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KSP - game or simulator?

Is KSP (first and foremost) a game or a simulator/emulator?  

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  1. 1. Is KSP (first and foremost) a game or a simulator/emulator?

    • Simulator/Emulator
      45
    • Game
      151


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Yes. It's both. KSP started out as almost purely game, and then by necessity of HarvesteR's evolving vision required a custom simulated universe. In fact, it turned out quite a bit more realistic than he had originally intended.

Wow, that is what it used to look like? Sounds aweful

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Your definition of "simulator" conflicts with what the standard definition, which is something designed to simulate reality. Your definition also includes sandboxes, and a sandbox need not be a simulator (Minecraft is a sandbox AFAIK, in fact one of the purer sandboxes out there, but it's not a simulator). When people talk about KSP as a simulator, what they more often mean seems to be how realistic it is (if someone says "it's a game, not a simulator" in response to someone saying planets should be real-world scaled, they aren't saying "it has defined goals and isn't just about doing whatever you want," they're saying "just because it's more realistic doesn't mean KSP should do it, because fun trumps realism [and I find the current system mode fun]").

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My answer to this question is of course the classical "Yes".

So there.

It's very hard to mix like that, and can often result in a much narrower selection of players. For example, the newer Battlezone franchise (the second generation) combines aspects of vehicular/first person combat with RTS elements, often results in a person who favors one element being scared off by the other. Such as an RTS player being repelled by the FPS elements, or vice versa.

On the other hand, when the elements DO mix, someone who enjoys both aspects can get a real kick out of the blend (I happen to like the second-gen Battlezone games, for instance).

I think Squad's done reasonably well in their blending, although the game end of things really needs a massive progression tune-up.

The question is asked knowing full well that the answer could be "both" but there's ALWAYS more weight given to one over the other. You can appreciate both the Beetles and Elvis but you're going to have some preference for one vs. the other. Getting people to pick a side on it is far more interesting than just "both."

Don't forget 'neither'. And also that's rather black-and-white there. If I had to choose between Elvis and the Beatles, I'd ask, "which song(s)?".

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Wow, that is what it used to look like? Sounds aweful

Give the whole thread a read. People are critiquing (in the nicest possible way) HarvesteR's assumptions about what players might be capable of understanding, or define as fun, right from the very start. Then compare his original vision with what he announced a mere six months later -- it's pretty much the KSP we know and love today, albeit in its infant state. So obviously HarvesteR took those initial critiques and commentary very seriously. Consequently the scope of his vision for KSP underwent rapid expansion.

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Something I wonder... If you are using a simulator for whatever its intended purpose is, and you get enjoyment out of it, can you call it a game?

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After the discussion about whether KSP is ready for 1.0 or not, I got the feeling that many on this forum regards KSP as a simulation of a space program. The way I see it, one can look on KSP in one of two ways. Either you think KSP is a simulator/emulator where you construct your own rockets, fly to the places you want just because you want it and explore the KSP universe simply because its fun. Or, you consider KSP to be a game and load up career mode, struggling to manage your base, upgrading the right building at the right time, choosing the right contract and try to make as much roots as possible (to get to that next upgrade.)

I have to say I disagree with this basic concept of where the split between game and simulator is drawn. There are tons of games out there that are essentially sandboxes, where you are given a load of basic elements with which to construct something, and it is up to your own creativity to have fun with them as you see fit. Games like Minecraft, The Sims, Sim City, Elite, Transport Tycoon all are definitely games rather than simulators, but are also sandboxes in which you as a player are given minimal structure to follow, and just do what you feel like. Equally, a computer program can be considered a simulator where the purpose is to run a business, follow a particular defined path and achieve carefully architected goals.

The difference between a game and a simulator is down to the objective of the program. If the point is to provide a method for the user to entertain himself, then the program is a game. If the objective is to model a real-world phenomenon as accurately as the computational power available can manage, then it is a simulator. There are simulators that are fun to use and there are games that are highly realistic.

My day-job is as an aerodynamics engineer, and one of the key tools I use to do it is computational fluid dynamics. I use powerful computer hardware/software to simulate, as accurately as possible, real world physics problems. KSP is absolutely not at all like proper engineering simulation tools. It is a game, and that's why I play it. I could produce a long list of shortcomings of KSP as a simulator that, if "fixed", would give it much greater physical accuracy, and in the process entirely ruin it as a fun pastime for anyone other than actual rocket scientists. KSP is like lego. You can build a house out of lego, but lego is not a building material, it is a toy. In the same way, with the right sorts of mods installed, you can plan an actual mission to the Moon with KSP, but it is not an actual spaceflight simulator.

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Something I wonder... If you are using a simulator for whatever its intended purpose is, and you get enjoyment out of it, can you call it a game?

With the definition of "simulator" I'm familiar with, then definitely yes -- exhibit A, FSX. It's a simulator, which is sold as a game.

@rcp27 That's what I'd call an "industrial" simulator; while it make sense to distinguish by saying that, there are games that are commonly referred to as simulators. There's a fuzzy line. However, the fuzzy side of the line is definitely where the goal is to have fun by means of modeling a real-world thing, which is called a "simulator" by people thinking about games and a "game" by people thinking about simulators.

Edited by cpast

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Wow, that is what it used to look like? Sounds awful

2D plane? No thanks.

Some of his other suggestions were a bit iffy as well, like the RCS simplifications.

Those would have been a bit too game-y for me, but then again just realism wuld have been too boring.

Let's take the examples of the various replica mods out there. These are often in an incompatible size to be absolutely true to the original craft. They often also use colour schemes that don't fit in with the stock game(2.3, 1.8 etc.) and the parts are all made specifically for a craft, and used in that craft in a specific place. No scope for imagination.

Then let's consider a mod like Tantares. This is a replica mod, but with a difference. It uses a stock-a-like colour scheme, so the parts don't look weird when used alongside stock. It also fits in with the stock diameters, allowing a lego mindset.

This is what KSP is about: realism balanced by gameiness, but not over the top.

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I believe it's a game, with some elements of simulation. Let's face it, if it was too close to being a simulator, I suspect very few of us would have made it to orbit around Kerbin yet.

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It's a game, with simulation aspects. It's just not real enough to be a proper sim. No fault of Squad mind you, just Unity limitations.

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I think it's a game first and foremost. Mods can certainly make it more simulator like if that's what someone prefers.

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@rcp27 That's what I'd call an "industrial" simulator; while it make sense to distinguish by saying that, there are games that are commonly referred to as simulators. There's a fuzzy line. However, the fuzzy side of the line is definitely where the goal is to have fun by means of modeling a real-world thing, which is called a "simulator" by people thinking about games and a "game" by people thinking about simulators.

If you want to draw a distinction between "fun" simulators and "science" (what you call Industrial, but are as much used in academic research as in industry) simulators, that's fine. In that case, though, "fun simulator" is just one genre of computer game, alongside others like FPS, RTS, platform, beat 'em up and so on. That being the case, asking whether KSP is a game or a simulator is equivalent of asking whether an SUV is a "car"* or a "4 wheel drive". The answer is "both"

* car in the general sense, I am aware that legally a lot of them are "trucks"

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KSP is in fact both, as the two are not mutually exclusive. However, as for what its overall identity is, the answer is definitely "a game built around a simulator", not "a simulator with a game mode". Career mode is too comprehensive to call it the latter any longer.

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It will be more of a sim once the aerodynamics get some love in 1.0
No, it won't. Squad is making a very simple drag model, it won't deal with the things that FAR does. In fact, Squad's insistence on not using isp correctly and their use of a 1/11th scale solar system (among many other things) pretty much excludes it from being a "sim".

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You can debate about game/simulator, but it's definitely not an emulator. It would have to actually take you to space to be an emulator.

A simulator is a mathematical model that calculates the behavior or something. A rocket simulator calculates the behavior of a rocket, and can, for example, draw it on a screen and let you control its parameters.

An emulator is a device or software that duplicates the behavior of something else, achieving the same results. A videogame emulator is a software that allows you to play games as if you actually had the needed hardware. A rocket emulator does not exist.

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Well, KSP is clearly a Gameulator, or maybe a Simugame ?

;)

I had exactly those words in mind, when i read the thread title.

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This is a really interesting discussion IMHO. But I now realize 2 things. When I use the word "simulator", I made an error, I guess. I was thinking of the use of the word from for example "Microsoft Flight Simulator" (MSF), ie a computer program trying to simplify (without over-simplifying it) something complicated to a degree where a normal human can get a feeling of whats its like (in MFS, whats its like to fly different airplanes). I don't think anyone would use MSF as an instruction manual in a real world flight school. (That's what I believe the difference between simulate and emulate is. An emulation in my opinion tries to cover everything to create a truly accurate experience, good enough for a flight school student for example, whereas a simulation is a program which simulates (but not copies!) something difficult (probably making it easier/simplified in the process.) But that's me, I might very well be wrong.

The other thing I realize is, I should have asked in the poll: "Is KSP (first and foremost) a game or a simulator/emulator to you?" i.e. what would you like the program to be (and not "what is your interpretation of what the program is today?") or perhaps: "Do you prefer playing KSP in sandbox mode like a Minecraft kind of game, or do you prefer playing KSP in career mode, like some kind of tycoon game?"

- - - Updated - - -

"Do you prefer playing KSP in sandbox mode like a Minecraft kind of game, or do you prefer playing KSP in career mode, like some kind of tycoon game?"

Me, myself, when I started playing a couple of years ago I definitely loved the Minecraft kind of game, but now (having grown a bit tired of sandbox) I would say career mode, the tycoon version, is really, really fun (having played it only on hard. No saves!)

Edited by ArgenTum
changed a "for" to a "to".

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The thing is, in Minecraft you start with nothing and work your way up to stuf. Just like our career mode

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Both, didn't answer because that is not an option. If any activity in any game mimics real life at any level, it is a simulation. It's just a matter of fidelity. Do a better poll and I'll answer.

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KSP is a game of the simulation genre. It's not a simulator. A simulator is a piece of hardware actually used to anticipate real situations, something used in scientific inquiries and training. A game of the simulation genre, such as SimCity, has many of the characteristics of a simulator, but is in fact a video game.

There's nothing wrong with KSP being a video game, but if you want to convince your friends and family that you aren't playing, but instead training to be an astronaut, be my guest.

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KSP is a game of the simulation genre. It's not a simulator. A simulator is a piece of hardware actually used to anticipate real situations, something used in scientific inquiries and training. A game of the simulation genre, such as SimCity, has many of the characteristics of a simulator, but is in fact a video game.

There's nothing wrong with KSP being a video game, but if you want to convince your friends and family that you aren't playing, but instead training to be an astronaut, be my guest.

Straw man, really. I don't think anyone is claiming that KSP is astronaut training (if they have, you are welcome to quote them, and I'll agree with you). It is none the less a simulation of aspects of spacecraft operations at a coarse level of fidelity, to be sure, just as many "flight simulator" are low order simulations. I'd vote it is a simulation game (or some similar choice). Simcity is a sort of simulation, I suppose, at zeroith order (or less ;) ). Il-2 series is a low order simulation of ww2 air combat, Silent Hunter is a low order simulation of submarine ops in ww2, etc.

In the case of "flight sims" of ww2, for example, having played them, I have a much better understanding of ww2 air combat in reading historical accounts of pilots than I did before I played them (starting rather a long time ago, lol). I have no illusions that I am somehow now a fighter pilot, but when I read descriptions of real engagements, I visualize them accurately, whereas I frankly did not before that. I can't say more than "I get it" now. I think many can say the same about orbital mechanics playing KSP, they "get" aspects that would not have been clear to them before (say reading about the Gemini missions trying rendezvous/docking operations for the first time).

Edited by tater

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The answer is Yes. It has components of what I would consider both a game and a simulator. KSP has a certain humor and way of going about things in a manner that I would most likely associate with a game. On the other hand, KSP's dedication to Newtonian physics and many other realistic features would classify it as a simulator. Scott Manley once said that he enjoys KSP in part because things behave the way you would expect them to in real life. KSP is a blend between the two, and I couldn't say it is one more than the other.

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xSPXoFq.jpg

i don't know who started the game<>simulation tangent, but they're an idiot. within the context of video games, game:medium, simulation:genre, and that's how 99% of people use the term within the video game context. if you're at an aeronautics development centre and you're in their effing lab and you use the term simulation nobody there would respond, "woah buddy, none of this is a game, stop calling it that."

games can encompass many genres, including the simulation genre, which KSP encompasses very, very greatly.

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