Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Finding Quality Real-time 3D Simulation Demos

One challenge for sponsors of new simulation projects is locating playable demos of existing simulations. One solution is to demo simulation-style retail games. While training simulations share many qualities of and often use the same technologies as retail games, they're not the same thing. Experiencing a true non-game training simulation product saves development time and money by taking advantage of design patterns that have worked for others.

An existing simulation will not include the exact equipment from your business and may not even be from the same industry, but many of the basic constructs are the same from simulation to simulation. For example, just about every simulation has a title screen, a range of user preferences or settings, ideally a tutorial mode, etc. Once into the actual simulation experience, elements such as virtual camera perspective (1st person vs. 3rd person), navigation controls, etc. also are common across a range a simulation applications.

The majority of completed training and sales simulation products are proprietary and not publicly available, but there are some notable exceptions. These are typically the more game-like simulations which have some appeal to a broad consumer audience. One example is the excellent retail Farming-Simulator 2009.

Farming-Simulator 2009 homepage:
http://www.landwirtschafts-simulator.de/index.php

Farming-Simulator 2009 demo download page:
http://www.landwirtschafts-simulator.de/demo.php

Title Screen

Settings Screen

Tutorials

Driving Tutorial

Hay Baling Tutorial

Taking an hour or so to download/install/demo a completed sim like this is time well spent. This type of demo gives your team and your simulation designer/developer a shared point of reference where you can start discussing what approaches you do and don't like and where you want your simulation to be similar or different.
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