View Full Version : What created immersion in DX? How can DX:HR recreate it?

25th Jun 2010, 01:45
I'll begin with the following thought-experiment: suppose we were gathered here, on a Deus Ex forum...the year before the launch of the original game (ignoring the probability that there wouldn't as much hype because the franchise didn't really exist etc. etc.). And suppose that a gameplay video was released, showing two separate sections of the game:

1) The first 10 minute gameplay video shows you, as JC Denton, sneaking through the alleyways of Paris and into the club's front entrance. You decide to pay the doorman for a pass inside and you enter the club...where lights are going, music is going and it's all good. The footage shows JC Denton talking to those two girls downstairs who are talking about Chad and you get a hint that Nicolette is upstairs. You go find Nicolette upstairs who claims not to be Nicolette but says Nicolette well meet you outside, and so you go outside and there she is. End of footage.

2) The second 10 minute gameplay video shows you, as JC Denton, preparing to break in to a warehouse in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. You sneak across the rooftops, eliminating the snipers one by one as you go, showing off the cool weapons and augs. You go end up standing over the garage, so you climb the ladder up to the top of the target warehouse (where you've already killed the guards) and descend into the warehouse. You're clumsy though and are spotted by some 'terrorists' who fire on you. The footage shows off the firefight action and you blow up the generator and the gameplay footage ends.

Now, minus a big square metal box being dropped on top of you, that turns into a fairly dangerous looking bot...what I've just described above is pretty much what we've seen for DX:HR. We've seen some of the basic gameplay elements, exploited one of many routes to achieve an objective (paying to get in and then using the rooftops, in this case) and got a taste for the feel of the game.

How many of you, based on having seen this imaginary footage (keeping in mind that you have now played through the original DX) would say that that was representative of what made DX one of the greatest PC games of all time? Not me. In fact, I would say that I didn't get so much as a sniff of what DX really had in store for me in terms of a gameplay experience. Assuming this imaginary first game footage looked pretty good, and I would say that the DX:HR gameplay footage looked pretty good as well...it is only half of the story.

My point...my thesis, if you will, is simply this: as important as the gameplay elements are, and as much as I would expect very polished non-linear gameplay , what I am really hoping DX:HR delivers on is immersing me in the big-picture narrative/story and making feel like I've been pulled into something really deep.

More specifically?

I don't if this is 'repeatable', although I would certainly be down (with my mouth watering)...but the original game got you into this pattern of doing a UNATCO mission (upstanding, fighting terrorism), then talking to your boss (and meeting everyone at HQ). Then doing another UNATCO mission (with some hints as to something askew). Then you go back to base and get even tighter with all the guys there, or you feel more comfortable at HQ, more at home...but then there is some drama with Paul and so on. Then another UNATCO mission, with some build up coming (Simons vs. the Prisoners...hinting by Alex that Paul may be right, then Lebedev's convo). Then you have another UNATCO mission to Hong Kong but the story pulls you in and you go with Jock to Hell's Kitchen again...and then next its an MJ12 breakout which is actually a UNATCO breakout and wtf is going on - and I was hooked.

So, two things we can take from this.

1) Established pattern of normalcy with UNATCO (3 missions or so) and then the game unpredictably but interestingly, even awesomely, starts to pull you into the conspiracy.

2) For me, the most immersive moments came when I was not on a mission shooting at things. Of course the action (even if it's stealth or whatever) is awesome and it needs to be polished and everything...but for me, the returnings to base, getting to know people in a friendly environment before the carpet is swept from under my feet...is crucial. Short story: the real contributions to the plot and the feel and everything do not come from action while on missions, nor can they be only via infolinks or something...maps where you have nothing to kill, only people to interact with are crucial to building the feel and mood.

I could go on but I would risk redundancy. Immersion is not always a product of 'objective based gameplay' - i.e. going here to stop this guy, then get these explosives, then blow that up, then kill this person, then save her, then rescue so and so, then get this, etc. etc. You need to supplement that with the equivalent of returning to base at UNATCO. My 2 cents.

Is this a fair representation of why it was so immersive? When did you realize that were you playing a truly special game?

25th Jun 2010, 01:54
From http://nuwen.net/dx.html

The DEUS EX Rules Amendments & Addenda
Drafted by Harvey Smith (and endorsed enthusiastically by me) in 1998

1. Problems will have multiple solutions. Locations will be reachable in several ways. All missions, locations, and problems will be specifically keyed to:
* Skills (and skill levels)
* Augmentations (and augmentation levels)
* Objects
* Weapons
2. Gameplay will rely on a variety of "tools," rather than just one:
* Character capabilities (skills/augmentations)
* Resource management
* Combat
* Character interaction
3. Combat will require more thought than "What's the biggest gun in my inventory?":
* A more relevant question might be, "How do I deal with this situation involving a few intelligent, dangerous enemies?"
4. Geometry should contribute to gameplay - Whenever possible, show players a goal or destination before they can get there. This encourages players to find the route:
* The route should include cool stuff players want or should force players through an area they want to avoid. (The latter is something we don't want to do too often.)
* Make sure there's more than one way to get to all destinations.
* Dead ends should be avoided unless tactically significant.
5. The overall mood and tone will be clear and consistent:
* Fear
* Paranoia
* Tension
* Release (through combat and/or reaching a predetermined goal or NPC conversation)

25th Jun 2010, 02:02
Your initial "trailer comparison" point doesn't work: we're not worried about what we haven't seen, for the most part, we're worried about what we have seen.

As for what creates immersion: it's 3 in the morning here, I'll reply tomorrow.

25th Jun 2010, 02:14
This is not a continuation of the 3rd person/cover system debate. I'm aware that people are getting concerned about the specific gameplay mechanics in action that they have seen. That's not what this is about. This is about 'the other half' of the puzzle, if you will...i.e. the narrative and the art of drawing the player into that. That, to me, is just as important, if not more important than regenerating health or any cover system.

25th Jun 2010, 02:24
My point is that regardless of what you think about the gameplay footage you've seen, that's only half of the DX recipe. I'm trying to shift the focus away from that (not that there aren't important debates to be had on those topics) in this thread, and focus on the narrative and how the player is drawn into that.

To Remington, above Ashpolt, those are all (almost all) gameplay mechanic things. I'm saying that those alone didn't make DX truly immersive. They contributed, yes, but there is enough chit chat about those mechanics on this forum...in fact, that's what most threads are about it seems. What I'm trying to generate discussion about is the narrative and how that should be conveyed to the players in an immersive way.

Ashpolt, I'm not sure you got the gist of what I was trying to get at (which may very well be my own fault). I wasn't trying to say that...DX had the same things as shown in the DX:HR footage, therefore that's all taken care of and we shouldn't worry about the gameplay mechanics of DX:HR. My point was that, gameplay mechanics and implementation of the narrative are two completely different things...as evidenced by the fact that no one would say they could get the real beauty of DX with exposure to only the pieces of footage described. What does that tell you? That gameplay mechanics are not the sole contributer to the DX experience. That's all.

25th Jun 2010, 03:34
What created immersion in DX?

I can't pinpoint exactly what, but I can tell you what didn't. Namely, perspective. The atmosphere of the game sucked me in.