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TechnoGoth

Integrating Custom Characters versus Archetypes into a story

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TechnoGoth    2937
Integrating Custom Characters versus Archetypes into a story My original plan for a game story involved 5 well know anime character archetypes all attending the same school. The story would revolve around one semester at that school and involve so significant event and the interpersonal relationships between the characters. Originally the idea was that the player chooses one of the characters to play as experienced the story from the point of view. But now I’m considering having the player create a custom character to experience things with. This fits in better with the type of game but leads to potentially serious clash with the core idea of a very character based story game. I had planned to have the story be heavily branching and intertwined with the game play. But my main problem is now how to achieve this if the player is using a custom character? For instance if the player is playing as the shy quiet girl and tries to pursue a friendship with the loud violent and obnoxious girl then writing a branching story arch and events for that relationship is easy since the characters personality are clearly defined and even if their abilities change that can be included as part of a story event. However how can I do this if the player has created their own character? Are story and customize two counter acting forces? And the only way to increase one is to decrease the other? Thoughts? Suggestions? The type of game this will be draws elements from princess maker, harvest moon, and Japanese style interactive stories, it is sort of an amalgam of them all but set at a school.

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sunandshadow    7426
Xenallure is exactly the sort of game you describe: a cast of typical anime character type NPCs and an avatar-type blank slate PC for the player to express their personality through. The way this works in Xenallure is that every single player dialogue choice has to have a full range of options so that there's one appropriate to whatever personality the player gives the PC. It also means the characters have double roles. Say in your original story, characters A and B are in a romance. If you want to add a PC, then when the PC is pursuing A, B is the PC's rival, and when the PC is pursuing B, A is the PC's rival.

This all may be more complicated than you want to do, but if you want to see at how I am doing it, take a look at Xenallure's design doc.

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Beige    188
Quote:
Are story and customize two counter acting forces? And the only way to increase one is to decrease the other? Thoughts? Suggestions?


No. It'll just take more time to add story content which is appropriate to the customization you allow the player.

The only limit is where you decide to draw the line, because systems like this become very complex very fast. I suppose you could come up with some kind of algorithm to generate content to compensate for the additional possibilities customization allows, but that might be more work than simply making it the old-fashioned way, and end up less functional.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Xenallure is exactly the sort of game you describe: a cast of typical anime character type NPCs and an avatar-type blank slate PC for the player to express their personality through. The way this works in Xenallure is that every single player dialogue choice has to have a full range of options so that there's one appropriate to whatever personality the player gives the PC. It also means the characters have double roles. Say in your original story, characters A and B are in a romance. If you want to add a PC, then when the PC is pursuing A, B is the PC's rival, and when the PC is pursuing B, A is the PC's rival.

This all may be more complicated than you want to do, but if you want to see at how I am doing it, take a look at Xenallure's design doc.


So basically what your doing is having a single branching story. Where you combine all possible player personality types (within reason) into different branch options. There is of course the second problem have the players character fitting into the story. I had planned that each archtype had a special ability so if I keep with that idea does that mean I eliminate the NPC from the game that has the same ability as the player?

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sunandshadow    7426
Why would an NPC have the same ability as the player? The PC is it's own distinct character, you're not superimposing it on any of the NPCs, it should get its own special ability.

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Estok    104
Re: Interactive story with variable personality
Quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
For instance if the player is playing as the shy quiet girl and tries to pursue a friendship with the loud violent and obnoxious girl then writing a branching story arch and events for that relationship is easy since the characters personality are clearly defined and even if their abilities change that can be included as part of a story event. However how can I do this if the player has created their own character?

Assessment and Classification

Topics:
Assessment:
- Required dimension of assessed variables
- Indicativeness of assessed variables
- Modes of assessment
- Quantity of assessment

Classification:
- Required resolution of classes
- Dynamics of classes

Typical Model:

.------------. .----------------. .-----------.
P.Decisions--->| Assessment |----->| Classification |-->--| |
^ '------------' '----------------' | Simulator |
| .--------------. .-----------------. | |
P.Preception<--| Presentation |<--| Event Selection |--<--| |
'--------------' '-----------------' '-----------'


Assessment - Collect data about the PC that will be used to classify the Personality of the PC.

Classification - Classify the PC into Personality Prototypes or Combinations of Prototypes used for Simulation or Event Selection based on the collected data.

Simulation - Uses processed data and classifications to simulate the interactions. The simulator stores all rules for transitions. When you are writing the simulator, you can assume that the personality of the PC is well-classified.

Event Selection - Select an event that can further assess the state of the player. This means that the function of a story element is not to progress the story, but to provide relevant feedback to further classify the PC.

Presentation - Present the event subjected to adjustments based on classifications and immediate accessments.


Example:

Dimension of Classifiable Personality: 2 (Eysenck)
- X-Axis: (-) Introverted to Extraverted (+)
- Y-Axis: (-) Stable to Emotional (+)
There are four quadrants: Choleric, Melancholic, Phlegmatic, Sanguine. The Classifier will classify the PC in these four quadrants using 32 associated traits.

As soon as the game begins, the events will gear toward classifying the personality of the PC so that scripted/emotionally intense events can be selected later on. What events you use, and what data you collect is up to you. But the choice of events are subjected to deadlines set by the significant events in the semester. In order words, the events that the game dynamically select progressively profile the PC to ensure that the simulator has enough data to eliminate the irrelevant, redundant, out-of-character, or out-of-context choices, to retain the suspension that the event is viewed by a particular personality.

The begining of the game may begin with a striking event and some smaller independent events that collects the initial center of mass of the PC's personality. After this primary classification (which can be done all in the duration from the PC wakes up to getting to school), the PC is put into a situation where the NPCs will make an initial impression and the player will see the primary effects of the PC's personality on the NPCs.

After this first event, the PC runs into another series of smaller events where the game detects the direct the PC may try to transform, followed by presenting the challenges relevant to the intended transformation. After that, that games presents more challenges, encouragements, and hints, tailored to the personality of the PC, and simulates the events and transformations based on the classified model of the PC.

Beige is correct that it can get very complex very fast, but that is why there are only 5 prototypes in your original design. Duplicated personality in general is not an issue, it usually becomes a competitor.

"But my main problem is now how to achieve this if the player is using a custom character?"

This is not a problem from the perspective of the simulator after introducing the assessment and classification stages. All the characters are just NPCs with defined qualifiers from in eye of the simulator.

In a nutshell this is really easy. For the Eysenck model, you can just choose to have four discrete classifications. You can have three types of events: determined, local, and full.

In a Determined event, the game will present the event based on the current state of the PC (in this cause, the states are discrete, and are either 1,2,3 or 4). There is no choice to be made by the PC. You want to tell him that you really like him but you didn't? Well that's too bad, it happens that you are (the game determined that you are) a shy quiet girl. Oh my god how do I change this?

You change this in local events, where you are given opportunities to behave within your personality or close to your personality. For example suppose you are melancholic, a sequence of 4 events will be presented in which you will be able to choose melancholic, choleric and phlegmatic options. You cannot choose the sanguine option however, because that will be out of character. After the 4 events, your personality assignment will change based on the majority. This is the basic idea on how the player can slowly transform.

In full events you have access to all catagories. These are for 'dramatic' moments where the PC is allowed to act out-of-character to get a point across.

The complexity comes from the number of instances for the same event. Based on the simplification above, you can imagine, that each event, if not fully templated, have occurance conditions. The set has to cover all input possibilities, including plot-related history. Choices available to the player do not guarantee success. It is the player's game to figure out what actions can and can't be carried out by the PC given the PC's emotional state. (This way the shy girl in the beginning can't just arbitrarily turn into a talkative girl just because the player wants to see 'what if')

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TechnoGoth    2937
Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Why would an NPC have the same ability as the player? The PC is it's own distinct character, you're not superimposing it on any of the NPCs, it should get its own special ability.


Well, the original idea was for the player to choose one of the NPC to play as, that ment adopting the personality and ability of that NPC. Now that I'm thinking of allowing the player to create a custom character I have do make a decision on character abilities. Should the player choose one of the 5 abilities to give their character and thus eliminate the NPC with that ability from the game. Or should I allow the player to become pursue any of the 5 abilities and thus create some rather strange characters but giving them a greater sense of control over their character and allow me to keep the 5 orginal NPCs.

If your curious the 5 "abilites" or "secert identies" are:
Ninja
Mech Pilot
Pretty Soldier/Magic Girl
Alien
Witch/Illusionist

There is may also be 6th character who is guy who dress a girl, but that will only be the case if I decided to make the school the game takes place at an all girls school. Which was what it orginally was but I'm still undecided. In traditonal anime style the story essentialy had all 6 characters ending up living together in the abadonded dorm left the male charcter by is great grandfather, and all the character trying to keep their secert identities secert.

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