One of the interesting things that I’ve been contemplating a lot since I started writing my interactive fiction story is the comparison between parser IF and the immersive sim genre. I think it’s an interesting comparison, a fun way to think about and explain how IF works.
The whole idea of immersive sims is that the world you play in is a coherent environment that’s designed to exist as a self-consistent location with its own proper internal logic, history, and atmosphere, where the obstacles you need to overcome arise naturally from the environment and the story, and the solutions to those obsticles arise just as naturally because of the in-depth simulation and reactivity of the environment, and the player’s toolkit. Thus the world isn’t “videogamified” and simulation is both the obsticle and the solution to the obsticle.
This seems to me to be what good long form parser IF is already doing to a fairly substantial degree (like Anchorhead!). For one thing, parser IF generally features proudly a world model with objects and state and relations between those objects and myriad actions to try and interactions to examine and so on, simulation which allows for complex sandbox experimentation, just like in immersive sims. And just like in an immersive sim, in parser IF you typically progress the story by solving various problems and obstacles in the environment using the tools you’ve collected and other aspects of the environment, obstacles. I really get the same sense I get from what I consider to be good parser IF obsticles when I listen to videos about the design of Deus Ex for instance.
So what am I trying to steal from immersive sims in my game? Well, it’s hard as a single person to create a world that’s as simulation-heavy and open to unintended solutions to things as a proper immersive sim, but I’m doing my best to make sure every major obsticle has at least two substantially different solutions, each with their own benefits and drawbacks and even ways of effecting the story, so that my IF will have a more branching directed acyclic graph feel like an immersive sim such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution, where you’ve always got three different ways to get through each level/mission. I’m also trying to give the player abilities that can be used in a great many situations, even ones not specifically intended, so they have a consistent set of tools to draw on. It’s a small toolkit, only two abilities, one of which has three different options they can choose, but I think that’s relatively new. Which brings me to my final point: I’m trying to make it so players have some ability for their choices to effect the nature and abilities of their character (in this case, choosing between three different cybernetic arms, depending on which there will be different solutions to later obstacles available to you). This is a big aspect of immersive sims, namely “picking your build.”
What does everyone think?