Author Topic: Is open-world too open?

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Meredius

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Is open-world too open?
« on: September 02, 2015, 01:16:56 AM »
I've been musing this over recently.

We have - 2015-2016:
-The Witcher 3
-Mad Max
-Fallout 4
-FF 15
-Metal Gear Solid 5: Phantom Paine
-Just Cause 3

... so we have all these huge worlds but what do you feel about them?

I just never get to finish any of these - I know I won't.... although maybe Wither 3 but it'll take me MONTHS.

What keeps you coming back to an open world?
Are open-worlds too open? i.e. bigger isn't always better

I played a good 50 hours of Dragon Age 3 last year and I enjoyed it but once I went the other way.... I never came back to it. Although I don't feel I didn't get my money's worth. I was also checking out a Mad Max stream earlier and thought - yeahhhh don't care...? Witcher had fantastic story which I think pulled me in but it's so massive I know it'll take me a hell of a long time to get through it....

One great compromise I feel is a game like Deus Ex - it's open but still has a narrative to funnel you through something that's cohesive and not a laundry-list of repetitive crap like: climb these 20 towers, attack these outposts.... well you know what I'm saying. :)

Or maybe it depends on how the game is structured. Like in Fallout for example, you can just take an hour to go on a random quest in a cave to get a thing... but that could be tweaked and fixed for more variety / wonder.

Thoughts / Comments / Doughnuts with sprinkled on top? :)
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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2015, 03:23:00 AM »
I think it's the world itself that sells it to me. I'm looking forward to running around Fallout 4 because the setting just clicks with me. Inquisition, on the other hand, I just couldn't get into. Similarly, I'm having trouble getting to grips with Witcher 3, and I almost feel like I never have the time to sit down and do so. It's quite daunting how big that game is. I'm also not the biggest fan of high fantasy, so it has to do some really interesting things to keep me invested.

I was a cautiously optimistic about Phantom Pain as an open-world game, but I think it's worked out great. Running around Soviet Kabul has been a joy so far, and there's so many fun ways to mess with the enemy. A few times I've taken advantage of harsh sandstorms to sneak right through an outpost full of armed guards, and it felt great every time. BUT I didn't buy Phantom Pain for its open world, I bought it because I can't wait to see what campy nonsense Kojima has come up with this time.

FF15 looks pretty neat! I have some misgivings about the demo, namely the fact that all side-quests are abandoned when you go to bed for the night. If they keep that in the final game it would be my worst nightmare.

I guess I'm most interested in open worlds that do something unique. I'll take something like Dying Light's Harran over Watch Dogs' Chicago any day.

Rucks

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2015, 12:28:48 PM »
I will play exactly zero of those games. 

I play games to experience a story (I always tell people I like RPGs that are like playing a good book), not to spend 27 hours side questing before I leave the first town (here's looking at you Xenoblade) so the open world model has never appealed to me. Conversely, I've also never understood the term "too linear", if you have a great story to tell why should you be forced to dump in a million hours of bonus content in the name of "exploration?" (The Last of Us is a perfect example of doing this correctly). 

tl;dr: In an "open world" game, there is usually so much that I am missing (by not dedicating half my time to roaming around whacking things) that it's irritating and I end up not bothering with the title at all.

Blame it on the rise of WRPGs. 

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Frostillicus

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2015, 01:01:15 PM »
Open world games are my favorite. I love them *in moderation*. What I appreciate most is the the freedom to do nearly anything and go nearly anywhere from the get-go. Really lets you immerse yourself through the power of choice.
However, I emphasize "in moderation" because I do admit there is such a thing as "too open" with some of these games. One can easily get burnt out on having a lack of clear direction/purpose for an extended period of time (happened to me recently with Skyrim). As mecharobot (I believe that's his s/n) recently said, he gets the important missions out of the way early for that reason. Makes sense to me. You don't want to get tired of playing the game before you even know what it's really about. All that being said, I seriously can't wait for Fallout 4 and Just Cause 3!

I can appreciate linear games with a good story and/or character development, but for all out fun (the main reason I play video games), gimme that big wide playground.

Meredius

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2015, 05:26:05 PM »
I will play exactly zero of those games. 

I play games to experience a story (I always tell people I like RPGs that are like playing a good book), not to spend 27 hours side questing before I leave the first town (here's looking at you Xenoblade) so the open world model has never appealed to me. Conversely, I've also never understood the term "too linear", if you have a great story to tell why should you be forced to dump in a million hours of bonus content in the name of "exploration?" (The Last of Us is a perfect example of doing this correctly). 

tl;dr: In an "open world" game, there is usually so much that I am missing (by not dedicating half my time to roaming around whacking things) that it's irritating and I end up not bothering with the title at all.

Blame it on the rise of WRPGs. 

Well that's one reason I brought up Deus Ex - I think it has a great middle ground - I'm a character in a world but I also have some freedom since the areas can be large but not overwhelming.

One thing that nags me about open-world is you're always the only individual doing anything.... power fantasy maybe? Still... like in Inquisition, I'm a King but I pick all the plants too for the pretty garden. This weird dissociation really screws up these games badly in having a sense of cohesion, immersion and purpose of action... well not for OCD people. :) Great for checklists of "we got loads of stuff to DO".... but to what end?

I'd also say it harkens to mood - much like music - where I did enjoy Skyrim for 20 hours but since the world had the depth of a puddle it felt pointless and I got bored. Loved those 20 hours though.

On the other end of the spectrum, the games that I've finished with great enjoyment recently were Persona 3 and Legend of Heroes : Trails in the sky where the narrative is the focus and it'll pull you in or not; just like a tv show or a novel.

I think my ultimate sweetspot if there were such a game would be a 10 hour ARPG game in an open-ish world where you can choose different factions but replay a few times to see other perspectives/characters à la Rashomon. That's something I feel could be "serialised" with vol. 1, 2, 3 etc. and still have a manageable scope.
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MeshGearFox

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #5 on: September 02, 2015, 07:04:45 PM »
- Just Cause 2 is too open in the sense that you can get a helicopter early on and take out everything from a safe distance. The game gives you other options for causing destruction but they're not really that efficient comparatively. It gets boring at this point because it's basically a "solved" game.

- My issue with Just Cause 2 speaks more to my issue about open-world games. You need some kind of constraints on /what/ you can do to force you to make interesting decisions. If you don't have those constraints, you'll quickly find a single perfect strategy and just go with that all the time.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2015, 07:19:29 PM by MeshGearFox »
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mecharobot

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2015, 01:18:25 AM »
I do like open world games, in a very "bad drug" sort of way (the other bad drug is the quest for the epic gear, but I don't suffer from this anymore). Like I can have a lot of fun, but ultimately be left with a hollowed out feeling. Also I have distaste towards this mentality how some franchises and genres have been gravitating towards this design idea. Ultimately what this means in addition to the freedom are a lot of running/riding/sailing around, tons of worthless junk (like literally you can pick up some old bucket) with a ton of sidequests that probably cease to feel rewarding no matter how "well written" they are. Also I think it somehow further lessens the imagination factor of games. It seems weird. As a kid I dreamed of those open world games, but in the past few years all my favorites have been like some 2D portraits with textboxes talking and then mostly some menus.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2015, 01:23:25 AM by mecharobot »

insertnamehere

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2015, 02:34:20 AM »
Yeah, probably, since ideally I'd like to do everything that can be done and it just feels too repetitive/easy by the end.
I'm able to do it in a lot of games, but I really like to pointlessly create chaos (namely in Red Dead Redemption) by randomly killing people and deal with the cops.

I mostly pop in occasionally to give my two cents on certain controversial things, so if you disagree then send a PM, because I generally don't check for replies in threads in case I feel like replying and then things get heated/derailed.

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2015, 04:11:41 AM »
I think my ultimate sweetspot if there were such a game would be a 10 hour ARPG game in an open-ish world where you can choose different factions but replay a few times to see other perspectives/characters à la Rashomon. That's something I feel could be "serialised" with vol. 1, 2, 3 etc. and still have a manageable scope.

Have you played Way of the Samurai? Because you've pretty much just described those games.

Hathen

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2015, 04:40:15 AM »
I enjoy both open world games and more linear games, just depends on my mood. I've probably put thousands of hours across open world games (MMOs would probably count) but there arn't a lot of games which get questing right. A common complaint is that open world games don't have narrative focus, but for me, an open world game should be about letting the world itself be the story. The problem is that every open world RPG thinks it needs to attach a grocery list task to everything. The Elder Scrolls, for example, has some really cool backstory/lore and the terrain is usually interesting to traverse through a couple times (I've tried playthroughs with no fast travel and it quickly becomes tedious), but so many of the quests are just shallow gopher tasks. There are some more interesting ones amongst them of course, but generally if you stick to the main story quests you'll probably see more than half the quests actually worth seeing. Contrary to what a lot of people think though this was just as true of Morrowind and Oblivion as it was of Skyrim (arguably moreso, Morrowind just copypasted dialogue for more than 90% of the NPCs in the game).

Like, the stereotypic quest we all know about would be to put some lady telling me to go collect 10 bear nostrils for her or something. It'd be more interesting if instead you just came across a village that has a local bear problem, and killing lots of bears would result in some kind of change in the village, and maybe that'd open up a questline or something, I dunno. I know someone will point out that in either case all you're doing is going around killing bears anyway, but I think the way it's dressed up is pretty important.

Also the world itself needs to be interesting to traverse, otherwise what's the point? I'll just go hiking in real life instead. Oblivion is probably my go-to example for a game with a boring overworld. It had some neat quests, but most of the time I play it I just fast travel everywhere because there's no point to taking the scenic route.

mecharobot

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #10 on: September 03, 2015, 04:50:22 AM »
Contrary to what a lot of people think though this was just as true of Morrowind and Oblivion as it was of Skyrim (arguably moreso, Morrowind just copypasted dialogue for more than 90% of the NPCs in the game).

The general gist of the TES quest debate was not with the writing, but the technical execution. Mainly, in Morrowind you don't follow the big arrow pointing to the next destination, but you read it up with the stuff that should be done and use stuff inside the actual gameworld to find your destination (mostly signs and NPC dialogue, in some cases the landscape). Sure you can turn the arrow off in Skyrim, but the quest menu is actually shit so you don't really get anywhere doing that. It might seem menial, but a lot feel like it gave the game more immersion, which I think is not a too far'fetched of an idea.

Meredius

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #11 on: September 03, 2015, 03:09:10 PM »
I enjoy both open world games and more linear games, just depends on my mood. I've probably put thousands of hours across open world games (MMOs would probably count) but there arn't a lot of games which get questing right. A common complaint is that open world games don't have narrative focus, but for me, an open world game should be about letting the world itself be the story. The problem is that every open world RPG thinks it needs to attach a grocery list task to everything. The Elder Scrolls, for example, has some really cool backstory/lore and the terrain is usually interesting to traverse through a couple times (I've tried playthroughs with no fast travel and it quickly becomes tedious), but so many of the quests are just shallow gopher tasks. There are some more interesting ones amongst them of course, but generally if you stick to the main story quests you'll probably see more than half the quests actually worth seeing. Contrary to what a lot of people think though this was just as true of Morrowind and Oblivion as it was of Skyrim (arguably moreso, Morrowind just copypasted dialogue for more than 90% of the NPCs in the game).

Like, the stereotypic quest we all know about would be to put some lady telling me to go collect 10 bear nostrils for her or something. It'd be more interesting if instead you just came across a village that has a local bear problem, and killing lots of bears would result in some kind of change in the village, and maybe that'd open up a questline or something, I dunno. I know someone will point out that in either case all you're doing is going around killing bears anyway, but I think the way it's dressed up is pretty important.

Also the world itself needs to be interesting to traverse, otherwise what's the point? I'll just go hiking in real life instead. Oblivion is probably my go-to example for a game with a boring overworld. It had some neat quests, but most of the time I play it I just fast travel everywhere because there's no point to taking the scenic route.

Actually you bring an interesting point indirectly. MMO's now have "phasing" -  like in WoW. But this hasn't made it's way into a single-player open-world experience really (capturing a base in FarCry but that's minimal at best)... it could be quite interesting using your bear problem and other factional warfare, water problems, etc. Where what you do would be visually reflected in the world in addition to dialogue. To my knowledge this really hasn't been done much...

Also; to the person who mentioned WAY OF THE SAMURAI : I have not played those games. I think one came out recently so maybe I'll give it a spin.
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Mickeymac92

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2015, 05:26:17 PM »
- Just Cause 2 is too open in the sense that you can get a helicopter early on and take out everything from a safe distance. The game gives you other options for causing destruction but they're not really that efficient comparatively. It gets boring at this point because it's basically a "solved" game.

- My issue with Just Cause 2 speaks more to my issue about open-world games. You need some kind of constraints on /what/ you can do to force you to make interesting decisions. If you don't have those constraints, you'll quickly find a single perfect strategy and just go with that all the time.

I feel like Open World games are made for people who would put constraints on themselves. They're a sandbox, and while there can one easy way to make a sand castle, what's the point if you're just gonna do what's easy? That's the type of mentality that gets me to enjoy these kinds of games, at least. But I'm the guy who can't play Pokemon without a zillion self-made rules and objectives, because that's the only thing that keeps me invested, to the point where it's literally the only franchise I'll consistantly complete without a break.

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MeshGearFox

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2015, 10:20:16 PM »
- Just Cause 2 is too open in the sense that you can get a helicopter early on and take out everything from a safe distance. The game gives you other options for causing destruction but they're not really that efficient comparatively. It gets boring at this point because it's basically a "solved" game.

- My issue with Just Cause 2 speaks more to my issue about open-world games. You need some kind of constraints on /what/ you can do to force you to make interesting decisions. If you don't have those constraints, you'll quickly find a single perfect strategy and just go with that all the time.

I feel like Open World games are made for people who would put constraints on themselves. They're a sandbox, and while there can one easy way to make a sand castle, what's the point if you're just gonna do what's easy? That's the type of mentality that gets me to enjoy these kinds of games, at least. But I'm the guy who can't play Pokemon without a zillion self-made rules and objectives, because that's the only thing that keeps me invested, to the point where it's literally the only franchise I'll consistantly complete without a break.

0.
It's more like JC2 kind of went overboard with it for my tastes. Same reason why I didn't like Saints Row 3 as much as 2, although I'm not sure WHAT constraints you could put on SR3 to make it... not have a completely uneven difficulty sinewave.

I think my bigger issue with JC2 is that the main advancement mechanic of causing chaos got pretty one note pretty fast because it just turned into "blow up whatever map objects are red," which meant that doing stuff on foot involved a lot of tedious and methodical searching, whereas helicopter was just strafe whatever and win. Although I've /never/ been the kind of person to get much enjoyment out of random acts of destruction in sandbox games -- I'll do it and it's fun for a few minutes, but making the entire metagame nothing BUT that*?

And then death didn't seem to have any major punishments other than sending you back to the previous checkpoint, so the whole aspect of /losing the heat/ felt pointless to, and that could've been an interesting scenario to play through.

(*Although I guess I'm an idiot for playing the GTA games/Morrowind normally and not just turning on all the cheats and ignoring the main game).

1.
And apropos to what jawsh was saying about XBC, being open-world shouldn't mean the story's worse in a game than in a linear game. An open-world game that's story-focused and well made in that regard would have sidequests that expand the story/worldbuilding/characterization/etc. Xenoblade's sidequests not doing this at all is /noooot/ indicative of how sidequests usually play out in open-world RPGs.

1.5
Most sidequests-heavy WRPGs, especially modern ones, have a LOT of storytelling and worldbuilding content in the sidequests, and for a lot of people, the story is the draw there. I mean I don't even think you really get major loot/experience rewards for doing sidequests in WRPGs these days, experiencing the stories therein is like the only reason to do them.

In other words, someone who was drawn to Torment/Ultima/Fallout/The Witcher because of the storytelling and lore would probably /not/ find much merit in XBC for the exact reasons you mentioned.

2.
Although, for a lot of reasons, I wouldn't even consider Xenoblade an open-world game. It was pretty much a bog standard linear JRPG that just had huge maps with very little to do in them.

3.
It's sidequest were also reductionist enough that I'm not sure I'd even consider most of them sidequests. You're, what, just running around in circles grinding mobs/random map sparklies for loot? That's about as much a sidequest as walking around in circles to get in random encounters was in Phantasy Star 2. Or you just do them incidentally, which is actually how it plays out most of the time, in which case it's more like you're getting random experience boosts for not doing anything.

4.
(Persona 3's sidequests tended towards the same kind of GRIND RANDOM ENEMIES FOR LOOT stuff, which is one of the things that killed my interest in that game).

5.
tl;dr -
JC2's problem for me is that it was too repetitive for its size, although that's quite possibly a premature assessment and I never fiddled with the difficulty settings.
XBC is more like an awkward approximation of an open-world game that got grafted onto a linear JRPG, didn't really get the open-world stuff right, and is nooooot indicative of open-world games in general.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2015, 11:14:33 PM by MeshGearFox »
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Mickeymac92

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Re: Is open-world too open?
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2015, 06:03:08 PM »
Honestly, enoblade felt more like an MMORPG where they put so much effort into the story that they ran out of budget for the MMO part and it became a singleplayer game. Everything about the gameplay sans the party interactions felt more like something I'd see in FFXI and Guild Wars 2, especially the way it handles side quests.

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