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Why are simulaton games fun?


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#1 Wickedrob   Members   -  Reputation: 179

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 08:36 AM

Games like Harvest Moon, animal crossing, and Sims, what makes them successful?
I think they lack the depth and progression I receive from various genres.I can only play simulation games from a few hours at most and I'm grow bored.
Please share your thoughts bellow.

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#2 Mratthew   Members   -  Reputation: 1442

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:49 AM

Will Wright (creator of the original Sim City) describes his game's as toys. A fun proxy for the systems of life that allow us to understand, test, theorize and most of all play with aspects of life as well as make mistakes along the way opening up a lot more creativity then the average game. Toys are generally thought of as something that children play with but simulator games (and many other genres) enable anyone with youthful ambitions and creativity to explore something more important then themselves, or events they allow them to explore ideas while challenging them with the same regulation found in the systems of life. Toys open our eyes to bigger worlds, where a toy cube opens a child's eyes to shapes and spacial relations a flight sim can open a players eyes to the forces of flight, the challenges of sustaining flight while exploring dramatic orientation and often the challenge of survival in that enviroment.

 

Playing the newest Sim City I find myself driving or riding the train through Vancouver and thinking more about city planing and the choices the city makes as time passes. It makes me smile to think that a game helped me to understand some of the driving factors behind the choices the city has made in the past and to think that it helps me to play the game as well.

 

My $0.02



#3 Rakilonn   Members   -  Reputation: 421

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 12:31 PM

Oh I jumped on that thread thinking that it was about games like Arma 3 :D

 

But for SimCity, as Mratthew said it, it's because it's like a simulation of life, and everything is moving, improving (or not) and alive by itself. And this sense of live is fascinating and hard to render sometimes.

 

For the new SimCity, I heard that it was badly rendered (citizen go to sleep in the shortest house) but for games like SimCity 2000 and also Holiday Island it was good. Especially Holiday Island because you were able to follow cars.

If you want to try a SimCity-like, give it a try :)

 

Also I heard that Cities XL is better rendered for this where you can view where every people go to work with the path, by clicking on their houses.



#4 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1835

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 04:01 PM

Sims, what makes them successful

 

The sims has an excellent "reward - power" feedback loop.    

 

original dungeons and dragons is the classic example of a "reward - power" feedback loop:

 

the player does something (kill monsters) to get reward (gold, magic items, exp), which increases their power to get further rewards. continue ad nauseum until you run out of stuff to get.

 

in the sims, the loop works like this:

 

1. get money (usually job)

2. spend money to buy stuff or alter house.

3. improvements make sim happier, they go to work more often, get promoted faster, more money for more stuff

 

its really all about getting money to play with the architecture modeling engine (build mode). when designing the game,  apparently Will Wright discovered that playing with build mode was the most fun part of the game. I can attest to that, i've spend countless hours and millions of simoleans designing every kind of house imaginable. everything else is waiting for payday to finish the walls on the new room, or saving up SS15000 to doze it all and start from scratch.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#5 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4528

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:48 PM

Some of the Harvest Moons have more of a sense of progression.  Save The Homeland and Musical Melody are the two I actually finished, and it was so nice to play a sim that actually had an ending.  Some of the others do take too many days of the same actions over and over again to get to their victory conditions, and those are the same ones that largely run out of plot halfway through.

 

What I like about sims is when I can do large-scale, methodical experiments in them (especially breeding sims are great for this).  I also like setting or choosing a constructive goal (many games only have destructive goals as possibilities) and then forming a plan, carrying out the plan with a strategy that makes it efficient, then patting myself on the back and admiring my efforts when I finish.  This does often backfire because I choose a goal that's impossible within the game, or which the game can't recognize my accomplishment of.


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.

#6 TheChubu   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3600

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 05:54 PM

Some simulation games are fun because they're hard. I mean, hop in into a flight simulator. No, not 2nd World War ones but just plain flight simulator. There is no "action" in there, there is just the challenge of getting the thing to fly.


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#7 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4528

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Posted 16 March 2013 - 09:49 PM

I remembered that I had written an enthusiastic post over on virtualpetlist a few months ago in the thread "What do pet sites and sim games mean to you?"  Here's a copy:

 

sunandshadow wrote:

When I was a kid, what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a genetic engineer, doing stuff like reviving dinosaurs from DNA trapped in amber and genetically engineering pegasi and that sort of thing. I also wanted to be a survivalist, running my own farm and ranch, and cooking the crops and meat I had produced. Even recently I briefly had an ambition to breed some new flower varieties. But these kind of things are so ridiculously difficult to do in reality that they are either simply impossible or too grueling to be fun or way more expensive than more normal ways of earning a living and keeping oneself fed. Games where I can breed animals or grow plants help me get back to that childlike enthusiasm where I wanted to add something new and cool to the world, or at least master its mechanics and wield them like an artist, back before I realized how much the world sucks and that everything easy enough to plausibly do has already been done. dry.png

Similarly I enjoy games where I can look like whatever I want (through an avatar), dress "myself" up in stylish clothes, and/or get rich for being the best at some profession, and given respect and fame for my abilities. All things I wish I could have in real life but most likely never will.

 

Edit: someone linked me to Rush's Closer To The Heart today and I laughed at how succinctly it expresses the enjoyment of sim game play


Edited by sunandshadow, 18 March 2013 - 06:01 PM.

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.

#8 Unduli   Members   -  Reputation: 717

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 04:30 AM

As a passionate hater of current Simcity "5" and fan of SC4, I believe it is about challenge it poses and micromanagement. 

 

And also it allows you to play God :)



#9 Heath   Members   -  Reputation: 344

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Posted 17 March 2013 - 03:41 PM

I don't think games have to be a whole lot of fun or that countless hours must be spent on them. Sure, I used to think that, but there are more important things, and I've really come to appreciate keeping games a small part of life.

 

That's about the "fun" and "hours" argument, not about simulations or software toys in general. I'm like you, in that I never spend a whole lot of time on them either. It's just that I don't want to spend that much on any game as I get older. As an example, I installed the new Jurassic Park Builder game on my tablet a couple weeks ago. I keep getting notifications saying that my 2 dinosaurs (I've only gotten 2) are hungry. It was a fun idea for a game, and that's about all I enjoyed. The actual game itself is just clicking things you're told to click and getting new feedback each time. I wonder if they've died yet...



#10 Norman Barrows   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 1835

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:16 AM

I also like setting or choosing a constructive goal (many games only have destructive goals as possibilities) and then forming a plan, carrying out the plan with a strategy that makes it efficient, then patting myself on the back and admiring my efforts when I finish.

 

sounds like the VLSI chip design rating in simcity 1.0 is your kinda thing.

 

it gave you that rating when your pop hit 1 million i think.

 

once you got VLSI chip design, there wasn't much left to do but experiment with urban blight, or summon a few disasters like Godzilla to liven things up a bit.


Norm Barrows

Rockland Software Productions

"Building PC games since 1988"

 

rocklandsoftware.net

 


#11 pinaster   Members   -  Reputation: 115

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 04:48 PM

Because they are mostly sandbox game replicating, but in a funnier way, complex aspects of people's lives that, in most cases won't be experienced by the player (sim city for ex.)



#12 AllEightUp   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4064

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:00 PM

Something else to keep in mind is the history of The Sims shows that greatness doesn't always start out as anything like the game which you know.  The Sims started as a house building simulator and the sims were just intended to "live there" and provide feedback without direct user control.  It was basically SimCity except taken to a micro level where you built a "house" to make sims happy/comfortable, basically like other "sims" variations such as Tower and all that.  The Sims grew out of an experimental concept which was nothing like the end product.  What makes things fun is realizing when something like a simulator needs a change of focus.  SimCity and related items are obviously about the city and had a lot of interaction with the player to keep things interesting.  SimHouse was falling on it's face until it was realized that to keep the interest level, interaction with the sims was required.  Once that realization was made, SimHouse became no more and The Sims were born.

 

The concept of "simulation as fun" is not really the question as I see it.  It is what "part" of a simulation is fun and how best to involve the player.  Simulating a city can be fun because it is a challenge to build something stable given a set of rules.  Simulating someones life (albeit a moron) can be fun if your intention is to give them "smarts" where they lack them.  Simoleans, items etc are just a form of "leveling" as you go and with good game design they open up more options and keep you interested.

 

I'm not saying anyone is wrong in their comments, and I'm not saying I'm correct in anything specific.  I just mean to suggest that any simulation can be done where a certain level of the simulation can be extracted for player control and made fun.  The Sims was an example of picking the correct focal point out of something originally intended as something completely different.



#13 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4528

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:18 PM

Something else to keep in mind is the history of The Sims shows that greatness doesn't always start out as anything like the game which you know.  The Sims started as a house building simulator and the sims were just intended to "live there" and provide feedback without direct user control.  It was basically SimCity except taken to a micro level where you built a "house" to make sims happy/comfortable, basically like other "sims" variations such as Tower and all that.  The Sims grew out of an experimental concept which was nothing like the end product.  What makes things fun is realizing when something like a simulator needs a change of focus.  SimCity and related items are obviously about the city and had a lot of interaction with the player to keep things interesting.  SimHouse was falling on it's face until it was realized that to keep the interest level, interaction with the sims was required.  Once that realization was made, SimHouse became no more and The Sims were born.

Interestingly, the groundwork was there long before that change was made, in the sense that Will Wright had years earlier played the game Little Computer People, which was a 1985 game where users played with a premade house that had 1 virtual person in it who was quite a bit like a sim.  Will Wright said in an interview that he consulted with the designer of Little Computer People while developing Sims 1.  The Creatures series was also involved - it was originally pitched as "little computer ewoks" by its designer, and, while I couldn't find a direct statement that Will Wright had played it, it would be really surprising if he hadn't, since it's so relevant to his interests and was big in the 4 years before Sims1 came out.


Edited by sunandshadow, 20 March 2013 - 09:19 PM.

I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.

#14 AllEightUp   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4064

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:50 PM

Interestingly, the groundwork was there long before that change was made, in the sense that Will Wright had years earlier played the game Little Computer People, which was a 1985 game where users played with a premade house that had 1 virtual person in it who was quite a bit like a sim.  Will Wright said in an interview that he consulted with the designer of Little Computer People while developing Sims 1.  The Creatures series was also involved - it was originally pitched as "little computer ewoks" by its designer, and, while I couldn't find a direct statement that Will Wright had played it, it would be really surprising if he hadn't, since it's so relevant to his interests and was big in the 4 years before Sims1 came out.

Most definitely, I don't believe there is much really original that can be done anymore in terms that it won't have influences from prior work in some manner.  This is simply a fact of making games, there is little remaining which is truly original.  Originality is generally a case of choosing things to best make a fun game anymore.  With The Sims it was picking out the bits which where fun, using emergent behavior (i.e. fuzzy randoms+traits) instead of "trained" behaviors (Creatures/LCP) etc which made it a popular game.  Not having the smarts of the other games gave the player a reason to interact with their moron, err Sim...  :)



#15 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4528

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:06 PM

Originality is generally a case of choosing things to best make a fun game anymore.

It's interesting yet very frustrating that no one ever agrees on this choice.  That's why we have so many people trying to start their own projects all the time, and so few people cooperating.  (Naturally I wish everyone agreed with my own idea of what would make the most fun game, lol)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.

#16 AllEightUp   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4064

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:29 PM

Originality is generally a case of choosing things to best make a fun game anymore.

It's interesting yet very frustrating that no one ever agrees on this choice.  That's why we have so many people trying to start their own projects all the time, and so few people cooperating.  (Naturally I wish everyone agreed with my own idea of what would make the most fun game, lol)

Guess after you make games for a while, you know that nothing is really "original".  The frustration level is very high every time I hear comments like "but X does Y" as some reason "not" to explore alternatives.  10 years ago I worked on "games", now I just make rehashes with minor variations work and it annoys the crap outta me. :(



#17 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4528

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 11:26 PM

 

Originality is generally a case of choosing things to best make a fun game anymore.

It's interesting yet very frustrating that no one ever agrees on this choice.  That's why we have so many people trying to start their own projects all the time, and so few people cooperating.  (Naturally I wish everyone agreed with my own idea of what would make the most fun game, lol)

Guess after you make games for a while, you know that nothing is really "original".  The frustration level is very high every time I hear comments like "but X does Y" as some reason "not" to explore alternatives.  10 years ago I worked on "games", now I just make rehashes with minor variations work and it annoys the crap outta me. sad.png

My experience has been a little different, I guess - I was always annoyed by hate against cliches or repurposing traditional elements, and I got familiar with the phrase "nothing new under the sun" in the context of writing fiction while I was still in college.  I've always found it amusing how my ideas to me are obviously game X + game Y + feature Q from a third game - W annoying feature, with trope set A substituted for with trope set B; yet other people look at the result as if it came from Mars.  If you're just doing rehashes with minor variations maybe you need to get your source material from a wider range of genres or switch the target genre you're trying to design.


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me.




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