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R P G A M E R . C O M   -   E D I T O R I A L S

Nonlinearity: The Illusion
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Gabriel Ang
FAN EDITORIALIST



So, is true nonlinear games a real possibility? Or is it just a dream by fantasy-indulging people like me?

Personally speaking, in the past I couldn't wait to see the day that I could play a sword-swinging hero out to save the world, destroy it, get drunk in the nearest tavern, accidentally blow up someone's house or any of the unfathomable possibilities that lie in between. I always used to dream about the ability to play the gray areas between the fine lines drawn by developers. I desired to do things my own unique way. At times I wished the game would play more like real life than some make believe life-in-box.

But as you grow older, you need to draw your own fine line (puns, egads!) between the possible and impossible. As a person believing that impossible is nothing but an excuse made by people who don't have the guts to get what they want, you'll just have to concede at times. Based on the various and near insurmountable obstacles to reaching the dream of nonlinearity, some things just have to be laid to rest. It would simply be too much for any person to handle.

Then again, how about the illusion of nonlinearity?

As I've said before, many games like Fallout have tried to stretch the illusion of nonlinear games to far reaches, but a game that makes people say "Boy, what CAN'T you do in this thing?" has yet to exist. This is most likely due to time and medium constraints. Unlike an attempt at true nonlinearity, making a game with the illusion of nonlinearity can be made within a finite medium and a finite time, as opposed to the possible never-ending stretch true nonlinear games would need. You only really need one thing:

As I've said before, many games like Fallout have tried to stretch the illusion of nonlinear games to far reaches, but a game that makes people say "Boy, what CAN'T you do in this thing?" has yet to exist. This is most likely due to time and medium constraints. Unlike an attempt at true nonlinearity, making a game with the illusion of nonlinearity can be made within a finite medium and a finite time, as opposed to the possible never-ending stretch true nonlinear games would need. You only really need one thing:

An enormously huge game which has a ridiculously large set of possibilities such that, though finite, it becomes virtually impossible for a person to experience it all completely.

In other words, a game large enough that no one's going to see all of it anyway.

When we look at it, realistically speaking, no one's going to be playing a game that large long enough to see it all. If the game is large enough to accommodate the gamer, it's going to be more or less nonlinear to the person in the end, because no limits in the game can itself be found. That is the illusion, but will it satisfy?

Even if the game is enormous, if the other aspects suck, no one is going to play a game you put all your hard work into. The term "nonlinear" or the illusion thereof doesn't put a guaranteed seal on the game. Developers have to make sure that the game runs like a game should, with other game aspects that go along with the whole experience.

Will this suffice? I'm sure that many of us clamor for a game that's going to bring in more freedom of play than the previous one, and in the endgame this illusionary nonlinear game may just be the farthest we can realistically reach into absolute playing freedom. Perhaps... in ways we just have to be content.

In retrospect, there IS one that we can consider a truly nonlinear experience: LIFE.

Try it. It's good when you get the hang of it. No such thing as save and reload though.




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