What do we think of questions ostensibly about non-game-making topics which are being asked in order to create a game which simulates those topics accurately?

In meta we had a related conversation about a specific question (the characteristics of real-world weapon systems) here, but the discussion there was very specific to the particular question, and maybe isn't a general answer to the question?

We've also recently had a question about the handling characteristics of real world cars, also for use in a game simulation.

Is this sort of "question-about-the-real-world-so-that-I-can-simulate-it-in-a-game" question off-topic for us, or are the answers we'd give to these questions useful resources for future game developers, and therefore worth archiving here?

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Sounds off topic to me. –  Almo Feb 26 '13 at 2:34
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I'm leaning that way too, using boat programming as precedent. But I'm not convinced, which is why I asked. Am hoping that people who have strong feelings and/or a larger perspective will post something thoughtful/insightful that makes the correct answer obvious. Or at least spreads the field somewhat. :) –  Trevor Powell Feb 26 '13 at 4:46
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I thought that question about real world cars was somewhat off topic. Which is why I answered it in a generic way. I do think that sometimes these questions can be on topic if the answers guide them that way. If I can find a way to give an on topic answer to a somewhat off topic question, I'll try to do that. –  Byte56 Feb 26 '13 at 19:21
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I really liked your answer to the question, @Byte56. It's what made me ask this question rather than vote to close. :) –  Trevor Powell Feb 26 '13 at 21:39
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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Ultimately, this site is a site about game development. That means questions must be about the act of game development, or things directly related to that act. These kinds of research questions are better suited to sites dedicated to researching that information.

Once you have done the required research, then you can bring that information here and say, "here's how the system is supposed to behave; how do I simulate that?" Well actually, that question's probably too broad, but that's the general idea.

Just because a particular piece of research might be used in the course of making a game doesn't make it a question about game development.

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I think there are two varieties of this question. There are the boat questions, and then there are people who are trying to ask "what do I need to model?" The car steering rotation is a good example of the latter. The guy didn't get the answer he specifically requested, but he was happy with a good approximation because it will help him with his development.

This question is similar, but the poster is asking directly how to model something. The guy wants to know how to build a simulation of the real life concept, so he's asking how to model it. I think the people who ask about the concept itself are asking the same question with different phrasing.

The downside is that each of these questions encourages opiniony answers. But gamedev is generally more tolerant of discussion questions when they discussion centers around the many ways to implementing some game system. In my opinion.

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I'm not sure what everyone else thinks - but if it can be useful to any wander passer-byer I don't see why we shouldn't archive it here. We shouldn't be talking about random models of cars and discussing bias information - but if someone can give a non-bias resource and authorative resource on handling simulations for various things.. I say.. why not? There's worst things to be living on this site like "Debug my code" or "Help me get started with nothing".

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-1: "if it can be useful to any wander passer-byer" That is not the standard that SE uses for what gets put on our various sites. –  Nicol Bolas Feb 26 '13 at 7:19
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