PC Gamer has posted a conversation with Warren Spector, Harvey Smith, Steve Gaynor, and others about what makes an “immersive sim.”
It’s everything you’d want from such a discussion with the people who’ve kept this kind of gameplay alive. In particular, I enjoyed the stories that Warren and the others told of their epiphanies at seeing the surprising system-interactions that make immersive sims so much fun. The stories had the feel of Zen kōans – I kept expecting someone to say, “And at that moment he was enlightened.”
I’m putting this note in the System Shock section partly because the original System Shock came up several times in the conversation, and because Warren let slip some extremely tiny tidbits of knowledge about System Shock 3. But I also wanted to close by quoting Steve Gaynor (Gone Home) and Warren on what System Shock, with its original design, has to offer gamers today:
[b]Steve Gaynor:[/b] I replayed System Shock 1, and it was sort of a surprise to me to realize there is no skill tree. There is no economy. This is about a place, and you as a character with a role in it. It has enemies in it, different ways you can address problems, but there's so much that we think of as being part of what an immersive sim is that is really just the version of it that we've arrived at.
Warren Spector: In some sense, actually, System Shock is actually the purest expression of what an immersive sim can and should be. All the character stats, upgradeable this and economy that, all that stuff you were talking about, it kind of turns things into a hybrid RPG-immersive sim thing that I love, I absolutely adore that kind of game, but in a sense if you’re talking about the absolute purest form of the genre, for me it’s going to be System Shock.