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Friday, June 13, 2008

Realism

I've briefly discussed realism before, talking about gun limits in FPS and how it's used primarily for balance issues more than for realism. However, Mike R's blog post on Fierce Punch points out something much more interesting. It seems that most ninja games blatantly abuse the tools of the ninja, and show them being used in really cool looking, but completely fictitious, ways.

Why does realism matter? I mean, if the game is fun, that should be enough, right? Well, ideally, yes. I enjoy a lot of games where impossible things happen (any game featuring big exploding spells comes to mind), but there are also games I really enjoy that are bound more closely to the laws of reality (like America's Army). You could say the reason for these differences is because they are marketed to different people, but I play both types of games, as do a lot of my friends, so what makes realism so necessary in one game, but a stumbling block for another?

Playability is the simple answer to this. How playable would a fantasy MMORPG be if it had to be bound by the laws of physics? Well, a choice would have to be made between realism and the fantasy elements. Fantasy is hard to make real, so what about games that should be realistic? Well, game fallacies that appear in them are primarily to enhance playability. For example, a single bullet wound is usually enough to convince an enemy to surrender or be incapacitated in some other way (or die in some cases). In a lot of FPS games, enemies, especially bosses, take many bullets to go down. Would it be as much fun if the bosses died to a single bullet wound?

Now let's look at Mike's example. He complains that the kusarigama, a scythe with a weighted chain, is shown in most games as a weapon utilized by throwing the scythe, when in reality it was used as both a grappling hook and the scythe was used in-close and the weighted chain was swung around and the weighted end was used as a short-range weapon capable of killing. He also mentions that in the latest Ninja Gaiden game, the weapon is used more correctly, with both the chain end and the scythe being swung around, however, the chain end can only do light damage and stun.

Why is the weapon used in video games in this way? Well, let's face it, it's cooler to see a scythe go across the screen than a chain. Considering that in reality, the weighted end was probably more capable of killing or knocking and opponent unconscious than the scythe, it doesn't make much difference what the animation is if the effect is the same. Why Gaiden screws with this is something only their developers know, but I don't feel much is lost in these fallacies. After all, if someone really cared about Ninja weaponry, they would research it on their own, as Mike did.

1 comment:

  1. It's not so much that it's being used incorrectly. That bothers me, yes. It's the fact that the weapon is so much more effective when it's used properly. Grappling somebody with the chain and then finishing them with the sickle is a lot more efficient than whipping it around and whipping away at enemies.

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