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#1 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 10:32 AM

To start with some inspiring words from member Oddjob: (from MMOPOS thread gdesign forum) and follow them up with my interpretation of this! These show a fresh light on single-player games. Oddjob:"Socialization is crippled aside from flocking together for defense without the underlaying social structures of family, clan and country. Familial groups are less than meaningless without real property and economic underpinnings. Wars are trite without passion and conviction and, oh yes, greed. Without player character rulers and factions - what's there to talk about? NPC orcs spawning? A fancy new magic item? What's the point of having power if there's nothing to do with it but get more power? What's heroism or sacrifice without death? Real death?" ================================================================= -Ketchaval develops the theme: This asks, what is the MEANING behind something in the game, can it be made to matter to the player. Whilst it (may not) suggest that the player can play as a predefined member of a family, it suggests that they could enter as a rookie into a criminal Family.. entering the tempestuous relationships of the characters as they cheat on each other and try to steal from them. Or of fearing the devastation that a civil war may bring to a country, knowing that many of the people will be slaughtered or "forced" to slaughter kinsmen .. just because they have different beliefs (I'm, not condoning this, but it is what happens ie. see American / Spanish civil war etc). Where the land scape may be devastated and land-mines left to evilly blight the lives of families for decades to come . Where neighbours gossiping about their neighbours extra-marital affairs may bring about violent repurcussions. Where the tribal "justice" may be cruel and is definitely to be feared. If you return to the tribe having stolen the chieftains daughter, you will both be punished.... Where greed really leads to backstabbing and anger. Can we start to create systems which contain these things, not trying to force them onto the player in the background, but having them as real parts of the game-system ? Edited by - Ketchaval on 10/17/00 6:37:16 PM

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#2 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 10:49 AM

Wow.

Oddjob, you''re saying the same thing I was saying like a month ago, only so much better than I did...

#3 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1771

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 10:54 AM

I really think that to make something like this work you have think in terms of systems and resources. Resources are what put the reality in the game''s rules. Otherwise, true impact can only be made by mutual agreement (which is the way the OOC negotiations work in MUDs, if I''m not mistaken)

Greg Costikyan wrote something that might bear on this (bold my emphasis):

"The way to make choices meaningful is to give players resources to manage. "Resources" can be anything: Panzer divisions. Supply points. Cards. Experience points. Knowledge of spells. Ownership of fiefs. The love of a good woman. Favors from the boss. The good will of an NPC. Money. Food. Sex. Fame. Information.

If the game has more than one ''resource,'' decisions suddenly become more complex. If I do this, I get money and experience, but will Lisa still love me? If I steal the food, I get to eat, but I might get caught and have my hand cut off. If I declare against the Valois, Edward Plantagenet will grant me the Duchy of Gascony, but the Pope may excommunicate me, imperilling my immortal soul.

These are not just complex decisions; these are interesting ones. Interesting decisions make for interesting games.

The resources in question have to have a game role; if ''your immortal soul'' has no meaning, neither does excommunication. (Unless it reduces the loyalty of your peasants, or makes it difficult to recruit armies, or... but these are game roles, n''est-ce pas?) Ultimately, ''managing resources'' means managing game elements in pursuit of your goal. A ''resource'' that has no game role has nothing to contribute to success or failure, and is ultimately void. "




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#4 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 12:06 PM

Wavinator, Put the Resource down.. and BACK AWAY SLOWLY !

I'm suggesting that more is put into the WORLD where the player is, that the player can get involved in that things have POWERFUL MEANINGS.. Ie. You steal the chieftain's daughter, and you get your legs mutilated.. and she gets locked away and married off to the oldest son. Based as far as possible on things that have EMOTIONAL CONTENT... IE. Like being wanted by the Mafia boss for f*dwing up a hit-assignment...

I am suggesting that we think in BROADER TERMS OF EMOTION & REPRESENTATION, how can we make this situation have emotional impact on the player.. even if it doesn't actually affect them personally (or their resources). Like reading about tragic accidents in a newspaper or a novel.

That we try to think of society and situation based situations where the characters & events have real and "obvious" links between each other.

Thus put aside the thoughts of resources for one minute, until we have to return to them to work out how to get things into the game. Think about the situations & characters and potential emotions and then work out what qualities the characters will need to have to get the player emotionaly involved over time.

Of course you need to work out how to portray and setup these situations& characters in terms of resources / audio-visual content. Ie. Portraying the gangster boss as tough and cruel.. through speech etc.. and setting up conditions for when he will have the player hunted down (IF doublecross=1 ) etc.


(Amended the first topic post to show which were my thoughts & arguments to develop from Oddjob's cool posting.).

Edited by - Ketchaval on October 17, 2000 7:16:00 PM

#5 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 12:19 PM

Yes, I love the idea of linking player''s actions w/ society and other situations in general. One important tool is good ol'' divergence and player choice. If the player is told everything to do and the player has no choice other than to do what he''s/she''s told, they''ll feel like they''re just doing their job. If the player is allowed to choose what he/she does, then the player is more likely to feel responsible.



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#6 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 12:39 PM

Actually, something else just occured to me. Think about movies or books where you really did feel something for the character...like a Shakespeare tradegy for instance. At that point you are mostly just a by-stander reading the sad stories of the characters. In a game, we have the possibility to actually make the player feel responsible for the tragedies of the characters if the player hurts someone or fails to help someone. If that's not an unique attribute of games, and an underused attribute I don't know what is.




""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.



Edited by - Nazrix on October 17, 2000 7:44:48 PM


#7 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1771

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 02:24 PM

quote:
Original post by Ketchaval

Wavinator, Put the Resource down.. and BACK AWAY SLOWLY !




* holds RESOURCE to head, distraught: "I''ll do it man. You know I will. Don''t push me!!!"*

quote:

I''m suggesting that more is put into the WORLD where the player is, that the player can get involved in that things have POWERFUL MEANINGS.. Ie. You steal the chieftain''s daughter, and you get your legs mutilated.. and she gets locked away and married off to the oldest son. Based as far as possible on things that have EMOTIONAL CONTENT... IE. Like being wanted by the Mafia boss for f*dwing up a hit-assignment...



But I beseech you to put this into the context of a game. Right now it seems free floating as you describe it.

Okay, so I eloped with the chieftan''s daughter. Why did I do this? It couldn''t have been the love of a beautiful woman, as I can''t feel love for a virtual being. Sex has no meaning in a world without sensation. Beauty I can''t touch isn''t worth losing my legs over. Worst of all, __NONE__ of this is real.



quote:

I am suggesting that we think in BROADER TERMS OF EMOTION & REPRESENTATION, how can we make this situation have emotional impact on the player.. even if it doesn''t actually affect them personally (or their resources). Like reading about tragic accidents in a newspaper or a novel.



Yeah, I think conceiving of the situations is noteworthy and highly useful. I''m just seeking to tie them to something. They can''t be emotionally meaningful unless they mean something to the world I''m in. Losing my legs is just a graphical mutilation of my avatar. I feel none of the loss, or the regret, or the guilt of what I''ve done, particularly if I''ve got a quest to complete or dragon to slay (then I''m just annoyed) Why? Because resources are the physics, the underpinning, the __GLUE__ of "reality" in a game. They''re what makes something in a game world real to the game as a system.


quote:

Thus put aside the thoughts of resources for one minute, until we have to return to them to work out how to get things into the game.



Ah. Okay, this is just a work style difference that gets us to the same destination. I''m cool with that.

quote:

Think about the situations & characters and potential emotions and then work out what qualities the characters will need to have to get the player emotionaly involved over time.



I can''t see the way to do this as you describe, but I''d be very interested in an elaboration. So you have lost your legs. How do you make this meaningful? Maybe we should sketch out an emotional situation.

quote:

Of course you need to work out how to portray and setup these situations& characters in terms of resources / audio-visual content. Ie. Portraying the gangster boss as tough and cruel.. through speech etc.. and setting up conditions for when he will have the player hunted down



Representation becomes a huge issue. Actors with facial expressions, simulated emotion, and realistic animation. Fully autonomous behavior, or prescripted sequences to relate the situations to the player. This is tough, unless you want to go the cheaper, easier route of text.


quote:

(IF doublecross=1 ) etc.



Hey, that''s a resource!!!! (j/k)

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#8 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 02:45 PM

A question about the writing perspective of games...
Do you think we''d have more success in making the player feel emotional about other characters or about the player himself/herself?



""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#9 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1771

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 02:57 PM

quote:
Original post by Nazrix

Actually, something else just occured to me. Think about movies or books where you really did feel something for the character...like a Shakespeare tradegy for instance. At that point you are mostly just a by-stander reading the sad stories of the characters. In a game, we have the possibility to actually make the player feel responsible for the tragedies of the characters if the player hurts someone or fails to help someone. If that''s not an unique attribute of games, and an underused attribute I don''t know what is.



Okay, __THIS__ is a __HUGE__ point, this doing vs. observing, this being responsible. If you give me the responsibility for an issue, and I fail, __AND__ it''s a game, I''m going to repeatedly try because within the context of a game tragedy will be the equivalent of failure.

An example: The Wing Commander games had a branching mission / story structure. I remember one mission in WC3 you had to stop a biological warfare missile from wiping out an entire planet. If you failed, the crew responded with sadness, and you were started along the losing path.

If you succeeded, the crew cheered for you and said, "They''ll be naming babies after you!!!"

Think about this: All of the crap your favorite hero goes through in your favorite movie, especially the stuff involving grueling emotional descents, may be great to observe, but is terrible to go through.

Which would you rather: hear about a friend''s tragedy, or experience tragedy yourself?

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#10 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 03:01 PM

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Beauty I can't touch isn't worth losing my legs over. Worst of all, __NONE__ of this is real.

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Books and movies aren't real and we feel emotion responses from that. How many times do people say "No don't go in there!" when watching horror movies. Can't we just use many of the same literary devices as books/movies?

Perhpas the problems come in because of the interaction factor of games.

The player would have to feel such emotional feeling that the player would have to actually have to actively interact with the enivronment in a certain way because of this emotional feeling. Although I think in a movie the "No don't go in there!" is as close to interaction in a game sense as we can get watching a movie, so people feel emotional enough to interact, I think.





""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


Edited by - Nazrix on October 17, 2000 10:02:39 PM


Edited by - Nazrix on October 17, 2000 10:37:23 PM

#11 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 03:07 PM

quote:
Original post by Wavinator

Okay, __THIS__ is a __HUGE__ point, this doing vs. observing, this being responsible. If you give me the responsibility for an issue, and I fail, __AND__ it''s a game, I''m going to repeatedly try because within the context of a game tragedy will be the equivalent of failure.
--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...



If the writer does her job right, and you want to add this sort of emotional response in your game, there shouldn''t be success/fail as in bad/good. There should be advances in the story that may be emotionally sad, agry...so on, but not really bad/good. The player should see the effects of his/her failure and the story should twist because of it but it should be an interesting, and emotional change.




""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator
Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#12 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1771

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Posted 17 October 2000 - 03:32 PM

quote:
Original post by Nazrix

Perhpas the problems come in because of the interaction factor of games.

The player would have to feel such emotional feeling that the player would have to actually have to actively interact with the enivronment in a certain way because of this emotional feeling. Although I think the "No don''t go in there!" is as close to interaction in a game sense as we can get, so people feel emotional enough to interact, I think.



Think about this: You see someone on the screen, about to go down the dark tunnel where the last 10 victims went, and you feel an emotional response.

But what if you were __IN__ the movie. "Nazrix! Dude, look at all the blood and listen to all the growling noises. Don''t go in there, dude!!!!"

"Okay. Cool. We need guns. Lots of guns."

quote:



""You see... I''m not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator



Hey, cool, I''m still in the sig!!!


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#13 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 18 October 2000 - 12:04 AM

""
Think about this: You see someone on the screen, about to go down the dark tunnel where the last 10 victims went, and you feel an emotional response.

But what if you were __IN__ the movie.


Ketchaval shouts to Nazrix: "There's a bear in that cave!"

WIND - blows Ket's voice away -

Ket hears Nazrix's voice "That you Ket-xan?"

Ket hears growling...

Ketchaval grabs spear and starts running.

------------->Narrative, Scenario and Character Context. Which gives weight to the characters beyond their use as tokens. (with some suspension of player disbelief). Ie. Getting involved with the characters is what is IMPORTANT. ** NOT ** their resource value. ie. if Nazrix the leopard hunter is wounded, then Ket will not have a back-up fighter in fights.

Thinks back to the time when he and Nazrix joked around at the campfire as they awaited the chieftain's blessing to marry his daughter, thinks further back to when he illicitly snogged Tifa (Nazrix's sister) on the night of feast. Thinks that she will be upset, and have noone to look after her and her new-born baby. Remembers time when Nazrix saved his life from the snow-leopard...

Ketchaval Runs faster.

Edited by - Ketchaval on October 18, 2000 1:38:18 PM

#14 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1771

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Posted 18 October 2000 - 08:59 AM

I think I can see your point, Ketchaval, but I'm not sure we're getting to the heart of it.

Just saying A saved B's life as backstory could be enough for true role players. These could be generated or chosen by players, it doesn't matter. It will work among humans because humans will (mostly) adhere to the loose rules. Look at MUDs.

But what about the silicon? I think you can't get anywhere examining this process unless you look at the why / how things work. We can spin a bunch of interesting situations, but if we don't get down to the bones of it, they're just interesting situations.

Why did the chieftan give away his daughter? Why did Tifa accept your character's advances?

The reason I'm focusing on this so much isn't to be a butthead, but because I think that it's easy to get lost in creating cool, dramatic pieces of story that don't tie to anything. If my AI buddy dies in a game, I'm going to have a very difficult time feeling anything for him because of this observer / fictional participant difference.

As an observer, I'm free to experience a wide range of deep emotions because it isn't happening to me.

But as a fictional participant, you're somehow trying to convince me that it is happening, that I'm supposed to be feeling things for fictional people, yet they have no grounding or substance in the game world.


quote:
Original post by Ketchaval

------------->Narrative, Scenario and Character Context. Which gives weight to the characters beyond their use as tokens. (with some suspension of player disbelief). Ie. Getting involved with the characters is what is IMPORTANT. ** NOT ** their resource value. ie. if Nazrix the leopard hunter is wounded, then Ket will not have a back-up fighter in fights.




That Nazrix is a back-up fighter in fights is a resource. Resources aren't only one dimensional, materialistic things like gems and gold.

Resources are: the love of good friends; loyalty; hatred; jealousy; faith; allies; willpower; respect; status; pleasure and pain... the list goes on and on.

These are all values that are semi-quantifiable. Do you respect me? How much? Are we allies? How close? Am I suffering right now? To what degree?

What are the things that operate on these resources? Take friendship. Betrayal is a negator of that resource. It has a magnitude. The amount of the betrayal vs. the depth of the alliance will determine if the betrayal or alliance stands.

This to my mind is the only way to get any of this to matter to the silicon. Humans playing with other humans will just agree to act and be affected, but to act upon and affect the silicon in the context of a game, you need resources.


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Just waiting for the mothership...



Edited by - Wavinator on October 18, 2000 4:02:52 PM

#15 Ketchaval   Members   -  Reputation: 186

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Posted 18 October 2000 - 09:28 AM

"Just saying A saved B''s life as backstory could be enough for true role players. These could be generated or chosen by players, it doesn''t matter."

Ah, no here (part of what) I am suggesting a MIX between Fallout style freeform "real-time" exploration, taking the style of the cut-scene flashbacks from Final Fantasy 7... and having the game actually put you through these things whilst allowing you some freedom of choice. In other words these dramatic situations play on things that you HAVE experienced, and the player''s views on what Might happen.

Ie. The first part of the game is a training bit, and everytime since the (prom) where you kissed Tifa, you see her with her mewling infant.. and see that she doesn''t have the support to keep him healthy.


I totally agree that this should be part of the game world, and know what you mean by using tokens. BUT don''t see that you can turn the player''s feelings from the things he encounters into some sort of resource. I''m proposing that the situations that we encounter are designed to PROVOKE PASSION because of the MEANING behind them. Ie. You see a dead criminal in a cage, and know that the rotter has STARVED for his crime... (ie. you have seen other criminals in mid-starvation earlier on the road)... but do **YOU** agree with this justice system? How does it make YOU feel?

#16 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4918

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Posted 19 October 2000 - 05:04 AM

quote:

Original post by Nazrix

Actually, something else just occured to me. Think about movies or books where you really did feel something for the character...like a Shakespeare tradegy for instance. At that point you are mostly just a by-stander reading the sad stories of the characters. In a game, we have the possibility to actually make the player feel responsible for the tragedies of the characters if the player hurts someone or fails to help someone. If that''s not an unique attribute of games, and an underused attribute I don''t know what is.


quote:

Original post by Wavinator

Okay, __THIS__ is a __HUGE__ point, this doing vs. observing, this being responsible. If you give me the responsibility for an issue, and I fail, __AND__ it''s a game, I''m going to repeatedly try because within the context of a game tragedy will be the equivalent of failure.

An example: The Wing Commander games had a branching mission / story structure. I remember one mission in WC3 you had to stop a biological warfare missile from wiping out an entire planet. If you failed, the crew responded with sadness, and you were started along the losing path.

If you succeeded, the crew cheered for you and said, "They''ll be naming babies after you!!!"

Think about this: All of the crap your favorite hero goes through in your favorite movie, especially the stuff involving grueling emotional descents, may be great to observe, but is terrible to go through.

But what if you were __IN__ the movie. "Nazrix! Dude, look at all the blood and listen to all the growling noises. Don''t go in there, dude!!!!"

"Okay. Cool. We need guns. Lots of guns."



guns=resources! I think this is exactly the secret to making a game meaningful: you are RESPONSIBLE for seeing that all the world''s wrongs get righted. You must use RESOURCES competently and efficiently to avoid or repair TRAGEDY. And to prevent you from being the perfect boring superhero you will sometimes have INSUFFICIENT or INCORRECT RESOURCES. TRAGEDY will occur despite your best efforts, driving you to greater hights of competency in the attempt to make reparations or repairs for your FAILURE of RESPONSIBILITY. Your ultimate HARD-WON SUCCESS at making these reparitions/repairs and righting wrongs is the natural climax of the game, and the resolution reassures you that you can/must now safely GIVE UP your RESPONSIBILITY.

What''cha think?

#17 DungeonMaster   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 19 October 2000 - 01:23 PM

I hate systematic happy-end !
What about a game where your character or your faithfull comrade dies at the end saving those he loves... It is sad but meaningfull.
Do you think games should always finish happily? It is not so in all books, not so in all movies and not so in real life...



#18 Ironblayde   Members   -  Reputation: 130

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Posted 19 October 2000 - 03:29 PM

There was a thread concerning writing tragic endings not too long ago; you might want to search through the archives and see if you can dig it up. It can be done well, but just because your ending is different from the traditional save-the-world-and-everyone''s-happy formula doesn''t mean it works! So if you want to have your main character dying to save his friends, that''s fine, but make sure it makes sense in the context of your story. Don''t use it just to get away from the happy ending we''ve all come to expect. Any kind of ending -- tragic or otherwise -- will turn out well as long as it wraps up the story and doesn''t leave any unanswered questions.

-Ironblayde
 Aeon Software

The following sentence is true.
The preceding sentence is false.


#19 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 19 October 2000 - 03:33 PM

Yes, good point, Iron. An ending does need to bring things to a resolution but does not have to be happy.


""You see... I'm not crazy... you see?!? Nazrix believes me!" --Wavinator

Think outside the octagon

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#20 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1214

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Posted 19 October 2000 - 03:38 PM

An ending needs to explain all the bits of information that was gained in the game. It just needs to make everything seem complete and whole. Not entirely complete, because you could always plan a sequel. It just needs to feel as though all has been done that could be done.

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          





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