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FPS: first person social-interaction?

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With the announcement of the GeForce FX Nvidia has of course released a bunch of cool demos showcasing it''s capablilities. One of these is the Dawn demo. For a while, Nvidia and ATI have been releasing demos featuring one really high detailed character and perhaps a very simple background and the general consensus is that they look amazing. But then people ask "why don''t with see games with characters of this detail." My idea is that almost all of the major PC and console genres are games that either require a lot of characters on screen (RTS, sports), very fast movement and complex environments (FPS, 3D Platformer''s). The only games that have approached this kind of detail are fighting games and volleyball games, because they can get away with minimal detail in the environments, and usually only have 2-4 characters on screen, but these genre''s don''t exist on the PC. If adventure games where still popular they could get away with it, and Residental Evil (basically an adventure game) has character''s with this detail, but once again, you aren''t seeing those on the PC. I''m thinking that games that focus on social interaction (ala the Sims) would benefit a lot from this because they are more character based than environment based. The problem with the sims is that it is very abstract and you have to deal with a lot of boring mundane tasks. This doesn''t really appeal to hardcore gamers for obvious reasons. The idea I have is a social interaction game that''s a lot more cut throat. Instead of trying to get the most kills or frags you''re trying to get the most influence\power and money\material items, to make it more interesting you can only do this through illegal means, so effectively you have a freeform crimeboss game. Combat would still be there, ala a normal action game, but constantly fighting would get you nowhere. Most of the game would be focused on making deals and not getting caught. One of the problems with doing a game like this is that there hasn''t been a decent conversation system to support the gameplay. Currently I''m thinking a information based system, where events in the game a literally treated like objects that are traded between characters would work well. So, for example, if you kill someone, you have get the information object that you killed person X. If you give this information to the police, you end up in jail, if you give it to your boss he''ll give you money, etc. The cool thing about this system is that you could come up with fake events (lies) and pass that information around. Telling a bad lie with lots of holes could get you in trouble (or be seen as a joke), telling a good lie could change everyone else''s perception of what happenening and be accepted as the truth. I think the information system will work because there are only a limited amount of actions a character can perform in the game. The problem with the system is I can''t think of a really good intuitive interface for this. Maybe something along the lines of a "trading system" with a way to search or browse information based on category, time, event type, etc. The total amount of relavant information at any point in the game should be pretty low, so it shouldn''t be a big problem. The other aspects of the game would be pretty straightforward, it would rely on a pretty complex relationship system. In order to build relationships you would of course have meet people, do favors, etc. You would have a number of social actions you could perform at any given point depending on your relationship with that character and they would be performed in similar ways as combat, in fact, combat should probably be treated as just another social action. This system could (in theory) be extended to other games, including games that don''t have combat to spice things up. It would be interesting to see a political game or a dating sim that was set up in a similar way.

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quote:
Original post by beantas
Um have you missed the huge multi-thread discussion started by bishop_pass about a political game? It recently started here. Your main ideas are incredibly similar.


Yes, I've posted in the thread. I was probably influenced slightly by those ideas. There are similarities (the goals of the game, the focus on information transfer), but that thread is about game that is much more political. My idea is more "action-adventure" than strategy.

I believe my system is a lot more simple and concrete than that system. I'm just looking for a way to improve conversation so it can become a major part of the the gameplay, instead of something that's auxilary or something you sit through and read.

The game in bishop_pass's thread relies on being massively multiplayer, with all communication between real players. I'm looking at something that is closer to a traditional single or multiplayer experience, where information transfer is used mainly to manipulate NPCs (but works with players also.)

Actual physical actions are a lot more important in my idea, in that thread the focus was purely information\management, and players would not perform any "dirty work." In this physical actions would still be at least 25%-50% of the gameplay.

There are a lot of differences in scale, this game is more about personal relationships between characters, the game in that thread is about controlling large businesses and empires. I think the whole information thing sounds similar, but a lot of games have shooting also, that doesn't mean all games with shooting are the same.


[edited by - impossible on November 20, 2002 12:58:49 AM]

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quote:
Original post by Run_The_Shadows
Thank god! I checked nvidia.com and realize the ''Dawn demo'' you were talking about was some cheesy tech demo, and not actually related to that bloated piece of vaporware crap.

You must be referring to some game that I''ve never heard of. I was referring to all the ATI and Nvidia demos (Dawn, the Werewolf thing, the Ogre, realtime final fantasy, other stuff) that have very high detail characters.

Some other interesting ideas that would allow for high-detail is to make a game that uses semi-fixed camera angles that focus on one or two characters at a time (cinematic style camera.) This makes visiblity pretty easy, and you can have more detail than normal. The only games that take advantage of this are the Resident Evils on Gamecube and fighting games, but I''m thinking you could use it for something more dramatic. A friend of mine recently showed me a 3D rendered Japanese Anime series called "Plantonic-Chain web." Looking at the detail in the scenes, the camera angles, the polygon counts of the characters I''m thinking it could probably be done in realtime with a pretty good framerate. How could you turn that into something interactive that would be interesting to play?

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I remember thinking of a single-player mafia game like that but then I realized it makes less sense in single-player. bishop_pass'' idea makes sense because you''re dealing with people and you learn what they''re like by talking with them. It''s much harder to make a game out of conversations if you''re dealing with AI. Where''s the essential gameplay behind conversations? Is the success or failure of your conversation based on stats? If so, does the player know about those stats? If the player can see those stats, where''s the essential challenge behind manipulating people? Is it just a matter of being at a high "manipulation skill" level?

It seems like a social interaction game is doomed to be multiplayer and not AI-based unless it''s really simplified to the point where the essential gameplay is really shallow (like the Sims). Which is why I abandoned by mafia game idea.

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Impossible, some of your ideas mirror exactly what I've been working on. I'll take this opportunity to ramble on about my game design, hope you find something useful in here.

Every noteworthy action by either the player or an npc generates an event object, and each character has his own list of known events. There are two other kinds of notable subjects besides events: resources and motivations. An event is defined as an attempted use of a tool (a resource) by an agent (also a type of resource) to obtain a goal (another resource) from another character (again, a type of resource) for the agent's boss (resource again). I have abstracted the term resource to mean anything that could be either a tool or a goal, so some types of innate character properties are considered resources, as well as offices and clout. For instance, if Tony is shot at by a thug by order of Uncle Junior, the 'boss', 'agent', and 'defending character' properties of the event are obvious, and the goal resource would be Tony's head, and the tool would be the gun. The event also stores the success or failure of the attempt.

The state of a resource object is determined by its owner, location, and condition. A motivation is decribed by a character, the resource of the character's desire, the hunger level, and stage (e.g., 'get to it some day', 'gathering resources to obtain the desired resource', 'on my way right now'). A character's (including the pc) knowledge base is his personal collection of the various event, resource, and motivations he is aware of. Each knowledge node also includes how much credit the character attributes to the knowledge as well as a list of characters he is aware of that know the same information (if we both witness Tony being shot at, I not only note the event, I note that you are present at the time with me, or if we exchange an information node during conversation, then we both note that the other guy also has a node representing the same knowledge in his knowledge base).

As far as conversation goes, the most basic function of this design is question-response. From the PCs perspective, he asks about any resource/character he is interested in. Leaving the the cooperativity level of the NPCs out of the question for simplicity, each NPC runs through his knowledge base and will relate any event, resource, or motivation which relates to what the player asks about. Keep in mind, NPCS take into account that all knowledge not gained through personal observation is not automatically true, and the player should catch onto that as well, so it makes sense for characters to have mutliple information nodes regarding a single event, resource, or motivation which describe the subject in at least slightly different ways.

Some of the more interesting aspects of conversation:

Once the player asks a question, a motivation for the resource or character asked about is immediately created for the player and this motivation is noted by anyone who hears the question. Although the primary purpose of motivations is to drive NPC behavior, this newly created motivation does not control PC behavior in any way, its just there for the NPCs to note. The idea is that the player should be careful about who or what he asks about and to whom he directs his queries; word gets around.

Veiled threats. I know that you know that Richie got whacked and I want you to back off in your quest for whatever (we have competing motivations). "You know what happened to Richie. He crossed the wrong the people. I don't want to see the same thing happen to you."

Changing topic in conversation. When a resource, event, or motivation is stated in conversation, each resource/character member of the subject becomes fair game for the next topic of conversation. This applies to NPCs only to simulate smooth conversation flow, the player may talk about anything at any time.

"That's not how I would do that." To reveal character, an NPC may comment on an event by stating a different course of action from the one described by the event. A temporary character is created and given the motivation of the boss of the event and the resources the speaker knows the boss owns, but the personality of the speaker. The temp character then formulates a plan for the desire, and if the methods (meaning the tool planned to use) are significantly different, the speaker will then relate how he would do things if he were in the boss's shoes.

[EDIT - forgot to mention this bit]
Characters may ask what a third party knows about a subject. Not only can I ask you what you know about the Maltese Falcon, I can also ask you what the Fat Man knows about the Maltese Falcon.

Sean



[edited by - Sean99 on November 21, 2002 2:46:44 PM]

[edited by - Sean99 on November 21, 2002 3:42:48 PM]

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quote:
Original post by beantas
It''s much harder to make a game out of conversations if you''re dealing with AI. Where''s the essential gameplay behind conversations? Is the success or failure of your conversation based on stats? If so, does the player know about those stats? If the player can see those stats, where''s the essential challenge behind manipulating people? Is it just a matter of being at a high "manipulation skill" level?

Read the ideas proposed by Sean99 and me, there is no "skill level" or dice roll involved. The ideas are less about how you say something, more about saying the right thing and predicting how certain people will react to certain information, and getting good information for yourself. If there''s enough information in the game this could be interesting. In my case (not sure about Sean''s) this system would be working along with some more traditional gameplay elements, so even if it is shallow there would be other stuff for the player to do. It would definitely be more interesting than the normal menu based conversation.

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quote:
Original post by Sean99
Every noteworthy action by either the player or an npc generates an event object, and each character has his own list of known events. There are two other kinds of notable subjects besides events: resources and motivations. An event is defined as an attempted use of a tool (a resource) by an agent (also a type of resource) to obtain a goal (another resource) from another character (again, a type of resource) for the agent''s boss (resource again). I have abstracted the term resource to mean anything that could be either a tool or a goal, so some types of innate character properties are considered resources, as well as offices and clout. For instance, if Tony is shot at by a thug by order of Uncle Junior, the ''boss'', ''agent'', and ''defending character'' properties of the event are obvious, and the goal resource would be Tony''s head, and the tool would be the gun. The event also stores the success or failure of the attempt.

The state of a resource object is determined by its owner, location, and condition. A motivation is decribed by a character, the resource of the character''s desire, the hunger level, and stage (e.g., ''get to it some day'', ''gathering resources to obtain the desired resource'', ''on my way right now''). A character''s (including the pc) knowledge base is his personal collection of the various event, resource, and motivations he is aware of. Each knowledge node also includes how much credit the character attributes to the knowledge as well as a list of characters he is aware of that know the same information (if we both witness Tony being shot at, I not only note the event, I note that you are present at the time with me, or if we exchange an information node during conversation, then we both note that the other guy also has a node representing the same knowledge in his knowledge base).

As far as conversation goes, the most basic function of this design is question-response. From the PCs perspective, he asks about any resource/character he is interested in. Leaving the the cooperativity level of the NPCs out of the question for simplicity, each NPC runs through his knowledge base and will relate any event, resource, or motivation which relates to what the player asks about. Keep in mind, NPCS take into account that all knowledge not gained through personal observation is not automatically true, and the player should catch onto that as well, so it makes sense for characters to have mutliple information nodes regarding a single event, resource, or motivation which describe the subject in at least slightly different ways.


Big Sopranos fan I see, hehe. This sounds pretty much exactly like the idea for my system. Have you written any code for it or done any tests? I''d like to see how it''s working out.

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Yeah, I just got hooked this season and I''m catching up with the previous seasons on DVD. I''m off to watch two more episodes after posting this.

From what you quoted from my post, if you''re just interested in the basic question and response aspect, that''s all done and working fine. I don''t have a game made out of it, but I have tested it with dummy data and it seems to be glitch free.

Once I get the interface cleaned up (hopefully in a few days) I was planning on starting a thread here asking for criticsim of it with a link to the demo. If you want to see something that just demonstrates the question-response angle, let me know and I can provide something that does only that. I''m happy with it, but then again it''s my baby, it might be truly ugly and I wouldn''t be able to tell.

Sean

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