Five pillars of Immersive Sims

  1. Choices: It is designed from the ground up to provide the players vastly different ways of overcoming challenges and completing objectives — through non-linearity of environments, significant and gameplay-defining differences in character progression, or both.
  2. Tools: It provides multitude of meaningful tools players can use, primarily through interactivity of the game world and advanced physics-based systems, that further personalize gameplay experience and self-expression.
  3. Systems: It is designed to be an interplay of many complex systems, such as AI, physics, level design and more, which result in emergent and sometimes hardly predictable gameplay situations, and ensure that each playthrough is unique to an extent.
  4. Focused Design: It usually puts players in believable, meticulously designed locations which make sense as actual places, rather than video game levels; it also puts great emphasis on production values and design aspects that matter for creating highly atmospheric, highly immersive experiences. By virtue of being “an inch wide and a mile deep”*, it constrains game spaces to relatively smaller areas, but full of rich simulation.
  5. Message: It employs mature storytelling and conveys certain ideas and messages through advanced narrative mechanisms without limiting interaction and taking control from players, and sometimes leaves narrative and dramatical choices and consequences to players.

Choices

An example of a Thief mission map
An example of a System Shock level
In stealth focused immersive sims, there are multiple ways from Point A to Point B. In assault focused immersive sims, there is usually one way.

Tools

Combinations of various abilities and weapons in BioShock generate different combat tactics

Systems

When a player fails to stay undetected in Thief, running away from guards and improvisation is the best option

Focused Design

Interior in BioShock Infinite
Interior in Dishonored 2
Interior in Thief 2: The Metal Age

Message

JC Denton decides the fate of the civilization at the end of Deus Ex

Conclusion

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