Posts Tagged ‘Simulation’

Diary: Our Real Lives And Deaths Across The Globe

Real Lives [official site] is an educational simulation that has been around for years. It randomly puts you into the shoes (or lack of shoes) of people from around the world, then tasks you with making the best life you possibly can. You may start as a fisherman’s daughter in Sri Lanka, or an orphan in Brazil. But your life is only ever halfway under your control.

We decided to each start a life in this rough simulation and see how we do. What follows are the stories of five people from around the globe. Some suffer horribly (warning: in 4 out of 5 of our “lives”, rape was a problem at some point) while others find relative prosperity. But who will have the best Real Life? Read on to find out.

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Now You Can Too Be A Cruel And Clumsy God

Thanks to a childhood mired in Sid Meier’s simulations, I’ve developed a soft spot for god games. In a world buffeted by unpredictability, it’s so very nice to be in charge of helpless little lives, lives that could be brutally ended on a passing whim. This fascination with flippant sadism may be the reason why I’m rather excited about the release of Clumsy God [official site], which puts you in charge of an omnipotent hand capable of – literally – showing the world the finger. Look, you can check out the release trailer if you don’t believe me.

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Premature Evaluation: Train Valley

Train Valley offers quite a focussed and fun optimisation challenge rather than a sprawling simulation of every aspect of rail management. Nonetheless, it makes some efforts at historical accuracy - at least in terms of the style of the engines you use - setting its challenges across two centuries of rail transport in Europe, America, Russia and (when it gets a later content patch) Japan. The Gold Rush gets a hat tip, as does World War 2 - so it was with a tiny amount of completely irrational sadness that the date of 1864 came and went while playing the game’s European levels, and there was no mention of the One Thing I Know About Railways: the first British railway murder.

Each week Marsh Davies boards the Steam locomotive as it chugs its way through Early Access and comes back with any stories he can find and/or is cannibalised by rabid commuters while delayed in a siding. This week he’s played Train Valley, a chirpy but challenging rail construction sim.

My attempts to run a railway system make a good case for nationalisation: the absurd delays as I reverse trains back and forth over a switch in the track, somehow making the same signalling error each time; the piles of cargo that end up in the wrong town, or so late that its value has completely expired; the destruction to wildlife, farmland and neolithic monuments; the forced relocation of indigenous people. Oh, and the massive loss of life, too, I suppose. At the end of it all, I go bankrupt – and yet they keep giving me another chance.

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How Games And Simulations Will Save Us From Disaster

“Were you the one that said I was a super-villain?” It’s not the most auspicious question to be asked during an interview. But when I first saw Justin Lyon speak, at the GaME14 conference at London’s Imperial College, I thought he had a lot of the ‘90s corporate supervillain about him. Something of the Jonathan Pryce in Tomorrow Never Dies. After all, he’s handsome, waspishly-smart and wears the standard-issue accoutrements of a corporate overlord. And his company is called Simudyne, which sounds like Cyberdyne. And they mainly work for governments and huge corporations. And their slogan is ‘Engineering reality’. Even their logo looks evil.

So, Simudyne has the accoutrements of a 1980s villain company. But do they do evil? Well, no. They create simulations. Do people do evil in their simulations? Well, no, not intentionally. Looking at their carefully-anonymised case studies, you can see that they do it for all sorts of people, many of whom are either working for good, in government or in big business. (There may be some crossover there.) From a quick scan, I can see simulations covering disaster management for the port authorities of the Western US, training banks in counter-terrorism, managing deepwater oil drilling, and a recreation of one of Microsoft’s headquarters office blocks for simulating physical and cyber attacks.

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No Flare Path Today, Simulation Offering


There’s no Flare Path today, with Mr Stone being delayed until the weekend. To keep in the spirit of 1300 on a Friday, however, I wanted to point you towards the Spintires tech demo. Have you played it? Holy cow, that’s some good off-roading. Throwing this mad Russian ATV into a heap of mud is quite the thing.

Spintires had a successful Kickstarter a while back, and should be materialising as a full game pretty soon.

The Flare Path: One Of Life’s Stragglers

FP has never been afraid of asking difficult questions. What’s the capital of Belize? At what temperature does fluid helium I transition to superfluid helium II? How long is a piece of string? If a question needs asking, rest assured we’ll ask it. We’ve spent most of this week doggedly doorstepping wargame developers in an attempt to find out why, in 30-odd years of endeavour none of them have had the wit or wisdom to produce an FTL-style B-17 or Lancaster game. Read the rest of this entry »

The Flare Path: A Skulk Of Foxers

The Flare Path turns one this week. Here in the UK that means it can legally get its navel pierced, buy wine gums, point at clouds, and read Knut Hamsun on public transport. To commemorate the occasion there’ll be no game newscasts or inscrutable intros today. The entire column will be given over to quizzes. Dozing adorably beyond the jump are five bushy-tailed Foxers, each with a rather special prize tied to its brush. Read the rest of this entry »