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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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It's a game built around a simulation of the behavior of vehicles.

The simulation in this case is not particularly precise, and the world/universe it simulates is different from our own. This does not make it any less of a simulator.

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I think it's more of a game than a simulator, but truthfully it's somewhere in between. I don't see a need to draw extremes, like many things ... the best is somewhere in the middle.

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In a sense, it simulates what it would be like to be a race of little green men that live in a tiny solar system and have a mad compulsion for space travel.

Ultimately it's fictional, it simulates fiction.

It's a game.

Saying it's a 'simulator' is like saying that Team Fortress 2 is a warfare simulator.

Also, in a simulator, everything would be done in IVA... You can play KSP like that, but seriously, only with mods like RPM.

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I guess the meaning of "simulator" depends on your background. Mine is flight sims. So in my view KSP is a game, not even remotely close to simulation. :)

A simulator's goal is to simulate, as best as possible within the limitations of a computer, the conditions of real world within the subject matter, be it space flight, atmospheric, marine, or whatever. KSP doesn't do that: it recreates some of the real world implications to some point, point where it's deemed to be unfun to go further.

The very core of a simulator, as a product for home computers, is its flight model. The "game" aspect of it, while extremely important, is a wrapper around that flight model and somewhat secondary. You can have a simulator with boring gameplay (DCS, I'm looking at you), but you can't have a simulator whose flight dynamics are game-ish.

In other words, a simulator tends to aim for to the realistic side of things, while a game goes for the "casual" side of things. For some people realistic also means fun, because that's what they're looking for in a game, for others it's boring. A matter of preferences I guess. I like hardcore realistic flight sims, but no way in hell I'm interested in a hardcore realistic space travel sim. :D

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It's both... and neither.

It's a simulator in that it allows you to experiment with rocket science, but it's not because it isn't accurate enough to mimic real world behavior.

It's a game in the sense that you can play it, but it's not because there's no way to win.

I look at it as an extremely entertaining educational toy.

Best,

-Slashy

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Point of view to a gamer: simulation

To a, lets just say, rocket scienctist: game

In the context of gaming KSP is a simulator.

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I guess the meaning of "simulator" depends on your background. Mine is flight sims. So in my view KSP is a game, not even remotely close to simulation. :)

A simulator's goal is to simulate, as best as possible within the limitations of a computer, the conditions of real world within the subject matter, be it space flight, atmospheric, marine, or whatever. KSP doesn't do that: it recreates some of the real world implications to some point, point where it's deemed to be unfun to go further.

The very core of a simulator, as a product for home computers, is its flight model. The "game" aspect of it, while extremely important, is a wrapper around that flight model and somewhat secondary. You can have a simulator with boring gameplay (DCS, I'm looking at you), but you can't have a simulator whose flight dynamics are game-ish.

In other words, a simulator tends to aim for to the realistic side of things, while a game goes for the "casual" side of things. For some people realistic also means fun, because that's what they're looking for in a game, for others it's boring. A matter of preferences I guess. I like hardcore realistic flight sims, but no way in hell I'm interested in a hardcore realistic space travel sim. :D

That more strict definition of simulator would likely require a simulated cockpit, frankly.

'Simulation" is more broadly "modeling." KSP is absolutely a simulation, it's just a pretty weak simulation. Better modded, but none the less low order even then.

A simple test is outcomes. If you wish to rendezvous, are the mechanics roughly what you'd expect if you know something about orbital mechanics? Yes. We did enough of that that I knew what to expect, and did what I thought I should in my early play. My real life experience (orbital mechanics problems from years ago) seemed to work. I read stuff here about people playing a long time before meeting milestones like rendezvous, or munar landing… I did the latter over a pint my first evening (because it was close enough to reality that my RL intuition worked). I'd not use it to plan a Mars mission, but it gives the gist pretty well.

I can't say anything about flight model in KSP, I only build rockets, the space planes are too woo woo for me.

The problem is that game is not the opposite of simulation, they are unrelated to each other, entirely.

Might be better to rate the quality of simulation, say 1-10, and it's hard to measure "game" quantitatively, unlike "simulation," which you could actually objectively test if you wanted to. Not saying KSP would get a high simulation ranking, just that the more sim like something is has no bearing on if it is a game or not.

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If you are playing career mode hard - its a game

If you are modding parts and creating new craft - its an art

If you are testing those parts and creating parts for new utilities or testing physics such as atmosphere curves and delta V, then its a simulatory

The answer is not black and white, its red green and blue.

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.)

The reason for this poll is that I myself used to see KSP as a simulator/emulator, playing a lot in sandbox just because it was fun (for a few hundred hours since a couple of years), using mainly MechJeb as a mod. Lately though, career mode on hard has grown on me, and I have started to look at KSP as a game. Though when I start to express that I think that career mode on hard stops being fun when you start going to other planets (it works beautifully while inside Kerbin SOI) I got shot down by many who suggested for me to find a mod to fix this.

The way I see it, using a mod when you play the simulator/emulator part of the game is perfectly fine and fun, but to use a mod while playing the game... Consider for example Mass Effect. If you just play random fights and chose to install a mod which makes the weapons 500% more powerful, just to see the enemies explode in cool ways, I think that is perfectly fine. But if you load up a new campaign on hard, but then uses that same mod making the fights super-easy, I fail to see the point. To me, when playing a campaign in a game, I want to play "the way the creator intended", i.e. without mods that seriously change the way you play the game (ruining all balance.)

Now, to the poll. Before I make another try to discuss whats wrong with career mode on hard (and career mode only), I would like to know what others think about this game. If everyone see this game as a simulator/emulator, there is not really any point for me to start arguing whats wrong with the game part.

So vote and argue. Am I wrong? Are there not two ways of looking at KSP? Is there only one? Or are there more?

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Might be better to rate the quality of simulation, say 1-10, and it's hard to measure "game" quantitatively, unlike "simulation," which you could actually objectively test if you wanted to. Not saying KSP would get a high simulation ranking, just that the more sim like something is has no bearing on if it is a game or not.

And even then you'd need to rate the simulation (the "verisimilitude" scale? :D ) for each different system since KSP incorporates so many different types of simulations -- flight sim, mechanical engineering sim, astrodynamics sim, planetary science sim, economics sim...

To get an accurate picture, you'd probably want to rate each system for degree of fun too.

Now that might be an interesting survey if you could get a representative sampling of current players.

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]In the beginning there was nothing. And then it exploded!.

In the beginning there was a dimensionless singularity within Planck scale, inflation . . . . . .cool, charge neutralization . . .accretion, evolution, Big Bang Theory, KSP, this thread . . . .Finally. .then it exploded

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It is a simplified simulation of rocketry and orbital mechanics with a game overlaid on it.

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Right now its a game. If Squad wants to, once KSP is finished, to work on a simulator project, I am all for that. It may not be hard, with all the knowledge they have gained from KSP I'm sure they could build a very realistic simulator.

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I'm gonna say "simulator", since the main draw of the game is coming up with rocket designs and sending them off into space, with career/science mode being somewhat tacked on to explain why you are sending up rockets.

[note the use of quotes - I don't think ksp is a hyper realistic simulation, but I think that this is what he meant in the poll]

Realism is a somewhat orthogonal question

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It is a game, but personally, I think it could have been better if gamey elements took more of a back seats. Not so much making it a super accurate flight /spaceflight Sim, but more of a "run a space program, explore, do science and research, and spread across the system, " type thing, rather than "collect points, unlock stuff."

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I don't think this is a fair assessment of KSP.

Personally I believe a Game can be a Simulator and there can be varying degrees of how much "gamey" or how "simulation" it can be. It's not necessarily a binary choice between one or the other. I think of it as a great game that performs accurate enough simulation to be an even better game.

Then comes the question of what makes a game a "game"... Does it have to have an end-goal? Does it have to keep keep score? Is there a need to have levels? A story? Must it entertain? Games encompass so many different things that I think it's hard to say what is a game and what is not. I think the word "game" is at fault here. When you play Last of Us or Bioshock Inifnite and someone asks why I like to play "these games" it sends a shiver down my spine. So maybe KSP isn't a game in the traditional (Super Mario) way but it doesn't make it any less (or any more) then other games. It might not as be as accurate as a MS Flight Simulator (at least with the old physics) but it's still accurate enough as to teach a lot about orbital mechanics, physics, etc to a general audience.

So I can't answer a poll where I have to choose between these two options. If I had a slider where I could choose a degree of "more game" versus "more simulation" then it would be possible but still I wouldn't be able to understand why a great game can't be a great simulator and thus, it would still not be possible to make a correct assessment. Maybe have a 3rd option as "Both" or "Neither".

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So you would let some else decide if it is a game or simulator for you? That is disconcerting if it is the case.

Eh... cof cof... That was a joke. I replier earlier with what I think. However, this is a semantic argument, and since that is the case, they can usually only be solved by authority (such as a dictionary, the RAE for spanish speakers, etc.) or consensus, not by altering the thing per se. Since Total Biscuit has given some quite lengthly speeches on the matter, and I happen to like his opinion about it, I do consider him an authority and would like to know his opinion on a question such as the one on the OP. That said: a joke, man, a joke.

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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".

I largely agree with you on almost all points (isp, inverse-square law, 9.82 nonsense, etc), but that's one where we diverge. While the 1/11th scale system is obviously...extremely, massively improbable, it's still works mathematically (within the limits of patched conics of course).

It's not like Kerbin has a negative mass or such. Orbital periods are still 2*pi*sqrt(a^3 / GM).

Oh, sorry, I mean 2*3.16*sqrt(a^3 / GM). I forgot that we use a different sort of rounding in this uh, code-o-sphere... ;)

Close enough~

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i don't know who started the game<>simulation tangent, but they're an idiot.

Um... thanks. It's not my fault everyone so far has misinterpreted my poll (or maybe it is my fault that I can't explain what I mean... :S )

To me, it's obvious that the game has both simulationy and gamey content (contracts, for example being more on the gamey side, and the new aerodynamic model being more on the simulationy side (even though some may argue it is not advanced enough to be a true simulation)).

Of course, a thread can always evolve to include discussions and subjects that was not the original thread-creators intention (as for me in this case.) I would however like to make one final attempt to steer this discussion in the direction I meant for it when I started it.

My concern is as follows: Most people (all?) who are registered here on the KSP forum, are people who love KSP. I would guess that most of you like realism in games, and feel it is necessary with, for example, a really good aero model (like FAR), to get the most out of your game. So when Squad asks this forum what you want more of, you'll answer re-entry damage, aero model, x64 version (stable) etc.

Now, when KSP hits 1.0 and starts selling to average players, I think Squad might have a problem. I don't think many average players find realism in games that interesting. In my opinion, an average gamer won't find any (meaningful) difference between the new and the old aerodynamic model. My fear (a too strong word, but I can't find any better right now) is that KSP will flop with average players, because KSP is too realistic and too little "gamey".

Now, does that matter? I would say it depends on Squads intention. If their economic calculations are that they will sell on the niche market "engineering interested persons who like realism in games, who are willing to mod their game to satisfaction", then I see no problem (unless perhaps, if all those in that market already has bought an early release and there are none left to sell to). But if they calculate to sell "to the masses", ie more casual gamers, I think they have to rethink some parts of the game (after my own observations playing career mode.) It is, without mods or pen and paper (which I don't think you can expect an average, or at least a casual, gamer to use) too difficult to go to other planets. I strongly suggest Squad to integrate some kind of delta-v map and delta-v calculation tool for interplanetary missions, it is really difficult to plan a mission to the SOI of another planet as it is right now. Now, I expect most of you reading this to do that with your left and right hand tied to your back. But then you are not an average gamer.

Now, why do I care? Two reasons. First, I respect Squad and HarvesteR for their vision and what they have done and wish them a true success. Second, I want them to succeed, so that they can continue to produce updates and add-ons for a long time, and then, KSP 2.0. (Yes, I know they have promised updates. But everything can change. If they somehow run out of money, that could change quickly.)

So, my reason for this poll was to see if my thinking was correct, ie that most people on this forum love this game because of its more simulationy content, and are not that very interested in the more "gamey" parts of KSP (which for me means they are not average players.)

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Game.

An actual sim of this would be WAY too hard. (and no fun)

Hard has exactly nothing to do with realism/physics simulation. How hard it would be is largely a function of the user interface.

"Realism" would have mission control telling the pilot exactly what to do so everything would work as expected. It would actually be boring. Unless you think the player is mission control, then maybe you set the maneuvers, but then you need not actually do the piloting, the pilot would do that. Many games treat "realism" as the player doing things that would in fact be the simultaneous jobs of many people, then claim this is "realism." If you go down that road in defining realism, then really you should pick a single role for the player, and the rest should be AI. Take a satellite contract, and the launch, burns, everything are determined by the game and fed to you, and unless there are system failures possible, the craft does it by itself without any intervention.

See, it's possible to contract "realism" that is in fact so easy it is boring.

I'd say it's a very light simulation (of some aspects of play) within a game framework.

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