Gaming Massively

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

MMOs and perception

This topic had been hovering in the periphery of my mind today, and then Voyages in Eternity did a great post on the subject, complete with one possible way of implementing it.

The basic question is, how do you accurately reflect different skills or abilities in perception - noticing or hearing things. This is tricky, because of course the computer interface is not your head - you don't have peripheral vision because the screen isn't wide enough (exceptions apply). And it's your eyes looking at the screen, and your ears listening (maybe) to the sound - not your character's.

It's actually easier to reflect a lack of ability (sight/hearing) than an exceptional ability. If you don't show the object at all, you can guarantee the player won't see it. Ditto for sound - don't play it, it doesn't get heard.

As much as the glittering objects in WoW since 2.3 may be maligned, I think they were on the right path. Why not make things really obvious when your character notices them? By the same token, for peripheral vision, why not flicker one side of the screen? That would get the player to stop and look around.

You could have multiple levels of this sort of thing - don't display the object at all, show it but don't make it stand out, and then various levels of 'hey - look at me' for objects the character really noticed.

This could extend to all the other senses - hearing could be done using either sound or visual cues. Taste and touch and smell also - general visual cues that represent the character's perception of his or her environment.

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