• Announcements

    • khawk

      Download the Game Design and Indie Game Marketing Freebook   07/19/17

      GameDev.net and CRC Press have teamed up to bring a free ebook of content curated from top titles published by CRC Press. The freebook, Practices of Game Design & Indie Game Marketing, includes chapters from The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, and An Architectural Approach to Level Design. The GameDev.net FreeBook is relevant to game designers, developers, and those interested in learning more about the challenges in game development. We know game development can be a tough discipline and business, so we picked several chapters from CRC Press titles that we thought would be of interest to you, the GameDev.net audience, in your journey to design, develop, and market your next game. The free ebook is available through CRC Press by clicking here. The Curated Books The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition, by Jesse Schell Presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, anthropology, and more. Written by one of the world's top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again. View it here. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing, by Joel Dreskin Marketing is an essential but too frequently overlooked or minimized component of the release plan for indie games. A Practical Guide to Indie Game Marketing provides you with the tools needed to build visibility and sell your indie games. With special focus on those developers with small budgets and limited staff and resources, this book is packed with tangible recommendations and techniques that you can put to use immediately. As a seasoned professional of the indie game arena, author Joel Dreskin gives you insight into practical, real-world experiences of marketing numerous successful games and also provides stories of the failures. View it here. An Architectural Approach to Level Design This is one of the first books to integrate architectural and spatial design theory with the field of level design. The book presents architectural techniques and theories for level designers to use in their own work. It connects architecture and level design in different ways that address the practical elements of how designers construct space and the experiential elements of how and why humans interact with this space. Throughout the text, readers learn skills for spatial layout, evoking emotion through gamespaces, and creating better levels through architectural theory. View it here. Learn more and download the ebook by clicking here. Did you know? GameDev.net and CRC Press also recently teamed up to bring GDNet+ Members up to a 20% discount on all CRC Press books. Learn more about this and other benefits here.
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
AoS

Generating Dynamic Content

23 posts in this topic

I have been thinking a lot about this topic in designing my game. I am making a virtual world for my game environment, or more properly, an infinite number of virtual worlds. I am creating a player driven economy with an emergent political system.
However, a big problem I have is with the environment. I can generate static factors like various resources. But its important for the game to have a good pve system as well. Now some games have tried a natural system and the players immediately came in and killed everything before it could kick in. Essentially it is necessary to use a fiat system. Natural systems won't work because the game isn't real. If you introduce consequences of player actions on the environment you are just going to have a crashed game because players can't possibly understand the real results of their actions. This is why creatures spawn from nowhere rather than somewhere.
I was thinking that given my multiworld system, a good way to generate monster spawns is by having rifts, no Rift jokes please, which are permanent and constantly generate monsters. Monsters spread out from the rifts based on their power. Stronger monsters take longer to spread from the rifts. The concentration of all creatures is greater at the rifts. A given world possesses a number of randomly placed rifts equal to the number of players. I will probably fiddle with the equation, maybe apply roots or division to the number because a world can't actually hold that number of rifts if the population gets too large and possibly the creature per area value will be too high to survive. Perhaps a rift forms as soon as one player arrives and each rift is worth 10 or 100 players and the power of its release grows with that number of players. And once it maxes out a new rift forms. I have also not decided whether the creatures from various rifts will fight or be on the same side.
I am thinking that varying kinds of walls can restrict some creatures. So smaller creatures can't pass dirt walls, and medium ones cant get past log palisades and what not. Large creatures need stone walls, very large need metal reinforced and huge creatures need enchanted defenses or whatnot. It will probably be a number based system actually, but generally their will be those tiers connected.
Now that is how the standard monster distribution will be set up. There may be a random chance that a monster will choose to nest somewhere and stop spreading out from the nexus. This may be based on if it likes caves forests rivers valleys mountains and so forth.
Now I also want some more random dynamic creature events. I suppose I could have temporary gates to other worlds. I might even be able to set it up so that a group of monsters from another world opens their own gate in a remote part of the world and begins bringing in troops for conquest or something. But I am trying to think of other methods.
Players are able to set up gates to new worlds as well for pvp and also just finding new resources, but that is crafting and pvp and not pve.
Aside from world gates I am trying to think up other automated dynamic events. Perhaps very high level creatures already in the world could do very things. Maybe creatures can evolve in a way. For instance over time as they age dragons could grow in stats and gain powers. They might be able to breed and spawn new dragons. Perhaps they gain intelligence or decide to attack the nearest settlement. Maybe they decide to enlist other high intelligence creatures or open a new rift. I would really like the game to generate its own such events of varied kinds and levels of danger.
In any case since my game is free form I would really like to get away from quests.
Now one issue I have with this system is that it may overwhelm a given world. Suppose that there are 1000 players in a world and 10 max level rifts. Suppose that some of them transfer through a gate to colonize a new world. Then suppose that an AI monster invasion sparks up. No one explores the area for a long time and the forces there build up. Maybe some demons or dragons already in the world become more powerful and start armies and attack players. Since there is no inherent safe zone, aside from perhaps the area directly around a gate terminus which may be "protected by a higher power" or "the laws of physics"(in which case the initial and later player made gates would be separate from the rift system for monster) it could be possible for players to "lose" a world, at least for a period of time until players create a sufficiently powerful group to reclaim said world. It is likely that players would react very poorly to being forced out of a world where they have a lot of investment due to pve forces.
Now in many cases it is possible that even with a lot of rifts players will be able to effectively "tame" a world from a pve standpoint. There will be a way to suppress a rift, although it is complex. But is that balancing enough considering the possibility of losing a world?
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Wow...lot of text. A management summery and/or more structured text would help :P

Nevertheless, I had an similiar approach in mind for my game and implemented it to some degree. Now I'm going back to mix more designed content with dynamic content. Here're the reasons:
1. Balancing hell:
Automatically simluation of different creatures which expand on your map is really hard. When you want to prevent that the fittest creature expands on the whole region or even world, you need some good balancing between creatures (creature-player is hard, but creature vs creature makes it even harder). Just one simple flaw in your balancing (i.e. a weak monster with very high health) could result in a dominating population which is on the other hand easy meat for any experienced player.

2. Missunderstanding = bug
An earnest issue with procedural content is, that when the player encounters something, but doesn't know why this has happenend, he often declare it as bug or bad design. A simple example:

A dragon is born in a mountain, the mountain is attacked by undead , the dragon needs to flee into a nearby forest where he grow more powerful. At some time the dragon encounters a crypt filled with undead, being so powerful and hating the undead, the dragon destroys all undead and makes the crypt his new hord. ([u]developer=amazed[/u]).

A noob player went from his newbie town to some nearby crypt, other players have told him, that there are some simple undead which could be grinded. But the player encounters a powerful dragon and dies very quickly([u]player=frustrated[/u]).

The player is frustrated and thinks, that this was a really bad design decision. When you do something like this, you need to deliver the story. Take as example [url="http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/"]dwarven fortress[/url](a procedural world simulation similar to your approach), every entity has a log of all events of his whole life. When something like this would happen, the player would look at the log to understand the scene, the log will [u]tell him the story[/u].


[u]Tell a story[/u]
I think that procedural content generation can help a lot, but you need to be very careful to choose the right degree. You need to tell the player a story, either a designed story or a procedural story, just don't create some procedural algorithm and confront the player with the final result only. A good way is to mix procedural content generation with design templates. Eventually procedural content generation should be tool to make the design of your world easier, but don't expect to let these generation tools do all the work for you, it would not result in an interesting world.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1324536163' post='4896420']
Wow...lot of text. A management summery and/or more structured text would help :P

Nevertheless, I had an similiar approach in mind for my game and implemented it to some degree. Now I'm going back to mix more designed content with dynamic content. Here're the reasons:
1. Balancing hell:
Automatically simluation of different creatures which expand on your map is really hard. When you want to prevent that the fittest creature expands on the whole region or even world, you need some good balancing between creatures (creature-player is hard, but creature vs creature makes it even harder). Just one simple flaw in your balancing (i.e. a weak monster with very high health) could result in a dominating population which is on the other hand easy meat for any experienced player.

2. Missunderstanding = bug
An earnest issue with procedural content is, that when the player encounters something, but doesn't know why this has happenend, he often declare it as bug or bad design. A simple example:

A dragon is born in a mountain, the mountain is attacked by undead , the dragon needs to flee into a nearby forest where he grow more powerful. At some time the dragon encounters a crypt filled with undead, being so powerful and hating the undead, the dragon destroys all undead and makes the crypt his new hord. ([u]developer=amazed[/u]).

A noob player went from his newbie town to some nearby crypt, other players have told him, that there are some simple undead which could be grinded. But the player encounters a powerful dragon and dies very quickly([u]player=frustrated[/u]).

The player is frustrated and thinks, that this was a really bad design decision. When you do something like this, you need to deliver the story. Take as example [url="http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/"]dwarven fortress[/url](a procedural world simulation similar to your approach), every entity has a log of all events of his whole life. When something like this would happen, the player would look at the log to understand the scene, the log will [u]tell him the story[/u].


[u]Tell a story[/u]
I think that procedural content generation can help a lot, but you need to be very careful to choose the right degree. You need to tell the player a story, either a designed story or a procedural story, just don't create some procedural algorithm and confront the player with the final result only. A good way is to mix procedural content generation with design templates. Eventually procedural content generation should be tool to make the design of your world easier, but don't expect to let these generation tools do all the work for you, it would not result in an interesting world.
[/quote]

My simulation isn't that complex. Creatures probably won't fight I think. They will coexist and attack players together. So no creature competition.
My game is sandbox, not theme park, it doesn't have rails. Players won't just stumble into a battle anyways, if they see a dragon they could run. And in any case with dynamic pve assaults on settlements the creatures will be hitting you out of nowhere and could be just as powerful as something in a lair so being smashed out of nowhere is hardly a novel occurrence. My game really isn't designed particularly for casuals.
Sandbox games don't tell stories. You do what you want. Even the pvp is player controlled.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I recommend checking source codes of roguelikes, these are best to learn about generated content.

As for monsters spawn, this is traditionally limited by the number of monsters (generating stops after a certain thereshold in a region has been reached).

[quote]I might even be able to set it up so that a group of monsters from another world opens their own gate in a remote part of the world and begins bringing in troops for conquest or something.[/quote]Too complex, everything too complex :D Make a game not a simulator.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Acharis' timestamp='1324550937' post='4896471']
I recommend checking source codes of roguelikes, these are best to learn about generated content.

As for monsters spawn, this is traditionally limited by the number of monsters (generating stops after a certain thereshold in a region has been reached).

[quote]I might even be able to set it up so that a group of monsters from another world opens their own gate in a remote part of the world and begins bringing in troops for conquest or something.[/quote]Too complex, everything too complex :D Make a game not a simulator.
[/quote]

It is a game, and its not too complex. DF is a million times more complicated. Although it is single player and unwinnable.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
@AltarofScience
So you want dynamic enviroments? Those rifts that pop up might change dynamically but once there, it sounds like they are very static. Also is this what you really wanted? It does sound a bit monotonous. I would probably go for something inspired more by real wildlife. Rifts are not very realistic, and not very exciting either.

I would probably focus more on how the monsters behare, rather than how they are spawned. Especially not making it a rift game, just to make spawning "realistic".


[b]Some of my ideas:[/b]

Make areas quite large (areas where no players cover it by their LOS).
The world consists of creatures, and often found in groups. Whenever a player is not in the vicinity of a group, you will only keep track of group information.
Whenever a player get's close enough, the individuals in the group are generated, but there will be a group ai still "commanding" the individuals. Group AI will validate it's own situation. If things looks to bad it might try to escape. If it is taking damage, but unable to return damage, it migh consider changing to a different strategy (alternatively run). You could also do this with lone wanderers.

Most of these groups should be engaged in some prey/hunter relationship. These could happen even though no player is in the vicinity, only here the result is calculated. When a player is near such an occurence you will see it in real time.

Give these groups interesting behaviours, like attack a young member of a group, and get the entire herd after you. Make Some big grasser, and in large herds. When you scare them, the entire herd will flee, and in the same direction. This would be very difficult if every individual acted on their own, but with a group ai, it can simply command every animal to move in a specific direction. You might think players would be able to clear out a herd, but it's not that easy when the herd will flee (after taking a few losses), and they will move very far away, and at a much faster pace than you. The creatures themselves are adaptable.
You could genereally make creatures intelligent in when they fight and when they flee. They don't just stand around waiting to be slaughtered. This way you could make kills less rare (not 3/minute), but that means you can also make them more rewarding, not to mention that the mechanics to take down someone could be much more sophisticated.

You should make "safe" areas and treacherous areas. In "safe" areas there are no powerful predators that will track you down. In treacherous areas there would be computer controlled groups that would track you down, or waylay you whenever they believe you are an easy target, but the rewards are much greater here. Give players many tools to survive in the wilderness. Combat is an important aspect, but being able to go through dangerous areas should also be very important. It should be more than just a rogue specific sneak ability.

Oh, and groups could spawn wherever there aren't any players in the vicinity (preferably). The map could be made up of a network of small paths, with satisfying density. Groups will move along, and spawn on these paths (a group could store scent on paths, which predators are able to follow).

You could also mix in less intelligent creatures that could spawn by coming down of tree's, rising up from the sea. These could also be player triggered. In secret world you can set of car alarms which will make zombies appear.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='ImmoralAtheist' timestamp='1324583573' post='4896621']
@AltarofScience
So you want dynamic enviroments? Those rifts that pop up might change dynamically but once there, it sounds like they are very static. Also is this what you really wanted? It does sound a bit monotonous. I would probably go for something inspired more by real wildlife. Rifts are not very realistic, and not very exciting either.
[color="#ff0000"]Well the problem is that that doesn't work. UO tried to do realistic environments and they didn't work. People fucked it up. They are realistic in my game world and even if they weren't its a fantasy video game. They are perfectly in line with my game world flavor. Rifts are just the UI for the spawn point if you want to look at it that way. A single rift is dynamic in that more players up to a point change the output of the rift and that the monster content of an area changes. Further the way rifts work as I describe they generate danger areas as a side effect of their existence. Numbers of monsters and power of individuals rise as you approach the rift. In addition the spawning of new rifts is constant. and they can spring up nearly anywhere. A rift springing up next to your town causes a dynamic event in the sense that you are now in danger of being slaughtered and overrun and losing your town. Further in combination based on placement and random spawning patterns rifts produce even more events. Further the rifts were described in the op as the replacement to hand placed spawns. The content focused entirely on being dynamic is the monster evolution and such. The rift created events are really cool side effects that i hadnt originally considered.[/color]
I would probably focus more on how the monsters behare, rather than how they are spawned. Especially not making it a rift game, just to make spawning "realistic".
[color="#ff0000"]Monster behavior is quite complex in the game. In fact as I have been reading RK's blog I realized I have been unintentionally rediscovering many of his ideas. Monsters have individual behaviors based on type, preferred biomes, nests and species behavior related to nests. Dragons can go on a "mating quest" among other complex behaviors. [/color]

[b]Some of my ideas:[/b]

Make areas quite large (areas where no players cover it by their LOS).
The world consists of creatures, and often found in groups. Whenever a player is not in the vicinity of a group, you will only keep track of group information.
Whenever a player get's close enough, the individuals in the group are generated, but there will be a group ai still "commanding" the individuals. Group AI will validate it's own situation. If things looks to bad it might try to escape. If it is taking damage, but unable to return damage, it migh consider changing to a different strategy (alternatively run). You could also do this with lone wanderers.
[color="#ff0000"]There is some AI, don't feel like details.[/color]
Most of these groups should be engaged in some prey/hunter relationship. These could happen even though no player is in the vicinity, only here the result is calculated. When a player is near such an occurence you will see it in real time.
[color="#ff0000"]Monsters do not have cross species behaviors. Some monsters have increased intelligence functions where they might lead other monsters even of different types, but its not standard.[/color]
Give these groups interesting behaviours, like attack a young member of a group, and get the entire herd after you. Make Some big grasser, and in large herds. When you scare them, the entire herd will flee, and in the same direction. This would be very difficult if every individual acted on their own, but with a group ai, it can simply command every animal to move in a specific direction. You might think players would be able to clear out a herd, but it's not that easy when the herd will flee (after taking a few losses), and they will move very far away, and at a much faster pace than you. The creatures themselves are adaptable.
You could genereally make creatures intelligent in when they fight and when they flee. They don't just stand around waiting to be slaughtered. This way you could make kills less rare (not 3/minute), but that means you can also make them more rewarding, not to mention that the mechanics to take down someone could be much more sophisticated.

You should make "safe" areas and treacherous areas. In "safe" areas there are no powerful predators that will track you down. In treacherous areas there would be computer controlled groups that would track you down, or waylay you whenever they believe you are an easy target, but the rewards are much greater here. Give players many tools to survive in the wilderness. Combat is an important aspect, but being able to go through dangerous areas should also be very important. It should be more than just a rogue specific sneak ability.
[color="#ff0000"]Say could instead of should. Don't tell me what I should do. The rift mechanic provides automatic safety/danger systems. [/color]
Oh, and groups could spawn wherever there aren't any players in the vicinity (preferably). The map could be made up of a network of small paths, with satisfying density. Groups will move along, and spawn on these paths (a group could store scent on paths, which predators are able to follow).

You could also mix in less intelligent creatures that could spawn by coming down of tree's, rising up from the sea. These could also be player triggered. In secret world you can set of car alarms which will make zombies appear.
[/quote]

Responses in red.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[QUOTE]Say could instead of should. Don't tell me what I should do. The rift mechanic provides automatic safety/danger systems.[/QUOTE]
I did say they were my ideas, and so by should, I mean how some of the mechanics are supposed to be in my fictional mmo wilderness. You can look at it as suggestions.

[QUOTE]Well the problem is that that doesn't work. UO tried to do realistic environments and they didn't work. People fucked it up[/QUOTE]
I was talking about dynamic/interesting behaviours, not that monsters needs to follow a realistic reproduction/eating pattern. You could however make spawning a little more sophisticated than popping out of thin air on a fixed location regardless of wether any player is nearby.
Oh, and the realistic part is that by making dynamic/interesting behaviours, it is often a good idea to look at what you see in real life.

UO's realistic ecology could work with the right game mechanics. You could make a hybrid, where mechanics stabilizes this dynamic ecology.
A simple stabilizing implementation would be to add a fairly significant base to every animal (about half the typical population). You could kill every wolf you can see, but the actual population (when determining reproduction) would still be a decent amount. So the typical amount of wolves you can see in a zone is 500, then you have a base of 500 wolves. If wolf population is only 100, then the base would contribute to a total population of 600 wolves (60% reproduction rate of typical case).
A large population of wolves in neigbouring zones could also lead to immigration to less populated zones.

[QUOTE]There is some AI, don't feel like details.[/QUOTE] What do you mean?

[QUOTE]Monsters do not have cross species behaviors.[/QUOTE] But this is exactly what is so important. It is what makes the world come to life.

[QUOTE]Dragons can go on a "mating quest" among other complex behaviors.[/QUOTE]
How will you visualise this? A dragon going on the mating quest means nothing by itself. It is how you visualise this that really matters. Mating calls, mating rituals, competing against other males etc.
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324630154' post='4896765']
[color="#ff0000"]Monsters have individual behaviors based on type, preferred biomes, nests and species behavior related to nests. [/color]
[/quote]
This is really funny, I use almost excatly same terminology in my game, but I dumped most approaches due to the complex handling and the lacking relevance to the player.
I hope you're more successfully than me.

Your rift system reminds me of [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_Rasa_%28video_game%29"]tabula rasa(sci-fi MMORPG)[/url], instead of rifts, some kind of drop ship releases hords of enemies (including conquering/defending outposts).Whatever technology they used, as player it felt like scripted events/standard spawning.Tabula rasa has been shut down, but maybe you can still find some more information about the used technology, a post-mortem, player reviews etc.

The following passage is more about a philosophy of procedural content generation (atleast this is a forum to discuss such things :wink:), feel free to skip it :P

Your approach sounds good, but I'm telling you this to motivate a better focus on the target audience . There's always the danger of making a game, or let's say a simulation, which satisfy the developer , but the players, your audience, don't see the benefit of such a system, even worst, see more bugs and cheats than gamedesign.

Although I recommend to read some AI articles. A common issue with AI in games is, that 'clever' behaviour of the AI will not be interpreted as 'clever', more as 'bug/cheat', by the player. From the player point of view it is often better to let your AI agents talk about their actions, instead of just doing the 'clever' things. An example is, that the AI discovers, that the player is hiding, then sneaks up to the him and throw a grenade into the hiding spot. The player doesn't see the 'clever' behaviour, he just see the game-over screen and things about a cheating AI.

Procedural content generation is similar to AI (kind of god AI, creating and managing a world) and there're similiar pitfalls. One pitfall is the story. With story I don't mean written text, with story I mean the story of an image, an object, a character, an environment etc. When you encounter a forest, with blood splattered on the ground, plants which has been trampled etc. this environement tells you the story about a recent battle.

It is like a book story. A story without conflict is not a story. It like prince charming has been born, meets pricess boring, marries her, got some childs, dies from age, fin.... that is not a story. You need conflicts, an evil mage who wants to steal the pricess, threatens the children, an other prince who wants to marry your princess etc.

A story without conflict is like a procedural world without 'story'.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='ImmoralAtheist' timestamp='1324640449' post='4896792']
[QUOTE]Say could instead of should. Don't tell me what I should do. The rift mechanic provides automatic safety/danger systems.[/QUOTE]
I did say they were my ideas, and so by should, I mean how some of the mechanics are supposed to be in my fictional mmo wilderness. You can look at it as suggestions.
[color="#ff0000"]mmk, i am nitpicky about words.[/color]
[QUOTE]Well the problem is that that doesn't work. UO tried to do realistic environments and they didn't work. People fucked it up[/QUOTE]
I was talking about dynamic/interesting behaviours, not that monsters needs to follow a realistic reproduction/eating pattern. You could however make spawning a little more sophisticated than popping out of thin air on a fixed location regardless of wether any player is nearby.
Oh, and the realistic part is that by making dynamic/interesting behaviours, it is often a good idea to look at what you see in real life.
[color="#ff0000"]the rift is only the base point of the spawn. monsters move out from there. besides my monsters will generally not be wolves.[/color]
UO's realistic ecology could work with the right game mechanics. You could make a hybrid, where mechanics stabilizes this dynamic ecology.
A simple stabilizing implementation would be to add a fairly significant base to every animal (about half the typical population). You could kill every wolf you can see, but the actual population (when determining reproduction) would still be a decent amount. So the typical amount of wolves you can see in a zone is 500, then you have a base of 500 wolves. If wolf population is only 100, then the base would contribute to a total population of 600 wolves (60% reproduction rate of typical case).
A large population of wolves in neigbouring zones could also lead to immigration to less populated zones.

[QUOTE]There is some AI, don't feel like details.[/QUOTE] What do you mean?

[QUOTE]Monsters do not have cross species behaviors.[/QUOTE] But this is exactly what is so important. It is what makes the world come to life.
[color="#ff0000"]monsters killing each other isn't really that useful to gameplay. [/color]
[QUOTE]Dragons can go on a "mating quest" among other complex behaviors.[/QUOTE]
How will you visualise this? A dragon going on the mating quest means nothing by itself. It is how you visualise this that really matters. Mating calls, mating rituals, competing against other males etc.
[/quote]
[color="#ff0000"]essentially a dragon would head towards the nearest lair of a dragon of another sex, so it would be out of its normal territory. A new dragon would be spawned from this. Baby dragon's are weaker but they do grow eventually.[/color]
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Ashaman73' timestamp='1324649141' post='4896819']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324630154' post='4896765']
[color="#ff0000"]Monsters have individual behaviors based on type, preferred biomes, nests and species behavior related to nests. [/color]
[/quote]
This is really funny, I use almost excatly same terminology in my game, but I dumped most approaches due to the complex handling and the lacking relevance to the player.
I hope you're more successfully than me.
[color="#ff0000"]well in some cases there isn't gameplay relevance to the player per say. the code is actually really simple to write and process. a nest is just a monster not spread out from the rift anymore. it stays in its current area. [/color]
Your rift system reminds me of [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabula_Rasa_%28video_game%29"]tabula rasa(sci-fi MMORPG)[/url], instead of rifts, some kind of drop ship releases hords of enemies (including conquering/defending outposts).Whatever technology they used, as player it felt like scripted events/standard spawning.Tabula rasa has been shut down, but maybe you can still find some more information about the used technology, a post-mortem, player reviews etc.
[color="#ff0000"]the rifts are somewhat scripted events. they produce some different events as side affects, but they are just intended to fill the world with pve enemies. [/color]
The following passage is more about a philosophy of procedural content generation (atleast this is a forum to discuss such things :wink:), feel free to skip it :P

Your approach sounds good, but I'm telling you this to motivate a better focus on the target audience . There's always the danger of making a game, or let's say a simulation, which satisfy the developer , but the players, your audience, don't see the benefit of such a system, even worst, see more bugs and cheats than gamedesign.
[color="#ff0000"]the AI isn't "smart". it functions like the AI in Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom or warcraft type RTS. [/color]
Although I recommend to read some AI articles. A common issue with AI in games is, that 'clever' behaviour of the AI will not be interpreted as 'clever', more as 'bug/cheat', by the player. From the player point of view it is often better to let your AI agents talk about their actions, instead of just doing the 'clever' things. An example is, that the AI discovers, that the player is hiding, then sneaks up to the him and throw a grenade into the hiding spot. The player doesn't see the 'clever' behaviour, he just see the game-over screen and things about a cheating AI.
[color="#ff0000"]As I said above anyone familiar with those types of computer games will not see the AI as cheating. [/color]
Procedural content generation is similar to AI (kind of god AI, creating and managing a world) and there're similiar pitfalls. One pitfall is the story. With story I don't mean written text, with story I mean the story of an image, an object, a character, an environment etc. When you encounter a forest, with blood splattered on the ground, plants which has been trampled etc. this environement tells you the story about a recent battle.
[color="#ff0000"]There is some lore to the game, as well as areas that do what you say. Mostly they are city ruins, but you may see things elsewhere. [/color]
It is like a book story. A story without conflict is not a story. It like prince charming has been born, meets pricess boring, marries her, got some childs, dies from age, fin.... that is not a story. You need conflicts, an evil mage who wants to steal the pricess, threatens the children, an other prince who wants to marry your princess etc.
[color="#ff0000"]the game is a sandbox, not a themepark. Within the loose constraints of the lore the players are making their own story. Granted if you haven't read my other threads about my game the context may not be incredibly obvious. This is just one aspect of the game. [/color]
A story without conflict is like a procedural world without 'story'.
[/quote]
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I disagree with the statement that monster's killing each other isn't useful to game play. The player being able to see creatures interacting among themselves does a great deal to give the impression of a living world. If I see two types of monsters fighting each other then I can infer that they do it while I'm not looking. If they're just standing around I get the impression that nothing happens in the world unless I'm involved.

In Oblivion you would occasionally see a wolf chasing a deer, from a player's point of view that makes sense and helps reinforce immersion. Seeing a wolf just standing idly next to a deer would show that the world isn't alive and break any sort of immersion you had managed to create.

Even in WoW wolves will occasionally attack the rabbits hopping around the woods.
2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324746695' post='4897094']
that is immersion not game play.
[/quote]

Luring a strong MOB into a nest of another MOB so they kill each other and you slay the 'victor' isn't game play?
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Luckless' timestamp='1324762817' post='4897161']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324746695' post='4897094']
that is immersion not game play.
[/quote]

Luring a strong MOB into a nest of another MOB so they kill each other and you slay the 'victor' isn't game play?
[/quote]

No one said anything about luring a mob towards another mob. The comment was about wolves killing rabbits and leaving their bodies around for players to find and similar things.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324746695' post='4897094']
that is immersion not game play.
[/quote]

Immersion and gameplay are interrelated. If I'm immersed in a game I'm usually having a good time. Giving your players an enjoyable experience is the whole point of the game, so it should be the focus of the gameplay design. If I'm not interested and emotionally invested in your game all the fancy rift spawning in the world isn't going to keep me playing.

Luckless has a good point as well, a clever player could take advantage of MOB interactions. Say I want to get through a forest filled with Deadly Deadly Spiders and I see a group of goblins heading toward the same forest. I could sneak behind the goblins, letting them kill (and be killed by) the Deadly Deadly Spiders getting me through the forest unscathed.

EDIT: I'm not trying to say that your idea is bad, just that you shouldn't dismiss MOB interactions so quickly.
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='ShawnCowles' timestamp='1324816412' post='4897253']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1324746695' post='4897094']
that is immersion not game play.
[/quote]

Immersion and gameplay are interrelated. If I'm immersed in a game I'm usually having a good time. Giving your players an enjoyable experience is the whole point of the game, so it should be the focus of the gameplay design. If I'm not interested and emotionally invested in your game all the fancy rift spawning in the world isn't going to keep me playing.

Luckless has a good point as well, a clever player could take advantage of MOB interactions. Say I want to get through a forest filled with Deadly Deadly Spiders and I see a group of goblins heading toward the same forest. I could sneak behind the goblins, letting them kill (and be killed by) the Deadly Deadly Spiders getting me through the forest unscathed.

EDIT: I'm not trying to say that your idea is bad, just that you shouldn't dismiss MOB interactions so quickly.
[/quote]

I didn't. I thought about it a lot and decided not to do it.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MOB on MOB interactions that players can figure out and use to their advantage would be a great improvement over the scream and charge killer mannekins (on rails) most of these games have. Normal patterns, logical behaviors/interactions, territories, valid/logical placement/group dynamics...
Enemies should runaway, run to defensible positions, ambush players, assist players, seek reinforcements, cringe and plead for their lives, ignore players(if big and bad enough), feign attacks, fight defensively, etc.. These different interactions ARE scriptable at the current server NPC processing loadings (offset largely on no longer having minefields of countless enemy entities across most of the world). Fewer more interesting computer run opponents (more challenge+reward and less repetition) with more suprises and more tactics to match the situation. The entities can actually look like they belong in their situation (no spawning out of thin air next to the player).

In MMORPGs you will want to see more instancing (and a large world to make the instances far apart) so that you can choreograph more interesting quests/missions/encounters without the interference of other players (who as we know will willfully interfere with other players to get their infantile jollys). The more complex something is, the easier it is to fall apart and external player interfence has to be exculded except for the players group.
Bigger player mobs can happen in other scenarios (and are interesting in their own way) but for most of the game disruption of the players experience needs to be eliminated. With a sufficient bubble size the player can decide which way to approach the situation even round about paths if allowed and dont have to be restricted to 'getting out of the way of the next boatload of newbies' and can take their time to figure things out.

Dynamic (generated) content more complicated than simply running into a MOB can be done including scenery props and terrain using hierarchical parameterized templates controlled by world spanning influence maps (with local recursion) to vary the details of the experience. Those would be controlled and change with larger world trends and patterns (which could be influenced by player activity). AT the highest level you probably would need some GM controlled tuning/adjustments to keep the whole system from falling apart (trying to write a program to do it trouble-free would be too much work)

You have a instance bubbles and build what you need in it for whatever the quest is (or even just random encounters) The bubble is on whatever part of the world it needs to be and its border can be seemless. Scripted events/dialog/explanations can be part of the larger template with numerous substitution possibilities/alternate factors. Quest givers/intermediate checkpoints/target areas can be generated and worked phase by phase. These themselves are triggered by the larger game plot lines that give the whole system some cohesion as the 'plot' (itself maybe a tree with different paths) . They are tailored to the player.players group and can be regenerated whenever needed (for player playtime flexibility)

You can stay away from any (generalized) Real AI as the local situations are largely choreographed/balanced (and can use conventional FSM scripting methods) and the high level control of the gameflow can just be cellular automaton type behavior (high level entities that guide/flavor the local situations ). Its more varying behavior from the computer controlled entities and the behavior scripts themselves can be heavily template based to improve production efficency and allow tools to streamline creation/debugging/testing.

Why dont games (game companies) do this (and probably wont for a long time) ???

The scripting is about a magnitude more complex (random substitutions that need balance trimming and illogical endcase elimination)
Templates can greatly streamline creation but there will simply be more factors involved that need to be planned for 'situations' and how they fit into the larger game. From what Ive seen alot of the game companies have enough trouble making their simple static scripting work correctly.
Old QA rule - twice as complicated, four times the debugging and game companies think nothing about skimping on QA if they can get away with it.

Players would have to actually learn how to think and pay attention to clues (even when you lay them on thick and they have logs to go back to refresh their memories - might actually need dialog scene replay which might be neat). The game mechanics will have to support a wider range of effects and choices/outcomes of situations (versus the boring fail=die, win=loot) which actually in a more complex world would shape the players future world experience with the consequences(and not just these static paths and tech trees of current games)

You cant so easily have an online wiki tell you exactly what to expect and do for every bit of the game experience (there can be enough combinatorics of situation variations that you wouldnt be likely to experience the same things anyone else did most of the time).

WIll casual players want a more detailed game or just reject anything that isnt the mindless conditioned monkey with the lever and the m&m rewards the current games largely provide?

Later, with better tools, niche games (with much lower player counts) may be a whole lot easier to produce (thing the computer publishing revolution) and we could get this different kind of game. .
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Instances are the devil. It sounds like you want to play some sort of coop or something. The goal of my game specifically is to be sandbox off rails with actually massive player interaction. I am sacrificing graphics for gameplay in order to reduce computer loads as opposed to minimizing the number of moving objects like creatures and players.
In any case creatures will be a little more intelligent than just charging in. But creating creatures that can fight twitch style with players? Thats just not realistic. They might have simple patterns like range attacking from the farthest possible distance or small fast creatures trying to run if they get too damaged. To be honest though that can create a lot of problems. For instance loot and exp wise, if you are fighting multiple mobs and a lot of them get away, whats the gameplay there? That's why designers tend not to make creatures run. All it means is you waste time and lose rewards. Sure you could make a tracking thing, but what % of people really want to do that?
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325268019' post='4898200']
Instances are the devil. It sounds like you want to play some sort of coop or something. The goal of my game specifically is to be sandbox off rails with actually massive player interaction. I am sacrificing graphics for gameplay in order to reduce computer loads as opposed to minimizing the number of moving objects like creatures and players.
In any case creatures will be a little more intelligent than just charging in. But creating creatures that can fight twitch style with players? Thats just not realistic. They might have simple patterns like range attacking from the farthest possible distance or small fast creatures trying to run if they get too damaged. To be honest though that can create a lot of problems. For instance loot and exp wise, if you are fighting multiple mobs and a lot of them get away, whats the gameplay there? That's why designers tend not to make creatures run. All it means is you waste time and lose rewards. Sure you could make a tracking thing, but what % of people really want to do that?
[/quote]

Use your imagination. Incorporate these behaviours to be more than just being harder for players. Also if something is harder, then you can increase the rewards.
Your evaluation with trouble with loot and xp is based on the "old world" where you advance by killing near stationary evenly distributed creatures.
Use these behaviours to make some targets hard to get. To succesfully take them out, you need some special tactic, often in cooperation with other players. The potential rewards would be so that players want to take these out. There will still be easy targets, but they won't offer much of a reward.
Preventing high reward targets from escaping would be a big part of succesfully getting rewards, while tracking them down would be an optional plan B. They could be easier to catch after chasing them away once, but you waste time. The reward could also be something else than regular foes. You may have to face regular foes on the way though. In Tracking down a rich resource site you may discover that a group of npc's is alreay extracting them. The most powerful foes are in the group that carries resources back to base. Striking when they are gone is a good idea, but if you are discovered, they won't leave.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='ImmoralAtheist' timestamp='1325283740' post='4898267']
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325268019' post='4898200']
Instances are the devil. It sounds like you want to play some sort of coop or something. The goal of my game specifically is to be sandbox off rails with actually massive player interaction. I am sacrificing graphics for gameplay in order to reduce computer loads as opposed to minimizing the number of moving objects like creatures and players.
In any case creatures will be a little more intelligent than just charging in. But creating creatures that can fight twitch style with players? Thats just not realistic. They might have simple patterns like range attacking from the farthest possible distance or small fast creatures trying to run if they get too damaged. To be honest though that can create a lot of problems. For instance loot and exp wise, if you are fighting multiple mobs and a lot of them get away, whats the gameplay there? That's why designers tend not to make creatures run. All it means is you waste time and lose rewards. Sure you could make a tracking thing, but what % of people really want to do that?
[/quote]

Use your imagination. Incorporate these behaviours to be more than just being harder for players. Also if something is harder, then you can increase the rewards.
Your evaluation with trouble with loot and xp is based on the "old world" where you advance by killing near stationary evenly distributed creatures.
Use these behaviours to make some targets hard to get. To succesfully take them out, you need some special tactic, often in cooperation with other players. The potential rewards would be so that players want to take these out. There will still be easy targets, but they won't offer much of a reward.
Preventing high reward targets from escaping would be a big part of succesfully getting rewards, while tracking them down would be an optional plan B. They could be easier to catch after chasing them away once, but you waste time. The reward could also be something else than regular foes. You may have to face regular foes on the way though. In Tracking down a rich resource site you may discover that a group of npc's is alreay extracting them. The most powerful foes are in the group that carries resources back to base. Striking when they are gone is a good idea, but if you are discovered, they won't leave.
[/quote]

The problem is that if we are trying to make more realistic creature behavior we have a problem with rpg systems period. For instance in many real world fights you need to get that one shot in and its a kill. RPGs involve incrementally lowering a health point value. If a wolf fought a human in real its all about who gets that critical lethal hit in first. More realistic behavior can't exist in a vacuum. A lot of the "real world" animal behavior is all about things that work like real world fights. There is none of this healing shit that happens in RPGs. Darting in for a hit, running back, wearing people down, it just doesn't work in a game where the corresponding results of the actions don't exist. Normally realism wouldn't be our primary consideration in designing a game but the point of changing mob behavior would be to make it more animal like, in other words more real, so in this case objection from reality is viable. Unless creatures have healing and ranged power to compete with the kind that the players have it is in their best interests to stay right by you and keep hitting you if they want to win.
In regards to just running away when too badly damaged, there are limited ways we can deal with that from a player perspective. Given enough health as long as you can't box the creature in it can escape and how are you going to follow it? Would a fleeing creature leave clues? What clues? Would it be the same for each creature? Would their just be a tracking skill? How would it level? How would it decide if you lost the creature? Its just not realistic to code that.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325292711' post='4898312']
The problem is that if we are trying to make more realistic creature behavior we have a problem with rpg systems period. For instance in many real world fights you need to get that one shot in and its a kill. RPGs involve incrementally lowering a health point value. If a wolf fought a human in real its all about who gets that critical lethal hit in first. More realistic behavior can't exist in a vacuum.[/quote]
How is this related to what I spoke of? I spoke off using specific strategies to take out specific targets, where the tactic is often to avoid the prey from escaping. It doesn't need to be realistic, but that would be considered a bonus. I primarily mean things that aren't as combat focused. It could be, but it might also be some tool you need to use for one specific task (like a trap, designed to capture specific creatures).

[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325292711' post='4898312']
A lot of the "real world" animal behavior is all about things that work like real world fights. There is none of this healing shit that happens in RPGs. Darting in for a hit, running back, wearing people down, it just doesn't work in a game where the corresponding results of the actions don't exist. Normally realism wouldn't be our primary consideration in designing a game but the point of changing mob behavior would be to make it more animal like, in other words more real, so in this case objection from reality is viable.[/quote]
Realism is not the main goal. The goal is to add fun and varied mechanics to succesfully take on creatures. Adding realistic or interesting mob behaviour does not need to be directly related to this, but it might be a good idea to integrate these somehow.

[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325292711' post='4898312']Unless creatures have healing and ranged power to compete with the kind that the players have it is in their best interests to stay right by you and keep hitting you if they want to win. In regards to just running away when too badly damaged, there are limited ways we can deal with that from a player perspective.[/quote]
Most mmo's have plenty of creatures that could be using some ranged weapon (like throwing stones). They could alternate between melee and ranged to whatever they find best. Many animals should be capable of high speeds, and with cooldown abilities, and pherhaps some stamina bar, then hit and run attacks could be a better fighting style for them. Other than speed could be primates going up and down tree's (in tree's they could "dissapear"), Diggers going up and into holes in the ground, and birds swooping down from above, and to escape again. It is in your interest to break their hit & run tactic, and so a player is given tools/skills to be able to prevent them from doing that.

[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325292711' post='4898312']Given enough health as long as you can't box the creature in it can escape and how are you going to follow it? Would a fleeing creature leave clues? What clues? Would it be the same for each creature? Would their just be a tracking skill? How would it level? How would it decide if you lost the creature? Its just not realistic to code that.[/quote]
Like I said, trapping the creature is the big part about succesfully hunting them. For most, if they escape then they escape. There might be some very rewarding creatures that would be very hard to catch on a first encounter, or just very rare. Tracking them down is primarily a plan B, and mostly for very rewarding targets. Tracking could be similar to "dowsing" in Zelda: Skyward Sword. You're signalled when looking in the right direction. Another is to leave a trail (like blood dots). They could be quite far apart, and so very difficult to track without required skill. Skills could improve highlighting of trails, and show the direction the creature was travelling in (if the creature turns it should leave an additional trail mark), or just show direction to next trail.
1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325268019' post='4898200']
Instances are the devil. It sounds like you want to play some sort of coop or something. The goal of my game specifically is to be sandbox off rails with actually massive player interaction. I am sacrificing graphics for gameplay in order to reduce computer loads as opposed to minimizing the number of moving objects like creatures and players.
In any case creatures will be a little more intelligent than just charging in. But creating creatures that can fight twitch style with players? Thats just not realistic. They might have simple patterns like range attacking from the farthest possible distance or small fast creatures trying to run if they get too damaged. To be honest though that can create a lot of problems. For instance loot and exp wise, if you are fighting multiple mobs and a lot of them get away, whats the gameplay there? That's why designers tend not to make creatures run. All it means is you waste time and lose rewards. Sure you could make a tracking thing, but what % of people really want to do that?
[/quote]


Instancing is what you have to do if you have dynamic content (more than just different mobs - itself rare enuf in alot of these games -- in a static terrain). It also can allow denying access to interfering players who so easily will wreck other players game experience.

Having a world mechanism that allows instance bubbles anywhere that can be rebuilt 'on-the-fly'
and on a large world of more plain static terrain/scenery (plenty of space for instances well out of sight of each other and far enough that other players wont blunder into them) lets you tailor the quests to the players needs. That include uniqueness, and also changeability for 'seasons' and 'flavorings' that can vary with the players point in the plot (ie- player goes to castle in a quest and vanquishes foe, later comes back and the place is in ruins, later comes back and its now occupied by squatters and other secondaries bad enough for another quest to make use of).



You dont have to sacrifice graphics that much as a majority of the graphics load is in the client. All the server need see is the navmaps and or collision meshes and sybolic markers of significant objects -- all it needs to enforce the game mechanics and the behavior of the npcs it controls.


"twitch style with players" - no thats not really possible from the server (maybe if you distribute the fight AI code into the client - if you can make it cheat proof). But there is a huge spectrum beyond the idiotic simplicity of the "minefields of killer mannekins" most of these games largely are. Ultima Online 10 years ago allowed movement tactics. Frontage rules
(flanks and rear position making difference in battle) can be done easily. Blocking movement, advantage of height/reach/obscured/partial cover all have been stamped out of these lame MMORPGs we get.


Enemies running away and thus no loot?? Our MMORPGs are so unimaginitive and are so centered on hack/shash/loot bodies - dont get limited in your thinking. The loot is in the scenery, the 'loot' is actually achieving the goal, the NPCs drop the loot when they run... Following the running enemies leads you to even better loot... The spectrum of more realism is wide open.

Players will jump at having better content beyond the one dimensional pablum we get from the existing MMORPGs.
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='AltarofScience' timestamp='1325292711' post='4898312']

The problem is that if we are trying to make more realistic creature behavior we have a problem with rpg systems period. For instance in many real world fights you need to get that one shot in and its a kill. RPGs involve incrementally lowering a health point value. If a wolf fought a human in real its all about who gets that critical lethal hit in first. More realistic behavior can't exist in a vacuum. A lot of the "real world" animal behavior is all about things that work like real world fights. There is none of this healing shit that happens in RPGs. Darting in for a hit, running back, wearing people down, it just doesn't work in a game where the corresponding results of the actions don't exist. Normally realism wouldn't be our primary consideration in designing a game but the point of changing mob behavior would be to make it more animal like, in other words more real, so in this case objection from reality is viable. Unless creatures have healing and ranged power to compete with the kind that the players have it is in their best interests to stay right by you and keep hitting you if they want to win.
In regards to just running away when too badly damaged, there are limited ways we can deal with that from a player perspective. Given enough health as long as you can't box the creature in it can escape and how are you going to follow it? Would a fleeing creature leave clues? What clues? Would it be the same for each creature? Would their just be a tracking skill? How would it level? How would it decide if you lost the creature? Its just not realistic to code that.
[/quote]

Wolves run away, they will posture and decide if its worth fighting. They have someplace to run to as well as places they will defend versus others they wont. This is beyond the 'fight until dead' one dimensionalism we have in our MMORPGS. Wolves also hamstring their prey so that they either cannot run away or are easier to follow (having a world big enough for an extended chase without activating the next monster in the 'minefield' would be a major improvement).

The healing paradigm is overused in most of these games and simply speeds up recovery so that hack&slash can instantly resume, versus recoveries that take hundreds of times as long as the battle. Fantasy makes this crack-monkey stylegaming at least plausible (and a cheap shortcut for game makers)

"Its just not realistic to code that" its doable, just requires the effort and targeting a better game instead of the mostly mindless games we are getting. Even meager improvements in complexity (realism) would be a major improvement for these games which if anything are moving backward to simpler mindless timewasting (game companies will go to the least amount of work
required when the players sheeplike keep paying for such pathetic fare).


0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0