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You are your character's consciousness

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I was thinking about this the other day and Wavinator''s recent post about player skills vs. AI skills brought it back to me. Visualize an RPG game where you are in your character''s mind. You are not completely your character, but a part of your character. In short, you are his alter-ego, his imaginary friend, his advisor, his consciousness. You do not have complete control of your character, but you have sway over his actions. You hear his thoughts, and you ARE his thoughts. He bounces his thoughts to you, his consciousness, and you reply in kind, presuading and guiding him through his world. He is you and more, and you are a part of him. Think of real life. You are walking down the street, or driving a car, or exploring a new town. Your thoughts percolate within your brain. Many of them become internally vocal, and your inner self responds in kind, guiding you here, commenting or noting such and such. Think of your character in a virtual world. Do you want explicit control over every little thing? Probably not. Instead, you want your character to autonomously handle things. Maybe you''d just like to ride around with him inside his mind. But you can play your character''s mind. Be his guiding force, a decision advisor. a second opinion, so to speak. Your character is exploring a new street in a busy town. His agenda is to find a certain individual amongst the town''s residents. Why? Because you (his consciousness) and him have agreed that this is necessary. His gaze wanders to the structure to the left. He thinks: "What''s that place?" You respond somehow: "Not interesting, keep moving". Are you separate? Yes and no. You are the same person. His stomach growls and he begins eating a fruit he had in his pocket. A rather dangerous looking individual begins approaching from ahead. Your character notices this and thinks: "Uh oh. We''ve got to get out of here!" and he starts to back off. You somehow convey: "No, this is good. We need to confront this person." You play the conflict of your character''s inner mind.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Nice idea. I was thinking along the same lines for maybe a party based RPG? You shouldn''t have full control over everyone, instead you should have ''influence''.

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Have you ever played The Sims? There's a certain mode that's like this, but of course on a very pedestrian level.

It's irritating (to me). My Sim is a lazy slob. He consistently throws his garbage down on the floor. I get frustrated because he doesn't do what I want him to exactly.

My actual experience goes like this:

Sim grabs a meal from the fridge, eats, leaves the dishes in the sink.
Me: Hey man, you gotta clean that up! (Ignoring my own kitchen, heh. )
Sim decides he's going to watch TV.
Me: No way, man, you gotta practice your speech skills.
Sim decides to go to bed.
Me: Jeeez, dude, you gotta empty your trash. Look at that those flies!!!! (even I'm not THAT bad!!!! )


The Moral of the Tale: I toggle the option for direct control, start controling and directing the Sim exactly, and am a much happier gamer.

I do think there's merit in the idea, but it's probably much more appealing to the folks that like to watch their Sim more than interact with her/him.




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Just waiting for the mothership...


Edited by - Wavinator on June 23, 2001 10:12:01 PM

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This is a neat idea, in fact I was thinking of something along these lines for a racing game I designed called Traction Control. It had the feature of building your driver''s skill sets like you do in the Sims (by using a certain number of points). The game would then rate your driver as a Hotdogger, Twitch, Sissy, etc. The point is when racing you would be presented with certain ways to gain points (it uses a point system as a basis of rank instead of place). While you controlled the car, the driver would still have a say. So if you were to try and make a Sissy go off a jump, the driver would try and resist and swerve around. Or, if you managed to get him to make the jump, depending on how you landed the driver would be totally stressed out and drive erratically for a certain period of time before calming down. I liked it at first but removed it later on - it just didn''t fit too well with the rest of the main design. I''m saving the idea for later though, definetly.

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"Need more eeenput..."
- #5, "Short Circuit"
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It''s a neat idea, but where is the gameplay and excitement. I have never exactly found the workings of my own conscious interesting enough to turn it into a game (although the thought never ocured to me. i''ll give ya credit for originality though.) It seems to me having only passive influence on a character would quickly lose interest in most gamers. If you keep telling your PC not to eat the poisoned food and he does any way and dies what fun is that? I have played the sims, and while your character is somewhat autonomous he generally does not make his own life changing decisions. Losing control of your character is just not fun, and if you make it so your conscious that you play is to overwhelming, You lose sight of the original idea. Maybe you can explain it to me better and how this would implement itself into a game, I''d be interested to see how this works out.

Use the WriteCoolGame() function
Works every time

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I understand what each of you are saying. But don''t take the Sims or whatever and overlay it on this idea.

You are your character, and he is you. You are inside his mind, not watching him. Your character is not only influenced by you, but melds into one with you. Are you agressive? Then your character will pick up on this and adopt aggressive traits. Are you stealthy and watchful? Then your character would pick up on this and adopt those traits.

Your character does stuff, but is guided by your influence. Your character also indicates to you what he is thinking, contemplating, etc. And you reciprocate. Implementation details aside, at least follow the idea.

This is not about programming a character with traits and then helplessly watching. It is about being inside your character, and attempting to be one with your character''s thoughts. Somewhere in the middle a cooperative level of maximum agreement and efficiency should occur. What if your character had planning skills, drawing from AI methods?. And these plans which your character formulates are run by you and ok''d by you just as in real life we hash out ideas and plans in our mind.

And naturally I visualize a first person view, putting you right there inside your character''s senses.

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quote:
Original post by Agincourt
It''s a neat idea, but where is the gameplay and excitement.


I think the excitement comes from being with your character as discoveries are made, as death is fought off, as suspense builds, fear mounts, chases ensue, kills are made, companions are saved, and in general, the world is unraveled before your eyes (and your character''s).

I am not saying you are giving up control. I am suggesting though that your character thinks a little, lets you know what he is thinking, keeps his eyes open for you, takes care of some tedious activities on his own, and is primed to make things happen at the slightest nudge.

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Not Sims. Got it. Okay, lemme try again...

Okay so I envision some kind of dialog or feedback and response going both ways. Maybe like Black and White in this respect, but with more reciprocation coming from your alter-ego.

For whatever reason I'm thinking something anime-ish. Ghost in the Shell or semi-controlling some giant mech with an AI driven will of it's own... Your avatar has a reasoning capacity, and you and it come to consensus (or don't) in order to act.

So if you take my framework for a sec (being wired to the brain of a giant sentient mech), then your alter-ego might communicate its desires and you could choose to help or not. It would also probably pick up on your responses, and if it liked them, emulate them. For instance, if you have a habit of not tromping through peoples homes in this 50' mech, or express displeasure when it happens, this would influence the mech. If you always made a kill a certain way (2 shots phase gun, 1 particle beam on flying mantis craft), then the mech might automatically make a kill for you using your same sequence. (Or maybe it just helpfully selects a weapon when it sees a target, based on what you've done often in the past-- sort of like a helpful puppydog)

Something like that?

I just thought of another framework: You could be either a part of or trapped in the skull of a would be murderer. (This framework might bring out the sharp contrasts you're talking about.) You'd watch and try to influence the murderer and direct his deeds away from doing someone harm. You might even build up enough control to override his actions at certain points.

Is this anywhere near what you're talking about?

Motion Sickness: A potential problem. Have you ever watched someone play a FPS? Most people I know who have (myself-- a dedicated FPS player-- included) seem to have problems at certain points. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, other than the possibility that the player is moving in a way the observer doesn't expect. If you're first person view, you might have this problem. Just a thought...





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Just waiting for the mothership...


Edited by - Wavinator on June 24, 2001 1:18:45 AM

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Well, Wav, your second post is a LOT more like what I was thinking. Now you are exploiting it as a concept meshed with a theme, where I was thinking of it more of as an interface. Either idea has merit...

Regarding motion sickness: I don''t know, maybe there are certain types of movements which minimize motion sickness where other types of movements create motion sickness. I do know that a player can have pretty jerky motions, and when viewed by another can be annoying.

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Gah, motionsickness. Did you have to remind me of that? Anyway, how about this:
Take the PC in a game. Split control of the pc to two controllers, and give them to two players. This is essentially what you''re talking about, only you can actually respect the intelligence of your partner, as opposed to some idiot-savant ai. (bishop, I''m not talking about soar here) Now to expand this idea, do the same with another pc and 2 more controllers and you have real team combat. Is this interesting and different? Sure. Does it make for a better gaming experience than more usual methods? Maybe, maybe not. I think it would work better for a starcraft-type game than a run-and jump side-scroller.

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Thief did that a little bit. Garett (sp?) would, from time to time, say something to himself (though you never really knew if it was internal or if he actually spoke the words - as if it matters), but this didn''t happen too often, and it didn''t really add much to the game. It works best, I think, as a storytelling device.

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Why not change ''you are your character''s consciousness'' to ''you are one of your character''s consciousnesses (if that''s even a word)''.

Imagine playing a character with a multiple personality syndrome and you as the player can control one of them.

You could get interesting ''in character'' conversations between the different personalities.

Just a simple example. Your character is walking along a road when it splits into two separate roads. You want to take the left road, so you point your arrow to the left. But, one of the other personalities wants to go right. Which personality wins? Can you convince some of the other personalities to choose your side? Will they overpower you if you''ve been less than nice to them in the past?

Back to Bishop''s idea...

I guess the split personality could be kept simple: one AI personality, one Player-controlled personality. If the player doesn''t want control over the character at any time, he can just let the AI personality control it. Whenever the player wants to take control, the Player-personality can take action.

"Symbiosis - living together if different organisms for mutual benefit"

That could be the aim of the game.

Might be nice to have several different AI personalities for the player to interact with. That would really raise the replayability level.

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