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Drama gameplay adaptation?

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I've been thinking of ways to adapt drama to games. You know, a story about people and their relationship. Probably a very tangly relationship with lots of other people involved. Any thoughts on how to achieve this while telling a pre-set storyline? (Sims style doesn't work, since relationships will change into whatever you make of them) I have given it some thought, but haven't come up with anything interesting yet. Chime in with ideas!

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I don't exactly understand what you mean...Do you want to avoid the player giveing any input into the forming new/continued support of character relationships? What is the nature of this pre-set game story?

I can think of several ways...but they all involve the changeing of character relationships...is that something you really want to avoid?

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the idea is to play a drama storyline.

Take your typical soap opera/pink novel/girly movie and try to fit it into a game, while keeping it fun. This is what i mean.

Since the relationships tie heavily with the story, you shouldn't be able to change them, or you would diverge from the story too much to be able to continue.
Maybe this could be a losing condition, but how to tell the player which is the path to follow?
I guess that relationships with secondaty characters could be changed at will, making friendships and alliances would be sort of like leveling up, to better confront the big challenges ahead.

Also, these stories go over the course of several days. Most games out there have us accustomed to lead characters that don't sleep for a week while pursuing their goal (FPS) or just take naps to recover at any random times (RPG). Considering the non-action nature of the game, how should one handle the time?

This is very vague, i know, mainly because i havent figured it out.

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Are you thinking that the primary gameplay will be the relationships? Or are the relationships secondary while you do something else (e.g., adventure game).

If it's primary then the question becomes what are the symbols you'll use that serve as gameplay? Is it dialog, in which case dialog trees might work (like the old FMV games that were heavy on prescripted performances)?

As far as I can see it the Sims relationship gameplay is really secondary because they don't have real conversation with meaningful developments. They really just delay a timer, which is represented as one of the needs. So even if you locked the relationships between characters, your real preoccupation in that game is meeting timers that look like real life commitments (food, sleep, peeing, etc.)

The real challenge I can see here is that most games have primary gameplay with the storyline to justify behaviors: adventure games have their puzzles, RPGs their combat and puzzle solving. I don't know that anyone has been able to turn the raw stuff of relating-- solving disputes, strategically misdirecting ("It's John's baby!!!" cue dramatic music)-- etc into a game.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Are you thinking that the primary gameplay will be the relationships? Or are the relationships secondary while you do something else (e.g., adventure game).


Primary, and dialog trees sound just about right... but probably not your ordinary "repeat until you reach goal" dialogs, since that would get boring fast, and allow you no strategy.

Maybe different possible outcomes? there would probably be a LOT of dialogue, but thats allright, since its plot based. With a lot of possible trees and different outcomes for each, you could "talk up" someone.

there could be 'facts' that you know and you could bring up to a character's attention at a given time ("It's John's baby!!!"), with its effect depending on when you choose to state them (you should be able to talk to many characters in the order you wish).

Hum.... how could a player know his/her progress? =O

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Maybe instead of dialog trees you could use a more free way to interact with the characters by really listening (or reading =) ) to what they say and typing the right questions/answers/etc. (for an example of what I mean see Douglas Adams' adveture game Starship Titanic). This would involve making a good text parser, so the caracters wouldn't seem too idiotic =)

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I posted that last reply, and only after that decided to register....

Anyway, I wanted to add, that this is a fun idea if you find a way to make it into a game! I'm new, but from what I've seen, most of the "ideas" here are just the same RPGs and strategy (war-)games, but this could be something that's never been done before.

And if you get your idea refined and get around to actually making this game, I'm sure you'll find people here wanting to help.

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before giving it a whirl i want to set the ideas straight ^_^ but thanks for the enthusiasm.

About adventure-type text typing: Its just too difficult.
the whole conversational AI is a horrendously complex problem, and better left alone for any decent timeframe (though fair game for research).

Also, while you can simplify the problem to something like the old adventure parsers, you bump into the verb-hunt problem, that was a huge turnoff, and quite difficult to tackle. And it would also mean no voice acting, and that is a turnoff for most people nowadays (in plot-driven games at least).

So ok, thinking of multiple speech (not speach!) trees:

multiple ways to engage conversation (i could tackle actions in the convo, so its more like 'interact' but i already hate the word) leading to different dialog trees, multiple possible outcomes, from good to bad (game-ending outcomes could be possible... kind of "you just blew it by saying that to her")
What is lacking here is a way to wield your relationship with one character as a weapon to another.

Kind of like befriending the ex-mistress of your nemesis, and then bringing her to the nemesis' first born 18th birthday party and having her reveal that its her child.
Or something like that.

Befriending could be done by raising an amount of points by achieving goals in several different interaction (ugh) trees.

Hey this is starting to take shape!
how does that sound?

edit: and how about time management? have the japanese-dating-sim cliche of "do something this morning, then something else this afternoon, then one more thing at night" or something more natural-feeling? walking around GTA style and talking to people is outta the question :roll:

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I like your ideas.

Im constantly thinking about simulating psychology. Thats pretty much what this game would be.

This post contains alot of psuedo-code, so bear with that.

Like you said, you would like to be able to talk to someone, and if you befriend them, a different plot event takes place. However, to befriend them, you have to do 'tasks'. But tasks should be disguised HEAVILY. It cant be an obvious things like Loaning her money or Inviting her over for conversation.

It has to be more psychological in nature. This event is basically getting the other person to like your character. There should be a variable for your character that is described as "PersonX likes you Y amount". As you do stuff in the game, like have a conversation with her, have a conversation about her, or perform actions that you do that she doesnt agree with (like drinking alcohol, eating meat, worshipping the devil) an event, or action, should be seperate and can be called upon by the AI.
an event like "Pick up the telephone" should be in a matrix (or database). Sort of like:
Event | Script | Special Condition to Run | Modifyers events

The Script is what to do when that event is called on.
Special Conditions are what should be done to envoke that action. In this case, they would be the Phone ringing, a need to call someone, or to check voice mail. Alot of events should require that another event has already taken place. Suppose the event "Locks Bedroom Door" happens. There should have been an event that happened a while ago that was something like "Room mate walked in on you naked". Now, everytime that character goes into their room, it checks to see if the room mate event happened, and decides if it should run the "Lock door" event.
Modifyer events are what would effect the character after that action is done. Suppose the event is "Just got dumped", there would be some code in thissection that would decide how the character dealt with it (basedon the relationship, and that hcararacters (in)abilities to function. After it comes up with an idea of what to do next, the player's information is altered. Something like Chracter.Happiness - 25, or Chracter.Lonely +50.
Thats another thing, There should be a LOT of variables for every character. One for each common emotion, and a few lesser common ones. Any emotion that could affect a story. Anger, Sadness, Happiness..
Some more intense emotions, like 'Suicidal', or 'Estatic' would just high measurements of Sadness and happiness. Other variables would be for things like "Likes Jan X Amount", "likes Vodka X Amount", "Works at XXX", and their daily schedules (check someof my virtual villiage posts about what i mean with AI Schedules).

To make a fully immersive plot, You would have to have tons of events. Everything from picking up a phone to opening a door. In the real world, this is what happens to us. Everything that we do changes who we are slightly.

With tons of Character Emotions, and tons of events, you still need something to keep the same game from happening over and over. You'd need lots of random events. One type of random event is started with a trigger, the other type isnt.
The Triggered events could start a few different ways:

-They could be started when conditions are met and affect only a few events comming up. Condition: "Josie.Happy = -2800". Event: Josie cries all day and tries to seek attention. Depending on how much she gets, the plot can be changed to anywhere from her "getting the attention and decides to work out" to "she hangs herself from the livingroom gym-set" that she bought in hopes fight obesity and be pretty.
-It could be started when Conditions are met, but it changes the schedule AI of a character for a certain amount of time. If Melanie likes dave X amount, then run "Melanie gets attached" event where she starts calling him every day... For X many days in a row. Each time she calls, a new event "Melanie calls Dave" starts, where code and variables determine the outcome. Maybe Dave hangs up on her, or tells her not to call back, or he enjoys the conversations.
-They start based on a timer. For example, anytime between 7pm and 2am, December 14th, Melanie will be mugged and killed.
-They start based on a timer, and then conditions. For example: Saturday night between 7pm and 2am, if Steve has more than $20, he leaves for the bar.
-They start with a condition, thena timer is set. Ex: Josie is stabbed in the
stomach. Start a timer for her to live. At the end, she dies.

You could also have some events that are not trigger based. they actually randomly happen.
Josie flips a coin, random event decides what side it lands on. This seems easy, but there has to be alot depth to the randomness.
A better example would be "Mark points the gun at Josie". If Mark's "Stability" variables are low, then there should be some random events choosing wether or not he shoots her. Sometimes, a reall small thing can set off a trigger finger. Since you cant emulate every small detail going on in the world, you have to fake those very small details with random event options.



You mentioned that the character relations shoudlnt be changed by the player, but i have to disagree. in real life, we have plenty of opptunity to change relationships between anyone we know. If you take that away form the game, it wont feel as real. But keeping that means that you have to write a LOT of events. Also, Youd have to mix all the types of events up to create a fun plot. Make sure you use the 'Events that require other events' idea alot for advanced plots that go the way you want them to in order to tell a pre-formed story as a basic plot.

In anycase, creating psychological and social patterns as AI seems pretty time consuming. Realistically, Drama is nothing but ADVANCED psychological and social patterns. That seems even more time consuming.

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hey, interesting!

There could be a bigass list of possible interactions with a character, in person or via telephone, and they could have requirements. So as you go along, some get enabled and some get disabled, kinda like an interaction supertree. This would be easily implemented (lots of media needed though, but thats expected for this kind of thing).

Also, about random events, each interaction could have an interrupt point where the dice are thrown to see if you're "caught", and if you are, cue to the interruption scene."friend of the guy you're trying to convince to trust you walks in the club and sees you while you're sweet-talking his sister... the horror! he dashes out."

Now, in an interrupted interaction, besides other characters finding out about stuff... what should happen with the interaction at hand? failing something randomly is not something that sounds too fun.... or is it? what about a branch, like go after the guy and.. um... threaten him or something?

About tasks, i'd lump them on interaction trees (which should probably be able to handle more than 1 character interacting), since the other character has to know what you did to react to it. Oh an important point here is that facts will spread among people who are close. I'd say the info spreads instantly. So the guy in the club will tell his friend as he sees it, and the friend will know by the end of the interaction. There should be some restrictions, so you can play with knowledge ("if you tell your friend, i'll let him know of your affair with his girl!")

Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
You mentioned that the character relations shoudlnt be changed by the player, but i have to disagree. in real life, we have plenty of opptunity to change relationships between anyone we know. If you take that away form the game, it wont feel as real. But keeping that means that you have to write a LOT of events. Also, Youd have to mix all the types of events up to create a fun plot. Make sure you use the 'Events that require other events' idea alot for advanced plots that go the way you want them to in order to tell a pre-formed story as a basic plot.

In anycase, creating psychological and social patterns as AI seems pretty time consuming. Realistically, Drama is nothing but ADVANCED psychological and social patterns. That seems even more time consuming.


Actually i was thinking have some main characters who you can't change the relationship with (the ones who drive the plot) and secondary characters who you can. You'll be using the secondary character interactions to get to the main characters.
There would be a LOT of events, thats a given since the game is based on them. The more of them, the more versatile the game gets.
Also, this would hardly qualify as AI, since we're talking tree traversing with some randomness added. To keep it doable, I like to simplify things. It doesn't have to be realistic, it just has to be fun. =)


looking good ^_^

edit: single example for consistency

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