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Ketchaval

Freedom not Freeform.

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Freedom NOT. freeform. A problem with the concept of a Freeform game is that the player thinks that they should be able to DO ANYTHING no matter how obscure. For example, in a game about war they might feel like deciding to settle down and start running a Flower Shop. Clearly, this would then require the game to have rules about how to create / run a flower business. (And how would the User Interface cope with such a thing). On the other hand, Freedom of action within the restraints of a scenario can be provided, and the actions which are possible are those which have a direct influence on the scenario.. Ie. In a War Game, the player decides to disguise himself as a local flower seller to merge into a crowd. So there is a difference of emphasis between the two types of play (and players). Okay I''ll admit that I have been THINKING about Simulations along the lines of Operation Flashpoint. (Not that I have played it, or think that it allows you THAT much freedom). *So please don''t think that I am hyping it* And X-Com. Of course to cope with such FREEDOM of action, a game would have to have very advanced AI. It would also take a long time to create such a range of objects and actions that can be manipulated. Thus the game puts limits on the experience, and gives the player a wide toolset and range of actions that can be used within it. Providing a large range of reasonable actions. For example: looting dead / unconscious characters, using a wide range of weapons, the ability to attempt stealthy movement, using cover. (This is taken from a post of mine at the Pcgamer uk forums.)

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Great point. I think the key to achieve FREEDOM is to give a certain amount of actions that can be used in different ways and combinations to achieve a goal. I think Thief did that well.




...A CRPG in development...

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.

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And even freedom should be limited logically within the confines of the gameworld. That is, give the player the option to do stupid things, but punish them for it in a logical way.

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Ok, while I do see the difference in your examples, it''s like a small blurring of grey. Do you really see a game where a player can do anything even exisisting?

Even within a simulation, something has to define what can happen with the game.

If you can hide your armor under a cloak, that''s because the option was somehow built into the game. If you can pretend to be a flower salesman, that''s because it was somehowe put into the game. If you can run a flower business, that''s because it was somehow put into the game.

It''s really just about adding more appropriate options, and more flexable systems, right?

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quote:
Original post by ThoughtBubble
Even within a simulation, something has to define what can happen with the game.



Actually, that''s not true.
Can we build games with our compilers because someone added that option? No, we can because the language set we''re working with is large enough to be able to do a lot of unexpected things with it.

For instance, take this scenario:
Your game is based around objects. Everything in the world is an object (including the world itself), because that''s all the engine knows. Every object has a "weight" property. Every character has a "pick up" action, which is successful depending on the strength of the character and the weight of an object. Now, if any character got to an obscene amount of strength, he or she could for instance pick up the world. This wouldn''t be a planned-in option, but it would be possible, because the mechanics allow it.

The trick, or holy grail, of freedom in games, is defining a set of properties and actions that are generic enough to do all of the most obvious things, without having to program them in literally.



People might not remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.
Mad Keith the V.

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Ahem. Keith, thank you for proving my point. Someone still had to decide that objects could be picked up and program the ability to pick up objects. So the only reason that you can pick up the world is that you put in the gameplay mechanics to allow the world to be picked up.

With the flower salesman disguise, that would only work if we gave some sort of interface for changing costumes (even if it is simply a scripted event) and also programmed in some way for the AI not not act hostilely to the player (even if it's a fuzzy decision based off of a NN that reads a render of a player and then categorises it, and runs off of that).

We can make games with our compilers because the compilers give us the options and resources to make games. Say you try to use a compiler that has no form of input or file IO. Well then, you're not going to have input or file IO unless you start doing tricky things, adding more tools and resources from exterior places.

What you were talking about was a more flexable system. I like flexable systems, they're fun.

Edited by - ThoughtBubble on July 25, 2001 4:31:39 PM

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for every action that you add you can make it possible to be in more and more states. The object of programming in this sense is to expand the state space to include the MOST likely states that will be used, while also requiring the least amount of programming/memory space. Holy Grail of the programming world because it is not just ''How can I do this the fastest AND with the lowest memory overhead?'' but also ''How can I do this with also the least amount of work?''

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Hi ThoughtBubble, the point that I was trying to express was about the focus of the game. Ie. If you are in the middle of a war-zone, it seems unlikely that the player would need to do a handstand! -And if they did, they''d probably get shot. (So you can avoid coding that). On the other hand, the ability to hang out of a low window / off a ledge and then drop to the ground is a more likely proposition. (Jumping out of windows is still more in the way of War Films, but what do I know).

Thus the designers can build a core set of (player usable) tools which contribute to the main elements of the game. Ie. Stealth, sniping, grenade throwing, setting mines and ambushes etc.

Whereas going for a "truly freeform" game, where the game encourages the player to do anything and then has to react to their choice, is a far more difficult task.

Please don''t misunderstand me as trying to downplay the need to do a lot of work in order to simulate (or a near fudge) this kind of functionality.
The kind of freedom that I am considering is stuff like hit locations on bodies, where hits to the arms / legs may cripple enemies. To more vital areas, there is a far greater chance of outright death. (ick).

Being disguised as a flower seller, would be a simple matter of stealing their clothes. The character that the player is controlling would need to avoid close encounters with the enemy --because they are untrained in foreign languages, and would be detected if the foreign soldiers talked to them- (Of course the player would need to have been made aware of such facts).

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Ok. So let me see if I understand this then.

1. Some interactions and mechanics are more important to gameplay, history, genere, mood, and controls than others.

2. Focus should be put on the more important of these aspects.

3. The idea of a free form game is that every possible interaction and mechanic exisists within the game.

4. Trying to make a free form game diverts attention from the more important aspects of the game, to other less important aspects. This contradicts 2, which is bad.

On a side note, I still think that the simplicity of disguising oneself as a flower merchant is completely dependant on how you define the interaction (actually, I guess it''d be the variance of interaction) between the player and guards and the acquision and use of the disguise.

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