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Member Since 29 Mar 2014
Offline Last Active Sep 21 2015 01:24 AM

Topics I've Started

Types of Moral Dilemmas

14 August 2015 - 10:20 PM

I tried looking online for some resources that might help break down variations on types of moral dilemmas so that it would be easier to come up with plot scenarios that are interesting. The most valuable piece of information I found was "A moral dilemma occurs when an agent has the motive and opportunity to fulfill two or more mutually exclusive promises and/or responsibilities and must evaluate which course of action to take." I've been trying to find something else that can start breaking things down into concrete categories / types, but I haven't really had any luck.


What do you guys use for inspiration of this sort? Have you found any sort of organizational structure online for moral choices?

Brainstorming Systemic Narrative Design

21 May 2015 - 12:48 AM

I was just curious if anyone had any ideas about various methods of constructing narrative systems that would follow the requirements below...
  1. Innate Replayability - A given player will be able to play the entirety of the story multiple times and receive the maximum amount of narrative variability between playthroughs.
  2. System-Based Modularity - As a developer, one can create a new narrative sequence and integrate it as seamlessly as possible into the existing narrative.
  3. Minimal Narrative-Cost Ratio - The development costs associated with adding new sections of gameplay to house these narrative additions are kept to a minimum.
  4. Maximal Narrative Quality - The previous elements cannot, as a result of their use, damage the storytelling potential of the game. The degree of narrative quality should be maintained not by the system's constraints, but by the writer's ability. It remains to be seen whether such technical constraints would have further constraints applied to the narrative options as well (the goal would be to avoid this).
  5. Maintain Writer Control - The writer should still have the ability to direct, as much as possible, the thematic direction and pacing of the narrative experience (even though they may not explicitly control the flow of events).
While I have seen or heard of several games / game concepts that attempt to achieve these elements, I feel as though more could be done on the subject. The following is a list of these design patterns in order of least to greatest exactness to the stated model.
1. Linear Gameplay with DLC: Singular path, tacked on story content that requires a large amount of additional work.
- Clearly is only successful on the writing-specific ones.
2. Sandbox-Oriented Emergent Gameplay: Players make the "story" for themselves more or less and thus the innovation of this "story" is easily updated by adding various changes to game content.
- Plenty of replayability, modular (in the sense that you can add new objects/abilities to spice up the "story" that players create for themselves), and relatively good cost-ratio, but is very difficult to direct narrative-wise because there is virtually no capacity to control pacing by the writer.
3. Module-Oriented Narrative Sequences: Players play freely within a given level that requires narrative-oriented objectives. Modules can split and rejoin in numerous ways.
- Traditionally, this method gives the best narrative potential, but has a huge increase in content creation due to the branching elements. If these could somehow be procedurally generated, that could also prove powerful.
4. Module-Oriented Random-Access Narrative Sequences: All or most modules available from the start, and the game adapts to the order in which the player completes them.
- Drastically increases replayability, but simultaneously could make the content creation production issue more severe. Any ideas perhaps on how to reduce this "weight"?
5. Modular story components that, combined, produce narrative: based on Ken Levine's "Narrative Legos" concept (http://www.gdcvault.com/play/1020434/Narrative).
- Has the highest potential for ensuring story is somewhat controlled and simultaneously systemic, but has yet to be put into practice and evaluated realistically (so far as I understand).
What do you guys think?

TBS PC Grid Movement Control Configurations

13 December 2014 - 03:59 PM

I'm building a game akin to Fire Emblem or XCOM:EU atm, and I'm trying to determine the best way for the team I'm working with to move forward with movement controls. Assuming that we are using a keyboard and/or a mouse, I've already come up with a few configurations. Please offer any comments or suggestions you may have...


- (Assuming the player has already selected the character they intend to move...)

- (A highlighted set of positions the character can move to are displayed...)


Method 1: Uses Mouse (XCOM:EU)
Player selects a final destination position. The computer then calculates the shortest path to that location, taking into account the viewable obstacles, and moves the character along the path to that destination position.

- It is likely that the player would only be able to move once or twice (similar to XCOM's movements). Decisions made about where to go would be lasting.

- The player cannot specify a path to take. The alternative would be to present the player with a set of possible paths to that final destination, but I get the feeling that would feel slow and clunky to a player that just wants to be able to say "go here" and the game is intelligent enough to make the player go to that position without issue.

- My only issue with this is that I'm wanting to leave open the ability to lay traps in an environment or have environmental dangers that can trigger in mid-player-movement, i.e. character steps on a bomb, etc. If the computer auto-calculates the path and moves the character, then it would hit/miss automatically, either eradicating the possibility of a trap triggering or causing the player to blame the game for it doing so.


Method 2: Uses Mouse (XCOM:EU * Grid-based MOBA)
Player selects individual positions to move to using the mouse, but the characters can move as many times as the player wants, so long as they haven't begun any combat actions yet.

- Same as the first method, but requires multiple button presses to achieve the same movement.

- May tire the player / cause irritation at having to "micro-manage" the movement. Player may simply think, "Why can't I just select where I want to get to?"

- Solves the problem of increasing control over the exact path to take.


Method 3: Uses Keyboard (Advance Wars)

Player simply maneuvers the game's grid-based cursor using directional movement keys (such as WASD), and specifies, step by step, the path they intend for the character to take.

- From experience playing TBS games on handheld systems, I know these don't cause an overwhelming feeling of clunkiness; however, I am unsure of whether players may feel that an awkwardness still exists because they COULD be using a mouse on the PC.


Any thoughts about the pros/cons of each of these? Any alternative suggestions or maybe recommendations on why to use one of these + justifications?

Cross-Gameplay Communication

29 September 2014 - 05:42 PM

I'm researching for an undergrad thesis, and I'm seeking input on 1) whether people think this is viable and 2) what kinds of criticisms/concerns people have about it. For a long time I've been toying with the idea that someone can learn about another player from their own personal gameplay experience. A player makes social decisions altering the status of the game world and subsequently exports this modified world upon completion. The exported data is imported to a new players game whenever they begin a new game (at which point they make decisions creating another export file, etc.) The theory is that the new player can learn personality details about the first player as a result of their own gameplay (either by working with or against with the social environment of the game world).

Example: I play the game and encounter a ruler who kills all traitors. During gameplay, I succeed this ruler and designate that traitors to my city are not to be killed or sent to jail, but added to a specialized squadron of the army for frontline combat. I save my game and it is sent to a database. My friend picks up the same game and begins a "New Game" at which point the program grabs a saved game from the database and uses it as a foundation for that world. When my friend plays, he finds a world in which the NPC ruler sends people to this other squadron, etc. At the end, my friend sees in the credits that the game world was derived from [my account profile name]. He then might begin to think that he can know a bit about me based on the game interaction (as the theory goes).

Problems I see off the bat:
1) In order for people to be able to learn about the player, it requires that the players must have choices, ergo, a large variety of choices must be possible for any given decision, ergo, a lot of content must be created. The best way of handling this seems to me to be to develop game social environments based on procedural generation, but I'm not 100% sure on how, in concept, that should be done.
2) In order for people to learn about the player, they must know what the player chose in comparison to what they DIDN'T choose. This means that I am likely assuming that a) the player knows all possible choices for a decision without being informed, OR b) the player will HAVE to make choices based on a comprehensive "list" telling them what options they can select (thereby increasing the probability they assume that all players met the same list of choices in their own playthroughs - that way they will be aware of what wasn't selected). This is a major problem if I want a natural decision-making model in which the player makes choices via actions as opposed to menu selections where their options are inferred based on the story context. Additionally, this is a problem if I employ a branching model in which previous choices alter their available options later down the line.

Any comments/suggestions are welcome.

Gameplay For Matching Story / Avatar-Psyche

27 September 2014 - 02:18 AM

So, for a film class, I got permission to produce a 2D video game. I am instructed to focus on the screenplay BEFORE focusing on gameplay elements. As such, I am building the game in response to a custom script.

Story: Detective kills a man for the first time while on duty, is subsequently cursed through accidental circumstances, and as a result of the curse, spontaneously murders those around him when his emotional state wavers significantly. While pursuing the mystery of how to remove said curse, the detective dodges the suspicion of his co-workers around the ongoing serial murders and struggles over his inner feelings of guilt and weakness.

Now, I'm expecting the game to be an interactive drama, so I am going with the convention that the player will walk around a 2D environment, talk with NPCs, interact with items in the environment, gather clues in an inventory-journal combination, and have a relatively linear story to minimize production costs and effort.

My hope is to devise gameplay elements that are targeted at generating in the player the emotions that the protagonist is feeling. Namely, the protagonist feels that he is losing control of himself and as a result is losing to a darkness inside attempting to overpower him.

Here is a list of tentative gameplay mechanics I have considered incorporating. I was simply hoping for your guys' thoughts about their effectiveness...

1) a heartbeat sound is played whenever the character fails a task (not necessarily the player as sometimes the story line events will make the character feel guilt / weakness as well) and the camera momentarily zooms in on the player, alerting the player of the curse gaining more power for a potential rage.

2) If the curse becomes too powerful, the protagonist will begin some type of aggressive action automatically (power quantity will be indicated by a heartbeat counter in the corner of the screen as well as frequency of sound effect during "mishaps" in player action or simply the automatic story events). The player will be able to slow down, pause, and eventually/possibly prevent the continuation of whatever the animation of the character is (pulling and aiming gun, assaulting someone, etc.) by pressing certain buttons on the controller. Attempting to model this activity from things such as Beyond: Two Souls or the end snowy mountain sequence from Journey, etc.
3) After any "rage" incidents, the curse's power is abated for the time being (w/ curse power level reset to 0).
4) Most of the time, it would require the players skill to prevent "attacks" from happening, but if the curse power becomes too large, then the player would be unable to completely prevent a given atrocity.

Are there any unforeseen complications I may not be seeing? Does this sound like a mechanic that can get the player invested in the sense of success / failure that would be felt by the protagonist?