Attention to Detail: How Worldbuilding can make or break a game



The Greatest Face in Koridai
Often in video games, immersion is placed at a high value; and for good reason too. When we play a video game, we want to really feel like we're really in it. Make it feel authentic, real, like it could exist in some far away place. While it technically is insignificant to the core experience, when done right it can improve the game by a ten fold. One thing that can factor greatly into immersion, is world-building. What is world-building you may ask? World-building is the art of making fiction feel authentic. Asking questions that no one else would ask and writing unimaginable amounts of detail. But the thing about world-building is, unless you're looking for it, it can be hard to find. It's questions people don't normally ask, but are subconsciously answered. Ask yourself, what makes Fallout: New Vegas so much better than Fallout 3? There are lots of reasons: the dialogue, the writing, the world, the characters, the lore. But one that is the most important yet consistently ignored is world-building. Everyone can agree that the Mojave Wasteland is far superior than the Capital Wasteland. And while you may say it's because of the design and the overall atmosphere, it's really the small things that make it the greater whole. One of the small things that most players don't think about, but every good writer needs to know, is one specific question.

What do they eat?

Groundbreaking philosophy, I know right? But believe it or not this is one of the upmost important questions that needs to be answered when designing a world. What do they eat? Where do they get their food? How do they make it? Let's analyze some settlements form games we all know and love.

Fallout 3

Rivet City is one of the more unique locations in Fallout 3. It's where the player meets the scientist Doctor Madison, and the synths are discovered. Not to mention the fact that it's all on an old aircraft carrier. They have their own market, own laboratory. But I'm not concerned about any of that, what I'm really concerned about is, well what do they eat? Look around and you won't see any crops nearby, and I doubt they make Soylent Green in that lab. You could guess that may fish, but there's never been any fish in Fallout, due to the ocean being too radiated. Maybe they scavenge for food out in the waste? Doubt it, there's not enough canned food in the wasteland to feed a Brooklyn landlord, let alone an entire survivor's colony. So I honestly have no idea where the residents of Rivet City get their Vitamin C, let alone use the washroom. Must smell like a pig pen in their.

Megaton is special in Fallout 3 for two reasons: first, it's the first settlement the player comes upon in his journey through the wastes. Second, it's built entirely around a nuclear bomb. Now I'm gonna skip asking what do they eat for this one, mostly because it'd be the same, but more so that there's a bigger issue I'd like to address. The people of Megaton consciously built their town around a nuclear fucking bomb. This makes no sense on so many levels. The first question one would need to ask is this: Why? Why would you do that? What in God's name would behoove you to do such a thing? For what purpose what you want to shelter your friends and family right next to an atomic bomb? They say it's safe but if you really wanted to the game allows you to set it off and kill everyone. It just doesn't correlate on any level of common sense, especially when there's a mostly intact elementary school at least 50 feet away. The thing is, I can think of some pretty cool reasons why they would build it next to an atomic bomb. Say that the bomb had some sort of edible low radiation fungus growing profusely around it, and fast. So the people would settle there due to the surplus of food. But Bethesda didn't do this. They did it because it sounded cool. They could have had it sound cool and make sense at the same time but didn't. Why I have no clue, and this just adds on to the long list of problems I have with Fallout 3, which you might hear more of in the future.

Fallout 4

Ah, Fallout 4, everyone's old flame. Hype, love, bitter disappointment. A rather unpleasant mix of emotions fuels me when I start up Fallout 4. Even more unpleasant than the ones I get for Fallout 3. Not because it's worse than Fallout 3, but because it's almost good. It's world-building is almost there, but not quite. The example I'm going to looking at is Diamond City, the most prominent settlement in the game. When I first walked into gates, my question was, "What do they eat?" and I immediately began to search. Well, I don't see any cr- Well actually they do have crops. Messily tucked away in the back of the city. If Diamond City is advanced enough to build their houses and buildings from scrap metal, they should surely be able to properly learn agriculture. But alas it's not the case, it's all mushed together with the bed area. And while we're on it, let's talk about the bed area. You expect me to believe that the residents of Diamond City, those who don't keep a shop, all sleep in sleeping bags in the back of town? Are you kidding me? The interior of the stadium should be completely fine, so why don't they bunk up in their instead of outside? There's so much wasted potential in Diamond City it really makes me look down on Bethesda. I could go more on this, but I'll save the Diamond City rant of another day.

One more tidbit is the butcher shop. This is a welcome addition, finally we know how they get some of their food! Diamond's City very own butcher, with her own shop and everything. It makes sense. perfect sense, except for one thing. Where does she get her meat? Obviously from a Brahmin, but I don't see any on Diamond City, and I doubt her little shack has a Brahmin pen inside it. One could argue that she might buy them from local Brahmin traders. This could be true, but if it's not set in stone then it's best to assume it's false.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Ah, Breath of the Wild. Almost a year since it's release and this game has won the hearts of so many players. But we're not here to talk about that. We're here to talk about how realistic the world is. Breath of the Wild is the most unique out of all the games in the series, for multiple reasons. One of them is how fleshed out Hyrule is. In most Zelda games, Hyrule is just a backdrop, a setting where the real story takes place. But in BOTW, Hyrule is a real, living world. This is what makes exploring it all the better, but let's take a look at some of the towns and villages in the game.

Kakariko Village is the first settlement you stumble upon in the game. You're pointed towards it after completing the tutorial and leaving the Great Plateau. It's a small village built into valley, and it's pretty common to appear in Zelda games. It's home to a variety of characters has some essential items in the shops. But there's on thing I gotta ask, what do they eat? Well, for a Zelda game the worldbuilding is quite solid. There are crops growing in fenced in areas by houses, and they raise livestock via the ever infamous Cucco. But even more than that they also have their very own functioning watermill system in the village. Each resident has their own house, name, job. All built in to make Kakariko Village feel alive and moving.

Gerudo Town, the Forbidden City of the desert where no men are allowed entry. Full of tall, tan, red headed women, Gerudo Town is quite an architectural beauty. With masterly made walls, a glowing palace, Gerudo Town in my opinion is the more well made of all the towns in BOTW. But when entering my first and foremost concern was, what do they eat? I searched the place top to bottom, looking for any sort of food source. The only attempt I found at agriculture was a quest to help a little girl plant a garden. This came as a surprise, Gerudo Town is one of the most in-depth settlements in Hyrule. It has a bazaar, a trained guard, a leadership system, some sort of educational system, a black market, and hell, they even have their own ice storage a ways from town. But no crops! Not one! There are Hydromelons, a special kind of fruit, for sale in the market, and you can find a gluttonous woman feasting on a slew of them in the town. This is a tad bit disappointing, but nothing too much to sway me away from the culture of the Gerudo.

Goron City is a settlement located on the ever-burning Death Mountain. It's completely made out of metal and populated by a special race known as the Gorons. The villages itself doesn't have too much to offer, but could you guess the first thing I thought of when I walked in the town? You probably could. But here's the thing, according to the Zelda lore, the Gorons get their nutrients from eating rocks. Not even kidding, one of the Goron characters even comments on how delectable the rocks on the mountain look. So then we really don't need to analyze where they get their rocks, them being on a mountain and all. But believe it or not the Gorons have a system to bring food to their home, and that's by mining. Yup, the Gorons have a fully functional mining operation in order to bring food to their village. So even though it's the least interesting of the villages in the game, it's still fleshed out.

Wrapping Up

World-building is a form of writing that is often overlooked by developers and players, yet it is almost essential in order to truly make a game great. It isn't some mechanic and style used only by the unorthodox, it's the act of detailing every scrape on a sword, the gleam of every blinky light. Giving a story to each detail and breathing life into a fictional world. World-building is used by every great developer and writer. (Yes, Chris Avellone is very adept at world-building.) All you need is a little bit of imagination and the ability to write, then you can craft worlds.

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Funk Police, Anti-Edgy department
this post kinda sucks tbh
you ignore the lore for 1 game, while relying on the lore in another.

there are clear reasons why Megaton was built around a bomb, so saying Bethesda did it just because it sounds cool just ruins the rest of the article.

also if its not set in stone then to assume its false is incredibly stupid. you would hate fallout 4 as much if it rubbed in your face that the trader gets her meat from caravans. Good world-building makes a person assume a thing or two, instead of showing it in their faces.