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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: 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.


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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


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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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