Gaming Passion Series: Part 7 [Open World/Exploration]

Hello world. Alright, let me apologize for using that joke, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity presented before me. Getting back on focus, this opening joke or pun if you will is actually a good segue into this discussion topic: Open World and Exploration in gaming. Having already discussed the core aspects such as aesthetics and mechanics, I believe it’s time we get into the more expansive elements in games. In particular, we will be covering what an Open World is, what Exploration is, different forms of these and what they offer in a game. Without further ado, let’s explore.


open world

Ever since the birth of gaming systems, video games have only been getting bigger and bigger, in their mechanics and design. With the open possibilities that newer engines are providing, games can expand to create new environments which can amplify a player’s experience exponentially. Of course, the idea of bigger worlds is a more current line of thought as AAA titles strive for bigger world maps. However, there must be a balance to it, which I will explain shortly. First, I must explain what an Open World is.

Open World or Free Roam are terms for video games where the player is allowed to move freely through a virtual world and is given numerous options when it comes to actions within that world. This specific genre of gaming is quite refreshing when compared to most games that have a linear structure, telling the player where to go and what to do. In addition, it leaves a lot of thinking and imagination to the player on what they should do, which often can help immerse the player in the world and even get them invested in gameplay. This is often most evident in games under the Sandbox subgenre, which is something that can be talked about in another discussion. But nonetheless, numerous types of games have open worlds in them, such as RPGs, Adventure, and Action games. Below are examples of games that have open world and free roaming.








As for exploration, it is essentially a part of any game that involves traveling to a location to find new things. Thus, exploration is embedded in each of the games above and countless others, giving players the thrill of finding items and creatures or even taunting them with the thought of the unknown. Regardless, exploration needs the player to find new areas along with new things. These can be signified by quests, mission objectives, or even little things that a player is enticed by to go to a place.

Now what does Open World and Exploration do for games? Well, it does a few things. For one, it creates a greater playing field. Instead of confining the player to a single room with an objective, games that include open worlds and exploration allow the player to do so much more, at least in a movement perspective. In addition, it allows there to be more content to be placed within the game. After all, only so many things can be put into a small room, but a whole ecosystem could fit hundreds if not thousands of assets. Other than this, open worlds and exploration can give the game a longer play time and perhaps some replay-ability.


However, there is still a con to having an open world in a game. For one, developers will have to devote more time to fleshing out the extra areas that may not be connected to the main play area of the game, placing assets and objectives so that it doesn’t feel empty. This takes time and resources, thus making the development process much longer. As for a player’s experience though, the game can either begin to feel too long or just empty. One of the most recent examples of this is none other than No Man’s Sky.


So overall, open worlds and exploration can greatly enhance a gameplay experience, offering different opportunities for the player and developer’s alike. Aside from a long process, it can allow some creative freedom and thus lead to interesting content that would be unique to open world games. If you feel like adventuring, finding new things, exploring new regions, or even shaping the landscape to your own design, open world games are just the thing for you. Hopefully this discussion explored some options that you may have been looking for and given some good insight. With that, my objective is complete.

Posted on Nov 2, 2017 2:28:56 PM by Jordan Leong

Jordan Leong

Written by Jordan Leong

Studying Game Design at UAT.


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