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(flame?) A look at realism in games

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Okay, hopefully this won''t degenerate into a flamewar because something interesting could come of this thread if MKV lets it live long enough. I was thinking today about realism in games...barring sports games, is realism really that much of a selling point? I mean, let''s look at hit titles: Doom: riiiight....no realism there. Actually, any FPS. Sim-anything: Not particularly realistic, as far as I can tell--The Sims might be the closest thing to realistic, but I don''t know for sure because (alas) I haven''t played it yet Black & White: no way any fantasy RTS/TBS: don''t think so... any sci-fi RTS/TBS: see above any modern RTS/TBS: always in a parallel universe/alternate reality Any RPG: see RTS/TBSs And yet, so often I see discussions about realism in games. Is it realistic that you go careening through space as a giant eyeball with two legs, shooting rockets at a fat prison guard? Is it realistic that I reach my hand down out of the sky and toss a Celt onto a sacrificial altar? Is it even remotely realistic that I go wandering through a dungeon, swinging a sword and casting magic spells so I can beat up the most recently inducted ruler of Hell? No. Yet, these are all examples of hit games. Now, this may come off as drivel from someone who doesn''t have anything better to do with his time, but to me, this begs the question: is realism in gaming really something we should be striving for? -- WNDCLASSEX Reality; ... ... Reality.lpfnWndProc=ComputerGames; ... ... RegisterClassEx(&Reality); Unable to register Reality...what''s wrong? --------- Dan Upton Lead Designer WolfHeart Software

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The answer, of course, is yes and no.

Who''s your audience?

Fighter sim fans, for example? Yes, you want realism then.

RPG fans? Hmmm... prolly not.

I think when you go for realism you want to pick out only the good parts. Counter-Strike, which I now know is the most popular shooter on the net, gets a huge boost from some realistic elements.

Realism gives you authenticity of a sort.


Oh, and... the Sim games were about a realism, weren''t they? I mean, no they didn''t model reality precisely, but then no game can ever claim to do that...

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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Here''s a different sort of yes-and-no answer. Draqza, what you are basically asking is: "Do people want realism?" No. People want wish-fullfillment, ego boosting, adrenaline rushes, they want to sucessfully complete task after task and save the world. BUT in order for them to invest their emotions in the fiction that is the game world, in order to keep their disbelief suspended, the fiction must be realistic. It ought, in fact, to be more real than real life - more real in that it is more essential, more immediate, more captivating of the senses, and that it makes sense in a way real life frequently does not: a reasonable amount of effort guarantees success, and the world always gets saved.

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Another Yes-No answer.

To really answer the question, you have to define realism. Do you mean Realism, as in, "what could happen in real life?" or "could this happen in this game?". For example, sure, Couter-Strike, may have lots of realistic elements, but then someome goes and sets "sv_gravity 100" (forgive if thats not the actual setting, i dont remember =). Then the game losses ALL sense of reality. People cant jump over houses! Next, we will use Dungeon Keeper 2 (ah, what a wonderful game). In this game, it makes perfect sense to be able to pick up your creatures, or to cast magic spells, yet if some dwarf ran in with an AK-47, bye bye suspension of disbelief. It all depends on what the GAME should be, not on what real life is like.

So, Yes, people want realism in games, but they may not want Real life in games.

Z.

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I think sunandshadow said it best...

People want an escape for the most part. They want a grand entertainment where they feel like they can be the hero, or they just want to escape the reality of well, reality, and relax with some games.

Not everyone of course as I too wish games were a bit more "realistic". Rainbow 6 showed the world that not everyone who liked FPS would be averse to "on hit=one kill". No getting shot in the head three times before I reach a medpack for me thank you. Then of course there''s the flight sim fans (I''m a big WII buff...though I don''t like modern era).

There''ve been a couple threads on people wanting a more realistic strategy-based wargame (myself included). Oluseyi had some plans for a sports-sim game, and I''m sure there are other examples floating on this forum as well.

However, for the most part, I think you are right, people don''t want realism because they want to escape from it. What I find enjoyable about more realistic games is they give a better sense of accomplishment. IT also requires more skill and thought to play a realistic game, which I also find more engaging (and is perhaps another reason people shy away from realistic games....never underestimate people''s laziness). I think many people are put off by a high-learning curve to play a game, which is another thing you have to watch out for in realistic games (which is why there arent that many flight sim fans anymore).

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For some semblance of realism in an FPS you might want to give the Red Storm games a look Rainbow Six, Rogue Spear, Covert Ops, Urban Ops, etc...

They are far from perfect in the AI department but they are pretty close everywhere else. Only real-world weapons with realistic damage(or close to it...most people wont be limping around rescuing hostages after getting shot in the foot with a 12 gauge..) and when you''re dead you''re dead. Noise and weight/bulk of items carried are also there. And there are missions that need to be completed without a single round being fired And unlike some FPS games where your military trained special elite commando starts a mission with a pocketknife and a 9mm pistol to take on a gang of international terrorists with AK''s and Uzis, your agency actually gives you the weapons you will be using up front

That series was meant to be realistic and is classified as a simulation. It is a little boring to alot of FPS fans because you don''t run around blowing up aliens with shoulder missiles. But this series was targeted more towards the older teen/adult audiences where realism is more likely to be accepted at the cost of adrenaline factor, and it was quite a success.

And Tom Clancy is, after all, the master of feasible fiction so his name being attached to it gives that expectation of realism. Had he included super-atomic-plasma guns the series probably would not have done so well. At the same time if he made it so realistic as to where you had to determine where to place your feet on every step, or figure out which way the door handle turns to open it, my guess is that it also woould not have done as well

Seeya
Krippy

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Obviously people don''t want exact realism in games. And neither can game developers create exact realism in games. But are we talking about realism or about consistancy? What players expect is, that if you don''t explicitly break a rule, then that rule is still in effect. If your game is obviously sci-fi, players will accept super-nuclear weapons, but if your game is set in Midieval London they might get upset when you put automobiles in the game.
Players are used to the rule of The Real World. They know the rules. Better than the back of their hand, I assure you. Unless you tell the player that these rules do not apply, they will expect them, and they will make decisions based on them.
I recall an article in Gamasutra where the author had played an Indiana Jones game and could not get out of the first room. He bought the walk-through and it told him to pull a 5'' cube of stone away from the wall. No human being can pull a 5'' cube of stone. There was no way he would have thought to do that because the game-world, the world of Indiana Jones, is supposed to have the same rules as our own. Rules like humans can''t move 5'' cubes of stone. There was no way for him to know that this rule did not apply.
In sci-fi, we know which rules apply and which don''t.
Gravity still applies.
''No object can move faster than light'' does not apply.
In fantasy, we know which rules apply and which don''t.
''Sharp Pointy Thing + Heart = Dead'' applies. (nominally)
''Magic does not exist'' does not apply.
If you change the rules, you must let us know.

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Had this conversation before in this forum

No. Realism is overrated. It is often seized upon as a target for developers with little imagination as a goal of perfection. However, reality contains a lot of boring and not-so-fun elements.

What I believe players actually want is believability , which derives directly from internal consistency .

The end.

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a DIFFERENT realism

I think THAT''s what people want.

You can create all sorts of fancy names, but I think the main thing is that they want to leave their own dull lives behind, and live the exciting life they want to live.

What ''dull'' and ''exciting'' mean can differ from person to person.
One might think it''s fun playing a god controlling minions... another might want to be a minion controlled by a god.
One might want to wield a sword in the middleages, another might want to wield a laser sword in the future.
One might want to live the life of an alien from another planet, another might want to live the life of the neighbour next door.

Realism in games? Only needed when it''s needed. And then it''s not the ''earth'' realism as we know it, but the ''realism'' of whatever virtual world you created.

That DIFFERENT realism is what you need to aim for.

Woohoo... I''m on day 4 on my C++ in 21 days course. %Another two weeks and I''ll be a master programmer!%

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Not because I have anything more to add on the subject, but you''d be disappointed if I didn''t visit, right?

----------
-WarMage
...my mommy told me if i was goody that she would buy me a rubber dolly...

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Choose the level of realism (or non-realism) and stick to it.
There is nothing more irritating than inconsistencies in logic.

-Mezz

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Yeah, kylotan, I figured as much, but I didn''t feel like looking for it, and hey...there may have been a few new ideas anyway. I believe most people got what I was going at anyway--that standard, everyday realism isn''t really what games need, yet I do see discussions about why such-and-such a concept won''t work because it''s not realistic enough. Go figure.

And yes, of course, warmage, I''d be *ever* so disappointed if you didn''t drop in.

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quote:
Original post by Kylotan
No. Realism is overrated. It is often seized upon as a target for developers with little imagination as a goal of perfection. However, reality contains a lot of boring and not-so-fun elements.


As one who is working on a racing simulation striving for realism, I find that oversimplistic well beyond the point of insulting. You are obvioulsy ignorant of the hard work and creativity that simulating reality in real time requires. In the simulation genre in particular, realism and accuracy are absolutely demanded. It is obvious that realism should not be a goal of every game, and I'm glad it isn't.


Mike

Edited by - Vetinari on July 20, 2001 7:03:06 PM

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Ah ah ah...no flames Vetinari. Actually, we did point out that sims are the exception to the rule--they need at least some realism, such as the physics, even if the chances of actually doing that activity are unlikely (such as pro racing stuff). But in other genres, grabbing elements of realism does seem kind of gimmicky, because the elements are often irrelevant and even detract from gameplay.

So don''t be offended--your racing sim was excluded from the discussion

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Well, I agree that you need a to define what is "realism". I would like to add that FPS games have a part of "reality" called 3d perspective. It pretty much ends there

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Forneiq brought up the point about consistency and it''s a very good one. Sometimes things can be realistic and not consistent (i.e having plate armor in the 9th century AD) or it can be consistent but not realistic (imageina game like Rainbow 6 but set 50 years in the future).

There''s an old saying, "inconsistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". I don''t mind if a game is unrealistic, so long as it''s consistent with the background and context of the world upon which it is built. Let me give an example from sci-fi.

Many sci-fi writers postulate things like Naval starships, Artificially Intelligent androids, genetically altered humans, etc. and then they do absolutely nothing with them other than as show pieces. Now just think for a moment what the world would be like if such things existed and were relatively commonplace. It''s a common convention in sci-fi games that there are huge battles fought ala Dune, Star Wars, Starship Troopers, etc....but if you really think about it, there would only be a few instances where land battles would be fought. Why? Because eventually, one side is going to have orbital superiority over the other, and that Starship hovering in orbit is going to pound the opposing forces into little pieces of red meat. There ARE some circumstances this won''t happen (say for example a Civil War, or a guerrila style war), but if you follow the context of the world''ssetting through to it''s logical conclusion, there wouldn''t be grand melee battles.

To me, this is what bothers me the most about games. It''s not that I don''t like grandiose things, or that I don''t like the dramatic, but I like it only when it makes sense, and its not overdone. So realism should be replaced with "contextually logical", then you define it better. To take another example, look at a fantasy setting.

It''s very common to have magicians, dragons, and other god-like beings in their setting. Depending on the relative rarity of such beings, I think it would drastically alter the context of the world compared to the way they are usually presented in fantasy today. Take a look at Ars Magica Pen and paper role playing game, and you will find a very rich and logical setting for a fantasy world (actually, it''s based on the assumption that all of the myths about magic were true during the 12th century...so you have Hermetic European Mages and how they are a triumverate of power next to the Catholic church and the Nobility....all fighting against the heretical Muslims Djhinis, and Pagan Germanic Tribes). Yes, magic is unrealistic, but given the background of the world, it makes lots of sense.

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Shenmue is a game to consider. While there''s a strong pseudo-religious supernatural element to it, most of Shenmue is entirely realistic. The problem with realism isn''t so much modelling it - getting physics, etc. "close enough" doesn''t seem to be hard - but figuring out how to make it fun. I think of this in terms of a continuum with realism on one side and gameplay on the other. In Shenmue, time passes and this affects the game world (shops open and close, people you need to talk to go to sleep, etc.) so as a concession to gameplay, time passes mighty quick. So when you see games that are fun but not realistic, it''s not always the fault of lazy programmers.

Shenmue also made working a 9-to-5 job fun, so hats off to Sega for that.

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Ah yes, my apologies Vetinari. Sadly, when I come into this forum, I tend to put on my RPG hat

Of course, realism is important in simulators, or games that are modelling real life, in which case, deviating from ''reality'' will go against the consistency aim that I stated. The game needs to stay consistent to its subject, and whereas in most games this has little to do with real life, as far as simulators go they have to be consistent with the player''s expectations, which will be to model the real system perfectly.

Please do not take offense, as my original statement was not at all meant to address the type of games you mention, and therefore was not a criticism of the quest for accuracy and detail that goes into such development. I was just addressing the games originally mentioned by draqza

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Exageration has a place in driving games too

Maybe not so much in Nascar 4, but imagine how poor Road Rash would be without being able to jump over trees at 200mph and not die a horrible limb-seperating death! lol (actually that would be pretty neat too I guess... lol)

Seeya
Krippy

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Crap! I''ve been waiting for this discussion and when the chance finally comes I''m out of town. Even so, I''ll put in my 2 cents.

As has already been stated the definition of realism depends on the context of the game. In an RPG, magic isn''t unrealistic, but other things, like an AK-47, would be. In a flight simulator, magic would be totally out of place (although it might be interesting).

One good reason to take out realsim is to enhance game play. Even in the universe of an RPG you have to admit that one decent hit with a sword pretty much ends any battle, but with such easily killed opponents combat wouldn''t be much fun. And you would have to be just as easy to kill, so the chances of long term survival would be very low.

So, it comes down to what can be realistically expected from the universe in which the game is set. And remember...it''s just a game.

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