The Point - Why Watch Dogs' World Doesn't Feel Real

Why is it that some game worlds feel like real places, while others just feel like digital playgrounds? Danny investigates the difference between Watch Dogs' Chicago, and places like Skyrim & Los Santos.

Discussion

783 comments
Konuvis
Konuvis

Really Danny? Die-ah blo? :P

Wensea10
Wensea10

Intriguing, well one predictable reason is because it is within a video game world.

RobDev
RobDev

I agree to a point. yes it;s good to come across locations in Fallout but the second i could i got the traveller perk that opened the map up for me.

uncompetative
uncompetative

Ironic that a game about hacking should be ruined by too much information. Ubisoft got it right when they suppressed the HUD in Far Cry 2 until you pressed Reload. Africa seemed far more atmospheric and the arrivals of the enemy jeeps far more startling when not accompanied by a blip on some stupid radar. Yet, it had a hand held device justifiably in-game for hunting for conflict diamonds, about the only snag was the button was on the wrong side to go well with steering. A patch could still sort all this out in Watch_Dogs, adding a gameplay option so you don't have to be reminded what button to press to get into a car, or operate a lift. Some of us used to play with no instructions at all, pushing coins into Defender until we'd figured out the controls.

redcoza
redcoza

Brilliant Video Danny... with love back home!

KlUMZeE_1
KlUMZeE_1

Fantastic video, Danny, really love this series and the topics it tackles.

ariabed
ariabed

It would be interesting to see if gta5 would have been so polished and if the graphics and driving physics would have been so good if it had a hacking mechanic like watchdogs. I think I can live with a little less polish for the sake of a fresh new element to open world gameplay.

tycoonwill00
tycoonwill00

Every open world video game developer should watch this video, he is spot on as far as his points about being in a world that is alive whether you are there or not, it makes it feel more like real life because contrary to what most people believe....the world keeps spinning after you have made your mark and gone. But I still love watch dogs. Every game could use a few key things to make them way better whether big or small touches. But hindsight is 20/20 and that's what patches and dlc should be for, improving games and fixing issues players may not like. Not hock their crap they couldn't fit in the game because they rushed it out or are just greedy..

Somegamer45
Somegamer45

It's personal Danny, for me GTA always feels like a virtual playground with 80% emptiness, bugs, the same cars everywhere, bad lips sync, awfull textures in shop windows, And the most ugly trees i have ever seen in a game. When i turn off the console i defo dont think the game world is continue to exist, i turned the console off.. its gone!, finito ;-)


So i think YOU feel this way?, i have no problems with the gameworld of Watch dogs, i enjoy playing the game, on the couch in front of the tv, which makes it obvious it is not real at all, and i couldnt care less if it is like skyrim or GTA, i am playing Watch dogs, which should be nothing like GTA or Skyrim.. voila!


sunny_945
sunny_945

so much interactions with sorroundings even with too far things is making all things worst

snake3rules
snake3rules

My biggest gripe with the game world of chicago in watch dogs... it bears little resemblance to the actual city!!!!


I grew up in Chicago, and my parents still live there, and its almost offensive how little reverence they had for the city itself.


yes they got two neighborhoods right (the correctly titled "loop", and the incorrectly titled "mad mile" ... which is actually Mag mile, as in magnificent... why do they need to change the name of one area, but not the other?)


but then the rest of the city is made up organization and locations entirely ... most people would say the entire coast of chicago, aka south side and north of north avenue, are AT LEAST 50 percent of what makes up the city... yet neither exist in this world, and instead we get pseudo made up neighborhoods that are placed in different spots than what anyone would call their real life counterparts.


For example, when i am at the sports stadium, i should just be able to say to myself, as someone who knows the city, oh i just go north from here to hit downtown .. but no, you'd be wrong, you go straight east-- because even though soldier field is right next to the water as far east as possible, in the game its as far west as possible and in entirely the wrong position... And the same goes for nearly all of the city, except those two very truncated and altered areas-- the city just isn't right AT ALL, and it does a complete disservice to them and their notion of representing a real city in as lifelike and realistic a way as possible... If a chicago native can be dropped in the city and is completely confused, as opposed to basically at home, then you have failed in your job of recreating the city.


And where's wrigley field?? oh yeah, thats a part of the city they decided wasn't really part of chicago, despite the fact its directly in the city and considered one of the most important parts of chicago.


And don't even get me started on "the bean"-- Chicago's most famous landmark these days-- is suddenly not mirrored, but instead is all white?!?!


FAIL.

nomailx
nomailx

Oh and one more thing.


Don't forget that Watch_dogs main "perspective" is "What happens under a world that seems ordinary". The exploration doesn't happen on the ground. It's hidden in the hacks. It invites you to explore the privacy of the Game World. Not itself.

nomailx
nomailx

LOL! The Ironie! Right When Danny talks about REalistic world, there's a GTA Car Flying and jumping on top of hills like a Plastic Ball! xD

Dudes. GTA is just fooling you. They put tons of elements in game and interactions, but not one of them give you any feeling of accomplishment.


Ubisoft is Smarter. They don't try to fool you that this is a true world and stuff happens, and there are radio channels, etc. They know you're smart and you know it's just a game.


So they emphasis on the "experience" side. Instead of losing time to fool you, they prefer to focus on your gaming experience. Better physics (as in cars don't fly, people don't fly, realistic interaction between objects).


Innovative elements. Even when driving, your interaction is there. You can hack the world around you. Brand new approach to the open world genre.


And yeah the game world is focused on Aiden. Of course it is. And he has a playlist, instead of looking around radio channels.


Guess what! Welcome to the 2014s guys! People have Playlist! No one listen to the radio!


Yeah GTA throws you lots of elements in your face. It reminds me of a crappy Pizza with 100 ingredients on top, but not one tastes good and u stop eating at half a slice and try to enjoy it cause it's named "pizza" and it's supposed to be good.


Wath_dogs is "the" Pizza with fewer but tasty ingredients like just Peperoni and cheese, but what peperoni and what cheese! Damn it tastes good!!!

badwolf94
badwolf94

This is one of the things I found really interesting about Mass Effect 2. I felt like the world opened up the further I explored it and there was a lot of adventure and discovery required to advance and complete objectives which I love. What I loved even more is that it allowed for discovery without feeling overwhelming and unmanageable. Whereas in Mass Effect 3 I felt the complete opposite, even though I know the manner in which you completed and unlocked objectives hadn't changed drastically (at least in my opinion) the repetition of each mission made the world feel smaller.

qualopec_1
qualopec_1

I'm expecting to see something about the new Mass Effect.

Fanible
Fanible

That's definitely one thing I noticed, and subsequently annoyed me right away.  That Aiden is recognized and talked about all the time.  Doesn't that defeat one of the main points of the game?  That you're some grand hacker and cameras can't even register you and you instantly become blurred?  Apparently not, because everyone knows who are you anyway.  Talking about being just another person among the populace in most open world games, this is one game that should have had it no matter what.  The fact that you're not, is completely silly in a game where you're trying to fly under the radar, keeping a low profile.  How are you suppose to do that when everyone knows your flippin name and face??

I would have been fine with an occasional announcement that a hacker or hackers have been reported, or simply being known as a vigilante now and again, but no one knows who you are or what you look like. When they're shouting your name over the radio and people on the street are taking pictures of you or cheering you on, it's completely bizarre.  A truly strange choice in design for this world.  Aiden SHOULD be anonymous, mysterious and unknown.  Instead, everyone knows him, and every bad guy knows he has a family.

Scarshi
Scarshi

Hit the virtual nail on the head.

lostn
lostn

If Nintendo make a new console I doubt it will be a traditional gaming console with Mario. It will have a lot of WiiFit style experiences and cater to the non-gaming audience. If Wii U doesn't pick up in sales by end of next year, they probably shift focus to 3DS.

Gaggar10
Gaggar10

To each his own but I dont like exploring in my games. I enjoy the scenery and art but find it tedious laboring to find a place just to start a side mission

end15
end15

I like the subtlety of the point your making in this one.  Much respect.

Rockafella007
Rockafella007

You can make an argument about the radio, but lets get real....This is unfair to watchdog, for one the author of this video does not take the world the character inhabits for one.  Aidan is a vigilante that the cops are after, the only game that can make a comparison is the batman game.  And they are similar in the ways unlocks work in the game. For one in watchdog if you don't want to see the items on the map you don't have to unlock the mini ctos buildings, if you don't want to see the sidequest don't unlock them i'm at the end of the game with out seeing any of sidequest...Leaves the map a whole lot uncluttered.


spckJ
spckJ

I felt the same way in Assassin's Creed Black Flag. I loved the game, but I never felt like I was exploring and making new experiences. I always felt like I was working, going location to location to just get the collectibles and leave.

Restivus
Restivus

I haven't played this game, but all signs (reviews, game play vids) point to this analysis being spot on. The Watch Dogs' world lacks an internal cohesion that makes a world exist alone. So many parts of the environment stick out as if artificially crafted just for you. The believability and fun of exploring and interacting with that world are ruined, it's just a big ruse, a conceit to emphasize your character's ego.

A good single illustration of the fake-world-just-for-you feel is how it handles music. Gerstmann at giantbomb pointed this out in his review. Instead of tuning in or overhearing radio stations, you craft a playlist of licensed music that only you want to hear. The phony outside world occasionally bursts in with news announcements -- hey, I was listening to music! Then, what the fugue, the video game soundtrack barges on in during certain missions, no playlist controls for you this is an authentic dramatic event coming up now feel it!

Thanks again Danny for an excellent Point.

Imakuleus
Imakuleus

Right on the money.

Watchdogs made me believe if I would go into a particular neibourhood at night I could possibly be attacked or robbed, but it's more like every NPC is just window dressing. Even GTA made sure its NPCs didn't let you just waltz onto their property.
I never even liked to see the fast travel option but of course find myself using it. The train is brilliant in watchdogs. But missing key elements of mystery and danger.
Heck, you can even rob a store in WD, go around the block and return and shop. It certainly doesn't feel organic. Even the crafting on the fly is too easy, may as well cut to the chase and have a permanent supply of IEDs and such.

It's like every game has a built in game genie. Please bring back the mystery and danger and excitement of the unknown bringing out that explorer in all of us, and punish us with harsh repercussions if we are careless, or unlucky.


Go back to your roots! Don't reward the lazy complaining gamer.

ginobili1
ginobili1

One great show... keep it up Danny!

mwamba1
mwamba1

I think this was a case of Ubisoft thinking their gameplay mechanic template works through all game genres regradless. What they failed to realise is that unlocking towers in Far Cry 3 worked because even after it showed locations of stuff on the map, the tenstion of actually making it to a tower, let alone travelling to the places that were opened up on the map was fraught with danger in itself. Even if unlocking a tower showed you where treasures where, you still had to deal with wild animals, NPCs and nature to get to them. Now in watchdogs, sometimes you can unlock towers just jumping from camera to camera without infiltrating the building. then you just hop into a car and drive to the next tower without incident or straight to the place they've jut marked for you on the map.....and thats it. 

theoasis77
theoasis77

Some games do Atmosphere good, Ubi struggles with it.

Chatch09
Chatch09

No one could have possibly put it better, I agree 100%. Great video guys.

rjhelms84
rjhelms84

Brilliant video! I remember the first time I played Fallout 3, and leaving the vault was so exciting, as I really didn't know what was out there in the wastes, so it was so fun to explore! It's a real shame about Watch Dogs, hopefully they'll watch this and keep this in mind for Watch Dogs 2!

IceQBkid
IceQBkid

Excellent analysis and conclusions about open-world games. Well done! I can only hope developers will see this video and rethink some of their strategies.

bjl8624
bjl8624

Some very accurate points in my opinion. RDR and GTA V definitely feel more realized in terms of virtual worlds than WD or AC. They just feel more organic. 

ElistersK
ElistersK

Well it is more or less a dystopia, why doesn't Orwell's 198 world feel real?

maxguevera
maxguevera

Nice to see you out and about San Fransisco! A little bit over produced with the camera work, but very enjoyable none the less.

dfernand
dfernand

Its silly to display all your future objectives and their locations up front, makes a game feel like WORK with no discovery.

wgerardi
wgerardi

Pretty sure I have the same flannel as Danny (is it Hawk?) However, I like to unbutton it all the way, roll up the sleeves to my elbows and wear my Tom's Hot Dog Stand shirt underneath it. Your way is very stylish too, Danny!

wgerardi
wgerardi

Watch Dogs is a massive piece of sh*t imo. One of the worst, most tacky and ridiculous games I've played in at least a year. Such a piece of sh*t. Such a massive steaming pile of sh*t.


Btw, Gamespot, awesome job censoring the S word. You are really making the world a better place. Keep at it, guys!

Gwarpup
Gwarpup

I don't see the difference in Watch Dogs to GTA V in terms of exploration.  There is nothing in the world to explore unless a random side mission pops up which they could randomly pop up anywhere so it didn't really matter where you were exploring, they would find you eventually.  Both games needed dynamic missions you could stumble on while exploring.  Both don't have that.  To me Watch Dogs is just as believable as GTA V.  The both had equal pedestrians randomly driving around sometimes getting in accidents and blowing things up all on their own.  I like that quite a bit!  I would like to see a gameworld like this has more of a faction type system where gangs could dynamically get into big battles and you could stumble on them and take part in miscevious ways.


pikachudude860
pikachudude860

It doesn't feel real? It's a video game. Why should it?

scarred_fox
scarred_fox

dat frisco love @ 6:40  XD...priceless

mrhores_cat
mrhores_cat

@snake3rules 

Okay, I've been wanting to get this out here for a while and now seems the appropriate time to do so.

I've lived in Las Vegas all my life, and after playing Fallout: New Vegas I was extremely disappointed. They could've set the game anywhere else and it would've made sense. After thinking about why they didn't do it like Fallout 3 with real world locations, I figured that since it's their game, and their universe, they get the right to be original. I also thought that it would be way cooler if they modeled it down to detail, but honestly only locals would notice. I felt that Watch Dogs did a good job with Chicago, but that's because I'm not attached to it like I am to Las Vegas. I've only been there twice, once I just walked around Millennium Park and cooled off in The Spitting Image for a while and left, the other I rode around for a like an hour. Most people playing aren't going to notice the details.

Somegamer45
Somegamer45

@snake3rules Nah.. dont agree, it's a game.. they can do what they want ;-) And doesnt mean a city has to look like the real city. 

I never been in Chigaco, and i am not the only one.. who cares it doesnt look like the real Chicago? ;-) and i would defo never compare a game world (city) to a real one, infact when i would visit chicago or like GTA5 LA, i wouldnt think about the game at all ;-).. so it dont matter i think, its a good game.


jamesmayfanboy
jamesmayfanboy

@snake3rules I'm socked they even set the game in Chicago. Why Chicago of all places???? Seems like an odd choice no matter what the game is. Chicago doesn't really have a whole lot of character, the city looks pretty anonymous as far as big cities go. Maybe that's why they chose it?

snake3rules
snake3rules

Also as a side note ...  I lived in LA for more than 5 years after college, and GTA did this MUCH better with both their versions of los santos ... neighborhoods inarguably in the right spots, the entire city represented accurately, instead of sections displaced or deleted.

ATLracing
ATLracing

@nomailx You're just defending lazy design. Plenty of people, including myself, listen to the radio, and having personalities coming over the virtual airwaves obviously adds credibility and depth to the world. Simply throwing a few licensed tracks on shuffle doesn't reflect ingenuity; it reflects a lower budget and rushed development.


And your pizza analogue couldn't be further from the truth. Watch_Dogs also shoves plenty of mechanics in the player's face, and in its case, most of them are terrible. Hacking is incredibly uninspired, requiring one button press, the physics are straight out of the late 90s, the driving mechanics are atrocious (likely because adding fast cars would bog the streaming engine down too much), the vehicle variety is laughably bad, and the civilian AI is good at times, but also incredibly stupid at others. The only mechanic that I found to be high quality was the shooting, but even the weapon variety is pretty weak.

Somegamer45
Somegamer45

@nomailx Exactly, and to be honest i am already done with the comparison with GTA games, good comment Nomailx..

Restivus
Restivus

Ubisoft thinks atmosphere is the main character's garb.

ariabed
ariabed

I kinda agree with that, I like the idea of having to search for xtra quest, it gives more incentive for exploration.