Humor and Realism Don't Mix

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Now, was anyone thinking of the Errant Signal video on realism when reading this? It opened worlds for me and changed the direction of one of my own conceptual IPs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRTsl1jCqq8

Though, I really think Yahtzee could've gotten a better name for this as...
A) It's not really what the article was about, and as such, was rather misleading.
B) Realism is hilarious.

When you try to make something too realistic, people will be prone to look for every little thing that conflicts with that. Make such a living, breathing world with so much life and enjoyment to get out of it, and it becomes far more real in the player's world. After all, you could go on and on about why The Legend of Zelda is unrealistic. But because it doesn't strive to be so, it doesn't matter in the slightest.

I kinda have to agree there. Sometimes video games have to sacrifice realism for the sake of fun gameplay.

And, honestly, I like games that are a bit outlandish. JRPGs (well... the ones I find nowadays that are actually good) and things like Borderlands are fun, where they're so absurd that they break away from reality as a type of... you know... escapism.

I think a lot of people tend to forget that the most important aspect of a game is engagement. Immersion through realism is one way to achieve that, but it isn't the only way, and thank goodness.

When I first encountered the "Regenerating Health" system in first person shooters I saw as a luck meter. I knew that I was bleeding, tinnitus was building in the background, and the action was slowing down. But I saw the blood as coming from superficial grazes, and the distortion effects as adrenaline. It wasn't until I saw this used in third person shooters that I saw it as my character having Wolverine style mutant healing powers.

-----

In the case of Hitman Absolution's tweaked disguise system as a challenging mechanic my biggest problem is that it interferes with another game mechanic: logic. I love it when games reward the player for doing something logical in the real world rather than power gaming, or punishes those who do odd things. Take for example how you are immediately scolded by a female co-worker in Deus Ex when you enter the ladies restroom and later reprimanded by your boss for it. Previously I didn't even think I was doing anything deviant, because as a player I was just thinking there might be useful items to loot there. Or in Half-Life when pressing random buttons would get you into trouble.

Previous Hitman games all the way back to the first installment Codename 47 incorporated this as well. In one of the very first missions, you are attempting to kill a convoy of Hong Kong Triad gangsters in a limousine. One of the first thugs to drop his guard is the limousine driver and you can steal and wear his clothes so you can get closer to the car and possibly plant a bomb. However because there is only one limousine driver wearing a distinctive uniform and he's an Asian man. One gangster immediately spots 47's bald pale self. The game repeats this again and again, and so as an experienced Hitman fan, it's counter intuitive to what I've learned.

Perhaps with having disguises act as a reward the developers could make it so that it covers the face and is hard to reach stealthily. An idea would be maybe a SWAT team member wearing a gas mask who is always close to multiple SWAT team member. Or a performer in a mascot costume who is usually in a crowd.

Something that has been enraging me lately is people saying, probably in a whiny nasal tone 'Why don't open world games have urgency to make them more realistic'

Because that would make it a corridor game ala Final Fantasy 13 not in fact an open world game.

sigh.

"bishops do not resemble tiny wooden circumcised willies. Arf arf arf."

If your "willie" looks like a bishop you have a serious problem and need to see a doctor immediately.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
Where is Niko Bellic storing all those guns he's carrying around? Does he have Tardis pockets? Is he stuffing them all up his todger? L, O, and furthermore, L.

I honestly don't care about that. What bothers me is why he's so fucking miserable all the time.

"Oh, cousin, life is so hard! Everything in this city turns to shit! I may be a sharp-dressed man with literally millions of dollars in his pocket, driving the hottest sports car around as I go on dates with my multiple attractive girlfriends before taking them back to one of my several expensive houses, but all of this counts for nothing! I must continue doing whatever some petty crimelord asks me to do, much as I hate it, because what else can I do? What do you mean, rent out the houses, take the money, pick my favourite girl and move to a mansion somewhere sunny? No, cousin, it is impossible - life is shit!"

Not every game has to be enjoyable in the same way. There are several audience niches, that care more about realistically simulating some theme that they deeply care about, than the shallow sense of "fun" that one gets from a challenging gameplay mechanic.

For example, Europa Universalis rather ralistically portrays the size, economy strenght, and military power of all existing countries of the world in the Early Modern time period. This completely breaks balance, since you can either play as France and roll over everyone, or as Aragon, and struggle to survive against your much bigger neighbour Castille, or as some African tribe, and get destroyed for certain.

If you want a fair and balanced "fun" game that lets you play a chess-like perfectly balanced match against someone while you are both nominally wearing the colors of some random nations, you should try Civilizaion or Total war instead.

But if you are a history buff who is thrilled by the very idea of playing a realisic struggle as Aragon, or Thuringia, or Scotland, or Sicily, or the Malwa, or the Inca, or the anyone else, then an unbalanced, redundant, unintutive gameplay mechanic that gives that, can be more "fun" for you, than a gameplay that is trying to be traditionally fun but doesn't have the content that you are interested in.

Moonlight Butterfly:
Something that has been enraging me lately is people saying, probably in a whiny nasal tone 'Why don't open world games have urgency to make them more realistic'

Funnily enough, as I write this I have another window open where I'm writing an article about exactly that!

Surprisingly I'm coming to the conclusion that there are really very few games which are truly open and offer a great degree of freedom - so many of them force the player to follow the plot as it was written in order to explore the world in any great detail. Rockstar and their islands, BioWare and their habit of making any area worth going to part of the main quest, Ubisoft locking away parts of AC maps until certain missions are done. It isn't a sense of urgency but it is a constriction to the player; supposedly free and open-world games still force plot completition before they can be fully explored.

Contrast Skyrim or the latter Fallout games, which I'd argue are some of the only truly open-world games. The central quest line can go fuck itself if that's what the player desires, without the game responding like an angry parent and "grounding" the player in a certain area.

Instead of telling the player what the story is and allowing them to progress through it at their own pace, these Bethesda (and Obsidian, fair's fair) titles allow the player to write their own story. They are role-playing games in the truest sense, where the role-playing extends further than choosing shotguns over pistols or which branch of a skills tree to level up. Dragon Age: Origins lets you pick from a number of backstories, but the Bethesda games let you shape your own character through your actions, even if it is unthinking - I never planned a story for my Skyrim character, but I can tell you exactly what sort of person she is just from my experiences with the game and reactions to situations.

SonicWaffle:
snip

Exactly I imagined my Breton character was heading to the Magic college in Skyrim when she was captured alongside the stormcloaks (we all know what the nords think of magic) and therefore spent my time trying to get to the college after I was free and completed those quests first. I liked it because it was like my character had her own wants and needs rather than some magic finger pointing her out for 'dragonbornhood' and dictating what she can and can't do from then on.

Moonlight Butterfly:

SonicWaffle:
snip

Exactly I imagined my Breton character was heading to the Magic college in Skyrim when she was captured alongside the stormcloaks (we all know what the nords think of magic) and therefore spent my time trying to get to the college after I was free and completed those quests first. I liked it because it was like my character had her own wants and needs rather than some magic finger pointing her out for 'dragonbornhood' and dictating what she can and can't do from then on.

I never did that, deciding on a motivation or a character, but it seems to have happened organically. The Dragonborn's pre-Skyrim life is a mystery - why is this Orc wandering, apart from her people? Why is she trying to sneak across the border? From the way I play the game, it became quite obvious to me.

She's a raging kleptomaniac. Friendly, helpful to those in need, but totally incapable of not stealing anything even remotely valuable. She can make friends with someone, perform a little quest for them like the returning of a treasured item, and then immediately afterwards pick the lock to their house and make off with the silverware. Despite having pockets stuffed with gold and houses crammed to the rafters with jewels and legendary weapons and magical trinkets, she would still pause to take a few coins from the pocker of a passer-by. This is why her tribe shunned her - who wants to keep a relentless thief in their tight-knit social group? This is why she was creeping into Skyrim - she was on the run, headed to new lands where her name and face were unknown. When the Imperial officer asked her name before the dragon attack, she pauses a while before settling on one, clearly thinking up an alias.

None of that was planned, and I never consciously played with it in mind. The game simply allowed me the freedom to write a story through my own actions, and they defined the character I was playing as. A self-created narrative within the structure of the game rather than choosing or being handed a pre-planned origin story and personality.

It basically just comes down the uncanny valley. Something that doesn't even try to be particularly realistic is fine because we recognise it as clearly not real. It's when things try to be realistic but don't quite get there that things just feel wrong.

SonicWaffle:
Surprisingly I'm coming to the conclusion that there are really very few games which are truly open and offer a great degree of freedom

I'm not sure why you'd consider that surprising. Firstly, games by their very nature cannot ever be truly free and open. The analogy of a sandbox is perfect - a sandbox allows you to do whatever you want, as long as what you want to do involves playing in a sandbox. All games ultimately boil down to a basic set of rules. GTA, for example, has a bunch of rules that allow you to steal cars and drive around a map. You can potentially use those rules to tell all kinds of different stories, but if you want to do anything other than steal cars and drive around a limited map, well you can't. No matter how open a game tries to be, it will always be limited simply because it's a game.

Secondly, and perhaps even more important - most people don't actually want a truly open game. How often do adults actually spend time playing in an actual sandbox fantasising about things? Pretty much never. The whole concept of entertainment exists because what people mostly want is to be entertained, not to have to make their own. Whether they're playing a game for the story, the challenge, or whatever, the point is almost always to play something that already exists, not to just be handed the tools and be forced to make up their own story. And of course, if there's a story to be told, that means a game can't be completely open since you want players to actually find the story and be encouraged to follow it. Skyrim isn't open, it just lets you choose which stories to see and in what order. There's some emergent stories that can result from the mechanics but that's the icing on top, it's not the reason people buy the cake in the first place. Just look an Moonlight Butterfly's post - he chose not to follow one pre-existing linear story and chose to start off by following a different pre-existing linear story. Having that choice can be more fun than not having it, but it's a long way from the game being truly open. Even in something like Minecraft you're not just handed a blank pile of virtual lego, you get a whole pile of RPG stuff thrown in to give you direction. People don't always want a completely linear experience, but a completely open one would be deathly boring for the vast majority.

Thirdly of course, there's simply the technical limitations. Writing a single linear story is orders of magnitude less work than writing a whole series of branching stories that depend on what the player does at every step. Throw in all the different graphics and sounds and so on needed for all the different variations and there would be an utterly ridiculous amount of work involved. Skyrim can't be truly open, because it would take decades to write and then wouldn't fit on your computer.

Kahani:

SonicWaffle:
Surprisingly I'm coming to the conclusion that there are really very few games which are truly open and offer a great degree of freedom

I'm not sure why you'd consider that surprising. Firstly, games by their very nature cannot ever be truly free and open.

It's surprising because I'm not using "truly free and open" in the same way you are. I'm approaching it within the context of the game world - I accept that all games are comprised of a basic set of rules, and that those rules govern such things as what is physically possible - because there are a great many games purporting to be "open world" which are not so even within their own set of rules. Nobody expects to be able to run faster-than-sound in a GTA game, but there are things which we might wish to do within the framework that just aren't possible. For a game offering a sense of freedom (within pre-defined parameters) the options are actually quite limited.

Kahani:
Secondly, and perhaps even more important - most people don't actually want a truly open game. How often do adults actually spend time playing in an actual sandbox fantasising about things? Pretty much never. The whole concept of entertainment exists because what people mostly want is to be entertained, not to have to make their own. Whether they're playing a game for the story, the challenge, or whatever, the point is almost always to play something that already exists, not to just be handed the tools and be forced to make up their own story.

Again, we're using "open world game" in a different way. What I am talking about is a game which offers a large playing area, a multitude of things to do, and then allows the player free reign. That doesn't mean there isn't always the option of story missions, side quests, random encounters or various other plotted occurences. Just that the player (supposedly) isn't railroaded into doing any of it.

Kahani:
Skyrim isn't open, it just lets you choose which stories to see and in what order. There's some emergent stories that can result from the mechanics but that's the icing on top, it's not the reason people buy the cake in the first place. Just look an Moonlight Butterfly's post - he chose not to follow one pre-existing linear story and chose to start off by following a different pre-existing linear story.

Skyrim also has the possibility to be nothing but emergent narratives, should the player so desire. If I really, really wanted (and I'm sure there are people who have) I could build a Dovakhiin who is an ordinary, boring Nord. I could get by without ever completing a quest, joining a faction or exploring a cave. Perhaps my character is a merchant who buys cheap food in one town, then travels to another where he can sell it for a profit. Perhaps he's a blacksmith who makes and sells swords to local stores. Maybe he's a robber who hangs around on the roads stealing from passers-by. Many people would find that boring, but the point is that this is one of only a very, very few games where the option is available.

The difference between games like Skyrim and games produced by the likes of Rockstar is that the former restricts no content based on plot advancement. The player doesn't have to finish Chapter 1 before Riften is unlocked - Riften is just there for those who can be bothered to find it, and anyone can explore it. Skyrim gives the option of following preordained paths or carving out entirely new ones.

Kahani:
Having that choice can be more fun than not having it, but it's a long way from the game being truly open. Even in something like Minecraft you're not just handed a blank pile of virtual lego, you get a whole pile of RPG stuff thrown in to give you direction. People don't always want a completely linear experience, but a completely open one would be deathly boring for the vast majority.

I think it's worth re-iterating again that an open game doesn't have to lack linear elements - the "open" part of the descriptor refers to the player's ability to ignore those linear elements if they wish to do so.

I often feel sort of this way if people complain about minor plot holes or unrealistic mechanics. I often barely notice it because it tends not to be important. If you just accept certain things and enjoy the content as a whole, that is much more satisfying to me then a designer jumping through hoops to explain how mechanics would work.

I don't care how the doomsday weapon could work, there is dudes to shoot and plans to foil.

when your a super space marine, i don't regeneration helps

especially in legendary difficulty

Rblade:
I often feel sort of this way if people complain about minor plot holes or unrealistic mechanics. I often barely notice it because it tends not to be important. If you just accept certain things and enjoy the content as a whole, that is much more satisfying to me then a designer jumping through hoops to explain how mechanics would work.

I don't care how the doomsday weapon could work, there is dudes to shoot and plans to foil.

my counter argument is this, if you bother to explain how stuff works in the first place, dont get mad when people wold you to it.

continuity while great is a commitment, and besides momentary breaks it shouldn't be broken, you committed to it

NO NO AND NO - there's a balance between rules and consistency in a fictional universe that enhance immersion, no matter how silly everything is

''How it used to work is that there are disguises, and they're allowed in some areas but not in others, full stop. No one gets suspicious as long as 47 stays in the designated area and doesn't murder anything in full view.''

In hitman 2, people with similar disguises from smaller outfits will get more suspicious of you.

The first proper level; trying using a villa bodyguard disguise to get into the villa. It's near impossible to walk past the villa door guards. Why, b'cos they all know each other. However the flower, delivery boy are much easier to use. But if you stand in front of the guards for too long like an idiot and it will eventually break.

Disguising myself as a russian soldier in another level was more successful. There are more soldiers, possibility of more distance so the detection meter increased slower. This makes sense in this fictional universe. It is consistent and adds immersion.

If you are holding the wrong item or gun, detection rate increases by like 400%.
I holstered a sniper rifle hoping it will look like a holstered AK-47...it didn't work...but if i kept enough distance and was seen for a much shorter amount of time I could get past the guard with it.

Compare this to absolution where you can holster a sniper rifle into nothingness. every disguise has the same detection rate. The special disguise suddenly has 0 detection rate. You can hold a screw driver and stand in front of a guard indefinitely.
But Your disguise can be broken from the back of the head in the dark from 20 meters away (but special disguise means you jump up and down like a yo-yo and no1 cares). I just remembered-shadows and shooting light bulbs could actually help you in hitman 2.

When many key variables the AI take into account are removed and the game takes 3 steps back...it breaks your immersion even more. Hitman 2-4 are far from perfect...but i expected sequels and technology to allow them to add more variables and AI parameters and behaviour to make it more immersive. Not replace it with another system that lacks even more common sense and consistency. Some stupid system to sacrifices common sense and immersion for repetitive strategy and points

If i use instinct to get by guard A but then I don't have instinct for guard B who was on the other side of the building that makes zero sense to me.

If they really had to cover up their small crap linear levels they should of just given each guard his own detection meter that doesn;t reduce. so walking past the same person multiple times doesn't work or maybe multiple guards...like they would talk to each other and say 'do you know him', 'no, i don't' , 'let's question him then!' etc etc

There were so many ways they could keep small glacier 2 environments with their better AI, to make it both challenging and immersive. But they didn't. Add linearity..and a no common sense, inconsistent detection instinct system. Hence immersion goes down the toilet

The Tall Nerd:

Rblade:
I often feel sort of this way if people complain about minor plot holes or unrealistic mechanics. I often barely notice it because it tends not to be important. If you just accept certain things and enjoy the content as a whole, that is much more satisfying to me then a designer jumping through hoops to explain how mechanics would work.

I don't care how the doomsday weapon could work, there is dudes to shoot and plans to foil.

my counter argument is this, if you bother to explain how stuff works in the first place, dont get mad when people wold you to it.

continuity while great is a commitment, and besides momentary breaks it shouldn't be broken, you committed to it

good point, but I guess the difference to me is between the kind of dues ex machina wierdness. Where something comes out of nowhere and solves some issue. Like you said it would be better if they don't mention it and leave how it works to your imagination. Some things are needed, like changing the actor in James Bond for example. Things like that, game mechanics, should simply not bother you.

So I guess for me it boils down to, is it central to the story or plot, then it should make sense or be left vague. If it is for gameplays sake I say we glance over inconsistency. I really think a game developer should be able to make some leaps in logic for a sequel for example, if it clearly works better for gameplay.

Although I think that the kind of nitpicking that misses the point I dislike, is much more prominent in movie critique. Like a sticker on an apple or a car in the background in lord of the rings. If you let those details ruin the story for you then you apparantly don't WANT to enjoy it.

Rblade:

The Tall Nerd:

Rblade:
I often feel sort of this way if people complain about minor plot holes or unrealistic mechanics. I often barely notice it because it tends not to be important. If you just accept certain things and enjoy the content as a whole, that is much more satisfying to me then a designer jumping through hoops to explain how mechanics would work.

I don't care how the doomsday weapon could work, there is dudes to shoot and plans to foil.

my counter argument is this, if you bother to explain how stuff works in the first place, dont get mad when people wold you to it.

continuity while great is a commitment, and besides momentary breaks it shouldn't be broken, you committed to it

good point, but I guess the difference to me is between the kind of dues ex machina wierdness. Where something comes out of nowhere and solves some issue. Like you said it would be better if they don't mention it and leave how it works to your imagination. Some things are needed, like changing the actor in James Bond for example. Things like that, game mechanics, should simply not bother you.

So I guess for me it boils down to, is it central to the story or plot, then it should make sense or be left vague. If it is for gameplays sake I say we glance over inconsistency. I really think a game developer should be able to make some leaps in logic for a sequel for example, if it clearly works better for gameplay.

Although I think that the kind of nitpicking that misses the point I dislike, is much more prominent in movie critique. Like a sticker on an apple or a car in the background in lord of the rings. If you let those details ruin the story for you then you apparantly don't WANT to enjoy it.

oh i understand, i dont dont quite like the bitching about that aswell

like where do the coins go in mario , its unrealistic.

who cares you collect them jeez

RobfromtheGulag:

When designing a game, the decision that comes up over and over again is whether to favor realism or gameplay, and if you've got sense, you'll go for gameplay every time.

Case in point: Far Cry 3. Why do I have to kneel down and go through a generic 3 second animation every time I want to loot the few bullets/bucks an enemy corpse is carrying? Why is there an animation for getting in a car/boat? I don't want realism, I want more action, and these miniature siestas from the fun add up to a lot after a while.

Tried and true: walk over gun -- ammo and/or gun appear in your inventory.
Click on vehicle -- instantly appear in driver's seat with engine running.

Haha, true, I just played HL2 before playing FC3, and I noticed these little cutscenes everywhere. Especially when climbing radiotowers. Not to forget those stupid little QTEs if you get in melee combat with a beast (which you win automatically against underwater creatures for some reason). HL2 never takes you out of the action that way.

Speaking of humor and realism and FC3, man that mission where Jamaican WUB WUB WUB is playing and you're roasting drugs and pirates alive while your character has the biggest erection over his flamethrower... I think I've underestimated Spec Op's impact.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
[...] the Innsmouth chase sequence [...]

Ah yes, the one right after you go to sleep right after hearing about how you are going to be killed in your sleep, right?
This alone halfways settled the matter for me. I think I tried the subsequent game of Nope. Die. Try again. exactly twice.

I was just thinking about this last night! Yahtzee, you must be a telepath or use hypnotic suggestion in your videos...

But yes, I used to get mad that Call of Duty was so unrealistic, (CoD4MW being having the most realism), until i realized that the game might be less fun if it was, and I should just look at another game or play airsoft for my need for realism.

I have the slight impression that in the first part of this article Yahtzee was being passive-agressive with the guys from Critical Miss http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/comics/critical-miss/10068-Hitman-Substitution

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