So I'm new looking to play my first game in June. Just curious how often do you guys feel like your in a different world? For those that have played RPGs how often do you feel like your in a real life world of warcraft or skyrim? How good is the ambience for this game?
Honestly?never. This is just not that high budget or anachronism-banning of a game. There will probably always be a call for some level of suspension of disbelief for Alliance games- but that's the typical trade-off for games that run monthly. That isn't to say an effort isn't made, in general I'd say we do a pretty good job for a very frequently run national american boffer game- we just aren't film quality. So to that effect I can't say I've ever really felt like I was actually 'on fortannis' so to speak.
For me, the biggest thing is putting yourself in the right mindset to get immersed and enjoy. I fully admit to having a really awful first day in-game (for various reasons, but most prominently) because I didn't take the time to really force myself into it. I kept going on mods and patrols and fighting gnolls and stuff and going, 'yeah, okay, people in fur vests and makeup, how scary', which made it WAY less fun than it otherwise would have been.
Once you really get into character and get into the right mindset (including language), everything feels way more atmospheric and fun. It's really a case of mind over matter.
There is fun to be had, but frankly most chapters are playing in what is very obviously a boy scout camp somewhere, and our weapons aren't European-larp level much less film quality, there's a lot of obvious duct tape. There's a lot of suspension of disbelief needed, because most games can't afford the kind of permanent site in the middle of nowhere that would allow for a fully immersive setting.
That said, you get out what you put in, mentally. Especially once a fight starts, it's easy to fall into character and start taking things seriously. As a brand new character, even more so, because you don't have the OOG confidence of a big stat card and stack of get out of jail free items as answers to whatever the NPCs have up their sleeves.
SoMN's castle events are pretty much the greatest for immersion, IMHO.
Denver had a really interesting discussion about this in the past year, about what drives the feeling of player immersion. Our community here discovered that we have a lot of players whose sense of immersion is driven by character appearance, costuming and makeup. Denver has really great effort and detail in those areas, which is awesome! Now I understand why, since so many of our players seem to list that as the #1 factor in what drives their sense of "really being there." We discovered that unexpected anachronisms (by which I exclude eyeglasses, but include modern costume elements, or drinking out of plastic tavern cups, that sort of thing) can have an immediate detrimental effect on our local players' feeling of immersion.
I feel a bit like I'm the outlier locally. While I can certainly appreciate good character appearance, it affects my personal immersion not at all. Physical atmosphere is what drives that sense for me -- lighting, sound, overall mood. I could stand in a room of beautifully decorated cosplayers... under fluorescent lights, and hear the dishwasher running the background, and I am OUT creatively! OTOH, I find that a little goes a long way for me in terms of effort at covering up the anachronisms of the surroundings, adding a little mood lighting, and if there is music (recorded or live) or sound effects of some sort -- dude, even better!
I like to make my contribution to this with making sure I have a good atmosphere in my own cabin at events. I may not be able to control the setting of the whole campsite, but if I have at least one spot that I know I can rely on to be a great backdrop for the scene, that helps me tremendously with my own feeling of "really being there."
I'd really like to set up a much more in-character camp to hang out at rather than the electric-lit tavern, but unfortunately it's six hours to our nearest game, so there's a limit to how much stuff I can haul up there every month.
Not to mention the difficulties surrounding having a campfire in a 24/7 game that allows fighting anywhere.
I think this totally varies chapter-to-chapter and playgroup-to-playgroup. To me, the most immersive (of the five chapters I've played) are Nine Towers and Deadlands. Nine Towers has a great plot team and a lot of people who are willing to give the RP their all to make very immersive situations. It also runs breakfast through late in the night, so you never really need to leave game.
Deadlands only runs noonish to late night and many of us stay off site and go off site for dinner, but when I'm in game, most people give it their all to make it easy to be your character.
In both situations, it is easy for me to act as my character would and really get into what is happenening. I get very emotional when I play, and that adds to my realism.
I will say both games are on dedicated-to-larp private sites, so that probably does help as well. A good tavern can really help me settle into a game.
Two tips I can give towards making immersion easier: make sure your own character is as rounded as possible towards being a "real character" and not just an archetypical role and surround yourslef with people dedicated to stay in character as much as possible. I know some people issue "full rp" challenges where they pledge and ask others to pledge to stay in character the entire game. Your first game being on the Montrose site means you have a good shot of being around people willing to dedicate themselves and are on a larp-dedicated site with a rockin' tavern. Not being able to attend the entire event may make it difficult to get fully enmehsed, but if you are willing to put in the effort I think you will find it a pretty good experience as long as you're willing to use your imagination.
As always, I stipulate that what I have to say will vary from chapter to chapter.
I have just come back from the National event and being one who tends to be hyper-critical about immersion, I was pleasantly impressed with what happened there. I'd say I felt pretty well immersed in the game while I was in the game.
They use a youth learning camp but what they did was take out all of the bright white lights from the chandeliers and put in softer orange bulbs. The plastic seats they had put together black covers for so you never saw them. Every table had a tablecloth to cover up its modern look. Some banners to hide things that aren't allowed to be taken down and so on. If you're going to play in an existing camp, you'll have to make allowances - but it doesn't mean you can't take steps to lessen the need for suspension of disbelief. Although you can get more immersion in camping areas far removed from society, that's only if you leave behind modern tents. But as the most basic, period tents tend to cost a couple hundred dollars, it's often not possible to do. Not to mention having running water is always such a perk these days.
The costuming at the event was much better than I remember it being. Although Europe uses more natural/coarse fabrics, it is much more readily available over there. But this is a fantasy game and the colors and designs that were used were incredible. And makeup was rather well done.
The biggest killer to immersion though? Is the individual player who doesn't do very simple things. Maybe they can't afford a period drinking vessel, but that doesn't mean they should leave their empty soda or water bottles on the tavern tables. Same for wrappers of any kind for food. Keep OOG chatter away from other players. Have a burning need to discuss the latest Captain America movie? Take it away from the play space.
One thing some people forget is that if you looked at the IG world, your character wouldn't be in action 24/7 so sometimes when there's downtime, people feel as if they're slipping out of character. Mind wanders to other things so while waiting an hour for a module can cause all forms of immersion breakage to happen. So I find some hobby to pick up and do in game. I know one person who'd buy a wooden box from a crafts store and some paints for each game and during downtime, take the paints and brush from inside the box and begin to work on designing the outside of it. Granted, modern day paint bottles and brushes can be immersion breaking but less than discussions about movies.
There will always be a need for suspension of disbelief due to modern day influences in anywhere/anything we do. The best you can do is to try and avoid it and when something jumps out at you, figure out a way to mute it. Fixing immersion one breakage at a time.
I actually prefer not to be too harsh about demanding full immersion. If you think on them too long, many of the traits of our in-game world are very awkward to talk about due to being game mechanics rather than natural laws, but are just that for our characters. It gets really awkward to discuss how hard someone hits, how much punishment they can take, or how effects work in-game without breaking character due to the absurdity of how hard you have to talk around it.