Friday, June 4, 2010

Immersion Notes

I wanted to write a fancy post about immersion, but I had a hard time organizing my thoughts, especially in a timely manner. It seems really difficult to make a "worthy post" in 30 minute intervals, and probably none of my meaty posts were done in so little time. But I digress. Below are some random notes about immersion. If anything sounds worth more discussion, lemme know.

Immersion goes hand in hand with experience. If experience sums up what players should get from my game, then immersion is how I measure their connection to it.

Immersion is something everyone intuitively grasps. If I ask players what experience a game tries to provide, I might need to back up and explain myself, but if I ask why a game fails to compel them, I'll get a lot of answers that help define what the experience is and what is in the way from achieving it.

Immersion helps me grasp big design. Focusing on connection to an experience, instead of "fun," "flow," "reward," or "narrative," helps me take a step back to assess how and when these design tools should be utilized to achieve a given experience, instead of becoming the experience themselves.

Immersion helps me grasp small design. Focusing on connection to an experience also helps me develop notes about miscellaneous elements that affect connection. I've noticed that passing information in interface design is more important than blending into an environment; that death is a disruptor whose impact changes drastically based on simple alterations; or that games remove player-control and snap immersion all too often, in load screens, cinematics, and attention-cams.

Immersion affects technology. And some immersion-breakers can be a part of where technology goes in the future, especially when aiming for a common experience at a studio. I might want to focus on streaming instead of loading, on scripted events instead of pre-rendered cinematics, or autosaves rather than saves. They should be prioritized appropriately, but it's useful to note that each affect immersion, and can be prioritized in technology development.

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