Probabilities of Probabilities

After reviewing the source code from Micropolis in class, one of the things that struck me the most was just how few lines of code made up the entirety of the original Sim City.  Now yes, the original Sim City was never known to be the most graphically intensive games, and playing it now the game seems quaint in relation to modern video games, but it still is impressive to see an entire game’s workings broken down into mere lines of code.  Even without knowledge of the C++ programming language, it is clear what certain code does and how specific actions taken during the game can change the outcome of later events.

The other thing that most impressed me, which we went over in class, was the specificity involved in the events which occur in-game.  When playing a video game, one doesn’t stop to think, “Well there must be a 23.5% probability for this enemy to die once he is shot in the chest,” one just shoots.  But when it comes down to it, every single in game action is governed by such probabilities, and thus games can really be looked at as giant math equations (something which gives me a headache).  Thankfully, these game programmer decisions are never revealed to the user, as not only would they be confusing and disorienting, but they would remove a level of fun and excitement from the game if everything were simply spelled out.

One thought on “Probabilities of Probabilities

  1. Professor Sample

    I agree that in general, the algorithms that govern a game work best if kept hidden from the player. But then I wonder, wouldn’t a game in which one of the goals is articulating the precise equations behind the game’s procedural rhetoric be cool? That is, you would somehow gain points by figuring out the algorithms. And then, once you have done that, you unlock a new feature in the game, which is the ability to alter that very algorithm.

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