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Playing Smart: Why Realism Is Not Always the Answer

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Old 12-07-2008, 01:45 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by born_bad
I don't see why realism has to = difficult controls (as the article kind of implies and states repeatedly). For me, the ideal sports game would have simple controls (something like NHL 09), but yet what I see on the screen would be as close to real as possible. I don't think making the controls complicated, or giving the player complete control over ever little nuance, is the ticket to realistic sports games. I don't see why a baseball couldn't produce more realistic results (higher pitch counts, foul balls, less HRs, etc.) with NES-style simple controls, if it was programmed to be more realistic.

I think the mistake some of the developers are making are making the games too complicated. I shouldn't have to practice isomotion moves for hours to pull off a spin move. It should be a simple as a button press, but the key to making it realistic is coding it so only guys that can actually pull it off in real life can pull it off in the game. If you try it with someone who doesn't have those skills, there should be a realistic consequence for it. That's where games get it wrong, I think. There's not enough of a negative consequence for unrealistic play.

Madden is also getting it wrong, I think with all the complicated pre-snap controls all the controls for moves while running (R stick, buttons, shoulder buttons, etc.) Why can't it just be something as simple as I run with the left stick and the game is coded so that guys that are good at breaking tackles will occasionally and realistically break tackles? It would still feel satisfying and rewarding, I believe, without me having to try and manually string together a bunch of commands to do it.

I *hated* MLB2k's game last year. The pitching controls are horrible, IMO, and still don't accomplish what they were going for: making it feel like throwing different pitches. Again, I think pitching should be as simple as a button press, but the game AI determines based on player ratings how accurate, fast, how much movement, the pitch has. You still manually aim, but if you don't have the best pitcher in the world, don't expect the ball to go where you want 100% of the time. To me, that is more "sim" than having to perform all kinds of crazy motions on the R stick to throw a curve ball. I just want to see realistic animations and results on the screen; I don't need to try and emulate what throwing a pitch feels like on the controller somehow for the game to feel "realistic."

So, in summary, I think realism in sports games would be appreciated by "sim" and "casual" fans alike, if they can make the controls simple, yet fun to play, while yielding realistic scenarios, and causing realistic negative consequences for unrealistic play.
Great great post man....this is full of AWESOME thoughts overall....again great job
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Old 12-07-2008, 01:56 AM   #10
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only a small percentage of folks want a true sim experience.

For most folks playing season mode or a franchise mode is as far as theyll want with a sim experience. Most these folks want to bash as many homeruns on their way to a world series. They want to hit as many threes as possible, have the best highlight dunks, and possibly assemble a dynasty team with all the elite players while going 82-0 on their way to a Championship. The same can be said for Football, Hockey, etc.

Balance in game development is the key. which is what the author said, so I agree with him.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:18 PM   #11
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realism is the key to me buying games. i hate unrealistic easy games. I never start playing a game on an easy level. NCAA football i started on all american and after one season in dynasty i moved to heisman.... yea i lost but o well.... I think the problem now adays with gamers is they put too much emphisis on winning all the time. Its ok to loose because i promise you will learn more about the sport and what plays work and what doesn't through a lose then a win. simple unrealistic games have ruined this generation of gamers. These gamers are spoiled sports and will ruin the experience for everyone in the future. the sooner people learn to loose with dignity the sooner everyone will have fun.

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Old 12-07-2008, 03:29 PM   #12
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I think the concept of "realism" is mis-interpreted by gaming companies. As mentioned before, companies make the controls entirely too difficult in order to make it "realistic."

Here is what they are missing and here is what I think is essential to realism:

Animations and Physics. If gaming companies would get this right, their controls could be simple and user-friendly and realistic RESULTS would ensue.

What I mean by animations and physics is never seeing the same thing twice, like what NaturalMotion is trying to do with that backbreaker game. Regardless of how you feel about that game, they have the right IDEA.

Take NCAA Basketball 09 and NCAA Football 09. Both games are seriously flawed, not beacuse of their stats or their stadium representations. They are flawed because of canned animations (it's pathetic that these are still in 'next-gen' games), and questionable physics.

If the companies spent most of their time with animations and physics, then everything would essentially fall into place. Also, with realistic animations and physics, companies would not have to over-compensate for bad animations and physics with sliders and what not, things will take care of themselves.

The one other thing I think these companies are missing the boat on is that if they want to make games that allow users to smash 100 Home Runs in a season or rush for 3,000 yards in a season, or drill 45 threes in a game, why do they not implement two game modes? Maybe make the default game mode "arcade" and then allow the user to select a "simulation" mode as well, and then the user, in each mode, would have sliders to adjust the difficulty.

I think if companies focused more on animation and physics and creating SEVERE negative consequences for unrealistic play, they would run away with the market.

One more quick thing on this: I refuse to play NCAA Football 09 online anymore because I am so sick of facing West Virginia or any other super-spread team EVERY SINGLE TIME I play with Pat White running unrealistically aroudn the pocket and firing deadly-accurate bullets on the run, or breaking 17 tackles on his way to a touchdown. It's irritating and takes away from the gameplay. If some people can legitimately run a spread effectively and play realistically, then please, play as West Virginia and kick my @$$. Otherwise, play as Texas Tech and throw every down. That's what I'm talking about. If people want to run around the pocket all the time, they should be penalized by getting sacked constantly or by throwing extremely innacurate passes that are thrown to no one or intercepted.

Realistic Animations and Physics would take care of this problem and would strongly eliminate "cheesing." The issues do not just rest with football, but with every single sport.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:38 PM   #13
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Re: Playing Smart: Why Realism Is Not Always the Answer

Originally Posted by MMChrisS
Great great post man....this is full of AWESOME thoughts overall....again great job
Thanks. It was actually something I had been thinking about lately (probably because of my disappointment with series I used to love: MLB and NBA2k, mainly because of the controls), so it was kind of a coincidence to see this topic show up here.
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Old 12-07-2008, 10:46 PM   #14
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This article illustrates perfectly why I chose Live over 2K this year.

I would concede that 2K has the better simulation. But I found it too hard to play!

It's fine for hardcore gamers. But not for those who just want to relax after work etc.

For the first time in years I have been able to hand a controller to my visiting mates and we can both enjoy a game of basketball.

Having said all that 2K is the dominant forum here and is outselling Live by a fair margin. Obviously the reward is there for those that have the time to devote to it, because a lot of people are playing it.

It seems to me there are two main groups that play sports games (and most of us sit somewhere in the middle of these two)...

The ones described in the article, those who do it to unwind etc... (casual)

and those to whom it is a way of life and can overcome those learning curves to reach their digital sporting nirvanas. (hardcore)

Anyway enough waffling. Great article.

Easier controls and more realism! Yeah!

(please note: the above "Yeah!" is a James Hetfield 'Yeah!")
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Old 12-08-2008, 12:46 AM   #15
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what developers really need to work on is setting the difficulty levels in terms of arcade, casual, and hardcore(sim) this would work perfectly with madden. you set your "preset" way of play and then allow the IQ system to set your sliders..or if you are more of a simmer, allow you to tweak sliders to your liking.

On controllers, i agree some games are getting crazily difficult. games like FIFA and NBA 2k are difficult for myself to play because of the sheer amount of moves and various motions that make them. back when i was a kid, i was able to remember every fatality, combo, and special move for every mortal kombat 2 &3 characters. now that i'm an adult and out in the real world, its hard to memorize stuff like that with work, family, and other personal things that require your daily attention.. its a fine balance though.. making a game easily playable with intuitive controls and at the same time, making it as sim as possible. because at some point, the AI or another person is bound to figure out your weakness like they technically should..its a never ending circle
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Old 12-08-2008, 02:04 AM   #16
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The developers tinker with behind the scenes sliders on every game they make. Why can't they just give us a couple options... like "Casual" vs "Sim" and then leave it up to the buyer to play what they want.

Like with a basketball game there's more dunks and 3pt shots on Casual where as in SIM you're having to play smart D, Call plays, let things develop like you'd see in a college or Pro game.

This goes for most sports...

Casual has the game more slanted in favor of the USER to make it pick and play fun... where as SIM would be based upon Stats instead like you see with MLB The show and NBA 2k9.

Why must the developers appease to the casual crowd when over the course of 2yrs you could have your game revamped too make both Casual and SIM owners happy by having 2 separate experiences on the Disc?

And if we look at Sales Numbers... NBA 2k9 and NHL 09 - the two games that are talked about as being more SIM - are the sales leaders in their sports category.

I can dream....
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