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Multi-path story/simulation game with anonymized multiplayer feedback - has this been done before?

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I'm sketching on a game and I'm looking for some references to take a look at.

 

At the surface, it's a random adventure: you do actions, random events occur depending on action and your previous actions. Although much more formal, games like Princess Maker is also roughly in this category.

 

The original idea was basically to have a few one-shot events, but then fill the game with a lot of chained events with preconditions. So if you randomly encountered X at some previous time, then some other storyline might start if you choose A at some point, but if you never saw X, then B is the right one to launch a story. Etc etc.

 

Still, such a game (with randomized but pre-created chains of events) will end up being predictable and perhaps not very deep.

 

What I'm going for is a sort of a pen-and-paper RPG feeling, where it's more the journey and the story of your character that counts. I also want the different possible paths to be widely different.

 

Anyway, an idea is to incorporate multiplayer. I'm not a big fan of internet based multiplayer: it's difficult to sync people up and most people act as a******s online. In most cases all you get in a multiplayer game is the ability to perhaps challenge others and compete in ranks. Which is fairly boring.

 

My take on this is therefore a bit different. What about letting other people work as anonymized feedback generators to each other's stories. That is, not only does your actions count, but the [anonymized] actions of other people playing the game will be used as feedback to generate events in your particular "universe". The worlds of the players are both independent and coupled. There is no direct "action" between the worlds - if A kills the big boss in his instance, B won't automatically see that the boss was killed in her world. On the other hand, A's slaying of the boss might trigger a different event that cause this boss to disappear in the near future in B's world etc.

 

This is all very loosely thought out yet, and I'm very curious if anyone knows of games that actually works this way.

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I think you may have to expand a little more on how the players would interact with each other's worlds, and how you plan to actually generate those worlds in the first place.

 

But related to what you're talking about, and an idea that may be useful to you; I have long been thinking of an idea based on community 'script' development and a loose AI director. 

 

The point would be in a procedurally generated RPG would be able to string together 'scripts' or 'plot lines'. The game could either be run in 'strict' mode that follows a detailed long plot line from start to finish that would be written in the style of traditional cRPGs, or in a 'string' mode, that will tie shorter scripts together for a more Rogue like feel. 

 

Scripts would belong to various levels of a hierarchy, and use standardized tags to identify things. So at the top level someone could write a script about the interactions of two "Big Bad Gangs", and how "Character A" is a triple agent, betraying first one gang, then the other, and coming out as a mastermind. But the script itself doesn't need to define much of anything about either gang, or Character A. Low level scripts would define details about character, stats, precomposed lines of dialogue script, etc. And then a few layers in between based on how complex your system is. 

 

So when running in loose mode the game would start pulling together scripts from various sources and using them to guide a player through a game.

 

 

The elements that I see making such a system work well (And it is an insanely complex one that I haven't devoted serious time to developing due to its scope) would be community management methods. You ideally would have a detailed ranking system for the value of the scripts, as well as metadata describing what kind of script it is and what kind of stories it is suitable for. An automated blind peer-review system would be idea, having players score and provide feedback to authors, but not be able to see any consistent identifiers. (This is to help avoid trolling. Trolls can't work together as easily to push through deliberately 'bad' content, nor focus attacks on other people's good content because they will have no control over which user's content they're rating. And then automated ranking systems should help bring vetted authors up to the top of the list.)

 

Players then would configure their game generation through filters based on community standardized key-wording. So they have a loose control over what kind of plot lines and scripts the system will select to throw at them. (Or could choose to select from the hard written modules instead.) You can also include a feedback system from the players as well, having them score their enjoyment of the game when they finish. That info could be tied back into future game generation in some way, or spread points around the scripts the game used. After awhile you could build up a system and core dataset that can generate a huge range of really compelling games that combine good elements from hand crafted game worlds with the unpredictability and replayability of procedural content. 

 

In theory you could also extend such a system to game assets, and add additional elements to your visual or audio aspects of your game.

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Some background: I helped doing a remake of a mobile game called "Jamaican Discsta". That game in itself was a Drug Wars derivative.

 

Aside from the trade mechanics, there is a random event generator creating high probability events, medium, low and finally "chained" events. The possible events would vary by location and your "cool" statistic.

 

The interesting part is the "chained" events. Basically this would be an event X that had as a precondition that a previous event in the series was responded to in a particular manner.

For example, you meet a girl and have (in the first chain even) the possibility to flirt with her. If you don't, then the story ends there. If you do, then there are is a second event that may occur. If the correct choice is made, then this unlocks the possibility for a third chain event which lands you a special kind of record.

 

This was all very simple and the "one shot" random events would dominate. However, interpolating one could essentially turn most events into chain events. For example, in the third step of the chain, then the outcome of that will be affected by the outcome of another chain - one outcome if it happened but "failed", another if it "succeeded", and yet another if it never happened. By lifting conditions into "types of events" rather than particular events, the interaction between chains may display far more combinations than coded for.

 

That's the background.

 

So going past that, the idea is to allow the selection of chained events to be triggered by other players instead of randomness. A way to do this is to allow the game to run over multiple days. The actions from the previous day are then used to determine the (no longer) "random" events of your day.

 

For instance, consider an event where a criminal has gone on rampage downtown. The maffia boss will ask you to do something about it. This event will be triggered not by randomness but by one of the following possibilities:

 

a) a chain event in which another player's character goes on a rampage as result

b) a chain event in which another player's character causes someone to go on a rampage

c) another player exceeds a certain % in notoriety for their actions for the day.

d) some other player does a nefarious deed similar to going on a rampage

 

(these are just a few possibilities how to implement the feedback system - there are other ways as well)

 

In case of (a), (c) or (d) we can even use that particular player's character as the basis for who to beat.

 

The important thing here is that other players can generate a certain "human"-like behaviour to NPCs.

 

The question is how to make this translation from actions to feedback for other players. On one hand we could try for a 1:1 mapping: the players' actions appear directly into the games of the other players (within constraints - for example some actions might deliberately be omitted, such as A killing (in their universe) the player played by B will not translate into B dying in their own world, but the death might occur in the universes of A, C and D), or they're simply used as sort of randomness which still has a certain consistency, in that the actions of A, C and D will determine what events will be launched for B. However, those actions do not need to correspond to the actual actions of those players.

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The question should not be: has it been done before.
It should be: can you make it happen (better than the others).

Expressed as is your idea sounds like a game I heard of last year but I cant remember the name. Each session was essentially single player but sessions were loosely connected (sometimes you would be even forced to surprise pvp as you ended up with opposed goals to another player and the server allowed your sessions to merge briefly. to the untrained eye it looked like a kickass ai encounter.)

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Orymus - definitely. A game is only worth doing if you're able to add some value to it that differentiate it from other offerings.

 

Can you see if you can find out the name of that game perhaps?

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