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[Get Opera!]

PnF : Realism In Games
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Ok, so I thought Iíd eventually finish of my first column post with the second part of my rant/article on addictive games. Just to iron things out first, the comparison should be fun and realism and not addictive games and realism. Essentially though itís the same thing because an addictive game is usually fun, otherwise you wouldnít be playing it! Unless you like pain, in which case try Trespasser. Anyway, to start with here are a couple of examples of how realism just goes a little too far.

Grand Prix Legends.
Iíd been looking forward to this particular game ever since Iíd heard about. Almost as soon as it came out I got my grubby hands on it. It had got rave reviews and at the time looked pretty amazing, and it still does. Iíd read from various sources that you really couldnít play it with the keyboard but I thought if itís like Grand Prix 2 then I shouldnít have any problemsÖ

How wrong I was. Playing with the keyboard is a nightmare. The cars are very fidgety to drive. Just a tap on the key can be too much and the car will be sent into a tailspin. So I went and bought one of those steering wheel and pedal set ups.

I did get a little further. I could now do laps instead of just a couple of corners before I smashed the car into a flaming, buckled mess. You do, however, have to drive it like the real thing. You canít slam your foot down on the accelerator and just rip up the gears. No, you have to ease off, flip up, and then accelerate again. After a while it becomes hard work! Then its time for some destructive behavior, like slamming the car into reverse gear and watching the engine nuke itself in a plume of yellow flames and then spinning backwards down the track into braking cars. Watching wheels and cars flying about is more entertaining.

Flight Simulators (in general).
The descriptions we get in the adverts, the reviews and on box describe them as extremely realistic games to play. They tout control systems akin to the real thing, with overly complex and at times downright confusing controls. Taking off involves almost typing out the entire alphabet in a combination of different keys. Once up though things are a little easier, that is unless its fighter jet youíre in. Then youíve got to keep track of all the radars, screens and other various messages. Cue headache timeÖ

The irony of this is that whilst they are apparently realistic to use and act like the real thing, they donít exactly look too hot when compared against its real life counterpart. Admittedly its good enough to tell whatís going on and say that looks like a Lotus or thatís a jet fighter. But they do suffer from looking too shiny and computer like and not gritty and real enough. Also in flight simulators the weakest part is the landscape in which you fly about.

You either have some fairly cool looking landscapes which look ok but suffer from popup and draw ahead, see F22 ADF for an example. Or you have landscapes, which draw up to the horizon but are almost perfectly flat, ala MicroShaft Flight Simulator.

This is also something else that I find amusing. These city packs they do which apparently recreate their selected areas with extremely accurate detail. This basically means a flat road map of the area, with the obvious monuments shown in their correct places. Wow thatís good! Iím glad I spend 20 quid for thatÖ

What Iíd like to see is cities faithfully recreated in such a way I could fly a 747 sideways down a street in New York, narrowly dodging buildings. I suppose Iíll just have to wait until we get sufficient computer power for that!

But dumbass, theyíre simulators!
Yeah ok, so they are simulators of the real thing and these particular games are meant to like that. And it also means you have to expect to read threw half a ton of shit before you can even think of making a decent attempt at playing the game. But this does restrict the amount of people who can properly play them. With time you could no doubt get to grips with them but I donít have the time or the patienceís to spend working out how to play the game. Maybe the reward at the end would be great enough, but I just want instant gratification! They could make it a little less technical so more people can enjoy it.

Getting too real!
Realistic controls are one thing but the key to all this is how real it looks. At the moment weíre not close to it. King Pin made an attempt and has a more realistic environment. Which did seem to put some people of playing it due to its more believable style. But you could tell that it was just a game and that you could easily differentiate from that and real life.

The idea, however, of a pure racing game that looks like the real thing really does appeal to me. The chances of actually being able to do this in real life are so slim that itís probably the only chance weíll get of doing it. Shooting people however does seem a little easier to do in some countriesÖ

Here in the UK the British Board of Film Classification did at one point ban certain games due to their content. An example that springs immediately to mind is Carmaggedon. For those who have not played the game before, Iíll quickly explain the idea behind it. Lots of different cars allowed to race around a chunk of city either going around a predefined track, destroying your opponents or killing all the pedestrians for points. Points 1 and 2 are ok, but the 3rd one did seem to get the attention of the censors.

Maybe certain types of game shouldnít be made to look like real life. 3D First Person Shooters maybe should have some kind of unrealistic look to them. The idea of game of this ilk looking like real life is truly a scary thing. Like I said King Pin does a good attempt at it, but if they looked really real would you want to play it? It might end up being more disturbing than fun.

Making the controls and player movement too life like can also detract from the fun. I think Half-Life suffers in deathmatch from the player just moving too damn slow! Just play Doom on Ėturbo 255 and then play Half Life. See which you find more fun. A player moving at 60+ mph isnít realistic but itís a damn site more fun! I think certain factors can be tuned to be real but the overall affect should be that of something fun to play.

If, when (is more likely), 3Dfps look like real life the scaremongers will then have a real cause to get these games banned. At the moment I donít think they do. I mean what is the difference in mowing down zombies or pixelly, crappy looking people in Carmaggedon? Was there any point in delaying the game just so they changed the pedestrians? I can say that though because I can clearly tell the difference, but maybe such a thing will affect children? There are good grounds for argument in both areas there. There is a rating system on games, like with videos, which should stop younger children from buying such games but shops just donít seem to enforce them properly. Something should be done here to enforce ratings better.

At the end of the day...
It all depends on what you want to get out of a game. I see games as another form of entertainment. So I want to enjoy the time I put into playing a particular game. I do want to be able to play flight simulators and racing games, but I want them in such a way that I donít have to read programming sized manuals in order to find out how to get a plane of the ground or how to properly drive a car!

Maybe you see things differently. Agree or disagree, email me your comments.
MPQ Design by James Kable Healey.
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CGI and Content Copyright Paul Healey © 2001/2000/1999/1998
with the exception of reviews which are copyright of the author.
Design Copyright Kable Kreations © 2001/2000