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#1392171 - 08/06/04 01:02 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Pretty much echoes my sentements here gents.

Vicious I partially agree with you that the hard core gamers didn't kill the market. We didn't kill it but our demanding nature didn't help in some instances. Let me explain and this isn't a slam on anyone, well maybe on some of our more arrogent members but not on the general numbers here.

By nature these games are expensive. Even games like Railroad Tycoon are not cheap to make. Coding takes time. What makes it so expensive for us is the need to code reality. Guys that make Quake III or Doom III have a distinct advantage over the developers of EAW or LOMAC. They don't have to worry about someone complaining about the unrealistic rate of fire of the Mk1 Plasma cannon or the porked damage model of zombie 1zulu. Guys like Oleg Maddox, on the other hand, get handed loads of crap because supposedly the turn radius of his Spit V is 4.3 meters off based upon the notes some guy found on the internet. Coding reality is pretty hard and a lot of guys have given up on it.

I also think we eat our own here. We have a small group of people in our genre that feel that if it isn't full realism then it is crap and that people who fly without stalls, spins, red/blackouts/ with icons, etc. are weenies. I once got crap from a review I wrote because some of my screenies had icon's in them. Literally someone blasted me for pointing out a feature in a game. These people tend to drive away new gamers interested in playing these things.

When we all started the big games were (depending on when you joined) Red Baron, Aces over Europe/Pacific, F-22 or USNF. Compare any of those to today's sims and they could be called arcadish. Many of us lose track of the fact that these games can get very hard to get into by the newbies unless they are 'dumbed down'. Many don't even know that there are easier modes.

I am guilty of this myself. My reviews rarely talk about the ease that a new person can get into simulations with a particular piece of software. I harp on the hardness of something and it probably turns off a new person interested in playing. Most folks want to play a game, not spend four hours trying to get off the ground. For most of us taking off in a P-47 in full realism is fairly easy. We have HOTAS setups and have flown enough sims with P-47s that we know the torque effects and expect to compensate. Someone who has never flown a P-47 in a simulation probably planted himself 18 times in IL2:FB and gave up. Now if he played it a while he would get the hang of it, maybe pick up an X45 setup and a new hardcore simmer is born.

Just some observations. We tend to eat our own here.


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#1392172 - 08/06/04 01:45 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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I agree - have lost count of the number of times a new plane has been released and people have criticised some aspect of it (or, even worese the person modelling it) rather than work out that they are gettng something that is a positive addition to whichever sim for free. I never criticize add ons other to suggest improvements and only when asked. I can think of a fair few modders who have given up helping out because all they got for their hard work is a slagging off.


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#1392173 - 08/06/04 01:52 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  

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Glad I'm not the only one feeling this way.

As to the hard core flight sim community killing flight sims, I have a feeling that they might have contributed to their demise by making unrealistic demands for the wrong things. This has pushed developers into developing products that won't sell, or which are so complicated and time consuming to produce that publishers won't touch them.

The insistence on stupendously detailed 3D models of everything makes it technically impossible to have the sort of rich environment Zander refers to above. I remember before B17 II came out, reading an interview where the developers said they didn't want large numbers of low detailed aircraft models, and instead were building every aircraft in maximum detail. The result was a sim that ran like a tortoise on the PCs of the day and consequently sold disappointingly, but it also totally ruined immersion (a shame since B17 scored well in many other areas) - every mission involved at most 12 B17s, with maybe up to 6 fighters attacking, a pitiful little cluster of planes, instead of the formations of hundreds of the real war. Why is it more "realistic" to have rotating gun turrets on every one of 12 planes than to have historically accurate numbers of planes even if their turrets don't rotate? The only reason for having all these detailed models is so that every aircraft looks good when studied in paused external view. I would ban external views from flight sims - the only function they serve is to allow people to complain that the models don't have enough polygons. If I want to look at a pretty picture of a plane, I'll look at a photograph of the real thing. Flight sims should be about flying and fighting, not about admiring pictures. But because flight simmers often demand eye candy (and a very specific, one plane at a time sort of eye candy) above all else, developers spend all their time and effort concentrating on the wrong things.

As for hardness - I think hardness in a game is a good thing, but it should be hard to play well, not hard to play at all. A target rich environment packed with friendly and enemy aircraft diving in and out of the clouds should be exciting and frantic enough for any type of gamer, and is also very realistic. Instead we get a handful of beautifully modelled planes engaging in duels - for which it is very difficult to write adequate AI. Of course serious simmers want their full realism modes, and that's where a high degree of scalability comes in. Every option should be swtich off and on able. Though I suppose that adds to coding complexity too.

#1392174 - 08/06/04 01:57 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Interstng point VS - one thing people often forget is that the sims back in the days of yore had easy and realistic settings - release a game with that option and of enough interest to the general public and people will want to play it (the average gamer does not want to spend 3 hours woirking through checklists but wants to get up there and shoot things down!). The realistic flight model could either be incorporated as a later patch or be there for us serious simmers. This would also get more people interested in the more detailed sims (after all I doubt many people here just launched straight into Falcon 4 on max realism!)


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#1392175 - 08/06/04 02:31 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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All hail the great god of Polycounts \:D

Let me bounce a few numbers around to give some weight to the very pertinent points raised by VS.

IL2 / FB .... polycounts for the high detail model are around 2500. The same number, or a fraction mode, goes into the cockpit.

SFP1 .... 6-7000 polys for the high detail

CFS3 .....Some of the add-on's have 20,000 + !!!! You see useless spheres with perfect roundness used to make blisters...all sorts of rubbish.

Ironically, they have less impact on the speed of a game than you might think! What killed FR's for me on CFS3 was the scenery low down. Wouldn't have minded if it was pretty....

Anyway, for me, it is quantity of planes that give immersion. Play a dogfight in Rowans old Battle of Britain, and the skies are full of dogfighting. You can ignore the low-poly planes because if you spend time looking at the pretties, the fight is very short...and you be dead \:D

Modern graphic cards have got so good at pushing the polygons around that modern sims can throw a lot more polygons around that they used to. Where things go wrong is when the new power is used.

I think 2500 polys is a good figurefor a plane...IL2 aircraft look pretty enough for even the 'external view' merchants. Where sims need to increase their expenditure of polygons is in terrain dressing! Swoop down over the battlefields of flanders and what should you see. Trenches. Men. Shell holes. Gun batteries, shattered villages, and above all... MOVEMENT!

And in the air...well, clouds that block the AI's line of sight would be nice...and ones that know how to fly their planes properly! Nothing worse than an AI that thinks it can turn fight a zero in a B17 ;\)


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#1392176 - 08/06/04 03:08 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Totally second that Tailgunner - I find there is nothing worse than landing at a supposed airfield to find a couple of buildings - no people, no lorries or cars or people just going about their business....nothing!

Am sure that usually happens at all the airfields I have ever seen! \:D


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#1392177 - 08/06/04 03:10 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Tom Cofield - I couldn't agree more !

I won't name names, but there was one of the top posters in one of the top flight sims who very often touted the "real way" to fly a sim saying he would help people and the sim, explaining to them how to avoid being wheenies. I know of two hardcore sim pilots that did not fly (and buy?) that sim because the athmosphere in all forums for that sim was so bad.

The same person who unselfishly helped 6000 hour pilots (not me!) understabd the only way to fly a sim now mods another sim. So he now has a interest in the well being of the sim and suddenly he now longer helps the sim by helping people to see the light. I was not surprised! *******!

Only very few of us use flight sims to save lives. We use flight sims for entertainment (or, if you want, edutainment). As long as he hurts noone, someone that has bought a sim can do with it what he wants.

That includes using it as 3D model viewer BTW ;\) .

BTW - the 3d models are often not the reason you can only have few planes. Someone made a test in CFS 3, using 6 polygone boxes as planes and was not able to run many without massive slowdowns.

Back on topic, I think there are several bad effects of some people posting on forums, all todo with demotivation:
Saying "You are not a real man if you turn things down" - demotivates especially new pilots but also old ones that want to have fun.

In some forums, a lot of people say "this is crap" about very good flight sims. There are many 1000 aspects of a sim - you will never be able to excell in all, so people always have something to whine. I think it makes them feel better, either by thinking "even them are stupid, I can't be bad" or "I would have done better" or simply by feeling a lot of power by being able to destroy big groups. In the MSFS scene, some big groups folded when only a few dedicated people invested some hours into efficiently demotivating / angering / putting fear into the main modders, that had spent thousands or even ten thousands of hours into the hobby.

In an industry in which people do not work for money, since they would get more elsewhere, this affects paid professionals as well as modders. Like Xeidos2 said, developers see forums as hostile places. Unfortunately, a few bad apples are enough. And in some forums (not speaking SimHQ) there are more bad apples than good ones.

#1392178 - 08/06/04 03:22 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Yep, I remember B17-II. In fact it's the game responsible for (re)getting me into flight sims. I'd loved the original B17 and bought II as soon as it hit the shops, although by then as it was delayed I'd bought CFS2. Unfortunately I felt it lacked some of the finesse of the original, and it didn't take long to realise that a lot of what was happening wasn't real. For example you mention 12 B17's - well only 4 of them could ever actually do anything, the others just pottered along and didn't even drop bombs or fire guns. Of course the AI fighters would ignore them in every possible way...er...except for collisions which happened regularly. In the end I gave up on B17-II and went with CFS2, which with some mods was a cracking game in its time and to my mind the only really successful prop game between EAW and IL2.

As to poly counts, well I personally think that ball-park 2,500 is pretty low, especially for the larger planes which often look very crude in IL2. On the other hand I don't think 20K is necessary for externals either, although if properly LODed and it doesn't affect FPS I doubt it really matters that much. CFS3 for example can handle huge numbers of planes in the air and not bat an eyelid. Internals are another matter though, lots of cockpits really look bad with low poly counts and there's very few that look totally convincing (and most of those are in FS2004). Edit: in CFS3 two things cause stutter - sounds and scenery. The first one is easily solved by editing one of the xml files so that the problem files are preloaded, the other one, well...you can make it a lot smoother, but to me it looks a bit (OK, very) blech from low down. I guess time will tell if it can be made to look passable and smooth at the same time.

The problem is that while I think it's fine for an add-on developer to push game engines and hardware to the limits, I'd rather commercial developers would pay at least some attention to campaigns and immersion. They managed it years ago so why not now?

#1392179 - 08/06/04 03:44 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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The point about polycounts, though, was how much you notice them when actually flying. I know when I attack a B17 in IL2FB that I don't have much time to sight-see! If you have a poly budget of 25,000 to spend, would you rather have 1 25K plane, or 10 2.5K planes?

Though, as Osram pointed out, poly count isn't the sole cause of slowdown! Making planes fly in 3D space is a CPU intensive thing! The more real you want it, the more CPU cycles you need to devote to making that happen. How many people have had to upgrade to fly the latest flightsims?

Sadly, the things that make a good sim Great are not the ones that will make glamourous screenshots or excite. We see screenshots and drool... we can't drool so much over the promise of a highly immersive campaign or the high-fidelity flight modelling...cynics that we are, we just assume that to be marketting hype and wait for some reviews!

That developers find forums such hostile places is probably the saddest thing to come out of this whole story. Between us, in a few threads, we have outlined pretty much what we want from flightsims, looked at ways to achieve it, and sympathised with a group of guys who tried and failed. All very adult, mature, and thoughtful stuff. If only MORE forums were like this MORE of the time...well, who knows! As long as the flame-fests such as the UBI forums dominate, it's no wonder the Dev's don't want to get invovled!

In the end...we all lose out.


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#1392180 - 08/06/04 03:54 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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AI and FM are the real killers, particularly combined. TO move 3D objects, even very detailed 3D objects, in 3D space is not that tough - FPS's do it all the time. To make the behave physically realistically particularly with bullets that need to behave physically realistically and planes that need to take damage and then fly physically realistically for their damage - now that's quite tough on a CPU. And then to make an AI that can fly and fight intelligently taking into account the accurate behaviour of his plane - now that's very tough on a CPU!

#1392181 - 08/06/04 03:59 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Quote:
That developers find forums such hostile places is probably the saddest thing to come out of this whole story. Between us, in a few threads, we have outlined pretty much what we want from flightsims, looked at ways to achieve it, and sympathised with a group of guys who tried and failed. All very adult, mature, and thoughtful stuff. If only MORE forums were like this MORE of the time...well, who knows! As long as the flame-fests such as the UBI forums dominate, it's no wonder the Dev's don't want to get invovled!

In the end...we all lose out.
As Osram and the rest of the BOB team has effectively re-written half of BOB I am sure he knows more than most.

The other thing I find odd is that people get isolated into one sim - the idea that "I play Il2 so I'm not playing CFS3" is non sensical. We are all in this together as a community and it is only as a community that we can ever be heard. If one good thing has cme out of this it is that I believe people have increasingly realized that we need to support the sim aspect of the games industry if it is to be developed.


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#1392182 - 08/06/04 04:01 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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the idea that "I play Il2 so I'm not playing CFS3" is non sensical
Well... maybe from a flight-sim community point of view, but personally I don't begin to have enough time to play more than one sim at a time. They are far too hard and require far too much time to swap and change between them.

#1392183 - 08/06/04 04:18 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Eye candy is what brings people to the game, especially newbies. I hate to say it but it does. People wouldn't buy Doom3 if it had the same graphics of a game made three years ago. Likewise people wouldn't buy a new simulation if it had the graphics of EAW (today).

Saying that, it is all relevant. We don't need super high poly counts to create a decent looking model. EAW was my favorate sim of the entire crop in 98-99 because of the 'feeling' of being in a major war. The numbers of planes were amazing, the campaign was outstanding (if somewhat repetitive at times) and the options were incredible for its day. BOB was a few bugs away from unseating EAW as the best flight simulation ever made IMHO. IL2:FB ties EAW as the best (my opinions here). The reason EAW was so good was because it gave a feeling of immersion, it could be modded, and it had a solid base.

IL2 is another example of a game that set the genre apart, and it became incredibly successful for that. What set IL2 apart when released were the little things, the different markings on each plane, the visuals, the ground combat that could go on under you. It wasn't perfect and it never will be. The fact that the game continues to be supported in it's current form is a testament to the developer and the community, both have made the game much more popular and its shelf life has been extended due to that. I would love to see IL2's sales figures, I bet it probably has one of the best continuous selling records of all games. When you consider that the base engine (through IL2 to FB to Aces Expansion) has been on the market for almost three years and still sells at almost base price you understand that a good sim can sell, if done right.

Look, I like realism. Sure I fly with Icons on, I only have a 17 inch monitor and I wear glasses so I need the help. Other than that it pretty much is full realism. I know others that don't. I think a sim needs to cater to both to be successful and it has to advertise to both to be successful. Cater to only the hardcore market and you will sell maybe 50K units. Cater to the arcade bunch and for the most part the game will end up ignored, or panned. Everyone remembers SDOE when it first came out. Great idea, lousy execution. Too arcadish on hard settings. They fixed it but the damage was done and the game overall tanked.

I have my ideas on what could be done to create a mini revival of the genre. I actually have written an editorial but I have no idea if it will go up on the site. A lot of what Walldog said is echoed by myself. Some of my ideas may be panned. That's fine, just because it is a good idea to me doesn't mean it is a good one.

I will promise you this, ever new simulation I review will have a section devoted to ease of use for the newbie. How will I tell? I will look at the ability for someone with no simulation experience to get into a dogfight game and how easy you can make the flight models. Almost all sims have this feature, we just never report it. We need to do that more.

We also need to encourage our bretheren in other genres to look at these games. There is a ton of interest in games like MOH, Op Flashpoint and Battlfield 1942. There is a lot of crossover potential here, if we don't scare them away. Tomorrows hard core simmer is today's Call of Duty player.


The artist formerly known as SimHq Tom Cofield
#1392184 - 08/06/04 04:20 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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I have been very fortunate that the BoB forums are a very nice place. One reason for this is that the "trouble makers" were there when the sim came out and after a short while moved on. So, when we started working on BoB, the forum was already much less flame infested than in the beginning or than other forums of sims that had just been released.

One thing I hate is when people start to lie, especially to make something look bad. And strangely this "I am playing A, so I have to make B look bad with all means" certainly does happen.

If someone does not play B, because he has no time, money, no interest in the scenario or whatever, this is completely ok.

#1392185 - 08/06/04 04:32 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Don't get me wrong Mahoney - neither have I (I wish I had) - it is rather more the way many users seem to pan other popular sims just because they don't like them themselves. There are very few really duff sims (though I know we can all think of a few!). All I am saying is that people should try not to segregate themselves into the IL2 crowd or the EAW crowd because their are few enough of us around and we can only get what we want released (such as KOE) if we stand together and show that there are a hell of a lot of flight simmers out there!

Why else do they think that Logitech and their competitors produce new joysticks and other peripherals for PCs?!


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#1392186 - 08/06/04 04:55 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Some very good questions are raised here.

Difficulty and gameplay. Are they different animals, or merely two sides to the same thing?

Is harder better? more realistic? Not in itself, but if making a sim more realistic makes it harder, then I'm of the persuasion that harder
is better.

One thing that makes any flight sim harder than real life, is the lack of any physical sensation, in terms of "seat-of-pants" feeling.

Difficulty is very relative in terms of the user, a complete newbie at flight sims will find any flight sim more difficult than a seasoned
flight simmer.

Flying a sim a/c in a straight line and doing basic manouvers after a bit of practive is probably whithin most peoples reach. But getting
the most out of the a/c and flying it with excellence, is probably a lot harder.

Motivation is also very different. There are propellor heads that need the sim to be a credible experience in tems of difficulty and the amount of time it takes to master the a/c. People who are willing to spend quite a lot of time to study the differenet a/c and how to fly
them properly and who care about the sim a/c being as close to real life perfomance as is possible. Who like to get the feeling that "if I
were a better pilot, the sim would actually be able to let me execute this or that manouvre to as near perfection as I could get it".

Then there are people who seek another experience, who primarily want to fight the AI or the multiplayer, or to a lesser degree think
about historical or engineering accuracy.

And people who range anywhere between the two.

All points of view are valid and one pov is just as good as the other.

Some want the full monty, others can do without, I think it's important that the choice is there for the individual user to make. No one else.

That is why I believe that any sim should have scaleablility in terms of tuning the realism level for flight model, AI, campaign goals etc.

And what do we mean when we use the term of "balance"?

Does it mean that the a/c in the sim should perform in such a way that the a/c that in real life was the better a/c, will also be the better
a/c in the sim?

This is one good use of the term.

I would also suggest that the balance between the physics engine and the data going into that engine should be balanced. I've tried other's mods, and made some of my own minor mods, for sims or games or whatever I should call them, where I found that the modded data going into the engine were more correct than the data that came with the sim, but the endresult did not quite live up to my expectations.

My main thought about those examples is that the physcis engine and other important parts of the sim; i.e. the coding of the controller, in those cases really were not designed to use real life data, so the whole experience became unbalanced.

IOW: it seems to be possible to have a very good physics engine and implement data that makes the sim easier, but it doesn't seem as feasible to to go the other way and put in better data if the physics engine is not really up to the task.

Then there is also the balance in terms of the package. The perfect package in terms of balance for me would be:

- One huge map where I can fly anywhere, as I always felt that being given just a small part of the front in a map, to be very confining
and detrimenatal to my immersion.

- Replays and saveable, editable replays, OK, it's not just to admire eye-candy, but more to study the areal manouvers.

- Optional Flight Training; I'd love to enter flight school in say 1915, be given a bit of instruction, dual flight, gunnery, solo and "you're off son, they need replacements in France..... now"

- Quick Shots like in Rowan's BoB; great for the times when I have little time but would like a fairly concentrated battle.

- Campaign, and again I think Rowan, or RB3D are the benchmarks to aim for.

- Ground details; for a WW1 sim the trenches, troops moving to and from the front, flying over the troops as they go over the top. The environment which has been mentioned more than once.

- Multiplayer

- Good, intuitive and simple menus

- And easy to use tweaks to the controller settings, because bad controller settings can completely ruin the experience, and the developers are not always giving us the best settings.


Jens C. Lindblad


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#1392187 - 08/06/04 05:07 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Quote:

I have my ideas on what could be done to create a mini revival of the genre.
Sounds interesting!

Quote:

I will promise you this, ever new simulation I review will have a section devoted to ease of use for the newbie.
Good idea. Many people on here forget that there HAVE to be many many more buyers than the few people actively posting on SimHQ and other forums.

We have someone that still remembers seeing the BoB as a small child. He once admitted to using easy settings. I slightly scolded him - for using the word "admit" ;\) \:D . He went on to buy a TrackIR, a projector and one of those "linked" joysticks they produce to order. And he was the one that made our stand at the Birmingham flight sim show possible by bringing his computer, poster stands and other paraphernalia. \:\)

I am convinced that combat sim people do have a bigger ego than people have on average, just like real (fighter) pilots do. I fear this can be counter productive. With typical labels like "easy versus realistic", it is clear what someone thinking of himself as "real man" (or "real woman" \:D :p ) has to choose. However, some of us never were first class fighter pilot stuff (I am the first one to admit this). Some of us are older and reflexes have suffered. We have disadvantages like the monitor res and the seat of the missing pants feeling a real pilot has. I am not sure how many people in RL would have been able to land a 109 or Spitfire if they had not trained in gliders, then Tiger Moths/Klemm 35 and then an Arado 96? When I started hanggliding, we drove to Italy to a very remote area with a 6 x 7 km large flat valley floor as landing ground. This is at speeds of say 40 km/h during final. And one person even managed to miss that \:D . And I was the king of downtubes \:o . Anyway, with all these things taken together, it is no wonder a lot of people fail in the first few tries and then get demotivated or angry ("it can't be that hard in RL!").

Sometimes I have been thinking, one would need to label the options more psychologically, but I have no really good idea. Maybe "fun versus realistic" instead of "easy versus realistic"?

#1392188 - 08/06/04 06:47 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
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Oh, I don't know if we have a bigger ego. I know some folks do but you get that with any group of game players. Trust me, the wargaming crowd can be just as bad.

The IL2 vs EAW vs CFS bloodbath was a good exercise in futility. Lord I remember those days. It seems like lovers of one game take an almost fanatical devotion to it. Going onto the boards is like going into an English soccer match some days. We saw some of that with the LOMAC/F4/SFP1 forums as well.

I never faulted anyone for liking CFS or SDOE. I never got into them, even SDOE with all the mods never seemed to trip my trigger. I do appreciate all those that do though, it makes the genre stronger for it. All the mods, the skins, the add ons make the games more appealing. When someone stumbles onto a site like ours and sees all the skins he or she can find for IL2, or the add ons for CFS3, then that person may want to pick it up.

I don't ever expect to see Pacific Fighters out in the front of Walmart (like Doom3 is now) but we do need to positively show that sims can work without trying to one up each other.


The artist formerly known as SimHq Tom Cofield
#1392189 - 08/06/04 06:55 PM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 3,748
McGonigle Offline
Emeritus Motorius
McGonigle  Offline
Emeritus Motorius
Senior Member

Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 3,748
Copenhagen, Denmark
I'd rather prefer arcade vs. realistic instead of fun vs. realistic, since "fun" would be no fun for some. \:D \:D

Or scalable realism.

Maybe the term arcade has become a bit of a derogatory label, but beginnning to rephrase arcade into something else is going to be hard without sounding very PC'ish:

"Gameplay enhanced realism"
"Realism subjected to enhanced gameplay"

With arcade and realism we know exactly what is meant.


Jens C. Lindblad


Sent from my Desktop
#1392190 - 08/07/04 12:41 AM Re: The Death of the Flight Simulation Genre  
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,080
FlyXwire Offline
Member
FlyXwire  Offline
Member

Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,080
St.Charles, Missouri U.S.A.
In my mind sims are fun and interesting if the gameplay allows oneself to become absorbed into the virtual reality. This has been termed in gaming parlance as enabling the player to temporarily suspend disbelief, but for each player (customer) the benchmark will be slightly different from another, and ever-evolving over time.

To me it's the things that inhibit or intrude into this immersive state that ultimately spoils my simming experience.

Firstly, as Wall-dog questioned earlier in this thread, if we perceive a sim is pretending to be real, by just being "real-hard", is this enough for us to maintain our interest in it, afterall, what brings us to try a sim in the first place..........the graphics, the aircraft selection, the terrain, some specific game feature, theaters or missions (with combat flight sims), or multiplayer action, someone's personal recommendation.........all the above?

Well a well crafted flight sim would do well to incorporate as many of these items into consideration as possible, because they all contribute to the larger whole, but this is to miss the finer point here I believe, because I think the larger issue in this discussion is what is it that makes us lose interest in a flight sim, and how quickly?

To me the issue has always been one of quality and immersion, and how well a sim incorporates it's features into a playable package (what others call "balance"). If a new sim presents nothing new or better than an older offering, then what value does it really have? If a new sim is lacking in certain features, does it's other qualities compensate for this fact? Lastly, and perhaps most important for a sim's longevity and ultimate success, the question has to be asked whether a sim offers it's players a true challenge, while at the same time working towards that ideal of temporary "suspension of disbelief"?

I think most simmers can detect pretentious "gimmicks" meant to ramp up a game's challenge (sometimes unfortunately after their purchase), while at the same time be able to recognize essential gameplay features that may be sorely lacking in development. It's this lack of game balance which can ruin the virtual experience from the beginning, and thereby spoil any challenge and interest we may hold for a particular flight sim. So what is it that holds our interest once we decide a sim belongs on our hard drive?

Well, I guess a sim must offer a competitive challenge of some sort, whether that's solely by presenting an alluring learning experience where we try to perfect our technique (as in civil avaition flight sims), or whether we're also competing against opponents too (as with combat flight sims). Anyway you look at it, the sim must provide a challenge to hold our interest for any length of time.

Perhaps the most important reasons we loose interest in a sim occur when we no longer believe it's worthy of our time (it's skill requirements have been mastered), or when the competion (whether AI or human as in combat sims) no longer provides enough personal challenge. Of course our attention spans vary (and tollerance too), and familiarity and knowledge will reduce the worthiness of the personal flight challenge over time. Now perhaps with combat flight sims the challenge can be more long-lived, because we're also competing with others that find the challenge worthy and interesting also, but every flight sim has a life-span, and it derives from whether we find the experience fun or interesting anymore.

So in summary here, let me say that I think it's perceived improvements in the offerings and features of a new flight sim that lead us to try it out. Next, it's the process of discovery, and the quality of the immersive experience that convinces us to invest our time in mastering it's requirements. Lastly, it's the personal challenge of competition (with ourselves, with others, and comradery too) that keeps us interested in a sim once it's become very familiar over time.

For success, a sim must incorporate an overall balance in it's build, and therefore no one feature alone can foot that bill!

I've come to the personal realization that I'm willing to sacrifice some "ultimate realism" in one category or another, if a sim has that overall balance, and represents eminent playability.

Sure I want "more", that's ever-evolving with time, but for a good flight sim I want balance and quality first, and then I'll have that immersion and long-term playabilty I so desire...........

............and thanks for listening!!! \:\)

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