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levels changing in realtime.

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Or, Diablo-TRIS I'm fed up with there being so many games where the game maps are pre-designed by the developers. And think that there is room for games where the levels are regenerated every time you play. But, I am not suggesting that games randomly create the levels BEFORE YOU START PLAYING. Instead, they should have levels that change WHILE you are playing! One of my objections to pre-generated levels, is that it doesn't make you -think on the fly- enough. There are usually set (several) ways to deal with the obstacles that you find. You fail the level, so then you just choose "replay level". So you either retry it with the same strategy, or keep trying until you find the "right" strategy. Imagine a game where as you play, the level changes in front of your very eyes. New enemies, new bonuses and new walls and terrain are generated like a puzzle game. As an comparison imagine playing Worms, but while someone is playing Tetris ! The level would keep changing, parts of it would disappear, new opportunties to hide would be made when the computer started to stack bricks etc. Of course, games with this type of constantly changing level could also be 3D. Or, instead of having new parts just appear on the map like Tetris, new parts could be added on adjacent to existing areas. Like Dominoes. Once you have explored 75 percent of the map, the first few rooms disappear and new rooms are added on at the end. I think it would be very interesting to see a game where the level changed constantly, because it would make the player have to pay attention, and to work out what the best strategy would be. Any thoughts? Would there be any main problems to avoid? Would you like to play or make games like this? Have you played any games which do this and did the idea work well in it? [edited by - Ketchaval on May 28, 2003 12:29:17 PM]

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it would be kinda psudeo-4 deimesional like Cube2 the movie, it would be pretty awesome to impletment a game like that where the level rearrganges it self, with multiple instinces of such, it would be a real trip

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Many game types that we know tend to determine on "well-designed" levels to be fun, I wonder how which genres are least dependant on having ready-made levels. And which types of games would be even more fun?

I suppose that in 2d shooter (scrolling, and arena based) the fun depends less on the "scenery".

Think about platform games, these often rely on having pre-designed levels: because the gameplay goal is to get to the end of the level, or to pick up all the "stars", or solve a puzzle. But, I think that platform gameplay may be well suited to games with evolving levels, because (2d and 3d) platform games are all about interacting with the level If the gameplay goal were to change from being about collecting something (from a specific place)- to something more appropriate?, then a game with random scenery could be good. Because, you could bounce off the scenery.. and then new things to interact with would appear.


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I think it (might) be important to let the player know what will happen next.. ie. a transparent image of the scenery to be added could appear a few seconds before it is added to the level.

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I think that if overcoming the level is dependant upon the obstacles on the level, and those obstacles are constantly changing then the game becomes unplayable - constantly changing goals with no way to anticipate those changes is frustrating rather than engaging. Imagine trying to complete a project at work (or a course at school) if the objective was never the same from one moment to the next.

If the level layout does not impact on your ability to complete it, then you can do what you like with it. However, as soon as the level layout becomes critical it must be possible for the player to figure out how the changes occur and learn to anticipate them. This held true even the Cube.

In ''WormTris'' it would work reasonably well because the computer would be placing the blocks in ways to achieve its own objectives and a dedicated player would be able to anticipate what the computer was most likely to do next. If you just have random terrain generation all the time, it becomes impossible to formulate any kind of strategy, and so your success comes down to blind luck (the human analog of Random).

So... you can make a self-generating and re-generating maze game, but only so long as the rules governing the generation are decipherable, even only with much patience.

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Funny you should mention it. I was thinking of runtime "puzzles" in the game I'm designing. The only problem is that just randomly generated puzzles, even if they are sovable arn't fun. Puzzles must be knida logical to be fun(read the Game Design Articals). The one way you might be able to do it is define a bunch of arbitary puzzles, which are simple and can connect in a few ways. You could then have the computer combine them in lots of ways, and implement them with game objects. Maybe read up on how DirectMusic works. You define styles, with little melodies and you can set it up to never play the exact same thing twice.

I played a game once, Robot City. You crached in a city and were accused of murder, and had to prove yourself inocent. The weird par was the city maps changed, at least I thought they did. When you walked around some corners you would see the walls kinda morph into another street. However the movie was always the same, and i'm still not sure whether or not the maps actually did. The manual said they did?

Nick

[edited by - nickmerritt on May 28, 2003 5:52:42 PM]

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So what you want is walls to move, objects to change, and doors to disappear and reappear right in front of the player? I dunno if I like that-- the biggest problem is how do you explain it? It sounds like a good idea, but if it doesn''t "make sense", I doubt it''d be very appealing... If you had one or two levels in a game that took place in another plane of existance, or in some psycho wizard''s construct, yes I could see where this would work.

Now take games like Nethack, and a whole host of others. (games where you are exploring a dungeon/cave) These games will randomly generate levels right BEFORE the player enters them. The level is laid out when the player enters, and if the player goes back up a level it''ll still be there. This is VERY difficult to successfully implement. Nethack doesn''t just pick rooms from a stock gallery of rooms and join them together, it actually generates the whole level from scratch.

Now the big problem is those levels are a hell of a lot simpler than Neverwinter Nights''s levels. Your generation algorithms now need to place furniture, wall hangings, and has a whole lot more things to worry about than the tile-based ASCII Nethack. Yes it''s possible. And not to difficult for a veteran programmer.

But the final problem is one of storyline. Nethack didn''t have much, but most games coming out today (SHOULD!) have intriguing plot, detailed scenery, and interesting characters. It''s hard to place these elements when the levels are randomly generated. Again, I could see it having it''s place WITHIN a game, such as a goblin cave or a dungeon that you have to venture into in order to kill the dwarven thief at the end, but not the whole game.

-d-

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quote:
Original post by SoaringTortoise

If the level layout does not impact on your ability to complete it, then you can do what you like with it. However, as soon as the level layout becomes critical it must be possible for the player to figure out how the changes occur and learn to anticipate them. This held true even the Cube.

...

So... you can make a self-generating and re-generating maze game, but only so long as the rules governing the generation are decipherable, even only with much patience.



I think that players would prefer to be able to for(e?)see changes to the level, otherwise things would become annoying and frustrating.

quote:

Original post by Desco
But the final problem is one of storyline. Nethack didn't have much, but most games coming out today (SHOULD!) have intriguing plot, detailed scenery, and interesting characters.



The types of game that I would envisage dynamic level changes in probably wouldn't have much of a plot (save the earth), and would rely on either "action". The focus would be making plans to overcome the situation that you find yourself in, and on uncovering the levels. Rather than on memorising guard patrol routes etc.

The games might even have an "action-puzzle" flavour, but this would be more like Tetris and Bust-A-Move- where you have to work out what the best thing to do is depending on the situation, than Tomb Raider - where you have to work out how to figure "pre-designed" puzzles which only there have only one solution.

[edited by - Ketchaval on May 28, 2003 7:39:38 PM]

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Okay then.. lemme answer your original questions:

"Any thoughts?" Yes. Good idea for parts of a game, but for the WHOLE game, it might get a little difficult to design.

"Would there be any main problems to avoid?" Yes. Namely, what to do when a wall should appear when a player, enemy, or other object is in the position where the wall will appear.

"Would you like to play or make a game like this?" n/a. It could be a successful part of a game. But I personally thing that basing the whole design of a game on an idea like this is like eating pizza crust first-- it makes things more difficult, and will only leave you with a hand covered in hot cheese and sauce.

"Have you played any games which do this and did the idea work well in it?" Yes, actually. I''ve seen something like this in games before... The only thing that comes to mind right away is Frogger Beyond, or any of the other contemporary Frogger games. There were parts where the floors that you had to jump on would move, appear, and disappear.

-d-


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I know there are a few games that have done this....

...best example I can think of that isn''t totally abstract is the multiplayer in a later SNES Bomberman sequel(it was in Japanese in the version I played). People who were knocked out still participated by tossing bombs from the edges of the screen(they could move all around the edge) When time ran out there wasn''t a tie, instead the level started adding blocks everywhere in an inward spiral, killing players that got in its path.

Another game whose name I don''t remember was an early Game Boy game. It had both a tank and a plane from a side-view. The tank moved forward and shot stuff, while the plane, which the player controlled, dropped blocks to help the tank advance.

And lots of games have some small world-change by opening doors or flipping switches and such.

But the changes implied seem to be more random and abstract than flipping switches or dropping blocks or causing "cave-ins," since they''re mostly player-made or meant to cut things off. I think it''s not really a matter of being unfeasable, more one of whether it''s hurting gameplay by being too random and blotting out any sophistication or strategy in the chaos.

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I guess it''s time to spill the beans on this!

I say this only because I''m about 5 years ahead of you in this idea In fact, it''s one of the key elements in one of my designs that I rarely get noticed (till now I bet .

Working Title - Death Race
Genre - Sci-Fi Combat Racing

Now I ask you - What could be better than racing within a truely static environment?

Earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, collapsing...everything and tons more

Adding more fire, engrossing track width/length and 3D layouts (think F-Zero caliber , realistic activity, outlandish vehicles and weapons, and top it off with massive speed!

Oh yeah, did I mention the multiplayer part?

Wanna race sometime?

- Christopher Dapo ~ Ronixus

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let the enemy be this super-god, witch have the power to change the level! The goal could be to destroy the super-god! Then let the super-god try to stop the player, by changing the level! (this would explain why the level change or "make sence" as Desco talked about)

if not a super-god, let there be someone or something witch changes the level, and have a goal with the level change.

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The kind of game that I''m suggesting is one which would be concentrated on second-to-second and minute-by-minute action, maybe a racing game, or a "streamlined" shoot''emup. It wouldn''t be about stopping at locked doors, or getting stuck, but about continuous and spontaneous action. You wouldn''t have saved games, but you might have ascending difficulty levels, like in Tetris.. where level 2 is faster than level 1. Maybe the higher difficulty levels would introduce greater numbers of obstacles. They would probably be a test of skill and quick thinking.

It would be the kind of game that you could experience "the flow" http://www.mhbestlife.com/who_leads_entry.html
and really get into the groove of seeing what is happening next and acting on it.

Maybe you could have a game where you roll down a randomly generated pipe.. You would have to keep on the track instead of falling into space. The level would just keep being generated as you went.

Perhaps, instead of "randomly adding scenery", you could have scenery that moves in a predictable manner. Ie. Walls that slide from one side of the map to the other "bouncing" off the edges of the arena like a ball. (Think of the moving obstacles in Zelda that slide left and right).


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A great suggestion. Once I downloaded this demo of a random terrain generator that kinda fit this description, although it was very simple, didn''t have walls or anything, didn''t change directions (made in DarkBasic, if anyone cares). But it started me thinking of something along those lines.

It''d be fun to play a game kinda like Descent where the level generates on the fly like that -- it''d be a great combination of fast paced action and utter confusion, since you never know when the tunnel''s gonna turn or something.

I don''t know how you''d make realistic-feeling FPS maps on the fly, if thats what you''re referring to. That would take some serious technical research. But if you can think of a way to do it, more power to ya.

****************************************

Brian Lacy
ForeverDream Studios

Comments? Questions? Curious?
brian@foreverdreamstudios.com

"I create. Therefore I am."

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