Simulation Robin Burke GAM 224
Outline • Admin • Rules paper • Play paper • Simulation
Rules paper • Grades • A: - • B: BBB++-- • C: CCC-- • D: DD
Rewrites • Must • RW grade or • C- or below • May • anybody • but grade is not guaranteed to go up • Cannot • if no original paper • Rewrite due date • 3/7 • Must submit original graded assignment • and new hard copy • As well as to turnitin.com • Grading • (2 * rewrite_grade + original_grade) / 3 • example: Rewrite = A, Original = C- • (2*4 + 1.67) / 3 = 3.22 = B / B+
Problems • Citation • Correct • Grand Theft Auto III Rockstar Games, 2001, Playstation 2. • Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004), 390. • Blizzard Entertainment, "Honor System F.A.Q" http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/pvp/honor-system-faq.html. (Accessed 5 February 2007.) • Incorrect • anything else • 2nd citation • none necessary for the game • Salen and Zimmerman, 232. • "Honor System F.A.Q" • Unsupported assertions • "World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG ever." • Might be true • needs to be supported with a citation – according to whom?
Thesis • More specific is better • Blah • "Halo 2 shows a lot of emergence." • Better • "The weapons systems in Halo 2 are tightly coupled with many aspects of the game generating emergent gameplay at both the strategic and tactical levels." • In many cases • the conclusion of the paper contained a good thesis statement • grab this and put it in front
Focus • Do not "brain dump" • the description of the game's premise • should be just enough to get the reader started • should focus on those areas that matter for your argument • Example • Unfocused • "Madden has rules about .... [2 pages of description]" • Focused • "The main conflicts in Madden are set up by the standard rules of NFL football and the operational rules for controlling the game.... [2 or 3 paragraphs about these rules]" • Warning sign • Your paragraphs are too long • 10 lines maximum • otherwise you probably don't know what your point is • Many papers had this problem
Focus cont'd • A 5-page paper is very short • You cannot argue persuasively for more than one or two points • Many papers tried to do too much • every conflict in a game • every game theoretic decision • Pick the most significant points that support your case • argue them in depth with concrete examples from the game • Don't slavishly follow my outlines • if it doesn't apply, don't mention it
Proofreading • The spellchecker is no substitute for human judgment • their (belonging to them) • there (location reference)
#1 Tip • Read your paper out loud • You will learn • if your overall argument holds together • if your syntax is garbled • if you are rambling on and on • if your transitions are abrupt
Schemas • Emergence • ≠ finding two object coupled together • ≠ complex gameplay • you are looking for a system in which one object / behavior / variable is highly coupled to many other things • you are looking for the whole being greater than the sum of the parts • if the parts are themselves complex, it is a tougher argument • Game theory • ≠ finding decisions that balance risk / reward • what is the larger system of such decisions? • how does the player learn about the risks and rewards? • Conflict • ≠ identifying one or two types of conflict that are present • what is the system of conflict? • how do different types of conflict interact? • Information • ≠ what forms of information there are • what is the underlying system of hiding and revealing? • what are the costs/payoffs of learning something?
Play paper • Due in two weeks • 2/19 • No rewrites • Schemas • Experience • Pleasure • Meaning • Narrative • Simulation • Social Play
Simulation • Games simulate real-world activities • sports games • racing games • historical games • Central idea • mapping between the game and the real-world activity
Simulation II • Games also simulate fantasy and fictional activities • any RPG • most FPS • Central idea • mapping between the game and...
Imaginary realism • Games (like other fictional creations) • require "willing suspension of disbelief" • we agree to be lied to • (why is that?) • We expect of a realistic game • that it be internally consistent • we expect "physical" laws to be the same everywhere • that its deviations from our consensus reality to be explained • we can learn what "physics" is in this world
Mapping • Simulation is a mapping between • a representation in the game • an aspect of reality or some imagined reality • The mapping will be incomplete • the game may leave out inconvenient or boring parts • the game may include improbable situations for gameplay reasons • Example • realistic healing from wounds is slow • an announcement is heard on the radio just when you come in the room • you can't take over enemy buildings, you have to destroy them
Mapping cont'd • The mapping will be inexact • the game may exaggerate the physics for effect or gameplay • the game may (will) abstract from physical reality for practical reasons • Example • basketball players jump incredibly high • crates can be destroyed but not doors or walls
Basic fact • All physics is simplification • complex multi-body physical simulations are too slow • reality is chaotic • limits to what can be rendered graphically
Example: Halo • What happens when a grenade explodes? • do we simulate the ignition and rapid oxidation of explosives, pressure waves, metal shear and shrapnel trajectories? • do we simulate concussion injuries, soft tissue damage, and bone trauma?
Game physics • Physics = the evolution of the game state • we want the player to feel as though there is a real world in the game • the game state must be complex • its evolution must seem natural • the player's control over it should seem natural
Natural? • Games are profoundly unnatural • Aliens? Psychic powers? Controlling a civilization over centuries? • Imaginary realism • whatever is natural in the game world context • Game physics • may have nothing to do with Newton's physics • or they may be very selective in applying such physics
Simulation focus • Games differ on where they focus their simulation effort • Some areas of the game will be simulated more closely than others • Example • execution aspect of fighting games not much like real fighting • exception: "Fight Night" • Battlefield 1942 weapons modeled realistically • but ability and role of a given soldier not realistic
Simulation focus cont'd • It is easy to criticize a game for not being realistic in some way • The question is • where are the areas where the design sought realism? • where is it omitted? • what are the consequences for meaningful play?
Example • Grand Theft Auto III
Scripting • When there is a fixed stereotyped response to an action in the game • we say it is "scripted" • As opposed to "simulated"
Example • Designer decides what should happen when a grenade explodes • x amount of damage to all units within certain radius • x/2 damage within a larger radius • leaves a certain "stencil" on the floor or wall • Simplifying the actual physics
Example • Locked door in Zelda • If player ties to go through locked door with key in inventory, the door opens and key is used up • Simplifications • Doors are logical, not physical barriers • Cannot be battered down, blown up, removed from hinges • Locks cannot be picked
Advantages of scripting • Much, much faster • to apply a simple rule than to run a physical simulation • Easy to write, understand and modify
Disadvantages of scripting • Limits player creativity • Players will try things that "should" work • based on extensive physical intuition • Will be disappointed if they don't • Game will need many scripts • predicting their interactions can be difficult • complex debugging problem
Simulation • Will still be a simplification • Represent the quantities of interest • represent the forces that act on them • create physical laws for the game world • evolve the game state according to these laws
Example • Half-Life 2 • models weight of objects • models physical forces • can create puzzles involving moving objects of different weights • the "gravity gun" allows any movable object to become a weapon
Benefits of simulation • More player options • Designer doesn't have to anticipate every way to do something • Physical laws reusable • Do not have script every object • Can build (or buy) generic physics engine • Half-Life 2: Havok 2
Disadvantages of simulation • Speed • extensive simulation may make the game too slow • Memory • game state may become much larger • Testing • difficult to test all possibilities
Design decision • How much to simulate? • Where player creativity is important • Where realism is important • Where a simple enough model can be built • What level of detail is required? • depends on the constraints of the game • always a computational cost
Example • Action adventure scenario • How do guards respond to player? • Script • when player enters room, guards converge and attack
Simulation #1 • Proximity concept • Model radius to guard • when player takes a step, sound is heard over certain radius • if guard is within radius and in room, guard will converge and attack
Simulation #2 • Stealth concept • Model sound propagation to guard • when player takes a step, volume of sound is calculated based on level of stealth, floor material, etc. • sound is propagated through room and attenuated based on room contents • guards receive sound signal and if loud enough to reach attention, they will move in the apparent direction of sound
Simulation #3 • Unified level concept • Model sound propagation through larger space • same as #2, but in 3 dimensions, through floors, etc.
Simulation #4 • Psychology of alertness • Model guards' attention • same as #3, but guards have multiple alert states. • A single low-intensity noise will increase their alert state. • Over time, the alert state decays but not completely
Level of detail • As we add more simulated detail • we add texture to the player's decisions • but we add complexity to the program • we may impact the play experience in unexpected ways • We have to decide as designers • what is important for the game's impact
The role of simulation • "Immersive fallacy" • the best game is one in which the player feels that they are totally immersed in a simulated world • emphasizes only a certain aspect of the game experience • Realism is only one aspect of a game's experience • it has to be weighed against other design criteria
Realism over all? • Would "Wind Waker" be better if it had realistic (non-cell shaded) textures? • Would NBA Street be better if its player physics were accurate? • Would Katamari Damacy be better if the objects and people were more detailed? • Would Half-Life 2 be better if you couldn't carry an unrealistically large arsenal? • Would GTA be better if there were child pedestrians and moms with strollers?
Wednesday • Social play, Ch. 28 • Card game design draft due • Next Monday (2/12) • Quiz #2: Play • Wednesday week (2/14) • Card game presentations