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Decrying the Excessive Emulation of Reality In Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the plumbers-with-shrooms dept.

Games 187

An editorial at GameSetWatch makes the case that game developers' relentless drive to make games more real has led to missed opportunities for creating unique fictional universes that are perhaps more interesting than our own. Quoting: "Remember when the norm for a video game was a blue hedgehog that ran fast and collected rings and emeralds? Or a plumber that took mushrooms to become large, and grabbed a flower to throw fireballs? In reality they do none of those things, but in the name of a game, they make sense, inspire wonder, and create a new universe. ... We’ve seen time and time again that the closer you try to emulate reality, the more the 'game' aspects begin to stick out. Invisible walls in Final Fantasy, or grenades spawning at your feet when you go the wrong way in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 are examples of kicking the player out of that illusion of reality, and letting them know that yes, this is a game, and yes, the rules are designed to keep you in the space of this world, not the real world. In reality, as a soldier I could disobey my orders and go exploring around the other side. I could be cowardly and turn back to base. Games shouldn’t have to plan for every eventuality, of course, but it’s not so hard to create universes that are compelling but where the unusual, or even simple backtracking, is not so unfeasible."

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187 comments

I played a game once. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668168)

Checkers.

I played with a president's dog once. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668300)

Checkers.

I visited the Prime Minister once. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668368)

Chequers

Re:I visited the Prime Minister once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668776)

Chez Pière's.

Re:I played a game once. (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668346)

Yes, it's wxtremely immersive. I felt like I was right there.

yes, but (5, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668178)

Yes, but creating an alternative appealing universe experience takes imagination, ingenuity, creativity, sometimes requires radical approach to ideas and expects thinking outside of the box.

Doing any of that increases the risk that the outcome will not be popular enough and will not succeed in terms of sales, this is serious business and money we are talking about here, what do you think this is, a game?

Re:yes, but (2, Interesting)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668208)

In that same vein, imagination, ingenuity and creativity builds with practice, and exposing ourselves to those venues of thought. If we don't, we become robotic consumers sucking on whatever 'the market' says is the shit, leaving all the creative niceties to those higher beings. No way, everybody can, and should be creative! Too bad the two most universal human traits are fear, and laziness.

Re:yes, but (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668228)

You're confusing risk-averseness with "fear" and conservatism with "laziness".

Go earn $50M and fund your own game, see how much you value abstract notions of "creativity" then.

Re:yes, but (2, Insightful)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668380)

Go earn $50M and fund your own game, see how much you value abstract notions of "creativity" then.

Well, I see the trolls are hungry tonight...

Not every game HAS to have super high detailed 3D graphics, a physics system plucked from the altars in heaven and a big shiny display in your local games store. There are a LOT of good games created that are VERY playable, that are VERY enjoyable that are free online or played on a subscription basis.

Why don't you look around at some of the entertainment that isn't on display at your local game store and actually try it? There are VERY few games that are made with insanely high budgets, just as there are very few films made with massive budgets - that doesn't mean that there aren't a LOT of other fantastic movies out there and it certainly doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of amazing games just waiting for you to play.

Re:yes, but (4, Informative)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668456)

World of Goo is one such game, elegantly simple and more addictive than sugar candies!

Re:yes, but (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669066)

>>>Not every game HAS to have super high detailed 3D graphics, a physics system plucked from the altars

Yes you would think that, but it's not how the average buyer (read: kid, teen, or young adult) thinks. As example I didn't know what to buy my nephews for Christmas, so I just bought a pile of new Xbox and X360 games, and let them pick the 4 games they liked best. I was surprised when they picked the X360 game "Pinata" (or whatever it's called) instead of the Xbox Splinter Cell 2 game. So I asked why they chose the kiddie party game rather than the military game (which is their favorite genre).

"Because Xbox games have poor graphics."

Yep. Already judging games on looks, not fun, and this is why you can't create some 2D or 2.5D game - it will be automatically judged as crap. Personally I would have picked the Splinter Cell game (since I thought the Pinata game was dull), but then I've learned to judge things based upon the personality (fun, challenge, et cetera) not the T&A (polygon or pixel counts).

Aside -

This is why I like Nintendo games, and get a little annoyed when I hear people say "Nintendo consoles are crap". Okay so their consoles are not impressive hardware, but Nintendo still uses their imagination to create fun games. Ditto Sega. FOR ME the less real a game is, the more I enjoy it, because it feels like I've entered another world. Simulations of reality are nice, but how many times can I watch a body blowup and splatter blood all over the place? I think I'm sick of that genre. (Plus it really isn't realistic that you can get shot a dozen times and still be moving. I'd like to see a real FPS where one shot and you're done.)

One hit kill (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669248)

I'd like to see a real FPS where one shot and you're done.

I'd like to see you get through Contra without a Konami code first.

Re:yes, but (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669386)

(Plus it really isn't realistic that you can get shot a dozen times and still be moving. I'd like to see a real FPS where one shot and you're done.)

There have been, and still are, numerous examples. America's Army is the primary one. Many of the terrorist/counterterrorist games and mods also have one-shot kills. In TacOps, a mod for Unreal Tournament (which dates this discussion) if you had no armor and you got shot with almost anything you could die in one shot. Even a pistol hit to the head would kill you if you didn't have a helmet. Two head hits with ANYTHING would kill you even WITH a helmet.

Re:yes, but (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669400)

5 or 6 years ago we were still impressed with Xbox/Gamecube quality graphics. Nintendo has made a killing with Gamecube 1.5 (Wii) games. You don't need the most expensive and detailed graphics to create a visually appealing game (although you do need good artists).

While I do want some games to continue pushing the visual standards higher, I feel like some failed game concepts would have succeeded if developers had simply dialed down the graphics department budget, settled for "good enough" visuals, and focused on gameplay.

Re:yes, but (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668524)

You don't need to invest that much into a game to make it sell. Brain Age was developed with a barebones team in a few weeks and became a huge seller.

Re:yes, but (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669414)

Wasn't Brain Age sponsored and advertised by Nintendo, especially in its pitches of the DS to the casual consumer? How do you put a value on that kind of backing?

Re:yes, but (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668532)

If I had $50M I would pump 30% into the FOSS gaming culture and development, 30% into Linux-based education and growth in 3rd world countries (guess where I live), 30% to various charities. The rest is for living expenses so I can work full-time on those community projects. // Note: The intertubes beg to differ [google.com] .

Re:yes, but (-1, Troll)

Grimbleton (1034446) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668578)

3rd world, would put tons of money into video games.......America?

Re:yes, but (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668692)

If I had $50M I would pump 30% into the FOSS gaming culture and development

If I had $50M I would buy a rocket ship and go to the moon and Mars and take a bunch of Victoria's Secret models with me.

Hey, this is fun!

Re:yes, but (3, Funny)

SimonGhent (57578) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668970)

If I had $50M I would buy a rocket ship and go to the moon and Mars and take a bunch of Victoria's Secret models with me.

Lord British might have something to say about that.

Re:yes, but (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669088)

I'd put the 50 million in the bank, go into semi-retirement (i.e. work because I WANT to work not because I have to), and live off the interest of the 50 million. Any excess money that I did not spend would be used to hand-out free computers and help people get online.

Re:yes, but (4, Interesting)

pandrijeczko (588093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668226)

The issue with computer gaming today is that it needs a business model that sits halfway between commercial games companies and those who contribute to game-related projects freely.

The game companies are only interested in quick high-volumes sales within the first couple of weeks of a games launch...

Game programmers who write mods and levels often start off with great ideas but so few mods get fully finished, due mainly to under-estimation of the free time and resource that will ultimately be needed to complete the project...

The compromise would be for games companies to be more supportive of mod programmers and allow them to sell their mods at low cost whilst taking a cut themselves - maybe even sell third-party mods on their web sites. Hopefully, the remuneration that the games programmers would receive would be encouragement to complete more projects.

Of course, it will never happen in the real world because greedy games companies will see this as extending the shelf-life of games and won't want gamers buying mods instead of new games...

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668262)

counterstrike

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668360)

If the companies allowed and even supported anyone making a mod, how would they be able to sell their DLC?

Re:yes, but (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668860)

If the companies really focus on a quick profit margin in the first couple of weeks, as another poster has claimed, why do they also want to sell downloadable content? It's not a realistic model to expect to maximize profits everywhere at once. Some area has to be your number one focus - the other options can't all be your primary revenue sources too.
      I know there are companies out there that get people to pay for the 'privilege' of displaying their advertising on tee-shirts, but even Coca-cola can't get customers to pay for the 'privilege' of watching their TV ads.

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31669232)

It's not a realistic model to expect to maximize profits everywhere at once.

Since when has IP based business models ever come close to reality?

Re:yes, but (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668472)

The issue with computer gaming today is that it needs a business model that sits halfway between commercial games companies and those who contribute to game-related projects freely.

The game companies are only interested in quick high-volumes sales within the first couple of weeks of a games launch...

Game programmers who write mods and levels often start off with great ideas but so few mods get fully finished, due mainly to under-estimation of the free time and resource that will ultimately be needed to complete the project...

The compromise would be for games companies to be more supportive of mod programmers and allow them to sell their mods at low cost whilst taking a cut themselves - maybe even sell third-party mods on their web sites. Hopefully, the remuneration that the games programmers would receive would be encouragement to complete more projects.

Of course, it will never happen in the real world because greedy games companies will see this as extending the shelf-life of games and won't want gamers buying mods instead of new games...

The developers of Europa Universalis III have actually allowed some moders to get access to the source-code of their previous game (Europa Universalis II) and they sell it online, splitting the profit.
http://www.gamersgate.com/DD-FTG/for-the-glory-a-europa-universalis-game

Although they don't have this with the latest engine/game, but they are really god at producing expansions that actually have new game-play mechanism and not just more units/scenarios as many other do.

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668568)

gary's mod

Re:yes, but (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669052)

Hopefully, the remuneration that the games programmers would receive would be encouragement to complete more projects.

You are still underestimating the time and resources needed to produce a professional quality mod:

Story and script. Art design, Level design, Characters, props, and animation. Special effects. Music. Dialog and vocal performance...

It won't be enough to simply re-cycle the existing game assets: putting your American officer in a Nazi uniform and calling it a day.

Any significant departure from the main story line and setting has a very significant price.

Re:yes, but (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669226)

Ideally, there would be a library of Free music, props, and animated models ready to be clothed and given makeup, all under a suitable Creative Commons license, and there would be a Free speech synthesizer to let people create dialog and vocal performance more quickly.

Re:yes, but (1)

GrumblyStuff (870046) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669322)

Yep, takes a while. Most don't make it. A rare few do. Might I point out T2X: Shadows of the Metal Age [thief2x.com] ?

It's a Thief 2 mod, complete with its own story, dialog, textures and models, and even movies.

Still, it's a pretty old game. Does anyone know of a similar effort for anything more recent?

Re:yes, but (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669090)

Team Fortress Classic, Day of Defeat, and as someone pointed out, Counter Strike were originally done on the old HL engine.

The newer Source engine was designed specifically for that, AND to produce lower cost games that might not be as polished as full titles, but worth the lower price (The Ship, Garry's Mod) as well as create interesting free games that are pure mods. Steam has been doing it, AND created a digital delivery system that has effective enough DRM that isn't as draconian as other systems. They get the majority of my gaming dollars because I can install on multiple computers (but play on one at a time), they autoinstall, they are a great value (hello, Orange Box?), and they *do* protect game makers ability to make a profit while still providing a reasonable price to the consumer.

To me, Gabe has found a perfect balance between consumer and provider, and provides lots of free trials, lets you *give* extra games you get when you buy a package that has a game that you already own, etc. Plus I never install a CD to play, never worry about losing or scratching the CD, and they have great sales, from 10% to 75% off on a regular basis. Steam deserves to succeed, and I hope they continue to do so, because they treat the customer just as good as they do the creator of game content. It isn't perfect, but it is evolving, and doing so in a good way.

Re:yes, but (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669196)

They get the majority of my gaming dollars because I can install on multiple computers (but play on one at a time)

Limiting play to one computer at a time wouldn't be such a problem if more PC games had a mode for HTPCs. I don't want to have to buy four copies in case friends or family members visit and want to play.

never worry about losing or scratching the CD

True, but Steam users start to worry about hitting the 5 GB per month transfer cap that's common with satellite in USA, 3G in USA, or anything in Australia or New Zealand.

Re:yes, but (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669294)

Lots of Steam games *are* available as disks you install manually, then you update via steam and never have to insert the CD again. Counter Strike, Orange Box, HL2, etc. all are/were available on plastic wrapped in dead tree. I just bought Bioshock (killer game, particularly for $20), which I could have bought on disk. But granted, for those with limited bandwidth, the platform may not be as advantageous. For the majority of users globally, it is.

Re:yes, but (1)

quantumpineal (1724214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668280)

'Fictional Physics' of the old retro games or games from the Atari and Amiga era are still more playable to me than allot of the newer games coming out that seem to be striving for greater realism or emphasis on more accurate guns or other things that were probably accurate enough in the last game. I loved the games that came out around the millennium, they had allot of imagination and innovation. its all a bit stale now, allot of gamers I know are saying the same. (need more and better RPG elements in games imo)

Re:yes, but (2, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668320)

need more and better RPG elements in games imo

This is a rising trend, though. More and more games are coming out with different types of "leveling systems." Borderlands is a prime example of this misplacement of RPG elements. If you've played it, you know that what you put your points into is fairly arbitrary, and has little to no bearing on how effective your character is.

This is the problem. We all wanted an RPG FPS like Deus Ex, but no company wanted to put the time or effort into making the RPG element meaningful. Now we have a ton of crummy games with watered down RPG junk in them, like Borderlands. Even Fallout 3 was a major let down in that arena.

In D&D, when you gain a level, you become more specialized. By level 7 or 8, you are already set down a very specific course. WoW manages this specialization effect fairly nicely as well. This is what people want with RPG, not whatever the crap Borderlands has.

I'm just saying, it's important to be exact in your wording. No one wants another big let down like Borderlands, or even Fallout 3. We want specialization, not just vague RPG elements thrown in.

Re:yes, but (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668466)

WoW? You consider WoW to have class specialization and/or RPG? Must have not played much here in the last year or so.

Re:yes, but (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668486)

I have not... I do understand that it has gone somewhat downhill of late, yes?

Re:yes, but (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668756)

No, not really. Talents still specialize your character as much as they ever did.

Re:yes, but (1)

Keill (920526) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668544)

To say RPG's are about specialisation, is to miss the wood for the trees.

Character development - (which is what crpg's SHOULD be about, though I could go into more detail...) - is a means to an end, not an end in itself. Specialisation is nothing more than a side-effect of what cRPG's are actually about - what the character development is really there to achieve, and it's THIS reason, that most games using RPG elements these days don't use them to their full potential, (assuming any have ever come close to doing just that).

There is a very good reason WHY the above is true, and I'm currently trying to write a paper on it - (and it's a lot more fundamental than you'd probably expect).

Re:yes, but (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668782)

This is the problem. We all wanted an RPG FPS like Deus Ex, but no company wanted to put the time or effort into making the RPG element meaningful. Now we have a ton of crummy games with watered down RPG junk in them, like Borderlands. Even Fallout 3 was a major let down in that arena.

So what was it that you thought made Deus Ex shine where Fallout 3 failed? I think they were both excellent games. Deus Ex is probably the better game for its time, but I'd put that down to the depth of the story and the detail in which the game explored the world of conspiracy theory. Fallout's main quest doesn't have anything like that depth of engagement, but it somewhat makes up for that by having something much closer to the truly open ended game world that Deus Ex tried for but couldn't quite manage.

I can see that Deus Ex forced the player to make some character development choices.Two modules for every slot meant that for each power you gained, you had another you could never use. In F3 the you can get almost all the perks so you're never forced to specialize in that respect. There's also the fact that in DeusEx you never get enough xp to max out all your skills, whereas that can be done in F3, albeit with a little effort.

Not a dig, I just don't understand what you're getting at...

Re:yes, but (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669130)

>>>Borderlands

I got bored with that game after about half a day. It seemed like a cool concept but it's missing... something. Maybe I just got tired of the repetitive battles and lack of any compelling story to make me push forward.

Re:yes, but (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669108)

>>>'Fictional Physics' of the old retro games or games from the Atari and Amiga era are still more playable to me than allot of the newer games coming out
>>>

Agreed. This is why I got my hands on an old Commodore=64. I can't do any useful work with it anymore (well except word processing), but it makes a great game console. 5000+ games and I've barely scratched the surface. The Super Nintendo and PS1 also had a lot of good 2D-based games.

It seems lately the old "modern" games I still enjoy are RPGs (for their story) and Nintendo/Sega games that explore imaginative concepts rather than reality.

Re:yes, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668288)

And because of this bigger risk, not enough sales, to little profit, etc... those games will eventually be written by hobbyists.

Re:yes, but (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668398)

Like [artinstitutes.edu] indie [indiegames.com] developers [usc.edu] ?

Re:yes, but (2, Interesting)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668512)

Doing what everyone else is doing isn't exactly low on risk because you're going up against very strong competition and for most companies that competition will beat them (e.g. releasing your FPS alongside a Modern Warfare game). Very few companies are capable of beating that competition and even then there's the risk that you did something in the process wrong and your big expensive (because you cannot go against that competition on a limited budget) game flops. Doing what nobody else is doing is actually less risky because there is no competition so you can afford to scale back on many expenses you needed to compete and a flop is much easier to absorb. You also don't need to get as close to perfect as you do in a competitive market because your product stands without competition, there are many more things it has that the competition doesn't and if those turn out successful you will get a gigantic sales boost, possibly eclipsing most of the competitive markets in revenue and since you did it at a much lower budget your profits will be significantly bigger.

This is called the Blue Ocean Strategy, there are some business books on it. For a successful example you can look at the Nintendo DS, when that went up against the PSP it had weaker graphics (less expense on R&D) but it turned out to be the winner because it had a touchscreen that the PSP didn't and because that allowed it to gain system sellers that the PSP could not support (Nintendogs, Brain Training, both of which are also examples of Blue Ocean games as they went into a fairly uncontested market and dominated it despite being fairly cheaply developed). Going neck to neck with the PSP by making a Game Boy with better graphics may have turned out differently but the DS won by offering so much more than the PSP did.

Re:yes, but (1)

smash (1351) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668530)

not a heap. my gf is living proof that soem shitty one-button game (iphone touch screen to turn/jump games) can sell just fine if they're cutsey and aimed at the non-hardcore mobile gamer market.

Besides, if i wanted to play reality, i'd go outside.

Play ARMA2 instead (1)

nibbles2004 (761552) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668186)

that's why you should play ARMA2 as opposed to MW2 which is the iphone of games, i.e crap, cant wait when Bobby at Activision lose the MW IP :)

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668220)

One of the things that bothers me most about that game is that the movement feels way too stiff (probably in the name of realism). I was stumbling around like a drunk trying to get into a small house to grab some documents and set a bomb. In MW the movement only feels like that when you're lagging.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (4, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668254)

Exactly. The thing to realize is that almost no game these days tries to emulate reality, instead they all emulate what one could call movie-reality or hyper-reality or whatever, i.e. that kind of reality where cars explode when you shot a few bullets and interesting things only happen when the game designer tells them to.

Games that actually try to emulate real reality, i.e. simulations, basically just get better for it, as a large part of emulating reality is the removal of artificial restrictions. Take flightsims for example or Operation Flashpoint/ARMA, those games don't have invisible walls, you can literally go into any direction for an hour and not see an end. What makes those games great is that all the interesting stuff that happens, happens due to the game mechanics, not duo to fake scripting events.

That said, I don't mind the Mario64 or Katamari style game, quite the opposite, but the thing that makes those games so great isn't just that its a colorful comic world, but also that they, just like a hard core sim, lack the artificial scripting madness that has invested so many of todays games, instead the games provide you with some core gameplay mechanics and everything that follows is basically a result of those. Its the player that plays those games and not the game designer that is playing the player.

Abstraction and Epiphenomena (2, Interesting)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668510)

...they, just like a hard core sim, lack the artificial scripting madness that has invested so many of todays games, instead the games provide you with some core gameplay mechanics and everything that follows is basically a result of those.

You're on to something. At risk of seeming old, I was always fond of the abstract or nearly-abstract games of the early 1980s— Qix [wikipedia.org] or Tempest [wikipedia.org] . Even in games like the original Centipede or Pac-man which purported to represent something vaguely physical, a lot of the excitement and interest was epiphenomenal to the game mechanics and was unknown at the time of design. Game businesses probably don't pursue such things so heavily because of the difficulty in predicting the level of interest.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668592)

Exactly. The thing to realize is that almost no game these days tries to emulate reality, instead they all emulate what one could call movie-reality or hyper-reality or whatever.

Hey, I've just designed a new race game that does emulate reality. When you crash a 10lb lump hammer is fired at your chest from the console to emulate hitting the steering column.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669376)

You could include one of these [slashdot.org] with it.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668620)

So it seems that some people do get it after all.

Usually when I read into a discussion about what makes a game a great game, some clueless twit invariably starts talking about Half-Life and tram rides.

If people want to watch a movie, I'd very much prefer that they stay in their own medium and stop ruining games for those of us who actually enjoy games for the game mechanics.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668698)

ArmA is no more realistic than Modern Warfare 2. The only difference is that where MW2 went for hollywood-reality through "cinematic" special effects ArmA went for armchair-reality through deliberate obfuscation.

It's not any more realistic to make the player's avatar an incompetent cripple with no sense of proprioception and no representation of things you'd obviously know in reality than it is to tell them exactly how many more times they can get shot before dying and how many bullets are left in the current magazine.

The only difference is that a lot of people assume that because one of them is more obfuscated than the other it must therefore be closer to reality.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668326)

Yeah - I play both and I hate when player on mw2 insist of playing it realistically and starts blabbing about balance, realism, no grenade launchers policies, no claymore, no anything that they can't learn how to counter and such.

Go play arma if you want a realistic military simulation and stop pretending that YOU are the only judge of how mw2 has to be played. That's how the game have been built.

The most amusing part is to see how "pro" league makes up their rules to force a style of play that the game is not suited for, just to use the latest iteration of a game that they don't like anyway (or they won't be changing it to play like arma), usually bragging that it takes less skill to use launchers and scopes.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668786)

Unfortunately, it's not limited to MW2. There are a ton of Smash Bros players who insist on playing with items off, on a flat stage with nothing happening. In other words, taking out all the interesting parts of the game to promote "skill". Well, you know what? True skill is the ability to win the game that actually exists, not the game you wish existed (and try to create through your arbitrary restrictions).

I haven't played MW2 (and won't until they stop charging $60 for the PC version), but I was kind of hoping that the "omg n00b tube!!11" crowd from CoD 4 would have gone away so the rest of us could actually have fun playing the real game. I guess that was too much to hope for, eh?

Or play Roulette (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669338)

Well, you know what? True skill is the ability to win the game that actually exists

How skilled are you at the game of Roulette [wikipedia.org] ? Because that's what items turn a fighting game into. When the championship is decided by whether powerful items spawn next to you or next to your opponent, you see why tournament players turn off the game-breaking [tvtropes.org] items.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31669182)

Just how do you counter a grenade launcher? Do you deny that it's the easiest thing in the world to aim and kill with?
I'd love to not complain about anything, if only there were nothing to complain about.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (2, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668358)

Yep, I hate when games restrict your environment. Operation Flashpoint possibly still ranks as my favourite game experience ever. I started playing Just Cause 2 yesterday and it's amazing too, you can go anywhere, and while you can't do all the same things you can do in say GTA: San Andreas, you have some even cooler stuff like a grappling hook and an infinite amount of paragliders, which you can use together as a very unique mode of transport.. there are a lot of realistic elements to the game, but it is combined well with unrealistic elements like that to make it more fun.

Re:Play ARMA2 instead (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669104)

Not really my type of game, I'm too bad at spotting enemies before they shoot me and it often takes a LOOOOONG time to get back to where you died in ArmA2. I play Section 8 instead, when you die you just drop near where you're needed now and keep fighting.

Desert Bus (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668204)

The perfect model of this concept is the game Desert Bus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Bus#Desert_Bus). The wikipedia article doesn't focus on it much, but my impression was that the point of this game was to illustrate how realism and fun are not always aligned.

Re:Desert Bus (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668248)

Bullshit.

Re:Desert Bus (1)

Archon-X (264195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668388)

Exactly.

From the opinion-piece-pulled-out-of-ass dept. (5, Insightful)

BenevolentP (1220914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668210)

Uhm, what? The article summary starts with "too realistic" then suddenly turns to "not realistic enough" in terms of open-world gameplay. I dont really get the point, if there is one.

Im pretty happy not every game is a sandbox game, which mostly try to do everything but do everything mediocre (GTA, Oblivion etc).

BTW, nothing in doom kept me from staying cowardly in the first room of e1m1, not moving, shivering.

All with real world consequences if i choose so (boredom and starvation).

Re:From the opinion-piece-pulled-out-of-ass dept. (3, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668306)

The problem is suspension of belief in "not realistic" allows for much more liberties about player's freedom than in "too realistic". If you know falling through the bottom of the level kills you in Mario, you're okay with it. Don't cross the bottom line of the screen, fine. If you make an awesome swing on grappling hook in Nexuiz and the invisible "bottom of the world" kills you mid-swing, you get angry.

Re:From the opinion-piece-pulled-out-of-ass dept. (4, Insightful)

zacronos (937891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668922)

I see it as a little like the idea of an uncanny valley [wikipedia.org] for games. If it's fictional enough, we don't care about whether it accurately matches reality -- it's more of an abstract game with a veneer of reality over it (i.e. we don't care that a mushroom really shouldn't make someone double in height, because underneath we know the mushroom is just an arbitrary visual label for a certain abstract powerup). On the other hand, once it passes a certain threshold of realism such that the mechanics seem to be intended to resemble reality rather than being abstract and arbitrary, then the fact that it isn't totally realistic bothers us -- it's a game that resembles reality in many important ways, but which falls short of what we expect reality to allow in many other important ways.

Being able to move forward but not back doesn't really bother us in Super Mario Brothers, but not being able to retreat in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 seems like an extremely artificial restriction in the context of a (somewhat) realistic game. (Disclaimer, I've never played CoD:MW2, I'm just inferring from the summary.)

Re:From the opinion-piece-pulled-out-of-ass dept. (1)

bluesatin (1350681) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669244)

Here's another related Wikipedia article that people might find interesting, suspension of disbelief [wikipedia.org] .

So what? (0, Redundant)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668224)

Everyone has their idea on what makes a game good for them and everyone has an idea on what makes a game bad for them and they're all right in their respective opinions for a single player: themselves.

It's actually extremely hard. (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668294)

It's actually extremely hard to create such universes. No one has ever made one, as we speak. Not only there are hardware limitations (for example, a HL2 level takes almost all of 1 GB), but there are also software limitations. In order, for example, to have a successful "return-back-to-base" scenario, the programmers should encode a yet unseen AI into the program that turns the game into a war drama, instead of a fighting game.

Re:It's actually extremely hard. (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668478)

It's actually extremely hard to create such universes. No one has ever made one, as we speak. Not only there are hardware limitations (for example, a HL2 level takes almost all of 1 GB), but there are also software limitations.

I just came here after playing some Morrowind. That takes a lot less than 1 GB. Even heavily modded to make it look visually stunning it takes less than 1 GB.

Now, sure, there are serious immersion-breaking AI limitations, gameplay irritations, it's got olde-style graphics, and the art design isn't to everyone's taste. But I still find it a hell of a lot more immersive than any game published since that I can think of. No invisible walls; no unopenable doors; no unkillable NPCs; lethal parts of the world are explicably lethal; major towns are major, minor out-in-the-wop-wops towns are out-in-the-wop-wops. Any artificiality that is there doesn't come from the design, but from the limitations of gaming technology in 2001. That kind of limitation is something I can forgive; invisible walls, no.

I'm not saying it's perfect, just that what the author of TFA is asking for is not something unachievable. It has been done. It could be done even better. I look forward to that (and welcome recommendations!).

MW2 realism is a joke... (4, Insightful)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668312)

Personally, when I play a game like an FPS, I want realism. By that I mean good graphics, physics, sound, etc. Others argue that "graphics dont make a game good" etc. I agree that good graphics alone don't make a game good, but to me, they are an essential part. Playing Sonic the Hedgehog is different than an FPS. Nothing is meant to be real, so realism isn't an issue. But when I want realistic online warfare, I want just that, realism.

Silly me, I actually got MW2 thinking it would be a realistic tactical shooter. I was deeply disappointed (especially since MW1 touched on it quite nicely). Dual-wielding sawn-off shotguns, firing grenades at a conflict area having only your team mates survive and the structures intact, submachineguns accurate to over a mile....It is more like a Die Hard film (where I am a bad guy..). And i got the game for PC, so I can't even trade it in.

I love playing Bad Company 2. Although I struggle with it, I find it much more enjoyable. Graphics are decent (but not dazzling, I admit) but the sound is incredible; gunfire changes pitch/tone when heard from further away, the crack and hiss of a sniper shot that just missed your head...I actually get startled, my blood pumps, adrenaline rushes! The game is not without its faults, I have used a high powered sniper rifle and hit an opponent three times without going down (though this may be related to lag). Still, for those after realism, a much better game.

Re:MW2 realism is a joke... (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668706)

You want decent realism you should check out the Forgotten Hope hope mod for battlefied 1 and 2.

If you are HARDCORE for realism check out project reality.

http://www.realitymod.com/ [realitymod.com]

I really BURN for mods like this because (alltough yes, the pacing might not be 100%) the extra challenge and responsibilities that goes into teamplay makes the game much more interesting.

For me the MW games is more akin to quake3

Re:MW2 realism is a joke... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669452)

submachineguns accurate to over a mile

The P90's maximum effective range is 5905 ft. Modern submachine guns in "long"-barreled versions can hit a target at a mile. Now you know.

exception... (closest?) (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668316)

Deus Ex

Re:exception... (closest?) (4, Interesting)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668462)

It's probably better than most, but if you've ever climbed out of the Catacombs Entrance area in Paris, you'll probably have discovered that the large tower you were airdropped onto has a trap at the bottom to make you explode, most likely to try and prevent the player surviving if they jumped off. Similarly, forget about exploring the ravine in the Vandenberg base (see also the "Vandenberg effect" on youtube).

Frankly I tend to play medieval fantasy type games more because you have more of an excuse ("It's magic!"), but having said that I do kind of wish that DE's "Realistic" setting had gone for something more like "If you're shot, it will kill you". As opposed to... well, if you know what you're doing, you can blow yourself up just before the mission ends and start the next one as just a head with no limbs or body.

I HATE invisible walls (3, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668330)

There are few more immersion-shattering elements.

So I plan: "This will be the right sniping spot. I will have them all right on the plate, and covered on their escape route too. The approach is covered, and the location provides decent cover behind these rocks. This should be easy then." Then - bump - invisible wall, border of the world. And I'm stuck with hopeless frontal attack which I barely survive.

Recently, I began playing Planeshift and learned how to find the perfect spots for mining. Unfortunately some of them are just past the invisible wall, leaving only crumbles for the poor in the open area.

Re:I HATE invisible walls (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668764)

This wouldn't be an issue if you weren't a newb camper! :D

Real men do it with a crowbar.

Re:I HATE invisible walls (1)

xtracto (837672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669096)

Your comment reminded me of this hilarious "Sims Horror Movie" video:
"There's no conceivable way to cross this gate." [collegehumor.com]

Back when I played D&D, the difference between a good and a bad dungeon master was that when playing with bad DM you would feel like you were more in a rail-quest and if you happened to do something the DM has not planned he would freak out. Great DMs accepted your choices and had a lot of resources to try to make the story flow smooth with your decisions.

Old discussion (3, Insightful)

vlokje (1703102) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668336)

REALLY old discussion.. Similar comments could be read in game magazines when the Amiga was the hottest thing around (late 1980s). People new to gaming tend to prefer realism while long time gamers consider playability more important. Personally I still remember paradroid on the 64 and the amount of time I spend with it. Realism? Not really. Absorbing gameplay? Definitely.

Re:Old discussion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668564)

REALLY old discussion..

That was pretty much my though when I read the article: great, another uncanny valley discussion.

The harder you try the harder you fail.

Nothing to see here, just some author who doesn't have anything new to report, so he rewrote something old.

Is it my line now? (2, Interesting)

Windwraith (932426) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668340)

As game maker, I completely agree.
Gamisms are a good thing while reality is usually a burden. Of course it has its place in simulators, and mild levels of realism can be interesting (for example in robots, which I like to articulate in intricate forms), but videogames...they allow us to throw wild levels of nonsense and make them work. Gamisms allow our character to take a fireball to the face or defying death with credits, blessings or potions. It's convenient unless you aim to do a faithful simulation of reality.
But I think there aren't as many "fantastic" worlds because they require more imagination at work. Structuring a realistic city and putting it into the game is easier than inventing a different sort of world. You can use your mental image of a city, and the workforce will have less trouble adapting to that idea. In 2D it was easier to do because it was all drawn and required less detail and interaction.

The title is a reference to a game that used complete surreality as a plot device.

Re:Is it my line now? (4, Insightful)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668724)

I don't get people sometimes.

Take the game I worked on a little while back: "Vin Diesel: Wheelman". It wasn't a realistic game, it was a game designed like an action driving movie. Driving at impossible speed through a city, impossible jumps, impossible side-swipes, impossible cornering, cars exploding from being shot by a pistol, jumping out of a moving car, into another moving car, the works.

And it gets points deducted in reviews for not being realistic enough. I can understand if they didn't like it, but at least complain about something it was trying to be.

Re:Is it my line now? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668844)

Yeah, TFA reminds me of a discussion I've had more than once with a friend of mine. Whenever he and I disagree on whether something is good in a game (example: CoD 4's hardcore mode), he'll usually defend it on the basis of "it's more realistic". My point to him, every time, is so what? It's not fun, and the goal isn't to be realistic, it's to be fun.

It would be extremely realistic if the game destroyed itself the first time you died, but people would be furious. No one actually wants a realistic game, although they might say they do. What they want is a game which has realistic elements which make it more fun. But most gamers don't think this through, so they think they want realism, when they would actually hate it.

Re:Is it my line now? (1)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669206)

Whenever he and I disagree on whether something is good in a game (example: CoD 4's hardcore mode), he'll usually defend it on the basis of "it's more realistic". My point to him, every time, is so what? It's not fun, and the goal isn't to be realistic, it's to be fun.

Is your opinion, but maybe not his. I don't mind the frustration of one-hit-kill in the beginning of a game when I am getting used to it, because as I get better at the game, I enjoy the realism. I finally threw away MW2 after hitting someone 3 times with a Barrett .50 cal and them walking away from it. That annoys me more than anything.
Just because you don't like realism doesn't mean other people don't, it is a difference of opinion in what makes a good game.

Re:Is it my line now? (2, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669310)

I agree that it's a matter of opinion, my point to my friend (and I suppose, in my post above as well) is that if we consider "realism" the goal (as my friend does), we miss the mark. We need to consider "fun" the goal, and then decide how best to accomplish it, which may or may not be realism.

Realism can indeed lead to fun for many people, but what I find is that a lot of people will confuse realism as the goal, rather than a means to the goal. When you restrict your thinking in that way, you close off whole classes of games which are fun precisely because they're unrealistic. Sure, they won't appeal to all gamers who crave realism, but they will probably appeal to many.

Don't see the problem (1)

Seyren (1079827) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668356)

Games with real world settings are just hot right now, that's all. It's not like nobody's been making games in fantasy settings recently either, look at dragon age, mass effect, zeno clash, god of war etc. TFA makes it sound like games not based in reality are super rare or something right now, which isn't true at all. Maybe the author was grasping at straws trying to make a deadline or something.

in fact... (1)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668378)

In reality, as a soldier I could disobey my orders and go exploring around the other side. I could be cowardly and turn back to base.

In fact, I can even start shooting my own teammates when they aren't looking just for fun!

Two Stories... (3, Informative)

shoemakc (448730) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668400)

...posted two stories after the headline "Haptic Gaming Vest Simulates Punches, Shots, Stabbing". That's just funny. -Chris

Next you'll say pop culture is not culture (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668442)

and so on.
what, just because you're *more* smarter than the rest of us, you think you can get us to pay for your investigation of the nature of reality?
look, they tell me enough about math and philosophy in school, i just want a place where i can shoot/dismember people, drive really fast, and not have society tell me it's wrong. is that ok? /end sarcasm.

I agree that computer games could be much more. But the truth is that the people who could enjoy smarter games are already doing it.
By the way, if any of you has some time on their hands, please make a labyrinth in curved spaces (i know nothing of opengl, here's a link i found http://www.geometrygames.org/CurvedSpaces/ [geometrygames.org] ). Pretty please...

Kids love the lack of reality... (3, Insightful)

BlackBloq (702158) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668518)

I was chatting with my kid and his friends (11-13) about video games. I was saying how I hated games where you have to shoot someone more than once/twice (I only play hardcore (reality mode) on Modern Warfare 2). I was specifically making fun of Halo and no skill gamers. One kid piped up "why would I want to have it all real! Real is no fun!". Kids play with a big smile and want the fantastic, myself I play with a serious scowl and try real hard to outdo my last games performance. In other words I don't play at games, I try hard at games. Real effort is better rooted in reality unless playing to addictions like gear collectors. We play to hone what we are as a species, like a kitten chasing a floating leaf to hone hunting skills. The gear collectors are driven not by fun but hours of collecting (See work!). PVP reminds me of kids because of the way it plays out in some arenas with taunting and all the silly talking however... I've seen adults freak the f out over PVP games because of how much work/hours they put into character development. To sum up, you can change where we play (in game environment) but not what we are (hunter gatherers).

Re:Kids love the lack of reality... (3, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668890)

The kid is exactly right. I can go outside to get reality, what I want in a game is just enough realism to help my suspension of disbelief, but no more. If I found the reality fun, I'd be doing that, so I would never want a perfect emulation of reality in my game. I refused to play hardcore mode in CoD 4, because it simply sucked all the fun out of the game when you would instantly die and have no way of knowing where you got shot from.

Oh, and for the record, it isn't "kids" that want a lack of realism. I'm 25, so while I couldn't be called old, I'm certainly not a kid any more either. In fact, until your post, I would've guessed that it was only kids that wanted such "realism" (quote marks used because even "realistic games" usually aren't realistic, including MW1 and 2), but that apparently isn't true either. I suppose it's foolish to try to draw age boundaries, people like what they like.

Re:Kids love the lack of reality... (1)

HopefulIntern (1759406) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669148)

Depends what game you are playing. But the very nature of FPS means you can't really have "the real thing". Well, you could go train to be a special forces soldier, but that kind of means you give up everything else in your life just to experience real(istic) combat. The next best thing is a decent FPS. MW2 is not one of those. A direct hit with a decent-sized bullet should knock you down, and make you bleed to death quickly, unless it hit you in a vital place whenby you would die instantly. I could go on, but you get the idea.

New Cap City? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668584)

I swear it was almost like being in New Caprica. Even the death is real.

A city o two minds. (1)

Tei (520358) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668610)

The key here is why Second Life is popular for journalist. How is that? is a very minor game, played by few people, that hype his number of accounts to pretend is big, still it get frontpage news often. Why is that? Is not that journalist are stupid, is that theres a type of people where the virtual reality is much more atractive than something abstract. The abstract shotter mean *nothing* to these people. A game played by 80 millions is ignored, by one played by 120.000 becuase the first one is abstract, so It don't make sense to these people.

I don't claim the people that play realistic shotters can't play abstract shotters. I claim that theres a bias, a preference for the realist one. The realist one has more meaning, it make sense to these people, much more than the abstract one.

I will not say this is good or bad, but I will say is boring to see lots of similar raycasting engines. Theres very small variation *IN* the realistic shotter. The technology is not there to produce good voxel FPS's, or cartoon rendering FPS's (other than maybe Borderlands). Not all abstraction will be good, but we live in a world where most videogames look alike, and try a type of realism, variation here will be rather good :-)

This whole argument is silly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668616)

The amount of realism you need should match the story and setting and playfulness of your game. Sure sonic's style works for sonic. Mw2's style works for mw2.
It's true that games won't come even close to matching reality any time soon, despite how many wide-eyed optimists point at the past and extrapolate into the future, it just
won't happen like that. But becoming realistic enough is important for MW2 because it's supposed to be a modern wargame based in locales that exist, with
"real" forces like the USA and Russia. What's the point of doing the very same game but with the "unreal" forces of Chacoogaville and Wallcot's Group? It is needless work
to make things unreal and then work on them enough to make them come to life. Sticking with real life as a base is a perfectly commendable goal, for a story that is set in real life.

If he's arguing that video games *should* be unrealistic because they will never be /real/ then he's wasting his breath. Being close enough is good enough. But on the
other hand if he is decrying the lack of unrealistic games, then more power to him, they're a style that does not deserve to go away.

FF13 is good in this regard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31668800)

Although it has its flaws, FF13's complete lack of realism makes for a very visceral and over-the-top experience. Anyone who has seen this game can tell the designers had a lot of fun and wore their anime influences on their sleeve. In battle, certain characters have an ability that can be used only at a certain period where an enemy is launched up in the air. Then they (and others, too) jump up after it and continue slashing away at it. While airborne, the enemy cannot do anything -- it is your chance to punish them. The game also grants the characters the ability to jump/fall quite high through a plot point. These two examples are in addition to the dragons, robots, ninjas, etc that are in all 'realistic' fantasy games it seems. :)

Emulating Reality (1)

secondhand_Buddah (906643) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668840)

Talk about emulating reality. The diamonds and emeralds are an ASCII relic, while the blue hedgehog is a CGA relic. We inherited these game artefacts because of our limitations in emulating reality. Give it time - the creativity will return, and when it does, it will probably be mind blowingly beautiful.

Re:Emulating Reality (1)

RKThoadan (89437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31669256)

The problem there is that mind-blowingly beautiful is insanely expensive, and will probably remain so for quite some time. This means that money frequently trumps creativity.

Categorization fault - not 'games', FPS games (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 4 years ago | (#31668976)

what is the guy complaining of afflicts fpses. in other gaming genres the opposite is true. extreme representation and simplification is done. like, in strategy games, for example medieval total war, a whole country, france, can be a single 'province', and you can attack and get all of iberia as a 'province', and then build 10 ships and go sail to levant and conquer jerusalem, syria, in one move. a lot of things are represented with 'points' and percentage modifiers rather than having any mechanic for them. even in the most realistic, well made titles as in paradox's games, you still have excess representation - the whole world is divided to provinces, and the victory and subsequent peace treaty and how much land is exchanged is decided upon the number and importance of provinces a side has, and the manpower each sides have. whereas in reality, you could get entirety of hungary after a decisive single war in the field, by treaty.

RTSes are even beyond that. you lump up whole battlecruisers as if they were small boats, a huge spaceship can hover over the city that produced it, which is much smaller than itself, tiny barracks can produce infantry units which appear 3-4 times their size on the map.

these are all minor stuff. but, when they add up, they totally change the atmosphere.

so, whereas there is a lot of sufferance due to realism in FPSes, there is another sufferance due to the lack of realism in other genres.

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