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Author Topic: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever  (Read 43856 times)

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Büge

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #580 on: January 03, 2014, 02:05:34 AM »

 :tldr:
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #581 on: January 03, 2014, 04:35:20 AM »

It's a smaller point rather than anything that addresses Bill's overall questions, but what might be interesting is a game where the non-player elements have far greater agency.

Perhaps this has been done in indie games but if you have NPCs who have their own agendas they will pursue, with a variety of options for their getting there you increase the chances of organic story development.

Dwarf Fortress comes to mind, but that's more of a management game, where you're an overlord dominating the durdling of NPCs whose behaviour is extremely basic and mainly based on random brownian motion (though that sometimes creates story moments of its own). RPGs have done this, with villagers who have economic/social/military goals who ask you for help which results in world changes (and player rewards), and newer RPGs have made an effort to make these quests somewhat independent of the player, in that they will sometimes trigger on their own eventually, or - more likely - the window for the player to affect things closes. But those are still linear scripted events - efforts in developing better AI are a big hurdle here though. A huge breakthrough would be for NPCs to have some capacity to develop their own dialogue, rather than relying on dialogue trees. But that might be a longer way off then we imagine, so it may be necessary to find ways of avoiding dialogue.

I guess what I'm talking about is a leap where you have bots that are nearly the equivalent of the PC, who are coded to have the tools to pursue stories of their own. What might be really crazy is a game that the player can in dominate with effort, but which also will play itself out entirely to a reasonable conclusion without the player doing anything at all. The player will effectively choose their difficulty level and level of involvement, as well as making their own moral decisions.

One interesting idea would be a player who crashes on an alien world, with aliens whose language he does not understand. The player needs to get off world. He can attack, steal from, or even kill the aliens, perhaps coming to rule them, or he can work with them and gain their cooperation. Or he can sit and watch the aliens go about their own business. Maybe the aliens are also marooned, but have been on the world longer and are in better shape so that eventually they too will leave if left alone, so the player could just stow away aboard their ship.
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Büge

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #582 on: January 03, 2014, 06:02:49 AM »

I'm sure there have been D&D style videogames where your party develops parallel with one or more NPC party, and they get procedurally generated weapon and spell upgrades as the game progresses which you can fight or trade for.
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #583 on: January 03, 2014, 07:59:15 AM »

Well, the most obvious case are scripted villains who repeatedly oppose you, JRPG-style. But to have a game generate something like that incidentally through procedural creation would be sort of wild.
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François

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #584 on: January 03, 2014, 08:12:45 AM »

That sort of happens in 100 World Story and Dokapon Kingdom. Those have more in common with Mario Party than with Baldur's Gate, but there are independant NPC players with basic AI who compete/cooperate at will with other players for the same objectives and by the exact same rules.
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Brentai

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #585 on: January 03, 2014, 06:20:36 PM »

A different train of thought got me to thinking about Space Station 13, but then I connected that with this conversation and figured I should... just point out Space Station 13, I guess.  It really is one of the most prime examples of... I want to say "emergent storytelling" in gaming, but that phrase makes me feel like punching myself in the mouth.  "Story as a goal" might be a bit better.

SS13 is one of the few games I can think of where telling the story is the player's true main objective.  There are other objectives to complete, of course, but all of these largely come secondary to the primary focus of storytelling*.  Completing your objectives at the cost of narrative will usually get you banned, in fact.

Those in-game objectives, though, are one of the big reasons why I think SS13 works as a true multiplayer role-playing game, as opposed to a lot of games that try for it but sort of grind down to a bunch of avatars describing actions to each other.  Conflict is pretty much the main source of interesting things happening in a story, and conflict is created by people or entities having, er, conflicting goals.  In most video games this is present, although the conflict is pretty basic: You are trying to accomplish a goal, and the other entities in the game are either trying to stop you, or do something which would prevent you from accomplishing your goal (e.g. kill you).  SS13 does pretty much the same thing in a less direct way: You're usually not being thwarted directly as such (unless you're a traitor or doing something patently illegal), but in almost every round you can be sure that someone, somewhere is going to make things tricky for you.

It's a rare, but not necessarily unique system in video games.  The Ship is based around the same concept, albeit in a much more simplified manner.  Most multiplayer games will put players in direct conflict, but then the stories become about as simple as the motivators that drive them: "And then I shot the other guy!"  Some games that aspire to be true role-playing games, like Neverwinter Nights, do a lot right but either don't provide the players with such a diverse set of operating parameters or simply don't provide as many things that can otherwise go wrong for the game to be interesting.  SS13 not only puts the burden of insanity on the players, it crams further insanity into every overly detailed game feature.

Computers generally do a poor job of imitating the creativity of humans but if you truly want to "create" stories out of the interaction of the player and the in-game entities, then creating entities with much more various goals and interactions is a good start.  At the very least, you'll get stories out of it that are more complex than "That NPC tried to kill me, so I shot him."

* Before you think I'm being high-falutin' about this, keep in mind that the "stories" in Space Station 13 usually involve people murdering each other with zambonies, shitting their own asses off and bleeding to death in access vents, and trying to make ground beef out of dead xenomorphs.
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Healy

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #586 on: January 03, 2014, 07:17:07 PM »

Have you played the Versu games yet? I dunno how it gets into the whole flow problem, but it seems like it'd be up your alley anyway.

EDIT: And now that I think of it, aren't a lot of dating sims also pretty "flow-y"?
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #587 on: January 04, 2014, 01:42:14 AM »

What games have significantly advanced game AI in the past 5 or even 10 years? I mean, as a casual observer, it feels like game AI development is much more stagnant when compared to other game components, like graphics. Current AI is of course better than it was 10 years ago, but it just feels like improvements in degree (RTS pathing getting better, units being a bit more responsive to more situations) rather than an expansion of new capabilities (true dynamic dialogue trees).
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Büge

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #588 on: January 04, 2014, 02:51:24 AM »

But that's hard. New graphics just require more powerful rendering software. Programming AI requires a lot of investment in time and money. Usually that means that the AI is bound to the software and can't be packaged out the way graphical upgrades can.
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Disposable Ninja

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #589 on: January 04, 2014, 06:54:01 AM »

Lately I've been thinking about doing some sort of dark fantasy. Very dark. Crazy dark. So far all I've got is a creation myth based around incestual rape and violent patricide:

[spoiler]Earth Father rapes his Goddess Daughter, and the Goddess Daughter plots her revenge: she gets him inebriated and does the nasty with him again, and while he's drunkenly asleep she pulls out a magical dagger and just full-on mutilates him to death. She peels the skin from his flesh, carves the flesh from him bones, and breaks his bones with the pommel of the knife (thereby creating sand, soil and stone respectively), drains him of all of his blood (creating the oceans of the earth), cuts out his eyes and hurls them far away (creating the sun and the moon), and castrates him and hurls his genitals into the deepest, darkest crevice of the newly forming Earth.

The Goddess Daughter later gives birth to humanity, whereas the blood from the Earth Father's genitals spawn all the evil of the world.[/spoiler]
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #590 on: January 04, 2014, 07:04:06 AM »

That's actually kind of cool for a generic EVIL ORIGIN OF WORLD.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #591 on: January 04, 2014, 11:30:11 AM »

What games have significantly advanced game AI in the past 5 or even 10 years? I mean, as a casual observer, it feels like game AI development is much more stagnant when compared to other game components, like graphics. Current AI is of course better than it was 10 years ago, but it just feels like improvements in degree (RTS pathing getting better, units being a bit more responsive to more situations) rather than an expansion of new capabilities (true dynamic dialogue trees).

Advancements in AI over the last decade have mostly been in the domain of machine learning, which is a lot of advanced statistics. "Big Data" is the buzzword. Its impact on gaming has been in things like matchmaking and ad delivery, where you're not likely to enjoy it. It turns out that simple behaviors are easier to design fun challenges around.

However, there's a few standouts. There's that one recent racing game whose title I forget which trains an AI to imitate your own driving habits, then lets your friends race against it. Valve has published papers on this topic, the most visible practical result of which has been the Director in the Left 4 Dead series. Additionally, bots in general continue to improve; I'm sorry I don't have any links for you.

You may also be interested to read about Tom Murphy's work toward a general game-solving AI.
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #592 on: January 04, 2014, 12:54:19 PM »

I'm sort of familiar with Valve's efforts both in L4D and TF2, to provide more dynamic combat bots. Certainly these are an improvement over say, Quake combat bots. I mean, we're at the point where combat bots will provide a reasonable challenge, and I guess that's the case for other genres, like RTS, though I haven't played RTS games in a while, so I can't say for sure.

I think that there are certain technologies where a moderate advancement will offer big leaps to gaming, and AI is one of those, especially better non-combat interactivity. Scripted dialogue trees are especially one of those really cumbersome relics that sticks out for how little the mechanic has changed, in spite of two decades of game development.

Improved/deeper communications and interactivity in general have suffered from lagged development. But while devs are finally starting to look at voxel games and really imagine 100% interactive physical game worlds, communications still lags. Hell, imagine even current-AI combat bots who can reliably receive basic verbal commands. That seems so simple, but even that's something that still seems moderately distant.
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Bongo Bill

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #593 on: January 04, 2014, 01:23:52 PM »

Forgot to mention: Kinect voice and gesture recognition is a major step forward, too.
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Disposable Ninja

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #594 on: January 18, 2014, 10:27:48 PM »

I was thinking about how to have a female main character in GTA without it feeling contrived. What kind of reprehensible woman could you imagine falling into the typical GTA line of work?

Former Child Star.
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Disposable Ninja

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #595 on: January 19, 2014, 02:32:24 AM »

Also, Sci-Fi idea: time travel exists. They use it in space ships to compensate for Faster Than Light travel-induced time dilation.
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Mongrel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #596 on: January 19, 2014, 03:26:19 AM »

The first idea is worthy of the old Rock Star, back when their games were simply funny.

The second one seems kind of clunky. You'd have to have a really elaborate explanation as to why that only worked in that one narrow circumstance.
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Brentai

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #597 on: January 19, 2014, 04:44:28 AM »

You can probably fool 99% of the audience by making up some complete bullshit about relativity.
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Lottel

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Re: Worst Stray Thoughts Ever
« Reply #598 on: January 19, 2014, 05:45:16 AM »

Time is directly tied to physical space. You can only bend time in one area once every so often. Too much causes tears. Going great distances is gives you plenty of space away from other little worn out time areas.
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