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Freedom of choice for players


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#1 Abort Fail Retry   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 05:53 PM

Last night after playing nox I found myself quite annoyed. I had just finished the chapter where as I warrior I had to clinb the tower and retieve the heart of nox. Now my character had been warned that as I warrior the wizards would be less than pleasant to me. So thinking ahead I removed all my armor making me look like a regular person. But as soon as I went inside the wizards could tell I was a warrior, and then went about turning me into spam. Why don''t games give the players a choice in how they want to play. If I''m supposed to be playing me why can''t I act like me. Heres an idea. Build a game where each level has multiple paths to get through it. If a character doesn''t want to kill anyone they can disguise themselves and pass through the level without causeing any damage. Or allow a sneaker character to pass through the level by running through the shadows or climbing through the air ducts. Plus players who do want to kill everything in there can still do this. This would allow the player to taylor the game to how they want to play, making the player feel a stronger connection with their characters. A game designed this way would have to be shorter because of the added complexity of teh level design but think of the replayablity the game would have. Please give me your thoughts on this idea

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#2 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 930

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 08:51 PM

I''m happy to see that my upcoming RPG will interest at least one people.
There are about 2^21 path in the game.
Many possibilities are left to the player, the drawback is that some players will be lost because there aren''t any ''This way'' panel.
Objectives are clear to be sure that you won''t be lost, but I''ll need a lot of testing to be sure everything goes right.
There are ''only'' 5 different victory ending, while there are about 20 defeat ending.
The character can change cloths, and even fail some chapters.
(For convenience, the game is divide in chapters)
Of course many of the path mentionned above leads to failure, but as it''s like real life, I don''t find that problematic.

-* Sounds, music and story makes the difference between good and great games *-

#3 Chris F   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 09:05 PM

2^21? So there are 2097152 different ways the story can go? Thats one hell of game. I''ll definately be buying that.

#4 ghowland   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 09:06 PM

The problem with a lot of this method of being able to solve a problem multiple ways is focus. If a game unfocused in how it is played, it could be too easy, or too hard. Getting lost isnt fun, especially when you dont seem to be going anywhere.

Like in stories, pace is important in games. If it feels like you are just spinning your wheels and not achieving anything, when you are trying, then you can become frustrated with the game.

Some games may very well work well this way, but I personally havent seen it implemented correctly yet. My reservations are out on the subject until then, although it would be nice to see it work.

-Geoff


#5 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 930

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 09:18 PM

The beginning of the story is a tutorial where the player learn what he could really do.
I''ve design that game based on my experience of pen&paper RPG.
The problem of focus was a real challenge to solve, but using the classical pen&paper tehcnics, it wasn''t so hard to solve.
Like in pen&paper RPG you know which character is important because you''ll probably meet him in a special way, or he''s a little more detailed than others.
The focus problem was partially solved by making the player part of a para-military structure, this way he have most of the time clear objectives.
Ye 2^21 is a big number but... I think that only half the path can be followed by an average player. [Cause the difficulty will became really too big]
The biggest problem now, is to find a way to make the player find other solution than battle.
Of course I can make the ennemies so powerfull that a battle with them will be a disaster, but it''s restricting the players opportunities.

-* Sounds, music and story makes the difference between good and great games *-

#6 chippydip   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 03 April 2000 - 10:40 PM

It seems to me like the idea solution would be to track the player''s progress in some way and then if they haven''t gone anywhere in a while (ie they are stuck) then hints could start being dropped for them to follow. I think this method would lead to an excellent game, but I''m not sure how difficult it would be to code... I''m sure it would be worth it in the end if done correctly, though!

Check out the GPI project today!

#7 Captain Goatse   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 04 April 2000 - 12:31 AM

Cool 2097152 beforehand determited ways that story can go means that there are 2097152 possibly bug places. That game is extremely hard to test and get free from bugs. Also, when PC takes sideplot her can go too deep to that sideplot because there are just too many options? Correct if I''m wrong.

Ingenu check your E-Mail there is something for you.. I need that commented asap...

Time comes, time goes and I only am.

#8 Ingenu   Members   -  Reputation: 930

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Posted 04 April 2000 - 02:35 AM

I would agree with you Arch@on, if your approach of the problem wasn''t wrong, leading you toward wrong solutions.
It''s not easy to give the player many ways to go, but it ''could'' run using ''only'' 21 boolean :o)
The story is divide in chapters.
At the end of each chapter you record the appropriate boolean TRUE or FALSE, so if I''m not bad @ maths, knowing the there are beetwen 20-23 chapters, I could say there are about 2^21 paths.

It''s not really the case cause some paths have an early end, and many leads you to a failure end. (But no Game Over or You Failed ending title :o)

I think it''s realistic to say that about 300 000 paths are leading to one of the 4/5 winning ending.
(For those who are unhappy to know that there are only 5/6 endings, trust me, don''t be you''ll have a surprise.)

Some minor changing exists, the way you pass that ''quest'', the way you talked to that character... will make your game different from the others, but in a minor way only.

I was trying to give as much freedom as possible to the players, but be sure that you will not have as much freedom as in a pen & paper RPG.

It could help me if some of you told me what they are expecting as freedom.

Thanx.

[Your turn to check your email Arch@n ]


-* Sounds, music and story makes the difference between good and great games *-

#9 ZoomBoy   Members   -  Reputation: 162

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 12:08 AM

The original question had you trying to solve a problem one way OTHER than the method approved by NOX. So a good program could have a series of the exact same problems without any ridiculous branching of choices where you have to create a new level for each choice(I''m exaggerating here as you can have true/false choices that don''t require a whole new level but a New Attitude towards the PC)
The question is: Do they have it built into the engine to try a different method.

Right now NOX''s AI appears only to have the ability to find the PC. You''d have to give it Thief''s(the game) to recognize when someone is in a wrong area OR to figure out by the reactions or misplaced ornaments/clothing of the PC whether or not the PC ''belongs''. Actually you could have both and give them a % to spot the borderline cases.
That''s different from decision trees.
Right now for my RPG I''m creating the NPC/enemy logic and it is NOX''s. I want more than that but I''m going to have to program it in
SoundCheck(); // Create sound events and test against distance and the enemy''s hearing
BuddyCheck(); // If buddy gets kacked or shot, Hey!!! REACT!!!
VisualCheck(); // LOS problems need to be solved
And the response can vary for each of these: the guy is unaware, he is curious about a sound and comes and investigates, he prepares for battle, he calculates the odds against him(by different methods: number, race type, the type of weapons they have out) and runs OR calls for help.

I guess here are your branching choices without masking new levels. So you could have NO branching but the situation be different each time.

ZoomBoy
A 2D RPG with skills, weapons, and adventure.
See my character editor, Tile editor and diary at
Check out my web-site


#10 Kylotan   Moderators   -  Reputation: 3338

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 01:09 AM

When designing story and plotlines, I consider the 3 types of goal relationships (categorized by me, not by some lofty academician ) :
Consecutive goals - The first goal needs to be completed before the second can be started. This is your standard 'linear' gameplay. (Level 1 before Level 2, etc.)
Nested goals - In the course of completing Goal A, a new Goal B arises which must be completed to continue with Goal A. (You set off for the castle to vanquish the Dark Lord, but a large chasm separates you and the castle... how do you cross it?)
Concurrent goals - 2 goals, probably unrelated, can take place at the same time without reference to each other.(Eg. you have a quest to find an item, and also to talk to some person.)

Consecutive goals are simple and all your players will get to see them. But they may restrict the player's freedom and make the game less playable. Also, there is a feeling of not much going on - one thing at a time.
Nested goals are a variation on consecutive goals, except they add a little interest - a change of focus. You can guarantee that all players will get to see these too (if they are part of the main plotline), but there may be a frustration that they are being held back from the 'real' plot (ie. the thing they were trying to achieve before this got in the way.)
Concurrent goals are the foundation of openended gameplay. The player is free to explore whichever of several goals they want to at once. However, if some of these concurrent goals are not actually part of the main plot, they may never be seen by several players. This gives you a dilemma - do you waste coding time on something several players will never see? Why not code in stuff everyone will appreciate? Ideally then, concurrent goals need to be apparent to all players so that they can choose for themselves, and there should be benefits of following those paths, whether in gaining a material advantage or just some more ingame knowledge. Something 'cool'.

The above applies more to RPG type games. For more deterministic games where the story is perhaps not as heavily emphasised as the gameplay, you need a fairly versatile AI as ZoomBoy said. Don't assume that the player is an enemy - have some sort of check to see if a given character is an enemy, and only then react. Even if your code is just:
bool IsEnemy(Character* ch) {return ch->IsPlayer && !ch->IsDisguised}
then you have allowed one more route of getting round certain foes. All hard-coded assumptions on the part of an NPC need to be questioned and often replaced with some sort of heuristic where the player can influence it through gameplay.

Edited by - Kylotan on 4/5/00 7:10:03 AM

#11 demonice   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 01:52 AM

While the wizards wouldn''t have recognise according to the way NOX shows your character at the inventory screen, there are a few explanations that would work. Warriors probably would have battle scars and a muscular build. Also it is conseivable that wizards would sense the lack of magic in your character.
Another thing is the design goal of NOX was to make a fun action RPG. If sneaking around as a peasent would of worked then NOX would lose it''s focus on action. Three games I would recommend that have multiple paths are: Baldur''s Gate and the Fallout series. Thay are very open ended and very fun.

#12 Captain Goatse   Banned   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 05:23 AM

quote:
Original post by demonice

While the wizards wouldn''t have recognise according to the way NOX shows your character at the inventory screen, there are a few explanations that would work. Warriors probably would have battle scars and a muscular build. Also it is conseivable that wizards would sense the lack of magic in your character.
Another thing is the design goal of NOX was to make a fun action RPG. If sneaking around as a peasent would of worked then NOX would lose it''s focus on action. Three games I would recommend that have multiple paths are: Baldur''s Gate and the Fallout series. Thay are very open ended and very fun.


And Westwood would have lost all burgerplayers and the their poor programmers would have lost all fatty sausage on their bread...



Time comes, time goes and I only am.

#13 Abort Fail Retry   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 01:24 PM

when a started this thread I wasn''t talking about Nox specifically. I know that nox is not designed to be a fully functional RPG. I was trying simply to use it as an example. What I was really talking about was creating games which gives the user the freedom of choice that gamers can find in games like fallout. Demonnice''s mentioned the Fallout series and Balders Gate as examples of games which give the player multiple paths to follow. The thing is that at the moment only the large RPG''s give the players any freedom. What I wanted to discuss was bringing the freedom elements of RPG''s into diffent games. When a character is given control over how to handle certain problems they become more envolved in the game. Freedom gives the player the option to be as violent or as cunning as they want. It allows the game customise itself to the players style of play, making it more enjoyable for them.

Take a first person shooters. we give the player the task of
reaching the basement level of a building. If we game the player a realistic level in which to move within the player could reach the basement in diffent methods. A quake player could shoot his way through the level to reach the elevator. A more cunning player may find a elevator service entance and climb down the service ladder. Or a spy type player could knock out a worker and disguise himself as a worker in the complex and ride the elevator as if he belonged there. As Zoomboy mentioned, the game would need more complex AI to handle the diffent methods the player could attempt the level and relistically handle there actions but I think it could be done. As for the problem of the greater level of complexity I don''t think that it is beyond the abilities of todays technology. I think gamers would be willing to trade the length of the game for a more envolving experience. It would be far better the twice as many levels which are pretty much all the same to play through.

#14 ZoomBoy   Members   -  Reputation: 162

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Posted 05 April 2000 - 03:11 PM

quote:
Original post by Abort Fail Retry

... I wasn''t talking about Nox specifically....What I was really talking about was creating games which gives the user the freedom of choice that gamers can find in games like fallout. Demonnice''s mentioned the Fallout series and Balders Gate as examples of games which give the player multiple paths to follow. The thing is that at the moment only the large RPG''s give the players any freedom. What I wanted to discuss was bringing the freedom elements of RPG''s into diffent games. When a character is given control over how to handle certain problems they become more envolved in the game. Freedom gives the player the option to be as violent or as cunning as they want. It allows the game customise itself to the players style of play, making it more enjoyable for them.
.... As Zoomboy mentioned, the game would need more complex AI to handle the diffent methods the player could attempt the level and relistically handle there actions but I think it could be done. As for the problem of the greater level of complexity I don''t think that it is beyond the abilities of todays technology. I think gamers would be willing to trade the length of the game for a more envolving experience. It would be far better the twice as many levels which are pretty much all the same to play through.


In more concrete terms it means having a set of variables available for both the PC and the enemies. More values to test against for both but especially for the enemies. It really depends on how varied you want your _behaviours_ to be. THe 1st step would to build the npc class member functions that would give you a general set of behaviours in all circumstances. Then derive a specific class from that and modify/over-ride some member functions for a different class of creature with different behaviours. How coherent a story you''re going to have I don''t know.


ZoomBoy
A 2D RPG with skills, weapons, and adventure.
See my character editor, Tile editor and diary at
Check out my web-site





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