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Joe Cooper

Simulators are no so void as games. I've been thinking about this a bit lately due to one of your previous posts (don't remember which) but I observed an argument on the internet once between users of Celestia and players of Orbiter. I'll summarize it like this:

Celestia user: "Orbiter pretends to have physics, but they're not really physics, it's newtonian physics and they're even inaccurate cause of the limits of computer simulation." (it isn't practical for Orbiter sim to perfectly model solar system scale flight physics, in fact it's very difficult, so it fails to do so perfectly)

Orbiter player: "I don't care, I like orbiter"

This hints at the difference, one that Celestia user in question doesn't see and the Orbiter player can't articulate. Orbiter is constrained by rules.

Celestia lets you look at things and look at planets and such. It's a planetarium.

Orbiter restricts you to a vehicle with finite fuel, thrust, a strict set of actions governed by rules. It's a simulator.

Celestia lacks this restriction, so the Celestia user in question doesn't see why he'd want it, while the Orbiter player is bored without it.

While it's absolutely the case that Orbiter doesn't have designated "win" states and provided goals, it does allow for death, and the ability to (with planning and work) achieve one state from another.

All sims I've encountered fulfill this, and this is enough for the player to make up a goal and achieve a win in a somewhat deformalized way. His win isn't validated by the machine, but it is a win nevertheless. I've had a multiple great experiences playing X-plane, Orbiter and Jane's F-15E sim and they 100% felt like wins, some very thrilling and stressful.

It's certainly clear that some people, often programmers want to treat everything in a simulationist manner (though these days tower defense seems to be The Thing To Do) and this is usually not appropriate.

But I think it's worth pointing out that simulations do work as games because the people that play them fill in the blanks in terms of constraints, challenges, goals and rules. Like action figures.


The problem with game worlds that reset is that you risk loosing a very large portion of your players each time you reset. So although harder to design and maintain, persistent game worlds are usually more engaging and create more value both for the players and the game world developer.



Agreed. The main issue is that not all kinds of world can be sustained in that way. There is no such thing as World of Chesscraft :)

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