The effects and importance of persistence and permanence in a virtual world

Consistency is something many of us seek out and crave. We may take those adventurous trips and seek out new and thrill-inducing activities, but deep down — a lot of us want something that sticks.

It could be speculated that this is why, when people reach a certain age, they begin to “settle down”. That they seek the comfort of knowing a spouse or loved one will be waiting for them at home, in the same comforting old house, with the same comfortable pair of cozy slippers.

To have a sense of real investment and security in the world, people have to feel as though the things around them remain consistent.

We touched recently on a similar concept, where we spoke about the importance of co-creation in games and how humans have an innate desire to noticeably affect the world around them as a result of their actions. Persistence and permanence is arguably an even more crucial component in appealing to human nature, in the context of building engaging and compelling virtual worlds.

In a game like Conan Exiles or Minecraft where (over hours and hours of time investment) you start to build your own habitat and shape your ideal environment — not dissimilar to real life, you would be frustrated at best and devastated at worst to find your things gone or “reset” without your go-ahead — your input rendered inconsequential despite the planning, efforts and hours of work.

To have everything restart from scratch for a new round or match is the norm and a widely accepted format within ‘battle royale’ style gaming settings. You load in, you shoot out, you lose your life, you re-load. Players are happy with this arrangement and play the game regardless.

Titles such as Fortnite (where the build feature is extremely temporary and the world starts from scratch each time you load in) and Players Unknown Battleground — have gained incredible momentum and popularity, but appeal to a different kind of audience than a story-driven offering like VU.

In these offerings, any time spent sits stand-alone; you either did well, or you didn’t. Other than boasting to teammates — past victories and achievements do little to change how you may spend the next 20 minutes of gameplay and as such forego truly immersing the user in the world in favor of fast-paced action. The users realize that any progress they make is only applicable to that match or round and will be presented with a fresh canvas next time either way.

The longevity of actual playtime in this temporary style of game is restricted to captivate only to those that wish to focus on cosmetic upgrades or are able to become very highly skilled in the combat mechanics in order to partake in a particular instance for as long as the match runs and become the ‘winner’.

We decided that this type of gaming system doesn’t fit the tone of our intended platform and audience — wanting to appeal to the more natural instincts that cause us to discover, create and enjoy. One of the ways in which VU will pivot in a different direction is to consider the idea of persistence but within a gaming universe.

The entire ecosystem and functionality of VU will operate based on what we call “parallel real time” — where time in game flows just as in the real world. Time moves forward infinitely, the story progresses and evolves items decay and there is no real conclusion (at least not yet!)

If you make a mistake or experience a great success in VU one day — you will have something to show for it the next. Similarly, you will be able to undertake projects that require more of a time commitment and visibly see your progress along the way.

This is key in building an experience that people can engage with, invest their time into and become attached to.

By leading the way for our community to exist and truly inhabit a virtual world, VU hopes to build a home away from home where a users’ experience matters, where connections formed are tenacious and where any efforts result in something tangible and long-lasting.

Ciaran Foley is CEO of Ukledo and Immersive Entertainment, Inc. a Southern California virtual reality software company developing a new virtual engagement platform called Virtual Universe (VU).

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