rant on realism

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Post: #1
Ok hereís my rant.


I think one of the problems with computers is that they arenít real. Sure the computer itself is real, but most things that you do on them arenít. A computer is an object that sits on your desk and you can touch it, and if you drop it on the floor it will break and you will have to clean up the mess. Whereas anything you do with software on the computer, can be ignored by turning the computer off.

So what does this mean?
Well I think in the context of games, our goal (well certainly my goal) is to make the user either believe that what they are doing is real, or make the user actually influence the real world. The ways I can think of that games do these are:

ï Adding multiplayer/social interaction to the game ñ the player is actually influencing a relationship with a real person
ï Invoking emotions in the player ñ the player believes that the characters/whatever exist and has feelings for it
ï Allowing the player to acquire ëthingsí by working hard ñ player gets rewarded
ï Creating completely involving graphical/sound/atmosphere environments ñ player believes they are inside the game
[edit - just thought of another one]
ï Allowing the player to advance their technique - the skill (though probably not useful in the real world) remains even after the computer is turned off

Iím sure there are other ways that games make themselves real, but these are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

To try to emphasize my point of how important realism is in games, consider that multiplayer games were hugely successful when they first arrived, and continue to be so. Good graphics/sound seem to be one of the most focused on areas of commercial games being created, and the other two are the essence of RPG games. ëDOA Beach Volleyballí comes to mind too.

I believe there are more options out there that could also be very successful, but are yet untapped. So this is where I think games/computers are lacking.

ï Where is my NanoPrinter? When I win/buy something in a game I would like to see it sitting on my computer desk. Ok, so nanotechnology might be a bit underdeveloped yet, but what is to stop someone making a supermarket game where someone sits at their xbox, walks around a virtual supermarket, enters their credit card number, and the goods get shipped to the door the next day. I know Iíd use it.

ï What happened to VR? Iíve heard that Nintendo or someone released some 3d glasses that were in red and black and gave everyone headaches and eye problems a few years back, but damn Iím keen. Surely the technology is there now. Sonyís 3d glasses seem to be a step in the right direction, but they are still only making you think there is a 2d screen 15ft away. The software is ready. Where is the hardware?

ïWhy do I have to convey my will to the computer with a modified typewriter and a catís toy? Speech technology, though cumbersome at the moment could be useful in a few more games. I see some kind of ëMinority Reportí type hand movement recognition coming eventually, but whoís working on it? In the mean timeÖ why canít games use more instinctual interfaces, e.g. move the mouse forward quickly to punch. I loved that golf game in pubs a while back with the ball that you had to spin quickly to hit the ball far.

Anyways, thatís my rant. Iím probably as guilty as anyone else for not making these things happen, but my goal is to eventually either be one of those who do, or be there helping when someone else does.

Chopper, iSight Screensavers, DuckDuckDuck: http://majicjungle.com
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Post: #2
It's really late, and I might post in response to several of the other things you have mentioned, but for right now, I will concentrate on one or two.

As far as more intuitive interfaces and controls go, I am all for it. I have noticed that shareware games actually tend to have better designed controls than commercial games, and I have to wonder why (could it be that shareware developers are more in touch with their consumers?).

Shareware or commercial, there should be no excuse for having controls that you can't learn the basics of within the first minute of playing, and the more advanced parts should be intuitive with the basics.

Taking some control examples (I plan a lot before committing a game to code) from a future project I have planned, I'll show you what I mean, when I say that the advanced controls should be intuitive to the basic controls (you did a good example as well).

For instance (project is planned to be a 2d side-scroller), the key to duck is 's', and that should be learned quickly, because ducking is a basic control. What if the player wants to go prone though? Some other games would make ducking and a prone position two different keys, and others (like America's Army) make a single key toggle between duck, prone, and standing. The latter is more intuitive than the former, but it's still not good enough. What I have planned, is depending on how long the user holds the duck key, they either duck, or go prone, and you press the 'w' (jump) key to get up. Depending on how long they hold the jump key, they either go back to ducking, standing, or if they hold it long enough (which is a while if your prone), you jump.

That should all be smooth motion as well. To do that, the first few and last few frames of each animation in that list (jump > standing > ducking > prone) should all blend together, and instead of going from the standing animation, then then ducking, then finally the prone, you go straight from standing to prone if the user is still holding down the 's' key when the last frame of the standing going to duck animation plays. Because all the animations in that position list have the first few and last frames blending in to each other, it all appears a smooth transition.

That doesn't sound like it would work that well, but in practice it would. The last few frames of the standing animation show the character leaning forward, and bending his knees, regardless of whether he is going to duck or go prone, because in real life, regardless of either position, you still have to bend down and get closer to the ground. There's where the animations switch. If the user is going to duck, the character bends down onto his haunches and stays like that, but if the character is going prone, instead of showing him going onto his haunches, he continues to lean forward, and bend down, until he's flat up against the ground.

Ahem, I'm losing track of the subject, but there you go, an intuitive way to both duck and go prone, a way that the user will easily discover on they're own, and quickly, and not only that, but you produce a seamless movement, like the computer had predicted what you wanted to do.

Now it's really late, and this subject has me riled up; I hope to discuss more tomorrow... er... later today? (It's 4AM)
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Post: #3
Quote:Originally posted by reubert
Speech technology, though cumbersome at the moment could be useful in a few more games.


Well the problem with speech technology is you need to be seperated from your computer, your air conditioner, and all other background noise. Speech recognition would be garbage in the pointless "open office" atomsphere.
Terrible in an arcade.
And useless if you are actually using speakers.

Headset and earphones are require. Two things I personally don't like using at all.

I also think many people feel really stupid saying "Computer, open file "mytext.txt"
sigh
"COM-PU-TER! OPEN FILE "MY TEheXT. TEE EX TEE"
"Damnit! What a peice of trash! NO DON"T PUT IN TRASH>..AAAGH!"
Also it would be nearly impossible to play an FPS or even a space shooter with speech recognition.
"move forwad, fire, jump, stop moving, backstep, fire, rockets, use healthpack, duck, roll, left, right, left, right. no stop rolling!, er...stand up, jump, stop jumping you idiot!" talk about tedious, you have ten fingers and over 128 keys and only one mouth.


Realism of graphics is not necessary to reach the "zone" of believing you are one with the game. Nothing real about old Mario, Pac-Man, or TRON. But they have elements that kept he brain occupied and ignoring the real world.

But if the game is supposed to be "realistic" any deviation from logic and real world physics can destroy the illusion of realism, and therefore ruin the game for the player.
80,000 downloads of Antack! and I think only one person commented about "exploding ants??"...heeh, sure why not? Foxes that fly spaceships...kung fu bunnies...lemon marange pies that eat dots...realism is not the goal of some games. Sometimes deviation from realism is the goal.

Games like Deus Ex and Max Payne just bored me, they were too real, too hollywood cliche. Give me Unreal Tournament or Marathon with low gravity, or Resident Evil with endless zombie hordes, or Freedom Force, or Myth II with that slow motion control and I'm in the "zone", out of this world and into another,more dangerous one on the edge of my seat.

Currently there is a trend for "cartoon" shaders in games.
So there is a backlash against realism, in graphics at least, the physics stuff will still be a bit required though...too much deviation from real physics without plausible and explained reasoning tends to cause frustration.
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Post: #4
You've noticed a couple of real flaws in my rant, which is good.

'Speech technology, though cumbersome at the moment could be useful in a few more games. '

You're right though, I cant think of a way to make it less cumbersome and I'll take my hat off to anyone that can.

And yeh, realism is not necessary in every element of a game. With a computer we have the power to create our own reality, even if it's pixelated cartoons with beeping noises and no gravity. There still has to be an element that makes it real though.

So, I suppose I left out something very important, and thats that games can rely on one or two realistic parts and have many completely unrealistic parts.
The unrealistic parts can often augment rather than subtract from the realistic ones.

an example: In GTA or any other game where you can drive cars of cliffs, I would be very disappointed if my car didn't erupt into a huge fire ball when it hit the bottom. This is kinda unrealistic, in reality half the time the car would just land upside down and smoke a bit, but the big fireball is nice, and I like it happening every time.

a car driving off a cliff is real, a huge fireball is not.

Show me a successful game that didn't have its main concept firmly formed out of a reality.

I might dig deeper and say that the reality is what allows the game to be fun, and the unreality is what refines it to be more fun.

I've realised by now the pointlessness of this thread. Sorry people, I wont post rants like this again.

Chopper, iSight Screensavers, DuckDuckDuck: http://majicjungle.com
w_reade
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Post: #5
In games, reality is a sidetrack. What is important is internal consistency, and that is all. What breaks you out of the experience isn't the thought, "I know that isn't real" (it's a 50-foot dragon... no shit) - it's the thought, "Hey! That isn't right!" (50-foot dragons just don't get stuck behind 3-foot boulders).

Comments?
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Post: #6
Quote:Hey! That isn't right!" (50-foot dragons just don't get stuck behind 3-foot boulders).


I think thats right, no one cars about dragons in a game, but they should behave as a dragon.

One thing I've noticed is alot of people like a backgrounds story to a game, any game at all. For me, I don't care, I play games to have fun, thats all.

Along the lines of realism, I am very into cartoon style games and such. I figure either make a simulator, or go cartoon. But if your making a sim, why not just do the real thing? (I know that many times you can't, so then its a good idea to make one). But I have to say I'm not one to get involved in a huge RBG or anything, I like fast furious arcade games or racing games. But still with donkey kong or sonic the hedgehog, I can get very involved with, even though they aren't real at all. But there is that "Donkey Kong" world (I'm talking about the side-scrollers) which isn't real, but it can be very involving.

Anyway, I just felt like typing. After reading my post, it doesn't make sense Rolleyes
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Post: #7
Quote:In games, reality is a sidetrack


I completely disagree, but you already knew that.

and internal consistancy is definately important, but thats not what I was talking about.

as far as 50 ft draggons go, the concept of a game involvilng 50ft dragons will always be based on reality. You'd be a knight or something walking around with a bow and arrow against the things. You might say, but thats just a fairy tale, not reality. But the concept is real. Its about hunting and fighting and gaining skills to conquor (virtual) real things, the fanatsy (and 50 ft height) just add to the enjoyment. A game about killing bugs with insectiside would be based on the same concept, have more realistic extras, but would probably be less fun.

Chopper, iSight Screensavers, DuckDuckDuck: http://majicjungle.com
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Post: #8
Quote:Originally posted by jbrimm
Shareware or commercial, there should be no excuse for having controls that you can't learn the basics of within the first minute of playing, and the more advanced parts should be intuitive with the basics.


Take that, Flight Simulator!!!
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Post: #9
Quote:Originally posted by reubert
Show me a successful game that didn't have its main concept firmly formed out of a reality.


1. Space invaders
2. Pac-Man
3. Othello, Checkers, Chess, any Card Game
4. Tron
5. Star Wars..any of them
6. Kiki the Nanobot
7. Myth II
8. Centipede, Millipede, the manPedes

...I just ate, brain distracted by digestion
9..Burger Time!

Reality Bites. Smile
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Post: #10
Can we have a list of successful, kick *ss games that haven't been released yet?

1. Microbian
.....

lol.Grin

"Most nutritionists say that Twinkies are bad. But they're not, they're very very good."
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Post: #11
1. Space invaders
If there were a bunch of ufos dropping bombs on everyone and I had a bazooka... ok its far fetched, but again the concept is real. Let me play war.

2. Pac-Man
the birth of doom. Pac Man is really a FPS. the reality is being stuck in a maze world trying to find a way out while not getting killed in the process. Again, concept == real. if you were in a maze in the real world and had to run away from a bunch of guys with guns in ghost costumes or they would kill you....
Its based on your real reactions in situations. You pretend you are there, and you react as though its real.

3. Othello, Checkers, Chess, any Card Game
whats more real than a game based on a real game?
besides that, the way to win is to increase your skill which is a real attribute.

man I'm getting sick of the word real.

4. Tron
havent played tron. same stuff tho I'm sure

5. Star Wars..any of them
star wars games use fantasy elements (storyline, space based etc) to add to real situations, whether its driving a space ship(just like driving an augmented car) or yet another FPS which I've already talked about.

6. Kiki the Nanobot
FPS

7. Myth II
problem solving - the problems are real and you really solve them. Basicly FPS stuff here. I can't believe you put this one in, Myth II is incredibly real once you look past the world it is set in.

8. Centipede, Millipede, the manPedes
Not sure if I've played these, something like Aperion maybe? I'm guessing puzzle type game. Puzzles are about problem solving and building skill. both of which I've mentioned.


When I said 'main concept' I was not refering to what the game is marketed on, its story line, or where it is set.

I was talking about the gameplay, what makes it fun to play and therefor popular and successful. The most important part. This is the 'main concept'

example: Myth II set in a realistic world with the same problems / game play would still be a good game

Myth II set in its own world with no gameplay would get pretty boring as soon as you realised there was nothing to do.

Chopper, iSight Screensavers, DuckDuckDuck: http://majicjungle.com
Ice Cream Joe
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Post: #12
Quote:Originally posted by reubert
So, I suppose I left out something very important, and thats that games can rely on one or two realistic parts and have many completely unrealistic parts.
The unrealistic parts can often augment rather than subtract from the realistic ones.


Actually, I've found it's quite the opposite. Many games that strive to be realistic still rely on a handful of unrealistic ideas.

GTA Vice City, in my eyes, is a very realistic game, but the fun comes from the unrealistic ability to steal any old car out from the middle of the street. Don't these people have locks on their doors? But regardless, having access to as many cars as you want opens up all kinds of possibilities such as doing stunts with them or going on the missions.

The first-person shooter is another genre of game that strives to be realistic, but it usually represents your avatar's health by a simple number. It's not exactly unrealistic, but it's an abstraction that saves computing power and an unnecessary degree of complication from the player. I'll be surprised if one of these games actually takes the effort to realistically model a player's muscles and blood vessels and take into account specific damage to each to determine a limp or external bleeding every time the player is shot.

Some other things, but these are more for entertainment than to make a point:

How come characters never have to go to the bathroom? Do they hold it in for the entire game? I just drank 20 healing potions in a fight that lasted 30 seconds, and now I'd like to take a piss.

Why does food heal me? I just got shot twice in the face, and yet after picking up several chicken legs on plates I'm in top shape.

In games with a medieval setting, why do all the men look like Arnold and all the women look like huge-breasted track star/supermodels? Considering this is an age where baths were taken once a month, tops, you'd think these people would all be dirty, disgusting savages.

I could go on for hours.

I would say that a game needs at least some UNrealistic element to be fun. A game that's totally, 100% realistic is basically a model of everyday life. If you have that, why not just go outside? Get some exercise, get some sun.
Ice Cream Joe
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Post: #13
Quote:Originally posted by reubert
I was talking about the gameplay, what makes it fun to play and therefor popular and successful. The most important part. This is the 'main concept'


I submit that an unreal 'main concept', as you appear to be defining it, does not exist.

Any 'main concept' can be eventually reduced to winning. It's a natural tendency to want to be better than the game/other players, and very real.

Quote:Originally posted by reubert
3. Othello, Checkers, Chess, any Card Game
whats more real than a game based on a real game?


You're making a double standard here. What makes Othello, Checkers, Chess, etc. real games? The fact that they are played with actual material objects? The same can be said for computer games, which are played with electrical signals, your keyboard and mouse, and the phosphors on your monitor. Your computer is just as real an object as a game board or deck of cards.
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Post: #14
I think we're arguing about different things here; Reubert is talking about realism in gameplay concepts, while everyone else is talking about realism in the game's environment.

However, I have to ask you, Reubert, what you mean by a realistic or unrealistic gameplay concept; I can't really agree or disagree with you if I don't know what you're talking about. Smile It seems that you're defining a "real" game concept as one which is in some way based on an action in the real world (e.g. shooting things, running around in a maze), but you also referred to problem solving and increasing skill as real concepts, when those seem to me to be more abstract.
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Post: #15
I find this discussion very "Unreal".

Forgive me.Grin

"Most nutritionists say that Twinkies are bad. But they're not, they're very very good."
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