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Magic Card

Open Ended Game

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Magic Card    122
I''m just curious. How would one go about writing a script for a completely open ended game? And I mean COMPLETELY, as in there are several outcomes outcomes for each level and your mission progression is based on how well you do per level. ----------------------------- A world destroyed, a myth rebord. Some truths should remain untold... Check out NightRise today, coming eventually from DanAvision Software Entertainment. http://www.danavisiongames.com

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c-thru    122
I think you'd have to do a huge amount of writing for what you suggest. At best you could never quite reach a 'completely' open-ended game. The nearest would probably be something like Elite or Frontier in which case there's barely any plot at all and can be ignored.

You can always give the illusion there's more freedom than there really is. Deus Ex 2 -> the choices always seem to be there; allowing you to choose multiple paths, however, only at the end of the game do you actually make the 'real' choice. In which case, there are four endings and you can reload from 5 minutes before just to play through and witness each. That'd take less work and yet the player is still free to shoot various characters, steal, insult etc... but there's always the four endings and they remain constant possibilities throughout the game.

If you want the player to feel free in the world, you can use a karma or reputation system to show how good/evil they are and have this influence the game. But honestly, I thought about making my project open-ended and it just looks too complicated for the writer.

[edited by - c-thru on January 24, 2004 8:45:06 PM]

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Really, your original post is inconsistent with itself. In a completely open-ended game, there would be no levels, no endings, and no "doing well". It would be a total void. Like nihilism.

Sure, there could be characters, and you could get "missions" of a sort, but nothing would be "better" or "worse" unless the player decided to support faction X and used the usefulness of his actions as a conscience.

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evolutional    1393
The only way you could ''script'' an Open-ended game would be to have the game self-create smaller plotlines and scenarios for the player. The only problem is that the game would never, ever be conclusive and would eventually lead to two possible outcomes

1) The player is a complete master of everything in the game world, nothing is a threat or a challenge - the player would eventually get bored as the game will never have anything worth doing

2) The game will start creating conflicting or repeating scenarios, ruining the idea of an ''infinite'' universe.

The Frontier Elite 2 game was like this; I found it strange how Braben went to all the trouble of mapping the entire galaxy, but the game itself only really happened in a small portion of this. Frontier eventually led to both of the two outcomes, you eventually became a master of the game and the scenarios within the game began to get repetitive and a real chore to play through.

Whilst the idea of having military factions and personal ''elite'' ratings was appealing, they eventually amounted to couriering things around and doing the same thing in the same way until the game tells you that you''ve done it enough for the next level.

If you were to attempt a pseudo open-ended game, you''d need several strong and intertwining plotlines, hopefully ones that if you progress in one, it affects the other plotlines, meaning that how you play the game can and WILL affect everything in it. This allows a higher degree of replayability, especially if small actions can affect things in a huge way somewhere else in the game.

You''d also need a form of self-generating plotlines, many extra stories and ''twists'' that probably only happen a few times; these can be separate to the mainplotlines, helping to remove the conflicting stories idea.

Morrowind had an element of this, unfortunately I found Morrowind soon became tedious and eventually led to me walking around from place to place, repeating the same actions I have done before. This was also what happened with Elite, and it really destroyed my sense of progress.

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I think it could be made to work if there was some kind of universal commodity of victory. I use the word "commodity" here loosely.

Take Nietzsche''s ubermensch. He exists in a world beyond the horizon of the infinite, and has to universal ethical standards to govern his behavior. And yet, he knows the better from the worse. He isn''t bound by religious guidelines, or sociel mores, or any other sort of normative moral standards, but he is guided by his will to power, and his understanding of the interaction between the Dionysian and the Appolonian.

So, build a world in which a man''s excellence is the measure of his success. Not his fame, or his wealth, or even his achievements, but his greatness. The closest thing I''ve ever seen to a truly open-ended world was Escape Velocity.

It was a 2D space flight/trading/fighting type of game, and you were a freelance pilot. You could get jobs in bars or from the equivalent of classified ads, and your performance affected your reputation, wealth etc. I eventually completed all the scripted missions and got all the secret upgrades and bought the fanciest ship, but after that, I kept playing.

I used my own sense of chivalry as my guide. I would take low-paying jobs escorting convoys, and pride myself on not only protecting the convoy, but on making every system I visited a little bit better. I''d fight pirates, assist defending militias, rescue stranded crews, and otherwise spread peace and goodness throughout the galaxy. In time, I even stopped killing. I''d disable pirates, and then leave them there for patrols to find, although the patrols generally just killed them. It was a very great deal of fun.

True Crime allows a similar system. The "Good Cop" rating is just the sort of conscience that would make this sort of thing work. Arresting criminals rather than killing them, using "neutralizing" arm or leg hits rather than head shots in gunfights, and cuffing belligerent drunks instead of beating them to a pulp and leaving them in the street is just the sort of thing that makes that game so much fun. Sometimes, I even stop at red lights.

Of course, Nietzsche and I both know that calling these things "good" is self-deceptive, and just casts a veil over the morally devoid world (game world for me, real world for Nietzsche, but I''m not quite that hardcore yet), but we both also know that it''s the tragedy and parody of this world that makes life worth living. It might even be enough to make a game worth playing.

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evolutional    1393
Your point about making the galaxy feel better is interesting, is this created by you or did the game really change around you once you disabled pirates?

What I mean is: Once you popped the bad guys, did they stop frequenting the systems you were in and create a new base for themselves elsewhere?

I think that sort of dynamic would really help make a game open-ended; it''s a macro-level event triggered by the micro-actions of the player

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No, you didn''t affect the universe that directly. It''s a pretty old game, and quite simple, really.

So to answer your question, I was solely responsible both for assigning myself the task and feeling properly rewarded by completing it. Of course, looting their ships never hurts, but I had enough money that crippling them and then leaving them with no tangible profit (and even some cost for missiles etc.) actually made me feel better than looting/destroying them.

If you could actually "clean up" a system, or give it a reputation for having a badass "sheriff", I think the game would have been even better. It would not be difficult, I think, to build such a feature into the reputation system of the game, which already evaluates you on system, faction, and even personal levels.

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Magic Card    122
Maybe I should be a little clearer about what I''m talking about. The game I''m trying to write is a story driven FPS, like Unreal II. After you play a level, you''re graded on 5 different stats, Accuracy, Objectives, Speed, Stealth, and Resourcefulness (did you find all the weapons/items and use them where they should have been used for instance) and the next mission you go to is determined by your grade. Each game would be composed of about 12 missions, and there''d be roughly 30 missions overall in the entire game. However, each time you play the game, you are sent down different mission paths which you create based on how well you perform per level. So my question is, how would I go about writing a script for such a game? I think that''s a little clearer.

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Nice Coder    366
Has anybody thought of using an ''Expert'' Ai system which learns the users actions or GA for the pirates (they get better every time they encounter you)

Perhaps if you let the ai decide what happens, (weather they build a new base, flee, fight, attack or run on sight)

If the AI learned and adapted itself, it would be a game worth Playing! (infinate levels, infinate playabiliey!)

perhaps if the ai determines what it should do by what *you* score, in each encrounter, submission, 20 minutes ect. then tailers the game to YOU.

That would sell.

Nice coder

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SteevR    190
"I''m just curious. How would one go about writing a script for a completely open ended game? And I mean COMPLETELY, as in there are several outcomes outcomes for each level and your mission progression is based on how well you do per level."

-Magic Card

I believe what you are describing is a "multi-linear" game, or a game with multiple endings and multiple ways to get there. You''re still stuck on a rail, but you can choose (or have your performance in the game dictate) which path you take. Examples: Several games in the Wing Commander series and Deus Ex. Examples of completely open-ended games: Morrowind/Daggerfall (Daggerfall came closer), and several of the Ultimas. Nethack, Angband and many "rogue-likes" fit this description as well (but have a more limited set of interactions).

To "write" an open-ended game, one must simply define the starting conditions, and how each object may interact. Then let the system go.

A fine example of an emmergent system such as this is John Conway''s famous (at least within math and game circles) "Game of Life".

How do you write a universe like this? Dream up a setting, some main characters to go into it, their likes/dislikes, and what they want to do... these factors ought to suggest one (more likely many) possible dramatic outcomes. The trick, of course, is implimenting all this in a digital medium. If you want some experience, start playing, and then "GMing" Pen+Paper RPGs (not minatures ones, like the latest D&D ruleset; these are too limiting).

Here is another thread with content germaine to this thread.

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
The idea of the FPS with levels dependent on performance makes me think of the random mission generator in Soldier of Fortune 2.

Maybe a system like that with the player performance influencing the "seed" for the next level? Perhaps not to generate an entire level, but maybe your kill ratio determines the spawn rate for the next level, your accuracy (or lack thereof) influences what kind of body armor they''ll be wearing in your next mission and so on.

In most cases it only takes very slight changes to dramatically affect the way a game is played and subsequently enjoyed.

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That idea is at least as old as Wing Commander. Your performance in missions affected the course of the war. Often, it was just a gameplay reward system, rather than an actual cause/effect relationship. For instance, if you destroyed all the fighters on your patrol route without being destroyed, your cruisers three parsecs away would winn their battle, but if you ejected, they''d fall back. Some were more direct, like a freighter with secret tech needing escort to a research station, and its fate impacting the war effort.

If that''s the sort of thing you''re after, then you just need a bunch of branching possibilities, and then you can script a "cusp event" that will determine which path the player follows. These can be fights, dialogues, planning sessions, mazes, or timers, or anything else you can think of.

Your emphasis on the word "COMPETELY" in the first post was misleading. Sorry about the irrelevant posts.

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