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Simulation Games FAQ
What are PC simulation games?
Simulation games cover a wide range of genres and styles, with the goal of simulating an aspect or multiple aspects of the real world within the game. The PC platform has a great history of simulation games, with games focussing on accurate flight mechanics, vast military action, and city building being mainstays since the 1980s.
Simulations seek to accurately represent their given subject, providing details, controls, physics, feedback, and scenarios that could be considered somewhat true-to-life. Early examples of this on the PC include flight simulators. They allowed the player to control a plane from the cockpit, presenting the readouts and controls as if they were a real vehicle. Players would have to factor in airspeed, altitude, directions, fuel capacity, and more, and balance them all to ensure a safe and accurate flight. Nowadays, flight sims can be incredibly complex. It’s not just the plane or planes that are crafted with stunning attention to detail, but the world and how it affects the flight is important, too. With accurate real-world weather being rendered and real-world air traffic flying in the game world, players have been known to build cockpits and use modern sims as training for the real thing. Flight sims are often designed for the player to decide what the goal is, though some also provide missions that would resemble the work of a real-life pilot, such as intercontinental passenger flights. Yes, potential pilots can fly a fully-boarded passenger jetliner from Sydney to New York to Los Angeles in real time.
Closer to the ground, driving and racing games are another formative and still popular simulation genre. Much like planes, cars have a number of complex systems interacting with the real world, and games have been striving to capture them as accurately as possible for decades. Usually presented in a racing format, car simulations typically have the same fidelity of controls that a real-world vehicle has. The wheel, gas, brakes, gears, and more should all be accurately represented. In addition, there’s also the precise makeup of the engine (including the fuel sloshing around in the tank), the airflow over the vehicle, the rubber left on the track by the tires … it goes on.
But simulations can also have a broader scope. Unless they’re dedicated to a single aspect (like planes or tanks), military sims won’t seek to provide one-to-one accuracy on all aspects of a war. They’ll instead attempt to make battles, movements, and tactics feel real. That’s not to say they won’t be extremely detailed. Most mil sims will ensure bullet physics are accurately represented and that tactical engagement will take into account individual troop's skills and loadout, the shape of the level, and how real soldiers will react in high-pressure environments. Reasonably accurate vehicle simulation is often a part of a military sim but not to the same degree as a driving or racing sim.
City building sims are incredibly popular and enable potential urban planners the ability to practice their craft without worrying about riots. A city can have a number of variables, with most city sims enabling the player to plan out the infrastructure, which includes everything from roads and streets to power and sewage. Though these are all very abstract, they still give a good sense of how things would work; dealing with the degradation that people and industries bring to the world, balancing happiness and progress with economic stability and growth are all aspects that are usually presented to the player. Multiple simulations running at once require a lot of skill to balance, which is often the major goal of city-building sims: to balance all the systems and create a well-running city that benefits everyone. It’s very involved.
A recent trend in simulation games is for careers and hobbies to be simulated. Players can now play games where they build a farming business, dealing with crops, weather, seasons, equipment, supply chains, and more. Or they can run a car mechanic business and strip apart engines to fix. Be a truck driver, or a football manager, or a floor cleaner.
Why are simulation games so popular?
Immersion is a huge part of a simulation’s appeal. For a game to react realistically is comforting to a large swathe of players. For some people, riding around in a well-designed and accurate truck is relaxing. Being able to perform well in such a scenario, delivering goods between one large city to another, gives them the satisfaction of a job well done because a sim is rooted in the real world.
What is a life simulation game?
Life simulation games will focus on people for the simulation. Players will create characters who have lives within the game world. Players will set their attributes, temperament, looks, goals, and more, and create a house or neighborhood for them to live in, and though they will have some power over the virtual person, the game characters will also react according to personality traits that the player might not have control over. Simple tasks that you hope to achieve will sometimes become impossible when a willful character decides to do something else. That’s part of the fun of life simulation games.
Playing as a combination of a god and an architect, players will attempt to influence the virtual people to fulfill their goals while designing and redesigning the house they live in. Often, the house design is the most interactive aspect of the game, with every aspect of the visible design being handed over to the player, who must try and create a space that inspires and excites the characters within their virtual soap opera.
The goals are typically open-ended and will change during the game’s progress. A virtual character might aspire to be a painter but could then fall in love and abandon that goal in order to become a parent. They’ll probably have to turn that art studio into a nursery. Such is life.
Are simulation games educational?
Depending on the sim, they can be highly educational. A lot of pilots practice using modern flight simulations in addition to their real-world training, to get used to the cockpit and handling.
Can I play simulation games with my friends?
Yes. Many sim games can be played cooperatively or online in multiple scenarios. Players can fly together, race each other, and even farm together.
Can I play a simulation game offline?
Yes, almost all simulation games can be played offline.