I'm On A Boat, Yo!BT: Technologically, the game is quite impressive. Can you tell us a bit about how the physics and weather systems work?
You don’t want me to disclose the full range of our math models do you?
I'll just say that VSTEP has a background in creating professional simulation software for the maritime industry. This software has been developed over many years and has an advanced mathematical and dynamics model under the hood for weather, water and vessel behaviour. We take parts of these math and dyn models and integrate them into the game to assure lifelike vessel behaviour under all circumstances.
BT: How thoroughly simulated and detailed are the ships? You mentioned you’ve worked with Greenpeace on some missions and ships, getting access to some of their blueprints in the process.
All vessels featured in the game – over 30 by now – are built from existing blueprints and real designs. Same goes for the Greenpeace vessels. We even feature the new Greenpeace flagship ‘Rainbow Warrior 3’ in the game, which is currently being built at a shipyard and will only be completed in 2011. In Ship Sim Extremes
players will be able to sail and walk on deck of the virtual Rainbow Warrior a full year before its real-life completion. The ships are very detailed.
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BT: Do you think that the sim genre has suffered for being primarily a PC-based genre, what with the PC being less and less of a presence in most stores?
It is true that the PC is losing shelf space in favour of consoles, and although this effects impulse buying and makes reaching out to a more regular audience harder, I don’t think it will make much of a difference for the core simulation fan. There are other channels out there than retail and sim fanatics by now are used to finding what they want through alternative channels and digital distribution - which is a good thing for sims and any other niche genre being deprived of shelf space.
Maybe we should turn that statement around too. Has the console audience missed simulation games all that much these years? I don’t think so. The Simulator
audience is and has always been a PC-centric audience, and while there are simulations available on console, I think it will mainly stay a PC genre because of the many game modification options and hardware tweaking the PC platform allows.
These are things a hardcore simulation fan loves in order to fully optimize his sim. No console up until now allows that level of tweaking and customisation (if any), so I think it will remain a PC genre for the time being.
BT: What about in terms of publisher support and player interest? We’re increasingly seeing niche sim games like Garbage Truck Simulator, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen something as successful as Flight Unlimited, for example.
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Notice the word ‘increasingly’ in your question? That means that some people are buying all these budget simulations, and someone is making profit by selling and producing them at a low cost. There is a difference to be made between a bigger budget simulation game or the emerging lowcost simulations you mention.
It is true that only a few ‘proven’ simulation series are able to produce the numbers to satisfy their publishers (Ship Simulator
fortunately being one of those). True-to-life simulations like ours take a lot of research, money and effort to create, and you have to have a proven track record to convince a publisher. Once you have that though, the publisher support and player interest is unmistakably there.
The emergence of budget simulations like the one you mention isn't all that surprising. They vary in realism and are produced at considerably lower cost and sell at a lower price. The success of these budget simulations might be buyer curiosity, and the fact they are interested in the theme. If The Sims
(the game, not the genre) has proven anything it's that people like to virtually do stuff they see every day.
Budget simulations can’t be used as the norm for an entire genre, but I do expect them to continue to emerge for some time to come...people will continue to buy them and will have fun with them...and publishers will stay interested because they are cheap to produce.