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Someone just posted about the greatness of Far Cry 2, which reminded me of something in particular that I liked about it:

I particularly have a thing for games that are played in an open world. For many games, open world is simply an attraction affixed to a typical linear game. FC2 was good at giving the illusion that the game was actually played within the game world; there were no cutscenes, there was no fast travel, "starting a mission" was not some kind of distinct event that temporarily ported you into another realm.

Nor did the missions choreograph you through a set of boring steps in order to reach a climax. This is the case with a lot of RPGs, and imo it is the reason why games like Fallout and Elder Scrolls aren't as good as they could be. In FC2 the missions were literally missions: achieve X task within the game world, return, be paid.

I have never encountered one, but I envision a "true open world" game that fully embodies both of these characteristics. You are given a world, and from the start that world contains all details necessary to complete all missions within the game. This enables a truly interesting game setting, where such details can be interwoven in a way that is interesting for the player to discover. The intrigue is found in the setting, more so than in the plot. The plot could well be something simple, as in FC2: kill "The Jackal".

Does anyone know of other games made in this style?

Guest

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R series is perhaps the most perfect example of what you're describing. Though I prefer open-world games like RDR2/Witcher 3 myself.
I consider "open world" to be a rather stupid and unhelpful term that misses the point. You correctly identify the spirit of 'open world' in your OP, but the term drifts off of this in popular use.

Is Super Mario 64 an Open World Game? In my opinion yes. Also something like Halo CE and Bungie's Myth share the same philosophy. You get your situation, goals, and a set of rules and tools with which you can predictably and sensibly interact with a virtual scenario with sensible results. Here's the stuff, go do it. Mario64 and Myth have the same understanding of fun and adventure as Farcry2. While Farcry 3 onwards, does not.

Farcry4 is an open world game because the linear micro-instances of scripted theatric sequences you act out which compose the bulk of the game have to be started by moving to a certain physical space in an 'open world'. It's basically a newer call of duty campaign where the level select screen is travelling as the crow flies between jots in a minimap.

Bungie's Myth does not have an "open world" full of set "missions" and "collectibles" and grindable upgrades and whatever else T50s believe constitutes an "open world". But it is spiritually more open than most "open world" games. Myth gives you tools and a world, they interact in robust and sensible ways. You have a goal to accomplish in a given world/scenario with these given tools. What you do along the way doesn't matter. It gets done or it doesn't. It's an open experience. And meaningfully open. Possibilities are defined by your input as far as is possible. Something Shigeru Miyamoto said about Mario64 strikes me as relevant.


Quote:Miyamoto has occasionally been critical of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. In a 1992 interview, when asked whether Zelda is an RPG series, he declined but classified it as "a real-time adventure"; he said he was "not interested in [games] decided by stats and numbers [but in preserving] as much of that 'live' feeling as possible", which he said "action games are better suited in conveying".[69] In 2003, he described his "fundamental dislike" of the RPG genre: "I think that with an RPG you are completely bound hand and foot, and can't move. But gradually you become able to move your hands and legs... you become slightly untied. And in the end, you feel powerful. So what you get out of an RPG is a feeling of happiness. But I don't think they're something that's fundamentally fun to play. With a game like that, anyone can become really good at it. With Mario though, if you're not good at it, you may never get good."[71]
Strength and competency are not simulated within a truly "open" game. Within the constraints of the game you are genuinely getting good at something. The fact that 'upgrades', 'progression', and 'rpg elements' have become 'open world' staples is proof that most people never really got it from the start.

Guest

>You are given a world, and from the start that world contains all details necessary to complete all missions within the game.

Morrowind?
(10-14-2022, 01:53 AM)Guest Wrote: [ -> ]>You are given a world, and from the start that world contains all details necessary to complete all missions within the game.

Morrowind?

I see same shortcoming in RPGs as Miyamoto. Essential means of engaging with the world are abstracted out of your control. When I tried to explain what I believed was the essence of tranny games on old amarna I pretty much concluded that it was exactly this element. Getting good in Morrowind is largely a matter of the virtual Dungeon Master saying "okay you can fight well now the exact same engagement with enemies in combat will now be more effective".  This level of abstraction is rather gay considering the simulation-power of computers.
(10-14-2022, 02:12 AM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]This level of abstraction is rather gay considering the simulation-power of computers.

Addendum to this post. I think Gothic achieved a pretty excellent compromise on this. The benefits of "levelling up" or not abstract. Your guy can execute more complex moves with his weapons now. And these complex executions require thought and input on your end too. It's a neat balance of you developing in skill and your character developing at the same time. He can only be as good as you, and you can only be as good as him. "Levelling up" creates new possibilities, rather than merely altering values within your existing ones.
The true damage to open world gaming was the the complete saturation of guides to games available online. Even before release there are often streamers who have played through a game several times, and others who have posted articles on of 10,000 vidya wiki sites detailing strategies gleaned from watching these guys on Twitch.

To achieve that sense of wonder you'd get booting up Skyrim or New Vegas for the first time: you'd now have to deliberately avoid interacting with anyone about your shared interest for several weeks, at least. It's silly, like those guys who insist on not hearing spoilers for a movie that's been released for decades.
(10-15-2022, 05:30 PM)calico Wrote: [ -> ]The true damage to open world gaming was the the complete saturation of guides to games available online. Even before release there are often streamers who have played through a game several times, and others who have posted articles on of 10,000 vidya wiki sites detailing strategies gleaned from watching these guys on Twitch.

To achieve that sense of wonder you'd get booting up Skyrim or New Vegas for the first time: you'd now have to deliberately avoid interacting with anyone about your shared interest for several weeks, at least. It's silly, like those guys who insist on not hearing spoilers for a movie that's been released for decades.

It's taken for granted on pretty much all levels of a game that you should just be able to get the particular experience you want out of it as planned ahead of time. Look up the story beats and plan your way to the right ending, look up character builds and work along the optimal path, etc. Nobody seems to want to be lost or surprised. I don't really mind how people work at a thing, but I think in certain cases this is playing the game wrong. From Software are very deliberately building their games around the sensation of being lost and confused. Looking up how to beeline your way through the game's world and then doing that while listening to lorefaggot podcasts which piece together an understanding of the world for you strikes me as completely undermining the intended point of the game, and reducing it to a retarded pipeline experience of 'lore', and 'content', and 'grinding'. Basically trying to turn the game into Horizon: Forbidden West.

I'm very put off by this approach to games, basically reducing them to long lists of simple chores with made up context that means nothing beyond its superficial appearance. I've written about how awful the mindset of 'lore' is elsewhere before. Once that word comes out we're almost certainly in the realm of disregarding creative intentions and expression and looking at a piece of art/media as basically an impersonal history of things which aren't real. And of course this ties into my thoughts on history, Greenaway is right, there is no history, only historians. Data is boring and dead and only takes on meaning in consideration of where it came from and what it meant to the person who is its source. This is true of history and it's true of art/media.

In this approach to games I see the same tend in how we've come to approach everything. Looking for some kind of unchallenging, clean, depersonalised form which we can engage with on a perfect level.

Guest

(10-15-2022, 03:39 AM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]Addendum to this post. I think Gothic achieved a pretty excellent compromise on this. The benefits of "levelling up" or not abstract. Your guy can execute more complex moves with his weapons now. And these complex executions require thought and input on your end too. It's a neat balance of you developing in skill and your character developing at the same time. He can only be as good as you, and you can only be as good as him. "Levelling up" creates new possibilities, rather than merely altering values within your existing ones.

Kingdom Come: Deliverance is another good example of a game that got this right. Becoming proficient with a specific type of weapon grants additional techniques which you can perform, but you have to manually perform a particular combo to execute the technique. It's one of the only games I've played that makes a training area consistently useful throughout the game, since you'll likely want to practice new moves in a non-lethal environment. The result is incredibly rewarding when you're finally able to dominate an opponent in a fight who would have utterly ruined you some levels prior, since you're overcoming them via mechanics instead of simply numbers.
(10-22-2022, 05:40 PM)Guest Wrote: [ -> ]Kingdom Come: Deliverance is another good example of a game that got this right. Becoming proficient with a specific type of weapon grants additional techniques which you can perform, but you have to manually perform a particular combo to execute the technique. It's one of the only games I've played that makes a training area consistently useful throughout the game, since you'll likely want to practice new moves in a non-lethal environment. The result is incredibly rewarding when you're finally able to dominate an opponent in a fight who would have utterly ruined you some levels prior, since you're overcoming them via mechanics instead of simply numbers.

I actually got that game but never played it. Might be something fun to do soon.
I believe Jagged Alliance 2 meets this definition. You lead a mercenary team with one ultimate goal: Depose the leader of Arulco. The only barriers to walking into the throne room and killing the queen are 1) the massive amount of bodies in between you 2) her personal mercenaries are very skilled and well armed 3) better armament is slowly rolled out over time and 4) you have no money to hire top level mercenaries. The artificial weaponry barrier can be disabled by digging into the 1.13 mod's config file, thoughie this does spoil the experience somewhat. You can also configure it to make enemies drop all the items on their person when they die, which will technically give you early access to if you can somehow take out elite mercenaries with a .38 and no body armor. Even without mods, you can rent a mercenary for one day and their equipment will stay with you after they leave; it is possible to briefly hire an elite guy just to get a rifle early, but good luck finding ammo for it.

Aside from this, the game is completely open and awaiting your next move. Almost nothing is locked away from you. You are very likely to stumble into a quest line by accident, usually by killing the person of interest, rather than get it from the quest giver. There's no quest log or objective markers even if you do. Questing takes up very little of the game anyway. Most of your focus will be on capturing cities, defending cities, and tedious logistics. The intended game plan is to slowly take over her silver mines, build up the few mercenaries you get for free into elite soldiers, hire militia to defend your cities from frequent counter attacks, get better mercs and equipment, and eventually push through the capital city to kill the queen. Once you have a good foothold, you can sit on a few mines and rake in some money while waiting for the top level equipment to unlock. You can take over everything else for the fun of it or just go straight into the capital when you're ready. The game ends the second the queen dies (or your guys end up dead and broke).

I will caution that it is a ridiculously hard turn based tactics game that is basically impossible to win without save scumming, and the beginning section is awful because you're stuck with handguns and guys who can't aim for shit, but it's one of my all time favorite games. The 1.13 mod is ENORMOUS and introduces so many new guns and (poorly documented) mechanics that it is typically not recommended for a first run, but I think it's fine if you're not to give up when you're overwhelmed. I've spent hours just tweaking the config file to prepare for a run.
(10-22-2022, 08:04 PM)Frank Wrote: [ -> ]I believe Jagged Alliance 2 meets this definition.

I feel like I get the appeal of Jagged Alliance 2, but it never clicked for me. I love UFO: Enemy Unknown for very similar reasons to all of this, just I think it's executed so much better. Both games have the problem of trying to simulate more than can really be nailed with the style of game they are and the level of technology available, but UFO is more reasonable in its goals so it's all so much smoother. In UFO it's far easier to get lost in the sense of the situation and just do what makes sense in that place to do, while in Jagged Alliance I could never get over seeing it as a game. The seams are too visible, the disconnect between what's meant to be happening and how game-logic demands it play out is a bit too strong. I see UFO as having hit a perfect balance of how much sense a turn based game can aim for, while Jagged Alliance overdoes it and starts stepping on its own toes.
(10-13-2022, 11:06 PM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]...
Quote:Miyamoto ...: "I think that with an RPG you are completely bound hand and foot, and can't move. But gradually you become able to move your hands and legs... you become slightly untied. And in the end, you feel powerful. ...
Strength and competency are not simulated within a truly "open" game. Within the constraints of the game you are genuinely getting good at something. ...

That Myamoto quote really gets at the core of the problem. A game should actually require a skill of you, such that your skill transfers into the game, and the feeling of power within a game comes from this proficiency. 15 years ago I might have said this makes ego shooters the top tier of video game genres, but even if that were true, or still true; I am not as interested in that genre anymore. 

To me, the solution to this have been Rogue-lites and -likes. When playing action games, I usually look for permadeath and steep learning curve, because these are indicators that the game will challenge your skills, regardless of in-game equipment and progression. Best example is Noita, which I have shilled in the video game thread already. Another one I enjoyed a lot is CDDA, which suffers from having a high barrier to entry. 

Another way of getting that experience, outside of action games, are intellectually challenging games. Finishing hard levels in Spacechem was some of the most fun I've had with games, but the fun is very different from what I usually look for when playing a game.
(11-22-2022, 07:40 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-13-2022, 11:06 PM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]...
Quote:Miyamoto ...: "I think that with an RPG you are completely bound hand and foot, and can't move. But gradually you become able to move your hands and legs... you become slightly untied. And in the end, you feel powerful. ...
Strength and competency are not simulated within a truly "open" game. Within the constraints of the game you are genuinely getting good at something. ...

That Myamoto quote really gets at the core of the problem. A game should actually require a skill of you, such that your skill transfers into the game, and the feeling of power within a game comes from this proficiency. 15 years ago I might have said this makes ego shooters the top tier of video game genres, but even if that were true, or still true; I am not as interested in that genre anymore. 

To me, the solution to this have been Rogue-lites and -likes. When playing action games, I usually look for permadeath and steep learning curve, because these are indicators that the game will challenge your skills, regardless of in-game equipment and progression. Best example is Noita, which I have shilled in the video game thread already. Another one I enjoyed a lot is CDDA, which suffers from having a high barrier to entry. 

Another way of getting that experience, outside of action games, are intellectually challenging games. Finishing hard levels in Spacechem was some of the most fun I've had with games, but the fun is very different from what I usually look for when playing a game.

I would say requiring skill isn't an essential idea. It depends on the phenomena you want the player to experience. Breath of the WILD is about being faced with wilderness. The game isn't big for the sake of space. The space is a challenge. It requires overcoming. The same can be said of Death Stranding. And not Far Cry after 2.

My understanding is that we're talking about "open" games. Gamers are retarded logocentrists who think arbitrary names marketers throw on things are platonic forms and so they don't think about this stuff, but what is the appeal of an "open" game? I see them as the open challenges, generally. I could do anything and it might work. This is generally what all games are doing, but the space as a factor multiplying possibilities is what makes it exciting. Most (all I guess really) western "open" games can't help but make the space meaningless. It's a back of the box feature to be treated like leprosy as soon as the game starts.

Zachtronics are quite open in many ways, I particularly enjoy Infinifactory. The idea is always freedom within contrived limitations. Infinifactory is one of their least constraining games. It feels easy and fun to mess around in. As for rogue-lites and whatever, they tend to bore me because they're such "games". Contrived challenges to be overcome. Might as well do math. Zachtronics gets a pass because of the novelty of his games.
(11-22-2022, 08:04 AM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-22-2022, 07:40 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]
(10-13-2022, 11:06 PM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]...

...

I would say requiring skill isn't an essential idea. It depends on the phenomena you want the player to experience. Breath of the WILD is about being faced with wilderness. The game isn't big for the sake of space. The space is a challenge. It requires overcoming. The same can be said of Death Stranding. And not Far Cry after 2.

...

I maybe overstated my point. The skill requirement is important to most action games for me - not every game. And even there, I agree, Zelda games are good examples where skill becomes less important compared to the experience. Another good example would maybe be Outer Wilds, where skill is negligible, and the large, open world is central to the experience. I agree with your assessment that an open challenge is what makes a game "open", rather than a giant game world where you can do basically nothing of consequence by your own doing, à la Elder Scrolls. 

But I would say if you found Rogue-lites to be "contrived" (in ways other games are not, I assume), you maybe played to wrong ones - certainly the two I mentioned are prime candidates in giving you free choice of tools and methods to achieve the goals in any way you please, as long as your ability keeps up. They even let you define the goals to some extent.

As for Far Cry: I liked Far Cry 2 a lot, but didn't play any other of the series, except Far Cry: Primal, which I liked again. It offers high customisability (turn of all handholding, crosshair, icons etc) and can be played like a decent stealth game. The large space adds to the experience of "dealing with the environment of the Stone Age". As I have heard of other Far Cry games, the world is filled with repetitive tasks, however, these are varied enough in their execution to be fun in combination with a rising level of challenge. Silently conquering an enemy camp, shooting down guards with your bow over large distances, which you had to learn the hard way - it made for a very distinct game I thought. Still, many retarded elements were present that needn't be there, but the same could be said about FC2.
(11-22-2022, 08:57 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]I maybe overstated my point. The skill requirement is important to most action games for me - not every game. And even there, I agree, Zelda games are good examples where skill becomes less important compared to the experience. Another good example would maybe be Outer Wilds, where skill is negligible, and the large, open world is central to the experience. I agree with your assessment that an open challenge is what makes a game "open", rather than a giant game world where you can do basically nothing of consequence by your own doing, à la Elder Scrolls. 

But I would say if you found Rogue-lites to be "contrived" (in ways other games are not, I assume), you maybe played to wrong ones - certainly the two I mentioned are prime candidates in giving you free choice of tools and methods to achieve the goals in any way you please, as long as your ability keeps up. They even let you define the goals to some extent.

As for Far Cry: I liked Far Cry 2 a lot, but didn't play any other of the series, except Far Cry: Primal, which I liked again. It offers high customisability (turn of all handholding, crosshair, icons etc) and can be played like a decent stealth game. The large space adds to the experience of "dealing with the environment of the Stone Age". As I have heard of other Far Cry games, the world is filled with repetitive tasks, however, these are varied enough in their execution to be fun in combination with a rising level of challenge. Silently conquering an enemy camp, shooting down guards with your bow over large distances, which you had to learn the hard way - it made for a very distinct game I thought. Still, many retarded elements were present that needn't be there, but the same could be said about FC2.

By "contrived" I more particularly mean a pure game. In the sense that it's just an excuse to challenge ourselves against something. I'm not super interested in that generally. Again, might as well do math or learn to program something.

And Far Cry Primal just looks like more dogshit to me. "A decent stealth game". No thank you. I don't want to creep through invisibility bush to arrow headshot a camp full of red guys one at a time to claim another skill point and rags I can use to upgrade my man-purse's fern capacity. Again, it sounds a bit like a rogue whatever in that it's a pure game, just a contrived excuse to do a kind of task. Far Cry 2, by contrast, is clearly an expressive vision. Almost everything you do in that game is an experience that again affirms and reinforces the vision of the creator.
I am unsure I can see the distinction you are drawing that helps you see FC2 as an expression of a vision but FC: P not. You might be too stubborn to see in some games what you see in others. I assume you want to play a game that is artful in the sense that it serves to evoke a particular experience or emotion in the player - if so, I agree that those that achieve this better than others are usually better games.

However, the "pure game" aspect you call contrived should not be discarded like you make it seem. It's what makes video games stand apart form other forms of art. I want to play, afterall, not watch a movie.
(11-22-2022, 09:50 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]I am unsure I can see the distinction you are drawing that helps you see FC2 as an expression of a vision but FC: P not. You might be too stubborn to see in some games what you see in others. I assume you want to play a game that is artful in the sense that it serves to evoke a particular experience or emotion in the player - if so, I agree that those that achieve this better than others are usually better games.

However, the "pure game" aspect you call contrived should not be discarded like you make it seem. It's what makes video games stand apart form other forms of art. I want to play, afterall, not watch a movie.

FarCry2 has a very clear vision of the world behind it, and everything within the game is directed towards expressing that. Whereas most things done in most games are there for either "pure game" reasons or simply out of slavishness towards convention. "Clearing camps" is something you put in a game because it's something "gamers" recognise as an acceptable video game convention. It's what games do and it passes time so the gamer will take it.

In Farcry2 you cannot "clear camps". They are static emplacements in the world which contain no supernatural rewards as prizes for engagements. And you can't even secure yourself some peace by emptying them. They will always be re-manned shortly after clearing. Morons on /v/ and video essayists will call this bad game design, because their idea of games is something between "pure game" and some arbitrary collection of cargo culted elements of past games that marketers tell them are "classics". It's actually quite a good piece of design taken in consideration of the intention behind it. Which was to create an environment characterised by constant severe hostility which cannot be overcome, only survived within. A War in Farcry2 is not a mountain you climb to the top of one step at a time. It's a river, and you have to learn to swim in it.

This is a fundamentally different view of conflict to that presented in pretty much every other game about violent conflict ever made. And it's why FarCry2 still stands out today while its sequels are just boring products.

And if "pure game" is an aspect rather than the whole thing it's no longer pure game. And I generally think the less pure the more interesting but there are no rules here. You want to play, but I think you want integrated and expressive play. You wouldn't enjoy the cutscenes of a call of duty campaign interspersed with mandatory games of minesweeper.
(11-22-2022, 09:55 PM)anthony Wrote: [ -> ]
(11-22-2022, 09:50 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]...

FarCry2 has a very clear vision of the world behind it ...

You want to play, but I think you want integrated and expressive play. ...

I think I understand better what you are getting at now. I think Far Cry 2 is special in that regard because most games that are built around a vision or particular experience don't allow the player much freedom, because that would derail that experience. Think of Mirror's Edge, which can only be played in one way. 
I wonder if you played Deus Ex: Human Revolution - I personally thought that they apparently had a very clear idea of trans-humanist aesthetics, but then playing the game, you got none of that feeling and could have been playing in a WWII setting. If I understood you correctly, this would be an example of the opposite of what FC2 achieved. 

I am somewhat forgiving of a game that caters to some mainstream engagement optimisation style if it allows me to play out MY vision of the game. Ie what I like in Primal is that I can larp as a stone age silent assassin - I don't have to participate in camp clearing, item upgrading, achievement gathering or anything like that and still get a coherent, captivating experience.
(11-23-2022, 03:33 AM)Hamamelis Wrote: [ -> ]I think I understand better what you are getting at now. I think Far Cry 2 is special in that regard because most games that are built around a vision or particular experience don't allow the player much freedom, because that would derail that experience. Think of Mirror's Edge, which can only be played in one way. 
I wonder if you played Deus Ex: Human Revolution - I personally thought that they apparently had a very clear idea of trans-humanist aesthetics, but then playing the game, you got none of that feeling and could have been playing in a WWII setting. If I understood you correctly, this would be an example of the opposite of what FC2 achieved.
Deus Ex Human Revolution is a very funny and absurd game entirely carried by a few excellent VAs. And odd case because it actually did have a kind of vision behind it, but that vision was entirely unoriginal. The creator was clearly a fan of the original and generally had a reverence for "the classics" in video games and what prestige games are meant to do, but there was no apparent will of his own to express ideas of his own. I think that when people talk about soul the most consistent factor I identify behind it is an original driving vision. I think that this creates an organic unity of parts which is far more interesting than any combination of well crafted parts assembled to pipeline standards or via well intentioned but impersonal guesswork.

Even when it came out people were making fun of how jarring the dissonance could get within the game when Jensen's takedown animations look like he's furiously punching peoples' skulls in. There's obviously no true intention or meaning behind the protagonist's inner life or experiences or anything that's going on within the game's wider world. Or what you're actually doing when you're behind the wheel. It's just game stuff. Creep around pressing X behind people to get experience points.

And yes open world is quintessential game stuff. Far Cry 2 and Breath of the Wild are special because they actually make expressive use of the ideas and conventions.

Quote:I am somewhat forgiving of a game that caters to some mainstream engagement optimisation style if it allows me to play out MY vision of the game. Ie what I like in Primal is that I can larp as a stone age silent assassin - I don't have to participate in camp clearing, item upgrading, achievement gathering or anything like that and still get a coherent, captivating experience.
"They told me I could be anything I wanted and I became a stealth archer."
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