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Predictability of video/pc games.

  1. Aug 3, 2014 #1


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    I just wanted to ask quite a straightforward question (which could be addressed also to other computer programmes).

    Provided the hardware works as it should, and nothing is wrong with it, can a video game have some stuff that occur in it that the coders didn't anticipate it to happen?

    For example I play NHL on PS3 and obviously the commentary stays the same, but can the user me do something in the game that is undeterminstic, or the game as it's coded is predicatble?

    Quite philosophical I guess.
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  3. Aug 3, 2014 #2


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    In the case of games, it happens all the time. A common example occurs in game where a character or vehicle is supposed to operate within defined boundaries of the game, but finds a weakness that lets the character or vehicle go out of bounds, and "explore" beyond what the designers intended to be the boundaries of the game. However, some game makers have anticipated players being able to go out of bounds, and put interesting stuff in what would normally be inaccessable areas.
  4. Aug 3, 2014 #3


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    It's called a "bug". Messups happen a lot in programming. There are plenty of instances in which the user can go "out of the bounds" or do things the developer didn't intend for them to do. In fact, if you make a program to add two integers, and the user enters a letter, depending on what you are using to develop a number of unintended things can happen.

    You can read books on how to develop a mindset focusing on finding ways to exploit these bugs and shortcomings in programs, aka hacking.
  5. Aug 3, 2014 #4


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    Aside from the "bugs" and "out of bounds" scenarios that prior responses mention, you seem to ask if every user action and computer response has been anticipated and scripted. It is more likely that the programmers put in partial logic that will always give it some reasonable response to the current situation. That partial logic almost certainly does not anticipate or depend on every combination of user actions. They should also program some randomness in the response so that it can surprise you if you try to replay your actions. So the answer is no. The game is probably not predictable, in the sense of every scenario being pre-scripted.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  6. Aug 3, 2014 #5


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    This would be rare compared to unanticipated. Usually the result of any user action will be consistent, even if not anticpated. The previous example of an out of bounds exploit generally produces a consistent result, although there may be more than one possible result from going out of bounds.

    In the original game Tomb Raider, there were some unanticipated "bug" moves that the main character, Lara Croft, could do, allowing Lara to reach what should have been unreachable locations, or in some cases allowing Lara to get from point A to point B quicker than normal. Since this wasn't a multi-player game, it wasn't an issue, and although the "bug" moves could have been fixed, they were left in the three sequels that followed the original game, and the "bug" moves were/are somewhat popular. One of these "bug" moves allowed Lara to jump up to the top of a structure from a corner of the structure, no matter how tall the structure. For one of the games, while Lara was in the water using a powered device to propel her, there was a "bug" sequence that allowed Lara to leave the water and use the device while in the air as if she was in the water, allowing her to go just about anywhere. The same thing could be accomplished with trainers (hacks), and again since it was a single player game, no effort was made to prevent this.

    For another example, there is a racing game called Underground 2, that includes hydraulics (makes the cars bounce), and the developers added the physics to allow the front or rear tires to be lifted off the ground. It turned out that the physics that allowed wheelies could be exploited for faster launches in drag mode, but the developers decided that it was an unanticipated but cool effect and left it in.
  7. Aug 5, 2014 #6
    I would argue that it is deterministic.
    If the hardware is working correctly a compiled program given a set of inputs (player actions, randomly generated numbers, etc) will always produce the same outcome.

    Yes there are bugs in games, but if the player exploits these bugs in the same way they'll still produce the same results :)
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