Thursday, 29 May 2014

3-D Ant

Simulators often have a dedicated group of fans that often mod, add to and improve the simulator of their liking. Besides a few popular simulators (sims and simcity) I've never really used a simulator. Though lately I have been captivated by Kerbal Space Program. It's a space exploration simulator that let's you build rockets and launch and manoeuvre them.


Most of the time simulators are perceived as different to games. There's usually no structure to guide a player nor is there an opponent. Still as ever being a game or not is not a dichotomy. KSP is one of those simulators that is beginning to bridge the divide.

One of the last updates for KSP has introduced a career mode. Instead of having ready access to all rocket parts from the start, you have to unlock several parts at a time by collecting research credits during missions. This forces you to think about efficiency and feasibility of your exploration missions. There will probably be a few more parameters added in the future, to make the carreer mode more challenging and realistic.

This career mode probably made it fun for me. Instead of having ready access to parts, I have to push myself while being introduced to space exploration on a step by step basis. Nothing is more frustrating then spending half an hour to get a craft in a lunar orbit, but crashing it during landing...

Simulator games can offer us many benefits as a training ground and often a cheap alternative for the real thing.

So here's a parable on space exploration, borrowed from the anime Space Brothers (宇宙兄弟):

Once there were ants, only able to move forward on a straight path.
These 1-D ants walked on and on, till they met an obstacle.
It was a rock, and all the ants halted their way and panicked.
"How do we get passed it? " they said amongst themselves.

One ant rose up and said, "follow me!".
The ant showed them how to move left around the obstacle.
and at a next rock another ant showed them to move right.
The 2-D ant was born.

Able to move forward, left, right and backwards (left+left, right+right).
They travelled far, they travelled wide.
In the end they hit an obstacle, as far as they could travel left and right.
"How do we get passed it? " they said amongst themselves.

Source: Kenny Meguro
Yet again an and rose up and said, "follow me!".
And they moved up, climbing the wall.
The 3-D ant was born.

How do games expand your world?

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