The Wrong Kind of Living World

I have seen new RPGs marketed as having a “living, breathing world that reacts to you!” That’s all well and good, but I think the life being given to these games is done with the wrong thing in mind.

Whole Environments

Most of the examples I come across involve making game environments change in response to player choices. Lionhead studios’ Fable 2 comes to mind first. Depending on the choices you make (mostly either polar good or evil, why that’s a problem is another post entirely) a given subarea of the game can change its environment.


Another alternative is a destructible environment, ala the red faction series. I’d never dare criticise the red faction games explosive fun. They did destructible environments right. This doesn’t necessarily make a world feel like it’s alive, though.

The World Around Us

It seems that game designers think of the “world” around us as being very tangible. The trees and rocks, the buildings and bridges; these things are the stage for this play. Entertainment largely comes from the actors.

The Way Forward

Instead of consulting an architectural engineer for your next game, maybe consider instead a sociologist or psychologist. Give NPCs a motivation that needs to be discovered and manipulated. Give NPCs the ability to remember things, but also give them the ability to forget after enough in-game time has past. Red Dead Redemption 2 and other games have done a good job of the remembering, but to my knowledge nobody saw fit to make them forget.

I think I see a trend.

Building Blocks

Build characters ground up with AI building blocks the same way you would a physics engine.

Software developer by day, gamer by night. I use medium to write about video games and some of their many aspects.

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