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mycroft 03-30-2004 05:21 AM

Accuracy in games
 
This is a topic I've been pondering over. Accuracy in games and whether it matters to the player or not.

I'm seeing situations where developers are taking extra care to inculcate a sense of accuracy in games. Take MoH : Pacific Assault for one, where the devs are firing actual weapons to get a feel for the recoil of individual weapons. Is all this necessary ?

I read a review of The Last Express a few months ago and the reviewer gave the game a hard time on the grounds that it was inaccurate in historical detail. Similarly, a person on this very forum(can't remember who, probably Bastich) complained about the factual inaccuracy in GK1 regarding the snake. The examples are many and can be found all over in different genres. The case of The Last Express review is really ironic, since Mechner and co. obviously took special care to recreate the train and the era. They actually managed to find an abandoned Orient Express car and used it to model the interiors.

Did you care whether Rennes le Château was a real place ? Would you have enjoyed the game just as much had it not been ?

I'd like a statistical analysis of this behaviour, since this is primarily a personal thing. How many of you are turned off by the inaccuracy in games ? Does it matter at all to you ?

Cellardoor 03-30-2004 05:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mycroft
Did you care whether Rennes le Château was a real place ? Would you have enjoyed the game just as much had it not been ?

If Gabriel Knight 3 had been the exact same game even though RLC was simply imaginary, it would have been fine by me. However, I doubt Jane Jensen would have been able to come up with a setting with these kind of unique enigmas herself.

I think it's a well detailed setting that's important to me. A game series like King's Quest is based a lot on fantasty, much of the world is incoherent. A series like Quest for Glory on the other hand, takes place in a setting that is very rich in details. QFG games are accurate, but only in the context of it's own world. This makes playing the games much more "real". Playing a game that's genuinely accurate like GK or Police Quest has the same effect on me.

Ninja Dodo 03-30-2004 06:16 AM

I voted Other.

I agree with Cellardoor that as long as a story is coherent and true to the rules of its own universe it's fine. I really don't mind a little bending of the truth for the sake of better storytelling.

Having said that, I do enjoy a story that brings to life a true historical setting in an accurate way. I absolutely adore Steven Saylor's ancient Roman novels for example. At the same time, I can thoroughly enjoy a film like Gladiator because it captures the spirit of the time, eventhough it seriously alters history.

mag 03-30-2004 06:42 AM

I voted "other" because for me it really depends on the game. A game like Medal of Honor that really sells itself on being a historical game should go to the effort of making sure it's historically accurate. GK was kind of like that too. Even though it's not really a historical game the way that Medal of Honor is, a lot of the story is based on historical events. And I really appreciated the extra effort Jensen went to to keep it historically accurate. It just seems to make the game that much more interesting.

For other games, though, the history isn't really a big factor. It's just something they use to set up the gameplay. I'm not going to complain about the historical inaccuracies in gunning down a robotic Hitler in Escape from Castle Wolfenstein because that's really not the point of the game. It's just for fun.

mag

SOG-Karimi 03-30-2004 07:22 AM

Yes and no.

Yes if its a game that should have some accuracy, like i don't want to see hitler flying in a spaceship shooting down aliens and flying monkeys. But i don't want it so accurate that it gets boring , like in Americas army so many details can hinder the game.

So it depends on the game .

On a side note i didn't like the skeletons in the newest wolfenstein.

LeisureSuitedLooney 03-30-2004 07:26 AM

To me, in answering the question, I wasn't thinking so much about historical accuracy, as "Is this accurate, in that it could be do-able in the game world I'm playing in?" That type of thing can make or break a game for me. In Post Mortem , for example, I really loved that the main character's artistic skills were being used throughout the game. That rang true, to me. But if I'm being asked to believe that a game in a "real-world" setting involves some of the ludicrous puzzles and stilted dialogue I've seen, then the accuracy question really bugs me, because it's noticeable.

On the other hand, since many responses are focussed on historical accuracy in games, I will say this: a really good game of this type, historically accurate or not, will at least have me LOOKING UP further details to find out for myself. The very fact that the game compels me to take that extra step, seems to imply to me that the game was good enough to MAKE me want to take that extra step, whether it turns out to be accurate or not.

doppelganger rex 03-30-2004 09:26 AM

I voted yeah becuase I was just htinking about starting a thred about how innacurate the recoils of guns in most games feel, i mean the developer folk could spend a day on a farm shooting skeet wtiht some ak47s and uzis and proton cannons ( :D ) to get a hang of the twitch, boom, bang, hell, just strap a camera to their head while shooting and see how it moves, you know? Sometimes I don't raelly care but it can helop with fantasy games too, fro example if you know hoeww the shotgun feels you can more aesilly extrapolate a cool feel of a imajinary gun.

Jackal 03-30-2004 09:41 AM

Hmm, I'm not sure which question you're really asking, mycroft. Are you talking about realism or accuracy? Most of your examples are about accuracy, but your reference to Rennes-le-Chateau is a question of realism. There's a difference between inaccuracy and creating fiction.

For accuracy, I'd say it's question of degree for me. If the inaccuracy shows a lack of basic research or a blatant sloppiness, then it shouldn't happen. The more relevant the detail in the game, the greater the need for proper research. Since the weapons in an FPS are absolutely vital to its presentation, then the developers should get it right. As you said, The Last Express was largely based on an actual car, so I'm surprised to hear that its inaccuracy was an issue. But they did their homework, at least, and if they screwed up a few details that only historians would know, so be it.

So screwing up important stuff is definitely BAD. Any details that need to be sacrificed for gameplay are OK by me (that's a realism issue). Trivial, unintentional inaccuracies just make me a little disappointed in the developers, but really don't affect my enjoyment of a game.

Bastich 03-30-2004 11:12 AM

The snake in Gabriel Knight bothered me, because the game is set in modern day, in a real city, in the real world, and is supposed to detail the events of a normal person like you or I, who eventually discovers something supernatural.

What made the mistake so glaringly bad, was that a vital part of the plot of the game hinged on several major inaccuracies about snakes in that real world setting. You actually spend nearly half the game investigating based on this. This was just an example of piss-poor research. Even if it was done on purpose, it is a poor design decision, as it violates the premise of the setting for no good reason.

I did answer "Other" to the poll though, because it depends on the setting of the game and the importance of the objects to the plot as to how far inaccuracy should be tolerated.

The Seed 03-30-2004 11:32 AM

Can someone possibly give a short explanation about "the Snake". I never played GK and have no idea what you guys are talking about.

ragnar 03-30-2004 01:12 PM

If the game has a historical setting, it should be historically accurate. I really detest things when developers makes up "historical" facts just for it to fit their game. On the other hand, I'm not that bothered by small details (like the snake in GK1) or whatever it was that was inaccurate in The Last Express.

AFGNCAAP 03-30-2004 01:39 PM

Other. It's of secondary importance to me. While it's great to keep in mind that game's setting is based on historical or existing location (see GK3), if it means a gameplay as dull as in Cryo edutainment titles, I pass.

Bastich 03-30-2004 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Seed
Can someone possibly give a short explanation about "the Snake". I never played GK and have no idea what you guys are talking about.

Spoiler:
In short, the game starts with a murder and you find a snake scale at the site. Snakes do NOT naturally lose scales. You then spend the first half of the game wandering around trying to get scales from other snakes to compare to the one at the crime scene. Again, snakes do NOT lose scales. In another part of the game, you are constricted by a large snake, and you get free of the snake by turning on a window fan. There is a hint earlier in the game that snakes are very sensitive to vibration to clue you in to this. Of course, the reality is that Gabriel Knight would be dead even if a thousand fans were turned on at once. The snake wouldn't care less. In short, pretty much every single thing about snakes in the game is completely false.

Jony 03-30-2004 02:41 PM

I am going with other...because I belive that games should be mainly about fun...and secondly about learning.

Wormsie 03-31-2004 12:37 AM

I voted yes- meaning "Yes, if I notice it." The snake thing didn't bother me when I didn't know about it, but it will now.

mycroft 03-31-2004 01:58 AM

I know I'll probably get flamed for this.
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Singer
Hmm, I'm not sure which question you're really asking, mycroft. Are you talking about realism or accuracy? Most of your examples are about accuracy, but your reference to Rennes-le-Chateau is a question of realism. There's a difference between inaccuracy and creating fiction.

I believe that realism and accuracy are not unrelated. Accuracy leads to realism in a majority of cases. Take visual accuracy for one, the usage of 256 colours to represent the entities onscreen is relatively less accurate than the usage of millions of colours. The usage of specular highlights to model shiny objects makes them look more real. This increase in visual accuracy directly results in increased realism. Historical/factual inaccuracy is not entirely different. But there is a strong factor at play here...you (obviously) have to know the historical/scientific fact in order to appreciate the realism that the accuracy leads to. However, since we're all used to visual perception, a million coloured entity seems more real than a 256 coloured one to everyone.

The only instance where an increased accuracy will probably inhibit realism(or the suspension of disbelief anyways), is in the case where the game capitalises on cliches. Take Road to India as an example. It features the most inaccurate representation of New Delhi I've ever seen. But since it is known as the mystic land and all, the inaccuracies aid in the suspension of disbelief rather than working against it. I'm sure none of the players would like to see billboards of Pepsi and McDonalds in an exotic land like India.

I agree that the Rennes-le-Chateau question seems rather inappropriate in retrospect. I had the page loaded and it seemed like a good idea at the time. But while looking at the page, I realised that I probably would have appreciated the game a little more had I previously known about Le Serpent Rouge and other subtle enigmas that the game refers to. However, I probably would have also noticed any inaccuracies(liberties that Jensen may have taken for gameplay considerations). The snake scale bothered Bastich because he knew that snakes do not leave scales. People(I, for one) who did not know this fact were not bothered by it.

How do the recoil physics of a WWII gun matter when one does not know how the gun was supposed to perform ? Isn't such accuracy superflous to the unwary player? What good is such accuracy which can only be appreciated by historians or scientists ?

I've read that this year's GDC had the speakers talking about the long development cycles of games. Does this (presumambly redundant) quest for accuracy too have some role to play ?

The point that actually lead me to this was that I was thinking of a game set in the Victorian era. In order to have a proper sense of realism, the game should get most of the major (historical)details right (i.e it should be accurate). The dress, the mannerisms of the people, the architecture, the weather, the coinage, the art, the popular culture, the commerce and economy, the current affairs etc. of the place and the era. But the more I thought about it, the more level of iterations seemed possible. Upto a point when it seemed highly impractical to be concerned about the trivial details. I mean, do players really know the difference between a Florin and a Farthing ? What use is my research into the coinage system prevalent then, when it does not evoke a sense of realism? So I decided to query my fellow gamers (you) about how much they cared for accuracy.

From your responses it is clear that you'd like games to have a coarse-grained sense of accuracy. Yet you'd probably forgive the game if it, intentionally or otherwise, is not accurate in a fine-grained way. It really is a matter of degree. Yet I'd like to play a game that makes the Victorian Era come alive with all its subtle nuances; Florin, Farthing, Sovereign, Crown, Shilling and all...

Actually, I admit that the choices for the poll are rather poor and could've been better.

Reptil3 03-31-2004 02:07 AM

Depends. I felt...strange... when in Broken Sword3, Nicole found shells on the floor. The point is, asassin used revolver, not pistol, so there shouldn't be any fired shells there.
But most of the time I don't care it it's 100% accurate. At least if it isn't something really stupid.

Jackal 03-31-2004 07:50 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by mycroft
I believe that realism and accuracy are not unrelated. Accuracy leads to realism in a majority of cases.

No question, mycroft. Didn't mean to sound like I was implying otherwise. They are definitely related, which is why I felt they needed distinction. I was referring to accuracy as a measurable right/wrong aspect, while realism is more of an overall sense of believability that's open to a little artistic license.

The recoil physics of a historical gun is measurable, though I don't think I've ever played an FPS where one jammed on me or needed cleaning. I'd consider the former to be an accuracy issue, and the latter a realism issue that the developer CHOSE not to implement (though I still think gun jamming is long overdue in shooters. :( )

Quote:

It really is a matter of degree. Yet I'd like to play a game that makes the Victorian Era come alive with all its subtle nuances; Florin, Farthing, Sovereign, Crown, Shilling and all...
Well, you're the writer, my man!! Run with your passions. ;)

James 03-31-2004 08:37 AM

if a game attempts historical accuracy it must substantiate its claims. however, if the game is a period, but is done so casually, then I have no objection to it. the likes of gk3 and bs draw lines between reality and fiction, and if done well do so seamlessly.

Phantom 03-31-2004 09:15 AM

Realism is completely overrated in video games. It's a temporary trend at most that will automatically go away in a while. If I want realism, I'll step out of my door; if I want to have fun, I'll play a computer game. Right now many developers sacrifice good gameplay for realism, but over time they will realize they can make much better games by slightly adjusting reality to fit the gameplay.

The same goes for historical accuracy. If you go overboard on historal accuracy you'll end up with an encyclopedia instead of a good game.


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