It is true that games tend to be overly simplistic in this way, but it is really a design problem, not a technical problem.
Technically, we can litter the ground with stuff and have plenty of permanent-world changes. Design-wise, it is usually unclear how to make that a playable game. Using someone's middleware is not going to help this.
The premise of this article is another example of what Frank Lantz calls the Immersive Fallacy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JzNt1bSk_U
In GTA, after you bashed a car or knocked over a sign, tow trucks, ambulances, fire trucks, and repair crews would show up. NPC firefighters and EMTs would extracted injured drivers from the wrecked cars and put them in ambulances, which then drive away to hospitals. Tow trucks tow away the damaged cars to impound lots or scrapyards. Repair crews show up and replace poles, restring wires, replace signs. Damage to buildings brings out owners, then insurance adjusters, then contractors, then construction crews with all their equipment. Like Sim City, but with more detail.
Running the world where nobody's watching uses a lot of compute power. Game design has traditionally avoided that. It might be affordable today.
Once the NPCs get good enough at running realistic simulated worlds, they can start taking jobs in the real world.
During a wreck you have full details. Once the clean up crew leaves, you just need to record that 'NPC is hosptalized' and 'blue car (model 123) has 35% damage'. Later on, NPC goes by a mechanics, you can query the list of damaged vehicles, maybe load one being worked on in the garage, and if so remove it from the list. After a few hours items roll off the list (representing them being taken care of outside of the NPCs knowledge). The real trick is getting it to happen enough to be noticed but not enough to be seriously investigated so you can increase immersion without breaking it.
I've done a variant of this in a D&D campaign to simulate the world around the PCs, increasing detail only as it became more relevant to the PCs. Not something I recommend doing by hand w/ dice rolls.
That happens to a small degree in Grand Theft Auto games. It tends to be more for comic effect than simulation, but it's a nice detail nonetheless. I hope one day games reach the fidelity you describe. It would be a fun world to wreak havoc in.
That should not be true with proper design. The game would just store "car accident of type X and severity Y at time Z" until someone comes to watch. Then it would show the appropriate cleanup efforts that the watcher would witness.
Not really. You can make many things evaporate magically after about three hours. The attention span of modern people gives you about an order of magnitude margin with that amount.
Now I've seen this in video games, since the PS3, games are more and more 'real' but the gameplay isn't better, only the magazine reviews are, with these 1080 8xAA Global Lit glamorous shots.
And as with movies, I now take great delight seeing how far people could make you feel and travel with limited means. You couldn't represent much, you had to pick and organize things in a way to tickle the mind of the viewer/player.
That's not what gets me excited about games. I want to go exploring. If I just wanted a fancy story and nice visuals, I'd watch a movie.
That's an interesting talk and is really asking: what is the existential endpoint of gaming?
I think the answer for me is the world as it is now, minus the things that are cumbersome or harmful and with unlimited options. So that means if you fall out of a plane and hit the ground you don't die, but it also means if you happen to like eating then you can sit and eat for days without getting obese. So yes, lets build in eating and shitting (If the internet is right then apparently some people like shitting on other people) as options for people.
A linear game (or multi-linear) has a way of testing, anything else would require the entire team to dedicate one or two days from their week to play the game and report problems.
This also means your QA have to be all the time with you, rather than borrow small QA for the begining, then increase 10fold year or 6 months before shipping.
The data involved, we estimated, would fit comfortably into less than 10 TB.
It's not a technical problem, even at that time. It's strictly a design problem--once you've built such a thing, how do you populate it? What do you do to make it interesting?
And as I've gotten older, sadly, the appeal of creating virtual worlds has gotten less and less. I don't want people spending time frantically toggling state in a row in a database, even one I operate and get revenue from. :(
In Eve Online several years ago, many of the more serious players didn't give a ___ about any of the curated stuff, other than as a source of munitions and resources for the alliance power struggle. Forces fight for dominance: that's not very much "plot" but many people definitely cared. (I would agree that you need something to structure the experience, however, otherwise you wind up with Second Life, then people's brains go right up the Maslow Need Hierarchy and wind up at sex.)
Also, in my work at the MADE museum in Oakland, I find that people might talk about notable stories and art direction in award winning past games, but do you know what they actually do? They play Smash, Mario Kart, or Super Mario. Judging by actions, it's the gameplay/interaction that most strongly draws people back to a re-experience.
In a way, assuming the need for plot in games would be like assuming the need for music/sound in cinema. It clearly can enhance the core experience, and you'd almost never have a modern commercial release without it. However, it's synergistic to and not absolutely essential to the core experience.
But in those cases, do we have a story supporting a game, or a game as the substrate/presentation medium for a story? I think we are actually talking about two vastly different things mashed under the same overall label of "game." These two things can even exist in the same piece of software we would call a "game." You can have a very plot/story/roleplaying based experience in Eve Online. You can also basically ignore all of the above and just go for a fairly sandboxy/emergent experience. (I will also note that the two player populations in Eve Online were somewhat distinct, and even when people were in both, they tended to do this by "switching modes.")
Clearly, there are many kinds of computer games where plot can be mostly, if not completely nonexistent. There is also clearly a subset of story-centric games that use the interactive medium to primarily tell a story. They are clearly not the same thing. (There's a good analogy with movies, in which some are very focused on the music/soundtrack and others are more focused on action and visual spectacle or the story/plot.)
(EDIT: To determine how "core" something is, ask yourself: Could the same "thing" exist as a movie, book, or in some other kind of medium without drastically changing? I would say that the overall experience of Mass Effect would drastically change were it to become a TV miniseries. However, you could conceivably create a TV miniseries with nearly the identical plot of Mass Effect.)
This is part of an overall trend in the industry that has been building for the past several years. It started with the game Rogue and for a long time it was relegated to the genre of Roguelikes. Now, procedurally generated content is showing up everywhere, just like RPG mechanics and microtransactions before it.
Simple linear quest lines, unlimited resources, limiting interaction between players (trading, etc...) help to keep the game world balanced for all players, and most importantly, enable the game to provide an interesting 'hero-story' to each player instead of just being a simple 'pawn'.
Older MMOs like Ultima Online provided much more freedom (and power) to players then current MMOs which are much more 'dumbed down'. I think the current state of MMO monoculture can be traced back to WoW's success. WoW was simple, linear, accessible, and extremely successful. Obviously this is what players wanted instead of the complicated and unforgiving Ultima Online, and everyone wanted to create a WoW killer.
May be the wheel of reincarnation is now turning again, there seems to be a small revival of 'sandbox MMOs' which are less about individual story and more about player interactions.
Having finally come back to development 2 decades later and doing work with virtual worlds I definitely think this is the right approach. It's basically what is already being built with nuclear simulation models and the like so I think there is definitely room to work between game engines, doing it at a more abstract level and the supercomputers doing it at the particle level.
I'm sure it might be huge for MMO devs, but as a person that occasionally plays games, unless someone comes up with a way to have thousands of players in close proximity, in a FPS-complex world all served under 100ms I'm not really excited. That's pushing the frontier gaming-wise IMO.
I don't see this tech producing fundamentally better gaming experiences. It just might level the playing field for MMO ppl.
EDIT: they actually don't seem gaming focused, so perhaps it's just the article
In theory, something like this should provide a technical resource of standard things, which designers could then employ and build on. And which programmers, could generate a more immersive world to build gameplay on. In practice OpenCyc is a resource hog, and the details and rules it contains are when examined found to be very limited.