Favourite Core Aesthetics

What are your favourite aesthetics?


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In 2004, a paper was published in which an attempt was made to formalize some of the language used to talk about game design: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=24640B609CF819EE213B7C42AC0E1355?doi=10.1.1.79.4561&rep=rep1&type=pdf

A video that explains the aesthetics pretty well in my opinion:
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uepAJ-rqJKA

And LCarlson suggested "Acquisition" as an additional aesthetic, "as humans are driven to collect, upgrade and expand our piles of stuff. "

Which core aesthetics are most important to you in a game?

Note that you can vote for multiple aesthetics in the poll.

The ideas presented in the paper have since been expanded on a lot, so feel free to add any aesthetics not mentioned in the paper in your comment.

And don't be afraid to expand a bit on your answer! Give some examples, both good and bad. Tell why something does or doesn't interest you. I'm really curious how people experience games in different ways.
 
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Nov 25, 2019
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I have always been an explorer in games, and love it beyond all other core aspects, all of which are important for a game's appeal.
For this reason, I am drawn to MMOs, as well as games with large, well-rendered worlds such as Horizon Zero Dawn and the Assassin's Creed series.

In any non-MMO game that I play, I look for strong narrative, a story life that I can experience. Again, Horizon Zero Dawn and the Assassin's Creed series come to mind, along with God of War II, which was a brilliantly told tale. Currently replaying Divinity II: Original Sin, for the same reason, plenty of well-laid out narrative.
~LC

ps. You may want to add "acquisition," as humans are driven to collect, upgrade and expand our piles of stuff. I am pretty sure this is hard-wired into us by evolution.
 
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I have always been an explorer in games, and love it beyond all other core aspects, all of which are important for a game's appeal.
For this reason, I am drawn to MMOs, as well as games with large, well-rendered worlds such as Horizon Zero Dawn and the Assassin's Creed series.
Interesting. I would consider Discovery my main aesthetic as well, but I do not care for MMO's at all, because there doesn't seem to be much to discover in them. Everything in the game has already been seen by hundreds of other players, so it just doesn't feel the same for me.

For me, the discovery is also mostly in the realm of systems and mechanics. Unlocking a new power is not fun just because I ticked off a box (acquisition), but because I want to find out what I can do with it. The best part of any video game for me is the beginning when you're still discovering the mechanics.

The other main aesthetic for me is Fantasy. I've always loved reading fiction, not because it has better stories than non-fiction, but because I love the world-building. I love imagining myself in a completely different world and thinking about what I would do if I was in the place of the main character.

Which is another reason to love the beginning of games, as you're still learning about the world as well as the mechanics.

Expression and Sensation on the other hand don't really interest me at all. If there is a character creator, I usually make something that resembles myself, because it helps in the Fantasy aesthetic. In Minecraft, my buildings always look like **** because they're built for function, not to look pretty.
I don't really care how pretty the game looks either. Sure, good graphics can be nice and ugly graphics can make a game less enjoyable, but I've never stopped playing a game because there was a beautiful sight I wanted to look at instead. Nor do I spent a lot of time fiddling with graphics options, let alone downloading graphics mods. The only two games I've ever done that for are Dwarf Fortress, mostly because it just makes it easier to see what's going on, and Skyrim, but I hardly noticed the difference once I started playing.
 
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Nov 25, 2019
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Alm, the OP said to vote for as many as you like. :)

Pifanger, even in single player or console games, many humans will have explored the world before we get to it, but for me, it remains a personal journey, regardless of who passed before me. A little like real life, hehe.
 

Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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I love many different games for many different reasons. I could narrow the list down to my favorites if I had to, but I voted for all of them. If that's not in the spirit of the thread let me know and I'll change it. As I was going through the list I could think of examples of instances where I've enjoyed each of those aesthetics of play. Here's how I justified checking each of the boxes:

Sensation
I've always been fascinated by game visuals and sound design, both as technical achievements and as artistic expression. When games in the mid-late 2000s started to be able to render nice realistic lighting I found that so exciting. My jaw dropped when I saw how dense the foliage was in Oblivion. More recently I've enjoyed going into photo mode in Forza Horizon 4 and taking photos that are virtually indistinguishable from reality. I also love hearing the way sound is mapped in games that have been designed for surround sound, and I find music and audio in general to be at the core of good gaming experiences.

Fantasy

I love role playing games where I am able to step into the shoes of the character, and to live in that fantasy. "Games as make-believe," as they say in the paper. Any of the RPG's I've played would fit this aesthetic, but also things like playing Ultimate Team in Fifa, or driving around obeying traffic laws in GTA.

Narrative
I've always had a particular love of single player games with good strong story telling. I recently revisited Halo Reach, and while I love many things about it, the story telling is what has left the longest lasting impression on me. Games like Bioshock also stand out in this category to me. Bioshock was a fun game with good gameplay, great art direction, great visuals, etc. but it was its narrative that really set it apart.

Challenge

I recently decided to start speedrunning Super Mario Odyssey, which I enjoy purely because I love the way Mario moves and I love the physical challenge of stringing together fast, precise movements. Racing games like DiRT Rally or Forza Motorsport also demonstrate this aesthetic for me. I like the challenge of driving fast and fluidly, regardless of whether or not I win the race.

Fellowship

Though I don't play online often, I do think that the social experiences facilitated by games are especially important in these times. I'm in a long-running Divinity Original Sin II campaign with a friend of mine, and as much as I enjoy the many good qualities of that game, it's the fellowship that I enjoy the most about our play sessions. Games with MMO aspects show off fellowship the best I think, and although I'm not the biggest MMO fan, I have had a lot of fun with the emergent gameplay moments you can experience with strangers in games like Destiny or Forza Horizon, or the creative potential of playing with friends on a Minecraft server.

Discovery

One of my favorite aesthetics of play, and judging by the results of the poll so far, many of yours as well. I love games like Fallout, Minecraft, or Skyrim that place exploration high on their list of priorities. Kerbal Space Program may be the game that has given me the most visceral sense of discovery. The effort required to travel to the outer planets of the Kerbol system, and the feeling of wonder and reward that you have for making it there are unmatched.

Expression

I love a good character creator, I've spent hours painting cars in Forza and hours making settlements in Fallout and building cathedrals in Minecraft. Video games open up almost endless avenues to creativity and I love exploring them.

Submission

After a long, mentally taxing day I often want nothing more than to sit down with a game like Just Cause 3 that will just let me goof off and enjoy myself with a minimum of mental investment.

Acquisition
I do love a good collectathon from time to time. Would I have put this many hours into Animal Crossing already if I didn't?
 
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Zloth

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But to the topic...

Sensation: oh yeah! Think I would bother with 3D glasses and lots of screenshots if I wasn't? (Uhhh, but lets not do the smell thing, OK? I play a lot of sewer levels.) There's also the whole titillations thing, but we won't talk about that, right?

Fantasy: I like it sometimes - trying to imagine what a given character would do in a certain situation can be as fun for me as trying to figure out what I would do.

Narrative: Heck yeah. I've got no problem watching a 30 minute cut-scene (hello Xenosaga!). In fact, until a couple of weeks ago, I don't think I ever skipped a cut-scene unless I had seen it before already. (Scowls for Wolfenstein 2: New Colossus for breaking the streak.)

Challenge: This one can be broken up into dexterous challenges (shooters), brain challenges (puzzle games, slow-moving strategy), and others (Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy). I like the brain challenges a lot, the dexterous ones a little, and I'm afraid to find out whether I would like Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy.

Fellowship: Well, I liked it, but MMOs disappointed me so much recently that I haven't even bothered to look.

Discovery: Yes! And I wish there was more of it! What's over that hill? What's in that cave? Oh, that's an interesting spell, let's see if I can figure out how to use that (kinda pushes into the Challenge area there).

Expression: Sometimes. Making space ships in Gal Civ 3 isn't that fun for me because they'll function just the same regardless of how they look while loading out a Mech in BattleTech is really fun for me. I like designing how a character looks and putting together the character's skills/powers/spells/gear/mutations/whatever but, if I need to make a base for the character, it will probably be more functional than pretty.

Submission: (can't spell the one the video uses!) Not so much, as my unplayed-games-on-GOG list shows me.

Acquisition: Not per se. Sometimes I like collecting things but only if there's a challenge involved that I want to deal with. For instance, if the game gives you a little goat for getting to the highest point of all 30 mountains in a game, I'll probably try for that - especially if not all of those mountains are easy to climb. If it just scatters them all over a fairly linear map and even puts the exact locations on your in-game map (looking at you again Wolfenstein 2), I'm probably not going to bother.
 
Jan 13, 2020
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I love having rich environments to gawk at and explore. The more visually pleasing the playground you've created for me to play in is the more I will like your game (generally, there are exceptions of course). As a primary example I have way more hours in Dragon Age Inquisition than I do in The Witcher 3.

While The Witcher 3 is, in my opinion, the best open world RPG ever made I still find I like to spend more time in DAI specifically because of its variety of environments and just how darned good they look. From snow to desert to swamp to coast DAI almost has it all. Witche 3 areas are pretty "normal" and samey everywhere which fits its theme, of course, but just doesn't "wow" in visual sense like DAI. The Witcher 3 wins in almost every other way, but DAI is addictive eye candy comparatively.
 
Sensation
Very important to me. Without it, it would be like pinching your nose while eating chocolate.

Fantasy
I seldom really feel deep with a character, it is for me more about being a fly on the wall, observing and enjoying as the story unfolds.

Narrative
Important if the game focuses on that. I am picky when it comes to the narrative, which often makes me cringe whenever I stumble upon side stories or main story arcs that just feels poorly written or misplaced.

Challenge

Without challenge, where is the erm, challenge? The Mad King clock tower in GW2 comes in mind. It was a challenging jumping puzzle that I used a good while adapting to and the feeling of getting to the end: Amazing!

Fellowship

It depends on the games. MMOs I play mostly with a guild, while RPG/adventure games I tend to play alone because I use a loooong time exploring every nook and cranny.

Discovery
I love exploring, all the time, everywhere!

Expression

Not too extensive when it comes to character customization, more when it comes to optimizing the character's skills & weapons.

Submission
My many hours in different io games show I like to tune completely out from time to time and just drool all over my keyboard. For the majority of the time, I enjoy tuning in the most.

Acquisition
This goes hand in hand with my joy for discovery. If there is something to take of value or just for the curiosity factor/something that might look nice on my wall, I'm taking it. I always take the perk that gives you more carry capacity in games or being able to transport yourself to the nearest shop if over-encumbered.
 
Nice topic. Like others I feel that at some point I've enjoyed a game because of all of the aesthetics listed. Mostly though I'll be interested in games with challenge, discovery and narrative.

I find it interesting that abnegation or submission is listed separately. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something.

For me a large part of the reason I tune into any game is essentially to escape reality for a couple of hours. Its something akin to meditation to not be thinking about the next days work or another project I'm working on or anything else 'real'.

However I actually really dislike parts of games with too much grinding or busy work with no purpose or reward other than to burn up my time. The escape only comes from focusing on something else that challenges, draws me into a story or invokes a sense of wonder in another way.
 
I've finally found time to check this forum again. I'm going to respond in separate posts, just so if anyone wants to respond to my response to them, they don't also quote my response to everyone else.

Alm, the OP said to vote for as many as you like.

Pifanger, even in single player or console games, many humans will have explored the world before we get to it, but for me, it remains a personal journey, regardless of who passed before me. A little like real life, hehe.
Thinking about it some more, I think the main problem is that most MMO's I've played simply don't have a lot to discover. The only exception for me is Tibia, which is one of my favourite MMO's because I felt like I could actually explore. Most MMO's don't really feature an open world, it all seems very linear and even if you go off the road, there is usually nothing particularly interesting to find.
 
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I love many different games for many different reasons. I could narrow the list down to my favorites if I had to, but I voted for all of them. If that's not in the spirit of the thread let me know and I'll change it. As I was going through the list I could think of examples of instances where I've enjoyed each of those aesthetics of play. Here's how I justified checking each of the boxes:
While I can find instances where I've enjoyed each aesthetic as well, I do find I have a clear preference for some over others. For instance, while the narrative of Mass Effect was what kept me playing (the gameplay by itself is not really groundbreaking), I'm unlikely to play any of the episodic Telltale games, because they rely pretty much completely on the Narrative aesthetic.

So are there any aesthetics that, if a game relied almost exclusively on that aesthetic, it wouldn't be an enjoyable game for you? Or the other way around, such that a game would only require one specific aesthetic for you to enjoy it?

From your post, I would guess Fellowship, Submission and Acquisition are less important than Discovery.
 
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I love having rich environments to gawk at and explore. The more visually pleasing the playground you've created for me to play in is the more I will like your game (generally, there are exceptions of course). As a primary example I have way more hours in Dragon Age Inquisition than I do in The Witcher 3.

While The Witcher 3 is, in my opinion, the best open world RPG ever made I still find I like to spend more time in DAI specifically because of its variety of environments and just how darned good they look. From snow to desert to swamp to coast DAI almost has it all. Witche 3 areas are pretty "normal" and samey everywhere which fits its theme, of course, but just doesn't "wow" in visual sense like DAI. The Witcher 3 wins in almost every other way, but DAI is addictive eye candy comparatively.
So besides Sensation, how do you feel about the other aesthetics? I'm assuming Fantasy is pretty high on the list as well, but what about Discovery (which seems to be pretty popular)?
 
[...]
Discovery
I love exploring, all the time, everywhere!
[...]
Acquisition
This goes hand in hand with my joy for discovery. If there is something to take of value or just for the curiosity factor/something that might look nice on my wall, I'm taking it. I always take the perk that gives you more carry capacity in games or being able to transport yourself to the nearest shop if over-encumbered.
Could you expand a bit what it is about exploring that is so satisfying for you? Is it mostly about finding objects?

Do you ever set goals for yourself to acquire a certain set of items, without it having any practical value? Like trying to collect all books in Skyrim or gather one of every item in Minecraft.
 
Nice topic. Like others I feel that at some point I've enjoyed a game because of all of the aesthetics listed. Mostly though I'll be interested in games with challenge, discovery and narrative.

I find it interesting that abnegation or submission is listed separately. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something.

For me a large part of the reason I tune into any game is essentially to escape reality for a couple of hours. Its something akin to meditation to not be thinking about the next days work or another project I'm working on or anything else 'real'.

However I actually really dislike parts of games with too much grinding or busy work with no purpose or reward other than to burn up my time. The escape only comes from focusing on something else that challenges, draws me into a story or invokes a sense of wonder in another way.
I think abnegation/submission is the core of, for example, Candy Crush and a lot of the simple flash games or itch.io games. It's akin to turning on the TV and watching whatever is on. It's not just about escapism, it's about not having to think about anything really at all.

What is it about Discovery you like? I think everyone so far has said they liked it or listed it as their favourite, so I'm wondering if there are differences in what exactly each person likes about it.
 
Could you expand a bit what it is about exploring that is so satisfying for you? Is it mostly about finding objects?

Do you ever set goals for yourself to acquire a certain set of items, without it having any practical value? Like trying to collect all books in Skyrim or gather one of every item in Minecraft.
Good questions, @Pifanjr. As for your first question: For the majority of times, It is about being able to explore an off beaten path, not necessarily setting a particular goal, but just having fun and not knowing what you are going to meet. This is why I really like the exploration aspects in games like Elex/Outward/WoW where you can basically go anywhere you want. I remember an episode back in vanilla wow when I was swimming along the deep sea, going further and further from civilization and suddenly finding a small cave with dragon bones in it. It was so cool! I did not get any physical object to take with me from the cave and obviously that would also have been also amazing, but the value for me was just being there completely alone and exploring something that I had never seen before.

As for your second question: Hmmm, perhaps when I try to get enough money to let say leveling up a skill or upgrading a weapon. Then the items I pick up are not important per se but again, they are kind of since they have the practical value of being an economic boost for reaching my goal. Even when I try to gather books in Skyrim/Morrowind or similar RPGs I would rather pick up the ones I wanted to read, thus building my own library. So, to give a short answer to your question: No. When it comes down to it, all my items have some type of practical value for me.
 
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Jan 14, 2020
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Oooh, interesting topic! I like defining games by these metrics, and it's very obvious to me now why I like some of the games that I like. You see, I'm not really a creative person. I don't liking designing or building things just for the sake of it. I don't care much for Minecraft creatively, just like I could never care about building settlements in Fallout 4, designing houses in the Sims or designing clothes and furniture in Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

I also don't like sandbox games without any goals whatsoever. Minecraft, again, comes to mind. I'm like agent Smith from The Matrix; I need purpose. I don't 'get' games like Garry's Mod, No Man's Sky, Minecraft, etc. Games without a narrative hook, a dangling carrot, any sort of goal to strive towards that the player didn't create or set for themselves. I need a goal, an endgame. I tend to bounce off of games that never end.

I also don't care about fellowship, for the most part. I want to make my own choices and not have to wait for or rely on others to help me or make the decisions for me. The biggest exception for me here was World of Warcraft back in its prime; it's an inherently social game that I latched on to anyway because it just came at the exact right time in my life. It was new and exciting and I had plenty of free time on my hands. Even then I played it mostly solo and therefore got mostly nowhere, but it was fun regardless.

So what do I like?

I like to be intrigued, I like to be challenged. I don't need a game's story to hold my hand, but I want it to tease me just enough so my mind starts to race and I can't wait to explore the game's world, story and inner workings. I want it to be hard; my way of zoning out with a game is for it to flood my mind, to challenge me in such a way that everything else falls by the wayside and it is the only thing I can focus on.

Another trigger for me is progression and ever-increasing power. I naturally gravitate towards any kind of RPG or loot-based game because of this. Some of my favourites from the days of yore were Diablo 2, Dungeon Siege and World of Warcraft for this very reason. I don't mind the grind as long as it's challenging, otherwise it just gets stale. I'm a sucker for skinner box games that keep on giving.

It does have to come with a real sense of progression. I want to be able to return to an early game location and STOMP on enemies that gave me grief when I was just starting out. Don't make the world scale up to my level. Just don't. Diablo 3, Destiny 2, etc. are all guilty of this and it's just awful design IMO. Conversely, it's okay if some areas are too hard to tackle at first. Send me running back with my tail between my legs sometimes. If you can't actually progress because the difficulty always averages out, then what's the point?

Example time. In my opinion, these are some of the finest games ever made and they seem to cater to me in a very specific way.
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DARK SOULS

From Software took the world by storm with this game back in 2010, and for good reason. This is peak game design in my book. The narrative is obtuse, but very intruiging. It's there if you care, but never gets in the way of the action. It blends so naturally into the game's amazing world and environments that together these elements are just begging to be explored.

The game's mechanics are incredibly arcane for total newcomers, sometimes so much so that people resort to wikis and guides to make sense of it. However, it is very easy to grasp the basics. Pick up a sword and shield and start hitting stuff. Some enemies keel over and die, others remain standing defiantly and beat you back. It's so instinctive. The intricacies of the combat system reveal themselves to you over time and there's so much you can do and discover, but at its core it's something anyone could pick up and play.

I also love how the game gives you just enough of a clear goal to set you on the path: 'ring the two bells of awakening', it says, 'and the fate of the undead thou shalt know'. Two bells. One up above in the undead church, the other at the base of Blighttown. That's it. That's all I need. I don't need multilayered quests or crafting or any of that crap. Just give me that beautiful and interesting semi-open world with just enough of a narrative hook to get started and I'll be off to the races.

Dark Souls is my favourite game of all time, for sure. I recognise its faults but there's just no other game like it. Well, maybe Bloodborne. I keep going back and forth between the two, unable to decide which one is more perfect. The basic formula of these games is the holy grail of gaming for me.
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THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: BREATH OF THE WILD

I have a confession to make. When the Nintendo Switch was announced in 2016 I preordered it that very second, along with a copy of Breath of the Wild. I love Nintendo and everything they stand for as a gaming business. I had the utmost faith that Breath of the Wild would be the greatest Zelda game of all time, better even than favourites like Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. What I got was not just the best Zelda game ever made..

I got the best open world game ever made.

Again, the basics for 'wot I like' are here. There's a fantastically beautiful open world just begging to be explored and the way they introduce it could not have been more elegant. They also provide you with the most basic of narrative hooks: 'princess stuck in castle for you to rescue, big floaty scary man in sky for you to defeat'. That's it! That's what I need. A goal, a purpose. We are in this world for a reason, we have an objective to work towards. How we get there, we don't know.

What we do know is that we won't be getting there for a while.

This game is packed with things to do and places to see. What sets it apart from other open world games is the elegance with which all these opportunities are presented, which is to say they're not presented at all. You get to discover them at your own pace. There's no missions marked on the map, no NPCs screaming at you every five seconds when you're just roaming around. No collectibles literally begging to be picked up. Oh, there's quests in the game. NPCs too, and collectibles. It's all there, but there's no rush. No pressure to collect 'em all. Just explore. The world is your oyster.

The developers at one point gave a presentation about how they designed the game's world around such a loose narrative. The game world is basically laid out in such a way that from wherever you are standing, there's always at least two landmarks to see on the horizon. Think about that. No matter where in the world you are, you can always see something that you will want to explore. The game is always teasing you with opportunity and keeping you going, and whatever you find is interesting in some way.

So what is there to find? It could be a treasure chest hidden under a suspicious rock behind a waterfall. It could be the ruins of an ancient city where treasure is buried everywhere. An NPC giving you a side quest. A wild horse begging to be tamed. Maybe it's one of the game's 900 Korok challenges, or it could be a snowboarding challenge. It could be a shrine that rewards you with more power, more hit points or a difficult puzzle.

I could sing this game's praises all day. It's so elegant, so perfect. I love the loot that you can find, I love that it breaks after a while. I love that there's combat challenges so difficult that it will take you ages to master them, and I love that you can literally cheese loads of things by abusing the physics system. A system which, by the way, is one of the most flexible in all of gaming. There's only four basic powers, but if you combine them just right you can do the wildest things. I'm sure you've seen a crazy BotW video on YouTube at some point.

This game has its flaws, too. The enemy variety is a little lackluster, and the traditional dungeons have been replaced with a lesser alternative in the form of the four great beasts. I'm sure these criticisms will be tackled in the upcoming sequel, but everything else and I mean literally everything else about this game is pretty much perfect. It's open world gaming stripped to the essentials: sensation, discovery and challenge.
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I may have more examples to share later, but these were the first that came to mind. Sensation, challenge, discovery, acquisition, that's what I'm all about!
 
Good questions, @Pifanjr. As for your first question: For the majority of times, It is about being able to explore an off beaten path, not necessarily setting a particular goal, but just having fun and not knowing what you are going to meet. This is why I really like the exploration aspects in games like Elex/Outward/WoW where you can basically go anywhere you want. I remember an episode back in vanilla wow when I was swimming along the deep sea, going further and further from civilization and suddenly finding a small cave with dragon bones in it. It was so cool! I did not get any physical object to take with me from the cave and obviously that would also have been also amazing, but the value for me was just being there completely alone and exploring something that I had never seen before.

As for your second question: Hmmm, perhaps when I try to get enough money to let say leveling up a skill or upgrading a weapon. Then the items I pick up are not important per se but again, they are kind of since they have the practical value of being an economic boost for reaching my goal. Even when I try to gather books in Skyrim/Morrowind or similar RPGs I would rather pick up the ones I wanted to read, thus building my own library. So, to give a short answer to your question: No. When it comes down to it, all my items have some type of practical value for me.
It's interesting to see how different people have different ways they enjoy the same aesthetic. Because for me, Discovery isn't really about finding physical (virtual) places, but about discovering the game mechanics.

And Acquisition can be about the collection of actual (virtual) items, but can just as well be the increase of money, or any other kind of counter you can grind to increase.
 

Inspireless Llama

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So for me I may or may not be a bit weird about this.

I see myself as a pretty open gamer, there are alot of different kind of games I play, and therefore there's not one core aesthetic I prefer.

For example, when I play management / building games, I'll prefer a sandbox. I'm not that creative either, and I am not good at creating "good looking" things, but I still hold no interest in playing a campaign in these games. When I play I want to build from scrath and find out what works and what doesn't , I don't enjoy campaigns at all when you start with a city / prison whatever and have to get challenges.

I got great joy out of playing Cities: Skylines from scratch and find out 60 hours later that my neighbourhood I built for 300 citizens doesn't work when there are cars from 50.000 citizens are trying to pass through. Solve that problem! I don't care about starting with a city of that size and then finish a challenge of "get a traffic flow of 80%". I want to do that in my own city damnit!

But whenever I play RPG's, I care more about character creation, story and exploring (Skyrim half of my time was editting the looks of my character). Also in Skyrim, my last playthough I just mostly forgot about the story and wandered into the wilderness. Discovered a lot of locations and my fun was finding out whether it was vanilla or a mod, because some were modded so well it was hard to find out. I don't necessarily need to discover locations, in RDR2 I enjoyed it enough to just ride a horse following the roads and looking at my surroundings.

About a few others: Fellowship I don't really care about, it can be fun if you (like Skyrim) have people following you and commenting on what you do. The mod "Inigo" from Skyrim is a very good example of that. Doesn't rush you to hurry up but does comment on the things you do (Do you really want to keep those eyes? They will end up smelling badly) (Your archery looks like a fish trying to shoot while being on the ground). Whenever I play with an AI that I have to follow I tend to get annoyed because I don't like it if they try to push you as in "We need to hurry!". We don't. I know nothing will happen as long as I don't leave this room.

It's interesting to see how different people have different ways they enjoy the same aesthetic. Because for me, Discovery isn't really about finding physical (virtual) places, but about discovering the game mechanics.

And Acquisition can be about the collection of actual (virtual) items, but can just as well be the increase of money, or any other kind of counter you can grind to increase.
I can include this in the second thing :D A challenge:

I don't like challenges as in secondary objectives. "Use no medicines during this mission". "Destroy 5 guns during mission". "Fix this within so much time". It's annoying me. I do enjoy a challenge as previously stated, when playing Cities: Skylines and I mess up early, the challenge of fixing it later on. I get great joy on that.

On the other hand, I can't say I enjoy difficult games much. I play games for fun, if they start to frustrate me I am not having fun and I might as well quit.

Generally speaking the most important aestetic for me is a game that let's me do whatever I want to do. Wether it be shooting people in shooters, driving arround in trucks, riding arround on a horse, or mess up my city as much as I like. This can be both in games where I still follow the story, or just sandbox games.

I'm not sure if this was entire ontopic but still I felt like posting :)
 

Zoid

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Jan 13, 2020
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While I can find instances where I've enjoyed each aesthetic as well, I do find I have a clear preference for some over others. For instance, while the narrative of Mass Effect was what kept me playing (the gameplay by itself is not really groundbreaking), I'm unlikely to play any of the episodic Telltale games, because they rely pretty much completely on the Narrative aesthetic.

So are there any aesthetics that, if a game relied almost exclusively on that aesthetic, it wouldn't be an enjoyable game for you? Or the other way around, such that a game would only require one specific aesthetic for you to enjoy it?

From your post, I would guess Fellowship, Submission and Acquisition are less important than Discovery.
I think I'd have a hard time being interested in a game that relied solely on any one of these aesthetics, since those tend to feel shallow and / or gimmicky to me.

This isn't quite the answer to your question, but I'll take sensation as an example of an aesthetic that I like very much, but doesn't work as the sole aesthetic of a game (for me). For as much as I think sensation can elevate a game, a game with only gorgeous graphics but no meaningful gameplay or story might as well just be a tech demo.
 
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