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Wavinator

Full-on cloning in an RPG-like game

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Multiplicity in any form presents such a fundamental design problem that I think we often try to eliminate it with extreme prejudice. But in terms of genetic cloning, what would it look like to embrace the idea of multiple characters to the point where the only limits are natural and expected? What gameplay expectations would you have if you could clone your character?
Consider these the basic assumptions*: All clones have to grow up, be taught and socialized, may not develop like you, and may be sanctioned depending on the society you're in. Clones would not have automatic loyalty and would be more subject to mental and physical disorders and early death (due to the imprecise nature of creating and raising life). OTOH, they'd be more likely to share your aptitudes and desires. If you could find a remote island or asteroid, you could create the perfect society... or your own army! You're naturally be restricted by resources, such as food or medicine. You might also face "Little Napoleon" rebellions (they are you, after all). Finally, assume that ALL POWERS take a dim view of you as you develop more and more clones. Some will interfere on humanitarian grounds, others out of fear, others to annex your rising power. I could go on, but what are your thoughts? Would you employ clones as allies, or try to build an army? What else would you want to be able to do?
* = btw, for those not familiar with the strategy/RPG hybrid I'm working on, assume that you equip via templates and move them about in a strategic overworld map, like Civ or an RTS. (This should cut down on the insanity of management and inventory).

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Original post by Wavinator
Multiplicity in any form presents such a fundamental design problem that I think we often try to eliminate it with extreme prejudice. But in terms of genetic cloning, what would it look like to embrace the idea of multiple characters to the point where the only limits are natural and expected?

What gameplay expectations would you have if you could clone your character?


Trying to save on art assets, Wavinator? [smile]

Personally, I wouldn't trust a clone army to take over the world. If I have already tried to take over the world, then surely it wouldn't be beyond comprehension that one of my clones will have the same idea. The more clones, the more likely that one of them would revolt.

Plus there's the problem that no-one is made up of the "perfect" genetic material, so there's always room for improvement. If you made an army entirely of yourself, then every soldier would have the same weaknesses. You could try and make a super-clone, but then that clone would be better than you, which makes a clone revolt all the more likely. You could then try to compensate by putting in some sort of genetic or training tendency to be obedient, but that's incorporating another weakness into their make-up. Besides, personally my creativity and free will are some of my only strengths (genetically my strengths certainly aren't physical!)

So when I try to take over the world, I'd stick to robots. Can't go wrong with robots!




Getting away from the slighty light-hearted discussion of clone armies and moving to a more game related discussion; I think cloning would be hard to pull off in a strategy type game (I'm assuming that's what you're aiming for, right?), unless the idea is simplified a little (possibly cheapening its sci-fi potential). I guess you won't be using some sort of fancy genetic modelling or A.I. system for every character, so anything that happens will be done with some sort of scripting system based on either a story or on probabilitic calculations? Without some sort of character A.I., it will be hard to detect whether you have mistreated your clones.

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Personally, I like the robot idea better. It's not that cool having other people in the game world who look just like you (too much like deja vu?). Robots are just cool. You can upgrade them, change their parts, change their AI, etc. Plus the fact that you don't have to let them grow up or give them restroom breaks.

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
The more clones, the more likely that one of them would revolt.
My clones would be revolting all the time. That's why I'd clone somebody who's better-looking than I am.

Seriously, though, do I have to clone myself? Couldn't I choose the perfect slave-soldier and clone the crap out of her? I don't know if you guys read "Down Among the Dead Men", but it's a short story in which they used clones of dead war heroes to crew ships. Every member of the crew was a duplicate of the historical figure that had done that job best.

I could build an army where every general was Robert E. Lee, every pilot was the Red Baron, and every armored division was led by Patton. All my cops would be Bruce Willis, all my cowboys would be John Wayne, all my mobsters would be Al Pacino and all my private investigators would be Humphrey Bogart. Except the ones that were Jack Nicholson. Did I spell that right?

The point is, I'd rather see a genetic manufacturing plant making designer babies than an actual cloning lab making my hay-fever-suffering, predisposed-toward-diabetes, small-genitalia-having self en masse. I think science can probably do better.

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Original post by Trapper Zoid
Trying to save on art assets, Wavinator? [smile]


Yeah, and they'll all be invisible... invisible clones, that'll work! [razz]

Quote:

So when I try to take over the world, I'd stick to robots. Can't go wrong with robots!


Ever heard of EMP???? :)


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Getting away from the slighty light-hearted discussion of clone armies and moving to a more game related discussion; I think cloning would be hard to pull off in a strategy type game (I'm assuming that's what you're aiming for, right?), unless the idea is simplified a little (possibly cheapening its sci-fi potential). I guess you won't be using some sort of fancy genetic modelling or A.I. system for every character, so anything that happens will be done with some sort of scripting system based on either a story or on probabilitic calculations? Without some sort of character A.I., it will be hard to detect whether you have mistreated your clones.


From a pure strategy game perspective, what about simply building this as a strategic tradeoff. Robots, for instance, might be more durable and less flexible; clones more likely to take the initiative and win creatively, but more frail.

To bring it down to an NPC/RPG perspective, I don't think you need to do advanced personality modelling. I notice an awful lot of medieval RPGs with supposedly different races like elves and dwarves which supposedly have unique cultural identities, yet in practice play the same (without players batting an eye).

What we're really talking about here are what the strategic strengths and weakness are of self-awareness, though. There's the body, and then the motivating will. Robots might have a quicker build time, but be harder to hide in terms of manufacturing facilities. Clones might be more likely to become erratic over long term, but able to innovate. As the two techs merge, a more powerful strategy opens to you. (All in theory, of course)

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Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
Couldn't I choose the perfect slave-soldier and clone the crap out of her?


I don't see why you couldn't, provided that there's gameplay for kidnapping or shanghai'ing people. Then you stick them into some very basic looking tank, load the gene splicer software, (maybe) play a minigame, and then fast forward in the game's equivalent of skipping turns in a 4X empire game.

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I don't know if you guys read "Down Among the Dead Men", but it's a short story in which they used clones of dead war heroes to crew ships. Every member of the crew was a duplicate of the historical figure that had done that job best.


Hey, that's cool. (Another cool story to read).

You know, this idea of cloning past heroes makes me really think about how you might represent their uniqueness in terms of stats. It has to be something that can't really be taught, some unique set of characteristics or potential that isn't understood well enough to splice. (Maybe in game play terms it is a kind of modifier on certain events... you clone Churchill, for instance, because he'll decrease the chance that your side will lose morale; you clone Ghandi because he makes a great diplomat... gets into the whole nature/nurture question, doesn't it?)

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The point is, I'd rather see a genetic manufacturing plant making designer babies than an actual cloning lab making my hay-fever-suffering, predisposed-toward-diabetes, small-genitalia-having self en masse. I think science can probably do better.


You know, you almost cost me a keyboard with this one. I'll never drink and read an ICC post at the same time from now on![lol]

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Original post by Wavinator
From a pure strategy game perspective, what about simply building this as a strategic tradeoff. Robots, for instance, might be more durable and less flexible; clones more likely to take the initiative and win creatively, but more frail.


Well, if it's on that level, then clones are a fine alternative to robots as a choice for army generation. However, they would take a couple of decades to get to combat effectiveness, unless you plan on altering their DNA somehow.

I also assume you'll have regular ol' recuitment for a normal army as another option, right? There is an advantage to having a whole bunch of different personalities in your army. But if you wanted to go for a totally sci-fi feel, I guess you could force them to choose an exotic choice.

And there's always the biological warfare approach as well; either by using engineered viruses for weapons, or genetically engineering a race of hive-minded killing machines to do your dirty work.

Quote:

To bring it down to an NPC/RPG perspective, I don't think you need to do advanced personality modelling. I notice an awful lot of medieval RPGs with supposedly different races like elves and dwarves which supposedly have unique cultural identities, yet in practice play the same (without players batting an eye).


The personality modelling was more for a failure state; to give a reason for why the clones would rebel against their "parent". But there is similar issue here which will be unique to a sci-fi themed strategy game; I'm not sure how well it will go if your clones are smarted than your robots. My reasoning is this; if my robots are stupider, why didn't you just plug in the A.I. algorithms you used to simulate the clones in the game into the robots?

From my work with real robots, one of the main advantages that humans have over robots is that we are much, much better at sensing the world around us, and translating that into an internal model that we can reason by. Robots are, for all intents and purposes, blind and deaf. I don't know how advanced the technology in your game is, but you could make it that the general A.I. problems had not be properly solved and that robots are still not as good at detecting the world around them as well as humans. That could be one way to distinguish the robotic units from the clone army.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Trying to save on art assets, Wavinator? [smile]


Yeah, and they'll all be invisible... invisible clones, that'll work! [razz]

Just read your other post on invisibility. Ketchaval stole my line! [smile]

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Even if the clones have no loyalty to you you could have a lot of fun in game. Think about it, you create a few hundred clones of yourself, relese them into the city and then go on a crime spree. You have a few hundered other people to point to and say (s)he did it if they even cought you.
On the other hand it could provide fun if you have to hunt down an NPC that has the same idea. Do you go around killing everybody that looks like the NPC and hope you get him? I'm guessing the authorities would like it even if it was legal. Someone has to clean up the mess.

Just as a side note and possibly an entertaining side game:
If you have an entire city/army of clones and a few decide to go bad on your investigators would have a hell of a time tracking down the culprits. Think about it, what are they going to use to track down the right one? Eye witnesses? Biometrics like finger prints or DNA?

As another side note, on public radio a month or two back they were talking about cloning calico cats. Even though they were able to clone, the spots/markings were very different from cat to cat, so maybe a society of genetically engineered intelligent cats?

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Original post by Kars
Just as a side note and possibly an entertaining side game:
If you have an entire city/army of clones and a few decide to go bad on your investigators would have a hell of a time tracking down the culprits. Think about it, what are they going to use to track down the right one? Eye witnesses? Biometrics like finger prints or DNA?


Actually, if your personality could be copied as well, it would be fairly easy. In a city where everyone acts the same, I'd reckon have a level of synnergy between the clones that would make them almost act like a hive mind; sort of the way a twin can predict what the other twin is thinking. Any clone that starts acting differently will stick out like a sore thumb.

Besides which, while the DNA is the same the fingerprints will be different. But fingerprint matching isn't as cut and dried as those forensic scientists would have you believe [smile].


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