(See my intro here for the first part of this series!)
Very simply, the “world” is what I see that isn’t the UI.
What do I enjoy in a game world?
- When the “rules” for a world are defined to the player, the world doesn’t break those rules later on. For example: if guns don’t exist, no one has a gun within the game, and no allusions to guns are made within the game’s quests, or NPC dialog.
- Whatever reason is used to explain a weird phenomenon makes sense within the canon of the game (like if the game is high fantasy, a city floating above a plain can be explained via the use of great magic) and powerful “catch all” explanations are not over-used (for example: X, Y, and Z are there because all-powerful gods willed it to be so. Gods as a reason for things happening is all well and good, but I don’t want the reason to feel like the developers are just tossing a “because we said so” at us.).
- No glaring plot holes.
- Ideally, I’d love to see day/night cycles and weather that actually mean something to the world and the NPCs and dynamic events that change the world, and those living in it, permanently.
- This can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but basically what I mean is that I want to see an art style chosen that matches the theme, and is woven into the game well. Landmark (by Daybreak Game Company) is one of the most beautiful games that I have seen in a long time. Sunrises and sunsets are colorful. Water sparkles and shines in the light. Tides come in and out. Textures are gorgeous, and richly colored. Flora is well-matched to biomes. Landmark is realistic, but cartoony enough that the art will hold value for years to come. But similarly, I played a survival game called Eidolon that was very line-based in its art style, VASTLY different from Landmark, completely not photo-realistic, and it was visually pleasing as well.
- Like the minimap, I’m torn on this one, too. It doesn’t bother me so much to load a new zone, but I also grew up on EverQuest, EverQuest 2, and old-school World of Warcraft, where I had to wait for the next area to load. There were no other options for a large game world. Also, SSDs and faster internet speeds make loading within games quicker than ever. However, there is something to be said for the added realism, beauty, and believability that an open world gives the player. An open world means no more areas being arbitrarily surrounded by weird geographical or creature-built structures to create the needed zone walls, or areas that feel forcefully cut off to fit the confines of the zone.
- Attention to detail
- Technically this could have been the only header within this category because “attention to detail” can add so much to the beauty of the world (drops of dew on flower petals, grass waving in the wind) and it can be so crucial to creating a believable story. I’m not saying that dew drops have to be in the game in order for me to believe that there was significant attention to detail, but I am saying that when you play a game where the geography makes sense, the motives of the creatures are reasonable, and that the flora and fauna blend seamlessly with the environment… you notice. The game feels higher quality, like playing a D&D game where the Dungeon Master has everything planned in advance (or at least seems to!), rather than with a DM who has a slipshod attitude (“Rocks fall, everyone dies. The end.”).
Want to keep reading on this topic? Click the links below to navigate to the different sections of this series: