Monday, October 29, 2012

We should play more REAL simulations

With Medal of honor: Warfighter coming out, the discussion about games being bogged down to one genre and being less interactive has fired up again. IGN has flamed the new MoH installment and Total Biscuit uses the new MoH to show what has gone wrong with the FPS genre. I will not say the internet is in great peril, but game fans are not tranquil either.

A medal of hono(u)r. Shiny, but I would
not want to go through the trouble
getting it...
The problem with the internet is that, when people are disgruntled, everyone is pointing out the problem, but not giving an active solution. Sure, "Do not buy MoH: warfighter" might be a good solution, but it is not active. If people buy it accidentally ("ooh, 90% off!"), the solution is lost and the evil corporation grows stronger. An active solution would be "burn all copies of MoH:WF!" This doesn't work, because that means you have to buy all copies before you can burn them, giving the evil corporation more money in the process. Fortunately, I have an active solution that might just work. You just need to look at the bigger picture.

Go play simulation games. Yes, even Street cleaning simulator. I know what you're thinking: "Why? What would it do? How does it help?" It's a difficult dilemma, but let me answer in one sentence: "WHY CAN'T YOU PEOPLE ASK ONE QUESTION AT A TIME!?"

Let me back up a little; I am not a big fan of simulations or simulation games. They miss rules that make me feel I achieved something. I have never really played Minecraft and Terraria ultimately seemed pointless to me. I like games who go nuts on action and occasional wackiness. Transformers: war for cybertron and Saints row 2 are some of my favourites , but I don't stick to action, as the Final Fantasy series and Okami are also on the same shelf in my collection. What these games have in common is that its creators know how to make a nice game by applying rules to a certain environment.

See? Can easily win gamespot's GOTY award.
What games like MoH:WF do wrong is that they mix up rules of the game with rules of an environment. This is not a weird appearance, since both sets of rules need to be determined by the designer. To illustrate: Risk has a different order of taking turns than football (soccer AND rugby variant included). You don't go kicking around pieces on the Risk board and you don't say to the football opponent it's not his turn to kick the ball. These are both obvious, since the abstractness of risk facilitates turn-taking and the closeness of football makes you take the ball from your opponent. MOH:WF gives you a realistic environment and then tells you when it is your turn to do something. Total Biscuit said it best: "As an elite operator I'm immune to bullets. What am I not immune to? Uneven tiled floor!"

This is where simulation games should come in. Simulations are just the environment and a setting. You have to make up the rules. A good simulation does not judge you for going out of bounds. When I played DCS A10-C warthog, I could do whatever I wanted. If I did a quick and dirty startup or made a 180 barrel roll, the simulation did not care. I got the washing machine flying without breaking it, so that was OK. The fact that a 180 barrel roll in a simulation is way more difficult than in an arcade game makes it all the more awesome. Also, Train Simulator 2013 did not judge me for making the biggest train ever (and I want to show it off):

When a person is in an environment with nothing to do, a funny human psychological element starts to kick in. They start to make their own rules or do whatever they want. This is what separates playing a video game from actual human play. It is also the reason why minecraft got so big, you can build whatever you want. People train their abilities and have fun. I stated earlier that fun and learning are closely connected. This also explains why MoH:WF is not fun: you are not training, you are just doing as told.

DCS A10C warthog... I meant to do that, really!

What I'm trying to explain is this: games should be environments with loose rules in which they let the player do their thing and occasionally reach a goal. If games do not meet this requirement, they do not engage human play and they are not games. Simulations are here to remind us what the difference is between environment and game. You want to shoot your gun, fly that plane or race that car without someone bothering you.

Also, if you buy more simulation games, this genre becomes more attractive to develop, giving the market more reminders on how an environment should be made. This makes restrictive games less attractive, because statistics will show simulations are sold more. You don't have to play your collection of simulations for this to have effect. You will have tweaked the statistics and have something to fall back on when you see the next FPS disaster coming along.

Panic and fear come from not being informed. Fear turns into anger and that is what you see at every big release of game schlock that still seems to sell. People don't know why it is popular and can not give an alternative for it. That's why you have to buy and play simulations. You'll have knowledge of what is wrong with the schlock, you'll immediately have an alternative and you cranked manager's statistics more favourable to intelectual classiness. If you miss flying games, play DCS A10-C warthog, if you hate Call of Duty, go play ARMA2 and DayZ, and if you want to know how you REALLY make a zombie game, go play Trains vs Zombies 2.

No comments:

Post a Comment