View Full Version : Wrong approach to realism?

Dagobahn Eagle
05-16-2004, 07:56 PM
Wrong approach to realism?
Wheel tracks, water reflections, 3D explosions, shadows, sparks, clouds, visibility, weather, 32 sound channels… the feature list goes on and on. “This”, the reviews proclaim, “is the most realistic game of all time”. But is life-like graphics and sounds really what make a game realistic?

UFO or X-Com 1: Enemy Unknown is a game from the eighties that features by-now outdated, 2-dimensional graphics and ditto sound. The resolution is low. And the sprites don’t move very realistically… to say the least. Still, I consider the ancient game to have the most realistic engine ever made. In-game you can have your soldiers do just about anything, from taking cover behind a hedge or in a field of particularly high grass, to blowing away house walls, street lamps, post boxes, hedges, trees, and even whole hills. Every soldier in the game is unique: Firing and throwing accuracy, Time Units (the amount of actions that can be carried out every turn), Bravery, Health, and other statistics are different for every soldier. Even tanks have their differences: Armour takes damage from hits, so a tank in a firefight with two entrenched aliens can suddenly find itself with a severely weakened front armour, leaving the player to have to “offer” the side armour to the aliens.

After a while you no longer notice that the graphics are unrealistic or that the game is not 3-dimensional. The soldier-sprites crouched behind the hedge-sprites aren’t computer graphics but real soldiers behind a real hedge, one who has taken a hit to her right arm, severely reducing his accuracy with her trusty old Rifle, and has nevertheless just removed the pin from a grenade. The other one looks from side to side for eneny snipers. The wounded one is Lisa Johnson, an experienced captain who has been in 7 successful battles and killed 23 aliens. Her team-mate, Tommy Lang, is just a near-panicked rookie out on his first mission, carrying only his Pistol after having dropped his Rifle in a panic. Nearby, behind him in the grass, lies the corpse of Ensign Lee “Choker” Wilson. To Wilson’s right, a large patch of grass is on fire from a Heavy Cannon’s incendiary shell, spewing obscuring and tranquillising smoke and burning anyone who tries to walk through. It also lights up the area surrounding it, however, giving the X-Com operatives a bit of a better vision.

You know there’s an alien somewhere on the far side of the hill beyond the barn, but you can’t look over the hill -thus the Grenade to flatten the hill and hopefully kill that Sectoid bastard. Pity you can’t take him alive -you need prisoners to interrogate, and this one just could be high-ranking. Now, the hills, Grass, craters, and smoke around your soldiers aren’t visually anywhere near the ones in Empires or Call of Duty, but they are all so “alive”, each affecting the game in their own way. Oh, and speaking of Empires…

Your detachment is on the move. Your troops can see through trees and hills, and your tanks, unlike the Heavy Weapon Platforms in UFO, cannot provide cover: If an enemy unit gets in range, he can fire at the troops, almost without any regard as to what’s in the way. And there’s no Aimed Shot, Snap Shot, or Auto-Shot: Every attack removes an equal amount of “Hit Points”, which, until they are completely drained, do not affect the soldiers at all. You pay no attention to the bushes and rocks because all they do is give you something to look at. Whether the scenario takes place at day or night doesn’t matter: The Line of Sight of the soldiers remains the same. You can train thousands of soldiers, but they are all identical in look, voice, and performance. There’s just “three Tommies” instead of Ensign “Choker”, Captain Liz and Tom. Medics can heal troops while walking and without even touching them.

There’s no grabbing your Medi-Kit out of your backpack and leaving your cover to run into the open field to the unconscious comrade while getting fired upon by an alien’s Plasma Pistol. All Tommies have a Rifle with infinite ammunition, rather than a clip in the Rifle and another in the belt as well as a Medi-Kit, a Chemical Flare, and a grenade, all purchased and paid for before the mission and placed in the newly created General Stores of your base before being loaded by you onto the good ol’ Skyranger troop plane. Craters in Empires are realistic, but have no effect on the game whatsoever. Hills and bushes don’t do anything to provide cover or hinder movement.

I’ve never believed that graphics add much to a game’s realism. I don’t really care if Call of Duty looks real: It feels like just another game because of the fact that one single soldier can kill a hundred single-handedly (although it does deserve some credit for the scenarios where tanks blow apart walls). Rogue Squadron III looks great, but it’s so shallow and simplified that you don’t feel like you’re in the Star Wars universe at all (unlike in the atmosphere-filled TIE Fighter). Realism isn’t in graphics; it’s in detail. While Empires rules, I’d gladly pay its price for a new version of UFO or Battlecruiser Millenium Gold Edition, with full 3D graphics and realistic sounds (as well as some bug fixes and, in Battlecruiser’s place, a more user-friendly interfasce.) The simple reason is that I’d rather control a squad of 14 humans than an army of a thousand personality-stripped clones. And because good graphics and sounds are the only things X-Com is missing.

Game developers, in my opinion, are going the wrong way when developing realism in new games. Graphics are to be improved, and the number of units on the screen and number of players in the same game should be as high as possible. Don’t get me wrong: I love Battlefield 1942 and Empires both. But the higher the number of units, the less realism and loss of immersion. Which is most likely why people prefer to buy unique, hand-made wooden eating utensils instead of factory-made ones. And why Dungeons&Dragons is such a best-selling game…

-Øyvind ”Midgard Eagle” W., Woad Creations.
V-E, 2004
913 words. 6 typos before correction. Typo ratio (words/typos): 0,006.[/size=1]

Notes: Originally an essay intended for strategical and tactical games, it should still be interesting for first-person players to read. I'm very interested in hearing your views.

Eagle Warrior
05-16-2004, 07:59 PM
i think it will be really realistic the game is still be working on and it will still have to be fixed and tested and redone

05-18-2004, 11:27 PM
Interesting essay. I too prefer a good atmosphere to awesome graphics.

Although everything you say is true, I don't think SWBF will have a very good atmosphere or be very deep. It will only go as far as BF1942 and VietNam can but both of those can be very deep when you play with the right people.

Since we're writing stories...

Operation Battleaxe(BF1942 map, one that I hate but had the greatest game ever)

We were running toward an enemy bunker to clear it out. All 6 of us. 2 medics(I was one of them), 2 assaults, an anti-armor soldier and an engi.
We never expected it. MGs are firing on us. Everyone runs to cover. One of the assault is calling for a medic. He's injured. I call in covering fire, my companions all stand up and start firing on the enemy MG positions.
I run to my injured friend to heal him as fast as I can. Enemy MG gunner has been snipe, we can finally keep going.
We're about 20 feet from the bunker and planning our assault. The first wave will consist of an assault with a medic running close behind. The others will cover them with whatever they can. Scouts looking through their binoculars give us the green light to start the attack.
My two companions start their run. Me and the other assault get up on one knee and scan the area. Suddenly, and enemy tank surges out of nowhere. My two companions up ahead stand no chance. They are easiy blown up, their bodies shredded by the single tank shell that blew their life away.
We go back into hiding behind the rocks that can cover us from the tank shells.
The scout confirms that the tank is scanning our position. Our anti-armor soldiers are pinned down. We won't get out of this alive.
That is until we see a spitfire flying around. I immediately radio for help. The spitfire swoops down and blows up the tanks with a single bomb to the rear. The way is clear.
This time, a single soldier will be able to take the bunker. Being the last remaining medic, I was instructed to stay and protect the anti-armor and engineer. The assault was going in. We waited anxiously to see if he was succesful. Thankfully, he was. We all move toward the bunker and hid behind it. Tanks and enemy troopers were still coming in from the west.
Our small numbers could not stop them. The engineer started laying mines around the bunker. The anti-tank hid behind a rock where he could easily ambush an approaching enemy tank. We were stuck trying to defend our position against a much larger army. Reinforcements could not come, they were stuck fighting on the western part of the battlefield.
We sat there waiting for an enemy to come. Finally, they were coming. We started spraying on them all we could. We went prone, got up and fire, went prone again to reload and got up again to fire on the advancing enemy hordes. Tanks started moving down on our positon. We could not hold it any longer. I look at my three companions.
I cannot help but feel bad for them. They have fought so hard to get here yet were going to lose the position. I told the anit-armor and the assault to throw whatever grenade he had left and we went for a kamikaze attack on the enemy...
The engineer held them off for a little while longer but that was all he could do.

The best BF1942 game and best MP game I ever had...

05-19-2004, 03:26 AM
You might be interested in this article from E3 (http://www.gamespot.com/news/2004/05/17/news_6098654.html), which discusses (briefly) the issue of content over graphics. Some leading people in the industry are already recognising that graphics alone cannot make a great game - it has to be about the content.

I agree with this standpoint, because I've always placed gameplay before graphics. That's not to say that graphics are not an important part of the game. Things like weather and shadows can certainly build a different atmosphere in a game, while certain other effects can add to 'realistic environments' that aid immersion. There's nothing wrong with that, as long as it adds to the gaming experience.

Of course, the mistake that some developers have made is that they've focused on graphics and expected it to form the core of the gaming experience. That simply doesn't work.

So I agree that game mechanics should be more detailed, and cater for a wider range of scenarios and actions. This is one of the reasons why I liked Deus Ex so much - it gave you micro-management of your character, had locational damage where you could choose which parts of yourself to heal, a decent inventory which limited what you could carry, multiple pathways and solutions to problems. The list goes on. The graphics obviously look dated now, but the gameplay is there in spades. They focused far too much on the graphics for the sequel, and made some quite poor design decisions in an attempt to 'appeal to a wider market'.

Anyway, a comparison between a game like X-COM and Battlefront would be unfair. Battlefront really has an MP emphasis, so the quality of the gameplay is obviously dependent on the people playing it. If you can get a good solid team working together, then you can have experiences like lukeiamyourdad described. The rest is down to the game mechanics, and what it allows: things like locational damage, calling for air strikes, different types of equipment that can be used, etc. In those terms, I hope they've thought about it enough to include all of those details that can have a considerable effect on the gameplay.

As others here know I'm a fan of Enemy Territory, which is a great team-based, class-based objective-based game. When you're working with a good team, you all really assume the roles you've chosen. People cover each other's backs. Medics constantly sort out the wounded - because when you get shot down, you don't automatically die and respawn. You can lie there waiting for assistance, which lends an air of 'realism'. Regular soldiers cover the backs of those with panzerfausts or heavy machine guns, engineers and medics. Others keep you resupplied with ammunition.

When you are playing with a poor team, there's no coordination. You can find yourself alone and exposed, medics run past and ignore you when you're wounded, the ammo guys only resupply themselves, those with panzerfausts try running straight at the enemy like rambo, etc. In short, you get a chaotic mess where everyone keeps dying because they're doing the wrong things.

That's why I think it's so important for people to know exactly what every class does, and people playing certain classes take those roles more seriously while considering the whole team.

Anyway, Star Wars Battlefront looks good, but it's not the 'best looking' game out there. Hopefully that means they're trying to strike a good balance between acceptable graphics and good gameplay. The rest is up to the players.

05-19-2004, 06:18 PM
My view on video game realism in star wars games is what I call star wars realism. I could care less about a video game looking exactly like star wars off a dvd. I want battlefront to stay close to the 6 films as possible. I can not stand expanded universe material added to star wars games like e-wings, v-wings, darktroopers, etc. That is what made Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds and Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds Clone Campaigns so bad.

05-19-2004, 07:16 PM
Way to post really long posts, top three people. I only read luke iamyourdad's. it was good. sounded like fun. It gave me a good idea for the game. Be Vanguard unit, then tell the key members of my squad to go on, while me and a soldier say back and just kill anyone who comes behind us. Sounded like fun, luke. an interesting read.

05-19-2004, 09:29 PM
Thank you though I consider Dagobahn's text far better then mine. His was an essay and mine just stuff I wrote at 11:00 pm...and very tired.

I was playing on a public server and what we did was VERY rare. I usually can't coordinate people like that time. It was one of the only time people actually listened to what others said.
Most of the time is every man for himself. Don't expect most of your Battlefront games to be well coordinated.
Unless we create a forum clan...hmmm interesting.

I used to play ET a lot too and most of the time(unless I was playing with my friend) I was running alone...

05-19-2004, 09:38 PM
luke, join hire on demand, it looks real cool. Im joining that oen, and so is my friend. I imagine swbf will be alot like paintball. Everyone is shouting orders, but people rarely listen. Everyone thinks they know better, and end up 'dead' oh well, its not gonna rain on my parade.

05-19-2004, 09:43 PM
no join the rebels

05-19-2004, 09:47 PM
huh? oh, your clan. cause HOD is all clans, but mostly clones and rebs. cause its good to switch factions so you can get used to each.

05-19-2004, 10:11 PM
Well I already sent my application for IEF so...I think I'm allowed to join another clan. I'll see if I'm refused there then I'll join HOD

As for REB, It's PS2 only if I'm correct and I'm going PC all the way so :cool:

05-19-2004, 10:28 PM
IEF seems real good, too. For some reason, I like HOD best, but I mean, IEF would be my third choice. seconhd would be REBELS, cause I have a ps2, but HOD and IEF seem like the best cland, no offense to rebelcommander

05-20-2004, 12:55 AM
Originally posted by yaebginn
Way to post really long posts, top three people.

Mine wasn't a long post. When I come across an issue that deserves a long post, you will learn the true meaning of the Force Long Post. Some have to be split into two simultaneous posts, because I exceed the post length limit. :D

05-20-2004, 12:56 AM
This game will be no super duper realistic game in the ways that really make something seem real. Lacking perfect realism doesn't make a game worse, just different. Games that seem real are often very grea,t but just because a game isn't like that doesn't make it inferior. I understand the original poster's views, but I think when they say "real" they mean "real looking," since from all the stuff you said you point out that it's not effects and details that make a game "real feeling."

Eagle Warrior
05-20-2004, 07:35 AM
Did oyu see in the movie the clones go flying backwards. When there was an explosioj realism.:D

05-20-2004, 08:27 AM
Originally posted by StormHammer
Mine wasn't a long post. When I come across an issue that deserves a long post, you will learn the true meaning of the Force Long Post. Some have to be split into two simultaneous posts, because I exceed the post length limit. :D
you're scaring me

05-20-2004, 09:16 AM
Game as far as graphics go is looking good to me. The trailers look wicked sick, and Myrkr looks cool. Oh and X-com was entertaining for it's time, still have it some where.....