Monday, June 7, 2010

Pet Immersion Peeves

A few years ago, after deciding design should serve the sum experience before game mechanics, and that immersion is the way to measure engagement with your intentional or accidental experience I did a little exercise of listing everything that noticeably broke my connection from a game. A few of those were touched on in the last post, and I thought it would be fun to make a new list, because I lost the last, and I can't find the original. I remember some interesting ideas bearing out of it, and I only hope the exercise jogs them from my memory:

Things that affect immersion
  • Bugs (though they can sometimes offer a different, fun experience)
  • Cinematics with a visual style different than my game-engine visual style (I'm looking at you, Final Fantasy)
  • Cinematics that obviously take place outside of the game-engine (still looking)
  • Un-earned, emotional character beats (still looking)
  • Excessively long cinematics (still looking)
  • A character says or does something illogical in a story moment (especially bad when that character is my avatar)
  • A shoddy front-end (the first thing you see makes an impression, Blizzard's always done front end right)
  • Loading screens (...)
  • Save points you control via menus
  • Tutorials telling me things I already know
  • Taking stuff from me (I'm looking at you Metroid Prime)
  • Dying in a way unbecoming of my character (God of War tightropes)
  • Dying, generally
  • Visibly bad AI
  • AI I have to take care of, else I fail
  • Any game with "immediate fail" conditions (I'm looking at you, Splinter Cell)
  • Games that tell show me exactly how to solve a problem and still expect me to do it (not unlike tutorials, really)
  • Needing health and not finding any
  • Countdown timers (let me play at my own pace, dammit; might be tolerable if I believe you aren't hiding secrets from me in the corners of the crumbling building)
  • Anytime I feel control has been taken from me
    • Cinematics
    • Tutorial messages
    • Loading
  • Bad voice overs
  • Bad animation
  • Avatar animation with too much anticipation or un-interruptible follow-through
  • Predictable missions structures/solutions (something I'd like to expand on later)
What would your list have on it? There are many more things to list, I presume, but the process gets me thinking about game theory and different approaches and ways to think about to improving immersion. Ultimately, everything affects it, but even a brief list of immersion pet-peeves can provoke a lot of thinking.


  1. -Anything that breaks the visual style for no apparent reason (can I interact with it in a special way? No? THEN WHY IS IT DIFFERENT!?)
    -My avatar never says anything, even when other characters are commenting on things I'm doing (Gordon Freeman, although it honestly might have broken immersion just as much if his voice responded unbidden)
    -My avatar won't shut up (Just Cause 2)
    -Overly difficult sections of gameplay

  2. Awesome shares. The avatar never says anything-thing is an interesting staple of designers, the thought being that avatars saying things you wouldn't say is an immersion snap in itself. I think it's a safe bet, but that the truth is more gray, as always. I still haven't played Just Cause 2. If it's not already on the list, I need to put it there.

  3. I don't like silent avatars either. I don't mind ones who say stuff the designers wanted to say as much but my favorite are the ones where I get to choose what they say. Oddly, though, the silent avatar annoyance for me applied also to Dragon Age: Origins even though there are tons of dialogue options--everyone else is voice acted and my avatar isn't.