recent look at difficulty in game design, Gamasutra's John Harris is at it again, this time offering an ample look at what he calls 'open world games' -- titles, according to Harris, where a player is dropped into a larger world and left to figure things out on his or her own. Like his difficult games feature, the lion's share of the article is spent looking at specific examples of games he feels fit this mold, from arcade and 8-bit classics to more contemporary examples like the Grand Theft Auto series.
Interestingly, despite GTA's inclusion in the list, Harris concedes that most of the article is spent talking about older games, an observation for which he makes no apology. According to Harris, older games feature "more elemental designs," meaning they don't get all caught up in trying to be more than just a game. Even so, the list is pretty random, with nods to titles such as Cadash, Crazy Taxi, and even Warren Robinett's Atari 2600 classic Adventure, while MMOs go strangely ignored. This last bit seems more peculiar given that that author himself spends time writing scripts for Second Life, but it is an interesting read nonetheless.
[Disclaimer: I wrote for Gamasutra from March 2006 to August 2007.]