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Simulation Games: Ingredients That Make Them Click

Rate this Article Sim games are a learning experience, no matter where one looks at it. As players learn the game's ins and outs, game creators learn what works and otherwise. Virtual Worlds Land! - Simulation Games: Ingredients That Make Them Click

The Simulation game genre is often a mix of hit and miss. Make them too complicated and the game ends up only on the sensors of the most hardcore niche of gamers. Simplifying most of the activities results in a product that has a short lifespan and almost no replay value. This is an endless topic that has been appearing as several questions over the years. Each generation of simulation games offered a new gameplay mechanic not seen in past forms. Advanced AI and more complex rules have not guaranteed a truly immersive experience.

Even at present, the question of the perfect simulation game hangs above the heads of players, publishers, and developers. What has been learned so far?

A sim game achieves a balance of realism and player input

Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th

There’s a reason the Microsoft Flight Simulator series of games is considered the best aircraft piloting sim around. It matters little if the player is simply interested in a flying game or wants to get the basics of aircraft operation without having to enroll in a flying school. This MS simulation is an example of a game that heavily focuses on realism. From plane controls, and weather conditions, to airport layouts, there’s a lot for a player to digest. This is where every detail is accounted for – highlighting the importance of these features and the consequences of taking them for granted.

But that’s a simulator.

Secret Builders

Realism is replaced by playability as the top factor to consider for simulation games. No one really knows how an elven farm is managed or how a newly-terraformed planet works. Player engagement matters more in these kinds of games. Is there a lot to do in this game? What can I get when I combine this and that? Do I get a new crafting recipe if I finish this task? Keeping players occupied is what games like Secret Builders tried to do. There should be a goal in mind, but the goalposts are movable when the player feels like it.

A busy sim game needs not to be a chore

Ark: Survival Evolved

Games like Ark: Survival Evolved get added value to players through their crafting system. You find materials from the game world or win them from other players to let you create better items. Difficulty in acquiring these components needs to be balanced between being accessible enough based on how far into the game one is and not asking for too much time and effort to get them. Also, a simplified crafting system in terms of materials and production time is a great hook for sim game players.

A sim game thrives in a well-made setting

Conan Exiles

This is a needed factor in a successful simulation game – and tends to be one of the most overlooked by many low-budget titles. The setting has to offer something for players to be immersed in. Games like Conan Exiles highlight the survival aspect by putting players in a hostile environment where everything and everyone is literally out to take everything from them. And this does not mean that a game needs high-resolution graphics to deliver it. Even pixel games like Stardew Valley achieve a degree of immersion by having a lively and interactive game world to play in.

There are other factors yet to be revealed once gaming technology advances again. For now, consider these as a starting criterion in looking for a good simulation game.

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