The Little Things In Life - Those special, small details in games

Cowabungaa

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Yesterday I somehow ended up feeling nostalgic about World of Warcraft and all those small, inconsequential details in it that made me so very happy; even little tiny flowers in Duskwood being overrun by small vines to give the place that extra creepy feel. Or the bears in Grizzly Hills actually fishing for salmon, which did nothing of actual use yet made the place feel a lot more alive.

And I must say that I love it when any game does add, add those little things that somehow stand out regardless.

For instance, I used to really really love the animations and sound effects of the weapons unfolding/folding in the Mass Effect series. The soft little clicks and slides felt absolutely perfect, very measured and not too bleep-boop-bip typical sci-fi.

So what are your favourite little touches that you can't help but noticing and bring an extra skip to your step? Do you actively search for them? Are they an important part to your gaming experience?
 

Zhukov

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Dec 29, 2009
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The gunships in Half Life 2 have prop blades that look exactly like dragonfly wings.

I just like that some asset artist took the time to include that even though it's hugely unlikely that many people would notice.

Oh, and in HL2:Ep2, when D0G takes out the strider, he actually tears its brain out. You find it on the ground afterwards, hell, if you're quick you can catch it with the gravity gun after he throws it aside.
 

Daft Ada

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One of the things I love so much about Nintendo's games are the little touches they cram in. The shark in Lake Hylia's lab in OoT; the way enemies in New Super Mario Bros bopped in time to the music as they walked; Goldeneye's flask kit in the facility, and Perfect Dark's hidden cheeses; Metroid Prime's logbooks and the dead Space Pirates in the opening level. I love spotting these kind of details in a game. They make a game feel more alive in a way that just having a higher level of realism can't match.
 

The Wykydtron

"Emotions are very important!"
Sep 23, 2010
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Good voice acting in a MOBA game, it's practically the only proper link to your character aside from their four moves so it's very important to me. It's why I still play League over every other one (i'm liking the Strife Open Beta though, 420 Blazer it) because it has good voice acting on every single character. Unlike say, DOTA where the quality ranges from awful, terribly racist in like a funny sort of way, mildly annoying, decent but not exactly interesting, slightly interesting every other line and Techies. Fucking Techies...

 

small

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dishonoured. the heart thing you get and can point at objects and people to get a narration about them.. it can totally change your view of random npcs
 

Cowabungaa

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The Wykydtron said:
Fucking Techies...

Wait, I only very recently started playing DOTA2 (gameplay-wise I find it the only MOBA so far that is...sorta okay) and somehow this feels hilarious yet I don't know why. What's up with Techies exactly? Pulling folks into bomb traps or something?
Zhukov said:
The gunships in Half Life 2 have prop blades that look exactly like dragonfly wings.

I just like that some asset artist took the time to include that even though it's hugely unlikely that many people would notice.

Oh, and in HL2:Ep2, when D0G takes out the strider, he actually tears its brain out. You find it on the ground afterwards, hell, if you're quick you can catch it with the gravity gun after he throws it aside.
Come to think of it, Half Life 2 is full of those little touches. I think that's why I sank so many hours in that game.
 

Mezahmay

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There are a few small stories included for a few of the warframe entries in Warfame's in-game codex that give character background and stuff. I think the only ones are Excalibur, Ember, and Mag Prime. Those are really neat and I wish there were more of them. Speaking of WoW, the music in the entrance and first floor of Icecrown Citadel was really cool. It just resonated with me for some reason while waiting for the rest of the god damn raid to get together D:<
small said:
dishonoured. the heart thing you get and can point at objects and people to get a narration about them.. it can totally change your view of random npcs
That heart thing was so cool. Is the game really titled "Dishonoured" outside the US? I seriously don't know and am interested to find out.
 

happyninja42

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The citizens of Empire City in the first inFamous. The way the city around you changes when you go good or bad is just delightful to me. Especially when you go good. The streets start getting cleaner, and repowered as you return power to the districts. The citizens start waving at you, and calling out your name. I even had a citizen make a startled noise when I accidentally bumped into her, and then she immediately got on her phone and called her friend, exclaiming "Hey! I just met him! Really!" like a fan girl at a convention. I loved how they would come to your defense when you were in combat, the citizens rallying to your side, hurling rocks at the villains to terrifying effect in mass.

But my single favorite part of it, was the Good Samaritan feature. Every once in a while, there would be someone sick or injured nearby, and they needed you to heal them, but they might be too far from you for you to notice. So the game would have another civilian nearer to you, call out your name and run over, asking you for help. They would then point in the direction that someone needed help, and then lead you there. This feature brought about my single most memorable moment of the game.

I was jumping around, doing my lightning parkour stuff, and heard a guy yell out "Hey! Cole! Help!" So I leap down to see what's wrong, he leads me to this other civilian injured on the street. I kneel down to heal him, and sit through the several seconds long animation that you can't interrupt without stopping the healing. As I'm kneeling down, the Good Samaritan is standing next to me, watching, and a single gun shot rings out. A street thug, on a nearby roof, took a shot at me, but missed, and killed the Good Samaritan instead. And due to the camera angle at the time, I saw the whole thing, but couldn't stop it. I was genuinely pissed at this, the game evoked a genuine feeling of anger at this death in front of me. I finished healing the injured person, raced to the nearby roof, and sucked the soul from that gang banger as vengeance. It was in that moment that I realized how much I enjoyed this game, and how invested they had made me in actually giving a shit about these digital people and their plight.
 

small

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Mezahmay said:
There are a few small stories included for a few of the warframe entries in Warfame's in-game codex that give character background and stuff. I think the only ones are Excalibur, Ember, and Mag Prime. Those are really neat and I wish there were more of them. Speaking of WoW, the music in the entrance and first floor of Icecrown Citadel was really cool. It just resonated with me for some reason while waiting for the rest of the god damn raid to get together D:<
small said:
dishonoured. the heart thing you get and can point at objects and people to get a narration about them.. it can totally change your view of random npcs
That heart thing was so cool. Is the game really titled "Dishonoured" outside the US? I seriously don't know and am interested to find out.
nope i just refuse to use american spelling haha
 

The Wykydtron

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Sep 23, 2010
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Cowabungaa said:
The Wykydtron said:
Fucking Techies...

Wait, I only very recently started playing DOTA2 (gameplay-wise I find it the only MOBA so far that is...sorta okay) and somehow this feels hilarious yet I don't know why. What's up with Techies exactly? Pulling folks into bomb traps or something?
Zhukov said:
The gunships in Half Life 2 have prop blades that look exactly like dragonfly wings.

I just like that some asset artist took the time to include that even though it's hugely unlikely that many people would notice.

Oh, and in HL2:Ep2, when D0G takes out the strider, he actually tears its brain out. You find it on the ground afterwards, hell, if you're quick you can catch it with the gravity gun after he throws it aside.
Come to think of it, Half Life 2 is full of those little touches. I think that's why I sank so many hours in that game.
Don't take this as proper advice since I don't play that much DOTA compared to something like League but do like to theorycraft even if I don't play much myself.

Techies are a unique specimen of DOTA whose moves consist of three different mines and a suicide button. They need fuck all in terms of items after like maybe one mana item.

You do nothing but place invisible traps around the map the moment you build the mana to keep consistently dropping them. Everything they have has stupid base damage and the damage from mines stack instead of refresh so you drop three mines in Side Shop at level 1 and the first person who goes in there dies from full health immediately. You also mine the rune spots, Roshan late game and places like that, the trick in the video is using Force Staff on an enemy into the mine stack (it pushes people in the direction they're currently facing)

They transition to mid/late game by stacking 4/5/6 remote bombs under your own towers and detonating them the second anyone dares to push it. Again, dead from full health. The burst is just ludicrous and so much fun to do. I thought people were exaggerating about instakills from one mine stack but they really aren't.

I've been wondering how they would exactly fit into a team comp since they can't do fights conventionally unless you count walking in and blowing yourself up as a teamfight move but I think they would be best used to counter good splitpushers like Nature's or Phantom Lancer. They ensure the enemy just cannot push if they get given the smallest opportunity to set their mines up.
 

Mezahmay

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small said:
Mezahmay said:
There are a few small stories included for a few of the warframe entries in Warfame's in-game codex that give character background and stuff. I think the only ones are Excalibur, Ember, and Mag Prime. Those are really neat and I wish there were more of them. Speaking of WoW, the music in the entrance and first floor of Icecrown Citadel was really cool. It just resonated with me for some reason while waiting for the rest of the god damn raid to get together D:<
small said:
dishonoured. the heart thing you get and can point at objects and people to get a narration about them.. it can totally change your view of random npcs
That heart thing was so cool. Is the game really titled "Dishonoured" outside the US? I seriously don't know and am interested to find out.
nope i just refuse to use american spelling haha
Oh. That's a shame. It really should have been if for no other reason than to watch people rage.
 

Chessrook44

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When you've played through so many fantasy RPGs, killed so many creatures, explored so many dungeons and fortresses and cities...

...it's nice to wander around a corner and find a cubicle with a bucket and a sheet of paper next to it for the monsters to do their business in privacy.
 

Nimzabaat

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My favorite one was in Oblivion. When it was raining I found that the AI made the beggars take shelter where they could. One time I found all of the towns beggars under the same awning.
 

Vault101

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Sep 26, 2010
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the on going saga between the young woman and her mother who live in your apartment in Sleeping Dogs

honestly she should get a spin-off
 

Erttheking

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All those little background events that made Metro Last Light feel alive. I love just stopping and listening to station dwellers playing the guitar.

 

an annoyed writer

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one of my favorites has been a series mainstay since Halo 2: when looking down, you can actually see your feet, legs, and waist, and they sync up perfectly to your third-person leg animation suite. It really helped solidify your place in that character's boots, and made it feel a lot more immersive than your average FPS where even to this day you're STILL a one-armed ghost. I really appreciated it when making maps based around the ideas of Mirror's Edge, where bodily awareness is key.

I also really like it when games go above and beyond with cars, whether it be simple customization like Saint's Row, having a trunk you can cram enemies into like in Sleeping Dogs, having useable brights/gloveboxes/other seats/gasoline tank-trail explosives like in Alone in the Dark 2008, or having the car be a driveable loot chest and hiding place with both first and third-person cameras like in Watch Dogs. I love it when game cars are more than just a faster and bigger means of getting around and/or killing things, and more games need them. Ideally, I'd want something with the driving dynamics and customizability of the Saints Row cars(Post-SR3) the interior detail of Forza, the variety of Driver SF or GTA, the loot-chest and stealthing abilities and dual cameras of Watch Dogs, the trunks of Sleeping Dogs, and the versatility of the Alone in the Dark cars. I like it when I can haul stuff, loot stuff, carry passengers, customize the shit out of it, see in multiple perspectives, and have fun handling for my cars so that when I stuff the bullet-strewn bodies Cincinnati Sal, Johnny Cheesebox, and Jimmy the Rat in the boot I can go and explode/drown/burn/crush/drop/suffocate them in style!

...fuck I've been playing a lot of crime sandboxes lately...
 

Luca72

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Zhukov said:
The gunships in Half Life 2 have prop blades that look exactly like dragonfly wings.

I just like that some asset artist took the time to include that even though it's hugely unlikely that many people would notice.

Oh, and in HL2:Ep2, when D0G takes out the strider, he actually tears its brain out. You find it on the ground afterwards, hell, if you're quick you can catch it with the gravity gun after he throws it aside.
Man, I don't know that I've ever seen a game put as much work into those sorts of details as Half Life 2. Have you read "Raising the Bar"? That thing is like a design bible to me.

I have a soft spot for the first room where you encounter the Manhacks. I love that the guy was waiting in the sewers to let you through, and that his room has a little ladder you can climb up with a sleeping area hidden out of view of passing patrols. It really felt like this guy was just living hidden away in the sewers, helping refugees escape.

And on the subject of Manhacks, I love grabbing them with the gravity gun and seeing them helplessly click their little vice at you. Like an insect on its back waving its legs around.

There's also an inconsequential journal in Deus Ex 1 in the Cathedral. It's written by a private military operative whos growing more and more uncomfortable with his peers. He talks about how he should have been suspicious when his employers didn't ask about his "previous discharge". And he mentions Gunther Hermann showing up and standing in the computer server room, motionless, just waiting for JC Denton to arrive. Like a machine waiting for a function to fulfill.


And last but not least - all the little details about the cyborg midwife in System Shock 2. At first she pops up in a hallway on Engineering(?) and just seems like another enemy. As you uncover the backstory you figure out what they're really for, and their presence in the game reinforces this idea all through the Hydroponics deck. The dialogue, especially when they haven't detected you or simply SUSPECT that someone is nearby, is brilliant.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LjtSogs0qM
 

default

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Chalk another one up for Half Life 2. The details in the environment are astounding and there are so many little stories to be found, especially where the refugees are holed up. You can find little bits and pieces that show you how they lived there, bottles of drink and packets of food and old electrical equipment stored away and rows of mattresses and blankets on the floors. And whenever you find bodies with ammo or health packs there's often a reason for them being there and you can often figure out how and why they died.

There's one guy hidden away behind a small building on Highway 17 who is slumped dead against a wall behind a gas storage tank surrounded by what looks like bottles of homebrewed alcohol and a pistol laying near his hand. Or the charred corpses that have been dumped in the waterways (most likely by Civil Protection) and ended up lodged in the sewers. Really interesting stuff.

I'm also a big fan of well animated idle characters. Guild Wars 2 has some really great little idle animations when you're just standing around or sitting, it makes your character feel really alive.

I also love in Dark Souls how you can often see entire other areas off in the distance, such as how you can see the beginning of Lost Izalith from the Tomb of the Giants or how you can look down from a balcony in the Duke's Archives and make out Anor Londo below the clouds.