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Dev Discussion #31 - Environments

24

Comments

  • deltaravendeltaraven Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    some volumetric effects at the base of water falls would be nice hate seeing waterfalls in games cause they usually annihilate immersion with sharp edges volumetrics on the entire falls would probly make a more scenic look. that's a water fall also bank cuts make creeks and streams pop in games skyrim did this well and Witcher did ok, the edges on closer inspection were kinda crap.
    yeah for me its mainly good world building if i cant believe the forest/town/plains. then the npc wont work.
    also with water can you guys make fast moving water actually pull the player fast down stream.
    https://static.sciencelearn.org.nz/images/images/000/003/296/embed/FISH_ART_01_Stream_works_for_fish_RuralStream.jpg?1522315095
  • George BlackGeorge Black Member, Intrepid Pack
    edited June 10
    For me the worst environments are the flat ones. The ones that you get on your mount and just rush from A to B without hinderance.

    Realistic forests?
    Dirt slops with roots you cant climb up if you slide down.

    Mountains? Slopes and crags you have to go around or risk falling into, receiving massive fall dmg leading to death.

    Deserts? Dunes that take time to go around or go over.
    Rocky holes that if you fall down to you have to follow the path to who knows where.

    Snowy areas? Low visibility, snow effects, frozen lakes, frost dmg (requiring consumables to deal with).

    Lava/burning areas? Fire dmg if you step onto.

    Jungles? No road indicators on minimap.

    Buildings/ruins etc? NO LOADING ZONES. Continuity is best.

    Rivers? Make the water difficult to cross or find a way around.

    Islands? Make sailing SLOW. Let us feel the achievement of crossing the sea and REACHING an island.

    Scary places? 0 comic relief. 0 silly looking mobs. 0 happy go lucky npcs. If you want to make a dangerous malevolant zone you cant have any of the above.
  • ZericZeric Member
    "What are some of the elements that make for a more “realistic” or “lifelike” world when you play a game, from NPCs to environments and beyond? How much does realism matter to you generally?"

    More than anything, do not break your own continuity.
    If you let me jump over 5 ft fences out in the field, I better be able to jump them in town. No invisible wall bullshit. Either let me jump into the abyss or put a real obstacle in the way. Even worse when there is an invisible wall on a ramp that stops me from dropping 2 inches. Like, WHY?!

    Staying on continuity, if an NPC says he likes going out for walks at X time every day, I better see the NPC talking a walk. And no instant warping of NPCs. If I finish the NPC's quest, seeing the NPC just fade into the void and appear back at quest start breaks things.
  • NightmanNightman Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    What makes a game feel "alive" to me is never the graphics. RPGs, like Skyrim or FF15, never have the same level of immersion as games like Resident Evil or Dark Souls. These games are brought to life by the players constant fear of death. The other week I couldn't find the fairy back to alpha island so I just swam across the ocean. I found the dark desolate waters feel quit alive as is, but a couple 100 sharks wouldn't hurt.
  • NPC and monster movement/realism is the big one for me. Any time I see a NPC or monster standing in the same place or walking the same 10 steps all day every day it drops the realism for me. I have seen others say things I wanted to mention so instead of being redundant, here are a couple ideas I have.
    1. Persistance Hunting - If you don't know what it is check it out on youtube (super cool!). What if elk only existed in a moving herd and had a running speed of a player mount? Instead of me being able to keep pace with them while I am running (bc it doesn't make sense), can I chase the herd with my mount until it tires (simple exhaustion timer?) then dismount and take my kill? This would be a unique way of killing prey animals instead of a deer turning and attacking me like a cougar would.
    2. Can you make it so both groups of creatures and individuals move over a very large range with irregular movement? The larger the range and the more irregular, the harder it is to pin them down. That way, if I am going to hunt a monster or herd of animals, I actually have to hunt for them and/or rely on word of mouth of where they were last sighted. If it is a wide range, their base walking speed could be slow. That would actually be more realistic.

    Also, I am particularly hopeful for AoC taverns increasing the realism. Everything on the wiki page sounds awesome! Just the act of following through on all of that and making taverns play a significant role in every aspect of the game would be fantastic. Make them a place both casual and hardcore players want to spend time in. One idea I had for taverns is to make it a potential income opportunity for bards. Allow tavern owners to hire a bard player who then enhances passive bonuses players are already receiving from the tavern or something like that. It would add something to the economy, make taverns feel even more significant and just add to the realism.
  • 2 words: FOOD & DRINK

    Added to any environment, meals and drinks sitting out really add to the life-like quality of a setting. This is why I'm hoping we don't stick ONLY to "hooks" for decoration; A free-form placement system in some types of buildings/stalls would really let players add some true character to their small parts of the game!



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  • ElviajeroElviajero Member
    edited June 11
    Hello brothers and sisters :)


    I will sit in something that I see very necessary for an MMO speaking in the sense of the NPCs, MOBS, etc.

    COMMON SENSE :

    Many MMOs tend to go the easy side, they put some NPCs that talk to you, they give you missions, they give you rewards, easy and simple but TOTALLY BORING. The same thing happens with the MOBS, their only mission of the MOBS in many MMOs is to be in a place, occupy it, wait for someone to arrive to kill them and that's it, that's their life function, BORING !!!!

    If we think carefully, we could give you some details that make those elements of the game have COMMON SENSE, that they are not only inanimate objects waiting for the player, but that they require the player unique characteristics in order to be found, used, released, etc.

    MOBS

    Some MOBS in particular may have unique characteristics for which they should represent a greater challenge, for example:

    - MOBS that are only found in a specific climate.
    -MOBS that are only found if you carry a specific item.
    -MOBS that you can only get them if you raise them.
    -MOBS that are classified by herbivores, carnivores, etc. Within that classification they have characteristics and attack skills, different statistics so that players are alert to who they attack.
    -MOBS with gender characteristics that give different loot.
    -MOBS where the habitat and climate give them unique abilities.
    -MOBS that are exclusively designed to HUNT players.
    -MOBS that are designed to help you by giving you certain advantages, powers, etc.
    -MOBS that can evolve over time and that this evolution improves your loot, improves your statistics and is more difficult. For example, an alpha MOB that takes care of a zone, that zone will be affected by the ALPHA MOB and the BETA MOBS will be affected by the state, evolution, character of the ALPHA. This could apply to both good and bad MOBS.
    MOBS
    -MOBS that have time to live, depending on what time of their life this (could be divided into 3 times), it would give you different loot, it would be more or less difficult and it would give more or less experience.
    -MOBS that have a meaning and give meaning to the history of the game of certain parts.

    NPCs

    That some NPCs have some particular characteristics and that the relationships do matter , common sense for the player.

    -Relationships with the NPCs are of great importance to the player, where your sociality with him can benefit or affect you.
    For example, being able to fall in love with an NPC and that it gives you many benefits, or being able to deceive another but this marks you as a bad player and this affects other NPCs to the point of putting rewards for your death.

    -NPCs that appear at certain times of the day, weather, seasons, days, months, etc.

    -NPCs that in order for you to activate some missions you will first have to complete certain exploration missions WITH HIM, within these missions you will have the possibility to choose different paths where these paths will affect both the NPCs and yourself both in the skill challenge, loot, difficulty, etc.

    -NPCs that can die but you help them stay healthy and they have unique items that you need.

    -NPCs that evolve thanks to your help.

    -NPCs that adapt to the climate, the area where they live, for example if a race controls an area and that area becomes an area with characteristics of that race, and we have an NPCs that was characterized by wearing certain clothing, then that NPC should to adapt to the customs, culture, dress, dialect, etc., of that race / area.

    -NPCs that are exclusively designed to hunt players.
    -NPCs that are exclusively designed to defend players. Something like safe zones.
    -NPCs that are designed to support you on your journey up to a certain distance but they will ask you for something in return or that you owe them a favor.

    - Black market for NPCs.
    -NPCs traffickers of supplies, objects, clothes, etc.
    -NPCs of higher rank than other NPCs that can give you something more valuable, more difficult missions, etc. But for you to be able to access that NPC you must have a certain reputation with some NPCs to reach it.

    -NPCs that are not static, that can travel the world and that the same players must pass the address data of the traveling NPCs

  • Well one of things that makes things more realistic is global rules. Like for example in WoW hunters had an ability scare beast which worked on animals so also worked on druids when in bear or cat form. Most likely nerfed by now but Frost mages have a spell that does if i remember correctyl foru times more damage if target is frozen normally mage would freeze target but as it turned out there was an engineer granade that was a freezing granade that foraze target that workd with said ability. So mage did not have to be the one that freezes target as long as it is frozen it does 4 times damage.

    Another thing that adds realism to a game is Options. In WoW a cat could go into stealth form and could be put on auto so that cat went into stealth form avery time it went out of combat but this could also be don manually that being the case it could be canceled. So you could send your pet to lacation cancel stealth and trick lets say a warrior that you ar enext to your pet and then would usually charge.

    Pets in WoW also had auto attacks that could be turned on and off and could be keybinded and pressed manully. Now no point in pusing one button every 3 seconds and another every 1.6 se seconds but thing us one of the pets auto attacks uses pet focus so no point in lets say using focus (energy) when target is invulnerable to hunters could turn it off.

    Pretty sure the Devs at WoW were not thinking to leave that option in so that in pvp when a pally is invulnerable for 8 seconds it would be a good idea ot turn pet auto attacks off guessing pet satay could be used .... They just designed the game in a way that kept their options Open.

    Another exmaple is that in a WoW you could actuall cancel a buff by clicking icon that represented buff or by making somehing called a cancel aura macro. For example A pally in WoW has a bubble that makes him or a freindly target invulnerable for 8 seconds well in PvP you might not want to stay in that bubble for full 8 seconds so you make a macro and cancel it.

    All this little options made the game more real. In League of legens there is an item that make you invulneralble for 2.5 seconds wish there was a way to cancel that but there is not. If ther was you could become invulnerable just long enought to avoid powerful spell and cancle it right away. Like in WoW

    So all those little options add up and make the world feel more real.
  • edited June 11
    I have complied Others thought into my own: Note: This is a Community-made Comment.
    I Really Suggest that you read about topics: Sound, and the fist two in Notes and Conclusion.
    Please take those into Consideration above all else. remember this is made from what I gathered from the other comments.
    Stating what's MOST wanted first of all:

    First Of all these relate to just our two sense we use for games (sight and hearing) not our perception of the world Vera.
    Vibrancy - Ambient Movement that makes the
    fantasy world seems alive with trees, wildlife landmarks, clouds, weather and Pointed out many times anything to do with the sky. A moving sight that isn't associated with fantasy with its realism yet could and oddly suggested by many should. For instance slow moving turtle mounts that carry carts whose wheels move as the cart moves. Could be empty or filed with still assets that reflect different light intensities.

    *Most Important*
    SOUND
    Ambient sound connected to what you see or the action you perform. A sword block = clank or a giant bug with wings creating short fly noises every jump. For the environment - basic stuff like an increasing and decreasing pitch base on distance for the most important landmarks like a waterfall, great tree, market and caste gate (being attacked or closing/ opening).
    Combat music was an off-topic debated topic in this but I think it should be excluded for combat noise. Which would include the sound of your heart pounding in every battle(changing heart rate idk, maybe depends on if it could be done), the 'sound' of you concentrating more, auto attack swings and swipes, etc and a gulp every successful dodge against a stronger foe strong attack.

    Now Onto the Notes People wanted to tell you that I found and complied. I'll try to make each in one line.
    -There are parts where fantasy makes a point to break away from realism. This is explorable and expressive.
    - The game sustains disbelief that this is fantasy by consistent rulesets/explanations that apply globally
    (from maouw)
    Examples of these notes include:
    1. trees that grow from already cut wood so they grow from lived in houses
    2. realistic weather behaviour so that crossing a river lets the player feel the force of the waterflow
    (Example 2. can be found in Valheim).

    - There were some great points about and connecting Uniqueness and Absence.
    -Absence - A good game isn't always filled sometimes and the absence of space or items can sometimes creates a more thought provoking image in us than anything else, such as in a random person's tomb, an empty room or a desert, or village. Also Contrast exists.
    Uniqueness - Something we didn't know about a place that now makes it memorable or something in the place that already does that.
    Example a hidden temple under the empty desert. A blood shrine in an empty village, A empty carriage leaving and following brings you to a chest. An EMPTY you get the point that the person made about the connection but sometimes you could just keep it empty.

    Extra from other commenters:
    Elviajero is By FAR the Most Ambiguous One Here. I would say that if you were to implement all their ideas it would be a no man sky pre release situation or star citizen development hell. Unless your that good.
    But the Best Point he Made was About Common Sense, while the most exciting topic was his plan on NPCs.(I have nothing to add, he already stated everything).
    Most people also want no-standby Npcs or moving Npcs to add to realism and the feel that your not the world lives on it own.
    CONCLUSION
    In Conclusion the two most overstated points where make it fantasy and make it realistic.:
    but First I think the most important point is that you can make the game a fantasy world we could live in:

    -In Vera, life is still life - plants still grow, people are nervous in fights, sunlight still falls, merchants could be good but also sly but lawyers will always be the demon while politicians the devil(People make jokes). Rain, snow, wind and grass, stars, moon and morning chirps.

    -The Game is your Fantasy World. Its a game so make an effort to either subvert or follow Common Sense but make it your fantasy world first with your crazy designs that make us wonder why horses fly, dogs talk and a flora is the best waifu.

    Life's still life until you change it. If a horse flies then there is someone that uses it as a mount.

    Rhoklaw' makes the final great point I want to leave on. The game is High Fantasy so what's realistic isn't entertaining and immersive to this new World. We don't want Earth 2 we want Vera so if you must add an eco-system do it with Vera get creative the community could even give you ideas. Like the above. Anyways just continue to ask.
  • ShoelidShoelid Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    Realism doesn't matter to me much. My experience has showed me that too much realism makes for a bad game, and an unrealistic game is at least still a game. As long as the NPCs and environment assets all behave generally naturally then I'm pretty happy.
  • Ryan5Ryan5 Member
    Voice acted NPCs that evolve and adapt to the world around them as nodes level up or quests are completed or nearby events are happening etc..
    Also having some sort of list/leaderboard of players in game that players can view gives me a sense that there are other players out there in the world without me having to physically see them myself. Maybe having a viewable list of the players currently living in and progressing the level of the same node as you.
  • neuroguyneuroguy Member
    I don't really care for realism much. I prefer stylized visuals (it ages better than realism) and in general in high fantasy, I'm not looking for realism, I'm looking for immersion. People have already discussed key visual stuff like lighting and dynamic weather etc and key audio features. Personally I really care about interactions with NPCs, two things in particular that I think RPGs like divinity original sin 2 do really well:

    1. Rewarding dialogue: even without any attachment to the story or characters, it is often a good idea to inquire with various NPCs about quests because they will provide you with vital information and sometimes even items for your journey. If my quest log is telling me I have to kill some spiders and I go talk to the alchemist in town and he provides me with 1 free vial of anti-venom or some discount (without quest log prompting) that's freaking awesome.
    2. Encouraging exploration in cities: I think a lot of games successfully make exploration in an open world rewarding and attractive even without explicit look like hidden chests. However, few games have made me personally feel like it's worthwhile to explore cities. I think having conditional vendors is a great way to do this, NPCs who sell you things once you do quests for them, reach reputation thresholds, choose the right dialogue etc. Combine this with variability/some RNG in shop wares and every NPC in town is worth chatting up multiple times to try to find interesting items for sale.

    Lastly, I'd just like to echo the sentiment mentioned by others here that I do NOT want to be AoE farming hundreds of mobs as if I'm some genocidal god. I want to feel like I'm a struggling adventurer and have to make best use of my resources to take down even a handful of mobs (1 on 1 in succession of course). I want pulling to matter, I want to have to eat/drink if I'm paranoid about PvP gankers to make sure I'm topped off, I want to feel at risk when fighting regular mobs (either from the mob itself or from the possibility of taking on too many mobs, or just the risk of PvP). Danger is a great way to build immersion, the more you are forced to pay attention to succeed, the better imo.
  • From a world perspective:
    Being able to find locations, scenes, visual storytelling elements without having them marked on the map or compass. It makes it feel like you founds something yourself rather than follow a marker and you are rewarded from deviating from the road on your way to a quest or town, rather than going in a straight line.

    From a player perspective:
    Having abilities that are not just tied to dealing damage or combat. Like other MMO's or D&D that have spells/abilities which are more a utility, instead of a weapon. Things like feather fall, teleportation, summoning other players, conjuring basic food/drinks, summoning a mount, movement speed buffs, breath underwater potions, ... Just some stuff that's fun and useful to have outside of combat. Useful thing for exploring or helping out other players.
    Otherwise, the only abilities there are, are to deal damage, take damage, heal damage... and I hope the world is more than just you existing to fight.
  • CicaedaCicaeda Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited June 11
    Sure. Getting lost in caves and dungeons is cool, but why not the overworld too?

    One issue I have with most open world games is that they lack obstacles and routing in the overworld. You can always just walk from point A to B in a straight line, give or take a mountain or two. Basically, I want to have terrain complex enough that it requires learning and remembering where to go. I want to actually be able to get lost and stuck in the overworld trying to get from Node A to Node B. I'd like to see winding paths with tight corridors, chokepoints, and dangerous monsters you have to sneak past to get where you're going. In this sense, I would like to see a strong departure from realism. Something I would even like to see is a mystical forest maze separating two nodes. Ashes is a Fantasy MMO afterall.

    A wonderful example of this environment design is Final Fantasy 11's Yhoater Jungle.
    Yuhtunga Jungle Map


    You can watch this timestamped video of someone navigating it.
  • roostroost Member
    Seeing a lot of great responses in this thread, so hopefully I can carve out a little bit of new ground with mine, and not just restate the same thing others have been.
    Space to breathe is crucial. I can’t enjoy and be immersed in an environment if I can’t walk more than 20 feet without aggroing a mob. This isn’t to say that certain zones shouldn’t be hostile, but when things are too close together, I spend more time running through them just to get to point B. If mobs are spread out, the way I move through the environment is more strategic. Maybe seeing an optimal path to get through the zone, or waiting for a certain pack of mobs to patrol past so I can sneak by. If I can’t get anywhere without pulling a mob, the solution becomes to just run through them and wait for them to be leashed and de-aggro.
    Music design is also huge, and criminally underrated. I don’t need to hear an epic, looping orchestral theme as I kill boars in the forest, or run along the beach, but some small musical reaction to my environment is huge for immersion. Breath of the Wild comes to mind of a game that handled musical design in the open world perfectly. There’s a really great video showing the technical architecture behind how they achieved it, but to sum it up, the music in BotW was reactive. It was soft, out of the way, as you ran through the plains, it ramped up in tempo and intensity as you entered combat, and took on slight changes in melody depending on the type of zone you were in. We all love big, swelling, orchestral moments (and who doesn’t in MMOs? It’s practically a staple of the genre), but those tracks should be saved for truly epic moments.
  • SorcresSorcres Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited June 11
    MOBS
    Diversity of mobs - It is important to have a lot of different and original mobs. Unfortunately, it is not enough to just change the color, size and name. I know that the originality of mobs is demanding and expensive, even so, investment should be made in this part.
    Skill for mobs - add some special ability to some monster. Something that would make us dodge or stop attacking for a while.
    Mobs in the natural environment - The mob should fit into the given environment. Example: Crab on the beach, monkey in the jungle, scorpion in the desert. It seems clear, but a lot of MMOs put monsters where they don't belong.
    Different spawn time - Add mobs that only spawn at certain times of the day, weather, or season.
    Different mobs drop - Based on the day, weather or season, some mobs may change on their drops.
    WEATHER
    Change of weather - Rain, sunny, cloudy, windy, thunderstorm
    Variable light - Sunrise, day, sunset, night
    Season - Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter
    MUSIC & SOUNDS
    Different music for different biomes - Based on where we are, the music could change, the more music the better, although I understand it's expensive.
    Sounds of nature - For example in the jungle of birds singing, the sound of monkeys and much more. I would definitely not stick to one sound for the whole biome, for example there will be more birds somewhere, there will be monkeys somewhere. The sounds should change accordingly.
    The sound of walking - Depending on where we walk and where we are, the sound of our walking should also change.
    NATURE
    Destructible Obstacles - Add obstacles that are natural but can be destroyed. For example: a fallen tree trunk lying by the road, vines obstructing us in the passage, cobwebs
    NPC
    Walking NPCs - NPCs traveling around the world, so it will be difficult for us to catch him.
    Season NPCs - NPCs that appear only in a certain season or other special circumstances
    Changing opinion of NPC - NPC that gives us different tasks, based on what time we talk to him.
  • shintaroshintaro Member, Founder
    When watching the latest siege footage, I had one break of immersion that I thought about a bit. When Steven held his speech in the beginning, I was kind of immersed in the environment, but when hearing Steven's voice, it broke it a bit. I think this was, because everybody was standing in this big castle, but there was no reverberation. It would be great if reverberation, maybe even dynamically depending on the location in the world, could be added to the in-game voice chat. (Optional would be great)

    Additionally, giving NPCs a player memory which influences their interactions (maybe only cosmetically) would make the world feel a lot more alive for me. One example would be a NPC that gives out tasks. If a player helps this NPC a lot over time, more than other players, the NPC could start greeting this player also if he just passes. Another example would be a NPC noticing that a couple of players always work together in a party on his tasks. When one of the players then comes alone some day, the NPC could ask where the other players of his party are, even with concrete names.

    Now, these were just two possibilities, but I think there is a whole lot more that one can come up with with regards to that. In essence, this is about creating this small town feeling, where everybody knows each other, not only the players, but also the NPCs.
  • Argentum401Argentum401 Member
    edited June 11
    two things:
    first of all, there need to be npcs that arent friendly all the time. Give me some grumpy buisy budddys who make rude comments about you waisting their time.

    secondly, the environment needs to matter. My best example would be "Devinity 2" where you allways need to strategiese around the sorounding elements (is the flore wet, poisones, covered in blood?) , traps (falling boulders, crags of tar) and levitations (who has highground toward whom?). This gives rise to tones of diffrent strategies and makes players hyper aware of there sourundings, which in turn leads greater immersion.
  • CallinorCallinor Member
    having NPC interact with each other and not just doing nothing until you interact with them is pretty big for me. having things that impact the environment actually impact it. like a world boss dying and creating a "dead zone" or something. a day night cycle with differing mobs at night could be interesting, making night time more dangerous to adventure. having the seasons affect the mobs you see too. Ambient sounds have been mentioned and they are a big part. but with it being high fantasy, i actually find the right music can help with this feeling. such as more "Elven" sounding music for more traditional elven zone, dwarvern for the dawrf zones etc. also having things match the aesthetic of a zone. For example going through a dessert zone where everything is browns in colour and then seeing a Giant glowing pink tower, that a bit too jarring, a pink tower is fine if its the right shade, having it look like a child coloured it in with a highlighter is really jarring imo.

    I've seen mentioned having shops operate on a shift system for the NPCS, and that makes sense. a nice little feature would be for a period of time after the shift ends you can see the NPC in the inn knocking back a cold ale. or say once a week doing their own shopping. little mundane things we all do IRL that would add elements of realism to the game
  • KazezokuKazezoku Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited June 11
    Though this doesn't seem like its going to get on the graphical immersive level as "New World," I am really hoping for more realism over a toony style of art. I feel that, as an avid gamer across a high spectrum of games for 20 years, It really comes down to your target audience, and level of what feeling is trying to be accomplished by the art team conveyed to the player.

    I think that World of Warcraft shows an amazing example of art improvements over the years and throughout their expansions. This is evident even today going from their older zones from expansions past, with their very noticeable polygon objects and environment details; to their newer releases, with a very distinct sense of what is trying to be accomplished in that new area by making it look and FEEL unique to any who wander through it.

    From basic initial layout of the terrain and any features that may include, to subtle light streaming through tree lines and shadows cascading in between the patterns they create on the floor; It seems important to recognize what is realistic (with a twist of fantasy) and what is just "forced to fit" to get the "job done." Art style is also something that is hard to normalize since it involves consistency in all forms, from zone to zone, object to object, or texture to texture. I so hate to be critical over feeling like I went from one really cool biome that really made me feel like I was the one going through this rain forest, not the virtually controlled model that I'm playing with; to another biome that seems like it was made for a children's game with feeling like I am practically playing another game.

    Many of the above posts really have great talking points and examples that should not be over looked, and considered in full. These are the people that, like myself, have a large array of games and experienced eyes that have seen much in terms of graphical quality.

    With all of that said, these are some of my biggest wishes and hopes for the graphical layout and quality of the game's standard (which can always be spruced up in the future):

    • Weather - I LOVE grinding in a zone where for a few hours its bright and sunny, then a few hours later its overcast, and later its raining or snowing. Now that's just the basic type of weather... real mastery is letting these types of weather be applicable at all times of day (just like real life); ie. raining in the day, or raining in the night. To add on all of this, you have the lesser seen subtle weather effects, like wind and the degree of intensity of weather, which should be clearly reflected in direction of rainfall, or seen in tree sway. Maybe some days and nights the rain falls straight down, and is calm. Other days its torrential and can be seen going at an angle due to the high winds.
    • Realism - This should not be taken as, "No fantasy," but more so as; high detail and likeness comparative to what we have in real life; Scenic and excellent attention to detail, all detail. From ground and object textures, to falling leaves, to ambient raindrops creating little ripples in the water surfaces, to little ducklings following their mother in a pond in randomized patterns. These are the little things that reinforce realism, not just the depth of how close you can make something look like it would in real life.
    • Openness - Though this may be an "open world" or "seamless" game... many other games like this have a first instinct to pack as much content per square inch as possible. Sometimes its nice to seen an open valley, meadow, or glade with some nodes, or NPCs. Let the players see and enjoy the immersiveness that the game should have to offer; not litter it with NPC health bars, and objective icons. Let there be some areas that serve as an escape for the player to really take it all in; give players a chance to get to really go out and explore without being 9999% task oriented all of the time.
    • Water - I am a huuuuuuge sucker for well done water mechanics and physics. Only a hand full of games have been able to really slam dunk this challenging art without using an unholy amount of processing power. From oceanic waves, to subtle ripples in a resting lake, to the player mounts maneuvering through a flowing river; let it be magnificent. I know most of this so far has been an easier said than done kind of situation, but I would kill to see this game take off in its full on display of slight FPS drops due to some worthwhile hydrotechnic glory.

    Tis but my humble observation of what can be, based off years of gaming and seeing first hand the results of graphical development. I know I likely won't see like 80% of this to the quality that I'm imagining, but all the main points are still there and I hope they hold to be recognized and reflected within the game itself to some degree. I wish the ashes art and animation dev teams the best of luck, and can't wait to see what they have in store for us all in the future!

  • McMackMuckMcMackMuck Member
    edited June 11
    Realism matters much less than consistency. A high fantasy world doesn't need to be realistic, I just need to believe that the constituent parts mesh together according to their own set of rules. If there's not a clear understanding of why magic applies to something then just make it into the mundane medieval equivalent.

    Environmental visuals are the first thing players experience. From what I've seen so far, the community have absolutely nothing to worry about on this account, Mr Bacon and team appear to be on track to deliver the top end of what we could wish for.

    I would like light levels to be a thing, so that torches and lanterns are required in dark places or during a night where the moon is absent or hidden by cloud. I feel that not providing that level of immersion misses out on the fundamental fear of the dark and the associated emotional decisions. The ability for some races to see in the dark should be render-range capped and perhaps chromatically filtered (eg. red filter for Dwarfs?, violet filter for Elves?, grey for Orcs?) to avoid an excessive advantage. Every race should benefit from having a torch or lantern when they need to see their dark surroundings clearly; racial dark vision should never be an alternative, just a partial mitigation.

    Environmental sound builds atmosphere, often without the player realising. Where visual cues are fairly easy to spot and assess, audible cues can take a lot of investigating, leaving the players doubting themselves, am I over-reacting to changes in sound? Do I need to investigate? Examples:
    1) Walking through an autumnal forest with the sound of the wind swaying the upper branches and the crunch of leaves increasing the more you step off the path. The player enters a mystical glade and all those noises stop. The player steps backwards and forwards a few times in and out of the silence, whilst performing a completely unnecessary risk assessment... or at certain times of the day / month perhaps it is necessary?
    2) Approaching a waterfall the player hears the roar of the water long before they see it; when they are next to the waterfall it is so deafeningly loud that they can hear nothing but the waterfall. Perhaps there is an audible cue to a quest somewhere, so that if they stand in the right place the cue is just audible above the sound of the waterfall?
    3) A quiet evening/night in a rural freehold might not be as noisy as a city but may include the summer sounds of crickets, croaking toads, wind in the meadow grass, etc. and the occasional owl hoot. Players could decide to try and track down where the hooting is coming from which might be the start of a quest or it might not, there's no need for them to know in advance whether their curiosity has a reward waiting for them.
    Building up the anticipation with many false leads makes the real leads feel so much more rewarding when players find them.

    NPCs need to be happily going about their daily / weekly / monthly / seasonal routine otherwise it downgrades the level of immersion. I'm happy for them to be stationary if there is a reason (eg. lunch break), but otherwise they should get on with their day. Most NPC's shouldn't just wait in a state of limbo for players to interact with them, even shop keepers should be managing their stock levels and cleaning up their presentation of goods/services from time to time. I would be over the moon if NPCs actually engaged with the player driven economy (when appropriate) by buying goods from player owned stalls / shops and taverns based on their "needs" for food, drink, clothing, gear, entertainment and housing. Shame on the player that tries to rip them off though!
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  • zombinvestorzombinvestor Member
    edited June 11
    BUMP. also, #4 makes me imagine a somewhat full circle life / death cycle of local animals, could we randomly see them being hunted / running away from their local predators? would be a great easter egg.
    Oh, and I like to read fantasy stuff and when the writer explains the way their magic works, why it works, and sets a really good foundation for how magic is a part of life as they know it. Some of the fantasy manga's that are in a school-type setting do really well with this. a popular one lately is called The Beginning After The End.
    Azherae wrote: »
    Aside from the myriad of things Ashes has already completely confirmed to have planned, the following greatly help with my immersion and feeling of realism (somewhat in order of difficulty):

    1. The correct footstep sounds, especially if scuffing sounds on dirt change to mud squelch in the rain.
    2. The aforementioned rain, wind, snow, and other weather patterns, particularly if they can appear to at least some extent in settlements and aren't automatically excluded there (day/night cycles and related mob spawn behaviours are already planned)
    3. Relatively higher respawn times on enemies, and group behaviours for certain enemy types.
    4. Higher amounts of 'prey' or 'food' animals that can still fight back decently, with the related drops for defeating them.
    5. More specific fish per area, and capacity to find fishing spots, even if these don't randomize much.
    6. Multiple foods, some 'regional', made using these fish and prey animal parts, that are distinct and have somewhat notable effects.
    7. Good NPC and quest writing (this is vague but eh - can I interest you in a Giant Pile of Gushing Praise?)
    8. Branching or secondary objectives during quest lines.
    9. Special monsters in the open world with conditional spawns such as only spawning approximately once per day, being triggered by aggregate player actions, or lured by other items. Also things like hierarchies in Sapient enemies.
    10. Lore and signs of interaction occurring between other players and NPCs.
    11. Slightly shifting prices or numbers of items available through some monitoring of supply and demand.
    12. Bulletin boards or other methods of communication in towns that let players see things like Bounties or requests.
    13. A tendency for enemies, particularly humanoid ones, to be designed as if they follow the same rules as players, even if not in HP values.
    14. A diffuse lightning model with more change to color balance than brightness.
    15. Lots of effort put into things like the specifics of crafting systems to stick to some specific real-world or at least 'consistent' analog. e.g. if players get something like 'Pot Ash' when burning wood for smelting or cooking and then are able to use this in all the ways one uses this irl.

    That's... probably enough, I'll leave environmental design commentary to my team's artist.

  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    What are some of the elements that make for a more “realistic” or “lifelike” world when you play a game, from NPCs to environments and beyond?

    Real-world effects in a fantasy environment goes a long way to making things more realistic or lifelike.

    There is a level of difference between lighting the inferior of a house with a global light that casts no shadows. To having shadows with light coming through the window. To having dust partials fall through the one ray of light coming through the window.

    Simple things like this make us feel like we are getting closer to realistic depictions of the world.
    How much does realism matter to you generally?

    In the context of MMORPGs realism is less important than game mechanics. It is nice when game mechanics and realism work in harmony to create something that is greater than the sum of their parts, but game mechanics is always more important.
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  • ELRYNOELRYNO Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    edited June 11
    Elements of open-world games that I have enjoyed, incorporate realism in a way that generally always encompassed a dynamic approach, leaving the player feeling like the game is designed with the philosophy that the world is alive, rather than static & in return furthers immersion. This breeds the idea that the possibility of adventure is just over the yonder rather than sticking to a linear path of progression. Having points of interest / landmarks in front of them that draw them towards it. Below are some notes regarding Environments & Realism that have really captivated me whilst being immersed in game worlds I've played in the past & some ideas I have had, that for me at least, mean that realism and design philosophy come hand in hand.

    Thematically Designed

    Thematically designed environment's are always a winner for me, as an example a zone that has a huge essence ley line coursing through it may have an impact on the wildlife, altering the appearance & even their intellect, making them a friend rather than foe. Another example would be an entire zone with an eerie feeling, fog rolling through it's marshy landscape & corruption tainting it's wildlife, plagued tree's that de-root & become enemy mobs, attacking passers by. Cultists that try to convert you to serving the others or gathering herbs that can be used in alchemy, giving benefits towards combat stats but increase your corruption & lower religious stats, alternatively there could be purified herbs in the other area that decreases corruption but the adverse effect is that it decreases your combat stats. These thematically designed elements make the world feel more lifelike / realistic to me, rather than each area being filled with the same re-coloured wolf / bear model.

    Awe Inspiring

    I remember the first time I walked into the human capital city on my up until recently, favourite MMO. The Stylized realism added to it's character, accompanied by the sound design. It wowed me, guards walking past me, citizens chatting amongst themselves, elite guards roaming the streets on horseback. The city felt like it was bustling with energy, everything was quite compact & nothing felt empty unless intentionally designed that way. I cannot describe how important I think it is that the world has notable places of interest & dynamic interactions, whether that be cities, mountain ranges that you quite literally have to scale in order to access a Shol Shrine at the top that provides a questline. A Dunir Bridge that spans miles that you have to get your caravans over and everyone knows it's a pain in the ass, with these notable places being clearly identifiable on the map & memorable to people, they act almost like waypoints to a degree to enable the player to orientate themselves in the zones they are within & really cements the feeling that you are travelling through the world of Verra, not just miles and miles of randomly wandering NPC's, rocky mountainsides & the odd camp here and there, that can quite quickly remove the "illusion" of a realistic world and therefore break immersion. "People visit landmarks on holiday in places all over the world, Eiffel Tower, The Great Wall, Taj Mahal, so why not go on holiday in a game?"

    Storyline Based

    When I think of lore designed features of a realistic game world, I think historical lore events that helped shape the world. An example of this would be the fall (Apocalypse) and battle scarred zones that to this day are inhabitable to most, but those who dare to venture to within it, are rewarded. An example of this would be Chernobyl, everyone knows that the majority of it is inhabitable, and what goes on within is to the knowledge of very few people, but always peaks the interest of me to see how nature adapts to survive there, albeit "corrupt" (radioactive).

    Edit: Lore books! I love when you are exploring the world and you are able to read in game interactable books about the lore of the world, this could even be tied specifically to your religion.

    Quests

    Quest's for me are more than just go here and kill this and gather me this, these are chores that I do in reality such as washing the dishes & hoovering the house. I -love- nothing more than spontaneous events that happen in front of my eyes whilst running through the world to establish realism, a random travelling merchant NPC getting robbed by a group of bandits, so being the law abiding citizen I am, I smite these bandits and chase down the bandit running away because his buddies got burnt to a cinder! I return the crystal to the merchant and he kindly hands me a reward accompanied by a rare quest to retrieve more of the crystals for him, in exchange he will set me on the path to someone who can teach me how to craft a rare jewel to place within my armor, alternatively you could help the bandits, increase your corruption and align with them, the possibilities are endless, you get the idea. I don't mind doing the dishes, but I don't want to do them every waking minute of the day.

    I also really enjoy quests that get you to find a named Mob / NPC, with only a landmark & a brief description to guide you, pointing you in the right direction, but ultimately leaving the adventure down to you. (Like a Huge Empyrean Statue) , so you really have no idea where or when you might stumble upon them, but if you head in that direction, you're likely to eventually. Even if you don't, the world would be populated by things to keep you feeling like it's an adventure! Encampments of bandits that have kidnapped a group of local townsfolk who you have to save, but the encampment's bandits are far too many in number for you to take on alone, or an ogre quarry where they seem to be wheeling huge amounts of ore out of it to use in their forges, but because of the hulking armored juggernauts that they are, you'd definitely have to get together with some adventurers to take them on but the reward for the node could be huge! I guess it would be called "stumble quests" that aren't picked up until they are stumbled upon & require you to gather others to have a chance, thus encouraging social interaction which I think is a huge thing that MMO's fail to achieve and can be done so simply through "Realistic" in game events.

    Mobs

    I feel like too many times, whoever decides loot tables for boar ears forgets that the majority of boars will have two. And if they don't, they need to! What I mean by this is that if you are tasked with having to kill something for an item, e.g hooves, why do they not drop four hooves. My character is not going to leave four hooves on the four legged animal & if it only has three hooves then it wouldn't have put up much of a fight. I also think that mobs should almost always have the ability to flee or call for aid dependant on their species, making your pulls more meaningful in tight situations where you are made to feel like not reserving your stun could lead you to biting off more than you can chew, consequences of actions lead to great gameplay, at least in my opinion.

    Puzzles / Mazes / Challenges

    Now these are hands down, my favourite things to encounter in a game world. Puzzles that have you stumped for ages in the bottom of a random temple within a cave you ran across, but at the end of them, when you complete them, you're rewarded with something of significant value. Jump challenges that require you to scale a ruin & reach the reward within the chest at the top, but you would never know the chest was at the top if you didn't scale the ruins. Mazes that can be completed that rewards you with a "Maze Runner" title after completing all of them where everyone who see's you wonders if you used a guide to get you through it or if you're just badass.

    Combat & Animation

    Combat is one that I am only going to touch on, as I feel like we are far too early for my points to be actioned, however I believe for you to feel like the game is lifelike, three things have to be achieved. Combat has to be Meaningful, Responsive & Fluid. What do I mean by this? I mean that if I am wielding a great sword, I want to feel like I am wielding a great sword, my attacks might be slower, but they hit harder, adding consequence to me if I miss and advantage to my opponent if they dodge & are wielding a weapon with far more agility such as a dagger for them to enter the danger zone and exit it quickly, without it feeling like a hold down left click and press 1 through 6 for bursts of enjoyment but the rest of the combat falls flat. And to be honest? All of the things above come secondary to combat in a lot of ways as if the combat falls short, the rest of the experience will not make up for it, at least for me.

    I am unaware of the direction of animation style for AOC. Currently the running animations feel a little bit like they are fresh out of the UE Asset Store, again my personal opinion, but I'd like to see some variation on how each race moves rather than a style movement copy and pasted across the board. (I am sure this will not be the case further along in development & it's only a minor point). E.G Dwarves having more of a stylized animation sequence to reflect their stocky nature & Ren'Kai's more primitive sequence.

    Conclusion

    I realise that a lot of the above was me just babbling on about my opinions on elements of the game that encourages realism, and I could continue to keep going on and on about them, but I think for the stage of development now I've said all I need to, alas I think you as a studio are making a huge step in even asking for these opinions from us, it just makes me feel like you guys really care & that is really important to me as a consumer of your product for the future. Apologies if any of these points you read and you think "Yea yea, just be patient" but I'd rather say it now rather than never =D Much love!
  • Skyri02Skyri02 Member
    1. I love to see in a game loads of small details. This Details can forexample be a table with books, feather pens, candles, pearls and scrolls on it. The Chair for the table might have a pelt on it.
    Next to the table it can be a bigger plant. and on the floor or on the chair lays a cat sleeping. Dosent feel nice to walk into a place where there is little to no details. Even Buildings can have plants growing on the walls or dangling from the roof.

    Leaves falling, Fog, birds flying, critters on ground. Critter doing things like eating something on the ground or walking up a three. Flies near lamps. Candel Lights flashing. Birds sitting on trees or even a "big cat" resting on a stone or tree brench.


    This picture shows an example of the details I am talking about
    Enviro.jpg


    2. I like when the worlds enviroment have loads of hills and different heights on them. When you run up on a hill its exiting to not know whats behind it or if there is a player there. The different layer of hills makes the world exiting in my opinion :P To see the dephts of the world gives a nice feeling when u game. I like how the hills in Ashes Apocalypse where, so i posted some pictures of what i mean :)

    Hills_Enviro.jpg


    3. Roads that are not straight. They are "wiggly" and goes up and down depending on the hills that are in the game. Roads that turns around a montain so you cant see whats behind that mountain. Maby some people are waiting to ambush you?
    The world is lively if there is big canyons and deep trenches. You can glide or have to fly to the other side. and the view should be immersive with the feeling that you are on a big hill.

    Hills.jpg

    4. When we hire a kiosk/marketplace to sell our goods, it would be nice to see the goods you sell be visible on the kiosk table.
    Example: A horse is stationed with a rope next to ur kiosk and a herb is hanging from the roof of ur kiosk and a sword is displayed on the table with a potion and food.

    If u dont sell potions the potion wont show up on the table. and so on.
    This will make the buyer look for the typical goods it want to buy. Example: I want a mount, aha! there is a horse standing near the kiosk, that seller is selling mounts i go there etc. (it doesnt have to be the specific look of the horse or sword u are selling that have to be displayed on the table, just a indication of what you sell, just like the caravans).

    This will maybe help buyers see clearly what they are looking for instead of just looking through all of the kiosks. If u just want potions you look for potions displayed on the kiosks or go to a different kiosk with potions to see who has what you looking for and price. This will also make the market/kiosks look more alive/RPG feeling.
    Example:
    Kiosk_Marketplace.jpg



    5. Sounds are important.

    Forexample you can hear ur character have plate armor when walking or running same with leather and clothes. When ur character takes out a weapon you hear that what type of material it is made of (Wood, steel, stone, crystals etc).

    Since we will have belts with stuff on them like potions, it would be awasome when you run you can hear a softly sound of liquid moving.

    Mount sounds
    To hear a sound of example leather and reins when you mounting on or off.
    And when you are walking or running with ur mount you can hear the leather, reins, metal, chains, and plate depending on what armor u have on ur mount. Even the mounts hooves or if it have paws can be heard clearly.
    The more realistic the better.
    Sence we will be alot on the mounts in the world it would be relaxing in my opinion to just hear the hooves and ambient sound of the world while riding to ur destination. Feels relaxing ^^

    Here are some detailed sounds of hooves.



    Some clothe pices that move. Forexample some rains or cloths pices on a mount will move when the mount move.

    Example in the video:
  • KloWhKloWh Member
    For me what adds the most realism in the games are the small details. The story that is told by the place itself, the indirect narration in some ways, clues about the place, what it was and what it has become. it can be an empty house with overturned chairs, and a bowl of soup still steaming within a quest, it can be linked to the sound environment which gets stronger as we advance in a forest corrupted, or birdsong stopping, or sudden silence. I like that the environment calls for curiosity and exploration.

    From a more direct point of view, the talking NPCs, the rumors circulating in the town or the tavern, the subtle clues that lead to a quest organically are things that I really enjoy and really make the game more. vivid. Realist and true.

    The recurring characters with their associated stories that we follow by episode and which we remember saying to ourselves "Ah, but it is this guy who was imprisoned that I released!" and who is in the trouble again.
    What makes things "Realistic and Alive" in a video game is the ability to create emotion and personal involvement in a player. From the contemplation of a panorama to the nostalgia of an NPC, the hubbub of the crowd or a particularly charismatic and impressive boss. The situation must be important to us in a significant way. We need to care about what happen in the world.
  • AzazAzaz Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    I appreciate a game that values the hard work that players put in. The result is that relatively few can claim that they have accomplished what you have. And if they have accomplished it, you know exactly what it took to get there. Some games allow you to do many hard things, but I would love a game that allows the player to truly stand out as someone who is "world class" in their area of expertise. As an example, I played Star Wars Galaxies long, long ago. All players who wanted the best armor went to a player named Krolgar because he alone had put in the extensive time and effort to nearly perfect the Armorsmithing profession. We all bought med supplies off of a player named Dothack because he spent all his time perfecting the trade. I guess what I am saying is that I would love to see players as a "Master of one trade" as opposed to a "Jack of all trades". I would prefer that it was impossible to master everything on a single character.
  • AzazAzaz Member, Alpha One, Adventurer
    A game that prizes character creations such as weapons and armor well above any looted items. That requires intense time, skill, experimentation, failure and success on the part of the artisan. In that way, players determine the BIS items. Star Wars Galaxies had an awesome component built into it where crafters had to go out and survey the landscape to acquire materials. With diligent effort and a little luck, the player could find high quality materials that spawned randomly and in finite quantities. For years after gathering, players would seek to buy any remaining supply that the diligent and fortunate artisan had collected so long ago. In the game I recall the material I needed to craft a piece of armor was Avian Wings. Only a few diligent players had collected this high-quality resource from a remote area that lasted for a very short period of time. This resource was protected with the utmost secrecy while it was able to be harvested. Additionally, the collectible resources were found across the map in varying concentrations and statistical quality. It took the surveyor/artisan insane hours to go out and find these resources. But the product that they crafted was long the envy of everyone. In that game, no two players were identical.
  • - Day/Night cycles for NPC like in Black Desert is a impressing thing - and maybe can be used in an tactical way for a siege
    - if you are in a snow/sand area and carrying goods as a trader - whatch out for footsteps from other players
    - sound is really important for immersion (if a connon shots -sound have to match the size of it)
    - in an fire Dungeon where Deamons and Dragons melt stone to build there Dungeon - don't put cold water next to the boss because it makes no sense. But to use your own opposite skills can be doing more Damage
    - when a city/castel siege ends, you have believable costs as a defender (not 5 stone for the whole wall) - so only activ and well powered guilds can hold this a while and need matereals befor the next siege comes up
    (so someone can raid all traiders, if they just wanna buy Stone+ Wood to reinforce gate+walls and prepare the next siege on this way)
    - if you use a ship in caribic water (and others too) let some fish follow by side like dolpines and others(after a while moving straight forward )
    - spawn resources randomly so bots cannot farm all spots the whole time
    - don't implement sales booth please so only aktion house will be used and there is no lagging trading place
    - NPC's have not only fetchquests and when then with a realistic (and not too long) background
    - for crafting only use matereals there can be gathered or crafted by a player and not those witch can be sold from an NPC next to you
    - mayor/King of your town can coose between some opinions like:
    bilding tunnels/ bridges for shortcuts to haresting/traveling/mining faster(so traider prefer traveling through)
    Dobble your city guard to protect your town,
    Place an NPC in your local Dungeon to reveal the map - if this is your first time there or a shrine for healing

  • ShaddohhShaddohh Member
    edited June 11
    environments-1920.gif?h=250

    Dev Discussion #31 - Environments
    What are some of the elements that make for a more “realistic” or “lifelike” world when you play a game, from NPCs to environments and beyond? How much does realism matter to you generally?

    The thing that stands out about environments in most video games is how lifeless everything feels. Many of the small things we overlook in real life are integral to making the world feel real.

    Some of the most notable of these things which contribute to immersion would be:
    -Dust/dirt/sand/snow effects (footprints, being kicked up by large movements, blowing in the wind, etc.)
    -Insects swarming corpses, trash, and standing bodies of water
    -Rodents and birds scurrying around settlements rooting through trash
    -Tree branches shaking in the wind
    -Water drip and build-up during rain
    -Random weather changes
    -Unique landmarks
    -Busy people (NPC idle animations)

    While individually they are rather mundane, altogether these small additions make a massive difference to making a virtual world feel real. Unfortunately, the server technology is not always capable of doing these things all at once so if I had to choose one thing that MUST be added for immersion, it would be living NPCs.

    What I mean by "living NPCs" are NPCs akin to those in the Elder Scrolls games. Each with their own backstory, schedules (including time to eat and time to sleep), personalities, beliefs, allegiances, and relationships with other NPCs such as their families and coworkers. Add some rudimentary reactions to environmental changes (weather, node events, sieges, etc.) along with idle animations and you have a much more immersive world than the usual fare. Honestly, nothing is more unimmersive than nameless NPCs standing around just staring into the distance mindlessly at all times without ever moving and with no real purpose other than to be mannequins for offering quests and items.

    It might be difficult to implement all of this with the player-driven node system, and obviously there would still be a need for "faceless" NPCs as city guards and citizens, but I think it would be possible to do if scaled properly by linking a unique set of named NPCs to each node so that there is variance both within and between servers. This allows them to refer to the local environment in conversation for further immersion and negates the possibility of repeat NPCs in a server. Layer on top of that some interaction across nodes, such as certain NPCs referring to their friends and family in other nodes or traders travelling to adjacent nodes, and you have a recipe for a world that is immersive even without players to liven it up.

    Living NPCs, in my opinion, are absolutely essential for good environmental storytelling. Video game environments should look and feel lived in, not painted.
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