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Non-linear, non-deterministic game worlds

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Wouldn't it be neat to have a game world with the surrealistic structure as in the mind-twisting pictures of M.C. Escher? Nowadays, in the age of BSP-trees and what have you the game worlds are quite realistic in the sense that they are linear and deterministic. In the age of text-based games, however, you could often for instance travel north, then back south, and find yourself somewhere completely different from where you originally started from. Or, you could get lost in a forest and every time you moved, there was a change you ended up somewhere random. It would be nice to see a game where you could travel along a straight corridor, pass by a door, and while never turning even one degree, you would end up on the other end of the corridor, facing the other side of that door you passed. Or having two doors side by side, and from the left door you could turn right to see a long corridor and from the right one you could turn left to a similar corridor. Basically the two corridors would in a sense occupy the same space, but they would be still distinct. Other things than space could be similarly subjective, such as gravity. You could enter a room from two directions, but the laws of physics that hold in the room do not depend on the room, but rather on the route you used to get there. To make it possible to have a non-deterministic world, you could see if the player's character (and thus the player) could see a door (or a portal or whatever) with the stochastic property and if not, you could randomly assign the other side of the door to another area of the world (also not seen by the player). In an area where most of the environment is quite similar (such as a forest), such random variation could simulate the possibility to get lost in the area. The reasons for such spatial distortion could be many: some magick could have distorted the reality; it could simply represent the character's incabability to sense the true geometry of the world; or the game world could actually have more dimensions than what the character is cabable of sensing (actually a special case of the previous one, but still...). Would this be too distracting gameplay-wise? Any thoughts?

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I've also thought of this possibility - it would be relatively easy to do with a portal type engine.

It happens in Dungeon Siege but it is not directly apparent. In their continuous world different 'nodes' can be connected to other nodes in any order, with no care to actual distances. It is possible to have two paths that go the same city, but one of the paths is a lot longer even though it is going in the same direction.

I think the best use of this technique would be in horror / thriller games, where the place you are in is haunted - that would be the only way to get around the otherwise confusing spacial abnormalities.

The other thing is to build an engine that supports arbitrary geometry that could lead to impossible situations because (as in Dungeon Seige) it gives the designers more freedom. When they are building the level they don't need to care for keeping the geometry 'real' all they have to do is just link up different locations in any way they want.

If I was to make an engine, I would make it have the ability to have the non-deterministic game world, not just so you can have impossible worlds (but they would be fun) but because you will have freedom in world construction.

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The good-old game Marathon used to have maps that warped in on themselves. I think "5D space" was one of the better ones. Everything worked cleanly in those cases, except for (I think) splash damage, which could hit you when you were in an "overlapping" space.

If you don't remember Marathon: it was out about the same time as DOOM, for PowerMacs, and featured looking up and down, which DOOM at the time did not. It shipped with a level editor. It used software 3D rendering. Ah, those were the days!

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It'd be very effective for a horror game...although then you'd have to figure out what the weird geography would do to critter placement. Say a ghost is chasing you, and you go through a door only to see the place you just ran from. Would the ghost go in the door after you, or backtrack to your new position? Would the code bug out and clone the ghost?

Outside of horror games or being thoroughly lost, the world would need *some* logic, otherwise you'd never be able to find anything. The same door would have to lead to the same place every time, or the game would turn into "wander around aimlessly for hours hoping you find something useful".

Really neat idea though. I had a similar one once, for a dungeon where everything looked different depending on what angle you saw it from. Thinking about it gave me a headache, though. :P

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How about doors that go different ways depending on which way you open them?

Could lead to some interesting situations.

THere should also be a 4th dimentional element, where different parts of the "universe" exist in different timezones, wit hdifferent rates of time.

An egsample:
You see a monster, frozen (not moving, not cold-frozen), standing still. you shoot it with your shotgun. the bullets hit an invisible barrier and slow down to a crawl. they crawl up to the monster, hit it and send it flying backward, slowly. when the monster finally hits another invisible barrier, it suddenly accelerates to the correct volocity of a monster being hit with a shotgun.

Now, just imagine that you are in one of those zones:

you see everything moving at 100 miles an hour, things travell faster then you can see, and can dodge bullets you fire at them. One of the monsters runs at you, and slows down, from 100 miles an hour, to normal walking pace. you can then shoot it, and it flyes off normally, until it hits a temporal barrier and flys back at 100 miles an hour, onto a nearby wall.

Another nice egsample:

You open the door.
You see a monster, stuck in a slow-motion tempral rift:
You shoot it, it flyes out of the barrier and on to a nearby wall.
A door opens past that rift, and you see the same monster running for you. you run into the rift. the dead monster dissapears, so does the live one. you wait a few seconds. you see the live monster entering the rift. you also see yourself opening the door. you shoot the monster as it is coming in. you see yourself shoot you. you then see the monster you shot dissapearing and reappearing as it flyes over you, with a bullet hole in it. you see the door open, and the monster stepping out, you see yourself running towards your rift. you see yourself stepping in the rift and dissapearing (temporal integration, you already exist in this timezone). you now see the monster at the door aiming at you, you shoot it, it gets blasted out of the door.
You run out the door.

Another nice egsample:

You see a monster cought in another temporal rift:
You shoot it,
it flyes back, through its temporal barrier, and into your own.
you look away.
a few seconds later, you look back.
a monster, the same monster is standing in the same spot it was when you came in.
you take a closer look.
you see the monster suddenly fly back, with a newfound bullethole, just where you shot him.
he flys though its rift, until it hits the barrier.
when it hits the barrier, the other monster (the one you shot, and is lieng dead on the floor) dissapears. the monster then lands in the exact same spot that the first monster you shot went to.

For the last egsample, i am displaying another nice little element: the rifts do not have a constant time, both how fast time is chaning, and the current time is changine. it that egsample, the time in the other rift changed back a few seconds. but it could also change much further then that (hours, days even).

And one last egsample:

you enter a small room, there is one monster in the middle of it.
you shoot it.
it flyes back, and lays to rest neer the doorway on the other end of the room.
You move towards the doorway.
You suddenly look, and find that the body has dissapeared!
you turn around, and you look at the door you just came in by.
you see yourself opening the door, coming in and shooting the monster in the center of the room.
You see yourself running towards you, and dissapearing, as time returns to its previous time (as you checked on your watch-hud)

This would be a very nice consept...

Nice coder

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A good premise for such a game would be the standard 'space-time distortion' problem so common in scifi. Some BBEG somewhere wants to control the universe by doing something to space-time and uses some device to create a kind of 'warp bubble' that fols space-time upon itself. To stop the BBEG, you have to go into the distortion and figure out how to stop it. No need to limit portals to doorways - put them diagonally in the middle of halls, or even as parametric surfaces cutting around corners and through walls. You could even have '4 way doorways' - going through it from the 'front' means you go between place A and B, but from the 'back' you go between A and C. Maybe even have some kind of 'local distortion bubble' weapon that can change where a portal goes. You'd need multiple copies of hte level loaded into memory to account for the weird-shaped portals, and going through those (the A<->B/C ones that bend around corners/through walls/etc) would take you to an exact copy of the current level but with different items, enemies, and maybe even different portal links (can't get back to reality A the same way you came from it).

The time element could be fun, but it could also become very complicated, so I think limiting things to spacial distortions would be best. You could still have fun with the portals and bullets. For example, you see an enemy soldier with a rocket launcher shoot a missile at you, and as its coming toward you it suddenly just dissapears into nowhere and you hear a stifled explosion from the other dimension. Perhaps an interesting twist would be to allow sound to penetrate the 'dimensional barrier' so you can 'logically' get some of that horror "OMG THEY'RE EVERYWHERE" feeling =-)

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I don't know, put too much spatial distortion in and it'd become almost impossible to play.

For example. You're in a hallway, facing a door on one side. There's another door at the end of the hallway, to your right. You open the door in front of you, and there's a monster, so you shoot at it. It dodges. And here comes the bullet you shot...out of the suddenly open door at the end of the hallway to your right. Sure, you could look over there as you open the door to see if the other one opens too, and avoid the situation, but then the monster would get you instead. And that's providing monsters can't open doors too.

A limited version of this could be cool though. What if the monsters had access to weird geography like this, but you didn't? It could make for some pretty creepy "where the HELL did that guy come from?" scenes.

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