Realism in Games
So it looks like I'm running more RPG groups. I hope my storytelling is up to the task. As such, I'll be a bit brief with today's blog. So, without any further ado, let's jump into it.
I've talked about realism in stories, especially in television and movies, and why I think there's a certain line. Basically, so long as it doesn't directly throw the plot off, the more realistic the better. In most situations I'm already being asked to suspend a lot of disbelief, so any help the writer can give me is appreciated. Particularly for a pedant like myself (I have to really keep myself in check during Marvel movies), it's a blessing when the writer takes a little bit of extra time to make the physics of something work properly.
But what about video games? When you're passively consuming a story, like a book or a movie, you're just taking in what you're given, but in a game you're actively crafting that story. Realism starts to become more restrictive in that setting. I'm stretching here, but I recall an old FPS shooter called America's Army. I didn't play it, but my roommates at the time loved it. They said the US Army helped with it and it was supposed to be the most realistic FPS ever. Case in point, if you're shot one time... you're dead.
You might see the issue here and one of the reasons the game didn't continue on into a lucrative franchise. We want gorillas wearing glasses that punch you into next week and large Russian men that eat sandviches and go on killing sprees. Sure, I can enjoy a movie where people die in one shot, but if I'm playing and I go down in one go, I'm going to be a little upset.
I just finished reviewing Farming Simulator 19 for DLH.net and I can safely say it's the most realistic farming simulator I've ever played. Maybe even the most realistic game ever. Well... at least with the farming physics. But that takes a toll. To complete tilling a field can take literal, real-world HOURS. Even with help from AI, things take forever. I described it in my review as a really well-detailed idle game. I think I managed to get through just about all of season 6 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine while playing that game. You absolutely have to have something else to do while playing Farming Simulator 19, because it's so tedious. And, I reckon, that's a testament to how realistic it is.
But does that make it fun? Not to me. Don't get me wrong; I was thankful crops grew to full maturity in a day or two, but that wasn't enough to keep me playing.
So... where do we draw the line on realism? Well, for stories I said it was to the point that it didn't affect the story itself. So maybe for games, make it as realistic as you can until it affects the ability of the player to have fun. No one should have to pull up Netflix while playing your game.
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Keep your eyes open for my debut novel, The Paladin.