Can Large Scale Games Foster Depth?

Is depth possible for big colossal games like destiny, beyond good and evil 2 ( ), and star citizen. Or depth can be only be done in small focused games like thief or DMC 4?

Alright, I’m sorry because I’m gonna be a bit pedantic here, because people keep asking me questions like this. I define depth as literally having states. The depth of a game is the number of states a game has that are not redundant, or irrelevant to play. A coin flip has a depth of 2 states. A coin flip is not deep, but it has depth, the smallest amount of depth possible in a game. Deep means that a game has a relatively high amount of depth compared to other games.

Big colossal games focus a lot of their attention on creating content. This means that level design typically takes a back-seat and you end up playing through very similar encounters. Another trend with these types of games is that the combat systems, which are the primary systems of interaction, tend to be below average.

Level design is a big issue with open world games, it’s really really hard to produce good level design that creates a variety of tactical scenarios when you need to create a ton of levels. Some genres, like Stealth and FPS, depend really heavily on good level design in order to deliver depth, because the level design forms the basis of your tactical options against your opponent in these games. If you don’t have good level design for games like this, then you will have a large number of redundant states, players will do a lot of the same things, instead of exploring a variety of different tactical possibilities like they would in a game with more focused level design.

Now, combat design, such as for action games like DMC, it doesn’t need good level design. DMC can be played in an empty room and the combat system works great, arguably better than a room with any type of environmental features. This means theoretically, you could stick a good combat system (and good enemy designs) in an open world game and get a good game (Absolver seems to be trying to do this, based on their recent Beta.) Why no one has done this yet is beyond me, though I’d guess it’s because most open world games are from the West, and most good combat systems are from Japan. Another reason could be simply that again, development focus is on content instead of combat.

Open world games are an additive attempt at fostering depth, but you need multiplicative growth in state size to actually increase the quality of a game. They add more content, much of it redundant or only superficially different from other content, but do not multiply the number of things that can be performed or that can occur.

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