The game that has the best world simulation?

I am looking for games that have a very advanced world simulation.
For example you can walk in a town, and if break through any house you can find realistic interiors and objects.
Or games that simulate a lot of npc in a realistic way if we interact with them even though we are not forced by the plot to do so.
Well, games that have a good enough world simulation to give the player the illusion he is free of his actions, and that manage to process it in a useful way to make the game more interesting and more in-depth.

Thank you.

This doesn’t really happen in IF. IF tends to be strongly oriented towards story: open worlds where you can go anywhere and do anything make storytelling very difficult.
Also, making this kind of game and doing it well is a ton of work – either to write a really complicated procedural generator, to hand-craft an enormous amount of content, or both. IF authors are not major game studios. There have been one or two games that try a big open world with sandboxy gameplay (Gilded, for example) but unless you have a large, professional and full-time dev team or a few decades to spare, they’re going to be riddled with bugs.
Because IF’s output is primarily narrated text rather than graphics, it can get away with certain things more easily. In a graphical game, if you try to walk over a cliff the game has to either let you do it, or put something artificial in the way to stop you, breaking your illusion of reality or of control. If someone’s telling you a story, if you randomly ask “Did he jump of the cliff next?”, you can’t really expect the narrator to accomodate you. IF is somewhere in between.

There are games that have large, scenic, exploratory worlds (1893: A World’s Fair Mystery, Blue Lacuna), but you won’t be able to climb every tree, poke every pedestrian and break into every house. There are a number of mid-sized or smaller games with very detailed worlds and no driving central plot, like The Cove, but they don’t have the kind of sprawl you’re talking about.

Again: simulating a single NPC in a vaguely realistic way is a huge amount of work. There are entire games (not small ones, either) that are just about interacting with a single NPC. Certain games (City of Secrets, for instance) involve a fairly large map with many background characters, some of which can optionally be lightly interacted with. But a deeply-implemented NPC who isn’t important to the story is not really good design.

This is a really vague statement. The illusion of realism or of free will in a game is not a simple thing, and can be approached in a number of ways, each with disadvantages. Simulating a very expansive environment and letting the player do whatever they want in it is one approach, but it has some major problems – not just for gameplay, but for realistic simulation.

See, in the real world we assume we’re free-willed, but we don’t generally break into houses to look at the interiors, or accost strangers on the street to ask them about things for no reason, or jump off high buildings to our death on a whim. People who do that are generally considered crazy. IF is generally more interested in realistic representation of the player character (the illusion that the PC is a real person) than the realistic simulation of things that the player character could do if they were crazy. This isn’t to say that open-world games are bad or anything; it’s just that they’re not a natural strength of IF, and mediums generally play to their strengths.

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As maga said, this isn’t what IF usually does, but there are some games that come closer to it than others. Besides the games he mentions, I would recommend checking out Dangerous Curves and Worlds Apart.

Gravel’s vision for Farming the Apocalypse is very sandboxy as well, but of course that is still in-progress:

I’d got the impression that FtA was going to be sandboxy both in gameplay and in world generation – more like Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft than a triple-A RPG. I think that sai was thinking about a game with sandboxy gameplay and a hand-crafted world. (Not to say that it isn’t a suggestion as good as any: a completed FtA would probably top the list of Least Unsuitable.)

Yes I know that, I am trying to do it right now :wink:
But, in fact it is a lot less work to do it in a text game than a graphic game, and it is in fact easier than most people think.
I tried to create a realistic clothes engine in inform 7 and I surprisingly managed to do without being familiar with the language at the beginning. So I think we can reasonably create a world simulation faster and better in a text game than in any other game (this is not IF but I am influenced by dwarf fortress which may be the most realistic simulated game, and that was possible because the graphics are not the priority)
I also know a lot of people use IF for telling stories more than for making really playable games, but the potential for games is enormous in my opinion (at least for independant developpers).

Yes I know this also, I have played Galatea for example and I wasn’t even really convinced by the thing in fact.
I have personal ideas for implementing realistic NPC characters in exploratory games, a way that would allow to create a lot of characters with very interesting personalities and stories, but with a limited amount of work. I am creating a game right now that will allow me to sketch all the ingredients (I mean code routines, or extensions in inform7) to allow this.
I think that conversation can’t be simulated realistically even with the most advanced AI in the world so this is the area to take advantage of the story-driven specificity of IF ^^
I will check all the games you talk about, as additional reference.

this may be true for a story-driven game, but not if the story is constructed by the player, so that interacting with a so-called “not important npc” would make him the important one.
It may be look impossible to design but I think there are ways and tools to approach this problem in text games.

Yes. In fact my purpose is not to create a completely realistic game, but a rich game. And I think the secret to make the player at ease is to be able to answer most of the requests he can do in a way that seems logical in the game itself.
For example you could try to make a realistic game of someone in a prison where there is only 1 room. It could be very in depth, realistic, and manageable. You need to have some sort of limit to the world, but you should make it logical in-game.

Most people don’t do it because it would have bad repercussions. Making a game realistic would only require to implement the bad repercussions so that it may be a possible thing but with consequences that may not be wanted (but they may also become part of the story/or add problems to solve or to be overwhelmed by, in the game). I guess this is where realism lies.
Not implementing the thing is the common solution, but if there is a not so difficult way of implementing something, even small but satisfying, it is easier to do in a text game that anywhere else I think.
At least, in my project this sort of actions have influence on the story and ending of the game, and are a realistic possibility to answer to some problems in game.

Thank you for the explanations, I will look into these games to have an overview of the thing ^^

Thank you I didn’t realized worlds apart was such a detailed exploratory game, I will look into it ^^

Thank you very much. This looks like what I am looking for. This kind of games are so ambitious they are always “in development” so I am not surprised by the status of this one. In fact beeing regularly updated is what makes them interesting and different from “finished” games.

In fact I am thinking about randomizing world generation to a certain point.
If you want some realism you need variation, but you need as much as possible hand-crafted variation.
I guess I want to use the best features of both worlds (in there is indeed such thing as 2 worlds :wink:)

Or in computer games at all, ever, really. Even if you pull out some games hailed as high-simulation “sandboxes,” it takes only a few minutes of play to notice that they stick to modeling only a tiny subset of a tiny subset of the details that seem to be there, or which might be sensibly inferred.

Well, that is one of the things IF has a track record for doing well. But I think the words mean something different :slight_smile:

As I said I think dwarf fortress is a high standard of the genre, but most MUDs are also fairly realistic on a lot of levels and since they have no graphics it is a lot easier to really feel in a realistic environment.
When you read a novel you don’t remark all the non-realistic stuff that would be obvious if the world was modelized. I think using litterature kind of design for things difficult to modelize and simulation models for the rest could help creating a good and rich user experience, at least for a game which story fits to this kind of modelling.
You can’t create a realistic conversation even with a single NPC but you can write realistic and interesting stories for several characters.

Yes, you did say.

I think the IF languages provide the tools to do it well, but I don’t have seen it well implemented at least in most games I have played (I remember varicella to be rather good though). I particularly dislike the “guess the verb” design. I think the player should know what he can do and the interest should raise from what he decides to do or not do (the game should not be a quest to find how to say what we want to do. I don’t think this should be called “puzzle” as well :wink: )

By the way, “attack, kill” etc… are not in my opinion anything that makes sense. We can have the purpose of killing but this should not be an action triggered by an informal word. THIS is a big step towards realism and it is only a matter of choosing words for actions. You may want to differentiate purposes for a same action with different words (I don’t know if it is a good idea though)

You go, girl.

As I said, I think the words mean something different.

Yes, you did say.

Gods know I love me some Dwarf Fortress, but you certainly can’t choose the kind of story you want to tell in it: basically all Adventurer stories are of the form “a guy went around and fought some stuff and then died horribly in a pile of his own carefully-specified fluids”. There’s a bit more choice in Fortress mode, but you’re still bound into a quite narrow range of narratives.

This is standard wisdom in IF and has been for many years. I have never heard anybody defend guess-the-verb, per se. (Theory: much easier than practice.)

Again, your definition of what constitutes realism is a bit arbitrary. “Attack” is not an informal word, although it’s a non-specific one, which might be what you mean. The people I’ve known in the real world who have attacked people have not spent any time considering the specifics of how they’re going to go about it; ATTACK BOB would be a far more accurate representation of that mental process than STRIKE BOB REPEATEDLY ABOUT THE HEAD AND NECK WITH A RUSTY SPOON. Now, there’s nothing to say that you have to consider command style through the lens of the PC’s thoughts: in some situations your approach might be more appropriate. But the point is, what looks like realism to you (in terms of the things that you’re interested in) is likely to look hugely unrealistic from another perspective. All simulations omit many things: the choice of which things to simulate closely and which to handwave is yours. Nobody ever really wants artistic realism for realism’s sake: they want realism for a particular purpose. It’s a good idea to know what your purposes are.

I also note that virtually in the same breath, you’ve said “guess-the-verb is bad” and “the player should have to express how they attack someone without using the verb ATTACK.”

I talked about the verbs attack and kill but ‘kill’ alone was a better example.
As for realism I think that having the player of the aventure mode in dwarf fortress coming from nowhere and going nowhere is far from realistic and lacks a story that would make it realistic.
The problems with realism in IF come most of the time because of the text parser that eventually let you think you can write anything, or more exactly that doesn’t make clear all the possible commands (which vary a lot from game to game) so that even simple puzzles can be very frustrating.
And IF games most of the time don’t let the player get the commands gradually, like most videogames do. I think this may be a bad habit of the genre :wink:

This discussion got me thinking about two very different games, and I think it might be relevant to point them out.

The latter’s relevance to the discussion becomes relevant only after this command:



I have two fortress narratives: hubris and madness.

The hubris narrative goes like this: ruler of fortress has grand vision (33-storey obsidian pyramid over an active volcano; draining an entire ocean into the underground caverns; suicidal fortress over a seemingly bottomless pit), sacrifices the livelihood and happiness of many dwarves to bring about this vision, dwarves spiral into chaos and unhappiness as goblins steal their children and forgotten beasts splatter their blood upon the elaborate engravings of strawberries.

The madness narrative goes like this: a healthy, happy, productive fortress of over a hundred dwarves is built up from but a small settlement; there are many pets and livestock; life slows to an infuriating treacle pace; fortress is either abandoned in rage, or the entire populace is induced to pull a lever, opening a sluice, bringing the water to wash them down a magma chute.

My bad, the command I gave for the “nemean lion” is only half the fun. Try rather cut lion.

Of course, this whole Lion business is a joke that one probably wouldn’t get at first, maybe ever. But it’s followed by a much more mundane sequence where typing the most obvious command wields a repeat of the joke, making it more accessible. In fact, the way the resulting actions are unavoidable, it might be a way to express a disparity between PC and player - the action dictated by the player prompted the PC to take actions that the player never intended, but which make perfect sense for the PC.

Or maybe I’m just way over-analysing.

I probably am.