Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
much of this data. They have little tolerance for factual errors, so be sure to get it
right!
One of the first bugs I reported as a tester on Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe
had to do with the altitude a German fighter was flying at. I had specifically chosen
an American fighter with a ceiling of 42,000 feet because I knew that the highest
any of the German planes could reach was 39,000 feet. I discovered that the game
would automatically spawn enemies a few thousand feet above the player. The fix
was simple, but if no one on the development or test team had caught it, we sure
would have been embarrassed when the fans did!
Following the release of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter: Balance of Power , there were
heated debates among the fans over the true size of the Super Star Destroyer por-
trayed in the game. Depending on the reference source, it was supposed to be either
8 km long or 16 km long. Since a careful viewing of the relevant scenes in the movies
demonstrates clear inconsistencies in scale (the shots having been composed for dra-
matic visual effect, and evidently not with overly much concern for continuity or
“realism”), the developers went with the smaller size due to limitations with the game
engine. Judging from some of the arguments, though, you'd think some fans believed
the movies were a documentary series!
Where this can get a bit tedious is when you have to make up a bunch of
plausible-sounding techno-jargon. I got myself in a bit of hot water over some place-
holder text that was in a hidden file in TIE Fighter . Working well into the wee hours
I got a bit loopy and thought it would be funny to say things like, “techno-jargon
for fanboys with no life” and “still more techno-jargon for fanboys with no life.” Not
surprisingly, some fans were insulted by this and called for the head of the person
responsible! Don't do that.
9.6 Conclusion
Simulator games are among the most challenging to design and to play. It should be
no surprise that they are challenging to write for. You face some unusual constraints
and expectations but can still be creative and have fun. Your audience tends to in-
clude a higher percentage of gamers who know something about the vehicles and
settings, so you really have to show respect for the material and demonstrate that you
know what you're talking about. This may require some serious research, but you
should find that research a rich source of inspiration for characters, situations, and
themes.
As most combat simulators are set in a war, they are solidly grounded in one of the
most dramatic environments possible. Few settings but wars afford the opportunity
to show the best and worst that humans are capable of. From vicious brutality to
selfless heroism, and from senseless tragedy to blackest comedy, you will have no
shortage of opportunities for deep emotional impact. Simulator games put the player
in an exciting, heroic role, and the writing should support and reinforce that. Just
don't forget to show some love for the hardware!
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