A couple of weeks ago Scott Warner, Game Director for the Star Wars Project at Visceral posted a tweet and a image saying “Don’t do this in level design: prize behind counter is gated by locked door but counter could be scaled by anyone.”.
You can follow the thread if you click the link above but as with many Twitter threads it gets mixed up in other tweets.
Essentially, he said that it was an immersion issue and I disagreed.
I tried to organize a podcast with him about it but it never happened.
Yes, seeing this sort of thing is a little frustrating because it happens so often, but I don’t feel it’s an immersion problem from a player’s point of view, but it MIGHT be from a developer’s point of view. He sees things like this and automatically gets into the developer’s mind, where as a player I don’t.
Nothing in the image is impossible. Many doors get locked and counters left open. Yes, that a bit stupid but stupid is not impossible.
So, here is my first question What things spoil immersion for you?
Of course, it often comes down to believability. I can easily accept that a gravity gun can exist but the fact that as a player I can carry 10 weapons with no issues IS a problem for me. Playing Sci-Fi games mean we have to accept some things and question others.
For example, if I enter a room and a solid object is in that room that is too big to be in there – that spoils the immersion for me. If I can see or get out of the map – that spoils immersion for me. Shitty design choices don’t spoil immersion for me but the DO spoil my enjoyment.
One of the reason I replied to Scott’s original tweet is that I have been seeing a lot of “pronouncements” about level design and they drive me crazy. I wish I had recorded some of them but I haven’t. Too often, it seems to me, developer’s see things only from a developer’s perspective and forget that 90% of player have never seen behind the curtain.
Level design should question decisions made by other designers but I feel that making pronouncements about how design should be implemented doesn’t really help. I’m the same with any kind of saying or “rule”.
So, here is my second question, directed at modders When you play games and other mods are you constantly viewing things from a modder’s perspective?
As a livestreamer, I know that when I play a game or mod alone I feel differently from when I commentate on it during a stream. I think it’s inevitable that your background effects how you watch, play or interact with a medium.
It doesn’t me Scott is wrong and I am right, I just feel we need to accept that no matter what you do, for some groups of people you will always break immersion. The key is to remember who you are making something for: other creators or consumers. And then you have another question was this built for experienced players or newbies? because the immersion of those two groups is very different.