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Subject: What's the difference between abstraction and simulation? rss

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Richard Hutnik
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I put a post up on the general forum, pondering this. Please feel free to visit and read and comment:

https://boardgamegeek.com/article/24539735

Or, comment here. I figure there would generate some crossover. It relates to my intersection of abstract strategy games and wargames guild/group/club on here and my studying this area. Based on a Geeklist I did on the abstraction of war, I figured I would also ask about this here. I posted in the general forum, to see if I could get both wargames and others to contribute.

Thank you for your time.
 
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Bill Eldard
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I agree with your distinction. I think the common element is detail -- abstraction minimizes (or simplifies) details while simulation embraces them. As an example . . .

Abstraction: Breakthru (3M)

Simulation: Wooden Ships & Iron Men (TAHGC)
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Russ Williams
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Even though simulation is often associated with detail and complexity, I don't think detail or complexity is necessary for simulation.

Rather, a system/model is a good simulation if it produces results consistent with / similar to the thing being simulated. Which says nothing about whether there are many details or not.

E.g. Newton's basic equations of movement (F=ma, etc) are very simple, yet are an excellent simulation of movement in ordinary (non-relativistic) situations. A detailed simulation might try to track every individual molecule, or atom, or subatomic particle; a very abstract simple simulation might simply say that the objects are perfect spheres and use Newton's formulas, and work perfectly well as a simulation in many situations.
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L. SCHMITT
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To take an odd but clear exemple ( that would of course have no interest as a game ) :
"throw 1d10 for WW2, Axis wins of a 10" is a good simulation even if very simple and abstract.

I concurr with Russ : you can have good simple simulations and very detailed games that fail to simulate anything because their model is just wrong.
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Darrell Hanning
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russ wrote:
Even though simulation is often associated with detail and complexity, I don't think detail or complexity is necessary for simulation.

Rather, a system/model is a good simulation if it produces results consistent with / similar to the thing being simulated. Which says nothing about whether there are many details or not.


That leaves bad simulations. So they don't produce results consistent with that being simulated, but if it takes steps to attempt to do so, then it at least demonstrates intent by the designer to simulate, right?

Conversely, an abstraction could arguably be defined (at least from one perspective) as being an attempt to provide a competitive game that simulates nothing. (Or attempts to avoid simulating anything, if you prefer.)
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Russ Williams
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DarrellKH wrote:
russ wrote:
Even though simulation is often associated with detail and complexity, I don't think detail or complexity is necessary for simulation.

Rather, a system/model is a good simulation if it produces results consistent with / similar to the thing being simulated. Which says nothing about whether there are many details or not.


That leaves bad simulations. So they don't produce results consistent with that being simulated, but if it takes steps to attempt to do so, then it at least demonstrates intent by the designer to simulate, right?

Conversely, an abstraction could arguably be defined (at least from one perspective) as being an attempt to provide a competitive game that simulates nothing. (Or attempts to avoid simulating anything, if you prefer.)

Instead of "an abstraction", I'd say rather "an abstract game" could be defined that way. ("An abstraction" seems more like an element/mechanism within a game - and simulations certainly include abstractions).

I agree - a simulation is intended to model something (whether or not it succeeds well and is a good simulation is a separate question), while a pure abstract game is intended to provide interesting gameplay but not to simulate anything.

---

(Though I suppose we could get very philosophical/theoretical and note that "intent" opens a different can of worms. E.g. in theory, someone could intend only to create an interesting competitive strategy game, and completely unwittingly and coincidentally the game happens to simulate something well! Or a random text generator could randomly produce the rules to a simulation wargame. There already exist good (abstract strategy) games randomly discovered/created by computer programs, e.g. Yavalath - presumably a simulation game could also (in principle at least) be randomly created by intentionless software as well. Etc. The lack of intent presumably would not disqualify those simulations from being simulations...)
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Nathan James
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russ wrote:
presumably a simulation game could also (in principle at least) be randomly created by intentionless software as well.

Even this scenario includes intent, the intent is that of the programmer.
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Bill Eldard
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russ wrote:
Instead of "an abstraction", I'd say rather "an abstract game" could be defined that way. ("An abstraction" seems more like an element/mechanism within a game - and simulations certainly include abstractions).


I considered the OP's use of the word abstraction vice abstract to mean using a historical or hypothetical event and abstracting certain key elements in order to abstractly recreate it. To me, and abstract game need not be simulating an event.
 
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christian freeling
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russ wrote:
Though I suppose we could get very philosophical/theoretical and note that "intent" opens a different can of worms. E.g. in theory, someone could intend only to create an interesting competitive strategy game, and completely unwittingly and coincidentally the game happens to simulate something well!

Not just in theory, that's exactly what happened to me with Hanniball.
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