Developers that discuss new games, or old games, always emphasize the evolution of their respective game’s mechanics – the science behind the game. “We’ve greatly improved out physics engine! When those aliens sneeze, you can see their cellular membrane!” Nerds a like rejoice, but a dark sector of the sciences feels rejected, unwanted, and neglected. You cannot have the worlds you play in without the ground to stand on, and you can’t have that ground you are standing on without geologic processes.
I’d like to take a moment to make a public announcement: we need more rocks. Bioware has begun a trend, I for one, would like to see continue and expand upon. The Mass Effect games give you a glimpse of geology, but their presentation is a bit faulty. How often do you go underground in the first Mass Effect only to look at the walls and think to yourself, “wow, that stratigraphication is all wrong!”? Impossible mountain ranges with no suture zone, or any deformation to the surrounding regions, come on Bioware. It is obvious you have an amateur interest in bringing geology into your world, you could hire a consult (I have a resume!).
Mass Effect 2 forgot alien landscapes and allowing me to rove around with my Mako and mapping the geology, only to institute resource management. It makes sense you could collect resources from outer space, but what does not make sense is their distribution within the universe! You need some Laws of Geology to allow scientists to predict actually their location during exploration. Most planets do not even have decent landmarks to help my Brothers of Rock.
Bethseda’s Oblivion is a great foundation piece for the greatest of all the sciences. However, what Oblivion is lacking is actual geomorphical logic! I mean, come on, how can you have that cliff without some type of erosional profile? Geez! Even my geology 101 students could tell you how erroneous your presentation is.
Let’s move forward a bit in time and dabble in Urban Geology. Why is it, that every single game (shooters are particularly guilty of this) out there uses concrete to shape their buildings?! Does no one research their surrounding area and look into actual building materials? I think the only place I have seen geology done right, in any game, is the Quarry map for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The marble is glorious! How could you not stop in the middle of your match, whip out your acid bottle and listen to the delightful fizzing of the metamorphic beast? The only problem is that it isn’t even urban!
Assassin’s Creed 2? SPOILER ALERT – You’re wrong! Go do some research on paleomagnetism.
Let us not even discuss achievements across all games. Okay. Let us discuss them. Where are the achievements for finding that suture zone for mountain building? Where are the achievements for successfully prospecting a new mineral? Where are the achievements for correctly mapping the geology in a region? Hell, where are the achievements for my rock and mineral collection!? I think the only mineral successfully represented is gold. Everyone knows and loves the mineral gold – how about letting others join the party? Malachite is feeling very lonely when you only mention copper.
I would venture into other games, but I know your outrage is making you see only red. How could developers neglect the single most important science out there? You know, I weep a little every time I see something geologically wrong in a video game. I no longer have tear ducts since they long dried up.
P.S. Blizzard – World of Warcraft’s resource mining only makes sense to a madman. Your players are going crazy. You need me to fix it. My resume is in the mail.