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Genres revisited. An alternate definition.

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After reading a lot of posts in this forum it occurs to me that all games somehow is a simulation in which one or more characters are controlled by the player in world to perform some feat. This goes for almost all games I can think of - except maybe puzzle games like Tetris - but everything else. By simulation I am talking about it in the Computer Science / Mathematical sense. A virtual world that "lives" and evolves by letting time pass. What makes games special is that they allow the player to interact with the virtual world and change the outcome of the simulation. So if every game is a simulation of some virtual world then all games attempt to make this simluation as good as possible while having some secondary goals too. I think genres is defined by these secondary goals and variations in how the simluation is performed. For instance common genres could be defined as simulations with: RTS: Many units are controlled by player with little level of detail per unit. Emphasis in the simulation is strategy. Shooters: Only one unit is controlled. The main action is shooting and emphasis in the simulation is action rather than realism. Sim-style game: Many units are controlled but not fully. The empahsis is on detailed (and social?) simulation of the world rather than action or strategy. RPG: One or a few units is controlled by the player with much detail per unit. Empahasis is placed on tactics and on a detailed simuluation of the world, but that simluation is often less detailed than for Sim-style games. Many of the discussions in this forum talks about combining genres or getting more or less of some feature in other genres but in fact the genres are defined by these traits. So if somebody says that they want to mix Sim-style games with a RPG they are just saying that RPG should get a more detailed social simulation of the world. Using this I think we can define the above genres as having more or less of the following traits (the list is not complete): * The number of characters controlled. * The level of detail of the characters, e.g. do they have a complex inventory system? * The level of control over the characters. * The emphasis of the simulated world (war, social aspects, monster slashing, etc.) In essense I am saying that all genres are actually the same but with a few parameters being varied in how the simlution is presented to the player and what is simluated. Any comments? Jacob Marner

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quote:
By simulation I am talking about it in the Computer Science / Mathematical sense. A virtual world that "lives" and evolves by letting time pass. What makes games special is that they allow the player to interact with the virtual world and change the outcome of the simulation.


I can''t recall the last game i played that allow this actually. Except for sport games at course.

quote:
RPG: One or a few units is controlled by the player with much detail per unit. Empahasis is placed on tactics and on a detailed simuluation of the world, but that simluation is often less detailed than for Sim-style games.


I would say that the emphasis is on story myself.

quote:

In essense I am saying that all genres are actually the same but with a few parameters being varied in how the simlution is presented to the player and what is simluated.


Well at course you can say this going by the small list you''ve made. It''s easy to say that all movies are the same. But the issue is not indifference it''s structure and layout. Will the player handle money, a character, a ship, a fleet, god then it''s "how", then "what" etc. This is what makes game genres different.


"So you're the one that designed that game are you?"
*Gulp* "Umm, yeah"

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quote:
Original post by Paul Cunningham
I can't recall the last game i played that allow this actually. Except for sport games at course.



If you don't see this then you are probably misunderstnading my difinition of life and simulation.

You must understand that lives and simulations can be very simple. Take for instance Conways simulation "Life" in which he defines some some rules for some cells in a 2d grid to determine what happens when time passes. You must have seen that simulation. The original simulation is non-interactive, but if you let the player change cells at run-time you would suddenly have a game.

In the same way, a game like Doom is a simulation of a world. Most inhabitants are programmed to do nothing until the players is near, but that is part of their "life". The player character can do nothing but shoot and walk around opening doors, but that is his life. The player changes the outcome of the simulation by playing - by changing it correctly the player character wins over the monsters - otherwise the player character dies.

Almost all games fit into this formula. I must emphasize that I am talking about it in the mathematical sense. To make "life" there is no requirement about any details in the simulation or of any kind of "intelligence" in the things inhabiting it.
...
About the outher things you mention Poul, you might be right. Any opinions, people?

Edited by - felonius on October 4, 2000 1:02:15 PM

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