf Fortress and Caves of Qud.
    I do think you're right that immersive sims are more challenging to create than most other types of games. I just don't think this challenge means that only the big corporations have a chance at creating them.

  18. #168
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    No worries. I did mean imm sims specifically. I think they are more difficult to design and balance, and we've had our expectations raised by some really excellent ones.

    I've had some fun times with indie imm sims like The Dark Mod and Neon Struct. The latter is like a cross between Deus Ex and Thief that has gotten the Jony Ive treatment and stripped down to the barest essentials. But both games appeal to a pretty niche audience. Nobody I know outside of TTLG has ever heard of either one. I also enjoy some of the total conversion mods for old imm sims.

  19. #169
    Member
    Registered: Aug 2002
    Location: Maupertuis
    Oh, Neon Struct! I got interested in that many years ago, but forgot about it before it actually came out. Thank you for reminding me about it!

  20. #170
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Neon Struct is really good. I wish there were some way for him to do another game like that but with a budget/team.

  21. #171
    Brethren
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: The Docks
    I kind of wonder what's going on with Skin Deep. It's been in development for over 5 years now, longer than any other Blendo game, and I couldn't find any recent news on it.

  22. #172
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    The various developers working on it still post about their work occasionally on Twitter/X/whatever, and its publisher, Annapurna Interactive, seems to have a pretty good track record of seeing things through. So at this point, at least, I'm guessing we'll still see it someday.

    On the other hand, it appears Core Decay might be in trouble if not outright dead.

  23. #173
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    What's up with Core Decay? 3D Realms put out a trailer just a few months ago. Here it is:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpVB-52enLA

    I haven't been anticipating Core Decay as much as Skin Deep because IMO it copies too much of Deus Ex. And I love Deus Ex. But the trailers fall in the uncanny valley for me. That's not to say I won't play it if it's good. But Quadrilateral Cowboy was a so cool, I'm looking forward to Skin Deep.

  24. #174
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    This morning a bunch more layoffs were announced at 3D Realms and Core Decay was "put on hold."

  25. #175
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: The other Derry
    DOH! Just read Ivar Hill was one of the ones laid off, so that's it for Core Decay. I guess the Embracer Group didn't embrace their recent acquisitions.

    Seems like incompetent business practices, going on a buying spree financed with near-free COVID money, taking on debt they couldn't afford to pay off at normal rates.

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