The State of Immersion (or lack there-of)

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guiskj

Squire
Indeed! It's beginning to feel like all of the "big features" that the game offers are more "under the hood-like" systems. For example, the way the economy works, the way workshops work, how to manage fiefs, how quests/issues are generated and effect the world, character traits, kingdom decisions -- all these things are meant to be a massive part of what is meant to make Bannerlord stand out, but infact the player barely notices these mechanics as they all feel so behind the scenes and out of the player's control, making them feel shallow, boring and inconsequential. (When they really shouldn't be)
Absolutely. I have harped about TW's seemed lack of Game Design knowledge primarily due to this! In a single player game everything is about the Player, yet so much of Bannerlord feels like a simulation exercise where the Player either has no idea what is going on or has no agency on it (or often both).

The economy is the biggest example for me. Yes, it is complex and deep, but the Player has no freaking idea what is going on outside of some broad strokes and has almost 0 chance of affecting in an any meaningful way.
This means the player:
A. Cannot understand how this feature affects his or her gameplay
B. Has no way of interacting with the feature in a meaningful way

In a single player game, A+B means a feature, as is, should not exist!

Some parts of Bannerlord are quite impressive from a programming standpoint, but make for a poor Game.

The combat is truly this game's saving grace because it is, in my opinion, the only facet of this game where everything was created with the Player in mind and then effort was made to train the AI on how to use it well.
 

TripleThreat

Sergeant at Arms
WBM&BWF&SNW
Absolutely. I have harped about TW's seemed lack of Game Design knowledge primarily due to this! In a single player game everything is about the Player, yet so much of Bannerlord feels like a simulation exercise where the Player either has no idea what is going on or has no agency on it (or often both).

The economy is the biggest example for me. Yes, it is complex and deep, but the Player has no freaking idea what is going on outside of some broad strokes and has almost 0 chance of affecting in an any meaningful way.
This means the player:
A. Cannot understand how this feature affects his or her gameplay
B. Has no way of interacting with the feature in a meaningful way

In a single player game, A+B means a feature, as is, should not exist!

Some parts of Bannerlord are quite impressive from a programming standpoint, but make for a poor Game.

The combat is truly this game's saving grace because it is, in my opinion, the only facet of this game where everything was created with the Player in mind and then effort was made to train the AI on how to use it well.

I completely agree, as a programmer I can recognise that the systems in place are impressive, but that's only from the inside looking in. Unfortunately alot of the systems don't translate well when you're looking at them from the outside as a player in the game. You can tell there's alot going on, but your decisions don't feel like they're having any effect on those things. I feel like another NPC doing NPC-like tasks and even worse than that, I feel like the NPCs actually have access to more than me as a player (such as clans only defecting to NPC ran kingdoms, NPCs gangs in cities but no player gangs, etc)
 

guiskj

Squire
I completely agree, as a programmer I can recognise that the systems in place are impressive, but that's only from the inside looking in. Unfortunately alot of the systems don't translate well when you're looking at them from the outside as a player in the game. You can tell there's alot going on, but your decisions don't feel like they're having any effect on those things. I feel like another NPC doing NPC-like tasks and even worse than that, I feel like the NPCs actually have access to more than me as a player (such as clans only defecting to NPC ran kingdoms, NPCs gangs in cities but no player gangs, etc)
Right. I think that was a design constraint that has hurt Bannerlord a lot, the fact that the AI interacts with all the features in the same way the Player does.

NPC behaving like Players is something that sounds nice and that we, Players, often are excited about, until we realise that what this really means is that limitations will be placed on the features the Player has access to in order to allow the AI to reasonably interact with it.

To me, in a single player game, that is folly. Having interesting, meaningful, Player focused features is what makes a game great. You then make the AI do whatever it needs to do to give the Player the perception that all entities in the game world behave the same.

Or you use Machine Learning to train the AI to behave like an active participant, but that has its own downfalls and it is not something that fits every game.
 

froggyluv

Grandmaster Knight
NW
A well polished or intriguing game has all the math and complex systems working on all cylinders below the surface while finding creative and compelling ways to inform the player of these goings on. The lowest common denominator imo is the conveying all information as a stats excel sheet or the Encyclopedia -just a tab of limitless information -is not an interesting way to gather information in a game of this sort.
 

Midnitewolf

Sergeant
The State of Immersion: Bannerlord Edition

While playing through Bannerlord, I really feel like it's lacking a lot of the immersion and cohesion (features working in conjunction) that I find in Warband. That's not to say that I feel the game is bad, it's still good but it has so much more potential that I'm sure will come with time. Let me get straight in to it.

If any of the things I mentioned down below are already in the game, and I haven't noticed already let me know. Also reply with your own opinions or thoughts. I apologize in advance if these points have already been mentioned before or are in someway incorrect.
  • Offer of vassalage
    • In Warband, if you earned a decent amount of renown and didn't belong to a Kingdom already, there was a chance you would receive a letter offering you a place as a vassal in x Kingdom. While I doubt it was a route many players took, it was there and it added a decision for you to make, one that could completely change the direction of your playthrough. As far as I know, this doesn't exist in Bannerlord.
  • Lords defecting to your Kingdom
    • I could be wrong on this one, but it feels like Clans don't defect to your own Kingdom? In Warband it felt pretty good to see a Lord leave their Kingdom and sit in your capital, for them to ASK YOU to join your Kingdom, once again adding choices to your playthrough and allowing you to grow your Kingdom without passing a bunch of skill checks and always having to make the first move.
  • Companions, companions, companions!
    • In Warband, each companion felt, looked and behaved uniquely. Companions had their backstories, base skills and personality types that would lead them to quarrel with each other. Yet again, adding choices to which companions you choose as you don't want them all hating each other, leading them to hate being apart of your party and ultimately ditching you. Doing certain actions such as raiding or failing quests would upset some companions but not others. Right now, they just feel like named soldiers that'll go along with anything, I barely care about who I pickup as long as they can fulfill a clan role that isn't occupied already.
  • Feasts/Tournaments
    • It was a meme, but now that they're gone, I miss them. They were an easy way to introduce yourself to all of the Lords in your (or another) Kingdom, get quests and meet ladies (Dedicating a Tournament victory to them also). Tournaments would be held when feasts were on-going, and thus allowed you to fight against Lords and not just a random pool of soldiers. Tournaments were a slightly more rare occurrence than what they are in Bannerlord, I feel like there is an abundance of Tournaments going on at any given time, allowing players to quickly rack up gold and items that you couldn't otherwise get so quickly. A Tournament in Warband felt like a great opportunity to get that extra income and renown, now it just feels like what I should be doing all the time making the gameplay loop quite repetitive, especially early-game. It just feels cheap. Feasts would also be good distraction for Lords, and allows for some tactics to be had, you could strike when the enemy was most vulnerable.
  • Armour Effectiveness/Feel
    • For context, I play with all realistic settings. I couldn't help but feel like as I acquired better and better armor, that it really didn't make much of a difference. Looters were throwing pebbles at me, taking a sizable chunk of my health with some of the most top-tier pieces of armor in the game. The game feels like it caters more towards quantity rather than quality when it comes to armies. In Warband, if I had a small band of elite tier troops, you bet your ass I could take on more enemies than usual. You could feel the difference so much more in Warband as you acquired better gear or upgraded your troops to the higher tiers. Armor also feels quite same-y, when you strike someone in full plate, it feels exactly the same as when I hit someone in leather. In Warband, when you try to swing a sword at full plate, they feel tanky and clanky.
  • Personality Types / Traits
    • In Bannerlord, there is suppose to be different traits people can have, though it doesn't feel like it's integrated into anything. All of the NPCs feel exactly the same and I don't feel as though I'm treated any differently based on how much Valor/Honor/Dishonesty/any other trait I may or may not have. The trait system doesn't feel cohesive with the rest of the game at all. I never get told when I receive a trait, and there's no indicators of how making a certain choice or choosing a certain dialog option will effect my traits. I feel the system could be great once it's implemented properly. Warband had a much simpler system of an Honor Rating for the player, and the NPCs had certain personality types that would react differently based on the players honor, relation and previous actions. I feel as though the Bannerlord system has much more potential than Warbands, but right now it seems useless.
  • Marshals and Marshalship
    • I can only describe having Marshals in Warband as being cool. It added another layer to the hierarchy in the factions, giving one Lord that extra bit of power and respect over the others, allowing them to call upon all the other Lords of the realm to go on a campaign. This feels so much more immersive than "Lord x has made an army, join it if you want, if not no worries, decisions don't matter". In Warband, you were SUMMONED by your Marshal, and if you didn't follow through then there were consequences. Furthermore, being offered Marshalship felt rewarding, it also felt risky as you now had a lot of responsibility. Now it just feels like: "okay let me spend this arbitrary number (influence) to force some NPCs to follow me".
  • Tavern NPCs
    • Ransom Brokers
      • Right now, you can sell prisoners to any city, some might consider this an improvement, but personally I liked that you weren't guaranteed to be able to sell your prisoners. It made storing prisoners in dungeons an actual useful thing, so you could sell them later when a ransom broker was closer to your fief. Not always being able to sell prisoners also encourages you to venture out to the world to find them, getting you in all kinds of trouble.
    • Wandering Minstrels
      • In Warband, these fine men could teach you poems, which you could later use to help woo a certain lady. This would help alot in Bannerlord because there is literally nothing you can do to boost relations lol.
    • Book Merchants
      • Book Merchants added another layer of depth to Warband, allowing you to read books to gain permanent or passive bonuses to your attributes. These would become very useful late game.
    • Travelers
      • These NPCs helped you find all of the above NPCs, plus your companions if they were captured or lost somehow. Right now everything is readily available in your encyclopedia, as if you have telepathic knowledge of everyone's location, nothing is less immersion breaking than that. I'm sure people don't mind it, but it would be cool to at-least have a realism option for this kind of stuff.
    • Quest NPCs
      • Occasionally in Warband you would find a farmer in a city tavern looking for someone to help his village that is infested with bandits. Adding more hidden away Quest NPCs in Taverns could add a lot to immersion and encourage exploration.


I'm sure there's plenty of more things that seem missing in Bannerlord that Warband had, and maybe not all of them are good and maybe even some of the points I mentioned above aren't good for Bannerlord, but the absence of all of them combined leaves me with an experience that is nowhere near as immersive as Warband. I look forward to the improvements that will come in the upcoming patches.

You forgot Claimants. I miss not being able to take the side of a claimant and being able to put them on the throne.

On the other hand, I don't really think the Native game has to have any or all this rather the game just needs the framework added to allow modders to add any and all this. I mean I am really not sure what Taleworlds final plans are but what I would have done if I were them is give Bannerlord a decent, basic Native experience while focusing on providing a robust framework for modders to work with. Then I would just turn modders lose on the game and let it take off. Finally, to ensure a continued revenue stream, I would focus my development team on making official Taleworld full conversion mods to be sold as DLC with the goal of at least 1 new Total Conversion DLC a year. On one hand, they would be competing with modders but considering they are the original creators and a professional development studio, I am sure their "official" mods would be high enough quality that people would buy them. Also, since these Total Conversion DLCs would be moddable in their own right, modders would be making mods specifically for these DLCs which in turn would drive the sales for these DLCs.

Also, if I have to be honest, I don't think Taleworlds should consider adding any of this at this point, rather they just need to focus on release the game. I am really concerned that all the hype around the game has been exhausted by the extended early access period and that the majority of the modding community has abandoned the game. The vast majority of mods on Nexus mods have not been updated in 6 months and upon reading comments from the authors the overwhelming reason they have abandoned the mods is because the game is still in early access and the frequent patches constantly break if not outright destroy the mods they have worked so hard on. Many are tired and have just quit updating things and I am afraid they might not come back if Taleworlds doesn't get this game released soon. The modders will add most of the immersion related features once the game releases.
 

Midnitewolf

Sergeant
Right. I think that was a design constraint that has hurt Bannerlord a lot, the fact that the AI interacts with all the features in the same way the Player does.

NPC behaving like Players is something that sounds nice and that we, Players, often are excited about, until we realise that what this really means is that limitations will be placed on the features the Player has access to in order to allow the AI to reasonably interact with it.

To me, in a single player game, that is folly. Having interesting, meaningful, Player focused features is what makes a game great. You then make the AI do whatever it needs to do to give the Player the perception that all entities in the game world behave the same.

Or you use Machine Learning to train the AI to behave like an active participant, but that has its own downfalls and it is not something that fits every game.

I actually agree. Often what is balanced and working for a player isn't balanced and working for the AI. For example it would be much more easy to balance AI armies if they just spawned in what was needed rather than make lords recruit troops like a player does.

So yeah, this quote sums up how the game should have been developed.

"To me, in a single player game, that is folly. Having interesting, meaningful, Player focused features is what makes a game great. You then make the AI do whatever it needs to do to give the Player the perception that all entities in the game world behave the same."
 

Venlar

Regular
Personal feedback on some features, mostly negative, not because i dislike features themselves, but they was implemented not so great and caused frustration in most playthroughs after first one.

-Offer of vassalage
Yes, it's awesome to receive letter with offer and each time you decline it your relationship goes down, again and again. Sometimes you chase bandits, click to move to them and done! You are a vassal now, because your cursor was exactly over the button "accept" when offer of vassalage number 271 arrived and you was trying to do something else.

-Companions, their personalities etc.
For me it was one of the most annoying parts - it's fine to learn their stories in first playthrough, but after this they keep sharing their stories, again and again, complaining and annoying you.
"Look my lord this is Suno! I am from here or maybe i was here! I'll share a story about Suno with you!Look! Look!" - No, my dear Firentis, this is a mod, Suno doesn't exist on this map and you are dark elf now, also you became a girl, congratulations and stop ruining my immersion.
Basically talking companions is like a sign from developers "Listen, we don't think anyone will play this game more than once or twice, so we'll just shove all 200 pages of lore in your face and we don't care do you like it or not, and there is no option to disable it, so, enjoy!"
Nowadays thanks to all those interactive and talking companions (in modern games in general) in any day i'll rather choose silent and reliable companion without predefined set of skills when i can decide what will he be and doesn't feel like half of his possible progress was wasted on something i don't want to use in current playthrough. Sadly, there is rarely any choice given.
Thing is - i remember names of Ymira, Deshavi, Matheld and Artimenner even after all this years, but if you ask me what was names of companions from mass effect for example - i'll honestly tell you that it's not like i forgot their names, i didn't even cared if they had names in the first place. Sorry, ME fans. So, my complains in this case not about the feature itself, but rather how it was implemented. And realistically when M&B was designed and companions was implemented it wasn't possible to predict how many mods will be created and what kind problems for modders it will add. Actually, modding itself wasn't even planned at this point probably.

-Feasts
Didn't had any complains about them. Free reputation, tournaments each day, good times.

-Character creation
It wasn't on the list. My complains about it - It does work. As long as you are in Calradia and it's your first or second playthrough. Or if you don't have specific goal in mind before you even start another playthrough. Otherwise it just doesn't.
It is immersive. I was watching others starting their first game in Bannerlord for example and people actually liked that system when you choose what was your life before game itself starts and it is affecting your stats. I had same reaction years ago in M&B but.. now, 17(?not sure) years later, i don't like it. First impression is nice and all, but when it's gone and forgotten you look only at system itself and what you can use this system for. And it's not a character creation system, it's rather "character, who is a horse archer" creation system. I am creating character in Bannerlord, i carefully choose each and every option, i want to concentrate on athletics, 2 handed weapons and medicine. Result? 3 focus points in Riding, no any another skill have more focus ponits than riding, two focus points in bow. Two handed weapons and medicine 1 focus point each, maybe 2 occasionally thanks to differences in choices. Some random points scattered here and there, but none of them important because i wouldn't use any of this skills anyway, thanks to current character developement system. I was a horse archer in M&B all the time without even realizing it. Eventually i had 2 handed cleaver and athletic for sieges, sure. But now in Bannerlord when i can actually develop character by using skills all i can create in a character creation stage is a horse archer.

Do i like all those immersive features in general? Yes. Do i like when features jump in your face repeatedly when you are trying to do something else? No.
I would rather choose design where if i want to learn some lore from companions i can talk to them in the tavern, about this or that, maybe drink there together or play games. This is just an example, i don't want to play with companions or talk to them, thanks to modern game industry, where it just became a trend to add dozens of voiced npcs who share their stories and feelings with you, fully voiced, with loooooong subtitles in the end. For some reason people calling it a "game" even if it didn't had any kind of gameplay in it. Immersion in general is cool, but it's just to easy to ruin gameplay if you focus on immersion only.
 
Thing is - i remember names of Ymira, Deshavi, Matheld and Artimenner even after all this years, but if you ask me what was names of companions from mass effect for example - i'll honestly tell you that it's not like i forgot their names, i didn't even cared if they had names in the first place. Sorry, ME fans.
Basically, you are one of those "too long didn't read" people. If you can't remember the ME companions, the MAIN game feature, some games are just not for you, it's not the game's fault.

IIRC most companion conversations in WB could be skipped with "i don't care, **** off" dialog line for those that don't care or have read it many times already (they also had a "stop complaining altogether" dialog).
If a conversion mod had original companion dialogs, then it was the mod that was poorly coded, those are simple to switch off or change. To reduce dialogs so mods would not **** up their coding is a bizarre argument to make.
 
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Bovice

Recruit
Walking around the city and lord halls obviously is a pretty empty experience at the moment. But, there’s a hint of immersive elements they haven’t fleshed out yet, I’m optimistic this is the plan. Some of those features have slowly been trickling in I’ve noticed (barbers / jailbreaks)

Hopefully they make walking around your city or castle a rewarding experience in the future.

Perhaps add additional ways to progress in skills / equipment / denars / etc... other than clicking buttons on the overview map. Random encounters with rare companions, dialogue options that can improve notables quality of troops for a period of time / improve defenses / or goods output.
 

Venlar

Regular
Basically, you are one of those "too long didn't read" people. If you can't remember the ME companions, the MAIN game feature, some games are just not for you, it's not the game's fault.
It's just your opinion. Amount of text isn't issue for me. Neither ability to understand, and i don't jump to baseless conclusions just because those conclusions something i want to believe in. Characters in ME wasn't that great. I can read 800 pages of text per day on average, this is my opinion based on 20k+ books i've read. Your opinion based on your experience, different experience - different result in evaluating characters. For you characters was main feature, for me world itself was main feature, so i read everything carefully. And it's not that "some" games not for me, i think 90%+ of AAA games on steam in my ignore list, so it even worse than you imagined, but for very different reason.
If a conversion mod had original companion dialogs, then it was the mod that was poorly coded, those are simple to switch off or change.
Even if it was easy, just as easy as having 20+ companions in one game, people rarely did it or touched companions at all. Unless you are interested in modding yourself you wouldn't even know is it easy or not. And you are right on this one, but i never even modded anything myself in the M&B, so for me it was an issue for a long time. As for option "stop complaining" after battle it was disabling only complains, not consequences, but only if IIRC. First time i ever touched files in M&B was done not to mod but to read, because it wasn't easy to play chinese mod without understanding of chinese language, so i had to read information i need from game files.
To reduce dialogs so mods would not **** up their coding is a bizarre argument to make.
Never suggested to reduce amount of dialogs,texts,lore, descriptions. If you wrote it intentionally so that i could return your words "Basically, you are one of those "too long didn't read" people" back to you - sorry, not gonna bother.
 
It's just your opinion. Amount of text isn't issue for me. Neither ability to understand, and i don't jump to baseless conclusions just because those conclusions something i want to believe in. Characters in ME wasn't that great. For you characters was main feature, for me world itself was main feature, so i read everything carefully.
That ME companions make the ME games is not "my opinion" it's "everyone's but yours" opinion - at least from the people that liked the ME series. The combat was mediocre and the quests, which indeed fleshed out the world by telling a story, were either full of helpful companion comments or they were about the companions, like the loyalty missions in ME2. Maybe you are just unique.

Never suggested to reduce amount of dialogs,texts,lore, descriptions. If you wrote it intentionally so that i could return your words "Basically, you are one of those "too long didn't read" people" back to you - sorry, not gonna bother.
Let's see here, your rant:
"Look my lord this is Suno! I am from here or maybe i was here! I'll share a story about Suno with you!Look! Look!" - No, my dear Firentis, this is a mod, Suno doesn't exist on this map and you are dark elf now, also you became a girl, congratulations and stop ruining my immersion.
...was about a modded companion ruining your immersion with vanilla content someone forgot to take out or change. Whoever modded that is to blame. If it's you, it's your fault, not the game's. But you seem to blame the original developers for somehow ruining your immersion.
 
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Shillslayer

Banned
What amazes me is the amount of extremely simple things missing from the game, such as handwritten companions (give me a months salary and I'll get Taleworlds atleast 20 quality handwritten companions with dialogue options for every possible interaction), or just various dialogue options with the nobles in the game (i'll give you this one for free, just send me a PM). The presence of female warlords truly and finally breaks the suspension of disbelief and detracts from the immersion aswell; it's not a magical universe, it's a fictional but historically-inspired universe.
 

Venlar

Regular
That ME companions make the ME games is not "my opinion" it's "everyone's but yours" opinion - at least from the people that liked the ME series. The combat was mediocre and the quests, which indeed fleshed out the world by telling a story, were either full of helpful companion comments or they were about the companions, like the loyalty missions in ME2. Maybe you are just unique.
Naah, just another guy in the internet.
Everything else is your interpretation of few sentences out of context.
"Well, indeed author wrote "do not cause harm to others", but what he was actually trying to say is "do not cause harm to others unless you really want to do it"
 

Senko

Sergeant
Agreed with most points really, it's sad.

Random generated companions are really boring. And now that they can die in battle they are even more forgettable.
I hired a healer and he died in his first battle, i was like "eh whatever".
Even the ones stick with you for a long time just don't grow on me.
Their skills level so slowly and armor is so expensive now you cannot make them into badass warriors.

Why not just add some unique companions with personality and dialog but also keep the random generated ones?
 

Poddicus

Knight
M&BWBWF&SNWVC
Lack of meaningful dialogue and interaction makes the game feel so empty.
During a long playthrough in Warband I often feel attached to AI lords whom I have a high relation with and such, it feels more in depth. Same with companions, whereas in Bannerlord they just feel like any other named soldier, same goes with AI lords. The only purpose they serve is to find enemy parties to fight.
Remember how much of a prick Count Haringoth has always been

Just feels like there's nothing to do. Nothing matters other than waiting to take more castles and cities.
Why not add more interaction with NPCs, both in general in scenes and on the map, make them feel alive.

More things to do outside of fighting other kingdoms. Varying types of neutral parties, clan vs clan in-fighting, idk

Personally I'd like to see something like dynamic encounters and interaction all around scenes in castles, cities and villages, enough to keep you occupied for more than just a few minutes. Residents recognising you as the lord, recurring characters(not just gang leaders who sit there and do nothing), giving orders for arrests or whatever. But I'll dream on.

Brilliant thread overall.
 

Dreed89

Sergeant at Arms
Lack of meaningful dialogue and interaction makes the game feel so empty.
During a long playthrough in Warband I often feel attached to AI lords whom I have a high relation with and such, it feels more in depth. Same with companions, whereas in Bannerlord they just feel like any other named soldier, same goes with AI lords. The only purpose they serve is to find enemy parties to fight.
Remember how much of a prick Count Haringoth has always been

Just feels like there's nothing to do. Nothing matters other than waiting to take more castles and cities.
Why not add more interaction with NPCs, both in general in scenes and on the map, make them feel alive.

Personally I'd like to see something like dynamic encounters and interaction all around scenes in castles, cities and villages, enough to keep you occupied for more than just a few minutes. Residents recognising you as the lord, recurring characters(not just gang leaders who sit there and do nothing), giving orders for arrests or whatever. But I'll dream on.

Brilliant thread overall.
I agree completely. I have also been stressing this in various threads.

The sad thing is we still don't have a slightest idea on this topic. What has TW planned for this? Why is "I have a quick question" dialogue left untouched since the EA release? TW doesn't even share or acknowledge anything.

Will villagers say more, will lords have personalities? Nothing, really.
 

Bloc

Archduke
WB
The economy is the biggest example for me. Yes, it is complex and deep,
Bannerlord economy is deep and complex? :smile: A second-grade kid can draw its outlines with several days of gameplay.

It could be way better or complex and it wouldn't still be called deep. But yeah it's better than Warband in that sense and it's a game - and that's fine. But saying that it's complex, deep and saying its" quite impressive from a programming standpoint" is hilarious. Sorry.
 
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