While looking through some of my old game designs trying to find one to develop into a full game I realised that a lot of them would work very well as immersive sims. Immersive sims are an odd genre of game because they’re about the only type of game that can closely resemble tabletop RPGs in terms of the freedom of choice in how to play the game without being a straight RPG. This may be why I have always been drawn to them.
So what are immersive sims? As simply as possible, they are normally first person action games where the defining characteristics are strong world building, exploration, player choice (and consequences) and many systems in place to simulate the real world as much as possible without impacting the gameplay. Great examples are the Deus Ex series, the Dishonored series and the System Shock games (The Bioshock games, while great, are closer to a typical RPG shooter than an immersive sim).
A game like this will have a very long design phase as the various powers, weapons and other items must all work together well and this particular genre relies a lot more on world building than others might. Before I get to developing and creating the game it will also help to have a clear idea of what the player’s capabilities are so the level design can work with it and I don’t find myself constantly revising the layouts to account for new ideas.
This means a lot of time spent writing things down in my notepad and coming up with a rough plan for the world building itself and deciding many things for that before even going into the game design. I have always enjoyed coming up with worlds and their inhabitants so it’s something I know I’ll enjoy doing. It also helps that I have so many older worlds sitting around for me to take things from and since I created them I have consumed much more media giving me more ideas on how to improve or reshape them.
All of this is why I love the idea of making an immersive sim. It combines my love of creating new worlds and my love of tabletop RPGs with my opinion that player choice and freedom are among the most important things in any game. It should be an interesting ride from beginning to end no doubt.