Hi there INS. Been lurking for a while and I decided to make my first post after reading a really neat article recently on black holes and special effects in the movie industry. Sorry my first post is so long.
There have been a number of discussions here on the subject of how much realism we want in our space games. Much like authors of science fiction novels, there’s no doubt the developers have to walk a fine line between delivering a fun and thrilling experience while also staying within the realm of possibility, lest gamers find themselves unable to suspend their disbelief.
That’s why I got pretty geeked when I read a recent Wired article about designing black holes for the upcoming movie Interstellar. The movie team reached out to Kip Thorne, an actual astrophysicist who is an expert on the subject, to help them design a black hole for the movie. It would have been easy for them to make something up and say “nobody really knows what black holes look like so we just pulled this out of our ass”, but they took the time, money, and resources to do it right.
While the visual of the black hole is breathtaking by itself, the thing that really gets me going is it’s also a scientifically accurate depiction of a black hole in space. In fact, the very design of this black hole lead to new scientific discoveries about black holes! This only came about as a result of Kip Thorne’s dedication to taking something as concept as black holes and trying to make it into something simple and powerful that the masses of moviegoers will be able to understand with only their eyes.
Coming back to Infinity, I know the team puts a lot of effort into building real science into the engine but they also have to strike a balance between realism (fact) and fun (fiction). What I wonder is this: is it possible we can make Infinity a game that teaches its players about the wonders of space and science without sacrificing fun to do it? How hard would that be? What kind of sacrifices, if any, would need to be made to achieve this goal? Do the players really care or do they just want to pew pew in space?
No doubt there is a segment of the population who cares a lot about these kinds of questions. I’m sure there is at least one person here who is like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who couldn’t get over the fact that Spielberg used the wrong sky in the Titanic. But how much effort should be spent catering to this group of players?
Personally, I like some reality in my games. For example, the team works so hard on the lighting aspects of its engine. Come launch time will we be able to look at light in Infinity and say “this is the way the light would actually look in space”? I might just fly around looking at shadows and reflections rather than playing the game if that’s the case!
Anyways, I reckon this has gone on long enough. If you made it to the bottom, thanks for reading and I’d love to hear your thoughts/opinions too!
Oh, and can we have a black hole like this in the game, please?