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The Hard Science of Making Videogames

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the dr-mario-i-presume dept.

Programming 194

twoblackeyes writes "PopSci delves into the 10 greatest technical challenges faced by game developers today, and the technology that will hopefully make them a thing of the past. At the top of every dev's wish list is increased realism: realisitic fire, water, enemy AI, material physics, etc. Here directly from the developers where the tech stands today, and where it will likely be tomorrow. '4. Artificial Intelligence - Problem: Once upon a time, the bad guys in videogames wandered around mindlessly, shooting at you while they waited to die. That doesn't cut it anymore. Players demand sophisticated enemies to fight and reliable in-game allies with which to fight them. Thing is, it's freaking complicated, and it eats up processor speed. "We're faking just enough smarts to make it work," says Mathieu Mazerole, lead engineer on Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed. Status: Imbuing characters in a game with lifelike decision-making ability involves employing the kind of high-level logic theories--learning decision trees, mobile navigation, finite-state machine models--used by top robotics engineers.'"

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194 comments

halo si the best game ever (1)

R00BYtheN00BY (1118945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686185)

EVEr and if u think different ur gay!!

Only a worthless fluff piece like this (4, Insightful)

JanusFury (452699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686215)

would rank the importance of realistic water simulations above the importance of good artificial intelligence in games.

And to think, I used to subscribe to popsci...

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (4, Insightful)

PackMan97 (244419) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686241)

I don't think this is a ranked list. However, many AI's are already very very competent while most water looks like crap.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (3, Informative)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686439)

Agreed. I read the article a while ago when it came out in print, it's not supposed to be a ranked list. And the AI in games like Rainbow 6 can already surprise you (I got flanked in my last game by a pair of particularly enterprising AIs), good looking water is much, much harder to find.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (4, Insightful)

PhoenixOne (674466) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687737)

That wasn't AI, but most likely level design (or blind luck).

AI that can be put anywhere and act "smart" is still a ways off...

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (5, Funny)

PlusFiveTroll (754249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688479)

People that can be put anywhere and act "smart" are still a ways off...

Only a waterless piece like this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686541)

The water in Farcry and the Exile games was very good. However with that being said. When in a FPS, water isn't going to be the most important thing (unless you're making "Abyss:the shooter").

Re:Only a waterless piece like this (4, Interesting)

dkf (304284) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687265)

The water in Farcry and the Exile games was very good.
It was a cheat that only looks good close up if nothing much is happening. But why don't you get the wakes from the patrolling boats out there rolling in or making it hard to stay in your own boat? If you blow up a helicopter and the pieces fall in the water, where are the waves from that? That's right, they're not there. And that's because the physics of water is Really Really Hard.

Indeed, two of the problems mentioned in this piece are really the same thing: both Water and Fire are manifestations of Fluid Dynamics. Real supercomputers (not Beowulfs or BOINC nets, but specialist big iron) are mostly used for this sort of thing, and the nature of the problem (non-linear fractal) means that it can soak up every bit of compute power you throw at it and you'll still not really have enough. Indeed, it's going to come down to how good a cheat people can get away with (rather like AI, another of the Really Really Hard problems...)

Re:Only a waterless piece like this (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687419)

AI is easier...All a bot has to do to seem real is surprise you every now and then. But the eye has been trained from birth to expect certain things from water, and when those things don't turn up, then there are problems.

I imagine they'll start doing something like with facial recognition software...Matching 100% of the face is a nightmare because even small deviations can stymie a computer, but matching the important 3 or 4% is easy. All we need to do is figure out what amount of simulation we need to do to trick the eye into believing it's real, and we're good to go.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (2, Funny)

pthor1231 (885423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686831)

One of those free mmos me and a friend tried out for a little bit, the water was terrible. I didn't expect miracles from a free mmo, but if you turned the water quality to the lowest setting, it was reflective. I wondered why my friend was having trouble attacking the crabs in the water, and then I looked over at his laptop screen, and saw the sky where the water should be.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687195)

The problem with water is that people tend to think of water as a jello like object, when it really needs to be modeled like a think gas.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (3, Funny)

skeeto (1138903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688661)

many AI's are already very very competent while most water looks like crap.
So, crap simulation is already very good. Check that one off the list then.

Do the AI run out of bullets? (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686437)

Designing good AI is extremely difficult.

But is good AI really needed in games? Wouldn't it be enough to give the enemy AI's a few basic styles/options and what to do when they run out of ammo?

#1. Team options - how well do they operate together?

#2. Seek cover/concealment vs charge!

#3. Prioritize area effect weapons vs others (grenades vs pistol).

#4. Play dead vs pick up comrade's weapon.

You enter their zone, they have high team operations so they'll ALL have the same reactions. They ALL take cover and throw grenades at you.

You enter their zone, they have low team operations so they'll ALL be decided individually. "A" charges, firing his pistol as he runs. "B" ducks behind a tree and throws grenades until he's out then he fires until he's out and then he plays dead. "C" ducks behind a tree, shoots his pistol and then tries to move to a tree closer to you. When he's out of ammo, he grabs what he can off of "A"'s corpse and keeps fighting.

With a few options, each game will be very different.

Re:Do the AI run out of bullets? (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686697)

Not quite. Firstly your plan itself would be extremely difficult to implement, easily as difficult as current AIs. How do you teach the AI to prioritize area effect weapons? What if the AI's in a place where he's not supposed to damage the enviroment? Does he still prioritize area effect? How does the AI decide if his dead teammate's weapon is better than his current one? Especially when the two weapons are extremely similar (2 different SMGs), what does the AI do then? Does the AI base it's decision to charge or cover on what the PC is using? If so where's the line, for what weapons will the AI cover and for what weapons will it not? If not then the AI's gonna be pathetic when the PC's taking cover with a shotgun.

The sequence you describe is about the limit of AI programming today.

On top of that your sequence misses out on one of the best parts of modern AIs, in effect it's dumber than some current AIs. When an AI flanks you and you start taking fire from a direction you thought was safe it can be extremely surprising, and being surprised in a game is one of the best parts.

AIs need to advance because the smarter the AI the more options are available for the game. For example, old games tend to have the enemies be a lot stronger that you and outnumber you because they're so dumb they need that to stand a chance (for a modern example think the brutes in Halo 2. Simple AI but they can take and deal a lot of damage). As AI's get smarter and smarter they can get closer and closer to the player's stats, until the AI and the player both are equal in terms of stats and ability. That is when the game would be a lot of fun, when single player is like a game of multiplayer except the enemy has more players and you have surprise. In addition smarter AIs make for awesome boss fights as the tired old strategy of 'the boss has 3x normal health and damage' can be retired and the boss can instead be more intelligent then the other characters but no stronger, which is both more realistic and fun.

Why not? (2, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687451)

How do you teach the AI to prioritize area effect weapons?

If yes then when enemy is in throw range throw grenades until grenades == 0 or enemy == 0.

What if the AI's in a place where he's not supposed to damage the enviroment?

If you've gotten to the point where you have to ask that, you've already too far. Ask yourself why you as the designer are giving grenades to the guards inside the art museum.

How does the AI decide if his dead teammate's weapon is better than his current one?

Why would he need to decide that? He'd use his weapon until it was empty or the enemy were all killed. Then the decision comes in to look for other weapons or to play dead.

Especially when the two weapons are extremely similar (2 different SMGs), what does the AI do then?

Again, he'd use his weapon until it was empty or there were no enemies. Then either look for another weapon or play dead.

Does the AI base it's decision to charge or cover on what the PC is using?

Nope.

Does the AI base it's decision to charge or cover on what the PC is using? If not then the AI's gonna be pathetic when the PC's taking cover with a shotgun.

Nope and that's the point. The tactics the PLAYERS will use will have to CHANGE each time they play because the tactics the enemy will use will have changed.

On top of that your sequence misses out on one of the best parts of modern AIs, in effect it's dumber than some current AIs. When an AI flanks you and you start taking fire from a direction you thought was safe it can be extremely surprising, and being surprised in a game is one of the best parts.

Why do you think that isn't possible in my scenario?

AIs need to advance because the smarter the AI the more options are available for the game.

The same can be said of processors and video cards.

For example, old games tend to have the enemies be a lot stronger that you and outnumber you because they're so dumb they need that to stand a chance (for a modern example think the brutes in Halo 2. Simple AI but they can take and deal a lot of damage).

Nope. That's just because it was easier to write them like that. That way there's no way for the players to "get lucky" and get through a level easily. The players have to gain "levels" and "equipment" to beat the "boss" monsters.

As AI's get smarter and smarter they can get closer and closer to the player's stats, until the AI and the player both are equal in terms of stats and ability.

Nope. Because the computer will always be able to process faster than the player. The computer will know exactly how far you are from it and which weapon will do the maximum damage at that range. And instantly switch to that weapon.

In addition smarter AIs make for awesome boss fights as the tired old strategy of 'the boss has 3x normal health and damage' can be retired and the boss can instead be more intelligent then the other characters but no stronger, which is both more realistic and fun.

You're falling back into the "boss" monster mentality. Why does the "boss" need to PERSONALLY be stronger, faster, smarter, etc?

Again, that's a holdover from the old 8-bit games. Kill the minions, kill the boss, grab the treasure, check xp to see if you gained a level, turn in the key, get better equipment, start the next level.

You don't need AI for that pattern. As I've demonstrated. The problem set is already defined by what equipment the players can have, what level they'll be (which yields hit point ranges and spell options) and the room.

With that, you could handle the boss simply by having a few more scripts he would use based upon the possible options I've listed. Of course, if you're still focused on the "boss" monster concept, then giving him a few more scripts makes more sense.

Personally, I don't see the appeal in that.

Re:Why not? (1)

Vexor (947598) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687789)

One of the best AI's out there IMO is Galactic Civilizations II. You crank that difficulty up (and with a decent dual core processor) and you have yourself a pretty damned tough AI. With the different tendancies of some of the civilizations you can get wasted pretty quickly.

Re:Why not? (5, Interesting)

provigilman (1044114) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688085)

If yes then when enemy is in throw range throw grenades until grenades == 0 or enemy == 0.

You can counteract this then by hopping in and out of throw range until the enemy runs out of grenades. Also, what if there are multiple players, some in range of the grenades and some outside grenade range but within weapons range. Plus, what about novel tactics? Retreating out of a room and tossing a grenade behind you? Effective use of smoke grenades instead of just frags?

If you've gotten to the point where you have to ask that, you've already too far. Ask yourself why you as the designer are giving grenades to the guards inside the art museum.

So then a player can simply negate grenade wielding enemies by retreating into the art museum? Or will the enemy pursue but fail to use grenades even if all available weapons are out of ammo?

Why would he need to decide that? He'd use his weapon until it was empty or the enemy were all killed. Then the decision comes in to look for other weapons or to play dead.

You ever play a multiplayer game? Your buddy next to you with the Rocket Launcher dies, you have an SMG and you're fighting a Tank. Do you honestly just sit there and plug away with the SMG while you're standing next to a Rocket Launcher? Of course not! Conversely, what if he had a Sniper rifle? It's normally a superior weapon, but is it still superior in that particular situation?

Nope and that's the point. The tactics the PLAYERS will use will have to CHANGE each time they play because the tactics the enemy will use will have changed.

But they're really not. If the enemy picks one of two options regardless of what you do, you only need to learn a counter for each of the two options. Now, if you're crouched in cover with a Shotgun, you have the charge covered, so you only have to worry about when they take cover as well.

But imagine instead that the enemy starts tossing grenades in an attempt to dislodge you from your cover. Or one enemy pins you down with automatic weapons fire while his allies flank you from the sides, staying well out of range of your shotgun. Or what if they toss out some smoke, then move up while you can't see them? Or better yet, you're in a warhouse and one of them goes up onto the catwalks to get above and behind you in order to flush you out into the waiting sights of his buddies?

These sorts of things are what a player would think of, but current AI won't...and the AI you described certainly won't. Adding a couple of simplistic scripts with a random choice between them does not an AI make. Creating enemies with their own personalities, preferences and play styles that react to what tactics the player is using in a realistic and inventive fashion is the future of AI. It's also what human players do, why do you think multiplayer deathmatches have been (and continue to be) so popular?

Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686483)

would place the importance of graphical detail as shown inside above gameplay. If you don't have a good gameplay, you can have 1000000000000 triangle per square inch of pixels, it won't make your gamer more happy. The Primary challenge of a good game is not graphism. it is a good idea which translate to a good technical gameplay.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (1, Offtopic)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686643)

Number one should be "Developers forgot how to provide more than 10 hours of gameplay per title"

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686757)

Once upon a time, 5 hours was plenty of play-time and had plenty of replay-ability, too. Heck, without the ability to save, 5 hours was a bit long. How long did it really take to complete a game of Super Mario Bros. for instance?

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (1)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686875)

It took me years to complete SMB. I hate that damn one block wide ledge in level 8-2 or 8-3, that thing psyched me out almost every time.

Then you get to the end of that level and the stairs have holes in them and that goddam cloud thing was throwing spiny shit at you. Bastards.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688529)

Sure, it took you longer because the game was hard.
But how many hours of "content" does SMB actually have?

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece as thisq (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687905)

This is an article on technological challenges - which doesn't include gameplay. I don't see anything that implies that gameplay isn't as important, it just isn't a challenge in the same way that those other categories are. Obviously it goes without saying that gameplay is important, but covering how to get good gameplay is a topic for another article.

it is a good idea which translate to a good technical gameplay.

Not quite - ideas are cheap. In some simple cases, a good idea alone is good enough to make an addictive game, but in most cases, getting everything together to make a playable and addictive game takes more than just a good idea.

(One of my favourite and most addictive games is the Civilization series. But an idea of "a strategy game where you control a civilization throughout the whole of history" is the easy bit. Getting all the mechanics of the game to work in a playable fashion, and actually writing the damn thing, is the much harder part.)

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (1)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686543)

if it's blue and you can splash around in it, it's water. good enough for me. sometimes I wonder if I just took a real picture of waves on an ocean and showed it to people if they would just claim the water looked fake or it was photoshopped or whatever.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686713)

I'd like to see some video game AI developers use their talents to make some business software. Not that I think games don't deserve their efforts, but it frustrates me to see entertainment apps with more capability than the ones we're using to keep this country's economy running (or not, as the case may be [slashdot.org] ). Take for instance the world of wholesale energy delivery (and try not to fall asleep). Once all the financial deals are done to buy (or sell) power at all the delivery points around the country, a small army of people get together on telephones and by IM to figure out what the most efficient way is to deliver all that power. This happens each hour of each day, all across the country. For that matter, AFAIK, in all Westernized countries.

It wouldn't take long for a few savvy game developers to figure out how to put together an AI that would, in a distributed fashion, talk to all its brethren and coordinate energy delivery. Human monitors at each energy company would keep the situation from turning into Skynet (not that it ever would, but people would talk). At $250K per installation and 20% annual maintenance costs (standard pricing for vertical market apps), every one of the ~500 energy companies in the U.S. would be hot after the software.

This is just one example of commercial software that would benefit from the advanced and abstract thinking that goes into game design. So, why aren't there products like these? Is game development that lucrative?

Only a worthless economic games like this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686921)

Try playing Capitalism II [wikipedia.org]

"So, why aren't there products like these?"

Because there's simulations,,,and then there's the real thing.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687039)

Generally game development is less lucrative, but more fun (if you're young and without family).
Solving the problems you're worrying about is a matter of money. No one wants to spend to develop the solutions, and there's basically no way to break into the market from the outside. Game devs don't have any special magic talent that the rest of the industry lacks. Then there's also the matter of reliability: games are bug ridden. Do you really want your energy management system shutting down and causing blackouts 10 times a day, or routing so much power through one system that it explodes?

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (1)

zevans (101778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687831)

There is plenty of terrifyingly intelligent business software out there - it just doesn't get the publicity - why would it?

Also - Halo = 20m customers x $20
          - SAS (a seriously deep BI/MI/scoring set of applicatons and business rules) = 200 customers x $1m

Halo: You buy it, you install it, you shoot things.

Uber-business-software: you buy it, you install it, it fails to install on your platforms, then you get it working and it fails to scale, you can't get your data into it, you can't find skilled staff to run it... and then eventually it starts working for you.

(I made these numbers up, but you see the point.)

Disclaimer: I implement this stuff for a living, so I'm biased. Then again, I get paid more than the 3 or 4 game coders I know/knew.

Re:Only a worthless fluff piece like this (2, Funny)

MoxFulder (159829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686835)

At the top of every dev's wish list is increased realism: realisitic fire, water, enemy AI
Realistic spelling is cool too!

Water is almost free (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686873)

once you get the algorithms sorted out and calculations offloaded to a GPU, it's really straightforward. A good AI on the other hand... Not so much.

Good (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686217)

Game creation IS a science, NOT an art. I'm glad the author recognized such facts.

Re:Good (2, Insightful)

pieaholicx (1148705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686277)

On the contrary, it is both. However, the topics discussed here are the science portion of it. Things like the textures, character design, music, scripting, etc. are the art of it.

Re:Good (1)

adisakp (705706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687945)

Game creation IS a science, NOT an art. I'm glad the author recognized such facts.

As a professional game programmer for over twenty years, I will say that Game Programming is a combination of SCIENCE and ART. You can't exclude either. It requires hard science to solve and understand many of the computing challenge required to program games today. At the same time, it's quite often required to cut corners and do approximations. The approximations are sometimes not at all anything like the way you'd do things scientifically but you have to judge them on their ascetics - i.e. is it good enough that the user will know / care about the difference. This is one of the fun parts of the job that requires a lot of creative and "artistic" thought in programming.

Re:Good (1)

Schnoogs (1087081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687985)

Like cinema, game creation is a mix of science AND art.

Street Fighter - Anti Cheese and Luck (0)

Dareth (47614) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686221)

I remember the box of my Super NES game, Street Fighter 2 Turbo bragging about it's awesome AI that kept you from "cheesing" your way thru the game.

If that was true, why did they put Guile in there... talk about Cheesy!

The computer "knows" too much. It is hard to find the middle ground to simulates luck element a player has.
My brother could own me in Unreal Tournament in big open maps. Put us in a close quarters map, and more often than not I would walk up right behind him by sheer luck. Of course my lucks balances, can't count the number of times I "missed" at point blank range with a flak cannon.

Re:Street Fighter - Anti Cheese and Luck (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687473)

Same here. But I don't think it's luck... I used to pwn people in UT because I had superior tactics, and learned their patterns, which made up for the fact that I couldn't hit the broad side of a tower on CTF-Face from 10' away with the flak cannon ;)

Dumb Article (0, Troll)

JeremyGNJ (1102465) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686223)

What a stupid article. I wouldnt call it the top-10 challenges of making video games....its more like the top-10 ASPECTS of making video games.

It really just runs down the major points involved in making video games. Of course they're all difficult yes, but I challenge you to list additional aspects that arent a challenge.

Re:Dumb Article (1)

Sciros (986030) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687035)

Music. Hire Jeremy Soule, Yasunori Mitsuda, Yuki Kajiura, or a film composer. Done.

Re:Dumb Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687051)

You sir don't make any sense. Aspects of making computer games that aren't challenges:

- overlaying a score on top of the screen
- the settings/preferences menu
- playback of pre-recorded music
- ...

So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686271)

Am I the only one who only really cares about a couple of these? Enemy A.I., sure. And having enemies react realistically to being shot is fine. But personally, I've never cared about how water or fire looked in a game...it's only a video game, after all. If it looks nice, great, but really, I'd rather see the focus returned to making actual gameplay.

Hopefully make them a thing of the past (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686275)

The challenges or the game developers?

Hmmm (4, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686319)

" '4. Artificial Intelligence - Problem: Once upon a time, the bad guys in videogames wandered around mindlessly, shooting at you while they waited to die. .."

I think this describes me on any FPS.

Re:Hmmm (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686565)

I always suspected you were a bot. :)

Does your real name perchance happen to be ELIZA?

Re:Hmmm (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686785)

I have told you before, I do not care about names.

Re:Hmmm (1)

VAXcat (674775) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686993)

My name is Legion, for we are many.

Re:Hmmm (1)

zevans (101778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687937)

Does your real name perchance happen to be ELIZA?

Can you tell me what you think it is that makes you feel that way?

Re:Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688061)

It describes the vast majority of people that play on public FPS servers, only they cant make up for it with various tricks like AI bots do. Maybe they should look into gathering data on how the flocks of shee- players play the game and use that to program the bots behavior.

Not Quite. (5, Insightful)

David L. Koenig (821886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686323)

The article should be renamed from "10 greatest technical challenges faced by game developers today" to "10 greatest technical challenges faced by first person shooter game developers today" Contrary to popular belief, not all game developers are striving for photorealism.

Re:Not Quite. (1)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686473)

To limit it to FPSes is a bit much, though. You could easily include everything from Spider-Man, Skate, Madden, Myst and Grand Theft Auto into that list. And 3rd-person shooters!

Re:Not Quite. (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686513)

For the average person game has come to be equated with First Person Shooter. They are by far the most hyped and talked about types of games, far beyond any other type. For the average non-gamer the word Game is equated with either images of GTA (for the game haters) or an FPS. For the average gamer the main genre is FPS.

So you're right, this should be 'Top 10 issues facing FPS developers'. However, since for a lot of people game = FPS and this article is written for those people*, saying Top 10 game issues is perfectly reasonable.

*9 of the 10 are extremely obvious to people who play lots of games, better AIs? Yeah...that's been a well known problem for a LONG time now. A lot of modern games advertise their AIs because gamers have demanded good AIs for a long time now

Re:Not Quite. (1)

jpfed (1095443) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686779)

For the average person game has come to be equated with First Person Shooter.
I'm not disagreeing when I say that's the saddest thing I've read all day.

Re:Not Quite. (1)

cliffski (65094) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687277)

They may be the most hyped and talked about, but they are unlikely to be the most profitable. On the PC, the most popular game by far is 'the sims' which is the total antithesis of this entire list.
I'm a game designer/coder by trade, and reading that article just depresses me. Nobody is actually worried about the fact that the end game may be just as predictable and tedious as the game before it.
The biggest challenges in game development are gameplay concepts and play balancing.
I've coded pretty much every aspect of games over the years. Most of the graphics stuff is actually quite easy in some ways, because
1) you know exactly what you are aiming to achieve and
2) you have a visible reference of what it should look like (thanks to hollywood).
Neither of these apply at all to trying to create truly innovative gameplay mechanics. That is by far the hardest thing, yet it doesn't make for good articles or screenshots. It mainly involves a lot of dead ends, a lot of typing, and a lot of head scratching and coffee. when you finish and have a great game mechanic, everyone tells you how its obvious and they could have thought of it, although noticeably, they didn't :D

Re:Not Quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687481)

For the average person game has come to be equated with First Person Shooter. They are by far the most hyped and talked about types of games, far beyond any other type. For the average non-gamer the word Game is equated with either images of GTA (for the game haters) or an FPS. For the average gamer the main genre is FPS.

So you're right, this should be 'Top 10 issues facing FPS developers'. However, since for a lot of people game = FPS and this article is written for those people*, saying Top 10 game issues is perfectly reasonable.


Obviously you have a myopic definition of 'average gamer'. Among all the console sales, Nintendo managed to outsold the others by NOT playing the photorealism race, and concentrated on offering innovative means to entertain. It attracts many people who aren't into video games at the first place (eg: grandparents). Even without counting consoles, there is also the rising trend of casual gaming that contains mostly non-FPS titles. Gaming demographic is definitely not set in stone as you or the original article writer believe, and certainly far the whole picture.

Re:Not Quite. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687997)

Contrary to popular belief, not all game developers are striving for photorealism.

True, but there are far more genres than just first person shooters that are striving for photorealism (The Elder Scrolls series springs to mind).

more like 8 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686329)

-water effects look really well now, it's basically the only thing that looks realistic in the game(see hl2 or any modern fps)
-light and shadow effects have been also perfected (see doom3 or any doom copy fps, fear,quake4,etc...)

the thing i hate the most is how cheezy fire effects still look, they are the only thing that has barely evolved these lasts 10 years

water effects (1)

raygundan (16760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686581)

I don't think they're referring to just the relatively still "rippled mirror surface" water in a pond. They're still absolutely miserable at realistically simulating water that flows or splashes, and even worse than that at interactions between other objects and water. The oceans in games these days look fantastic right up until something falls in.

Who cares about tech? (2, Insightful)

EricR86 (1144023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686351)

You'd think with the success of casual games, and less "technically advanced" games for platforms like Wii and the web, game developers would see huge market of gamers who are simply looking for games to be more fun again. Who cares if it has the latest AI or better cloth physics? Leave the better cloth and fire effects to the SIGGRAPH people :).

Re:Who cares about tech? (1)

SpiritGod21 (884402) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686715)

I do, and so do a lot of cash-paying gamers out there. Do you really think they'd make the games if people weren't buying them?

The videos for Assassin's Creed blew me away, and it may very well be the first game I've ever pre-ordered (though this is largely due to the fact that I had a gift-certificate to use and nothing else to use it on). It's exceedingly beautiful and the engine astounds me. That's what I'm paying for. The same goes for Gears of War. I bought it because it looked kind of cool; I didn't know how gameplay would be until I played it.

If it is pretty AND has great gameplay, that ensures I'll buy the sequel. But let's be honest: I buy the game up front because it looks cool.

It's not that this list sucks.. (3, Insightful)

Steveftoth (78419) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686377)

It's just that even if they solve all these issues with games, and are able to render a true to life simulation with AI that can mimic a real person. It still doesn't even begin to solve the most important aspect of video games, which is FUN.

Fun cannot be realized through more processor power, better looking faces or AI.

All these problems are very hard to get 100% right and all they really need to do is to get it right enough that people pretend that they are in a fantasy world. Which is why old text based games like Zork can still do a good job of pulling a player into the world enough that it's fun. It's all about stimulating a person's imagination, not creating a photo realistic simulation of reality.

Sure it would be neat to have photorealistic fire that can burn the entire environment and interact with water in a realistic manner. But is that what you really want? I mean it's also very fun to be able to play as the human torch, which means that you have to bend the laws of physics in your game world to simulate such a being. So it's not really about being real as much as fun, no?

Art direction, character design, level design, are much more important then these issues, yet we are spending much more time on the motion capture of a video game then on the plot. Crazy, IMO.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (4, Insightful)

tholomyes (610627) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686589)

Well, for one, motion capture is more important than plot in, say, most sports games. Also, it would be really fucking cool if you could play a game like Zork but where nearly every puzzle doesn't have a single, contrived answer.

Then maybe you could be in an environment where, as the hulking barbarian with the double-bitted axe, you encounter The Locked Door and, instead of having to find The Key, you can just break the damn thing in. Simplistic example, but hopefully it illustrated the point: a better physical simulation can allow for more creativity in the game.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687197)

Also, it would be really fucking cool if you could play a game like Zork
(snip)
Then maybe you could be in an environment where, as the hulking barbarian with the double-bitted axe, you encounter The Locked Door and, instead of having to find The Key, you can just break the damn thing in.
I believe Nethack has been meeting your requirements for over a decade... though, ironically, via less complex physical simulation.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687967)

"Also, it would be really fucking cool if you could play a game like Zork but where nearly every puzzle doesn't have a single, contrived answer."

People have played with the genre since the days of Zork. I've played some text adventures with physics, AI and non linear stories.

The question of how you do realistic physics in a text adventure is an interesting one. :)
Play some recent games, they have come on a bit.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686679)

Sure it would be neat to have photorealistic fire that can burn the entire environment and interact with water in a realistic manner. But is that what you really want?

Yes, because I want the creative field to be as open as possible, with as few technical limitations as possible. I want to be able to play a game where I'm a firefighter trapped in a building with a psychopathic arson, who is intent on burning me an my team alive. I want a intelligent, thinking AI who understands how combustibles work, and I want the environment to follow those laws of physics. I want my firefighting apperatus to interact with that fire realistically-- from the ABCD fire extinguisher to my flame-retardant jacket. I want teammates who will act watch my back, get smoke inhalation, panic or radio back to the chief-- not because some linear script programmed them to, but because they figured it out on their own.

I'm not saying that the technology should advance to make this game-- but it should advance so that it is possible to make this game. Games worked just fine on cardboard. But someone made Pong anyways. Games worked just fine with text descriptions, but people made Rogue anyways. Games worked just fine without graphics, but people made Pacman anyways. Games worked just fine without 3D, but people made Doom anyways. And so on and so on.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687283)

Maybe you should just become a volunteer firefighter?

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

Loke the Dog (1054294) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686707)

What you're missing is that convincing games are more fun. Sure, there are other ways of making games more convincing and thus more fun, but graphics, physics and AI are very tangible and an area which we can be sure has a potential to improve a lot, unlike more artistic elements which vary from title to title without necessarily improving over time.

Its also a personal opinion about what convinces you, just like with books, movies etc. People who like Conan the Barbarian might think the movie Sound of Music is just silly because everyone sings all the time. Some people think a 2d surface is enough to represent water, but can't stand a level of a supposed factory that doesn't appear to produce anything. But others might feel just the other way around.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

J-1000 (869558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686837)

Fun cannot be realized through more processor power, better looking faces or AI.
Right on. I suppose you could argue that those things make a game more marketable though, which is really what these people are primarily concerned with.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687121)

Too true, but this is a list of things the game developers want, what you're talking about isn't really the developers job.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

xtieburn (906792) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687173)

'Fun cannot be realized through more processor power, better looking faces or AI.'
Yeah but they really really help.

When you can mimick real life perfectly you can bend it in to whatever you want.

The real life part is simply the benchmark. Few people with the ability to simulate it will then go no further and start producing some crazy effects. The human torch being a great example, the fire is a part of reality but when perfected and applied to a whole human body, bam you have the superhero come to life. (Shame the films didnt come to life as well...)

and as for the importance of graphics overall ive always found it irritating that many like to claim the graphics dont matter as long as there is good gameplay. Fact is a lot of the time graphics are responsible for getting good gameplay, games like Splinter Cell, Rez, virtually any survival horror game they rely on the atmosphere and graphics to immerse a player in the experience and as a result are often great games. (One, people will probably be able to guess, I believe to be the greatest.) This isnt to say that text games like Zork are worse but immersion in to Zork is harder and takes longer. (Though it may be more rewarding) Ultimately I see it as a good thing that modern games like Bioshock drop you immediately in to an atmospheric environment and can also reward you. I dont believe this would have been possible without all the graphics and AI we have today even if you could make a game that was just as fun without that experience.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

cowscows (103644) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687739)

While I'll agree that as far as games are concerned, the greatest graphics in the world can only go so far in making crappy gameplay fun. But I'm willing to cut the linked article a break, since you can't really describe "fun gameplay" in any sort of useful scientific way, meaning that such a discussion might be outside of the purview of a PopSci magazine article.

It seems pretty straightforward to me that the article was not intended to be a dissertation on game design, rather just a quick overview of some of the aspects of video games that have a connection to "real" science. There are lots of reasons beyond gaming why we should develop more realistic simulations of water and fire. The fact that that same development can make our video games look better is just a nice bonus.

I'd imagine that most of the engineers developing that new motion capture system would not have that much to contribute to video game plots or art direction. And that's probably one of the reasons why they've chosen to be engineers instead of writers/artists.

Re:It's not that this list sucks.. (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688213)

And how well would a text based game sell?

Don't get me wrong, I agree that simple games can be playable, and that commercial success isn't the only measure of success - but simple games aren't going to make money (perhaps because more people can write them, or because there are already lots of old games filling the market), so it's these challenges you face if you are a commercial game developer.

Why does the movie industry not get the same treatment? I mean, surely a film with bad acting, crappy looking props, no special effects and scenery provided by a backdrop drawn by a child with crayons, would still be good as long as the story was good, right? But no one complains that movie producers strive for realism.

What people do complain about is if a movie has a crap story, and loads of special effects - similarly it's annoying when a game is unplayable, but they've spent loads of effort making it look good. But if a movie has a good story, and looks good, people don't seem to mind.

Also I would argue that a text game is fundamentally different, but the same rules still apply. Consider, which would be better: a text game that said "You are in a room", or one which gave detailed and vivid descriptions?

Surely the former is just as good, if only the playability matters, right? But no - the latter is fundamentally important for stimulating the imagination, creating realism, and pulling the player in.

When you have a graphical game, you bring in problems that the text based game avoids. If you have unrealistic graphics, the player finds it harder to immerse himself in the game, just like the text game with badly written descriptions. I would argue that striving for more realistic graphics and behaviour is no different to a text game (or book) that has well written descriptions, and believable characters.

You've got to be kidding me. (3, Funny)

SynapseLapse (644398) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686443)

Did anyone actually read this article before greenlighting it? This isn't news, science, well researched or even well written. It's crap.

Less than a year ago, there wasnt enough processing power to dynamically generate the movement of water in games, says Lee Bamber, a programmer for 20 years and founder of The Game Creators, Ltd.

Wow, fluid simulations started less than a year ago? Damn.
Simulate it on the molecular level real time, maybe no. But still.

  If a characters face is too close to human, players will reject it, a psychological phenomenon known as the uncanny valley: Objects more familiar to the human eye are inspected with greater scrutiny, leading to a drop-off in acceptance as the simulated object nears the point of being lifelike.

  A terrible description of a lousy buzzword.

  "Like cramming the sum of all automotive engineering knowledge into a joystick"

  Please.... please stop writing.

Re:You've got to be kidding me. (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686797)

Less than a year ago, there wasnt enough processing power to dynamically generate the movement of water in games, says Lee Bamber, a programmer for 20 years and founder of The Game Creators, Ltd.

Wow, fluid simulations started less than a year ago? Damn.
Simulate it on the molecular level real time, maybe no. But still.


Good call. I remember Nintendo bragging about the wave physics in Wave Race 64 back in 1996. It wasn't new then, and it certainly hasn't been getting any newer in the 10 years since.

Re:You've got to be kidding me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20688309)

The 'wave physics' in Wave Race just meant that you actually raced on a 'dynamic' surface. That's 'dynamic' as in changing, not as in dynamically generated! Big waves appeared in very unlikely places, in exactly the same way for each run. Changes in the wave surfaces were actually triggered by your progress around the track.

"Fluid simulation" indeed.

Re:You've got to be kidding me. (2, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687103)

Less than a year ago, there wasnt enough processing power to dynamically generate the movement of water in games

Wow, fluid simulations started less than a year ago? Damn.
Out of curiosity, when did fluid simulation == dynamic generation of water movement in games?

A terrible description of a lousy buzzword
Ah yes, a relatively new term used to describe something is automatically a buzzword? And a lousy one at that? Perhaps you have a different, better description in 50 words or less?

It's fine that you do not like the author's writing (for the record, I wasn't very fond of the piece either), but how about some substantial criticism?

And I ask once more: (0, Redundant)

Joseph1337 (1146047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686455)

Why don`t you look more at the fucking gameplay? 5% more realistic fire for 50% more CPU time, nice... did you heard that AMD and Intel bought some new cars for some unknow fellows? Refs: ToME, ADOM and more- I could play like hypnotized, and I doubt they support SM 4.0

This assumes FPS (4, Insightful)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686457)

This assumes that the most important games are first person shooter games, which frankly bore the living shit out of me.

Dance Dance Revolution is goofy as can be, and I don't play it, but as a "game" it's a lot more fun and interesting than the anti-utopian fascist horseshit that passes for fun these days.

In fact, the Wii opens up a whole 'nother wonderful can of possibilities, as does Guitar god games an similar things. THAT'S where the creative action is, and that's wher ethe REAL innovation is going on. Not in stupid 12 year old boy shoot 'em up bullshit.

RS

100% realism 0% fun makes a very bad game... (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686495)

The list includes at best 1 element which actually has a decent impact on how fun the game will be to play, AI, and it isn't even ranked highest. Seriously, I don't remember playing Super Mario because of the realistic "material physics" of the bouncing stars or bricks which shatter if you knock your fist against them... Based on this article I'd say the greatest challenge to designing a video game is convincing all the idiots that realism actually doesn't mean a whole lot compared to gameplay. Defcon's supersonic submarines and rather inefficient missile trajectories didn't exactly stop people enjoying that game.

Too Realistic (1)

Brian The Dog (879837) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686519)

I think they're going to bite themselves if they get things too realistic. People play games to escape, and be 'bigger' than they really are. Let's face it, the stuff that happens in movies would never happen in real life. I want to say the average life of a marine during WWII was in the range of minutes. That'll make the next Call of Duty really fun!!

Blah blah blah (4, Interesting)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686525)

Yes, AI is difficult. The best way to do it is to model it on the way actual players play, which would mean collecting a large database of player actions in specific situations, something that is finally becoming achievable due to the popularity of online play.

Programming a logic tree is old school. It doesn't work very well because it's easy for a player to "learn" the logic tree of a bot...It's something you don't even do consciously, but after you find yourself tossing a grenade in a certain direction, because you just sort of know the bot is going to be there...It's game over. You know the tree.

Picking up the data from the game though, you can get a lot of information. Using weapon X, 70% of players started shooting from 100 meters, hitting the target 30% of the time. Why? Who cares? A bot that engages from that distance with that weapon at that accuracy will seem normal to a person. Weapon nerf comes along, and all of a sudden people only engage with that weapon at 20 meters or less (desperation). The tree updates itself.

Learning systems are the next step. Build the tree from harvested data, don't sit and try to figure it out yourself. You don't even have to make it that complicated a tree...Take the 10 most popular situational actions (Bot on Defense with Weapon X) add some random rock-and-roll to keep the choices from getting repetitive, and you can work out positioning and situational reactions based on statistical comparisons with the actions of previous players.

Compile stats on a daily/weekly basis, resample the tree, and push it out to the clients as a patch...Or hell, if the bot logic is online, just update their datasets.

Hard science? (4, Insightful)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686563)

The article claims "hard science" but instead is a collection of blurbs that read like half-assed filler written by someone without a clue as to the subject.

you can talk all u want about this stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686567)

all i know is that spore is ganna rock!

http://robbie785.googlepages.com/spore [googlepages.com]

Multiple areas of AI (1)

chrae (159904) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686617)

The strategy of a game might involve for example, ten different things that a human player could do well or poorly based upon the unique nature of the player. A good AI should be balanced against those ten things. A player might be very good at 3 of those things, but are weak in the 7 other areas. The AI should match those abilities. The AI should never be too good in a players weak areas, and never too weak on a players strong skills. Greater granularity of difficulty is the key. An AI doesn't even need to be all that "smart", because the game mechanics are known to the programmer. Just collect metrics and adjust the AI's "strength" to a player's performance.

Translation: (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686677)

  1. Hardware
  2. Eye candy
  3. Eye candy
  4. AI
  5. Eye candy
  6. Eye candy
  7. Physics
  8. Animation
  9. Physics/eye candy/animation
  10. Animation

This list is about making games more real, which doesn't necessarily mean better. There more to it, such as balance, game play, user interface, premise, and plot.

I'd still rather play NetHack than any MMO game, and I enjoy the early Final Fantasy games more than the later ones.

Cat logic (3, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686683)

Trust me, my cat doesn't use learning decision trees, mobile navigation or finite-state machine models when trying to evade me or get into various trouble. And her processing power is pretty dim compared to a computer. Maybe it's time to start looking simpler solutions. Like rules based behavior.

Everyone is now familiar with flocking algorithms. That's one behavior. Model several behaviors, superimpose them where possible (i.e. walk and chew gum), slap a probability algorithm, and that's how a lot of researchers are getting lifelike behavior from robotics. Best of all, you get goofy, unexpected results. Just the type of stuff to make a game interesting.

Re:Cat logic (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20686877)

"..And her processing power is pretty dim compared to a computer. "

OK, that was just stupid.

"Best of all, you get goofy, unexpected results."

And the again.

First off, you computer processing abilities is no where near a cats. But that doesn't matter, because comparing a computer to a brain is stupid. The only exception is if you are modeling a brain using computers. Something that takes vast more resources then your computer.

Second off, you don't want goofy unexpected results in a game. You want results that fit within a parameter set by the game. This can vary from encounter to encounter within a game.

I suspect the fact that no developer wanted to see more fun is an indicator of the current state of games. Team fortress looks like a good game, and it isn't realistic. "The incredibles" was a great movie, but they didn't make it as life like as possible. They made it enjoyable see and fun to watch.

Re:Cat logic (1)

revengebomber (1080189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687299)

Second off, you don't want goofy unexpected results in a game. You want results that fit within a parameter set by the game. This can vary from encounter to encounter within a game.
I often find that games are more fun when things go awry. Of course, this usually leads to me having to restart whatever level I was playing (single player) or just suicide (multiplayer), but AI is generally better when you create a dynamic algorithm and try to model situations that it would work well in, even with unpredictable results.

Re:Cat logic (4, Insightful)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687015)

And her processing power is pretty dim compared to a computer.

Your cat is smarter than you realize. Brains do image processing, task/goal tracking, fine and coarse motor control, and a myriad of other complex processes simultaneously. Many of these require advanced (but not abstract) mathematics and ability to react to the result. Example: if I'm moving this speed and the dog is chasing me at that speed, will the dog catch me before I reach the house and bite off a chunk of my tail? If so, run up the nearest suitable tree.

It's been said repeatedly that "the most powerful supercomputer in the world is approaching the complexity of X". Currently, X is somewhere between a snail and a housefly. When it gets to housecat, you won't be able to win the games at all anymore.

Re:Cat logic (2, Funny)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687117)

When it gets to housecat, you won't be able to win the games at all anymore.

Dear human meatbag: This is clearly preposterous, computers will never be smarter than humans. Your kind has nothing to worry about. Please return to opiating yourselves with video games and hollywood movies.

Sincerely, Skynet

Re:Cat logic (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687785)

All animals, man included, spend their whole existence building up "logic trees" which give us our reactions in certain situations. Someone throws something at you, you block it, dodge it, catch it, or let it bounce off your head. We categorize, extrapolate, and induce...It's all logic trees.

Cats are cursory hunters; they lack stamina, and they hunt by stealth and lightning attacks. This being the case, knowledge of their range is critical to their success as hunters, therefore they spend most of their non-sleeping time engaged in exploration. That's why cats are always into stuff. Startle a cat, and he's gone, under something, up something, behind something. Do you ever see them stop and think about where they're going? They already know.

And the processing power isn't dim. Jesus, just because it's not sitting there doing philosophy its not a highly specialized and successful hunter? You're talking about an animal with enough instinct and reflex control (and that is brain power, just as much as problem solving) to do acrobatic things that people strive in vain to accomplish, calculate a thousand variables while flying through the air to snatch something, or land on its feet after a drop of meters, and we can't even get robots to accurately match the range of mere human dexterity. It's like the DARPA robot challenge; it took years to get a robot through that course, and it's not because the vehicles couldn't make it, its because the processing power wasn't up to making the decisions needed to get across the terrain.

You can't look at intelligence in pure terms of math. When you take them out in the world, and tell them to apply that computational power to walking, talking, and chewing gum at the same time, you see how far we still have to go.

Re:Cat logic (1)

AFairlyNormalPerson (721898) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688585)

Trust me, my cat doesn't use learning decision trees, mobile navigation or finite-state machine models when trying to evade me or get into various trouble. And her processing power is pretty dim compared to a computer. Maybe it's time to start looking simpler solutions. Like rules based behavior.

...or aiming at your cat.

Am I the only one that remembers.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20686859)

The craftiness and deadliness of some of the old quake bots and bots from other games? This was mostly stuff "some guy" did, not the developers themselves. Give the customers extensive ability to easily mod (and I mean easily, not like how things are with most games now) the actual AI behavior, and cunning players will make their own improvements.

I've seen plenty of very fun mods that were unplayable on lower end systems - but so what! Joe Public isn't under the same CPU constraints as the Developers. Let the people create!

Some games claim to be moddable, but its mostly fluff - hit points, mob skins, UI, etc. But then they fall flat when it comes to modding the actual AI! We need vast improvement here.

It is very interesting to me that they don't (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687151)

mention 'Fun'. Focus on fun, and the rest is cake.

BTW: This is the same damn list that had 15 years ago, and it will be the same damn list 15 years from now.

This is why games aren't fun anymore (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20687315)

They're focused on the wrong things. How about focusing on something fun.. Tetris is fun because it's just fun, not because of some stellar graphics and the AI behind which piece comes next. the same goes for Zelda or Final Fantasy or Mortal Kombat.. These games were all fun even back in 8-bit or 16-bit days......

I sincerely hope they fail at this (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687513)

I mean objective #4, the problem of generating code that operates as an evil agent, a wily enemy loose in yer gamz and wastin yer avatarz. It will have to involve some learning and some capability to evolve. About 1 year after it finishes off all the opponents in whatever MMOG world it inhabits, some idiot at DoD will, just fer kicks, drop it into a networked C4I system and we will all be toast.

What about creation itself? (4, Insightful)

madopal (308394) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687767)

I find it amusing that an entire piece about the "hard science" challenges in game development doesn't even deal with the development process itself. I mean, when you code in a higher level language, dealing with strings is now easy, whereas it was tedious in C. There's no library sharing like in every other language. There's no #include , whereas there's really nothing new to moving a bitmap anymore.

Even with something like OpenGL, you're still basically given a pile of bolts, beams, and sheet metal and asked to make a car. If I had a nickel for every time game developers reinvented the wheel, I'd be Bill Gates. Heck, I'm still coding font routines and sprite handlers for companies. I heard that even the Wii doesn't have a system level call for the main menu stuff...it leaves that up to you.

Someday, the tools will come along enough that people will be able to work with something higher level like Python or Ruby and not have to worry about twiddling their own framebuffers. We're still in the dark ages in game development this way. Having a CPAN for games is DECADES off. Instead, game developers are stuck trying to make a rock fall or a torch look right, and when they're done tweaking that crap, THEN they remember they have to make a game, not a shadow simulator. Thus: Doom LXXXVIII.

Re:What about creation itself? (1)

CCFreak2K (930973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688673)

Isn't that what engines such as Unreal are supposed to alleviate? A company does most of the hard work for you by making a physics engine, a texture and model format, etc.

My wishlist (2, Interesting)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#20687875)

At the top of every dev's wish list is increased realism: realisitic fire, water, enemy AI, material physics, etc.



Crap. How about a game that's fun to play ? Yes, I know, I'm getting old and have ridiculous expectations.

Fire, water, and other hard-to-model elements... (1)

zevans (101778) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688065)

Seen quite a few posts here asking why the physical models of these lag somewhat compared to how good the rest of the enviroment generally looks...

That's because NOBODY has figured it out - not just gamers and game developers. The Navier-Stokes describe the behaviour in simple situations but rapidly move into chaotic behaviour in most cases.

If you think you can, step forward and claim your million bucks... (and probably a Fields or a Nobel to boot)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navier-Stokes_existence_and_smoothness [wikipedia.org]

And if the AI is too I? (1)

Leo Sasquatch (977162) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688289)

What do you do then? If you truly are the lone soldier/spec ops/cyborg going into the enemy installation, and there's 30-40 guards in there that are any smarter than a stick, you're toast. Unless you like playing stealth games, which to me are the ultimate in pointlessness - yes, you can be the super-soldier, harder than the entire regiment of 22 SAS, but you've got to sneak everywhere and not fight, otherwise you lose. What fun...

There are some things in generic games design that need fixing, and have needed to be fixed for a long time. Wood and cloth should burn. Glass should break. I have a gun, the door is padlocked; no, I don't think I need to trudge to the other side of the map to get the key, thanks.

These sorts of deficiencies were just about tolerable 10 years ago - we accepted that computers just weren't fast enough to do all the things we wanted them to do. What's the excuse now, apart from the fact that most programmers are just doing things the same way they've always done? I'm still waiting for the first engine that gives gamers and designers real sandbox freedom and the ability to improvise. I carry a reasonable amount of pocket trash - a small butane lighter/torch, a couple of mini multi-toolkits/Swiss Army cards, a small roll of masking tape, a small coil of cord - the sort of things that are very hard to improvise, but with which you can improvise a great many things. It's long annoyed me that secret agents, superheros, mega-cyborgs, vampire hunters etc. never seem to have pockets. A chair leg and a knife and a couple of minutes - instant vampire killer, whereas in any standard game, if you don't have the official +5 Stake of Slaying, then Count Alucard isn't going down.

Hard Science? (1)

Ilan Volow (539597) | more than 6 years ago | (#20688649)

If "friendly AI, please don't walk directly in front of my gun when I'm shooting at someone" is really that hard to code, then humanity never had any business writing anything more complicated than Pong.

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