Greetings fellow members and gamers.
I wish to discuss with you a topic that may be divisive, but cuts to the core of the future of gaming in a fundamental way.
I am sure all of those who have clicked upon this threads title, have played at least one game, if not many more, that feature an "open world"
design. The like of GTA San Andreas, as well as the other iterations of the GTA franchise since, alongside games in the Elder Scrolls series, and
heaps of others, have advertised themselves as having sprawling maps, enormous spaces in which the players adventure can play out, and surely they do
have very large playing spaces, so large as to boggle the mind at first glance. Only with familiarity, do these environments become manageable to the
mind. The best examples of these games feature busy, well fleshed out mission design, meant to entice the player into all areas at some stage, while
preventing them from feeling that they are merely about busy work, and the very best avoid that much maligned fetch quest effect, by cleverly
dressing up any such quest in a way which lessens the tedium. However, there is a glaring problem with the notion of the "open world" video game.
It is my belief that so called "Open World" games are named incorrectly, that the entire concept is a lie.
Whether it be the single city of GTAV, or the nation of Panau in Just Cause 2, Tamriel in Skyrim, the fact is that these are not worlds. They are
cities, kingdoms, rarely even entire continents. An actual WORLD map though? This has, as far as I know, never been accomplished at a detail level
which is up to modern snuff. An entire planetary body, with villages, towns, cities, counties, nations, continents, oceanic expanses which one must
cross to visit other lands, different ecologies, terrains, prevailing weather conditions, local languages and dialects, differing political and
religious structures in society... this has never been achieved. Calling a continental map a world map is inaccurate at best, and deceptive at worst.
Calling one small part of a continental area a world map, is even more ridiculous.
Now, I am sure that some of you are thinking "But come on TrueBrit, the notion of an entire world, modeled as a planet, with no edges, as a sphere
on which things play out at a depth of detail interesting to the sort of gamers who like the aforementioned games... Its not feasible given current
And I agree, it is not feasible given current technology. But the existence of the term "open world" and its use to describe nation states or
continental maps at best, has permitted an even more outrageous example of overstatement. You will all recall, no doubt, the absurd claims made by the
creators of No Man's Sky, about what manner of game it would be. Many suggest that the hype train was more at fault than the gaming house which made
the game, for the disparity between what was actually in the game, and the impressions people were left with by its advertising. However, I would
argue that this is in fact total rubbish. If you suggest you are going to build a galaxy spanning game, with obscene numbers of planets, you cannot
expect reasonable people to assume that NONE of those planets will be developed in any way whatsoever, that ALL of them will be absent any intelligent
life, bar the two or three members of another race alien to that world, who have set up some sort of pathetic base to study the place from. No one was
expecting that at all, nor should they have.
Star Citizen appears to be a somewhat more promising prospect, but none of the footage I have seen thus far, suggests that it will feature planets
with active civilisations on them either. I could be wrong, but at present, the only worlds I have seen in that game, have been small, barren places,
featureless terrain without any particular thing to recommend them to a player. And yet, the bald description of these games, suggests to a person of
reasonable intelligence and imagination, that more, far more should be in these games than there is, if they are to live up to reasonable expectation.
There is no POINT in making a game like No Man's Sky, or Star Citizen, or Starfield, UNLESS you are as a games company, going to fill your universe,
galaxy or star system, with rich, deep, incredibly complex detail, and free the player to explore cultures and civilisations not their own in
unprecedented detail. Dropping out of space, onto a world with nothing on it may be impressive the first ten times, but it will, of course get utterly
mind numbing after that, and so it should, because it is a genuinely tedious proposition. Its an endless fetch quest in No Man's Sky, for example, no
matter how you dress it up. But dropping out of space and onto a planet with a civilisation on it, allows you to open up trade negotiations with
businesspersons there if that is what takes your fancy. Alternatively, you could pirate around the system the planet is in, starve its population of
their resources from off world, and take the place over. Alternatively to that, you could endear yourself to an ailing planetary population by
bringing technology to them which would solve a problem, like air scrubbers to clean a polluted atmosphere, or medicine to fight a global epidemic. In
a game worth playing ALL these things would be possible, but there is next to no way that they are in any game in development currently.
And all of this overstatement and bad advertising stems, I feel, from the fact that games developers got away for so long, with marketing the "open
world" game, despite there being no such thing in any of the games which tout it as a feature.
At this point, I would like to throw the matter open for discussion, and get your thoughts.
Should games previously referred to as open world, be called "Large playing environment" games instead, or something similar? Should these space
games that increasingly seem to want to build entire universes, despite the fact that no adventure game has ever made a fully realised planetary body
yet, be forced to be a damned sight more careful in the way they advertise their products? Should the descriptions of what is in a game be more
accurate, so that players know exactly what they are getting before the game is released?
I welcome your input, and look forward to the discussion!
HAVE AT IT!