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The Case For Surrealism In Games

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the dolphin-flowers-on-the-sunshine-highway dept.

Games 186

An editorial at PikiGeek takes the position that gaming's trend toward realism can be detrimental in many situations, with the quest for graphical precision supplanting creativity and uniqueness. Quoting: "The problem I find most troubling with realism in games is that video games are inherently unrealistic. By definition, even, video games must adhere to some sense of absurdity. In Uncharted, no matter how realistic and convincing the characters and environments may be, the fact is that Nathan Drake can take a hell of a lot of damage, and is a little too good with every gun known to man. In Call of Duty, if realism is such a coveted aspect of the series, why does your character only bleed out of his eyes, and why is damage rarely permanent? The 'game' part of these games keeps them from being truly realistic, and in turn makes them even less believable. Characters like Link, or even Master Chief, are believable in even the most absurd situations, as the worlds that they belong to don't try to conform to the world that we live in."

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I blame Counterstrike (3, Informative)

cyclomedia (882859) | about 3 years ago | (#37053214)

This tend towards realism was started by Counterstrike, in my opinion. Before that deathmatch was a supersonic brawl over the rocket launcher with infinite lives and team games were similarly fast and chaotic. Now game characters are slooow, you're lucky if you're allowed to respawn, guns are, well guns and environments completely lack lava and floaty platforms.

Also, finally played Portal for the first time this weekend, boy that's one surreal game! (and i'm not talking about the physicsy stuff!)

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

gcnaddict (841664) | about 3 years ago | (#37053250)

and despite all of this, Counterstrike is a platform for some of the most absurd gametypes in gaming.

Surf maps come to mind.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053290)

valve eventually went for the cartoony look in team fortress 2 because the gameplay was so absurd. If you're pushing for realism, how do you explain the 2 sides building their bases 40 feet away from each other?

Re:I blame Counterstrike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053570)

Valve's interpretation doesn't even occupy the same genre. TF was grittier, more intense and realistic compared to Quake. That was part of its appeal. TF2 is something else entirely. It's not even comparable. At all. Like Godfather I v. Godfather III. (or The Last Godfather--you decide.)

Re:I blame Counterstrike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053682)

Damn, I miss TF. TF2 does not look fun at all.

Oh, and the speed and lack of control during AQ2 strafejumping was pretty entertaining.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 3 years ago | (#37055212)

It's much more fun than it looks, really.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053648)

Ahem:
Washington D.C.
Richmond, Virginia.

Need I say more? :D

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

denzacar (181829) | about 3 years ago | (#37054940)

If you're pushing for realism, how do you explain the 2 sides building their bases 40 feet away from each other?

World War I-like trench warfare?

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 3 years ago | (#37053404)

Since when do we consider that the gaming industry is exploring a single gameplay at the time ?

Re:I blame Counterstrike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053434)

Since we considered them an industry that will bleed something dry before risking something new.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (2)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053474)

Counterstrike realistic? I haven't played it much, but my impression was that everybody moved at insane ridiculous speeds. I'm no FPS fan, but I did like America's Army somewhat, exactly because it was pretty realistic.

The problem isn't realism, the problem is half-hearted realism. A thin veneer of realism over gameplay that is very unrealistic. That mismatch spoils the experience. But a game that honestly tries to make the gameplay as realistic as possible can be a lot of fun. At least to people who appreciate realism, which I do. I liked Frontier/First Encounter's Newtonian physics, even if it made space combat ridiculously hard. I don't mind a challenge if there's a good reason for it.

But if you don't want realism, then don't pretend it's realistic. I like wacky over-the-top stuff too. Or gameplay that's designed with a very specific kind of gameplay or balance in mind. Just pick what your goal is, and do it right.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (2)

mikael_j (106439) | about 3 years ago | (#37053602)

The original Counter Strike game featured slow running (at least Beta 5,6,7 and 1.0).

However, it was plagued by the half-hearted realism you mentioned. On one hand you ran slow, on the other hand bunny hopping was commonly used to avoid getting shot (combined with various exploits of glitches like jump-duck-shoot-jump-duck-shoot to instantly steady your aim). Not to mention when they crippled a bunch of the "regular" weapons while still leaving the game in a state that favored snipers. Or knife running (you ran a lot faster when holding a knife than any other weapon, one favorite trick was to have a macro for the left mouse button that instantly switched to your main weapon, fired and then switched back to the knife). Or flashbang grenades that would blind you even though you were on the other side of a wall and looking away from it. Or (on programmable mice) macro-ing so holding the left mouse button equaled clicking it really fast (since popping off one round at a time as fast as auto fire was extremely accurate while auto fire immediately sprayed bullets everywhere but where you wanted them to go).

So yes, half-hearted realism, and the slow running was the biggest thing you noticed in terms of "realism".

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#37054468)

Hopping and running have always plagued CS - I've said for a long time they should introduce some kind of stamina meter to limit this behaviour and have it affect your accuracy for a few seconds until the bar refils or something. Running when someone is shooting in your direction is real but it does have a physical toll, and nobody should be able to run and gun with an AWM rifle. The problem was they pitched the game as having realism then instantly dumbed it down so as to not alienate the usual FPS crowd.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 years ago | (#37054512)

Counterstrike was certainly realistic for its era. As the parent stated, FPS games at the time all had ridiculous futuristic weapons which, despite their increased power, took much longer to kill people than do contemporary weapons. Most games at the time didn't even pretend to care where a shot landed, and Counterstrike's universal implementation of headshots was both innovative and appreciated by players. In addition to that, Counterstrike created its game format, where death was an actual penalty compared to instant respawn deathmatch.

The problem isn't realism, the problem is half-hearted realism.

This is the point of the article. Realism is essentially so difficult to implement in a videogame that it can only be approximated. It will always leave gaping surrealities in a supposedly realistic world, accentuating the contrast so much that it becomes not only easier to spot, but more aggravating and more difficult to ignore. A cartoony game with surreal, but consistent, physics is much easier for a player to accept and have fun with than a supposedly realistic world with decidedly unrealistic behavior, even when it is a relatively minor portion of the game.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

Kelbear (870538) | about 3 years ago | (#37055118)

Just want to point out that headshots started in a Sniper mod for Team Fortress for quake 1that was eventually incorporated into the main Team Fortress mod. Later that year, GoldenEye released which also featured headshots. Later, the mod SWAT for Quake 1 was also released with headshots, from which developers went on to release the Action Quake 2 mod which had head/chest/stomach/leg hit detection with related damage modifiers.

Gooseman was a part of the Actionquake 2 mod team and eventually left to develop the Counterstrike mod for Half-life 1. Also, the one-life-per-round spawn format was already being used in Actionquake 2 prior to Counterstrike.

Counterstrike popularized the headshot, but it didn't innovate it.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#37053654)

Counterstrike wasn't the first. Action Quake II was the first mod I played that went in for realism, and was released about a year before Counterstrike. It was awful. You got shot, and you started to bleed, walked slowly, and had to find a first aid kit to bandage yourself to stop bleeding (and losing health). Even then, you didn't heal, you just stopped being more injured. You had so little ammo that you only got a couple of shots before having to resort to trying to knife your opponents.

It was the most realistic FPS I'd played - more realistic than Counterstrike a year later - and the least fun.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053708)

For that matter, the whole police vs terrorists, hostages, & bomb aspect was a ripoff of a Quake 1 mod. I wish I could remember the name of it.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | about 3 years ago | (#37055342)

I'd forgotten about action quake. As for the hostages and bomb mod, gawd, I can't remember the name either. (scratches head)

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 3 years ago | (#37054036)

I enjoyed Heretic 2, where if in multiplayer, someone cut off your arm, you'd bleed to death, and the health wouldn't help you. You had to find a healing shrine. But it wasn't intended to be realistic...

Re:I blame Counterstrike (5, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 years ago | (#37053812)

> This tend towards realism was started by Counterstrike, in my opinion.

The "Red Herring of Realism" was alive _long_ before 1999 young grasshopper. Tactical Shooters are not the only way games were slowly being more realistic. (e.g. Nethack had death come very easy -- meaning your are faced with permanent consequences, and have to restart.)

Advances in (real-time) computer graphics & physics are what drove this. Then game designers got sucked into the red herring of realism without understanding what games truely are: an _alternate_ "reality". i.e. Oooh, look, it would be cool, if in driving games, you could actually _flip_ and _roll_ the cars, it would be realistic if when you shot an enemy in the leg he limped, etc. without questioning what -effect- it would have on gameplay.

Here is the scale of realism with their corresponding game labels

No Realism -------- Max Realism
"Arcadey" .............. "Simulation"

How _much_ realism is called for, depends on the what you are trying to _achieve_ and _express_ with your game. Most gamers find 100% simulation to be NOT FUN. Conversely, they find total lack of realism, to be "too arcadey." The popular games tend to have a healthy mix of both. Quake-style / TF2 jumping / air-control is the perfect example: When you jump, you are able to turn in mid-air 360 degrees, and even stop your acceleration. Completely unrealistic, but fun as hell.

Here is the perfect example. Almost all driving games "cheat" -- that is, they dampen the impact when you hit an enemy car -- because players would just ram the cars off the road and win. But a win without a struggle doesn't mean (or feel) anything. It's why cheating is so shallow -- it doesn't mean anything when there are no challenge(s) or obstacle(s) to overcome. So driving games cheat -- they want to provide some realism to maintain the immersion, but they can't be 100% realistic as that hinders the gameplay / fun mechanics.

Sid Meier said great game design was about keeping giving the player interesting choices to make. FPS's moved towards the model where you could only carry limited (~2) weapons -- partially because of realism, but because it forced the player to "make an interesting choice of what to carry."

Now I am not against realism in a game. There is a time and place for it _depending_ on your game design. When most people complain about realism, what they _really_ are complaining about, is that

a) they are forgetting they are playing a _game_,
b) the game is not letting you do something within that world that you think should be able to do.

People want _logical_ _consistency_ in the game.

When was the last time you heard people complaining about: Magic The Gathering as being too realistic? Most people don't confuse card games with reality. But as soon as you put the game experience in a virtual 3d world, people will _immediately_ start complaining, "Hey this game isn't realistic! I can't swim, explore over this mountain, etc..."

> Now game characters are slooow, you're lucky if you're allowed to respawn, guns are, well guns and environments completely lack lava and floaty platforms.

That's because game designers and publishers are

a) drinking the red herring of realism Kool-Aid without understanding what games (and game design) are about.
b) It is easier to model reality, then engage your imagination and creativity -- there is a topic in game design what I call "Frame of Reference", but that is a topic for another day. If you are interested, I'll post a follow-up.

In closing, if you are going to complain about realism, surrealism, or the lack of it (!), please research some game design history first. There is a time and a place for realism, but one must first understand the deeper problem of what the "game" is trying to represent.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 3 years ago | (#37054056)

there is a topic in game design what I call "Frame of Reference", but that is a topic for another day.

Interesting. Perhaps you could post a link? Or at least something here or in your journal?

Re:I blame Counterstrike (2)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about 3 years ago | (#37054204)

a) drinking the red herring of realism Kool-Aid without understanding what games (and game design) are about. b) It is easier to model reality, then engage your imagination and creativity -- there is a topic in game design what I call "Frame of Reference", but that is a topic for another day. If you are interested, I'll post a follow-up.

Consider me interested.

Oh, and I entirely agree with your post. I value consistency highly in video games and not just in the gameplay sense. I think that graphically, 3D games are just getting to the point where they might start looking as good as 2D games mainly because of consistency issues. I find many 3D games, especially newer ones, somewhat jarring because on one hand they have highly detailed surroundings and characters with plausible-looking skin and what not and on the other hand they use special effects that aren't nearly as lifelike - for example non-volumetric smoke. It was more jarring to see a puff of smoke halfway clip through a wall in, say, F.E.A.R. (where I really noticed it) than in Unreal because the former looked much more realistic otherwise. In 2D games such issues are more easily ignored since the graphics don't even pretend to be lifelike.

Consistency applies to many aspects of a game and it's fairly hard to get right. Graphical consistency can run into machine limitations - we can easily apply huge textures with displacement maps but volumetric smoke or plausible refractions are more expensive. Gameplay consistency requires you to think about things that ordinarily wouldn't even be design decisions and may require you to scrap mechanics that are cool but don't quite fit in. Of course some developers cut corners and go for "good enough" - after all, it's good enough. But excellency does require extra work.

Re:I blame Counterstrike (2)

madhatter256 (443326) | about 3 years ago | (#37055028)

I disagree... It wasn't counterstrike that thrived for realism...

It was Rainbow Six.

One shot kills forced you to truly strategize your entry to A) save the hostages and B) keep all of your men alive.

Ultimate game realism (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37053222)

Follow John Smith's exciting adventures as he buys groceries, fills out his 1040 and waits in line at the DMV...

Re:Ultimate game realism (2)

Hahnsoo (976162) | about 3 years ago | (#37053258)

So you are playing The Sims? In all seriousness, even The Sims takes you a step out of reality. While we were housecleaning this past week, my girlfriend sighed and commented "You know, cleaning up the house is a lot easier in The Sims. You just point and click."

Still, some people play video games to escape from reality. But some folks play video games to explore things in reality that they cannot possibly do on their own, due to their wealth, social status, language barrier, etc. Flight Simulators are a prime example of this. Not everyone can afford a plane, but they can turn to a Flight Simulator to give them an experience that they could not afford otherwise.

You could always make your video game universe more and more surreal, with no limit to the imagination (look at The Void or Zeno Clash). But you are limited by technical restraints when you want to push for realism.

Re:Ultimate game realism (2)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#37053354)

Even flight simulators limit the realism to a degree. No filling out paperwork for fuel, filing your flight plan, no walkaround, fuel consumption calculations, sitting around waiting for 6 other planes to take off, etc. They choose to be as realistic as possible about limited aspects of flying.

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053484)

Nothing wrong with that. They want to focus on the actual flying itself and not the boring paperwork surrounding it. I suspect real flight simulators for real pilot training do the same thing, and they really have to be as realistic as possible.

Re:Ultimate game realism (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053772)

They do - I build class D flight simulators - the type that a pilot can train in and then theoretically go fly the actual plane as it's the actual plane's cockpit with the sim built around it - and we only focus on the actual flight aspect

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

GNious (953874) | about 3 years ago | (#37054026)

yeah, someone should make a pre-flight-check simulator :D
(I actually think some people would find it interesting....)

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

Ambvai (1106941) | about 3 years ago | (#37053462)

I find The Sims to be decently realistic. The problem is that I find myself to be the sim, not the player...

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

Zardus (464755) | about 3 years ago | (#37053296)

Portal 2 had an option for this for those that really want to try that out :-)

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

quadrox (1174915) | about 3 years ago | (#37053606)

What? where? how?

Re:Ultimate game realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054110)

I think you mean Postal 2.

Re:Ultimate game realism (1)

lennier1 (264730) | about 3 years ago | (#37055250)

The one where you get to bake a cake?

Re:Ultimate game realism (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054448)

Dude, I so love that game. Last night, after six hours of trying, I finally unlocked the "Flipped Over Lunch Tray, Spent Afternoon with Ketchup Covered Tie" achievement. That stamp looks great.

Tonight, I'm going to grind through some low level "Cheetos and Pr0n" to try and earn enough Loneliness to make it through the "Ask Out the Chubby Girl in Accounts Receivable" campaign.

You've been eaten by a grue (1)

Aighearach (97333) | about 3 years ago | (#37053224)

How much more real can it get??

Re:You've been eaten by a grue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37055000)

XYZZY

It's only a game, for crying out loud ! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053244)

Whenever I see people so damn serious about a game - whether it be surreal or otherwise - I know something is wrong.

Don't you guys have better things to do than worrying if the surrealism in games might bring on some unrealistic expectation or whatnot?

Re:It's only a game, for crying out loud ! (1)

shish (588640) | about 3 years ago | (#37053546)

The (supposed) problem is that games are painting themselves into a corner where there's no room for fun - and so people are complaining seriously for a bit, because they don't want their relaxing fun time to be spoiled forever

Re:It's only a game, for crying out loud ! (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053922)

The solution is simple: don't buy games that are not fun, do buy games that are fun.

Re:It's only a game, for crying out loud ! (4, Funny)

genner (694963) | about 3 years ago | (#37054552)

Don't you guys have better things to do than worrying if the surrealism in games might bring on some unrealistic expectation or whatnot?

No not really.

Re:It's only a game, for crying out loud ! (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 3 years ago | (#37054950)

Video games are art. You can be damn serious about art, or just relax and enjoy it.

I actually just started playing Mario Galaxy today (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 3 years ago | (#37053256)

the surreal planetoids and environments are definitely starting to trip me out a little. C.R.U.S.H. is one of my favorite games (on my PSP), and Time FCUK [newgrounds.com] certainly held my interest.

Alice deserves an honorable mention.

I guess I thrive on surreal?

Film (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053270)

Agreed. If you're going to create a fictional world of bullshit, don't violate the rules set forth by said bullshit. Immersion in the suspension of disbelief only functions if one remains consistent.

I believe this is the problem perceived when viewing Michael Bay films.

A surrealist bent would make those experiences a more engrossing experience instead of glaring distraction.

Re:Film (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | about 3 years ago | (#37053388)

Agreed. If you're going to create a fictional world of bullshit, don't violate the rules set forth by said bullshit. Immersion in the suspension of disbelief only functions if one remains consistent.

But unlike films, where the creators are in complete control, how do you not violate rules in a game without making it unplayable? One life and thats it, the game is over? You wont win very many fans that way(and that has been done before, it was actually not all that uncommon in the NES era until game companies realized that people absolutely hated it)

Re:Film (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 3 years ago | (#37053492)

One life and thats it, the game is over? You wont win very many fans that way

You say that, but I used to play EVE Online like that.

I had a personal rule that if the character died, I would transfer everything to the person that killed me, recycle the body and start a new character from scratch. That rule was listed in the bio of my characters so everyone could see it.

Certainly, it wouldn't have been to everyone's taste and it really slowed my characters development because I often had to turn down more profitable jobs as the reward didn't justify the extra risk I was taking on. That said, it certainly added a lot of tension and stress to the game. I've always been frustrated by the lack of consquences in games like EVE.

Re:Film (1)

N!k0N (883435) | about 3 years ago | (#37053724)

One life and thats it, the game is over? You wont win very many fans that way

You say that, but I used to play EVE Online like that. I had a personal rule that if the character died, I would transfer everything to the person that killed me, recycle the body and start a new character from scratch. That rule was listed in the bio of my characters so everyone could see it. Certainly, it wouldn't have been to everyone's taste and it really slowed my characters development because I often had to turn down more profitable jobs as the reward didn't justify the extra risk I was taking on. That said, it certainly added a lot of tension and stress to the game. I've always been frustrated by the lack of consquences in games like EVE.

your stuffs, I can haz? =)

Regardless of your assertion that EVE had "no consequences" to death, they're significantly higher than the likes of WOW...

Re:Film (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053942)

That's also my problem with many MMOGs: when you die, you just get back up again and go collect your stuff. It takes all the fun and meaning out of the game for me.

But being the only player in the game who deals with consequences doesn't sound very appealing either.

Re:Film (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053514)

But unlike films, where the creators are in complete control, how do you not violate rules in a game without making it unplayable? One life and thats it, the game is over? You wont win very many fans that way

Nethack and other roguelikes are pretty popular despite their harsh no save-scumming policy. The trick is to give the game replay value. Don't make the game exactly the same every time you play it, and it won't be so bad to start over. And if you bend the rules a bit to allow reloading a save game after death, then I think the majority of games out there give you only one life.

Whether it's viable depends entirely on the kind of gameplay you want.

Re:Film (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#37053678)

You have three options.

First, don't aim for realism. Allow respawns because that's the way the game mechanic works and you like it that way. This worked well for Quake and earlier games. Why do you get to respawn? Because that makes the game fun. End of story.

Second, make it really hard to actually die. If you do die, then that's it, but generally you won't. Think of Monkey Island. There are only a few places where it's actually possible to die, and you need to try really hard. Or, to make it a bit harder, like Elite, where characters that had something to lose could buy escape pods and would then be able to survive their ship being destroyed (likely in a universe that is approximately 90% hostile spacecraft by mass).

Finally, work the respawning into the story. Have a friendly sorcerer resurrect the player in a fantasy game. In a futuristic game, have teleporters record the person that travels through them so that, if you die, you step out of the teleporter again with none of the experience or items you've collected since then. Or have it so that respawning doesn't really involve coming back to life, but rather taking control of a new person. This works fairly well in the Tom Clancy games.

Re:Film (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054606)

That's not what he's saying - only that the internal working of the game world must remain consistant. Take Bioshock, for instance. There's a game mechanic called "Vita chambers" that store your DNA and, should you be killed, will restore you to the last chamber you visited. In fact they just wanted a way to incorporate checkpoints into the game world, but in reality this was a jarring mechanism for me. Why, for instance, when I'm killing the rich and powerful of Rapture, do they not just respawn at a Vita chamber? Am I expected to believe none of them chose to preserve their DNA just in case? A simple menu option would have been less jarring because it's outside the game world, if you're going to put stuff in like this you have to make it work for your world, not against it. Give us a believable reason why nobody else is using this magical device to become immortal. Same with games that have highly destructible environments and they a wooden fence or a flimsy looking internal door is suddenly impervious to your rocket launcher because they need to drive you along a path - give me a reason why that doesn't take me out of the moment.

Re:Film (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | about 3 years ago | (#37053458)

I believe this is the problem perceived when viewing Michael Bay films.

Well, it's one problem with Michael Bay films.

Re:Film (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 3 years ago | (#37053986)

Problems with Michael Bay films only become acute when one actually views them. Otherwise, they don't really bother me.

I'd have more to say about this, but.. (1)

b5bartender (2175066) | about 3 years ago | (#37053304)

...I need to get back to TF2 so I can finish crafting this Cow Mangler 5000 already.

Yup (1)

TafBang (1971954) | about 3 years ago | (#37053312)

And that's why In goldeneye i use license to kill mode and on Call of Duty I play on hardcore... 1-2 shot kill nigga

Nintendo called (2)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | about 3 years ago | (#37053326)

Wii is not even HD capable console, few people are bothered with that. Their games are non-realistic in low resolution. The lack of realism hasn't affected them much.

Re:Nintendo called (1)

julesh (229690) | about 3 years ago | (#37053478)

Wii is not even HD capable console, few people are bothered with that.

I know a few people who are bothered by it, but primarily because no HD => no HDMI, and a lot of newer TVs are shipping without SCART these days.

Re:Nintendo called (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | about 3 years ago | (#37054742)

That might be the reason why their are introducing the new WiiU, I find it very odd to have the console without HDMI output these days.

Suits are to blame! (1)

Adkins1984 (1845316) | about 3 years ago | (#37053352)

The sad reallity is that hardly any of the people that I read about who are leading the big game studios ever talk about what games they play. They don't mention their childhood favorites, and they don't say that they did [blank] in a game cause they used to love that. They really don't seem like gamers at all. They do however seem to realize that if one game does really good and they can copy it fast enough, their next title might stand a chance. It is truly sad...

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053558)

I fully agree! I don't want to play games designed by businessmen, I want to play games designed by gamers. By people who love the hobby, the craft, who know their classics, who love some really obscure cult hits, who care about the games themselves, instead of merely the market, the demographics and the money that goes around in it.

Every game should have a story behind it: what inspired it? What are the main influences? What is it that you really wanted to do differently? What is the core of what you're trying to accomplish with this game?

Unfortunately, most games are just a list of bullet points that's identical to every other game out there. Boring, and a good reason not to buy them. Though good guys do exist.

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 years ago | (#37053698)

> Every game should have a story behind it: what inspired it?

How many games have you actually _shipped_?

Quick, what's the story behind Tetris, PuzzleBobble, etc.

Games != Stories.

There is a time a and place for narrative, but you are spouting more fictional bullshit by some literary poser when it is NOT needed.

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

Aranykai (1053846) | about 3 years ago | (#37053776)

If you completely ignore games like Call of Duty, Mass Effect, Halo, Diablo, Half Life, Final Fantasy --heck even mario-- I'm sure you would have a point.

While some of those games have non-narrative multi-player modes, they all have strong story-driven campaigns.

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37053780)

I'm not talking about narrative at all. I'm talking about why they made the game they did. Of course there is a story behind Tetris and PuzzleBobble. They didn't magically drop out of the sky, they were created for a reason. I have no idea what it is, because the creators didn't tell me, but I think they should, because then I have some idea of what to expect from the game, and what to judge it on.

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 years ago | (#37053860)

> hey didn't magically drop out of the sky, they were created for a reason. I have no idea what it is, because the creators didn't tell me, but I think they should, because then I have some idea of what to expect from the game, and what to judge it on.

That is optional & orthogonal to good games. In the same way you don't need to know the Author's Life Story for -Why- he wrote a book/film/painting/song you don't _need_ to know the reasons of the Game Developers to enjoy the art for what it is. Now, knowing the backstory _may_ enhance your experience, but to _demand_ that programmers + designers + artists present the context of why they created the game in the first place is absurd -- Do you really want to listen to 200+ people tell you why they created the game the way they did?? I'm not saying it wouldn't be interesting, but just enjoy the dam game, instead of getting hung up on details that don't matter.

We have "genre" labels for a reason -- to be able to quickly sort through the "type" of games, so you can make a quick judgement if that type of game is one you will enjoy.

Re:Suits are to blame! (1)

mcvos (645701) | about 3 years ago | (#37054206)

I think that a game created because the creator found some aspect lacking in other games, is likely to be a better game than a game that was created to fit a certain demographic. Broad labels like "genre" don't help to distinguish between a game that was inspired and one that was simply made to fit a formula. Plenty of games claim to be an RPG (or whatever genre you happen to prefer), but they don't explain what sets them apart. Why should I buy this game instead of any of the dozens of others in the same genre?

I admit it's also a matter of personal taste. I love reading designer's notes. Some board games have very interesting designer's notes. I clearly remember reading those of Squad Leader, which explained the philosophy behind the game, and how it was completely different from other hard core wargames. And it helps me to understand why certain game mechanics work the way they work. I love it when computer games are similarly inspired by a certain philosophy that sets it apart from other games in that genre. I haven't read explicit designer's notes for Civilization 5, but I have read articles about the ideas behind it (streamlining, less micromanagement), which helps me understand the design decisions, and that enhances my enjoyment of the game.

Arma2... (2)

incognito84 (903401) | about 3 years ago | (#37053380)

Whoever wrote this article obviously hasn't played it. Its a game that is astonishingly close to "realism." As, much as possible anyway.

I would simply argue that concessions away from realism in "realistic" titles exist in video games because a mouse and keyboard is a poor substitute for your body and a monitor is a poor substitute for your eyes.

Once we have more "immersive" input/output hardware, the lines between reality and the game world will become blurry.

Re:Arma2... (1)

NouberNou (1105915) | about 3 years ago | (#37053416)

Agreed, Arma2, and its military cousin VBS2 are much closer to realism than CoD. No one in the serious gaming/training industry would say that CoD is even trying to be realistic.

Arma supports some alternative input devices like TrackIR and supports a wide variety of resolutions and screen configurations as well.

What people need to come back to is the idea of simulators and games. They serve different audiences. One is meant to focus more on realism than fun (while that realism should be the fun part) and the other more on fun than realism. They both make sacrifices.

Surrealism (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 3 years ago | (#37053436)

The author of TFA complains that games depict absurd situation in a realistic fashion.
Sounds to me games are plenty surrealist enough already.

Surrealism does not pay (1)

aepervius (535155) | about 3 years ago | (#37053466)

Planescape tormet ? Surrealist world, even if the gameplay was similar to BG : poor sales. Okami ? Poor sales. The fact is, the *average* gamer massively want something they can recognize and feel acquainted with. Thus the poor sales of surrealistic games.

CAT (1)

Burb (620144) | about 3 years ago | (#37053500)

Dolphin

Re:CAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053766)

Dishcloth

Re:CAT (1)

Burb (620144) | about 3 years ago | (#37054654)

Artichoke

Re:CAT (1)

CelticWhisper (601755) | about 3 years ago | (#37054964)

Paramecium.

Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realism. (5, Insightful)

flimflammer (956759) | about 3 years ago | (#37053536)

And you shouldn't expect them to. "Realistic" games break realism for the sake of gameplay. Not everyone (and dare I say most people) don't want to play a game where you get grazed in the leg with a bullet and your movement becomes entirely awkward, your character develops some sort of infection and then his leg needs to be amputated in the middle of the jungle with charlies everywhere, then being required to finish the rest of the game with one leg. (surely one person will reply to this begging for that)

It's a game. It's entertainment, and they also have to account for users controlling these characters. Sure games like Call of Duty put in realistic weapons and what have you but it's still not aiming to be a completely realistic combat shooter. In fact I doubt anyone would even think it's trying to be. If you want something "realistic" then I think Arma 2 would be a better choice.

Movies also try to be "real" but when you see Tom Cruise jumping out of helicopters or Bruce Willis driving a car up a ramp into a helicopter all while the surroundings and story are meant to be more or less realistic, you don't go complaining how unrealistic the movie is. It's a movie. it's entertainment. If you want a true-to-life story then look out your Window and watch the mailman deliver the mail.

Re:Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realis (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | about 3 years ago | (#37053668)

Not everyone (and dare I say most people) don't want to play a game where you get grazed in the leg with a bullet and your movement becomes entirely awkward, your character develops some sort of infection and then his leg needs to be amputated in the middle of the jungle with charlies everywhere, then being required to finish the rest of the game with one leg. (surely one person will reply to this begging for that)

I hate to be that person, but that seems to make the game more interesting, if it would allow for variations in the story. As long as I can finish the missions and quests, then why not? Perhaps I might to reload it from the last save point if the injury becomes to big of a problem.

Re:Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realis (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 3 years ago | (#37053952)

I think that reality itself is a part of the problem. Why aren't there actual floating respawning medpacks in the real world? Scientists - get on this! It would do a lot for public health!

Re:Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054870)

I thought that was part of Obamacare...

Re:Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37055096)

I'm sure the fine folks at Aperture Labs will get right on this... just as soon as they finish work on exploding lemons.

Re:Game developers aren't shooting for 100% realis (1)

Zilog (932422) | about 3 years ago | (#37054390)

There is two games where some serious wounds drive you to finish them on one leg, your knees or with one eye (Only half of the screen remains visible... Very funny) :
    1. - Savage
    2. - Robinson requiem

Savage was one of the first "real 3D world" game in the early 90's, i finish it on a 8 bit CPC... A hard but very good game, that worth the endeavor.

Surrealism in the oddest places (1)

slim (1652) | about 3 years ago | (#37053586)

Surrealism occurs pretty much throughout video gaming.

In a typical JRPG, your party merges into one person, wanders around the map as that single person, then when attached, splits out into a party again, whereupon they take it in turns to trade blows with enemies.

In LA Noire, you drive through the streets of LA like an absolute maniac (at least, if you play the way I do) leaving a trail of destruction, then calmly stroll out of your car and conduct a sober murder investigation.

In Portal 2, a robot tells you you're fat.

Re:Surrealism in the oddest places (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053760)

In Portal 2, a robot tells you you're fat.

Sounds like pretty much every digital scale I have ver owned.

Re:Surrealism in the oddest places (1)

delinear (991444) | about 3 years ago | (#37054952)

My favourite surreal moment in LA Noire is also related to driving. You can drive like a psycho, into oncoming traffic at top speed, handbrake turning aside at the last second to speed off and do it all again and your partner sits quietly in the passenger seat. Scrape your bumper on a fence post when reversing out of a driveway and he's screaming at you for being a maniac.

Some games pursue reality but others do not (1)

deadcrow (946749) | about 3 years ago | (#37053620)

Not all games are pursuing reality. Just look at games like "Cat God vs Sun King" and "Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet". They don't even try for a realistic name. The author mentions several different games, especially the Alice game as examples of the type he thinks are better than ultra-realistic games. As long as games like this exist, there is balance in the realism of games. And no need to panic.

If I wanted to join the army I'd join the army (1)

xatm092 (1654477) | about 3 years ago | (#37053630)

The more FPSes are focused on realism, the more the gameplay becomes hiding in a bush for days waiting for someone to walk past. Real warfare is camping.

Indie games for the win (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | about 3 years ago | (#37053646)

That's why I prefer indie game companies who bring out really interesting games.

Some I have been playing lately: World of Goo [2dboy.com] , Cogs Game [lazy8studios.com] , VVVVVV [steampowered.com] .

No affiliation with these games, I just love what they do. They remind me of when games first appeared for the PC, when creativity motivated game design, not the quest for uber realism.

As we know, "its super cool to be uber realistic on hardware because it's just a simulation and not really real. So it's cool that way."...

Gimme a break! Gimme a real game.

Realism is important (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 3 years ago | (#37053802)

Because it gives a referential to your actions, which allows to put them into perspective and make them more meaningful.
You can also better identify with the character you're playing if it's realistic enough.

So it's a very important characteristic to have for a game that involves roleplaying, in one way or another.

Re:Realism is important (1)

Spad (470073) | about 3 years ago | (#37053846)

That's not realism you're after, it's a consistent, believable world. Games like Dragon Age or Mass Effect or Fallout aren't realistic - far from it in a lot of cases - but they have well designed, consistent worlds with well written characters that you can identify with and form attachments to.

The fact that you're battling an ancient race of sentient machines or throwing fireballs at orgres doesn't really factor into it that much because, as TFA says, in the worlds in which the games exist, those things are perfectly acceptable.

Re:Realism is important (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 3 years ago | (#37053912)

> Realism is important
> Because it gives a referential to your actions, which allows to put them into perspective and make them more meaningful.
How many roleplaying games _require_ you to eat every few hours??? They don't because micro-managing your stomach _detracts_ from the core gameplay. Realism is NOT fun, for the most part.

Your mistake is that you are confusing the "Red Herring of Realism" with "Frame of Reference" and "Logical Consistency"

Realism in game design is a _tool_ that helps immerse the player by giving them "What to expect", but it bogs the players down in _details_ that they usually don't want to baby-sit. The eating in role-playing games, is a perfect example.

> You can also better identify with the character you're playing if it's realistic enough.
Total Nonsense.

1. You have obviously never played Grand Theft Auto 3 -- your avatar _never_ talks. Ironically, by Rockstar _not_ providing a voice for your character, you are drawn _more_ into identifying with him.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org]

> So it's a very important characteristic to have for a game that involves roleplaying, in one way or another.
Like any rule, there is a time and a place for it. You are playing a _game_, not a _simulation_.

e.g.
Forcing the player to only be able to hold X items, because of carrying (weight) capacity or backpack volume, is more about forcing the player to make a choice of "What do I keep? What do I throw away?" then about realism.

I find realism detrimental (1)

Windwraith (932426) | about 3 years ago | (#37053900)

It limits your choices when designing, it limits your choices when interacting, and the outcome is too familiar to surprise.
Sure, a little amount of realism is desirable. Such as if you shoot stuff, it dies. Or if you run out of bullets, you need more.

There is also a movement of players of "games where the author is not some corporate drone thus you can talk to him/her" who is extremely vocal about realism and attempt to pressure the author of a fantastic game to nerf it into realism. I wish those guys were to shut the hell up and take a lesson or two in game design or usability. (Yes, games also need that)

Fallout does it best (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053974)

There are a few games that seem to pull it off. The realism aspect is something that Fallout strives for, within the accepted boundaries and limitations of its gaming engine. I like to think that its more like you are playing a realistic dream. In the same sense, a person's real dreams also have certain restrictions and limitations, yet still feel both 'real' and 'surreal'. And are often meant to be a reproduction of real life. Return to Zork and a few older 3D adventure games (things like Ultima Underworld) also strived pull off a sense of dream-level realism. In their own ways. Looking forward to Skyrim and its new gaming engine guys? I certainly am. MMmmmmm!

Re:Fallout does it best (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 3 years ago | (#37054188)

Really? Because I spent a significant portion of the game sleeping with corpses that didn't make me sick, and visiting power stations that were working and well maintainted by cockroaches and mole rats.

Desert Bus Drive (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37053978)

I think Penn & Teller's Smoke and Mirrors' mini game Desert Bus shows us why over realist games would be boring. Because life is actually boring games where you have to wait for the chopper flight back from your black ops mission and maybe without any control you get your chopper falls into ocean where you die. Wow, that sounds like fun.

Video Games as Art (1)

bregmata (1749266) | about 3 years ago | (#37054014)

There is a school of superrealists in the visual arts. Some people like that. The aim is to use manual methods to depict a view similar to what a mechanical camera can capture. It takes and displays a great deal of technical skill to achieve a good superrealist painting.

The true art in an art form, however, lies in the ability to capture the essence of a subject. This is not to say that a superrealist painting is not capable of capturing the essence of a subject (far from it). What it means is that I can stand in awe of a minimalist depiction of a subject that manages to convey the true essence and admire the genius it takes to create that piece. It does not necessarily look real, but it's good art. I think the ability to appreciate the true art in an art form comes with maturity in the viewer.

I believe the same holds true for video games. There is a school of thought that believes superrealist presentation (graphics, sound) are the pinnacle of the art. I think as the gaming audience matures (as a whole, I'm not talking individuals here) an appreciation for the true art form behind interactive games will emerge, and more schools of design will establish as fully valid. Minimalist works like Tetris or Angry Birds will be broadly accepted as brilliant games.

Then again, you will always be able to find matadors on black velvet and poker-playing dogs in any genre.

Uncharted Realism? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054234)

That argument, well, part of it, is just insane.

How do YOU know that Drake wasn't familiar with guns?
We don't even fully know his past yet.

I will give you the damage part. But considering how you can die in an instant with a headshot, I forgive them.
Sadly they never implemented a bandage part, or the "you get taken to hospital to get the bullet removed and stitches " mini-game.

I would like to see an Optional difficulty in more games that DO add some sense of realism to them, however.
Permadeath seems to be making a comeback in games these days. Permadamage especially is making a comeback.
Hardcore game modes are fantastic and I wish more devs would add them in because games are seriously getting easier and have been for the past decade now.
They are getting insultingly easy sometimes.

Am I missing something (1)

Internetuser1248 (1787630) | about 3 years ago | (#37054242)

There's something wrong with this thread. It starts in the summary. Giving examples of games that are supposed to be realistic. It is followed by a series of comments debating the relative realism and surrealism of games that are not good examples of either. If you want to talk realism we have the armed assault series, the rainbow six series, the hidden and dangerous series, the Forgotten Hope mod series, IL2 Sturmovik, Rise of Flight and many other flight sims, Men of war and total war series' for strategy. Dwarf fortress is a strange mixture of uber realism (damage system, geology) and surrealism (fantasy setting, weird underground creatures), and other surrealistic games include Planescape, Baldurs gate, Monkey Island, to name a few old school favourites, Portal was at least mentioned in a couple of comments. There was that xbox only dark horror sidescroller with the kid being mutilated by giant spiders, minecraft is also pretty surreal. Maybe I am missing something here, but it seems to me that this entire discussion has so far been dedicated to games that are neither realistic nor surrealistic, unless you include a basic lazy inability to make a realistic game as a form of surrealism. Perhaps the posters have only ever played games that they saw a minimum of 50 hours advertising for in the last 2 years.

If you're wondering how Link eats and breathes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37054290)

And other science facts. Just repeat to yourself "It's just a game, I should really just relax."

But how much realism is too much realism? (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | about 3 years ago | (#37054590)

Surely Ben Gowing (from TFA) isn't asking us to to replace players by abstract icons, forgo earthly physics, euclidean geometry and reduce all attempts at plot to the level of Tetris, is he?

Just having humanoids on a 3D space with gravity already "contaminates" the game with enough realism that you might just as well keep adding realism until it interferes with gameplay.

Graphics, being accessory, can be as cartoony or as realistic as you want. Me? As long as my character can take blows like a piñata and immediately jump back into action I'm happy. Photo-realistic backgrounds don't bother me at all and in fact I find them quite appealing.

Second Largest Duck (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 3 years ago | (#37054658)

That's the second largest duck I've ever had in my pants.

The attempt at realism does detract (1)

denyAll (2217354) | about 3 years ago | (#37054716)

I remember Delta Force's "one shot anywhere on the body kills you" model. But we played that game endlessly, even after more realistic games came out. Granted, I also liked the FPS games that actually let you get shot in the ankle and not die immediately, but for fun gameplay, we didn't mind games like DF not having full-on realism. I mean, what did we do when we played "Cowboys and Indians" outside? Or paintball, or Airsoft? You got hit, you were "dead." The lack of inherent realism let us bring our own imagination to it.
More to the point of the article, I can think of a few examples where games I play have recently added "realsim" in a frustrating manner.
1. Madden NFL/NCAA Football. I enjoy console football games, like NCAA and Madden. A few versions back, Madden added in this pre-season and other manager-type stuff, the idea of "you're a coach/manager, so do all the coachy/managerish stuff." It was irritating when I just wanted to set up a season and play (Tecmo Super Bowl?). IIRC, there was no easy way to skip all that stuff, so I just gave up on Madden (and didn't they later come out with "Coach" so you don't even have to play the game to play the game?). Even NCAA became irritating, with in-season suspensions (which seem more prevalent when your team is successful, perhaps as a way to gimp you), and a slew of irritating pre-season stuff. Heck, it could take a few hours to go from the end of one season to the beginning of the next with recruiting, etc. Granted, I can (and often do) skip many of those steps, but it just draws the game out.
Side note: does anyone else think the more realistic they try to make player movements, the weirder they look?
2. WoW. Was it 4.0 that brought us the big graphics changes? "The water will appear more realistic, terrain will be more lifelike." WTH? I expect it to be a game, not a movie in which my main is the star. So we can skip the very realistic graphics. I don't fly from Ironforge past Menethil and think, "Gee, what lovely looking water they've made now." Maybe some folks do, I dunno. It looked great before the graphics improvements. Granted, I don't want Atari 2600 or Intellivision graphics, but I don't really care for the changes.

I do appreciate that they can now take advantage of the ATI ZOMG or the Nvidia RAWKYERSAWKSOFF cards, but I'll opt for playing the game over focusing so much on "realism."
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