Sign in to follow this  
Madster

Drama gameplay adaptation?

Recommended Posts

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!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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 =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Madster

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."


The whole concept i came up with for your game would be the backbone of the game. Also, I think that concept is really versatile. Since you're going for a definite "Soap Opera" style, I really like your idea of 'Interuptions'. I like that there ciould be a wedding and an unrealistic event such as Joe throwing the back doors open and rushing in yelling "NO! MELISSA! I LOVE YOU!". Although thats unlikely to happen in real life, it would happen in a soap opera. Or, if two people are talking, the female would reveal that she is pregnant and doesnt know who the dad is, but she still loves this guy shes talking to.

If you could ever get the resources to put together a game on this scale, I woudlnt mind contributing more ideas or examples. Itd be a pretty interesting game to play. You'd just have to keep in mind the idea that if its not done right, the game would feel too much like a choose your own adventure book and ultimately become just an advanced version of Night Trap or Psychic Detective. While developing a game like this, you'll have to think of l0ts of ways to fight that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Madster
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).


Now THERE's an idea for my master's thesis =D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Garmichael
You'd just have to keep in mind the idea that if its not done right, the game would feel too much like a choose your own adventure book and ultimately become just an advanced version of Night Trap or Psychic Detective. While developing a game like this, you'll have to think of l0ts of ways to fight that.


I was just thinking about that... with premade trees and interruption cues, the sequences would be identical every time they run. The only thing that would be constantly changing is what each character knows and how they(secondaries only) feel about you. also there's the environments, which would probably be dictated by the interaction tree (take someone to a club, for example, and then go and do clubby things).

I usually work with counterexamples, so if i can reduce the whole thing to video segments, then something aint right. any ideas about how to make it more varied? for one, the interruptions could be by any secondary, and reaction would depend on allegiance... so that would make it more dynamic... but still there's something missing.

btw the difference with night trap is that now you can pack a bajillion hours of decent quality fullscreen video on a single disc =D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cecropia Tries Game, 2D Animation 'Interactive Film' Hybrid
Quote:
"All the artwork in the game is hand drawn animation, there are no computer generated images. It's something we could've done with CGI, just as animated films are being done in CGI, or less and less in 2D. But we chose the hand-drawn look because what's important to us is the personality of the characters; the emotions, and something that's called in the industry, which we didn't know before we started this project, personality animation. Personality animation is the kind of animation where you can tell what's going on in the character's head from their facial expression and their body language and that kind of thing. You can really read their emotions from the artwork. When we started this project, and we continue to feel this way, that the very bleeding edge of CGI is only just starting to approach what 2D animators have been doing for decades, in terms of personality animation. So we're using 2D animation, because that's what does personality animation the best."

...

"...Principle number two, we are taking the approach, and this is just our choice, of trying to synthesize storytelling and gaming. Principle number two is: as much as possible, we want the stories to be the kinds of stories that appeal to mass-market audiences, and we want as much as possible for the action of the games, or the game part of the product to be central and germane to the story. So to me if you take those two things together, the interesting kinds of stories that the mass-market is interested in are stories about characters, about relationships, about people. And if you're going to have the action of the game be central and germane to that kind of story, the action of the game has to be about characters, relationships, emotions, people and that kind of thing."

...

Oddly, the art released so far for Cecropia's game end up reminding some observers of classic LucasArts-style adventure gaming. Khudari is keen to point out the differences, however. He expounds: "We've got a lot of similarities with a lot of different things. The structure of our games is not the structure of an adventure game. An adventure game, broadly speaking, is a game about an environment you explore, whether it's a physical environment or a logical environment, and there's a network of places that you can go, and you have some control over what direction you want to go, and initially it's limited by gates, essentially, and those gates get opened by unlocking puzzles, typically logical puzzles, and in that sense our game is not an adventure game. It doesn't have that structure. Our structure has much more in common with Donkey Kong than it does with that. It's much more like an action game, where you are in direct control over a character, immediate control over a character, so you're not making choices from a menu, taking objects from one place to another, you're not solving logical puzzles. You are controlling the actions of a character, controlling it directly with the interface."
Sorry for the massive excerpts, but I think the material is pertinent. Reading between the lines, it would appear that Cecropia is intending to have users "play the character's physical and emotional responses," to which NPCs will respond as well. One interesting thing is that they claim that they are eschewing the "list/menu of interactions" interface style popularized by LucasArts.

I'm not adding much, am I? I'll shut up now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Honestly I would hide how the NPC's feel towards you (BTW, i believe the conditional variables should be stored in the NPC, not the player) should be displayed only through behavioral/verbal clues, no omnipresent display of any kind. You could also have various other variables such as shyness, perception, and sarcasm to add to each npc indidualy. It is then up to the player to determine alot of this for themselves. Figure out the needs/wants of the individual NPC's to increase a fondness so to speak. As for your end goal? KILL JOHNS BABY!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The nature of text interaction is complicated, as has been observed above. How about an "emotive conversation" system? Rather than trying to build huge dialog trees or parse technology, the user can specify inquiry, interrogation, hurt, rejection, anger, empathy, indignation, curiosity, shock, non-platonic interest, seduction... By eliminating the requirement of parsing or generating natural language conversation (you could use a Simlish-like "language" to convey the emotional responses), an immense range of expressiveness can be attained.

Of course, this limits the ability to further the narrative through dialog, which is a significant disadvantage.

Just throwing it out there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I dont see why you coudlnt build a system based on the emotion idea, but have more complex conversation.
I mean, we already decided that there would bean array of personality traits (sarcasm, humor, etc). Mix that with emotions, and you have the core foundation of what people structure a sentence around.

You could have a pretty big list of phrases the characters can say. Each phrase would have a value of "Sarcasm", "Anger", etc etc. depending on how high of a stat the character has for each trait, they would get a different list of things to say. If more than one phrase matches up, have a random generator decide which one they choose.

Also, you could 'teach' the AI basic sentence structure. Suppose theres a box in the corner. The character could decide to start a conversation about it in any number of ways. "Hey, look at that box".. "Where did that box come from?".. "Sit on that box". the character would need an object to structure the sentence on, and a purpose to say the sentence.

I dont know. If you're going to make such complex characters, making a complex dialog system only seems natural. But still: Who's got the time to do all this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
it would appear that Cecropia is intending to have users "play the character's physical and emotional responses," to which NPCs will respond as well. One interesting thing is that they claim that they are eschewing the "list/menu of interactions" interface style popularized by LucasArts.


well i'll be. Luckily for me there are thousands of ways of doing the same thing =)

Quote:
Honestly I would hide how the NPC's feel towards you (BTW, i believe the conditional variables should be stored in the NPC, not the player) should be displayed only through behavioral/verbal clues, no omnipresent display of any kind. You could also have various other variables such as shyness, perception, and sarcasm to add to each npc indidualy. It is then up to the player to determine alot of this for themselves. Figure out the needs/wants of the individual NPC's to increase a fondness so to speak. As for your end goal? KILL JOHNS BABY!

and claim your rightful cut of the family business!
*ahem* i mean, yeah, no filler up bars hovering on characters heads or nothing like that. Definitely. However, including more variables in an already simple interaction system is probably overkill. about 3 should do.
About needs/wants.. yeah, kind of like sub-bosses, the secondary chars should be won over, by one of many different possible means.


Quote:
Original post by OluseyiThe nature of text interaction is complicated, as has been observed above. How about an "emotive conversation" system? Rather than trying to build huge dialog trees or parse technology, the user can specify inquiry, interrogation, hurt, rejection, anger, empathy, indignation, curiosity, shock, non-platonic interest, seduction... By eliminating the requirement of parsing or generating natural language conversation (you could use a Simlish-like "language" to convey the emotional responses), an immense range of expressiveness can be attained.


I saw that once in Sam&Max, and whenever i hit the Ask a Question symbol, i'd go "why the hell are you asking that? thats not what i wanted to ask!"

In a game where what you say must be strategically chosen, that could be a problem. This could be fixed by (as you mention) going all out into emotions only. But since i plan to stick with voice acting (its kinda hard to feel bad when some character busts crying and speaking in gibberish) i would have to come up with means to identify what replies are going to be about. Plus, in soaps one-liners are very important (and usually delivered before commercial break!).

However, i shall investigate. Maybe the gibberish doesn't affect that adversely attachment. what do you think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've read some stuff on this. Check out http://www.quvu.net/interactivestory.net/ which is basically along the lines of what you're thinking: natural language processing, interactive storytelling, relational based gameplay. I remember reading an article about the system they used. I can't remember where but it's probably linked from the page. As I understood, they broke it down into thousands of "story chunks" (they called it something else) and then specified a method for them to follow from one to another. In the end, it seemed like a ton of work from a result of aroun 20 minutes of gameplay. However, it does seem impressive, but they unfortunately don't have a demo. Plus, there's a ton of useful information, projects and papers linked from the page.

tj963

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow. Im gonna keep an eye out for that demo.
Although i don't favor text interfases nowadays, they could make good use of it. However, i am sure it is quite complicated.

I remembered a bit more about Sam&Max and, you know, the question icon was always a random nonsensical question. But you could go into a question submenu with icons of stuff you've seen or had, and people who you've met or were looking for. So that worked quite well. With a menu popup i could restrict interface to a few seconds. This could trigger the talks.

About interruption cues... i was thinking and to make it more dynamic there should be many, so you cannot predict when its going to happen (like... ok if i don't get interrupted after this bit then im safe for the rest of the convo), but there should be a way to control the damage, since its a random event. I shall watch some soapies for inspiration on that =)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
from gamespot
In a change from the normal style of traditional RPGs, the dungeon sequences are entirely side-scrolling and 2D. Valkyrie can run, jump, slide, climb, attack, and shoot ice crystals to freeze enemies and create temporary platforms against walls.


Why was this mentioned? i read the review but don't see the relevance...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this