Open world, or open-world, is a term for a video game in which a player can roam a virtual world and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a game with more linear gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since.
An open world, or open world, is a term describing a genre of video game in which a player can roam a virtual world and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a game with a more linear gameplay such as the traditional Super Mario Bros. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in the Grand Theft Auto series has set a standard that has been used since and can be found in games like the Fallout, Assassin’s Creed and Watchdogs series. The Main appeal of an open world game is that it provides for a simulated reality and allows for its players to develop their characters and behaviour in the direction of their choosing.
Often designed as Non-linear narratives, these games are designed with open areas and many ways to reach or complete an objective. It ultimately facilitates a much greater experience of exploration than of a series of smaller levels, or a level with a more linear progression. In games such as Grand Theft Auto, missions are intertwined into an open world environment where players often complete these tasks within their own time and comfort which in turn, allows for them to explore the world in-between missions and objectives. This allows for a much more enhanced experience of a world, especially when you are allowed to interact with it through a multitude of ways.
A major design challenge is to balance the freedom of an open world game with the structure of a dynamic storyline or narrative that becomes the overriding purpose of this world. Since players may perform actions that game designers do not expect, the game’s creators must find creative and innovative ways to impose a storyline on the player without interfering with their freedom. As such, games with open worlds will sometimes break the game’s story in a series of missions altogether.
Most open world games make the character a blank state that players can project their own characteristics and interests into, offering more character development as the game progresses. Some open worlds reveal only parts of the world’s map at the start of the game, unlocking more of the map as the player completes tasks and objectives, often identifying missions and points of interests as gateways into previous inaccessible zones.
Game designers often employ procedural generation which refers to content being generated algorithmically rather than manually and is often used to generate game levels and other content. It has become an important factor in reducing development time and opens up avenues making it possible to generate larger and more or less unique worlds. This kind procedural generation is also known as worldbuilding, a term in which general rules are used to construct a believable world.
Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. The resulting world may be called a constructed world. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology is a key task for many science fiction or fantasy writers. Worldbuilding often involves the creation of maps, backstory, and people for the world.
World building can be designed from the top down or the bottom up, or by a combination of these approaches. Worldbuilding guidelines for Dungeons and Dragons can be understood as a careful application of both these methods. In the top down approach, the designer first creates a general overview of the world, determining broad characteristics such as the world’s inhabitants, technology level, major geographic features, climate, and history. From there, the designer develops the rest of the world, encompassing the creation of continents, civilisations, nations, cities and towns. A world constructed from the top down tends to be well-integrated, with individual components fitting together appropriately.
With the bottom up approach, the designer focuses on a small part of the world needed for his or her purpose. This location is given considerable detail, such as local geography, culture, social structure, government, politics, commerce and history. The surrounding areas are then described in a lower level of detail. This approach provides for almost immediate applicability of the setting, with details pertinent to a certain story or situation. The approach can yield a world both plagued with inconsistencies. By combining the top down and bottom up approaches, a designer can enjoy the benefits of both that can be seen in many popular titles around today.
From a game design perspective, the goal of worldbuilding is to create the context of a story. Consistency is an important element since the world provides a foundation for the action of a story. However, J.R.R Tolkien described the goal of worldbuilding as creating immersion, or “enchantment” as he puts it, and descriptions of the world can be wholly disconnected from the story and the narrative.