One of the features in the upcoming Eschalon: Book II that I’ve been meaning to comment on is the weather. Apparently, it will have more of an in-game effect than usual.

Typically, weather is a graphics frill. It looks pretty, but otherwise doesn’t do much. No one worries about being soaked to the skin or frozen in place or having a hard time targeting enemies.

Since EB: II plans on having weather affect the character directly, I’ve been wondering if this is a desirable feature. Obviously, in real life, fighting in a blinding snowstorm or raging thunderstorm is difficult. In games, we can usually ignore those effects.

Do we want such obstacles in our games? Do they add to the “realism” of the experience? Would we be pleased that everything is harder in bad weather? Or would we just be annoyed at one more thing to make our lives difficult?

I’m becoming uneasy about all this “real” stuff that’s coming or already in games: “real” physics, “real” destructible environments, “real” weather effects, and who knows what else (I’m not sure I want to know).

How much “real” do we need for a game to be fun? How many games have we played that we enjoyed, without much of “real” anything? And is this “real” stuff a cover, hiding the fact that the games may not have so much in the way of “real” content?

Of course, there are people who like this sort of thing: the “realistic” graphics, the “realistic” environments, and maybe even “realistic” weather. Sometimes I wonder if there’s anything left for the player to imagine.

Shucks, it’s becoming hard to imagine our alter egos, what with predetermined characters (as in the forthcoming Space Siege), and elaborate creation sequences (Fallout 3).

These are the times I yearn for the older games. The graphics may have been clunky, but I could put a lot of my own “story” in there. Without “real” anything, except real imagination.