Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Games Entertainment

Can Illogical Videogames Still Be Enjoyable? 155

Thanks to Skotos for its editorial arguing that there's a certain level of 'realism' that all games must stick to in order to be enjoyable. The author starts by suggesting: "Bringing realism into a discussion that includes fireballs, trolls, energy swords, blasters, and nanotechnology is, at first glance, totally out of place", but goes on to explain: "Fun [videogame] environments both surprise and reassure us. They surprise us by working on rules that are very different from those of the real world, and reassure us by having an internal consistency and logic that is reminiscent of that we find in the real world." Are there some games which break all rules of logic and still remain addictive?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Can Illogical Videogames Still Be Enjoyable?

Comments Filter:
  • by real_smiff ( 611054 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:20AM (#8157347)
    Fantasy or sci-fi movies can be great fun when they have their own internal logic (Blade Runner) or a disaster when they don't (Matrix 3).

    Now off to RTFA ;)

  • Gaming logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by neostorm ( 462848 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:24AM (#8157363)
    "Are there still games that break all rules of logic ..?"

    I don't know about today, but definitely in the earlier, 2D era there were plenty of games that had at least completely illogical aspects to them. I recall that being a huge draw to games for me. There have been a number of recent articles concerning this very same subject, and while some of these have expressed a desire to see more "realistic" content, I say we should try to hold onto that original nonesense to some extent.
    Take, for example, Super Mario Brothers 3. As far as I know, this is held as the best 2D Mario ever conceived. The game worlds were plentiful, varied, and fresh. But take a moment to look at the actual gameplay, specifically the logic employed in it:
    In order to obtain the powerup that allows mario to fly, one has to first obtain the *leaf* object. One the leaf is obtained, Mario acquires a *racoon skin cap*, and by batting the tail on the hat up and down fast enough, Mario is able to lift off the ground.
    There is a certain logic in this over time as the player is introduced to the game vocabulary, and experience with past platformers gives them added intuition, (like the ability to grasp the concept of powerups and other platform style gameplay).
    However the symbolism involved is just... what? Leaf? Racoon hat? What?


    Of course there is the underlying logic found throughout the game that the article speaks of, and this I can agree on simply because it's a logical assumption in itself to have common and established ways for the game to communicate to the player. Otherwise there will be no progress, and then no one will play it.

    • Re:Gaming logic (Score:2, Informative)

      Upon obtaining the magical leaf, Mario actually transformed into a strange human/raccoon hybrid. [] Of course, that doesn't make it any more logical.

    • by Rhinobird ( 151521 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:42AM (#8157464) Homepage
      When trying to understand Mario logic it helps to eat the mushrooms.

    • The correct way to write "tanooki" is "tanuki".
      In the japanese mythical stories, "tanukis" are creatures with transformation abilities.
    • +4 Interesting?

      You seem to have not understood what this article was all about. The main point you brought up is that a leaf that leads to a racoon suit does not seem to follow any reasonable symbolism in the real world. This type of statement shows a distinct lack of understanding. The article is discussing logical consistencies within a game. The leaf is logically consistent because whenever you get it, you are rewarded with a racoon suit. If you got the leaf and sometimes got a racoon suit and it modifie

    • Re:Gaming logic (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot@cPERIOD ... minus punct> on Monday February 02, 2004 @12:09PM (#8159153) Homepage Journal
      I don't know about today, but definitely in the earlier, 2D era there were plenty of games that had at least completely illogical aspects to them

      The word that you, and whomever wrote this boneheaded article, are looking for is "fantasitc." Not "illogical."

      Mario can fly when he gets the leaf that gives him the racoon cap and tail--this is a fantasic (i.e., "not real") part of the game, not an illogical part.

      An illogical part of the game would be if Mario randomly powered up, depending on some non-understandable syntax.

      Of course, this being /., the fact that "illogical" isn't an antonym of "realistic" won't come across to many people.
    • It never ceases to amaze me how many people fail to make the connection that these are historic Japanese cultural things. How would you expect them to react to a powdered wig that gave you impunity, a burning shotglass with three beans which made any enemy a friend, or a sword which when pulled out of the ground made you the King?

      Just because you haven't read their stories doesn't make their cultural references nonsense. Grow up.
    • Re:Gaming logic (Score:2, Informative)

      by ooby ( 729259 )
      "Are there still games that break all rules of logic ..?"

      No. Not only are there no games that break all the rules of logic, there are no games that break any rule of logic. There never were, and I suspect that there may never be an illogical video game.

      The premise for this is simple. Games are written for state machines. These machines only compute logical commands. Even the highest level programming language must break itsellf into logical machine code. Grabbing a feather to become Racoon Mario may b
    • And due to public outcry, the leaf became a feather in Super Mario World, and the Racoon Tail became a cape.
  • Personally... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by odorf ( 733882 )
    I find the less realistic ones more fun, Zleda, FF7, Mario and such. Games where you can do completly unrealistic things like have mushrooms fall through your head that make you grow bigger, or gamws where you play little songs on instruments and are transported to different places, not everybody likes those kinds of games. But I think they are the best.
  • by Louis Guerin ( 728805 ) <(guerin) (at) (> on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:33AM (#8157416)
    I've gotta go with Spock, really. Logic, even if it's not real-world logic, is a must, because it enables you to actually learn and adapt new strategies to fit a game. A game has to be predictable, not in a plot sense, but in the sense that, once immersed in the game world, you should be able to expect certain reactions and consequences from certain actions.

    There's not much more satisfying than grokking a game's engine or AI or setup well enough to use its own internal logic against it. But in a legitimate way, not cheap exploits like fake-talk or rocket-jumping.

    • "But in a legitimate way, not cheap exploits like fake-talk or rocket-jumping."

      I agree with your entire point up until the rocket-jumping part (and even then I only half disagree). :)
      At first the rocket jump was a cheap exploit, but it quickly became part of the logic for FPS. Many action FPSs now include maps that require rocket jumping to get power-ups (or to get to good camping spots). This wouldn't make sense in a game like Rainbow-6, but it is a required skill in Quake Arena.

  • Chess, Tron, and Warioware.

    silly post.
    • Re:Games (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Crash Culligan ( 227354 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:28AM (#8158122) Journal

      Silly? Maybe, but let's take each of these individually. I bet we can learn something from them anyway.


      Illogical? Chess is such a logical game that it risks being boring. Except for one or two exceptions (en passant captures and castling), each piece's moves are the same throughout the game. The board remains constant. (And while there are variations from Steve Jackson Games [], even they have their own internal logic.)


      That depends which version of Tron you're talking about. The premise of the movie may have been far-fetched, but the arcade game was a collection of minigames. They don't necessarily have to have anything to do with each other; the story serves as a unifying theme.

      The later arcade game Discs of Tron was also very highly logical. It was a shoot-em-up with various challenge elements that had to be dealt with, including barriers appearing across the playing field and varying levels of platform.

      I can't speak for Tron 2.0, but it probably has its own internal logic too. (Would some poster confirm this please?)

      and Warioware.

      Ah, now this is an interesting choice of game to bring up under this topic. Like Tron (the original), it's a collection of minigames. But where Tron has four games, Warioware's number in the hundreds. And it's hard to demonstrate any logic, internal or otherwise, when the games are changing so quickly.

      Or rather, it's hard to find the logic in Warioware until you step back and take a look at the big picture. The mini-games are individual challenges which seemingly have nothing to do with each other. In fact, they seem intentionally disassociated from one another.

      Here's a game to compare it with: Trivial Pursuit. The questions fall into categories, but they don't necessarily have anything to do with one another. The questions aren't the game. The game is an overall test of knowledge. Likewise, in Warioware, the minigames themselves aren't the game. The game is an overall test of mental agility and the ability to switch quickly from one task to another.

      Trivial Pursuit : questions :: Warioware: minigames

      Someone else posted, and I generally agree: the games need some sort of internal logic in order to be comprehensible. In the case of Warioware, though, the game itself is the ability to deal with the apparent illogical barrage of activities.

      • Um dude, if you think the way chess pieces move has any relation to the way things move in reality you need to take like 2 make that 3 steps back from your computer :) Reality has a certain logic. If you are willing to accept that all games follow basic principles of thermodynamics then geis is a logical game :)
  • by MikShapi ( 681808 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:37AM (#8157438) Journal
    The first and foremost rule of SciFi (and fantasy) is exactly this.

    While a SciFi story tells of something that cannot happen in the real world (at least as of the time it is written), it will first set the rules, define what can and cannot be done. This can include adding technology that doesn't exist in the real world, yet-undiscovered scientific discoveries or even completely imaginary impossible concepts such as magic or the force.

    But once the pieces are set, SciFi takes extraordinary care to play fair by those exact rules. The moment this unwritten law is broken, we, the spectators/readers, instantaneously lose interest.

    Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.

    We lost contact with the movie at that moment. It became illogical, according to the rules it itself had set forth. It lost consistency. And in doing that, it lost us. Doing that in any form of SciFi/Fantasy work - whether movie, book or video-game instantly repels the spectator because he cannot put himself in the shoes of th ehero and follow any of the plot when the director/writer throws "Oh yah, we didn't tell you but the hero can destroy all the bad guys instantaneously with a twitch of a finger"-type twists.

    We lose interest. Most SciFi writers/producers are well aware of this, and have been since the birth of the genre. It's anything but new.
    • But once the pieces are set, SciFi takes extraordinary care to play fair by those exact rules. The moment this unwritten law is broken, we, the spectators/readers, instantaneously lose interest.

      Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.

      Playing devil's advocate here, but who says that the writer has to delineate the rules to the reader/watcher/player? The characters were going by what they thought the rules were, and something came along to break the rules, thus keeping things interesting-- and forcing the reader/viewer/player to re-evaluate what the rules are.

      Personally, games that change the rules on you-- like Metroid, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and some of the really old shooters-- are my favorite types simply because it's a challenge to figure out how to adapt to a new situation and scenario. Certainly you can do that in a game like chess or Uno-- but if there's a twist to the rules that doesn't come into play for a little bit, then you have to re-evaluate your entire strategy and gameplay.

      Admittedly, you don't want all the rules changing at once-- there has to be some consistency-- but that's probably what sets a good game aside from a great one. If you think of it that way, then shaking things up every once in a while is a really good thing.
      • Playing devil's advocate here, but who says that the writer has to delineate the rules to the reader/watcher/player?

        I don't think he's saying you HAVE TO, I think his point was, that's generally how successful storytelling works -- and for a reason. Pare it down to the basic elements -- setup, execution, closure. This follows well if you see a game as basically an interactive kind of storytelling. That is probably generally true, even though it's easy to cite exceptions (the old arcade game Qix is a good

      • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @12:14PM (#8159214)
        The writer doesn't have to dilineate the rules to maintain consistency. George Lucas never established exactly what powers 'the Force' conferred on its manipulators, yet no-one was particularly bothered by the much more liberal force use in the prequels.

        What a storyteller must do however, is to provide consistency and plausibility. The Wachowski brothers explained Neo's vaguely defined super-powers in the Matrix as being the result of his ability to manipulate a false-reality through a form of subconscious computer hacking. People accepted this, as they did 'the Force', without a second thought.

        However, at the end of Reloaded, and repeatedly through Revolutions, Neo demonstrated super-human powers even when he was outside of the 'false' reality of the Matrix. Most people felt this 'cheated' them of cinematic weight and emotional investment. Without explanation, without clarification, of why the old rules were able to now be violated, the audience felt as if the change, the surprise, was designed solely to fool them, not to enrich the storytelling experience. This generally arouses naught but contempt in the audience.

        Zion was repeatedly established as being 'reality', as being our world - and accordingly we cringed with the characters from the sentinel onslaught. The humans had only one effective weapon against the enemy, and using it would render them helpless to any second wave.

        Now however, there were mecha, rocket launchers, mystical powers. Hovercraft used mounted weapons to defeat many more sentinels than the relative few that Morpheus could only repel with an EMP. The audience felt foolish that they ever regarded the sentinels as truly dangerous, now that they could be blasted out of the sky by 19th century technology.

        It isn't change itself that offends the audience. It is destructive change, that which retroactively destroys the emotional value of the prior experience.

        Audiences revile at the 'it was all just a dream/game/etc'-style surprise endings (e.g. 13th floor). In those types of situations, the change robs the previous content of cinematic weight. The character we used to care about and root for turns out to be nothing more than an avatar in a game, or a shadow of reality. The audience is essentially instructed that nothing in the story prior to the change mattered in any way. The participants were not real, and were not in real danger.

        This starkly contrasts even fiction in which the unreality of the setting/participants/story is established at the outset. E.g. the Princess Bride, the Neverending Story. We knew that the story was a fairy tale, and were unsurprised when Wesley was allowed to cheat death in a story that otherwise contained no such fantastical diversions.

        Changes in gameplay should be handled according to this well known maxim - changes should be constructive, rather than destructive.

        Constructive changes will be things that do not force the fiction back to square 1.

        A new level may yield a new weapon or new units that change the players tactics - but it should never render the player's previous choices moot.

        Deus Ex shouldn't have a level in which the computer systems are hopelessly alien, effectively destroying any character who chose to specialize in hacking.
        A roleplaying game should not hand-wave a character's capture and enslavement via cut-scene and remove all their equipment and experience -forcing them to start over.
        Those changes would obviate the investment of the player.

        Tetris might have a change that requires players to match blocks of colors to score, instead of making lines. This could be a constructive change to gameplay that would create more depth in gameplay. Yet if this new goal was switched to without any notification to the player, they would be justly pissed off that their carefully constructed Tetris block was not rewarded. The unforseeable, unavoidable change would have destroyed the prior effort of the player.

        Changes can be good. But it, more than most other aspects of storytelling or game design, must be done well to not have a detrimental effect on the experience.
        • As long as your differentiate between changes and revelations, you'll be fine.

          The fact that Neo was in a computer generated world was a revelation. The fact that he could be Super Neo was a revelation. The fact that he can wish Sentinals dead is a change.

        • A quick secondary example to the 'audience feeling foolish that they ever regarded the sentinels as truly dangerous' is Aliens 2, which I saw just after seeing the first one.

          In the first Alien movie, there is only one alien, and its scary as can be. The characters just have no defenses against it and are easily picked off. It is finally killed by Sigourney (sp?) Weaver's character only by luck and ingenuity... and its still hella hard to kill: it dies only after being sucked out into the vacuum of space A
      • Personally, games that change the rules on you-- like Metroid, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, and some of the really old shooters-- are my favorite types simply because it's a challenge to figure out how to adapt to a new situation and scenario. Certainly you can do that in a game like chess or Uno-- but if there's a twist to the rules that doesn't come into play for a little bit, then you have to re-evaluate your entire strategy and gameplay.

        That's very true. I too like games that continue to reveal them
        • In fact, Splinter Cell is a good example of internal inconsistency.

          You play a character who is supposed to be this highly trained black-ops guy...yet he CAN'T CONSISTENTLY HIT A TIN CAN AT TEN YARDS. Unless you use the sniper rifle, of course.

          This basically ruined the game for me...I'd be standing next to enemies and not be able to shoot hit them on the first shot, while they have the ability to hit me repeatedly from thirty or forty yards away. It developed to the point where I was better off grabbing
          • Actually, that's true, but at least Splinter Cell's fair about it. Your aim is consistently hit-or-miss (pardon the pun) from the beginning of the game. I'd argue that the issue you've brought up with Splinter Cell is more of a game balancing issue than a rules issue, as this game (at least for me, since I'm bad at shooters) is more about the sneaking around and hiding in shadows. I actually shoot out lights more often than people when playing it, for example.
          • Were you moving? Did you let the crosshairs sit so Sam could draw a bead? I didn't find the aiming to be all that bad...

            What IS an example, in SC, of bad internal consistancy, is that only some lights can be shot out.

      • by obtuse ( 79208 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @02:11PM (#8160302) Journal
        A game without rules or consistency is called play or perhaps art. Computers don't do this, although they can facilitate it.

        Children make up games that are pretty illogical and inconsistent when playing. I'm remembering playing Dune/spaceship in the disconnected console room of a water treatment plant. It had multiple stations, lots of levers, dials, knobs and guages.

        There are some Calvin & Hobbes cartoons that describe this sort of play beautifully. Google calvinball for examples. Watterson gets it.

        Otherwise, games are defined by rules. Even in games whose rules change as you play, the rules are the game.

        In the childrens play, it's about fantasy and exploring different roles, or just doing stuff. Convenience and other considerations facilitate this, so the dead spring back to life, roles are reversed, time is turned back as needed, and events are replayed until a satisfactory conclusion is reached, or boredom is achieved. Really, even these games have more rules than it appears, it's just that those rules are inconsistent over time, because they change quickly, and without any acknowledgement.

        Art is similar. In art, each piece can have its own dynamic rules. Those rules can be photorealism, or a coloring book page filled in by someone enjoying the color and texture of a red crayon, and ignoring the lines completely. Much art is play.

        This is also why playing games with children can be so exhausting for adults. It can be difficult switching gears so quickly. For kids, each one is in his own fantasy world, and any part of the game that is convenient is ignored, until that becomes impossible.

        "No, I don't want to die. It's your turn to die."
    • "Oh yah, we didn't tell you but the hero can destroy all the bad guys instantaneously with a twitch of a finger"

      He no longer needs the weirding module.
    • I agree to some extent, and maybe I'm wrong to extend this to fantasy also, but usually when it comes to breaking the rules, that is what the story is all about.

      Little guy who was weak, learns new powers, while he learns about the world around him (convienent way for the readers to learn as well). Then you have a few set rules that CANT BE BROKEN, those are they way things are.

      Then the character breaks them, because hes special. To me, that's what happens in the great majority of the books I've read.
      • This is the fundamental difference between science fiction and fantasy. In Science Fiction, the rules may be contrary to our reality, but once they have been defined, the author generally sticks to them. In fantasy on the other hand, the author is always free to break the rules and use Magic as a Deus Ex Machina.
    • Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.

      "Oh, THAT's what the Archectect meant..."

      There was a stated change in the fundamental nature of the hero, followed by a display of said fundamental difference.

      The Matrix was a let-down in Reloaded, not Revolutions. It's literary treason to have one episode/chapter be about accomplishing a goal (save Trinity), and the very next episode have t
      • I think that Trinity died not for a 'heroic sacrifice' reason, but because she was holding Neo back from doing what he had to do. In order to make peace, Neo had to more or less switch sides, and he would never have done it had his last connection with humanity (i.e. his love) had still existed. The heroic sacrifice was Neo's death at the end-- Trinity's death reminded Neo of his goal.

        • Either way, it was a death that was exactly what Ep2 was about preventing.

          The Walchowski brothers tried to be artistic with their ending and make a statement of some kind, and in doing so forgot the most basic rule of mass-media--leave them wanting more. If they wanted to write something with a crappy ending, they should have stuck to comic books.

    • Try and remember how you reacted in Matrix: Revolutions when we found out Neo can make a quadgizillion sentinels explode in the real world with sheer thought alone.

      This reminded me of a perfect example of logical incosistancy.

      In the second matrix, Trinity is falling off that building. So Neo flys off to save her, and "catches" her flying at a speed so fast, that the buildings next to him explode.

      If Trinity wasn't turned into a find red mist when Neo "caught" her, then surely she wasn't in any danger fr
    • Thanks for the fscking unwarned spoilers.
    • While a SciFi story tells of something that cannot happen in the real world (at least as of the time it is written), it will first set the rules, define what can and cannot be done. This can include adding technology that doesn't exist in the real world, yet-undiscovered scientific discoveries or even completely imaginary impossible concepts such as magic or the force.

      I have to disagree with your definition of Science Fiction, it is correct for Fantasy but not for Science Fiction. The best definition I'v
    • > 'movie, book or video-game instantly repels ... when the director/writer throws "Oh yah, we didn't tell you but the hero can destroy all the bad guys instantaneously with a twitch of a finger"-type twists.'

      There's a term for that: Deus Ex Machina [].

      To quote Google quoting, 'An unrealistic or unexpected intervention to rescue the protagonists or resolve the conflict ... The term is a negative one, and often implies a lack of skill on the part of the writer. '(Emphasis mine).

      We are cap
  • Not Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:39AM (#8157450)
    "Realism" is not "logic" is not "consistency". It's a vocabulary list. :) The article and summary seems to just confuse all these things. There isn't any connection between them.

    A game can be consistent, unreal and illogical. Super Mario 64, for example.

    A game can be consistent, unreal and logical. Someting like Unreal or Quake comes to mind.

    You can have various combinations of the above and still have a successful game, though I'm betting an inconsistent, unreal and illogical game would not be very easy to play. :)
    • What makes Mario 64 illogical? I can't think of anything in the game that doesn't have underlying logic to it. Granted, it's not like real world physics and doesn't use logic we might use in our everyday lives, but it does have its own logic system.

      Personally, in every game I can think of, I can see logic. (Even the Sims. *cringe*) Maybe not logical physics in some games, but logical game mechanics at least. Just depends on which you're talking about it.
  • by hankaholic ( 32239 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @08:51AM (#8157512)
    One popular site dedicated to geekish errata features a game called Karma Whoring. The rules often change, and the system slowly adapts to ensure that older methods of gaining "karma" become less and less effective over time.

    However, the methods involved in gaining these "karma points" often defy logic. From bashing large corporations to posting urban legends ("X is slow because it's network-transparent!") to the foolishly mundane ("You're new here, aren't you?"), there are many methods of gaining karma.

    Unfortunately, the methods involved for losing karma are nearly as abundant. From asking why people care about a given topic to using in-game artifacts known as "flames", there are many ways of reducing your supply of karma points.

    Sometimes previously positive actions will lead negative results. For instance, all searches for karma start with a story relating to something called an "article". Previously one could be assured a high karma bonus by locating an article (which to many adventurers is easier said than done) and making a copy of what it contained. However, the system seems to have adapted to this method of gaining karma and now generally uses an attack (known as "redundancy") to counteract it.

    Sometimes methods can have unpredictable results, depending subtly on exactly how the move was executed (such as the increasingly popular "Michael is the suxx!"). Karma Whoring has an unpredictable scoring system and changing rules, yet is played by thousands on a daily basis.
  • are games that contain illogical content.(I know, it's probably a terrible estimate) And how many games are there that have perfect physics, and are correct logically? You tell me. I would probably say (in my opinion) that for me, it's the logical stuff that appeals to me in a game to a great degree, but it's the illogical that reminds me that it is a game, not real life, and that games are supposed to be fun.
  • by Funky Ferret ( 729392 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:13AM (#8157611)
    "logic" is a broader concept than "consistency".
    When you say something is consistent, you have to establish what with, or you don't know what the claim means.
    When you say it is logical, you sound like you're appealing to a universal concept - you don't have to ask what it's "logical about".

    So when you talk about realism and logic in games, you don't necessarily mean correct physics or real-world stuff - but someone might. If you mean internal consistency, call it that. It's precise and accurate.

    I don't think any game could be much fun without internal consistency. I can't solve any problems if I can't rely on experience in the game-world, except through fluke. The number of times I've been annoyed with a game because something works everywhere but the place you're stuck in, apparently just "because"...

    That said, if I'm not looking for internal sense, I don't mind. I can bumble randomly just seeing what goes on. But that's not the same kind of game - there's no skill, no judgment, and no real rules. It's just an experience.

    There's lots of games which are full of illogical things, in a broad sense, but I don't see how that matters.
    • In addition to this, games require consistency in terms of "that key press used to belong to "move left" and it still does. If you made a completely illogical game you would have to throw out all consistency inluding the game loading each time you run the exe. Clearly no good games have done this, and the ones where this behaviour is apparent have ccommonly beeen labelled "bug ridden".
  • by iamjim ( 313916 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:21AM (#8157632)
    Realism is not required for enjoyment - as with most things in life entertaining (fiction writing in general - tv, books, etc - and paintball) - it is people doing things or thinking about things that they normally can't do. Video games allow the immagination to wander in a 'new', interactive dimension. I would argue that realism, in most cases of fiction will hinder rather than help - until you start talking about virtual sex and other reality/pleasure based 'games' where realism combined with configurable fantasy is key.

    But the topic of 'fun' is what I am curious about. There is something decidedly and disturbingly addicted to making abombinable snowman smack a falling penguin with a baseball bat. It isn't particularly fun, yet it is higly addicitve. There is little-to-no skill involved, yet I have seen people 'play' for hours.

    So is there a different between addictive and enjoyable? SSX is fun, hitting penguins is addictive. What do you think?
  • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:33AM (#8157671)
    Realism in gaming is a trend thats only been started more recently in the late 1990s. Prior to 1990s, pretty much a huge majority of all games (console or PC) were insanely unrealistic. Zelda, pretty much every adventure game, Pac-Man, etc were all unrealistic yet some are still played to this day.

    Even mid-1990s games avoided the "realism" fad thats still going around today. Half-Life is probably the most recent and clear example of this fact, a scientist with knowledge on weapons ranging from pistol, to rocket launchers, to alien weapons saves the world from alien invasion while fighting off U.S. military forces and special op soldiers with a crowbar in hand. Not exactly America's Army realism there.

  • Let's start simple (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SurgeryByNumbers ( 726928 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @09:45AM (#8157753)
    Gravity. Momentum. Lighting. I can go on. Certain basic elements are just about impossible to violate while still having a game make any kind of sense, and even then it's usually by making a game so simple that they don't apply (checkers).

    This is the empty head problem, just about. By removing all bias (in this case the attachment to real world causality), you lose your frame of reference, and can't do anything!

    And no, GTA3 does not come anywhere cloes to violating real-world logic: it merely relaxes some aspects of it (sometimes heavily), such as the response from law enforcement.

    Violating one aspect of logic doesn't make a game fail this test. You still can have plenty to go on to jump right into the game world and have it make sense, even sans manual.
    • by slycer ( 161341 )
      And all 3 of those were "Violated" by Serious Sam 2 which was quite simply one of the most ingenious and fun FPS games that I've played in some time.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yes, but let's not forget Rez, if you've ever played it. No gravity, unified movement system, or standard enemies. Even the sound is unlike any other game I've seen.
  • I would say that basically every game has its own internal logic, by way of being written in a programming language. Those complaining about how the physics aren't realistic--well, the physics in these games can be explained (look at the program) more easily than they can even in our own world.

    I for one would like to see more "abstract" games that attempt to to flout this rule. (Just because there is internally consistent logic doesn't mean that it has to make any sense to the user!)
  • Could this also be a discussion of the acceptable level of abstraction? Lots of the games mentioned still had relatively grounded concepts guiding them: Pac Man has eating and running away from things chasing you. All of the platformers mentioned involve some physics, like gravity for instance. Puzzle games can be quite abstract, but many are still addictive and enjoyable. Tetris has "gravity" though. Would it have worked as well if the blocks fell up? Could the reasons some critically acclaimed games,
  • Puzzle games as a genre jump to mind; Tetris has very little grounding in reality, and neither do more modern ones I've seen like Zoo Cube. Mario and Luigi was often completely off the wall, and I'm sure there's games that beat it in silliness (I've never played Space Chanel 5, for instance). And Wario Ware, of course, is about as near to random as it gets; imagine playing pong with a watermelon as a ball and a human as a paddle...that's only the beginning for Wario Ware....
    • Well, I'd say Mario and Luigi was easy to get a feel for simply because it, like the other Mario games, follows its own reality. Once you accept that Mario games in general have a reality to themselves with a defined set of physics and a defined relationship between everything, you can pick up any game in the series and not really be surprised by the way it plays as it just feels natural.

      Same applies with Metal Gear, incidentally. Hideo Kojima made a comment about how he'd tried to create physics "that wer
  • Maniac Mansion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MagicM ( 85041 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:27AM (#8158118)
    Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle. Most warped type of logic in an adventure game *ever*, and yet one of the most enjoyable ones.
  • consistency is key (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bigbigbison ( 104532 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:49AM (#8158342) Homepage
    Whether the game makes sence in our real world logic, doesn't matter so much as if the rules in teh game behave the same way or at least if they don't we are given a bare minimum of explanation why.

    A great example of something that doesn't make sence in our world, but is consistent and makes sence within the logic of the game is, as Poole discusses in his book Trigger Happy, is rocket jumping. In our world shooting at your feet would blow your feet off, in FPS games, however, there is (typically) no way to shoot your own legs off, which may be illogical, or unrealistic, but the effect of combining the recoil of the rocket launcher with jumping is consistent to the rules set forth within the game.

    An example of inconsitency that really irritated me was in the first Soldier of Fortune game there is a level in a subway. In one area you enter the restroom and when you start to leave, a bad guy blasts through the wooden entry. Nowever else in the game can the player do this and I think that even the bad guys only do this in one other situation. It is inconsistent. Sure it was done to surpize the player, but it is a cheat if that is the only place it can be done and even if you reload the game to before that, you cannot shoot through the entry (even though if you look close enough you can see the cracks where it will be blown off). It was inconsistent and irritated me. Of course consistency is not a magic bullet. Games can be consistent and still be bad.
    • There is a similar behaviour in the RtCW Single player missions where a rocket launcher blows a hole in a wall allowing you to exit from a "secret area. There is of course only one enemy who can use his rocket launcher to explode the wall, and you cannot blow the wall up either, but it does not drastically detract from the gameplay.
      • Well the most obvious example, and one I wish I had mentioned originally, it in Red Faction, the game that advertized the fact that you could blow holes in the walls. In reality there was really only a handfull of places where this was usefull and several where for no good reason you couldn't blow a hole in the wall except that it would have made the game much easier becasue you could make tunnels around obsticals (what, am miner make tunnels? heaven forbid!)
    • Agreed. Another game that really bothered me like this was Splinter Cell.

      You have 3 bright green lights on your forehead screaming "put a bullet here!"
      Guards in the CIA and China hum "Fiddler on the Roof," and have thick Russian accents.
      In a straight hallway in the CIA building, the lighting is so poor that a guard can't see you from a few feet away.
      There are guards in the CIA building, patrolling the halls.
      The only doors that you can open are the ones that you're 'supposed' to go through
      Your super-
  • Bejewled isn't exactly realistic. If it were that easy to mine for diamonds...hen it'd be really easy to get diamonds.
    • Exactly. Games don't even have to be based on reality to be successful and popular. E.g.,
      • Q-bert
      • Tetris
      • Bubble Bobble
      • Dig Dug
      • Doom

      Other games are half realism and half fantasy. These games are extremely striking and have the potential to spark a lot of contraversy and anger.

      • Mortal Kombat
      • Lethal Inforcers
      • After Burner
      • Operation Wolf

      This question is phrased too broadly. What makes a game realistic? Why is realism important? Sometimes a caricature of realism is more impactful than a simulation of

    • If it were that easy to mine for diamonds...hen it'd be really easy to get diamonds.

      Almost Apollo Diamond has patented a vapor-deposition process to make diamonds at about $5 per carat, and the resulting gemstones have even greater purity than anything De Beers ever dug out of the ground. Within 20 years, the bottom will fall out of the diamond market, unless Apollo manages to join the pharmaceutical industry in lobbying for the Cher Patent Term Act [].

      Anyway, puzzle games are supposed to be abstract, b

  • Is this question for real? It sounds like the writer grew up playing too many FPSes. There are plenty of games which have little realism.


    Super Monkey Ball - Sure, we have monkeys and bananas in the "real world" and I suppose we could seal these monkeys in giant plastic balls but after that it just gets wierd. Hmmm... realistic? Well, I could point out that gravity still points down. That's realistic, right?

    Amidar - Alright, get this one. On odd stages, you play a monkey (back with the mo
  • Nothing has to stick to any predefined rules, such as the universe we live in, but it DOES have to have rules. It's quite possible for a game to just make up it's own rules, slowly introduce them to the player, and THEN proceed to selectively break those rules. But even showing off how you break the rules should reinforce the rule ("look, an exception!"). Otherwise, it will be extremely random, the player will have no idea what to do, and probably have no fun.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @11:23AM (#8158717)
    Are there some games which break all rules of logic and still remain addictive? Yes, the game called "dealing with women."
  • Are there some games which break all rules of logic and still remain addictive? The game of love, (love), love, (love), la la la la la love.
  • It's been years since I've actually played it, but I seem to recall that a decent chunk of the puzzles in LucasArts' Sam & Max Hit the Road had little or no grounding in logic or reality. Nevertheless, it was still quite enjoyable (not to mention hilarious) -- if you had a walk-through nearby.
  • One reason why I never liked sports video games. They were so unrealistic.
    I would say "Oh, that could never happen", when playing baseball, football, soccer or basketball"
    Why? because I played those sports alot in real life.

    Now hockey I did enjoy on the genesis because I never played it.
    Same with doom, can't say I ever killed a demon with a shotgun.
  • totally flaunted the rules of physics and logic and is one of the best games ever.

    Stunt Car Racer []
  • by zero_offset ( 200586 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @12:30PM (#8159386) Homepage
    The slashdot article title is very poorly chosen. A game can be extremely logical and yet have absolutely nothing to do with realism. Tic-tac-toe is a great example. The rules are simple, very consistent, and very logical decisions can be made within the framework of the game, but it doesn't have anything to do with reality. And unfortunately for the article submitter, the original author is speaking solely about realism in the context of online role playing games.

    So the answer to the slashdot article would appear to be, simply, "No." An illogical game would only be frustrating, but a logical game not based on reality can be fun (Qix is my favorite example). Probably, however, it would have to be fairly simple (again, like Qix) otherwise the player would probably lose interest before the non-reality-based rules were understood well enough to simply play for enjoyment.

    • The slashdot article title is very poorly chosen. A game can be extremely logical and yet have absolutely nothing to do with realism. Tic-tac-toe is a great example. The rules are simple, very consistent, and very logical decisions can be made within the framework of the game, but it doesn't have anything to do with reality.

      "The only way to win, is not to play" -- War Games
  • Apart from sports and traditional racing games, very few games carry any degree of realism beyond some very forgiving basics (gravity, mass, etc), which are inconsistantly enforced.

    The quote in the article of "a real fireball would leave a smoke trail" reminds me of someone I knew who used to argue that centaurs didn't have arms, and pegasuses (pegasuai?) only had two sets of legs. He argued that since both were clearly mammals, they couldn't have 6 limbs. For a while, he toyed with applying the concept
  • Dig Dug!
  • I stopped reading the article when he started talking about synapses because my eyes rolled up inside my head. I'm all for technical articles on slashdot but this article made me want to find the author and slap him for over-analyzing something that no one finds particullarly pressing in the first place (see also: art history). This is my rant and I'm sticking to it.
  • As long as a game is internally consistant, that's the thing.

  • I mean, is this difficult for someone?

    Dig dug. Qix. Q-bert. Panic! Burgertime (admittedly, burgertime does have its realism moments; the last time I was being chased by a giant sunny-side-up egg, I did in fact kill it by crushing it under a gigantic slab of lettuce, though under entirely less preposterous circumstances.) Pit drop. Arcanus. Anything that "wraps" (Joust, etc.) Arkanoid. Boulderdash. Yar's revenge. Jumpman. Two levels from Pigs in Space. Various Epyx and Spinnaker games. Gyruss.

  • Game Developer magazine [] has a series of articles that are trying to determine the 400 rules of game design. Things are usually in the format of "Game logic should be internally consistent, except when it shouldn't." I know that sounds a little pathetic, but it's really quite interesting and far more comprehensive than I am willing to attempt to communicate right now.

    Here is a little bit of info on the project, but I can't quickly locate any meaty content online....

    "The 400 Project [] is an ambitious attempt
  • It depends on the type of game and the player's expectations.

    For example, SWG continues to have problems with the database. It's not as bad now, but there was a time when random items might disappear just because you left your house, or moved across server lines, or bought something from a vendor.

    This sort of inconsistency resulted in major annoyance to anyone who suffered it because it was so unpredictable and arbitrary. No one was immune, but crafters were the most heavily hit.

    The fact that these are b

  • This is about internal consistency. I'm sure someone can prove me wrong, but I can't imagine a game having any success (read: providing enjoyment to more than a few people) without a strong, predictive, internal consistency.

    Every game spends some time teaching you it's rules, and then you play the game based on those rules. The better games will continue to refine the rules as you progress, giving you more opportunities for solutions. Things like combining tactics or maneuvers to do things you couldn't do
  • I've seen a number of games that cut loose all ties of "reminiscent of the real world". Even Tetris is pretty close - it has gravity, but not much else from the real world. Neither do solitaire card games, or some arcade and home computer games I recall from the 1980s. The Atari coinop vector graphics game Quantum [] is a good example. But as for defying logic, well, most videogames and computer games stick very strongly to whatever the principles of their internally defined reality are. Programming itsel
  • Sci-fi and Stark Trek have been mentioned several times in this discussion, and it reminds me of how, when I watched ST:TNG with my father, my mother could barely stand to hang with us because she was constantly rolling her eyes and groaning. This was mostly because of how the alien races typically spoke perfect English, not because of the sketchy physics of teleporting and energy shields (which may be possible but were dealt with in solidly fictional terms), or the constant battles against difficult and po
  • by Torgo's Pizza ( 547926 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:17PM (#8162875) Homepage Journal
    I had to read the article a few times because it was giving me tired head, it's afternoon and my ADD is in full gear. So if you're like me, here's a summary of the article:

    Paragraph 1:Fantasy vs. Reality gets talked about a lot.
    Paragraph 2:Too much fantasy is bad. Too much reality is bad. You have to balance them, otherwise people complain.
    Paragraph 3:I like neuropsychology. I read things that told me that brains like to figure things out.
    Paragraph 4:If brains can't figure something out, it reacts negatively. Brain like to make sense.
    Paragraph 5:Never mind what I said previously, because games are fun because they are goal-oriented and brains like that.

    Gah! Five paragraphs with no real point. Nothing to back up any claims made... and I'm not sure what those claims are. In fact, the person submitting the /. asks a question that isn't even addressed in the article. Are there games that make no sense logically but fun? Sure, take the H2G2 adventure game where the solutions make no sense. (Stick a fish in your ear? Towels? Fluff? Brownian motion?) There's your answer.

    The Fantasy vs. Reality argument is really a non-argument because it doesn't exist. Well, at least the vs. part because they aren't against each other as much as they compliment each other. Every game has portions of fantasy and reality and strike a balance somehow. It would have been far more interesting to see an article written about the design decisions that go into balancing the two or when one prevails over the other. Instead there's a lot of Dr. Phil talk about an argument that doesn't exist.

  • absolutely. go read lucky wander boy [] by d.b. weiss. all about a surrealistic nonsensical game. or try dada: stagnation in blue [] via netjack []
  • Put simply, I've played games that have mad no sense to me and I've had to give them up because I can't workout how to progress. I have a theory that "logic" is very cultural. For example; many US text adventure games quickly reached a point where I simply could not find the right word to do something obvious. Later, many adventure games would contain some element that might be common in the author's home town, but the rest of the world had never heard of -- subsequent clues were therefore lost.

    Don't know

  • Contra 1 - 3. One bullet and p-tayywwn. C'MON!!! It hit me in the FOOT for Christ sakes!!!!
  • Easy, just have 'em make a game out of Excel Saga. That sucking sound you hear is any and all sensibility being vacuumed out into space.
  • I find that fighting games for the most part are primary examples of illogicalness in games. Very often button combinations don't do what it seems like they should do (Like I can think of more than one example where -> + punch doesn't actually punch, or something of the sort), and almost every fighting game I can think of does the same thing that annoys me to death- when you are trying to back away from your opponent, and you get hit, it stops your backward movement, and sets you up for more getting hit,
  • by Gothic_Walrus ( 692125 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:06PM (#8165648) Journal
    As much as I love them, the puzzles in the Lucasarts adventure games might be one of the single most obtuse things I've encountered in my life.

    Use the shadow of a talking skull to talk a bride into rejoining her jilted groom? What?

    And let's not forget the breath mints from "Secret of Monkey Island" - poor Otis...

    The puzzles do make sense, and are completely logical...after you solve them. I can't complain, though...the games have been great for years, and will hopefully continue to be.

  • fsck yeah!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Drathos ( 1092 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @10:19PM (#8165749)
    Incredible Crisis is one of the coolest games ever!

    They don't get more illogical that that..
  • Well, let me use 2 examples.

    1) GTA-VC. Sucks. Things out of view appear and disappear at random. You look behind for a second and a car you were chasing disappears in thin air, or you are in a locked room, watch the door, and suddenly a cop starts shooting at you from behind. Consistency badly broken, I'd say the worst thing about the game. Not to say the game itself is not enjoyable, but certainly it's less than it could be.

    2) Summoner. Rocks. For the first half of the game you proceed towards some obscu

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"