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Nytehauq

Procedurally generated complex world simulation?

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Nytehauq    328
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-262774490184348066&q=spore Spore. I'd like to thank Will Wright for showing that an entirely procedural and complex simulated world and gameplay is not only plausible but doable. It's rather nifty that you can have a world in which concepts are defined and the user can create as they see fit. Every hard coded limitation can optionally be replaced with a procedural and flexible remedy. Thus, your three legged lizard thingy can easily become your flying dinosaur of doom - while walking, fighting, eating, dragging, and even dancing correctly. But I digress... Suppose you had an MMO with a world whose interactions were modeled proceduraly, as opposed to the actual creatures? A world where you can wipe out a tribe of enemies and have the game react the same way a game like Spore accomodates when you remove a limb? Both are simply procedural systems. Out with the hard coded, in with the dynamic. Wouldn't games be better if your world reacted to you? The ecosystems of the multiple planets...in the hundreds of thousands of solar systems...all work and change procedurally. What if Spore was an MMO, and you weren't the only one playing in your world? Procedurally generated complex world simulation. I'm willing to bet that a small server farm could generate the entire world and keep it updated if Spore can at least display your corner an view of the universe on one machine. Thoughts?

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z80    134
I think you are right about it would be possible with a few servers. It is a logical next step.

Very cool video btw.. Nice project, and funny and inspiring guy.

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ellis1138    234
It would be very nice, especially in a perfect world.

That said, I'm not sure I'd like to lose everything on my character that I've worked for because someone's 13 year old kid, afterschool, burned down my character's village and family, leaving me with nothing but "ha ur pwnt" as an explanation. ;)

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Nytehauq    328
Quote:
Original post by ellis1138
It would be very nice, especially in a perfect world.

That said, I'm not sure I'd like to lose everything on my character that I've worked for because someone's 13 year old kid, afterschool, burned down my character's village and family, leaving me with nothing but "ha ur pwnt" as an explanation. ;)


Of course, but while this could ONLY happen in a procedural and malleable world, that doesn't mean that it HAS to ;)

You don't have to let people blow up towns, or even create them, even if the functionality to do so exists.

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owl    376
Quote:
Original post by ellis1138
It would be very nice, especially in a perfect world.

That said, I'm not sure I'd like to lose everything on my character that I've worked for because someone's 13 year old kid, afterschool, burned down my character's village and family, leaving me with nothing but "ha ur pwnt" as an explanation. ;)


That would give you a motive to devote your life to pursue that Demon Prince along the entire procedural universe with the only objective to destroy him and claim your revenge!

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Kevinator    229
As much as I love Will Wright, I can't shake the feeling that Spore is mostly hype and fluff. Procedural animation: technically wondrous, but only a novelty to gameplay. It almost seems like the game was designed as an afterthought to show off a fancy tech demo.

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Trapper Zoid    1370
Quote:
Original post by Kevinator
As much as I love Will Wright, I can't shake the feeling that Spore is mostly hype and fluff. Procedural animation: technically wondrous, but only a novelty to gameplay. It almost seems like the game was designed as an afterthought to show off a fancy tech demo.

Will Wright's never really struck me as the "tech demo" kind of designer, given his past collection of titles he's designed; he seems to be more the sort to develop tech to solve whatever gameplay element he wants to implement. My main concern with Spore is that it may turn out to be more a "game idea demo" like Black and White; a whole bunch of wacky game concepts that seem great in a short demonstration but just don't gel together into a cohesive whole. However given Will Wright is still my favourite game designer (possibly tied with Miyamoto) I'll probably buy it anyway [smile].

Back to the original question; ellis1138 pretty much described what I consider the main problem (other than the technical side of things) in a single sentence. From my understanding of MMO game design, a fairly central problem is what you do to stop the jerks from ruining the game for everyone else. A procedural dynamic world is just asking for abuse. I'm not sure how your players will react to having l33t-speak burned in mile high letters on the nearest mountain range, or having the entire native population of animals slaughtered just for fun, or having every village torched within the space of an hour. Whatever system you use will have to have some sort of anti-griefer system in place, otherwise the imbalance of the damage they can do versus the punishment that can be given will ruin the game.

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WeirdoFu    205
I think procedural worlds are cool too, but just like others have said, one issue with MMOs is the fact the the world is shared and persistent. But that doesn't mean its not doable. Now, if it were a distributed and peer-to-peer "universe", then it might be doable.

Personally, I think MMOs using centralized servers will eventually give way to distributed or P2P MMOs with index servers. So, for a game like spores, what can happen is that everyone starts on a different planet or star system. That system resides locally on your system. As long as you're online, people can move in and out of your system freely, but whether or not they can do anything to your system is another thing. Other people will be able to build outposts or colonies in your system, but they won't be able to actively attack your creations, unless they are authorized (backstabbing friends), though if their authorized by you to do such things, hopefully they won't really do it. So, its kind of like an alternative way of building a friend list, but in theis case, more like a galactic alliance.

It should be noted that technically, your star system is off limits to other players once you're offline, so no need to worry about having things messed up. That of course, includes access to an outposts other players may have built within your system.

So, procedural worlds in MMOs can work, its just that we have to sort of wrap the technology and game design around the concept. Not to mention invent a few new ones on the way.

Spores, even if it does fail on the sales front, will still be a landmark and inspirational game for years to come. Procedurally generated stuff have been around for years, but no one has been able to do it well enough to be widely accepted. Spores may just be the one that does it well enough to push it into mainstream.

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Nytehauq    328
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Quote:
Original post by Kevinator
As much as I love Will Wright, I can't shake the feeling that Spore is mostly hype and fluff. Procedural animation: technically wondrous, but only a novelty to gameplay. It almost seems like the game was designed as an afterthought to show off a fancy tech demo.

Will Wright's never really struck me as the "tech demo" kind of designer, given his past collection of titles he's designed; he seems to be more the sort to develop tech to solve whatever gameplay element he wants to implement. My main concern with Spore is that it may turn out to be more a "game idea demo" like Black and White; a whole bunch of wacky game concepts that seem great in a short demonstration but just don't gel together into a cohesive whole. However given Will Wright is still my favourite game designer (possibly tied with Miyamoto) I'll probably buy it anyway [smile].

Back to the original question; ellis1138 pretty much described what I consider the main problem (other than the technical side of things) in a single sentence. From my understanding of MMO game design, a fairly central problem is what you do to stop the jerks from ruining the game for everyone else. A procedural dynamic world is just asking for abuse. I'm not sure how your players will react to having l33t-speak burned in mile high letters on the nearest mountain range, or having the entire native population of animals slaughtered just for fun, or having every village torched within the space of an hour. Whatever system you use will have to have some sort of anti-griefer system in place, otherwise the imbalance of the damage they can do versus the punishment that can be given will ruin the game.


Like I said above, just because you CAN give the player the ability to procedurally destroy your procedural town doesn't mean you DO. My town can be static, but my monsters can spawn with social hierarchy. I can still make it so that you never run out of monsters because of random spawning though. While you can't do anything other than random spawns with many games, you have a choice when using procedure.

Example: Town A in (every other game) is static. It cannot be changed beyond buying/selling from merchants or direct developer interaction - no user input. Town B exists in a procedural world. It has an odd set of properties however - physics scripts, damage, and normal interaction are disabled for Town B. Thus, you arrive at the same situation. Town B, while in a procedural world, is no more maleable by players than Town A. You could even decide that only the player who created Town B can change it. Using procedure only gives you the ability - not the requirement to have a maleable world.

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Sutekh    122
IMO procedural has different applications. Animations that are created on the fly to adapt to the situation at hand, no more static animations. You block or parry an attack, and your character actually animates so your shield


Eco-systems that are created and maintained by the game, monsters that have dynamic behavior instead of static. Monsters that can be wiped out in the game, amass armies against a PC town for trying to attack them, and monsters that work together with other monsters to do things. Monsters that create their own cities to protect themselves from PCs. Monsters that adapt to their surroundings, and learn new tactics to deal with an enemy.

Quests that are created by NPCs on the fly based on what is around them and what needs to be done in that city.


[Edited by - Sutekh on March 17, 2006 2:00:58 PM]

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Deleter    169
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu...Personally, I think MMOs using centralized servers will eventually give way to distributed or P2P MMOs with index servers. So, for a game like spores, what can happen is that everyone starts on a different planet or star system. That system resides locally on your system. As long as you're online, people can move in and out of your system freely, but whether or not they can do anything to your system is another thing. Other people will be able to build outposts or colonies in your system, but they won't be able to actively attack your creations, unless they are authorized (backstabbing friends), though if their authorized by you to do such things, hopefully they won't really do it. So, its kind of like an alternative way of building a friend list, but in theis case, more like a galactic alliance...

What would stop you from hacking your system to make it better in this sort of situation? Most of the reason for having centralized servers other than reliability is for security. If now anyone's computer is a personal host, couldn't they easily "cheat"?

Although the "jerks" might be a problem, I think some of the solution was present in Spore. When alien systems are downloaded to your machine, the computer takes over based on that persons play style. Will that be the same as you playing? No, but it will make it a hindrance and might discourage the casual and random destruction of your carefully constructed ecosystem. In fact, if players are given meta-control (attack city with force, rather than individual unit control), and all other fighting is procedural, your system's future would depend more on what you put into it rather than you being there to defend it. Also, since you can now manipulate every aspect of your creation, could you not make it defensive enough to defeat a jerk player? Also, the ratio of destruction to construction (ie, how long it takes to make vs how long it takes to break) could be pumped significantly in your favor so you would not have to worry about someone destroying your whole system without giving you a chance.

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Trapper Zoid    1370
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Example: Town A in (every other game) is static. It cannot be changed beyond buying/selling from merchants or direct developer interaction - no user input. Town B exists in a procedural world. It has an odd set of properties however - physics scripts, damage, and normal interaction are disabled for Town B. Thus, you arrive at the same situation. Town B, while in a procedural world, is no more maleable by players than Town A. You could even decide that only the player who created Town B can change it. Using procedure only gives you the ability - not the requirement to have a maleable world.

I'm not sure I'm following what you're suggesting. If Town B is no more malleable than Town A, what is the difference from the perspective of the player to have the procedural world; ie. what exactly can the player do? Are you suggesting something like Second Life, where the environments are constructed by the players who own the virtual space that they're on?

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WeirdoFu    205
Quote:
Original post by Deleter
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFu...Personally, I think MMOs using centralized servers will eventually give way to distributed or P2P MMOs with index servers. So, for a game like spores, what can happen is that everyone starts on a different planet or star system. That system resides locally on your system. As long as you're online, people can move in and out of your system freely, but whether or not they can do anything to your system is another thing. Other people will be able to build outposts or colonies in your system, but they won't be able to actively attack your creations, unless they are authorized (backstabbing friends), though if their authorized by you to do such things, hopefully they won't really do it. So, its kind of like an alternative way of building a friend list, but in theis case, more like a galactic alliance...

What would stop you from hacking your system to make it better in this sort of situation? Most of the reason for having centralized servers other than reliability is for security. If now anyone's computer is a personal host, couldn't they easily "cheat"?


Sure, you can "cheat" all you want on your system (star system), but that's only within your domain. However, that doesn't mean that when you move your units to someone else's system that their underlying program will support what you've "created". You may have hacked a weapon to become super powerful, but when that items moves onto some else's machine, there's no guarantee that it'll stay that way. There are multiple ways of doing data security. Sure, people will get around it, its always been like that.

One of the may points of a P2P MMO is the fact that you are playing god in your domain. You're kind of the like the GM for the area you're hosting. If you hack and modify your system too far and it just becomes annoying, then people will just go elsewhere. The beauty of it is that if you have 100,000 people playing the game, then you'll at least have 100,000 different areas to explore. That's not to mention that there can be "unclaimed" areas of "wilderness".

"Procedureral world creation gives us near infinite possibilities. Pair that with human creativity and the diversity may further increase. And what better way to harness a near infinite universe than a P2P architecture. " That's my sales pitch for P2P MMO.

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Deleter    169
Quote:
Original post by WeirdoFuSure, you can "cheat" all you want on your system (star system), but that's only within your domain. However, that doesn't mean that when you move your units to someone else's system that their underlying program will support what you've "created". You may have hacked a weapon to become super powerful, but when that items moves onto some else's machine, there's no guarantee that it'll stay that way. There are multiple ways of doing data security. Sure, people will get around it, its always been like that.

If there is no central server keeping track of things, why would someone elses system reject your hack? Say that I somehow edit my monsters to have near infinite health and attack powers. Since there is no server to check these things against, how would another peers system spot that I hacked my monster and make it fair?

If there is a way (which there might be) than I have to agree with you that a P2P MMO would indeed be a very neat idea. The only other problem that I see would be maintaining the whole system when user's hosts are not very reliable. i.e. they can log off/crash/have service interuption at any time. But with smart design I am sure this could be overcome. Maybe some sort of root at a dedicated host that branched off onto user's hosts.

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Nytehauq    328
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Example: Town A in (every other game) is static. It cannot be changed beyond buying/selling from merchants or direct developer interaction - no user input. Town B exists in a procedural world. It has an odd set of properties however - physics scripts, damage, and normal interaction are disabled for Town B. Thus, you arrive at the same situation. Town B, while in a procedural world, is no more maleable by players than Town A. You could even decide that only the player who created Town B can change it. Using procedure only gives you the ability - not the requirement to have a maleable world.

I'm not sure I'm following what you're suggesting. If Town B is no more malleable than Town A, what is the difference from the perspective of the player to have the procedural world; ie. what exactly can the player do? Are you suggesting something like Second Life, where the environments are constructed by the players who own the virtual space that they're on?


I'm suggesting that a procedural world doesn't have to be any more fragile than a hard-coded one ;)

Quote:
Original post by Sutekh
IMO procedural has different applications. Animations that are created on the fly to adapt to the situation at hand, no more static animations. You block or parry an attack, and your character actually animates so your shield


Eco-systems that are created and maintained by the game, monsters that have dynamic behavior instead of static. Monsters that can be wiped out in the game, amass armies against a PC town for trying to attack them, and monsters that work together with other monsters to do things. Monsters that create their own cities to protect themselves from PCs. Monsters that adapt to their surroundings, and learn new tactics to deal with an enemy.

Quests that are created by NPCs on the fly based on what is around them and what needs to be done in that city.


That kind of procedure. To explain what I was saying, while Sutekh suggests a world where monsters could by wiped out, this could be prevented while still maintaining a semblance of logic in the world. The fact that there is intelligence behind your monster spawns doesn't mean that they can be wiped out, just like the fact that there is intelligence in world maleability (letting players build houses) doesn't mean that players have to be open to loss - your house could very well be invincible and immune to all forms of attack. In any case, there are many ways around such things.

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Cross server world limiters must be in effect -- audit servers get echos of all actions and would verify their validity (super powers get detected and that player gets turned into a Newt....). Likewise unique power items are to be tracked to remove the usual 'Dup' cheats (and special tracking logs made to record how they got transfered to assist manual cheat investigations....)

Griefers could always make their controlled 'Area' into a slaughterhouse intended to destroy anyone who enters. Some kind of rollback player state mechanism (Centralized player 'vault' with mltiple back copies) would be needed to eliminate the effects of the Griefer (its not just good enough to ban them).
No matter how good your system there will still be loopholes to exploit, and a final recourse is always good to have.

But the Area Architect also has physical limitations made on the makeup of their area and after vetting (no complaints) they would be allocated more resources after they had proven trustworthy.


Objects and communities of NPCs would need enough AI to defend themselves from abuse (and monsters/NPCs ganging up on a troublemaker if player powers are held in check as per above can be quite effective). Repercussions for actions is what is required. Even if a troublemaker escapes, being hunted across servers (world wide reputation system) would put a crimp in future actions (and put at hazard any worldly goods the player has).

Proper tools need to exist -- both automatic and manual to be able to pinpoint troublemakers and have evidence for community banning. The process cannot be complately automatic least it become a mechanism that itself could be exploited.



Actually I was puzzled by the use of 'procedurally' generated as the terms I normally connect with thye ideas discussed here with 'dynamic' world and 'on the fly asset distribution' and 'player created assets' (with which I include 'Areas' along with music/monsters/behaviors AI/items/animation moves/etc....).


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ironore    116
In a dynamic world you just need to design with an eye for the fact that people will try and break the system. It should be made so that if a player sets things up properly their town may be able to defend itself as well when they are off-line as when they are online. It suceeds because they have planned and covered all the angles to make it so.

You also need to have consequences for actions, not punishments, because, HEY it's a game, but actual repercussions for actions that will make the AGGRESSOR think twice and determine if it is to their advantage to really go through with some action. Give them just as much risk for a set back by taking the aggressive action as the person it is taken toward.

Then make it so that the world is large, people can spread out, and many of the things that the dynamic world allows work A LOT better when you are cooperating with a certain number of people. The design should, however, make it so that infinite growth is not possible logistically, so that an unweildy system will eventually collapse with it's own weight.

This way, the world trys to reach equilibrium and balance, but in reality always ends up hovering just above or below the medium and trying to compensate by heading in the other direction. Of course perfect balance is unlikely and it will over-shoot and try and head back the other way again. This means that there is a constant dynamic trend towards equilibrium which is never quite reached, and thus complete stagnation is prevented.

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Quote:
Original post by ironore
In a dynamic world you just need to design with an eye for the fact that people will try and break the system. It should be made so that if a player sets things up properly their town may be able to defend itself as well when they are off-line as when they are online. It suceeds because they have planned and covered all the angles to make it so.

You also need to have consequences for actions, not punishments, because, HEY it's a game, but actual repercussions for actions that will make the AGGRESSOR think twice and determine if it is to their advantage to really go through with some action. Give them just as much risk for a set back by taking the aggressive action as the person it is taken toward.

Then make it so that the world is large, people can spread out, and many of the things that the dynamic world allows work A LOT better when you are cooperating with a certain number of people. The design should, however, make it so that infinite growth is not possible logistically, so that an unweildy system will eventually collapse with it's own weight.

This way, the world trys to reach equilibrium and balance, but in reality always ends up hovering just above or below the medium and trying to compensate by heading in the other direction. Of course perfect balance is unlikely and it will over-shoot and try and head back the other way again. This means that there is a constant dynamic trend towards equilibrium which is never quite reached, and thus complete stagnation is prevented.



Preventing asymptotic conditions when multiple factors overlap is the usual problem and takes alot of tuning to eliminate (escalation of counterbalancing forces). Even then unexpected endcases can still find there way in, so a manual monitoring of the world economy/ecosystem/powerbalance is needed as well as a centralized sever managing the balance (an abstract level simulation ...)

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Sutekh    122
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Quote:
Original post by Trapper Zoid
Quote:
Original post by Nytehauq
Example: Town A in (every other game) is static. It cannot be changed beyond buying/selling from merchants or direct developer interaction - no user input. Town B exists in a procedural world. It has an odd set of properties however - physics scripts, damage, and normal interaction are disabled for Town B. Thus, you arrive at the same situation. Town B, while in a procedural world, is no more maleable by players than Town A. You could even decide that only the player who created Town B can change it. Using procedure only gives you the ability - not the requirement to have a maleable world.

I'm not sure I'm following what you're suggesting. If Town B is no more malleable than Town A, what is the difference from the perspective of the player to have the procedural world; ie. what exactly can the player do? Are you suggesting something like Second Life, where the environments are constructed by the players who own the virtual space that they're on?


I'm suggesting that a procedural world doesn't have to be any more fragile than a hard-coded one ;)

Quote:
Original post by Sutekh
IMO procedural has different applications. Animations that are created on the fly to adapt to the situation at hand, no more static animations. You block or parry an attack, and your character actually animates so your shield


Eco-systems that are created and maintained by the game, monsters that have dynamic behavior instead of static. Monsters that can be wiped out in the game, amass armies against a PC town for trying to attack them, and monsters that work together with other monsters to do things. Monsters that create their own cities to protect themselves from PCs. Monsters that adapt to their surroundings, and learn new tactics to deal with an enemy.

Quests that are created by NPCs on the fly based on what is around them and what needs to be done in that city.


That kind of procedure. To explain what I was saying, while Sutekh suggests a world where monsters could by wiped out, this could be prevented while still maintaining a semblance of logic in the world. The fact that there is intelligence behind your monster spawns doesn't mean that they can be wiped out, just like the fact that there is intelligence in world maleability (letting players build houses) doesn't mean that players have to be open to loss - your house could very well be invincible and immune to all forms of attack. In any case, there are many ways around such things.


Oh I very much agree that limits need to be imposed somewhere, if you allow players to go around and destroy anything they please you will end up with a server full of nothing. IIRC there was a MMO I read about that tried to implement animals that reproduced and trees that grew, and players just ended up killing everything.

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A question might be how much 'procedural' content can be carried over into another server??? Scripts for customized items (or that define new spells or Pet behaviors) could be directly attached as data (moving with the player).


Such scripts would have to execute a finite set of primitives and post events to carry out actions/effects on the server (allowing validation/limitation at that point)



Of course such scripts if not stored in a secure location(and subject to controlled validations) give hackers an easy way to do just about anything
(or if even within server restrictions still could wreak havoc on gameplay)

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Nytehauq    328
Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
A question might be how much 'procedural' content can be carried over into another server??? Scripts for customized items (or that define new spells or Pet behaviors) could be directly attached as data (moving with the player).


Such scripts would have to execute a finite set of primitives and post events to carry out actions/effects on the server (allowing validation/limitation at that point)



Of course such scripts if not stored in a secure location(and subject to controlled validations) give hackers an easy way to do just about anything
(or if even within server restrictions still could wreak havoc on gameplay)


It's easier to transfer procedural data than fleshed out data. There are only a finite number of options for users to fiddle with - you store these and apply them to your procedural simulation at will. Provided you follow the usual conventions of networked game design (E.g. never trust the client), you only have to worry about server side bugs and direct attacks on the server - the former being a normal consideration and the latter being illegal.

Essentially, the client only sends requests for actions to the server. The client can change its own representation of the game world - but it will only be deluding itself as it cannot do anything but request actions on the part of the server. The server, maintaining its own copy of world events, will never be fooled by the client...but that's for networking, I digress.

Essentially, if you want to create spell "X" - you can't just define impossible parameters for the spell, it's stored on the server and mitigated by server protocol - you can overide the clients limitations and try and max everything, but the server is never going to accept your data. Procedural worlds are no more technically insecure than the next - they can be more insecure in gameplay though (Albeit being MORE secure in certain situations, allowing the player a more dynamic experience with less glitches). A procedural world allows you to set up dynamic interaction, ecosystems, quests, skills, physics etc. I think that this setup would actually cause LESS problems in an MMO environment - if you design a world with certain inherent bounds and a "desire" to maintain equilibrium, you've just taken many of the more complicated aspects of world balancing out of your hands - a self regulating economy, mob spawn, loot quality, etc. is better than having to fiddle around with different factors on your own, and will likely save the player from irritating timesinks. Defining a world's rules first may actually eliminate many game glitches as well - instead of having to design the rules of every encounter so that no one can find a hole or an exploit, you design generic rules that can apply in varied ways to every encounter - unless your rules are broken or an encounter somehow does not follow them, you won't have an oppurtunity for an exploit. It's like the difference between polymorhpic and static languages in programming.

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Quote:

Out with the hard coded, in with the dynamic


So you saying everything will be great because it is dynamic? Why not stop there, lets make dynamic sound generators that produce dynamic music for each setting, that is different each time around? What about dynamic planets and dynamic this and that...

ANSWER: Because it just will never be as good as a good scored peice of music, by someone that knows what they are doing. It will never be as good as a well designed level.

That being said, Im not against dynamic representation. It is good for SOME things. You have already seen this in proceedurally generated textures. In this example it is useful and can get a nice and non-repeatative texture, but in reality a real texture created by an artist will blow it out of the water.

So now we come to "make every game dynamic and proceedural" thought. I say no! Some things fit the bill and some do not. Spore uses proceedural stuff for the skin textures, ground textures, landscape, ect.. But how many of these things are actually new? Ive seens generated textures before and I know you have seen fractal base landscape generators before (even ones that you input random values and and reproduce procedurally to get the same result again). Out of all the things that I have seen, I am only impressed with the custom IK walking, being able to place parts on the creatures and manipulate them to an extent, and the same thing with the buildings.

But now what are these? IK is just cool, but that is not proceedural to me. This has been studied in numerious animation course for years. Granted they did a good job, but that is just inverse kinematics (or whatever the other one is). Nothing new, although cool and better developed than usual. As for the rest of it, it really looks likie lego peices to me. There seem to be hard-points to place in the demo (an attacking thing, a leg, maybe an eye). This again is nothing new and has been done is space-sims for years, although he is doing it better with creatures in his demo. Lastly is the budging of the parts, this is really the key to all the character hype. Just like some games let you customize your characters by buldging and sizing the parts he did a very slick job on this. Agin its nothing new, just taken to the next step. The buildings seem to work in the same way, so I will skip that, since it seems to be hardpoints, buldging, and random placement of generic shapes)

Second is the textures, this is also nothing new. Also most of the textures that seem to be different are the crazy style textures. Out of the things this seems to make the most sense to make proceedurally to me. Because people's textures will be differnt each time around to an extent (giving them the feel of different skin). The textures for the planets also have thier place, because you can make really weird looking textured planets.


Third, generarated planets/terrain. This is a must for his type of game. ALthough do you think you are going to really be visiting that many types of different landscapes. Again no, becaus eit is fractals, with craters punched in them (seems to me). It is very cool, dont get me wrong, but it has been done before. Do you think you are going to ever visit something that doesnt look like a moon or a generic mountain world? I would guess not.

Lastly, putting it all together. I think why his game is cool is not because of the proceedural nature, but because of changing game mechanics as you play. I think people like the amount of customization and could care less about dynamic/proceedural things. People have always like creating things and building things like legos (comeon - who didnt like legos here). I think this game will be fun to toy around with to create characters. Although there better be more than, eye, leg, and attck thingy in the release. Planets will be whatever after you have seen 2000 moons with craters in different spots, 10000 planets that have some bumps on them that are different colors. You will eventually place you attacker thing in basically all the possible positions (or most likely become bored before this). It will be fun the first couple of times, but then you will realize that it is the same thing over and over again. The procedural plantes will not matter, the proceedural textures will be unoticed, and the the buldged shapes attached to to other shapes will get boring to people (unless they provide a lot of different things to attach - but is that really truely proceedural?)

WHAT IS MY POINT? - the proceedural aspects will make your character feel more customizable, but will be the downfall of the gameplay. In the end it will be the non-proceedural parts of the game that will make it interesting. That is where the gameplay is comming from. Gameplay mechanics should not be proceedural. If they are it is eaither just repeating pre-defined sub-mechanics, or something that the gamer could never adapt to (because it is ever changing) and would become frusterated/bored and quit.

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FroZtByte    362
I've actually been discussing this with some friends. Rather than having it as a traditional MMO, where you'd chase players through the universe, you have a metaworld system. Each player has a world which is theirs to design how they see fit and invite players on how they see fit. So the central server would act like an IRC server and the players would act like channels. (Or a DNS/Webserver analogy, if you prefer that).
With procedural content generation of worlds, creatures and weapons/spells, etc you would have minimum bandwidth requirements on the players.

So, for example, I could create a steampunk world and invite my friends on. Then people could request to join my world. If I'm bored of playing on my world - I could hop onto another server with a superhero theme. A simple keyword search could be done for this sort of searching.

There could also be a central server that would find similar objects within the world, both of design and 'technology' which could populate my world if I couldn't be bothered to fully design it (Much like Spore does).
The same system could then be used for me, or my friends, to find similar worlds to request to play on.

In any case, a standard procedural content generation system would help game creation. Imagine creating some buildings, then doing a search on your scripts to find someone with a similar style and hooking up with them to design the content on your game.

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Edtharan    607
Quote:
Preventing asymptotic conditions when multiple factors overlap is the usual problem and takes alot of tuning to eliminate (escalation of counterbalancing forces). Even then unexpected endcases can still find there way in, so a manual monitoring of the world economy/ecosystem/powerbalance is needed as well as a centralized sever managing the balance (an abstract level simulation ...)

A lot of this tuneing can be done with negative feedback loops.

As a simple example take Foxes and Rabits. If the population of Rabits increases the number of Foxes can increase (this is positive feedback). However, as the Fox Numbers increase they will kill more Rabits (negative feedback).

If we follow this loop around it occures that as Rabits increase, so do the foxes, but as the foxes increase the rabit population will decline. As the rabit population declines so will the fox population, as the fox population declines the rabit population will be able to increase, and so on...

This is an example of a negative feedback loop.

In this example we have 2 elements (Foxes and Rabits). The rabits have a positive feedback on the foxes and the foxes have a negative feedback on the rabits. If you examine the feedbacks in any system, you will find that if you have an odd number of negative feedbacks in a loop then that loop will be self limiting (what is called a negative feedback loop). If you have an even number of negative feedbacks in the loop, you will end up with a loop that increases or decreases without limit (called a positive feedback loop).

If you were to design a series of negative feedback loops into your world system then you will be able to have the system self regulate, and find it's own equilibrium.

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Nytehauq    328
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Original post by Anonymous Poster
Quote:

Out with the hard coded, in with the dynamic


So you saying everything will be great because it is dynamic? Why not stop there, lets make dynamic sound generators that produce dynamic music for each setting, that is different each time around? What about dynamic planets and dynamic this and that...

ANSWER: Because it just will never be as good as a good scored peice of music, by someone that knows what they are doing. It will never be as good as a well designed level.

That being said, Im not against dynamic representation. It is good for SOME things. You have already seen this in proceedurally generated textures. In this example it is useful and can get a nice and non-repeatative texture, but in reality a real texture created by an artist will blow it out of the water.

So now we come to "make every game dynamic and proceedural" thought. I say no! Some things fit the bill and some do not. Spore uses proceedural stuff for the skin textures, ground textures, landscape, ect.. But how many of these things are actually new? Ive seens generated textures before and I know you have seen fractal base landscape generators before (even ones that you input random values and and reproduce procedurally to get the same result again). Out of all the things that I have seen, I am only impressed with the custom IK walking, being able to place parts on the creatures and manipulate them to an extent, and the same thing with the buildings.

But now what are these? IK is just cool, but that is not proceedural to me. This has been studied in numerious animation course for years. Granted they did a good job, but that is just inverse kinematics (or whatever the other one is). Nothing new, although cool and better developed than usual. As for the rest of it, it really looks likie lego peices to me. There seem to be hard-points to place in the demo (an attacking thing, a leg, maybe an eye). This again is nothing new and has been done is space-sims for years, although he is doing it better with creatures in his demo. Lastly is the budging of the parts, this is really the key to all the character hype. Just like some games let you customize your characters by buldging and sizing the parts he did a very slick job on this. Agin its nothing new, just taken to the next step. The buildings seem to work in the same way, so I will skip that, since it seems to be hardpoints, buldging, and random placement of generic shapes)

Second is the textures, this is also nothing new. Also most of the textures that seem to be different are the crazy style textures. Out of the things this seems to make the most sense to make proceedurally to me. Because people's textures will be differnt each time around to an extent (giving them the feel of different skin). The textures for the planets also have thier place, because you can make really weird looking textured planets.


Third, generarated planets/terrain. This is a must for his type of game. ALthough do you think you are going to really be visiting that many types of different landscapes. Again no, becaus eit is fractals, with craters punched in them (seems to me). It is very cool, dont get me wrong, but it has been done before. Do you think you are going to ever visit something that doesnt look like a moon or a generic mountain world? I would guess not.

Lastly, putting it all together. I think why his game is cool is not because of the proceedural nature, but because of changing game mechanics as you play. I think people like the amount of customization and could care less about dynamic/proceedural things. People have always like creating things and building things like legos (comeon - who didnt like legos here). I think this game will be fun to toy around with to create characters. Although there better be more than, eye, leg, and attck thingy in the release. Planets will be whatever after you have seen 2000 moons with craters in different spots, 10000 planets that have some bumps on them that are different colors. You will eventually place you attacker thing in basically all the possible positions (or most likely become bored before this). It will be fun the first couple of times, but then you will realize that it is the same thing over and over again. The procedural plantes will not matter, the proceedural textures will be unoticed, and the the buldged shapes attached to to other shapes will get boring to people (unless they provide a lot of different things to attach - but is that really truely proceedural?)

WHAT IS MY POINT? - the proceedural aspects will make your character feel more customizable, but will be the downfall of the gameplay. In the end it will be the non-proceedural parts of the game that will make it interesting. That is where the gameplay is comming from. Gameplay mechanics should not be proceedural. If they are it is eaither just repeating pre-defined sub-mechanics, or something that the gamer could never adapt to (because it is ever changing) and would become frusterated/bored and quit.


I trust that you then think that spore will suck utterly as a game then, if procedural aspects will kill gameplay. And polymorphism is horrible, and sandbox games suck?

BTW, spore has procedural ecosystems, planents, creatures, everything. I'm not quite sure you understand how it functions. The creative aspects of the game are enabled by the more technical procedural creations - it's not just IK that allows joints to move - IK algorithms find the most efficient path for a joint to take, walking and moving have other constraints.

I'm not talking about procedural gameplay dynamics, I'm talking about a world where you can actually change the environment, where it reacts to you and others. A world where you blow up a building and it stays blown up, or you kill a special monster and it stays dead, and then something else can take its place to server its purpose while not breaking immersion for other players. No more "kill named monster x" for every player ever, no more static worlds. How does this kill gameplay? Would you rather have a poorly thought out but human written quest to kill some monster - the same monster that everyone has killed eighty million times - or one just as poorly written for a different and more plausible foe? If I'm killing evil bad gnolls, I want them to stay dead. I don't want to just get some "reward" and have nothing change - I haven't actually accomplished anything in that event. Its about reuniting the impact the single player has on the world with the social aspect of an online world. I think that the suspension of disbelief requried in most MMO's is much worse than any worries anyone has about procedural simulations being "synthetic." In fact, what you're really comparing is two different types of simulation - synthetic static simulation (E.g. an MMO where monsters just "spawn" into existence out of nowhere, with no logic and explanation behnid it), and procedural simulation (E.g. your monsters come from somewhere - but more importantly FOR A REASON. Like the negative feedback loop ideas posted above, you get more foxes when you have rabits, but they eat the rabbits and so you get less foxes etc.. You can always just put in a wall to stop your fox or rabbit population from going beyond certain bounds, thus maintaining maximum boundaries for your simulation. But that's really just nitpicking - procedural simulations have already been done, it's a matter of application).

[Edited by - Nytehauq on March 28, 2006 9:25:37 AM]

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