Recently I watched all nine episodes of Spike TV’s The Deadliest Warrior. The show has an interesting and unique concept, pitting warriors from various periods of history against each other in combat when they never would have had a chance to meet in real life. Examples from the shows first season are Pirates Vs Knights and Apaches Vs Gladiators. Unfortunately the most anticipated meetup of Pirates Vs Ninjas was nowhere to be seen,although there is always hope for season 2.
Mostly the show is an excuse to test weapons and destroy things which is harmless fun, as well as being a bit educational. The reason for testing the various weapons, and recording their various characteristics is to feed them into an advanced computer simulation which took five years to develop. Hmm. This immediately held my interest and I was interested to find out more about it.
Unfortunately this also aroused my suspicion, as in charge of this advanced battle simulator five years in the making was 21 year old computer whiz kid/programmer Max Geiger. Max’s part in running the simulation seemed to be nothing more than inputing the data recorded from testing the weapons, and holding pgdn on a large O.org Calc spreadsheet when the camera was nearby. I was also curious when in one episode Max talked about having to add new aspects to the code to deal with a particular weapon.
This must be quite a flexible simulation if it supported adding modules on the fly to deal with new combat scenarios. It must also be quite easy to program for if someone who wasn’t involved in the development of the simulation can program a module within the time it take to film an episode. After searching to try and find out more about this advanced computer simulation, I came across this blog by Martial Development.
The article reveals that The Deadliest Warriors advanced computer simulation five years in the making is nothing more than a slightly tweaked version of the PC game Great Battles of Rome. It certainly was not designed with complex battle simulations in mind, is in no way advanced for the tasks it is being applied to and five years in development comes to mean that it was patched occasionally. This is quite disappointing. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but certainly not an out of date subpar RPG.
I do disagree with a fundamental point made in the Martial Development article, which argues that running a simulation 1000 times is unnecessary and an advanced simulation should get it correct the first time. I disagree with this because chance plays a large part in every combat situation, more so depending on the weapons and warriors competing. It would be necessary to run a simulation more than once to eliminate the possibility of unusual luck and obtain a more accurate average.
Getting back to the show however…it is an interesting concept. It is interesting and entertaining to see just what these weapons from history can do and just how much damage they would do to a human being. The show doesn’t have to make excuses for what it is, nor does it have to present its findings as reliable or insignificantly accurate. So why all the misdirection regarding their advanced computer simulation five years in the making, and why make it the focal point of the show?
People were going to find out it was nothing more than a subpar game sooner or later…why not be honest with this information from the start? The concept and results are still interesting and entertaining and it would seem nothing would be lost by just being honest. Instead we have a 21 year old doing data entry posing as an advanced programmer with special access to an extremely advanced battle simulation. Sigh.
That also relates to one more thing I don’t get about the show. Why is the guy doing the data entry one of the judges? I get the Doctor being a judge, and the guy with a biomedical background….but why the guy doing data entry? None of these guys seem to have a great understanding of martial arts, but at least two of them have an excellent understanding of the human body. Max’s opinion seems to be simply uninformed speculation, so why does he weigh in on the decisions?
It’s a fun show to watch, and I look forward to season 2. I do think it was disappointing for a simulation that was hyped up so much that it simply turned out to be a game, but C’est La Vie.