Favourite Core Aesthetics

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What are your favourite aesthetics?

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The loot factor is definitely a thing, as you in Skyrim can often find awesome items hidden in a cave. Another factor is that there are so many caves, so when you have finished exploring one cave, then another one shows up on the map and again and again. In RD2 there are some caves and hidden items, but most of the time those are tied to some map or quest that you have to do. I also think it has to do with RD2 having more natural encounters while wandering about. A moose might suddenly run past you, you might find a person in the need of help or some bandits waiting for you in an ambush. The game as I see it also offers more tranquility and serenity, which makes you slow down and suck in all the beautiful vistas and even stay in them for a while. The game offers a different kind of rhythm.

I've been thinking about this for a while. I think I underestimated how much the dungeons in Skyrim are part of the core gameplay.

The main gameplay in Skyrim is to find a dungeon, kill everything in the dungeon and get some treasure at the end, then walk to the next dungeon. Of course, it doesn't have to be a literal dungeon, but most gameplay happens in a pretty linear, interior location. The world map is just there to connect all these interior levels together.

Sure, you can talk to people, but they mostly direct you to go into yet another cave. And sure, you spent a lot of time walking around outside, but besides finding new caves to go into, you really only find the occasional treasure and wandering monster.

What I think The Elder Scrolls series does really well is hiding how much the gameplay revolves around going through fairly linear dungeons. Going from walking around outside to going into a cave is pretty seamless, even considering there is a loading screen. This works a lot better for immersion than games that require you to start a (side)mission by talking to a NPC or activating something in the world, which then switches the game from an open world game to a linear experience by setting a bunch of limitations, mainly on where you're allowed to go and what you're supposed to do.

The Assassin's Creed series are a good example, as there is a clear change between running around in the world and starting a (side)mission, with missions usually giving you a game over screen if you walk too far away or adding temporary (invisible) barriers.

The reason why a lot of open world games opt to switch from a free roaming experience to a very limited challenge is because it's easier to set up a specific challenge if you can control the movement and actions of a player. The beauty of Skyrim is that they limit the movements of the player naturally, instead of setting up arbitrary limitations.

Another thing that I realized is that each dungeon in Skyrim also has to be compatible with every play style that's available. Which explains why the enemy AI forgets about being attacked from the shadows so quickly, as making stealth more forgiving allows for adding extra enemies and tighter spaces that work better for, for example, a berserker style of play.
I think the closest I've come to this in recent times is Escape From Tarkov, the online shooter. That game can't be 'won'. You can win a raid by surviving, but the game is never over. Aside from the moment-to-moment gameplay, which is exhilarating, my enjoyment in the game comes from the continous progression that it offers. Your 'PMC' (player character) has skills that you can level up and a personal hideout that you can upgrade by picking up specific items in raids or from other players you kill. There's also a selection of NPCs that will send you on missions.

If EFT existed solely as a round-based multiplayer shooter I probably wouldn't be interested at all, but the fact that it has a meta-game surrounding it that I can chip away at makes it very fun and rewarding for me. There's no endgame, though. You can finish all the quests and fully upgrade the hideout, at which point there's nothing left to do but shoot people for the hell of it, but you won't have won. The game goes on indefinitely.

Out of curiosity, does Minecraft at any point communicate to the player that killing an Ender Dragon is the objective of the game? If it doesn't, I don't really think that counts as a win condition. The player doesn't know they are working towards a win condition until they kill the dragon, at which point the game just ends? Does Minecraft even need a win condition? I would argue it does not.

On a sidenote, I always found it curious that Minecraft has a 'Survival' mode. That implies the game has a win condition where you win by surviving. It doesn't, though. Or does it? I haven't played it seriously in ages.

I don't really think of Minecraft as a game to begin with. I think of it more as a game engine, or a platform. A foundation for developers and players to build upon. At its core Minecraft is little more than an empty shell. It needs outside input to really 'be' anything.

I think Minecraft is kinda weird in that it tells you very little in game. I'm not sure how much has changed since I last played it, but I'm pretty sure the best way to find out how to do something is to look it up online, as the game gives very few hints on its mechanics and world. As far as I know, there's nothing in game that tells you how to make a nether portal, or that the nether even exists.

Also, even though the credits roll when you defeat the Ender Dragon, I wouldn't really call it the end of the game. I doubt many players would just stop playing at that point. Which means that I agree that Minecraft isn't really a game, as it doesn't really have a win condition.
Oh yes it does. I don't finish a game often after I got bored though. Unless I feel like I'm close to the endgame. Otherwise I might quit and (if I'm able) come back at a later time. I never finished Skyrim from start to end in 1 go.

Ryse: Son of Rome certainly bored the heck out of me before I finished it. Luckily the game wasn't that long and I finished to see if there was any good qlimax to the end of the game. Unfortunately there wasn't.

But this is the main reason why I don't collect everything in a game, and usually don't finish all sidequests either. At some point I'll start to get bored so I'll start rushing towards the end of the game. By the time I finish I'm bored of it and have no intention to keep playing.

The only 2 games where I actually did all sidequests / optional missions were Rise of the Tomb Raider and the Witcher 3. But even in the Witcher I skipped everything related to gwent or collecting cards.

I've completed (almost?) all side-missions and collectibles in most(?) of the Assassin's Creed games, but only because the travelling mechanics in the AC games are a nice form of Submission for me. I just turn my mind off and run towards the next marker on the map.

It sucks when a game allows you to do side quests to grind XP or loot or something and I get burned out on the gameplay by grinding too long.


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