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Does the Incredible Machine computer game accurately simulates classical physics?


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Physics hasn't been a part of my life since I graduated from high school. Now I got this great game "The Incredible Machine: Even More Contraptions", I'm starting to remember it all. This game doesn't seem to require any calculations, but the player has got to understand how the things work, such as pulley, teeter-totter etc..


The game interface is a little similar to the Electronic Circuit Design and Simulation Software that I used.


I'm just hoping someone professional has played this game and tells me what you think. Is it an accurate "simulator" for real life physics?


P.S. There is a "glittery" ball that bounces forever. I don't think that's possible in real life. But other than that, everything in the game is believeable to me.

Game is available for Mac too.

Edited by paganinio
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I always thought that The Incredible Machine was decent. The results weren't grossly non-physical, for sure. But, I wouldn't bank on it for any kind of accuracy if that's what you are looking for. I.e. if you put a baseball on the end of a teeter totter and dropped a bowling ball on the other end, I wouldn't turn to the game for a prediction of how high or far the baseball would fly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

No, it doesn't. Actually, if you observe it, it's quite bad.


Later versions are somewhat better, but among others the game has a poor idea of mass, such as a mouse on a teeter totter will push up a cat (as opposed to an internal mouse fracture), square objects are flung to a side as easily as round ones when dropping a basketball on a rolling belt will make the ball spin for most of its energy before flinging it forward. Terminal velocity doesn't apply in most cases.


What the game does is use some basis in physics to make you think; it's a puzzle game. It uses some pieces, 1 to 3000, say, and put you up on a puzzle. Because it's hard to remember what each piece does, they use physics to make it intuitive, since a ball will always bounce on a certain angle, and given the mass class of the other object, fly to a certain degree. No elasticity, no deformation, no energy loss (correctly), no inertia (unless obvious), friction is downright funny, etc.


It's very fun but imprecise. It does not base on how would things be IN REALITY, but once you observe the GAME physics, you can estimate. It is similar to cartoons, when a bowling ball flings Tom over the house. Ain't gonna happen but it's intuitive and funny.


It's like grenade throwing in any other shooter game. Grenades don't always bounce 3 times, roll the same, go straight on a rocky hill. But after seeing them do it, you kinda apply the same brain area you do with physics to estimate and correct for actual game physics.


If you want to check, take a teeter and check items versus a bowling ball. It becomes apparent after a while that a candle doesn't have the same mass as a cat, cats are not perfectly elastic and so on.


Later versions of TIM check for mass and allow you to modify mass for objects - it then becomes apparent that they have mass and bounce for each object. That's is.

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Later versions also let you play with air pressure and the strength of gravity. It's internally very consitent which, since it's a puzzle game, is more important than it being consisten with the real world. Also it's amazing and wonderful.

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