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[Dev Diary #10] Thinking about game atmosphere

Immersing players in a game world

#10 Thinking about game atmosphere

6th Oct 2016 12:00
6th Oct 2016 12:00
Some gamers don't realize just how much thought goes into creating game worlds that can be understood by players. The atmosphere for a game world has to be considered through all aspects of development. When it’s done well this can totally immerse the player, making them forget about the real world around them.
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Realistic graphics are often prioritised for creating immersion but i'm not sure that is always justified. True immersion manifests from a combination of visuals, audio, gameplay and storyline.

Creating immersion in our game

The main atmospheric focus of our game is one of urgency. As the game is all about preparing for the Next Winter which will bring an onslaught of enemies to overcome. To manifest an apprehension in players for the coming winter we will use audio and visual cues to signify the current season. Spring and summer will be accompanied by calming music and vibrant colors, autumn will see a move towards more suspenseful music with a drain to color from the landscapes. The coming of winter will be a dramatic event and result in a barren landscape covered in snow and dramatic music to accompany the descending hordes of enemies.
The gameplay will also correlate with the changing of seasons. The summer period will harbour an abundance of resources to be collected and increase production speeds. In contrast the Winter will result in a significant shortage to available food resources and a drop in productivity for resource processing buildings.

Our game is set within a fantasy world we have created. Even though we haven't spoken much about the story that backs our game publicly, it is certainly there and well established. Having a story that backs your game early on is a good idea because it has a big impact on gameplay and other development decisions. This helps in keeping the overall game concise and easier to understand by players because it restricts you to making something that makes sense in the context of a world. Without a story backing your game it’s easy to go overboard with ideas. This can end with an overwhelming jumble of things going on that people will find hard to understand or draw any meaning from.

Preventing interruptions

Bugs in gameplay are a top culprit for breaking immersion. This issue is much more common nowadays as developers release pre-games that are not completed. Widespread internet connectivity makes it viable to continually update a released game. There is less pressure than there used to be to make games bullet proof before public launch.

Balanced gameplay is also key to holding immersion. If a game is to hard it becomes frustrating. This makes players start to question the design of the game rather than get lost in it. On the other hand if the game is too easy players tend to lose interest quickly as there is no reward without challenge. Getting this balance just right can take a lot of tweaking and testing but it's a big factor towards holding immersion.