Today I want to talk about Open World Games.
Open World Games are games where you are free to roam the game world and not limited to specific areas like in most racing games, or many scripted games.
Examples for open world games are: Skyrim (or the whole of Elder Scrolls game series), Grand Theft Auto (more so from GTA 3 and forward), Mafia II, Just Cause 2, Far Cry and Far Cry 2, and quite a few others.
They all sport large environments, dynamic missions, and interactivity and re-playability in scales unknown previously.
This is also the reason open world games, or sandbox type of games, take much longer to produce than all other games.
Usually it’s between 5-8 years in the making, and involves a large team of people and a really big budget. Movie production kind of big.
It’s also the reason that they are usually a part of a franchise, and not individual games that start and end with one game only.
Open world games require more time and effort than other games since their main goal is to get you engrossed in their universe. Their main plot line is (mostly) intricate, and they usually take at least 50-100 hours of gameplay.
However, I still await an Open World Game that will combine innovation (such as Red Faction Geo-mod destructible environment), high level A.I. (most games dedicate up to 3% of the game resource to the game A.I., as they dedicate most resources to, most naturally these days, graphics), and a truly interactive world, and by that I mean a place that behaves like a real world, where there are no indestructible doors or windows, if you shoot anyone they will be injured or die (even if they’re your allies), and the environment will act like it is supposed to.
I am aware it’s a lot to ask. But with multi-core technology, and 3d layered transistors, the computational power is keeping up with the times, and you see miniaturization reaching levels never thought of. Just look at GTA3 for the android phone or tablet. It’s the full game, running on your mobile phone.
I would be fine with that level of graphics (from 2002), but with seriously enhanced A.I., and a truly interactive environment, including both animate and inanimate objects. Maybe someone will pick up this challenge, and run with it. I would if I had a good knowledge of games programming.
If you look at first-person and third-person games today (shooters or otherwise), you seem to be lacking some big chunk of life in them. I know the purpose of the game is mostly to burn through some free time with shooting and one-liners. But you can already see that there are other ways. Examples include Mass Effect (1, 2, and 3), Deus Ex (1, 2, and 3) and others, that show that a game can be intelligent, innovative, and truly gripping without sacrificing much in the name of compromising between the competing demands on game resources.
There will always be a balance, but as the resources grow, less emphasis should be put on graphics in games (as many of them use the same game engines which are more than sufficient) and more on all the other aspects of the game, starting with plot, through mechanics, and how smart the game is going to be.
I’ll keep on looking.