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memento_mori

Realism vs Gameplay

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Realism is a very essential part in today's games, but the problem here is that sometimes in order to make the game more realistic, you need to sacrifice some gameplay, especially in RTS games. For example, the following points are common issues in today's well known RTSs: - In RedAlert 2, you use trucks to collect minerals (gold?) that are scattered throughout the map? - In almost all games, Barracks, Warfactories, Artillery Depots, etc... Generate tanks and units... I don't suppose the soldiers are usually "Bred" in a barrack... It's just not realistic to think that the units can be "created" on the battlefield. And do tank factories create the tanks on the spot? - In almost all battle games, there is "Research" and "technology" buildings in which you improve your units and tanks, etc... (Generals, RA2, Rise of Nations, etc...) It is certainly not a general's duty to research and improve weapons... And it's definately not a good idea to do the research on the battlefield... Another hit for realism... - It's also never the General's job to take care of the nation's economy (gathering food, iron, wood, gold etc) yet all RTS games make it. However, if you remove the problematic sides of the game: Economy, Research, Barracks etc... All that's left is battle. Although I personally enjoy the fights more than building, and taking care of the economy, I have to admit that without those the game is boring... The points raised here are mostly RTS-related but I'm sure the same thing can be applied to RPGs aswell... So in your opinion, which do you prefer and what should be sacrificed: Realism or Gameplay? Memento Mori

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In the terms of Fun, I would always sacrifice the one that lead to more fun. This is usually realism as it is Gameplay that the players are playing (and hence having fun with). There are occasions where realisms is prefered (for things like emersion, etc), but there are few and far between.

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I don't think you should ever choose to make a game more realistic at the expense of playability.

If my soldier was shot in the legs and had to lie there and bleed to death for a period of two hours or go to a hospital and have stitches I wouldn't find it much fun. I'd prefer an instant bandage or just to die. It's important for a player to be able to identify with the tokens in a game but not necessary for them to behave in a totally accurate manner.

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I would argue you sacrafice realism. If people wanted to do something real, they would probalby do it in real life. The non-real elements of a game are what make it fun. Its a way for you to fullfill a fantasy and an oppurtunity to try to expirement with new ideas.

That being said, I don't think you would have to think of the economies of RTS games as being unrealistic. A general would be responsible for being sure that soilders are rectruited, and such things take time. Appearing in a barracks is just what the general sees from it. You can imagine a whole other process going on in the background where that soilder is being trained and resources are being spent to recruit them. In this way the units are created on the battlefield.

Generals often do reasearch new weapons on the battlefiled, or at least know wahts going on in some way. General Leslie Groves was the co-leader of the Manhattan Project with Oppenheimer for example. '

If a country is at war also, it becomes the militarys duty to help run the economy. Think of the rationing during world war 2 and the large black market that was created to try and subvert it. (and all the wonderful superman comic books about the evils of hording rubber.)

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Sure the popping of units out of factories in 30 seconds isn't very realistic, but the element of making the most of your resources is very genuine. By adding additional responsibilities you add a lot of depth to the game. I'd rather play a RTS that made me think, react, and strategize on different levels than one that solely focused on having every detail of a single element (battle) be completely realisitic.

Quote:

Realism is a very essential part in today's games, but the problem here is that sometimes in order to make the game more realistic, you need to sacrifice some gameplay, especially in RTS games.


Since Strategy is the key word in RTS, I think they focus on creating a very realistic strategic element without having to sacrifice any gameplay at all. This is opposed to creating a realistic battlefield where you as a general would have much less control over the actions of your units.

I agree with you in the sense that by making RTS's more realistic from a general's point of view would sacrifice gameplay. However, the genre is supposed to be strategy based, and not a RPG where you play the role of a commander. Creating an environment where you have to make genuine strategic decisions (bomb a bridge, take out this outpost, capture a city, secure this area of resources) in order to achieve your objective is what makes the game realistic and strategic, not the logic of the underlying pieces that create those aspects.

You can analyze every aspect of a joke and find no element to be funny, but taken as the whole it is. You can analyze every element of a RTS and no part of it be real, but as a whole the situation is.

IMO, RTS games can be realistic without having to sacrifice gameplay.

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Let's nitpick :

In fact it is also irrealist that a general controls the troops individually. From what I understand, the main job of a top military strategist is to know the people in his army and the people in the ennemy army. He gives orders to 1 star generals or to colonels (take this hill, go reinforce this battalion, flank this front). When pushed to the maximum, realism would require the game to implement psychology, unreliable information systems (aka no map where you can exactly see where your unit is with a 10 ms latency) and would not look like any RTS. To some extent one could say that RTS is basically irrealistic but is an evolution of board games.

I have once read a rant about realism in games. The author was arguing that realism in games has nothing to do with reality but is about coherency in the game itself and conformance with a small subset of reality. In a racing simulation game, you want realistic friction with the ground, accurate acceleration ramps, accurate turning abilities of your car, but you don't care that when it rains the public doesn't change clothes and take umbrellas.

The RTS-genre is not a strategic simulation, it is a resource management game. There are tactical and strategic simulators though, they are not about resource management, you often simulate famous battles, are given troops at the beggining and can not "breed" new units. Maybe you would like to try one of these ?

One feature I would like to see in a RTS game would be the use of different time scales : one for development and one, presumably 10 times or 20 times faster, for conflicts. I am not sure this would really work out, though...

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I totally agree, if in order to make the game realistic you have to kill the fun, then there is no point to it... There's a reason why it's called entertainment...

BUT...

There are some alternatives for the irrealistic sides of RTS.
Example:

- Instead of "breeding" the troops from the barracks, you could "order" reinforcements from your command center, and the troops will arrive in convoys, or parachutes, or even on foot, comming from a "main" base, and not necessarily right away, maybe minutes later.

- If it's impossible to remove the economy part of the game, because that would kill most of the challenge and strategy and reducing your "responsibilities", you could maybe find an alternative challenge... like securing a supply route, or structure, oil wells maybe?
Kindof like the USA supplies in EAGames Generals... The chinese Hackers and GLA Black markets don't make any sense though... Since they don't belong on the battlefield...
Also, money is really useless on the battlefield...

Those are just some ideas i could think of...
But it's weird how all RTS seem to copy each other instead of introducing new features...


Also, I got this idea while reading this...

Quote:
In fact it is also irrealist that a general controls the troops individually. From what I understand, the main job of a top military strategist is to know the people in his army and the people in the ennemy army. He gives orders to 1 star generals or to colonels (take this hill, go reinforce this battalion, flank this front).


Would it be fun to have a game, in which you don't really control each unit, but rather they're controlled by AI. You only give them order as to which town or city to attack and how to do that, and watch...
That's a very realistic approach to a general's role in a battlefield: giving orders and watching.
I mean like Risk2 if you ever played it, but Real Time... Very strategic.. even more strategic than Generals or Ra2, in which you could destroy a whole army with one unit if you had good Micro skills (where's the realism in that)

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Not RTS related but still worth mentioning. I was once a part of a team developing a MMORPG, midway through a new designer was brought in and decided to give the project a major push for more realisam, and the whole game design document got a huge overhaul.

It quickly became apparent the new designer was going for uber realisam overkill. and I was commissioned with working on one of these new uber realistic features...the characters (and players) would have to deal with getting a sunburn...Yeah, we waisted time on uber realistic sunburn modeling and damage tables while developing a MMORPG with all these fantastic creatures, monsters, settings, and locations....worse there was to be hangnail simulation, tooth cavity modeling, a ton of anal retentive uber realistic detailing and simulation just on this crap alone!

Also in the design doc was real time day/night simulation and the goal of modeling the entire world at 1:1 scale...so if a player were to log into the game from london at midnight...they would be in the games representation of london at midnight...that was the plan, and about half the team was behind it, believeing it would be the greatest game ever devised...the rest of us laughed and quit after a few weeks, and not much later the company imploded along with many others during the dot com bursting bubble. :P


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All too often I see RTS games that focus way too much on realism. While it looks neat on the surface I feel it distracts from the goal of actually entertaining the player.

Take a look at Starcraft. Back when it came out, Blizz could just as easily have made something that looked great, but they stuck with 256 colors and a fairly low screen rez. The technology was around to do most of the high end stuff seen nowadays. Some of the things they came up with were unrealistic too.

Westwood came out with some game that took place in the Dune universe. It was one of the first realtime-3d environment modeled RTSs I'd ever seen. The graphics were astounding.

Which do you hear about more now? :)

You'd be surprised how much a programmer can get away with if they want to focus on gameplay rather than realism.

Cheers!
Michael

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Are movies entertainment? Games are art, they doesn't need to be entertaining.

For example look at Harpoon. Imagine a standard low attention span player of RTS, and put him in front of Harpoon. How long he would sit on his butt in front of the screen?

While these types of games would often find players that find them interesting, these games would be considered VERY unentertainming by majority of people.

Realistic games are games that doesn't have a Big battleships roaming countryside on a small legs, without proper and correct explanation.

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