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KSP - game or simulator?

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

198 members have voted

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

    • Simulator/Emulator
      45
    • Game
      151


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Now a couple of references to HarvesteR. But what do you yourselves think? -snip-

I'm not referencing Harv, I'm agreeing with his statement wholeheartedly. It's both a game and a simulator. And a tasty dessert topping/floor wax.

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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.

No, a sim of this would be hard. having nothing to do with the UI.

IRL using 21st Century tech, we still can't go to Mars. You could have the ULTIMATE interface, reality! A team of college educated professionals sitting a conference table, with whiteboards and computers. if you simulate it accurately you're not getting to Duna with this tech. (much less Jool) Kerbals are dying of suffocation or hypothermia. Parts fail, things wear out. Contractors cut corners, and overstate specs. Hell, this sun wouldn't burn!

Agreed, it would also be boring.

- - - Updated - - -

I'm not referencing Harv, I'm agreeing with his statement wholeheartedly. It's both a game and a simulator. And a tasty dessert topping/floor wax.

It's Brown 25!

(I know thats "The Boob Tube" not SNL (I'm old) It's the Vibramatic, for women and vegetables!)

Edited by Brainlord Mesomorph

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I thought it was real life, i'm so dissapointed now and want a refund, knowing that my kerbals never actually got anywhere.

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You can simulate technologies that are not yet here. You are assuming "simulation" is binary, 100% accurate, or 0%. No modern simulation is 100%. None. They are none the less simulations. A Hohmann transfer calculated on paper for a theoretical rocket is a simulation, based upon whatever assumptions you are using.

Using your metric, there is no such thing as a simulation, there is reality, and games.

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This kind of black or white poll is doomed by default.

It is a game (duh), and a simulator. You can question the accuracy and completeness of the simulation though.

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No modern simulation is 100%. None.

^ This is a very important point. Simulations are all (without exception) reductions of reality.

The computational power required to fully simulate say an Earth-sized environment would result in an Earth-sized computer. Which would probably look suspiciously like the Earth. There are finite limits to computational power...Moore's law is a lie.

The question can't be whether or not something is a simulation, but rather how close to the system it's simulating it is (and it absolutely does not have to simulate reality. That's just one of the more popular targets).

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First and foremost it's a game. KSP is a space center management game that somewhat simulates the physics involved in the exploration of a fictional solar system inhabited by cartoonish little green beings.

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It simulates the Kerbal-verse... Quite accurately I would say.

- - - Updated - - -

Gamulator :)

You bet! ;)

It's nice to see things grow.

#gamulator

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Game and game before anything else.

Now for a game, this one gets quite alot of stuff spot on, like orbital mechanics. it is most likely the 1st game that ive seen that does that realistically, despite many things being counterintuitive at least to people like me who used to play quite a few sci-fi games involving ships, that seemed to just magically go somewhere and didnt use any sort of orbital mechanics.

Now there is plenty of fail, and bugs, and explosions, but thats why i like this game so much, its fun, hilarious, and well jeb is in it. I enjoy the realistic orbital stuff too, and while not all agree, i really like the decision to scale down the universe, so that both time spent going anywhere as well as stuiff like attaining orbit doesnt take ages.

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I don't see the two options as mutually exclusive. I'd like a bit more realism than what we have now, but I'm charmed by the somewhat comic atmosphere of KSP and if I really wanted a pure simulation I would just go play Orbiter. But realism and fun can be totally synergistic. Aerodynamic disintegrations are hilariously true kerbal for example.

Improved stock aerodynamics and reentry heating are on the way, so that's two things crossed off of my list (though depending on the way they turn out I may continue to use FAR and DRE). Most of the things I'd still like to see are fairly minor and probably wouldn't enrage the arcade crowd too much, such as a fix for the isp/mass flowrate relation, correct inverse square law for solar insolation, more science to do, and perhaps a really stripped down ECLSS system ala the Snacks mod. On the other side of things I'd really love to see more goofy Kerbal lore and backstory. They seem to hint at it in their release cinematics, but more would be nice.

Edited by architeuthis

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Oh come off it! This game versus simulator argument was tired in the 1970's when it was about board wargames.

Some games are more abstract and some are more detailed. Some are more realistic and some are more artificial. Spectra of nuance. But they all have to be games. They may vary in the steepness of the learning curve and the demand they put on a player, but they have to be a good game to be good. They have to be smooth and appealing and give sufficient reward for what a player has to put into playing. And there's going to be some games that some people love and others they hate.

Making it a binary choice is just wrong.

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Depends on which mods you use.

FAR/DRE/NEAR/RF or the like- Sim

Stock or Stockalike- Game.

Duh.

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and their use of a 1/11th scale solar system (among many other things) pretty much excludes it from being a "sim".

That seems like a massive red herring - as long as the game simulates mechanics/physics consistently, it's a simulator; it just happens to simulate a hypothetical solar system with superheavy elements and short distances.

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People who mostly play games think of KSP as a simulator; people who use real simulators think of KSP as a game. :)

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I have to say sim. KSP has a good set of 'gameplay structures' but these need a lot more fleshing out and balancing before I can say this is more game than sim.

It sure is fun, either way! :)

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KSP is a simulator. But a simulator with enough freedom in the your hands to invent your own ways, overcompensate for your weakneses with your strong sides, learn by trial and error - isn't this a perfect game? At least it's surely much more game than the usual simulators when your are given a preset craft with barely enough fuel and 100 pages of manual (mastering that can be fun, too, but KSP offers another levels of flexibility)

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To be a simulator, it has to be making an attempt to replicate reality? Since KSP is unrealistic on many counts (aerodynamics, lack of N-body physics, life support, planet density, etc) it would be a challenge to call it such. It may be a virtual world but it's not technically a simulator :)

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I'm considering writing a blog post on this very subject. Not KSP directly, but what makes a "Video game." My argument: Both. A "video game" is an electronic method of good old screwing around. You know, hammering stuff together, exploring forests, kicking a ball, playing sword-fighting with your siblings. In electronic form. SOME have narratives, some don't. Sim City is a video game. So is MS Flight Simulator or Orbiter. Just like a "game" could be kicking a ball against the side of a building. Both are fun and both exercise the same human instincts.

Would this approach fall under Anthropology or Psychology?

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KSP is a game, and never tried to be a simulator.

Both words have/can be twisted over and again but the way I see it Game and Simulator are mutually exclusive philosophy, as in can't be both at once. You can have Software that allow you to chose between one or the other or you can you consider "make a game" of how the Simulator react, but both aren't happening at once.

The distinction can look blurred when one use "simulator-quality" gameplay to expend his game, yet both follow distinct creation process.

A Simulator twist the user-input and physic-model to give a result as close as possible to what it would be if the scene happened in the real world. It include abstracting the command so you press button as easily as if you were in a real cockpit.

A Game however twist the laws of physics and user-input to fit the gameplay & game-experience the developer aimed for. It include abstracting the physic so you don't have to deal with some game-breaking (yet realist) result.

Example :

Orbiter aim to be a simulator, but the developer (one guy at first) can't simulate down to Planck's scale and we don't have Spacesuit handy. So it did compromise to allow us to simulate more things, but always as correctly as possible.

Since rocket aren't built like Lego, and are expected to fly upon their real flight-pass and not collide with space station the program doesn't simulate impact or assembly stress. Same for the control, since astronaut aren't piloting manually and mission are planned long in advance, a lot of attention is given to edit object/ship anywhere you want and must be used with very complex autopilot.

Yet it's correct to say "game" because any of us can say its one if we want.

KSP... never aimed to be a simulator, it started low, there was no metric, the rocket only looked like rocket, it was meant to have fun creating cluster**** design and see how they react, twisting the law of physics so you could send that cluster of landfill-certified parts further away.

As the game grew up it added round planet, metric, gave more attention to engine-type...etc. Not because it wanted to simulate real world, but because it improved the game-experience. As it happen we LOVE the real world, so KSP try to outdo it.

Once the new Aerodynamic model come out, you won't be able to design & fly a spaceplane to space because you totally are an engineer and an awesome pilot but because the developers worked so you could without having to deal with real problems.

Yet we call it a simulator because for someone who don't know better, I guess it look like one.

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To my mind KSP is a simulation video game, leaning more towards a game than a simulator. I disagree that 'game' and 'simulator' are mutually exclusive - instead, I think they're better viewed as two ends of a scale.

For example, looking at flight games, one could start with something like the Battlefield games which include aircraft but (as far as I know) makes no particular effort to apply any sort of realistic physics to them. Moving along the scale, we get to KSP which includes an aerodynamic model, albeit not a terribly realistic one. Then we get to the various fighter plane games which are explicitly intended to be more simulator like but where the flight models are essentially empirical. Finally we get to something like X-Plane.

Quick off-topic aside. Kegereneku - please could you stop dismissing simulations because they 'don't go down to the Planck scale.' It's an absurd expectation and just looks silly. No simulation of anything goes down to the Planck scale. We currently have no idea which physics apply at that scale to even base a simulation on, let alone scale such a simulation up to something physically relevant - like a single proton.

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KSK, my Planck scale analogy is (1) a deliberate joke (2) precisely meant to mock absurd expectation of realism from KSP, and (3) a hint that video-simulagametor do NOT actually simulate neither atom or molecules individually, collision between molecule and wing...etc. It's all abstracted through formula.

Yet I bet that you could fairly easily "simulate event that happen at the Planck's scale" (with the same veracity than most simulator) if it wasn't for the transition break at the point where our damn real physic model cannot link the infinitely small and big.

Anyway "simulation video game" is an arbitrary misnomer used to help categorizing game, while true Simulation and Game are built following distinct reasoning. I'm not saying we shouldn't use the term "simulation video game", I just wanted to say that KSP is ultimately a game and players should keep that in mind if they want to avoid disappointment.

Now that I answered KSK I'm out,

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That seems like a massive red herring - as long as the game simulates mechanics/physics consistently, it's a simulator; it just happens to simulate a hypothetical solar system with superheavy elements and short distances.
You missed an important part of that statement: "among many other things". A tiny, impossible solar system is only one of the things that removes it from my qualifications for "simulator".

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KSK, my Planck scale analogy is (1) a deliberate joke (2) precisely meant to mock absurd expectation of realism from KSP, and (3) a hint that video-simulagametor do NOT actually simulate neither atom or molecules individually, collision between molecule and wing...etc. It's all abstracted through formula.

Yet I bet that you could fairly easily "simulate event that happen at the Planck's scale" (with the same veracity than most simulator) if it wasn't for the transition break at the point where our damn real physic model cannot link the infinitely small and big.

Anyway "simulation video game" is an arbitrary misnomer used to help categorizing game, while true Simulation and Game are built following distinct reasoning. I'm not saying we shouldn't use the term "simulation video game", I just wanted to say that KSP is ultimately a game and players should keep that in mind if they want to avoid disappointment.

Now that I answered KSK I'm out,

Well, we agree that KSP is ultimately a game, but that's about it.

People enjoy playing X-plane - as a game. People are pushing for KSP to be more simulator-like - because they think it would improve the game. People play flight simulators for fun, down to the level of building their own cockpits, instrument panels and controls. There's no 'distinct reasoning' required between a simulator and a game - the only difference is in the level of detail, or the degree of abstraction. Also, different players draw the line between 'sim' and 'game' in different places, which again suggests a scale between the two.

Oh - and pick another joke. Comic exaggeration is funny and might make your point. Exaggeration taken to its absurd and illogical limit is not and does not.

Edited by KSK

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OK, that last post was out of order. I apologise to Kegereneku and would like to thank him for doing the decent thing and taking matters off-thread.

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