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Silvermyst

Cavemen communication

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Setting: Prehistoric Earth Genre: MMO(RPG) Goal: Simple communication between cavemen Preferred method of communication: Grunting Examples of some necessary grunts: -hello -who are you? -my name is Krug -where are you? -I'm over here -get away from me -alarm! -wanna fight? -help! -goodbye The way I see this work is that players assign each grunt to a specific button. When a cavemen grunts, other players should be able to determine what their grunt meant, but for players who think that's too hard, there will be an option to have the grunt automatically translated into on-screen text. Question: What other messages will cavemen absolutely have to be able to communicate to others with their grunts? [edited by - Silvermyst on August 14, 2002 10:09:24 AM]

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Why make it easy to understand?

Deffrent grunts has deffrent meanings.
why not make the player have to learn what every grunt means..
And create a simple language lesson so one has a idea.

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quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
Setting:
Prehistoric Earth


By definition, "prehistoric" is the time before the appearance of humans, I think. "Stoneage" is the correct term as far as I know. (damn having English as a second language!)

Apart from that, communication about food ("I''ve found some fruit" or "Here''s an animal we could hunt", "no food here", etc.) is important.

Try finding information on the communication of apes, especially chimpanzees. An immense amount of research has gone into that topic, and you can - for your game - assume that stoneage humans communicated in a similar fashion. If you can''t find anything at all on the net, I might still have some information from my high school advanced biology classes when I go back home, we did animal behaviour and communication for half a year... (write me an e-mail if you need it)

- hillip@xenoage.de''>JQ
Full Speed Games. Period.

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I think grunts would be too hard to interpret. Instead of varying the grunts, why not just use gutteral syllables? That way all of the phrases don''t sound similar.

You could probably come up with a dozen based on "consonant + a", ba, da, ga, ka, etc... same with "consonant + o + (k,t,d)": nok tok, and I sound like an idiot.

But you get the idea.

-TSwitch

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JONNYQUEST wrote:
quote:
By definition, "prehistoric" is the time before the appearance of humans

Hm, I think ''prehistoric'' just means ''before history was being recorded''.
quote:
Apart from that, communication about food ("I''ve found some fruit" or "Here''s an animal we could hunt", "no food here", etc.) is important.

Yes! And add to that ''shelter''.
Eat and sleep will probably be the two most important things in a (prehistoric) caveman''s life.
quote:
Try finding information on the communication of apes, especially chimpanzees.

Yeah, I had thought of that, and the possibility of adding body language to the mix.

SNASH wrote:
quote:
Why make it easy to understand?

Because the easier the basics are to understand, the more elaborate the advanced communication can become without confusing players.
quote:
Deffrent grunts has deffrent meanings.
why not make the player have to learn what every grunt means..

Good idea. ''Cavemen grunts for dummies''
Part of the grunt concept though, is that ideally each caveman would be able to customize his grunts a little, so that they all sound unique in-game. In a perfect situation, there would be no rules of what each grunt means. Each grunt would mean what the caveman grunting wants it to mean. To one, a short, low grunt might mean ''hello'' while to another it might mean ''goodbye''. It''s up to the players to customize their grunts so that other players will be able to figure them out. Because that will mean a lot of puzzling, I think it might be helpful to display the meaning of a grunt on the screen. Perhaps this should only happen after a caveman has grunted the same message a few times.

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Also, if it''s going to be massively multiplayer, you''d have to assume that people will congregate, and if everyone sounds the same, then you will have trouble telling who talking (assuming the only chat is through this system).

You can either allow text chat within certain areas that people will meet in groups at, or vary the voices like in Rogue Spear. The sound is just played slightly faster or slower to modify it''s pitch. That, facial animation and 3d sound should be used to let people know who''s talking.

Or, instead of translating the sound into text for the player, displaying a symbol over the speaker''s head would allow people to understand others without removing the translation challenge.


-TSwitch

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i think perhaps your system of communication should convey emotions rather than specific messages... think of how people even nowadays use intonation in their speech to convey a particular meaning...

"ooOOoo" is a better way of conveying interest than something like "ug", but "ug" might be more useful at indicating something (akin to "look") though it would need to be accompanied by a physical gesture like a nod of the head or pointing...

in situations such as "alarm", "get away from me" and "wanna fight" i think volume also has a part to play... in the first two cases the sound needs to be a rapid sort of "e-e-e-e-e" (or similar) to indicate urgency and also loud to emphasise the point... "get away from me" and "wanna fight" would need to have their volume directed at an individual and should sound similar to something like "sod off!" or "oy you!" respectively...

essentially the sounds need to convey an idea or emotion rather than a specific meaning... it seems you''re missing fear, hunger, loneliness, sorrow and happiness off your list... as well as others probably...

hope that all makes sense... let me know if it''s utter tripe though ''cos it''s just my opinion...

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PAULUS_MAXIMUS wrote:
quote:
i think perhaps your system of communication should convey emotions rather than specific messages

Yes! If pressing button X creates a certain visible emotion (anger/fear/etc) it would create many new options, for as the sound that is tied to the emotion that button X triggers is made by the caveman, at the same time his body language can come into the picture.
(pressing button X would result in
a) sound
b) automatic body language change)

I guess Jonnyquest's suggestion of studying chimps (the way they vocally communicate, the way they visually communicate) would really pay off.

And of course, searching the database of this Game Design forum would pay off as well, because I clearly remember some threads about conveying character emotion.

[edited by - Silvermyst on August 14, 2002 11:56:47 AM]

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he-hey... i got a "Yes!"...

that''s my best ever score for a post i reckon... :D...

been thinking a little more about it too... are the characters going to be able to be clicked on? the reason i ask is that you could also convey mood via a selection indicator that shows green for happy, blue for sad, red for angry, yellow for scared, etc... just a thought, but it could be used as a nice way to get an instant impression of what they''re thinking without worrying particularly about what they''re saying...

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TSWITCH wrote:
quote:
you''d have to assume that people will congregate, and if everyone sounds the same, then you will have trouble telling who talking

and
quote:
Or, instead of translating the sound into text for the player, displaying a symbol over the speaker''s head would allow people to understand others without removing the translation challenge.

Good thinking. My whole reasoning behind creating simple sounds was to do away with writing text without ever hearing anyone speak (current MMORPGs have hundreds of chat options, but I''ve yet to hear a character utter a word). But, a computer is limited. There is no real good way to let a player know exactly where the sound is coming from (surround sound helps, but I personally don''t have a surround sound setup). Part of the cavemen setting implies that characters will not gather in quite as large numbers as I''ve seen happen in MMORPGs. But hunting parties (''let''s go get ourselves some mammoth meat'') would have to be able to quickly tell who ''said'' what.

The symbol you mentioned could serve a dual purpose:
a) show who''s making the sound
b) show what type of sound is being made (symbol could take on different forms; circle, square, triangle, etc; each form could convey a different emotional state)

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Hasn''t anyone seen the potential here?

Ok, we have a MORPG. Each player plays a caveman. Available to the player is a number of different grunts, screams and vocalizations. These are prerecorded and come with the game. They do not have any meaning associated with them.

Players cannot communicate with each other via chatting. They must communicate with the grunts provided them.

They will develop a language. Ultimately they will agree on grunts meaning certain things. Late newcomers entering the game will be like outcast strangers from another tribe. They must learn to assimilate the language which has developed among the veteran players.

A different clan in another valley will ultimately have a different set of meanings ascribed to the grunts. Because of their difficulty in communicating to to the other clan, trade will be challenging. Misunderstandings will happen. As a result, battles might happen.

There is no need for this to be hard to play or really difficult. The players will make use of the grunts available to them as they see fit. Provide perhaps 250 (or more) distinct grunts. The players will utilize the ones they want.

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i like that... the idea of assigning grunts to mean certain things and having late-comers have to figure it all out for themselves... it''d certainly work well in a networked environment...

however, if you have any ai cavemen (would they really have the "i" part?) i think their communication should be based on emotions rather than complex and detailed utterances of grunts, oohs and aahs... as in the example i gave above "ooOOoo" would be a much better way of suggesting that a caveman is interested in something than "AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHH!!"... if you think about it in a real-world situation, the latter sound would scare the shit out of someone rather than make them think "nice, he likes my new tie"...

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quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
Imagine the possibilities:

Grog: Oogha boogha!
Krug: Ah grr uhn uhn.
Grog: Oyahoyah mmmgaa!
Krug: Hmm ohr ohr.
Grog: Brrk aghaa.
Krug: Vahbmha.


blimey... i never knew you could do that with rabbits! seems you really do learn something new every day... ...

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PAULUS_MAXIMUS wrote:
quote:
however, if you have any ai cavemen

I've decided to always try to create my designs without AI characters. Especially in an MMO environment, I don't think there's a real need for AI. Well, there will need to be some computer controlled life, but for now, let's keep that to the non-human beings that the cavemen can hunt (rabbits, deer, mammoths, sabretooth tigers).

BISHOP_PASS wrote:
quote:
Available to the player is a number of different grunts, screams and vocalizations. These are prerecorded and come with the game. They do not have any meaning associated with them.

Yeah, that's what I was aiming for. Let players set the language rules themselves. Let different languages develop in different regions.
The individuality in voices can come from tone, pitch, volume, accent (for grunts?!), etc. Players could possible also stretch the prerecordings a little (or shorten it) to create a somewhat different sound and give it their own spin.

[edited by - Silvermyst on August 14, 2002 12:38:28 PM]

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But for separate languages to develop, you''d need to effectively isolate the different cultures.

Some sort of boundary that is hardly passable, like an abyss, cliff face, sabretooth tiger... home... with a pile of angry sabretooth that cant wait for the next hair-snack.

And don''t give new users a choice of where they can be "born" into, otherwise you''ll have most of the people going into the first "cave" in the list, and only more advanced players (or newbs who picked differently) will create new characters in the other caves. Unless you want that. It won''t help make new languages as much, but you could have more elite cave groups that know what they''re doing and may just catch up with the main cave. And it may just turn out that these players only came to the other caves in order to make their own language.

Also, you''ll need SOME sort of economy in this world. There won''t necessarily be money or any kind of (what''s that word that makes money money because you say so?) money, just goods (and maybe services of some sort, repair?). Grog would trade Krog a piece of antelope for a new spear he made.

What I missed in other MMORPGs would be to have your own home/hut/hovel. It would''t be occupying space on the main map, but there could be a dirt road to the non-existant house group, and you''d pick if you wanted to go to your home, or go to someone else''s home. Then you''d be inside the house, able to store your items/food because most cavemen didn''t have backpacks.

The latter may prove too much, but it''d be nice. Maybe you don''t start out with a home, but instead have to gather wood, a special item, whatever, to give to a NPC. Then you have a house.

Or a cave section.




-TSwitch

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In the Clan of the Cave Bear series of books, the Neanderthals communicate mostly by using sign language with vocalization being used for personal names and emphasis. In my opinion, there''s a lot more to "caveman" communication than what Hollywood has led us to believe.

Depicting the caveman language as just a stereotypical series of grunts shows a distinct lack of sensitivity towards caveman culture.

Seriously, a MMO about prehistoric times is a great idea, but it should be heavily researched. A MMO version of the Flintstones (while possibly interesting in its own right) is probably not what you want.

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quote:
Original post by Korvan
Depicting the caveman language as just a stereotypical series of grunts shows a distinct lack of sensitivity towards caveman culture.

Lighten up. There''s lots of gameplay possibiliites with grunts. And there''s many possible interpretatins of caveman culture from sterotypical to cartoonish to authentic, etc.

Each one is correct in the sense that it accomplishes what it intends to accomplish.

Grunting caveman may not be authentic. That''s beside the point. Austin Powers isn''t authentic either.

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Very interesting idea! The trick will be designing the game in such a way that communication is worth the player''s while. The easiest way to that would be to require cooperation to avoid dying in the game world, which would have to be serious enough that the player would want to work to avoid it; it''s kind of tricky because in real life dying is a big deal; people get hungry, tired, there''s danger and these things are important enough to influence the person to work to overcome them. In a game, on the other hand, nothing that happens is really a big deal to the player; games are entertainment and if the reward is not greater than the effort that must be expended the player simply won''t take the initiative.

That''s a long way of saying you may have trouble getting the players to expend the effort to build a language; early man would have done so because they HAD to; Jonny gameplayer can go watch t.v. if they don''t feel like turning grunts into a meaningful language. Which means...

(A) You''d need to make it easy on the player. Include rich gesture/body-language expression. Have a wide range of objects in the game world. Also I tend to agree with the person who suggested using phoenomoes instead of grunts; make the potential words sound neat with a wide variety of possible word sounds; after all that will probably be the driving factor behind the majority of the early word choices, at least until rules of pronunciation are formed.

(B) Encourage communication by presenting the player with teamwork situations; for example give each player different skills; Grog is very fast but not terribly strong, Kronk is as strong as an ox but slow; Krugg is good with plants; others are good at stalking animals, etc. If you have diverse strengths and weaknesses, no one person will be able to make it on their own; everyone will benefit from cooperation.

(C) Try to discourage inclusion of existing languages into the caveman language.

Anyway that''s all on the subject for now.

P.S. I like the idea a lot. Grunts or phoenomes would both be cool.

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quote:
Original post by Korvan
In the Clan of the Cave Bear series of books, the Neanderthals communicate mostly by using sign language with vocalization being used for personal names and emphasis.


Damn it ! you beat me to it
Anyway, Korvan is quite right, the Children of Earth series (of which Clan of the Cave bear is the first book) is a magnificent study of the prehistoric times.
It''s not just a simple little novel, it''s more a research work carried over many years by the author Jean M. Auel
Each book is full of wonderful everyday life details, each book is very different from the others.

On the topic of languages, the Neanderthal (they call themselves "Clan" men) use mostly a full body language with gestures and the occasional grunt, usually for names. Interestingly, even if each tribe can evolve its own "sign" language (although it''s not jut the hands, but the whole body) if the tribe is very far from the rest of the Clan, they still all have an ancient language, the ritual language, taht can be understood by each and every living Clan person.
the Others (the human, I dunno which, maybe "homo habilis" at this point, but I dont think Cro Magnon yet ?) have a wide variety of spoken languages, with similarities sometimes, and total misunderstanding other times (a bit like us nowadays, if you wish).

The books are centered on Ayla, a human (non-Neanderthal) orphan adopted by the Clan, and raised like a Clan woman, with all the problems it causes, and all the differences she has.
In the following books, she discovers life alone, then with humans, then she travels, and in the last edited volume (The shelters of stone), she discovers the family and tradition of her lover.
It''s a pretty massive serie to read, especially since the style of Jean M Auel is extremely detailed and verbose, given that it''s not exactly a fictional work, but rather a novelised work based on a lot of research and archeological evidence.

---------------

On another topic, if you absolutely want to design a language, you might wanna think what its purpose is and the inherent problems that the language generate.
For instance, how do you express notion of time : Past, present, future ? Are they actually necessary ?
In the series Children of the Earth (above), numerical notions are considered magic and counting with your fingers is reserved to shaman; and even they have a limited knowledge of it. Similarly, the passing of time is the domain of the shaman who trains years to know only bits and pieces.
How do you express "I" "you" "he", the existence and distinction of personalities ? If you dont, what kind of mental models does that suggest for the society you try to describe ?
If you cant pronounce a name, how can you call it out loud ?
If you cant vocalise, how do you talk when there is no light ? Or when the person is very far and dialogue depends on little gestures ?

Hope this helps





Sancte Isidore ora pro nobis !

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