Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
Writing for Simulator Games
David Wessman
9.1 Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. . .
...andships,spacecraft,tanks,tractors,andothervehicles: anoverviewofsimulator
games and how they differ from other sims and simulations. The Wiktionary defini-
tion of “simulator” is: “Anything which simulates, but especially a machine or system
which simulates an environment (such as an aircraft cockpit) for training purposes.”
A simulator “game,” therefore, is a simulator that is enjoyed primarily as an en-
tertainment product (however complex and realistic it may be as a simulation), and
the genre is typically understood to describe those games that feature a more or less
authentic simulation of one or more vehicles that the player controls as his primary
avatar in the game. By this definition, driving and racing simulations should be con-
sidered simulator games as well, but driving and racing games are featured in their
own chapter.
For our purposes, simulators are not to be confused with other types of simula-
tion games that focus more on strategic play that rewards strong organizational and
resource management skills. These include “sim” games such as The Sims , SimCity ,
and Pharaoh (sometimes referred to as God games) and sports and business focused
titles such as Baseball Mogul , Madden , RollerCoaster Tycoon ,and Capitalism (nor-
mally considered sports and/or strategy games, not simulators). It should of course
be noted that with any genre definition, these divisions are somewhat arbitrary and
subjective. There are definitely games that blur the distinctions between one type
and the next.
The best-selling simulator games of all time are probably the Microsoft Flight Sim-
ulator series that focus on civilian aircraft from small planes to jumbo jets rendered
in sufficient detail to pass FAA flight certification tests! For the average gamer, it may
seem strange to consider the franchise as really being a game at all, but MS Flight Sim-
ulator does support combat and racing, and there are many third-party extensions.
The majority of simulator games involve combat vehicles of some sort, no doubt due
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