# The Answer: Why there is realism.

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This is copied from my post in Ranger Meldon's "Bad Elements of CRPG's" post.
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 Realism isn't just graphics. Physics adds to realism. The subtle way that things move adds to the realism. However, realism isn't a very good word to use for this quality. Familiarity and some relation to the real world are a prerequisite of humor and enjoyment. Without delving too much into phsychology, we find things humorous (I know game 'fun' isn't neccesarily humor, bear with me) because they break out of an expected pattern. The brain works on patterns. Things are fun because they exceed our expectations, or give us the idea (Illusionary or otherwise) that we've gotten something, or fulfilled a need. Realism is needed in games to suspend disbelief, and to set up a scenario that the player can understand. Without belief first (reality) there can be no suspension of disbelief. Furthermore, in any game (unless previously stated), the player assumes that the game world has some things in common with the real world. If you created a game that had no common paradigms with the real world, it would be useless. Even the most 'abstract' of titles have lots in common. Rez, for instance, featured a humanoid character flying around a world composed of texureless polygons and lines. People called this abstract. But it's not really. Humanoid characters, music, physical surroundings (even if they were composed only of lines). Just to lay the 'Realism' aspect to rest. Realism is neccesary for familiarity which is neccesary for fun. As a final end to that argument, there has been no game ever realeased that attained any level of genuine fun (E.g., you can't build a real argument against this) devoid of familiarity. Even Tetris had gravity! In fact, only the simplest puzzle games don't have abundant familiarity to reality - but for any complex game, it's a requirement.
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 The more suspension of disbelief without incumbering irritating limitations (It'd suck if you died from gunfire realistically in Max Payne - that would be going overboard. But if you could fly and were invulnerable to bullets, the game would suck just as much.) the better. Therein, to settle that argument, whether or not realism is needed needs to be decided in a logical fashion on a CASE BY CASE BASIS. When someone speaks of increasing realism in a game, the counter argument should not be, "Realism is bad and makes games boring," just as the argument should not be, "Realism is good and suspends disbelief." It's a case by case thing. However, in most cases, it seems that people oppose realism for a silly reason and people pupport realism for an ill-defined while probably good one.
That sums it up ... but read the post for the rest of the stuff in there.

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The more suspension of disbelief without incumbering irritating limitations (It'd suck if you died from gunfire realistically in Max Payne - that would be going overboard. But if you could fly and were invulnerable to bullets, the game would suck just as much.) the better. Therein, to settle that argument, whether or not realism is needed needs to be decided in a logical fashion on a CASE BY CASE BASIS. When someone speaks of increasing realism in a game, the counter argument should not be, "Realism is bad and makes games boring," just as the argument should not be, "Realism is good and suspends disbelief." It's a case by case thing. However, in most cases, it seems that people oppose realism for a silly reason and people pupport realism for an ill-defined while probably good one.

I have some issue with this. I personally would like to see a game where you die by gunfire realistically. Now you obviouslly would not want to remain dead. With this sort of system the player needs to be able to be resurrected by magic or scientific means but if there was realistic death, there would be more stratigy to the game then simply stand there with gun in hand and trade broadsides in battleship type combat. There would be more of the find cover and fire stratigy.

Perhaps an addition to this would require more NPC fodder to take most of the shots and die around you. This sort of realism might be useful when you are leading a large number of NPCs in war. My thouhts though are more for an MMORPG system where the whole idea is you depend on your ability to dodge or remain in cover to avoid being killed.

Just some random thoughts

-Drethron

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Using your definition, there is no possible game that does not have realism.

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 Original post by Anonymous PosterQuote:The more suspension of disbelief without incumbering irritating limitations (It'd suck if you died from gunfire realistically in Max Payne - that would be going overboard. But if you could fly and were invulnerable to bullets, the game would suck just as much.) the better. Therein, to settle that argument, whether or not realism is needed needs to be decided in a logical fashion on a CASE BY CASE BASIS. When someone speaks of increasing realism in a game, the counter argument should not be, "Realism is bad and makes games boring," just as the argument should not be, "Realism is good and suspends disbelief." It's a case by case thing. However, in most cases, it seems that people oppose realism for a silly reason and people pupport realism for an ill-defined while probably good one.I have some issue with this. I personally would like to see a game where you die by gunfire realistically. Now you obviouslly would not want to remain dead. With this sort of system the player needs to be able to be resurrected by magic or scientific means but if there was realistic death, there would be more stratigy to the game then simply stand there with gun in hand and trade broadsides in battleship type combat. There would be more of the find cover and fire stratigy.Perhaps an addition to this would require more NPC fodder to take most of the shots and die around you. This sort of realism might be useful when you are leading a large number of NPCs in war. My thouhts though are more for an MMORPG system where the whole idea is you depend on your ability to dodge or remain in cover to avoid being killed.Just some random thoughts-Drethron

Well, if there was REALLY realistic death, you would play a game, and the moment you died, you would never be able to play it again, and no one else would ever be able to play it again :) Essentially, you'd end up with real life!

But, you are right, it would be more realistic to get shot up and wounded - but this is what I'm talking about. Being ressurected in such a game - and being given realistic precedents for that ressurection would be alot more believable than magically picking up a med kit and suddenly recorvering from fatal injuries. This leads me to rephrase: if you try to make a game world too realistic, players will likely be limited by the fact that they can't interact with the world in a detailed enough manner (given current input devices) - and would be hindered by the fact that they would essentially be playing in reality. Games should only be realistic enough to suspend disbelief. The entire point is to escape from reality - but not so far away that you have nothing to go on.

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 Using your definition, there is no possible game that does not have realism.

Exactly. Unless you can think up something outside of the bounds of reality, you can't think up an unreal game. By definition, it is impossible to create something that does not have something in common with the real world. You can create games that feature events impossible in reality - but they'll still have something in common. As I stated above, realism is really a misnomer for what is often expressed in this forum. It's really maintaining familiarity with what the player expects of reality and creating a world that doesn't contradict itself. If you put humans in a game world, have them act like humans, walk like humans, and talk like humans - but then have them spontaneously fly away in the middle of your game and subsequently have the world explode (or something equally absurd) and posit no reasonably explanation - your players would be confused and anrgy. So, what I mean to say is that no game should be incoherent. Even 'abstract' games are coherent. Seeing as reality is what we base our assumptions on and it would require an impossible amount of work to create a new reality and have you players take it as gospel, there are things in games that need to either function realistically or provide a plausible reason as to why they do not - assuming that you want to create the best game possible.

There is no game that does not have realism - to a certain degree. In reality, things follow rules (physics, etc.) and therein are coherent. The definition of what a game is means that if something is a game - it must have at least one thing in common with reality - it has rules. Really and truly, conforming to realism goes beyond that, though. It's about games that assume a reality similar to our own but then place nonsensical and irrational events inside the game world without plausible explanation. So, there is no game that doesn't technically have realism. But there are games that don't fall into the category being discussed - that is, games that insinuate that there are certain rules and then break them without logical precedent, and most of those games being those that posit a reality similar to our own but break rules without internally consistent reasoning.

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I don't see the reason in arguing either way, then, if every game has realism... or was that the point of this thread?

This argument is lame, if you ask me, because adding realism to games often ruins them (strategy games), but it can also help. It is purely case-by-case.

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 Original post by NytehauqThe definition of what a game is means that if something is a game - it must have at least one thing in common with reality - it has rules.

So, I couldn't create a game of pong and have the ball NOT follow the laws of physics and the paddles NOT work the way they would in real life and it would still be a game based upon reality?

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He would probably argue that the ball woulds still follow some rule, but then that would completely rob the word "realism" of its meaning.

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 Original post by Anonymous Poster. . .I personally would like to see a game where you die by gunfire realistically. . .

It all depends on how the game plays out. If you just took ye olde Doom and dropped the player's health down so that the average zombie soldier could kill in one shot, the game would be nothing short of frustrating. If the gameplay was coherently designed to accomodate that danger in a fun and entertaining way, then it doesn't matter how lethal a single hit from the enemy is.

Realism does not need to be a factor in game design at all. Super Mario Brothers was not, by any stretch of the imagination, realistic. But it was still entertaining. Flight simulators go to great lengths at being realistic but they don't quite sell as well as Quake did.

A _GAME_ designer should always emphasise entertainment value. If you're building an ultra-realistic simulator, then there really isn't very much demand for design in the first place: The universe has already designed the game for you and you just need to build the game around reality's specifications.

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 If you're building an ultra-realistic simulator, then there really isn't very much demand for design in the first place: The universe has already designed the game for you and you just need to build the game around reality's specifications.

Very good point. [smile]

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It's weird that people are avoiding the definitions in the first post just to say "The games I like don't have any realism, therefore all realism sucks". Or the lame "Realism almost always sucks, but maybe sometimes it's ok". It's not 'realism' that sucks; it's bad gameplay design. There are just as many games that suffer from non-realism-based bad gameplay as there are those that people blame on realism.

Flight sims don't sell worse than Quake because they're more realistic; it's that flight sims are less popular than FPS's. Using that logic, the most unrealistic and abstract games would sell the best, while Quake, being fairly based on reality, would sell quite poorly.

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Here in the real world there is nothing physicaly preventing baseball players from running the bases backwords. There is nothing physicaly preventing Soccer players from useing thier hands.

Here in the real world its players following the rather abstract rules of the sport that makes the game possable.

Now imagine you are tasked with developing a uber realistic Baseball game. Should you allow players to run to 3rd base rather than 1st? I mean its physicaly possable even in the real world, so souldn't this ability be present in a uber realistic baseball game?

Of course not! because it takes focus away from the sport, it adds nothing to the game...such a "feature" would be there because it can be, not because it should.

Now maybe your CRPG has a complex reality basied combat system basied on real world combat styles, techniques, and tactics...And in keeping with this uber realistic style you modeled extreamly realistic physical damage. Enough so that players must heal physical wounds as they would in real life...heck you even modeled the effects of sunburns, blisters, and skin rashes...But does haveing wounded players to hold up for days at a time support your CRPG focus on character development? on adventureing? exploreing? of course not!

But that is the sort of thing that happens when developers rush to create complex realistic games.

Even in GTA3 there is a game focus on certain gameplay mechanics...I mean you can't get married, start a family, buy a refridgerator, raise a child, hold a legal job, open a saveings account, recieve credit card applications in the mail, go on a camping trip, attend a theater play, write a book, get theorpy, have your apendex removed, buy all the ingredients for a home cooked meal, or even play baseball for your favorite team...the game focus isn't on any of those real world situations and thus they are excluded from the game...and the game is better because of this.

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 Here in the real world there is nothing physicaly preventing baseball players from running the bases backwords. There is nothing physicaly preventing Soccer players from useing thier hands.Here in the real world its players following the rather abstract rules of the sport that makes the game possable.Now imagine you are tasked with developing a uber realistic Baseball game. Should you allow players to run to 3rd base rather than 1st? I mean its physicaly possable even in the real world, so souldn't this ability be present in a uber realistic baseball game?Of course not! because it takes focus away from the sport, it adds nothing to the game...such a "feature" would be there because it can be, not because it should.Now maybe your CRPG has a complex reality basied combat system basied on real world combat styles, techniques, and tactics...And in keeping with this uber realistic style you modeled extreamly realistic physical damage. Enough so that players must heal physical wounds as they would in real life...heck you even modeled the effects of sunburns, blisters, and skin rashes...But does haveing wounded players to hold up for days at a time support your CRPG focus on character development? on adventureing? exploreing? of course not!But that is the sort of thing that happens when developers rush to create complex realistic games.Even in GTA3 there is a game focus on certain gameplay mechanics...I mean you can't get married, start a family, buy a refridgerator, raise a child, hold a legal job, open a saveings account, recieve credit card applications in the mail, go on a camping trip, attend a theater play, write a book, get theorpy, have your apendex removed, buy all the ingredients for a home cooked meal, or even play baseball for your favorite team...the game focus isn't on any of those real world situations and thus they are excluded from the game...and the game is better because of this.

Seeing as the entire point was to focus on including realism to the correct degree, this is exactly the kind of post I'm rallying against. The stupidity of including sunburn in a game, for instance, does not lie in the fact that it's realistic - it lies in the fact that it's realistic but unnecesary for building a plausible and cohesive world and serves no purpose. Ironically enough, this post shouldn't even need a rebuttal - seeing as we both agree that too much realism defeats the purpose of playing a game and escaping reality. But you seem to puport that since too much realism is bad, the concept that some realism is good is false. Our arguments are aligned, but your argument doesn't support your claims.

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 It's weird that people are avoiding the definitions in the first post just to say "The games I like don't have any realism, therefore all realism sucks". Or the lame "Realism almost always sucks, but maybe sometimes it's ok". It's not 'realism' that sucks; it's bad gameplay design. There are just as many games that suffer from non-realism-based bad gameplay as there are those that people blame on realism.Flight sims don't sell worse than Quake because they're more realistic; it's that flight sims are less popular than FPS's. Using that logic, the most unrealistic and abstract games would sell the best, while Quake, being fairly based on reality, would sell quite poorly.

Thanks for pointing this out!

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 Quote: If you're building an ultra-realistic simulator, then there really isn't very much demand for design in the first place: The universe has already designed the game for you and you just need to build the game around reality's specifications.

Very good point.

Isn't that how most games work? Take reality's specifications and tweak them? That's what I was saying, at least...

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 Quote: Original post by Anonymous Poster . . .I personally would like to see a game where you die by gunfire realistically. . .

It all depends on how the game plays out. If you just took ye olde Doom and dropped the player's health down so that the average zombie soldier could kill in one shot, the game would be nothing short of frustrating. If the gameplay was coherently designed to accomodate that danger in a fun and entertaining way, then it doesn't matter how lethal a single hit from the enemy is.

Realism does not need to be a factor in game design at all. Super Mario Brothers was not, by any stretch of the imagination, realistic. But it was still entertaining. Flight simulators go to great lengths at being realistic but they don't quite sell as well as Quake did.

A _GAME_ designer should always emphasise entertainment value. If you're building an ultra-realistic simulator, then there really isn't very much demand for design in the first place: The universe has already designed the game for you and you just need to build the game around reality's specifications.

Hmmm....

1) If you just took ye olde Doom and dropped the player's health down so that the average zombie soldier could kill in one shot, the game would be nothing short of frustrating - and it wouldn't be very realistic either. Zombies and one shot kills? That's far out. However, I've already said that by 'realism' I don't mean realism. Check the second post.

2) You play as a human in a world with gravity and you kill enemies to save your girlfriend from an evil dinosaur. It's impossible in reality - but that's because it's a bastardization of reality. It doesn't take a stretch of imagination to realize that even a relatively simple game (INFINITELY less complex than a game like Halo) like Super Mario Bros. DOES have alot in common with reality. Alot of it is in how you look at it. In any case, Super Mario Bros. IS similar to reality in many ways. Dinosaurs, lava, gravity, turf, pipes, plumbers - where did these come from? Something other than the real world? Even if Super Mario was as abstract as Tetris, you'd only be further proving that simpler games don't have to be as close to reality - a point I pupported myself. Complex games that assume something in common with reality (World of Warcraft, for instance, assumes many things considering the fact that the entire storyline is about fifteen pages long. There are theses that long about the behaivoir of individual subatomic particles - that hardly constitutes an in depth look at the inner workings of a world. In fact, all of the information that humankind has ever gained is insuficient to define a world - we don't even know everything about our own. It is assumed that the world of Azeroth exists in a universe where there is gravity, for instance. Furthermore, biological organisms can 'die', albeit with the modification that they turn into ghosts. However, this modification is stated in the game manual. The storyline is a list of specific events and the differences between our world and theirs, therein, there is no lecture on the parts of their world that are assumed to be the same as our world.) avoid being reduntant and time consuming by sparing you having to get ten college textbooks with each game you purchased and having you memorize the world from said books. Simple games can afford to detail every aspect of their much more limited world.

3) I agree. You need to empashize entertainment value. Realism is a neccesary part of this, as I explained in the first post. Building an ultra realistic simulator, while a type of realism, is not a very good solution. Let's look at the syllogism pulled from your argument:

SOME realism increases entertainment value
ALL ultra-realistic simulators are types of realism (Well, duh)
(Error 1)THEREFORE, ALL ultra realistic simulators increase entertainment value

IF ultra realistic simulators do not increase entertainment value
(Error 2)THEN realism doesn't work

This is a logical inversion. Only some realism increases entertainment value. Even though all ultra realistic simulators are realistic, they might not be part of the SOME realistic methods that increase entertainment value. Therfore, because ultra realistic simulators don't work (assuming this is true, anyway) doesn't mean that ALL methods of realism don't work. That's like saying that all black people are bad because some are in jail. Some are also humanitarians and some are also scholars. You can't logically draw that conclusion given the evidence.

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 Original post by MSWNow maybe your CRPG has a complex reality basied combat system basied on real world combat styles, techniques, and tactics...And in keeping with this uber realistic style you modeled extreamly realistic physical damage. Enough so that players must heal physical wounds as they would in real life...heck you even modeled the effects of sunburns, blisters, and skin rashes...But does haveing wounded players to hold up for days at a time support your CRPG focus on character development? on adventureing? exploreing? of course not!

Again, I'd say it's not realism that's at fault, but bad game design. You could replace those "real" things with fantasy things, like modelling a fictional ear fungus that makes you run a fever for a few days, throw in seven thousand specimens of hybrid vampire zerg mosquitos that do nothing but lower your framerate, add a quest where you need to read and memorize a twenty-thousand page book of spells, have a plague that causes players to randomly combust into a hundred butterflies... all of that's unrealistic, but it still sucks. Avoiding gameplay because it's "too realistic" shouldn't be an issue most of the time; the real issue is avoiding gameplay that's boring or frustrating, regardless of its relevance to reality.

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 Original post by DrethronI personally would like to see a game where you die by gunfire realistically.

Would this include urinating on yourself, vomiting and/or paralysis? IRL, these are amazingly common outcomes to getting shot.

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 Original post by ishpeckIf you just took ye olde Doom and dropped the player's health down so that the average zombie soldier could kill in one shot, the game would be nothing short of frustrating.

IIRC, the US Marines were using Doom as a training tool in the 90s. You only had 10% health, and the goal was not fun, but to teach team tactics. So you're right, it would be very frustrating.

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So Nytehauq, if a game must have "familiarity and some relation to the real world" in order to be fun, what about games like:

* Tempest, where you're ??? in a ??? shooting ???s?

* Qix, where you're a line, evading a big line and sparkling dots while trying to make boxes?

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 Original post by NytehauqEven the most 'abstract' of titles have lots in common.

Abstraction and realism are orthogonal. The essence of games is that they simplify reality, they offer a surrogate version of reality with vastly simpler rules, but, hopefully, capturing something of essence from reality. Eliminating the parts of reality that don't matter to expose those that do.

So we need both more abstraction and more realism.

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 Seeing as the entire point was to focus on including realism to the correct degree, this is exactly the kind of post I'm rallying against. The stupidity of including sunburn in a game, for instance, does not lie in the fact that it's realistic - it lies in the fact that it's realistic but unnecesary for building a plausible and cohesive world and serves no purpose. Ironically enough, this post shouldn't even need a rebuttal - seeing as we both agree that too much realism defeats the purpose of playing a game and escaping reality. But you seem to puport that since too much realism is bad, the concept that some realism is good is false. Our arguments are aligned, but your argument doesn't support your claims.

Now hold on a minute! our arguments are aligned on purpose, I only approched it from a different angle and you want to rally against me for it?

What suggestions did I make? what claims? You are reading into my post far more than is intended.

My entire point has to do with the countless design threads on this board rallying behind more complex, even realistic, RPG sub-systems...from magic systems requireing players to gather, even make, ingredients for potions...to inventory management systems that realisticly portray what can be carried in a ginny sack...All of which doesn't seem to strike somepeople as potentialy bad design choices, hell such things seem encouraged around here as it makes those sub-systems "more complex and realistic". Which seems to be some sort of rallying cry around here. I was only trying to point out that such practices can be overkill as focusing on such small areas of the game makes one loose focus on the bigger gamedesign picture.

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Would this include urinating on yourself, vomiting and/or paralysis? IRL, these are amazingly common outcomes to getting shot.

(I need to learn to put quotes in boxes some day...)

Not entirely impossible. I'm not dictating 100% realism (obvious or not) so urine and vomit may not exist... (though who knows) but the paralysis would be a guarentee. The basic idea I have is a MMORPG where if you get killed by a shot to the head then all you can do is watch what happens until you are reconstructed by a doctor.

To me, its not so much about the problem of being dead not being fun ( ITS NOT SUPPOSESD TO BE!!! heh) but about making the possibility of dying by a single hit more likely therefore making being hit something to avoid. The higher probability of death by injury would probably be balanced by better abilities of being dodged or using cover to prevent being hit.

I'm not suggesting making death more common but attempting to introduce a bit more stratigy into combat. This would be a text-based game so you might see the following.

"Stormtrooper aims his rifle at you and begins to pull the trigger."

There is then between 3 and 10 seconds before the stormtrooper actually fires depending on his skills. During that time your skill in dodge will dictate how long before you dodge and which way you dodge, or the player can override this by typing dodge right. If there is cover to your right the the shot is blocked or if the stormtrooper is firing to your left you dodged it. If you were the stormtrooper you could also choose to fire directly or assume the person is going to dodge and fire to the right or left.

My idea is to attempt to produce a more interactive approach to combat where being hit is more based on the users choices. This has a lot more work to go though...

-Drethron

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 Original post by makeshiftwingsIt's weird that people are avoiding the definitions in the first post just to say "The games I like don't have any realism, therefore all realism sucks". Or the lame "Realism almost always sucks, but maybe sometimes it's ok". It's not 'realism' that sucks; it's bad gameplay design. There are just as many games that suffer from non-realism-based bad gameplay as there are those that people blame on realism.Flight sims don't sell worse than Quake because they're more realistic; it's that flight sims are less popular than FPS's. Using that logic, the most unrealistic and abstract games would sell the best, while Quake, being fairly based on reality, would sell quite poorly.

No, what I am saying is that realism != good. In some cases it does, but in other cases it doesn't. You should go by what is fun, which is not always what is realistic. Ignore realism. Completely.

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Original post by Daniel Miller
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 Original post by makeshiftwingsIt's weird that people are avoiding the definitions in the first post just to say "The games I like don't have any realism, therefore all realism sucks". Or the lame "Realism almost always sucks, but maybe sometimes it's ok". It's not 'realism' that sucks; it's bad gameplay design. There are just as many games that suffer from non-realism-based bad gameplay as there are those that people blame on realism.Flight sims don't sell worse than Quake because they're more realistic; it's that flight sims are less popular than FPS's. Using that logic, the most unrealistic and abstract games would sell the best, while Quake, being fairly based on reality, would sell quite poorly.

No, what I am saying is that realism != good. In some cases it does, but in other cases it doesn't. You should go by what is fun, which is not always what is realistic. Ignore realism. Completely.

But on the flipside, realism is often a good source of ideas for fun. As has been said, most games have some grounding in reality. And most players appreciate realism in physics, graphics, and sound. But not so much in inventory management and death. So, I think including realism is an important aspect of game design for many genres; the key is to know where it will be fun and where it won't.

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So, Nytehauq, what you're saying is that realism is an aid to creating a fun world, in that it helps with suspension of disbelief by giving us something familiar. You also say that all games have some level of realism because, at the very least, you can say that "events happen to things just like events happen to things in the real world". Thus, the question to be asked when designing a game is "How much realism does this game require to be fun?".

Let's go back to the example that spawned this post: mages in DnD cannot wear armor, which is unrealistic. However, I think there's quite a large body of evidence that DnD is fun.

Would it be even more fun if mages could wear armor? You would have to change many rules to maintain balance, which would change the feel of the game, change the experience the game provides. Thus, it'll be more fun if you prefer the new feel, the new experience, and less fun if you don't.

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 Original post by Anonymous Poster(I need to learn to put quotes in boxes some day...)

Gamedev.net provides a FAQ for a reason. Right by the search button.

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 Not entirely impossible. I'm not dictating 100% realism (obvious or not) so urine and vomit may not exist... (though who knows) but the paralysis would be a guarentee. The basic idea I have is a MMORPG where if you get killed by a shot to the head then all you can do is watch what happens until you are reconstructed by a doctor.

How long does that take? Every second of that is a second I'm not playing your game, which makes me one second closer to uninstalling your game.

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 To me, its not so much about the problem of being dead not being fun ( ITS NOT SUPPOSESD TO BE!!! heh)

But the game is supposed to be fun.

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 but about making the possibility of dying by a single hit more likely therefore making being hit something to avoid.

What about the possibility of losing the use of your weapon arm or a leg but not being in any danger of immediate death? What about a shot that incapacitates you but doesn't kill you, leaving you to bleed to death? Now, I have to wait around until I'm somehow put out of my misery (which isn't fun) so I can die (which isn't fun) which is all part of playing your game (which is sounding less and less fun).

I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm not saying it can't be fun, I'm just saying that people forget that successful games are successful for a reason and don't include certain features for a reason. Many people think they could improve , but don't realize that their "improvements" were probably discussed during game development and rejected for a reason.

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makeshiftwings wrote:
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 But on the flipside, realism is often a good source of ideas for fun. As has been said, most games have some grounding in reality. And most players appreciate realism in physics, graphics, and sound. But not so much in inventory management and death. So, I think including realism is an important aspect of game design for many genres; the key is to know where it will be fun and where it won't.

Do you have any hard statistical evidence for your assertions? I don't know of any evidence that indicates that most players appreciate realism in physics, graphics and sound. Actually, given the preponderance and popularity of games that don't HAVE much realism in those areas, I'd venture to suggest that most players couldn't care less about it one way or the other.

And I still don't believe that MOST games have some grounding in reality (using the dictionary definition of reality). For example:
- Magical Drop, Puyo Puyo
- Tetris (doesn't have realistic gravity).
- Chess
- Checkers
- Go
- Uno
- Chinese Checkers
- Poker
- Scrabble
- Miscellaneous Card games with a 52-card deck, etc.

Realism CAN be a source for some fun ideas - but the goal here it to seek FUN, not realism. This (I think) is the crux of Daniel Miller's point.

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 So Nytehauq, if a game must have "familiarity and some relation to the real world" in order to be fun, what about games like:* Tempest, where you're ??? in a ??? shooting ???s?* Qix, where you're a line, evading a big line and sparkling dots while trying to make boxes?

Have you ever shot at something with something else? What if you had a game where you were a @ $%#$# % %%^ %^ # #%% ? That doesn't make any sense at all - because it's effectively written in a different language. It could, however, have some meaning to someone. However, being a ??? and being able to shoot allows you to draw some logical conclusions: You are some object complex enough to fire projectiles at some other objects, and you have the ability to exist inside another object. You can die in that game, I presume. Even if you can't die, you probably have some motivation to shoot the other ???'s - and motivation is a highly complex phsychological construct. In Qix, you have to evade the line or you will die. Concepts of loss, survival, desire, and possesion exist in almost every game. And every game that doesn't have these (if any) has some other basic concepts. Even those abstract games have something in common with reality. This becomes a moot point - essentially, there IS NO GAME that does not have something in common with reality. There are games like chess, reversi, and games of cards that don't personify the struggles involved, but games are always a version of reality. It just that as you get closer to the more abstract ends of the spectrum, the importance of the relation to reality begins to fade. But, the fact of the matter is, you must still use realism whenever realism applies. It's almost a statement of the obvious - but it appears that many have forgetten the obvious. Or, as I wrote before I saw your post, Wav:

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It appears we have been running around in circles ... for a game to adhere to a standard of realism, it has to have something realistic about it in the first place. Super Mario does have some things in common with reality - but not so many that being able to jump to twice your height and eating magic mushrooms is out of the norm. However, you can't blow up the world with a cosmic ray gun either, so that wouldn't fit. This doesn't mean that we should concentrate on fun only and not realism - you don't have to worry about realism in titles that aren't complex enough to be realistic, so there is no argument there. You do have to worry about realism in realistic titles, so it can never really be said that you should only worry about fun and not realism, and it can never really be said that you should only ever worry about realism and fun. But notice, I don't support either argument.

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The entire point is that you use a decent amount of realism. Notice the title is "Why there is realism" not "You should be using COMPLETE AND UTTER REALISTIC ENVIRONMENTS AND PHYSICS, or you're a BAD BAD BOY!"

There are things that don't make sense in games that should and can be changed. I personally don't like the armor system in (most) RPG's, and I have thought of quite a few ways that it could be made better. Invisible walls are no longer used in good titles - although they were once accepted as a part of design. There are many ways to avoid using invisible walls in games nowadays (Farcry renders miles into the distance even on sub-par hardware) - just like there are many ways to avoid using old systems in RPG's. To make that point, I had to explain the reasons that realism can make a game better. If you put too much realism in, you'll end up with a horrible title. But I don't think ANYONE has a problem with too much realism. It takes energy and effort to make something REALISTIC (10% health in Doom isn't realistic. It might force you to focus on tactics - but the entire concept of a 'health bar' isn't too realistic. It just means that you die faster. But what makes getting shot realistic is more than just how fast you die.) - and people don't tend to put in TOO MUCH effort on three year long projects. Hell, people always go for the simplest solution - it's human nature to simplify. Seeing as the problem doesn't lie in putting too much realism in games, I decided to address this issue of not putting enough realism in games. Too much realism will never be an issue, because no one wants to do more work than they have to. You shouldn't try to make things realistic, or make them unrealistic. If something is frustrating, arbritrary, unrealistic, and irritating (Invisible walls, one hit kills (Unless the game warrants it - a la Super Mario) spontaneous combustion, etc.) it should be changed.

You may be wondering, "Well, duh. What does this have to do with realism?" or you may be already quite sure that you disagree with whatever I'm saying, but the point is that we judge games by how rational they are. And rationality is garnered from reality. Things like putting in footsores and sunburn would be useless - unless you're building a real life simulator. Things like putting in invisible walls should be fixed. Now, you have to remember that this argument is in the context of games that provide a world that is based on or similar to our own (Fantasy games still apply, they might take place on different worlds but they're still based on our reality - unless of course they're not) - a la World of Warcraft, Halo (Set in the future, even), Lord of the Rings, Splinter Cell etc.. These games already feature parts of reality. However, when you change certain things in a certain way, it can be misleading. Essentially, the problem occurs when designers set up apparently realistic situations and then break the rules. This does not apply to all games, obviously - but only the ones that provide a realistic world and then pupport unrealistic limitations - or use parts of the real world and then use them in a way other than which they are commonly used. If something looks like a rabbit, hops like a rabbit, and feels like a rabbit - would you really expect it to breathe fire and fly? If something looks like thin air, feels like thin air, and moves like thin air - would you really expect it to be solid as a brick wall?

I doubt it. Putting irrational things in games is like speaking a different language. The problem is, it's very easy to confuse one language for the other. Now, some may argue that game designers can define the rules of their world however they see fit, and its foolish to hold them to some sort of standard. However, I disagree. If I pay you for a product, and we enter a contract, I expect to get whats advertised on the box. So if you have a game where you tell me that I am playing as a Night Elf, or a Human, or whatever else, and these characters are similar to humans in 98% of every possible way, shape, and form, I'm gonna be pretty damn pissed when you tell me that I am physically incapable of putting on a piece of armor. It looks, walks, talks, moves, and thinks like a human. Why in the hell can't it wear armor like a human too?

The solution to this is to give a plausible reason why said character could not wear said armor. But, if you can't give a plausible reason (within the bounds of your world, which for the vast majority of intents and purposes, uses a slightly modified version of reality) - then the limitation shouldn't exist. Of course, the answer here would be to redifine your universe, or to remove the limitation. Now, when using reality as a backdrop (Which the games being discussed here do - I've already gone over the imposibility of rewriting the infentesimal laws that govern our existence.) you can't just pick and choose things at whim to remove. It doesn't work that way. You'd end up with even more BS than you had when you started. So you have to make sure that you give a foolproof and plausible reason for things (Assuming you don't want to be a lazy punk and put out a half-*ssed title).

This is not done. Mages cannot wear leather, mail, or plate in World of Warcraft. They don't even try to give you a plausible reason. I gauruntee you that, all other things being equal, a game that was built with the philosophy that players can effectively gauge the realism of aspects in a game world and didn't give such pathetic excuses for a gameplay mechanism would sell alot better - even to those who like World of Warcraft as it is. So, even if it isn't 'broken' - there is nothing wrong in fixing it.

[Edited by - Nytehauq on July 6, 2005 3:32:36 PM]

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You act like whenever realism isn't used, it's because the developers are lazy. You also act like it's a developer's responsibility to explain why something isn't realistic. Well, you know what? Starcraft would not have a televised profesional scene if the units were realistic; it would be impossible to balance, and boring to watch. Sometimes there are things that don't make sense realism-wise, but without them games would not be enjoyable. Realism does not equal fun. Fun equals fun.

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