Monday, 4 July 2011

The Trouble With "Real"

On many forums I visit I see loads of feedback on gameplay in maps with comments similar to the one below...

"That's not very realistic!"

As a mapper I'm very careful when I receive this kind of feedback because you see... we're not building a representation of the Real here are we?

Players who make these comments about the Real need to stop and think about the games they've been playing.

I've yet to play a game that accurately represents reality. If I did obtain a game that attempted to re-create reality I've no doubt it would be dull as shit. Real is dull. That's why we play games to escape the drudge of the real.

I think when players say that something is not realistic I think they're actually saying "you haven't done a good enough job getting me used to this idea".

With the right level of introduction and explanation, the player will engage with anything.

As an example take the film The Matrix.

At the beginning we see Trinity pull off some Matrix type moves, running on walls etc. We're wowed by the visuals and the action. The film then spends the next hour, pretty much on exposition to answer the question "What is the Matrix?". Every element is carefully set up, including acres of exposition from poor Laurence Fishbourne, and all of it is put in place so that when the action kicks off, the audience are totally bought in to the world and the plausibility of what takes place.

I can bend or break the game reality as much as I like as long as I take the player by the hand and lead them through it.

Reality does have its uses though.
On a micro level there is a place for reality in my maps. A certain type of light, say for example a bedside lamp, should give off a realistic light. Attention to these details when detailing your map, does have an effect on gameplay. It sells the new reality I've created. Because the little things are as they should be the new gameplay elements are more acceptable. They're taking place in an environment the player can instantly connect with.

So in conclusion, we find that there is a balance to be struck between Real and Unreal. Unreal elements will be accepted if introduced carefully and the Real elements help the player accept the Unreal.

No comments: