Written by: Adam “ManKorn” Korenman, CC2K Video Games Editor
3) Reactive World
It seems that every year, gaming developers promise their world will be more reactive to the hero than ever before. The Witcher constantly tells us that every action can have a dozen reactions, but the truth is somewhat less exciting. From Fable to Far Cry, the world only responds to your heroics via a set series of visual or audible changes.
Fable is, according to many, the worst offender in the industry, although that is mostly due to the insane promises of Peter Molyneux. To be good or evil comes down to diet and canned responses to quests, which boils away any substance that may have been there. In fact, any game promising moral choices becomes a series of black and white events where it is too easy to see one side or another.
Keep the factory open for money, but it means putting children into slavery. Save the cat or kill the cat. In the end, it all feels pretty pointless.
Reactive worlds are incredibly hard to program, because you aren’t just designing the world: you are coding believable AI. The computer needs to take in your actions and make a reasonable response, which is one of the most difficult tricks in computing known to man. I don’t expect that non-AAA titles even have the time to do such a thing.
But maybe this current generation can.
Take a game like Shadow of Mordor, where every life and death has a ripple effect in the world at large. Yes, when you take away the fancy UI it is just a few rolls of the dice, but it is handled expertly. Seeing the orc leader board shift with every turn of the game really brings the world to life. There are things happening outside of your influence that, nonetheless, will affect your day later on.
I long for a game that can actually meet the promise of replayability. I don’t want to live the same life over and over again. I want to be surprised.