Realism...

It's a term that's used often in the context of our simulation titles. Of course, realism is often in the eye of the beholder and this fact leads to seemingly endless debate over whether our simulations are "real" or not. Well, sometimes they are even better. Consider the feature of simulated failures. With FS, for example, you can program the sim to fail a variety of systems and then test your skills at coping with the aftermath. The best thing is, though, that when you're bored with that you can restore the failed component by clicking a couple of controls.

That's not the case in the real world, as I learned last week when my car refused to start one morning. Since I didn't have a friendly dialog box to consult for the cause I had to resort to opening the hood and performing a manual inspection of the engine. It cranked, and the distributor generated spark, so I assumed a fuel issue. Of course, verifying this required the right--what's the word? Ah, tool that I, naturally, didn't have. That meant a call to the repair shop and towing service, which, by the way, do not really sound like cool features to add to our sims. A call back the following day confirmed my suspicions (a ha!) of a faulty fuel pump and repairs were scheduled--the equivalent of "unchecking" a failure option in the FS UI. But wait! It could not be that easy. Removing the bad pump, which sits inside the fuel tank of all places, led to snapping off rusted bolts and another call to the parts supplier for a brand new tank. Another $175 and day in the shop. Simulated failures, even if they aren't real, are so, so much better!

And on a random note. Here are a few railroad-related commercials that our lead designer, Rick Selby, found while searching for, er, I don't really know:

GE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_88z3qzTZY&mode=related&search
Norfolk Southern: http://www.nscorp.com/nscportal/nscorp/Media/Television%20Commercials%20&%20Video/