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TechnoGoth

Information gathering

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I planning on including information gathering into a game. The idea is rather then having a single npc the players have to talk to get the information they need on a subject they can ask a varity of npcs about it and aquire the information they need. The player can perform research to gether information on organizations, npc, objects and places. If you''re looking for a particular item then you can gather information about it, to learn about the item and who might have it or where it might be. There where be a number of rumors and faulty intel the can be gain in this manner and the player will have to decided the accuracy of it before acting on the information. When the game opens the player will have only themselves to gather information with, this will work by looking through library records, talk to npcs, listening to rumors, etc.. However once they have some resources they will be able to begin forming information networks, which will consist of all manor of sources that are used, filtered and anlaysised to provide the player with the infomation they need. ----------------------------------------------------- "Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own." Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
The player can perform research to gether information on organizations, npc, objects and places. If you''re looking for a particular item then you can gather information about it, to learn about the item and who might have it or where it might be.



What''s the actual moment to moment gameplay for this? What exactly do you do? Do you move through stacks in a library, or do you click on the library building and test ("roll") against your info gathering skill?

quote:

There where be a number of rumors and faulty intel the can be gain in this manner and the player will have to decided the accuracy of it before acting on the information.



What factors allow you to determine accuracy? Are you going to teach players to consider the source ("the Propagandist libraries are always full of lies!") or give them a quick and easy way of cross-checking and validating?

quote:

When the game opens the player will have only themselves to gather information with, this will work by looking through library records, talk to npcs, listening to rumors, etc..


What''s the journaling system for this look like. Most journals in RPGs function to keep you on track after you stop playing, go do real life, then come back. How are you going to catalogue inconsistencies?

quote:

However once they have some resources they will be able to begin forming information networks, which will consist of all manor of sources that are used, filtered and anlaysised to provide the player with the infomation they need.



Beware of creating crippled gameplay that''s only really enjoyable once the player levels up. If the only real way to play the game is once the info''s filtered and analyzed, players will suffer until they reach that level.

How would you feel, as a player, btw, of acting upon a wrong lead, or wasting time due to bad information? I might feel like my progress has been set-back.

The way to make this tenable, however, is to make the player fully responsible for all failure. Give them the tools to judge information, and make it easy enough to deal with but complicated enough to be a challenge. Then you can open the door to intrigue and interesting encounters.

Misdirection is fine only if it leads somewhere interesting. Otherwise, be sure not to include it solely for the sake of fidelity.

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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Oo intersting idea that im working out myself, but my first information gathering system is based more on doing research on species theyre behavior and such.

Yours sounds very interesting, it sounds very detective ish, networking information for a big problem, and it sounds very fun to do. Indeed like wavinator says I would be very interested on how you do this as well.

How would you make for the accuracy of the info. would the player think about it itself, or would the player character define how accurate something is by the trustworthyness of the character, object he got it from.
Or will he think of it himself by some numbers and make it so that you can calculate how accurate something is by a skill the player has learned ?

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The major problem with rumors is how the player will be able to determine which ones are true and which ones are not. The system would have to be fairly easy to manage, or players might not accept it. There might be a log that buts all information into a "Undecided" file and then onwards to "True" if prove can be found or "False".

What you are suggesting is a bit more complex though. You are saying the player has to find the information from more than one source and merge it together to grasp the bits the wants, right? The problem is people would have to remember everything they ever talked/read about, or fear loosing a valuable information. If there was a system to manage all this, it would be fairly complex. I don''t think it is worth the effort unless the game focuses on this, to be honest.

On the other side, it would be really cool to try to determine the truthfulness of informations - but player might only appreciate this if the game clearly states that as one of the major features. Otherwise it is probably just an annoyance.


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There are only 10 kinds of people: those that understand binary and those that don''t.

Bad Entertainment

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
What''s the actual moment to moment gameplay for this? What exactly do you do? Do you move through stacks in a library, or do you click on the library building and test ("roll") against your info gathering skill?



The gameplay depends on the information source, there is a dialog system where the player can interact with npcs, by asking questions of the npcs and using skills on them. When it comes to books, the player has "read" the book. Where a book contains facts that are added to your knowledge base and time elapases, the number of the total facts you gain depends on your litercay skill and subject related skills.

quote:

What factors allow you to determine accuracy? Are you going to teach players to consider the source ("the Propagandist libraries are always full of lies!") or give them a quick and easy way of cross-checking and validating?



One of things I''m going to do is teach them to consider the sources. For instance if you ask a farmer "How is the health of the local lord?" and the farmer replies "He''s sick, they say his new wife is poisoning him." next question "He has a new wife?" answer "Yes, married last season, to a northern woman of all people. You can''t trust their kind, hertics and sinners the whole lot." That is the kind of "fact" you should take with a grain of salt and would be based on the players skills givien a low validity rating.

The most important thing with facts is valdity and verifaction. So if you prove or disprove a fact that fact is changed in your information database. Facts are written in black, blue for new, verfied in green and disproved are red. The player should take the time to verify any fact they are risking their life on. For instance a drunken tavern gower lets it slip that "The rich merchant Abda-Ba, will be visiting the Lady Su alone tommorow night." This could give the player a significant oppertunity however would you should be weary to risk your life based on one unverifed fact, some more discreet inquires may prove or disprove it either way that extra leg work will pay off since the player will be better prepared then if they charge into hotel alone expecting to catch a lone merchant in throughs of passion only to find half a dozen heavily armed bodyguards guarding the door.


quote:

What''s the journaling system for this look like. Most journals in RPGs function to keep you on track after you stop playing, go do real life, then come back. How are you going to catalogue inconsistencies?



Good question, The journal system will consist of Topics which are divided into subjects which are futher divided into catagories which contain facts. Examples of starting Topics are local, provisional,and imperial. Examples of local subjects could be the village cheiften, a wealthy mechant, an imporant ruin at the edge of town. Catagories goven specific groupsings of facts, for the cheiften it might cover health, family life, etc... Catagories cover all facts gained by asking about a specific detail of subject. So if you wanted known to check what you know about the local chiefs health, you would see all the facts you''ve been told about it, along with whether they have been verified and the validity value of the fact. There are two subcatogires for disproven or expired facts these are used to keep the facts clean so that the player only has to see expired or disproven facts when they want to.

The Topics, subjects and catagories are based entirly on the player personal knowledge base and so things they don''t know about are not shown.


quote:

Beware of creating crippled gameplay that''s only really enjoyable once the player levels up. If the only real way to play the game is once the info''s filtered and analyzed, players will suffer until they reach that level.



The information network is an evolution of the information gathing system. Since there is a limit to what the player can learn on their own, skills, background friends, occupation all these play a factor in gaining information. The information network allows the player utilize a wide verity of npcs to supply them with upto date information, which would be impossible to do otherwise once you move into the later strategy portions of the game. For instance if the player wanted to be kept upto date on the shoguns activities then they would need an extensive network of spies to gather this intel. Its would nearly impossible for the player to gain this information by simplu talking to npcs, and certainly not without alerting the shogun. Or if the player is looking for a particualar item such as a stolen sword. It would take alot of time to track it down themselves so it would be preferable to use your information network to find it. Lastly if players don''t want to deal with gathering intel themselves the information network can be used to do it for them.


-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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I have been working on something similar as well but without the fact verification. One possible way to solve the problem of misleading information is to have a relationships with the NPC''s. Some will be friends, some enemies. The friends always give reliable information. Enemies will give some reliable and some not, if you trust an enemy (unknowingly) and act on the information something bad will happen. This will alert you to that NPC''s motives and warn you not to trust them again.

The whole system of interaction requires two things IMO, 1) a limited number of NPC''s that will interact with you 2) a new interaction method that gives much more conversation control to the player.

The depth I would like to achieve with my system is such that the player must decide who to trust, who to share information with, how to go about getting the information and winning the NPC''s trust, etc.

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quote:
Original post by stevelat
I have been working on something similar as well but without the fact verification. One possible way to solve the problem of misleading information is to have a relationships with the NPC''s. Some will be friends, some enemies. The friends always give reliable information. Enemies will give some reliable and some not, if you trust an enemy (unknowingly) and act on the information something bad will happen. This will alert you to that NPC''s motives and warn you not to trust them again.
getting the information and winning the NPC''s trust, etc.


Its not just a question of trust, an npc may simply not have access to reliable information. Who is more likly to have reliable information on the health of the local lord? A local farmer or the lords personal physician? The rumors going around the peasents could be that the lord was poisoned by his wife. But talking to the physician may reveal that he is in fact dying from a rare disease.

So being good friends with npc doesn''t nessiarly mean reliable information since the information may be outside the npc expertise, experince or knowledge.




-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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Hmmmm, yes, I see your point. In that case I would tend to think it might be confusing as well.

There are many things in reality that cannot be verified as fact, everyone will have a different view. But if a player were to act on such a premise they would be continually hitting dead ends.

Maybe you should explain your idea in more detail.
Does the information they are gathering relate to the plot?
What if they act on bad information?
Is there only one "right" way to go through the game?

Great topic.

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quote:
Original post by stevelat
Hmmmm, yes, I see your point. In that case I would tend to think it might be confusing as well.



I hope the player will get the hang of it there will be a gentle learning curve for it and I will try to make it possible to play without it, however the player will find themselves severly crippled without it.

quote:

There are many things in reality that cannot be verified as fact, everyone will have a different view. But if a player were to act on such a premise they would be continually hitting dead ends.



True, the player can only get so far with validation eventully they must make the decisions to act based on the knowledge they have gained and deal with an consquences that may arise as a result of faulty intel.

quote:

Does the information they are gathering relate to the plot?



Well, the game as no direct plot persay there are major events and story going on around the player, and the game story is more a manifest destiny kind of story, its not about reaching a particular point its about the journy to that point. The player is driven by their chosen motivation, that motivation becomes fuel for their ambition driving them constantly forward. The player may become so consumed by their ambition that they set the land a blaze with the fires of civil war, a slave to their own ambition. It is a game where a player can begin with noble ideals like using power to protect the weak, and up as a mad dictator who rules the empire with an iron fist.


Information gathering is important in order for the player to decided how, where and why to act. For instance earlier I mentioned the wealthy merchant. The player could use the information on his meeting with Lady Su to their advatange, if the learned the merchant was married they could get proof of the encounter to blackmail him with. Or they could seize the oppertunity to assassinate the merchant eliminating the major competition and sieze control of the towns economy.

Then again they could use infromation about a recent draught and risk of famine in a small village to transport a large shipment of rice to villagers to sell for a large profit or donate to gain the favor of the locals.


quote:

What if they act on bad information?



That would depend entirly on the situation. In the case of the famine in the village if they arrived and found no famine then they would just loose money. If it was an attempt to assassinate the merchant only to find he his well guarded it could mean they seriously injured or even possibly killed in battle.

quote:

Is there only one "right" way to go through the game?



Nope, the path through the game depends entirly on the players choices and actions. The entire gameworld is more or less accessible from the start, with a some exceptions.

quote:

Great topic.


Glad you like it.

-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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That idea seems to be the latest focus in the industry.

It should be interesting to see how Fable handles the issues of player motivation, decisions, freedom, etc.

Back to information gathering. I am working on an adventure game where information gathering is one of the main focuses of the game.

The player must talk with NPC''s to find out missions, information, backstory, etc. There will be a new "conversation mode" that allows more natural conversations. The main plot will be driven by the information gathered by talking with the NPC''s.

The other part of the game involves different levels of puzzles: easy, hard, and really hard.

The players that solve the easy puzzles get some good items to help with the main plot.

The players who solve the hard puzzles discover a subplot that interweaves with the main plot and effects the player''s perspective of the main plot.

The really hard puzzles open up deeper content, additional levels, and alternate endings.

The puzzles require reading, exploration, mastering of the conversation mode, and various science skills (all information gathering).

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