Creating immersive experiences for the players is probably the most important aspect of game design. If the game is immersive enough, the players can fully engage and be involved in that virtual world, forgetting the distractions of the “real one” for a while.
Immersion can also determine the emotional impact of a game, as well as increase the replayability. This is true for every game, including slot machines like Gates of Olympus.
But how can someone create an immersive experience? What are the elements and techniques that can be used for this purpose? Below, we will talk about the most important factors that affect immersion with the design elements of slot machines in mind.
Factors That Affect Immersion
Regardless of the genre, some common factors determine how immersive a game will be. Let’s take a brief look at these:
- The story: A compelling and coherent story will contribute to the overall experience in any type of game, including slots. Stories can draw the player into the virtual world and make them care about what’s happening on the screen. This is why slot heroes like “Rich Wilde” were created: the player feels like they are going on an adventure together with the main character.
- The gameplay: The gameplay is the core mechanic of the game. As can be expected, it should be fun and engaging, instead of frustrating or boring. The gameplay should also match the theme and meet the expectations of the target audience. The gameplay can be used to provide feedback and rewards for the player’s actions, such as triggering a bonus, winning a jackpot, or landing a specific symbol set. The base gameplay of slot machines does not differ much (the goal is always the same), but it can be made much more impressive and immersive.
- The graphics: The graphics should be appealing and consistent with the style & theme of the game. They should also support the gameplay by providing hints or cues. For example, in Gates of Olympus, Zeus raises his arm just before a wild symbol appears on the reels. Or, in many Betsoft slots, a 3D-modelled character completes a special animation when the player wins. It is also important to strike a delicate balance here: the graphic quality of slot machines should be above a certain level, but not affect the performance of the game. In other words, graphics optimization is more important for slot machines.
- The sound: The sound includes music, sound effects, ambient sounds, and any other thing you hear when playing games. These effects must complement the graphics and create a rich atmosphere for the game. They can be used to convey information and emotion to the player. For example, different sound effects can be used for different types of wins. Likewise, players can hear a special sound effect when the bonus round gets triggered.
- The user interface: The user interface allows the player to control and communicate with the game. It should be responsive, easy to use/understand, and consistent with the game’s theme. It should be used to enhance immersion by providing relevant and useful information to the player.
These are the most important things to create immersive worlds in game design. If we give some real-world examples, it will be easier for you to understand what they mean and how they are used.
Created by Netent, this casino title comes with a main character named Gonzalo Pizzaro. He is a Spanish explorer, and he is on a quest to find the lost city of gold, El Dorado. It has 5 reels& 20 betlines and features the famous “avalanche” gameplay mechanic that gives another chance to win.
Every time the player gets a winning combination, the symbols in it explode and are replaced by new ones. The new symbols can create another winning combination. Gonzo’s Quest also has a free spins feature, where the player can win up to 15 free spins with multipliers.
Another slot by Netent: this time there is no main hero but an impressive space theme with stylish graphics. The slot has 5 reels & 10 pay lines and features bright & colorful gems. They are part of the gameplay and are used to trigger different features, such as re-spins.
Starburst also has a wild symbol that can expand to cover the entire reel. This is a game that pays both ways, which means you can win from left to right and from right to left.
This slot was developed by Microgaming during the popularity of romantic vampire-themed products, such as Twilight. It features 4 main characters and each one has its own stories & bonus features. The slot comes with 5 reels and 243 betways.
It also has a wild symbol that doubles all wins and a scatter symbol that starts the “chamber of spins” bonus. The bonus offers free spins, but they can be triggered with different modifiers (such as more multipliers, more wilds, etc).
A world-record-breaking slot machine from Microgaming. The slot contains 5 reels & 25 pay lines, and it features a safari theme with lots of wild animals such as lions, giraffes, and monkeys. The wild symbol in the game doubles all payouts, and the scatter symbol can trigger 15 free spins with 3x payouts.
And, as can be guessed from the “record-breaking” feature, the game has a progressive jackpot, which contains four prize pools: mini, minor, major, and mega. The mega jackpot can contain millions.
Book of Dead
Developed by Play’n GO, this slot is based on the ancient Egyptian theme and features a main hero named Rich Wilde. He goes on a quest to find the famous “Book of Dead”. The slot contains 5 reels and 10 paylines. It has a wild symbol that can also be used as a scatter symbol.
If the player lands three or more book symbols, 10 free spins are triggered. But before they start, a special “expanding symbol” is chosen. This symbol can cover the entire reel during the feature.
Gates of Olympus
As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, Gates of Olympus is a fine example of immersive game design. It contains lots of visual cues, a simple and easy-to-use interface, graphics that fit the theme, and nice sound effects. You can win up to 5,000x total bet, and any win can result in more wins due to the tumbling reels feature.