The Link's Awakening discussion made me think of this. World building is one of my all time favorite parts of video games and I wanted to start a series/discussion about concrete, specific moments that contribute to it. It's easy to say, "Oh, I was just totally lost in the world of Ico, it's so ethereal and wonderful!" It's much harder to point to specific moments and assets.

So I want to talk about my 3rd or 4th favorite game of the year, Dishonored. Dishonored creates an incredible world, a "whale punk" setting that I've never seen before. But I want to mention, specifically, food in dishonored. Just like in Bioshock, you can constantly chomp on bits of food to regain a little health. The food itself, however, reflects the world perfectly. You're not running into burgers and fries. In poor areas, you're running into Potted Whale Meat, Prachett Jellied Eels and Brined Hagfish. Give me a moment while I vomit. It's disgusting! But it really shows how the essential economy of this world is shaped by the sea.

In wealthier areas, you find tarts and fruit. Sausage from far away lands. Dishonored has some very heavy themes around class and the food plays into this wonderfully. You spend time in the slums and are disgusted to chomp down some jellied eels, you go to the wealthy district and are relieved to eat a Tyrian Pear.

It's just a tiny example of an essential principle of game design: Everything needs to be there for a reason. Setting needs to serve theme and character.


jdodson   Admin wrote on 12/08/2012 at 01:16am

Those are some really great design choices for the game. I was thinking about world building today actually as I was watching a YouTube video showcasing how to play Dwarf Fortress. It was interesting because part of Dwarf Fortress is starting the game and watching time pass quickly. At some point you stop the world flying by and say "I want to start my game at this point in the worlds history." Trees grow and fall as do mountains and entire cultures. Its a really interesting process.

Its interesting because lately I have been playing Minecraft that has these elements too. Its a world and the story is how the world evolves and how you interact with it. From what I gather Dwarf Fortress logs the history of your world in terms of who is born and what happens to them. Its an interesting concept for a full procedural world.

Lately I have been playing a bit of Lord of the Rings Online. Its a free to play MMO and its pretty well done. Recently I went into the Barrow Downs and had a quest where I had to talk to Tom Bombadil. It was interesting because when I entered his house he was dancing around the room. Dancing isn't too popular unless its a Just Dance game, but from what I remember of the Hobbit books he was a dancin' guy. I went on a quest at his bequest and after killin a bunch of stuff, I came up to a Boss fight I couldn't win. He came in a zapped it and the quest ended by him telling me to avoid the dark corners of the earth and stay in the light.

Thing is I don't disagree with him, but I wonder how interesting Lord of the Rings Online would be if I avoiding fighting, a major staple of questing.

Will_Owens wrote on 12/09/2012 at 03:15am

I enjoy world building a lot, but it seems like there are two ways to do it. One is to present a back story about the environment and what makes it up. This is often too overwrought and makes the whole mythology unbelievable. Games like Dragon Age pour it on very thick through codexes and, even though it helps to flesh out the world, it doesn't seem organic. Then I think of games like Fallout or STALKER where the environment is only presented but I am forced to fill in the gaps. Hints and small stories can be dropped to make it more realistic, but my own imagination often fills in blanks much more interestingly than writing could. I guess I just like being left out of the loop a little bit because I don't know what's going on in THIS world that much either. If I know all the information, it just doesn't seem right.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 12/10/2012 at 06:39am

I think that's a good point Will. I am currently playing Skyrim a bit at at time. They have tons of books all over the game you can read. I think that is pretty cool for some, but I don't really attach to it.

Gary_Butterfield   Post Author wrote on 12/10/2012 at 05:05pm

My favorite games end up doing both. They're both optional and likely to be missed by a lot of players but you can choose your poison. The 3d Fallout games are great at this and an entry is forth coming.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 12/10/2012 at 09:57pm

Look forward to reading it.

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