An article on the Infinity series and the open-world genre in general.

With over 16600 downloads between them, there is no denying that the Infinity series is very popular. They are also very well acclaimed and enjoyed by all players. What is it that makes people want to play, and above all keep coming back, and keep on playing? I've recently played the first three instalments (for in-depth reviews on each, see below) and as we near the release of Infinity IV I thought it would be interesting to ponder the workings of this saga and the open world RPG genre in general.

We are indie game developers, and have mainly limited tools for our work. RPG Maker is a great program, but surely there is a limit to the girth of the products we can create? Developer Nick saved time by using a majority of RTP graphics, and the mapping was solid yet easy; there are no great works of parallax here. The music is also mainly from the original pack, so we can acknowledge that expenses were spared as far as resources were concerned.

This has got to be one of my favourite screenshot!

So the strengths of Infinity reside in the game mechanics and the gameplay. Indeed, this is something that the context of their creation would imply. A game that promises an vast open world, with no story, the enjoyment of which is entirely based on the player's chosen interaction with their environment and built by one person with limited resources, is bound to concentrate its efforts on the mechanics of the world in the goal of making the play experience as fun as possible.

To bring this fun level to a maximum, the developer has to divide the most of their time between two fields; the vastness and diversity of the game world, and the amount and variety of things to do in it. The design and polishing of the game are bound to suffer. It would be extremely ambitious to conceive a game as large as it would be beautiful. As always with RPG Maker, the quality of the game relies only on the developers motivation; and we're only human!

Being a cat is always fun!

The key to getting such a project right, is to keep it simple. If you want your world to be interesting a jam-packed with things to do, you can't get bogged down in the nitty gritty. Ultimately, the final project would suffer, as would your sanity through development. Has Infinity managed to capture the promises a real open-world game makes?

When you think about it, when it comes to an open-world game, a lot of the charm resides in the hype it gives itself, and the possibilities and excitement it evokes within a potential player. A game world could never be complete, and would never permit the player to do exactly the thing they wanted, but there is that magic moment that varies in length from game to game where you feel that anything is possible, and an exciting world really is at your feet. A really successful open-world game would be one that would give off this sensation for a substantial period.

Pop culture references are a definate yes!

This kind of effect can be achieved via several means. At first glance one would jump directly to the conclusion that the game would have to be massive. This however isn't necessarily true. I find for example in the Infinity series, the game worlds aren't that big, yet there is a large range of environments. Indeed, the actual fact that the world is small, and the measured rate at which you encounter the variety of places is something that contributes to the enjoyment, and anticipation in play.

A game of this nature also needs to talk about itself, urge the player to yearn to visit these places. The characters need to say how dangerous a mountain range is, how treacherous a forest can be, and how dodgy that side of town is. The actual arrival in these places isn't necessarily what is important. The player needs to be sucked into the world, and feel as if they really were traveling in a place that had no end.

Personally not a fan of the snake-like party followers...

This is encouraging for the indie game developer. It means that using psychological tricks and other tools, that they don't have to spend years and years making hundreds of maps and thousands of NPCs to make their world explorable and enjoyable. However it is of course no easy feat. Everything nevertheless, starts on the game profile, the description, the promises you make. Tell the player what they'll be able to do, the multiple possibilities of your open world. Disappointment or eventual loss of interest is inevitable, strive to make the time you have them as exciting as it can possibly be.

I enjoyed playing the Infinity games, however they did not reach my expectations. I still await eagerly the open-world RPG that will have me exploring and living in a world for months on end. Maybe that is impossible at our level, but it's something to hope for! I would like to thank the developer Nick for the time he has evidently put into the series, and add that I look forward to playing Infinity IV, available soon here!

I'm not goin' back to prison!

Infinity review, here.
Infinity 2 review, here.
Infinity 3 review, here.


Pages: 1
Great article! I got chills reading it.

I never thought I'd ever have a successful series, or even one successful game. Even after Infinity 3, I thought I was done.

Now here we are, articles being written about my series, and Infinity IV on the way (with a demo just released, I might add. *Shameless plug*).

Again, loved the article.. I hope we see more open-world games coming from indie RPG Makers. The potential is limitless. :)
Pages: 1