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Beacon

Apocalypse/ Collapse of Civilization

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Hi, i've been wanting to make a game about the start of an apocalypse, about the transition from normal life to chaos rather than starting out in a post apocalyptic world and I've messed around in unity and started to break the game down into main components I need to make. But I wanted to hear if anyone know of such a game that already exists since I rather play it than make it. I've googled the subject to no avail and I've not found a single game featuring the transition phase of an apocalypse so is there anyone out there who knows if this has been done?
Just to clarify I don't mean story based games , I mean a survival style open world games.
If anyone has seen a game featuring heavy interactions with ai partners that would also interest me, games where the npc's aren't just objects but they do things on their own and they don't just follow you blindly.

 

I would like to design an AI system that you can interact with basically by chatting with it, would just a complex collection of if statements be the best way to go about doing this or are there other better alternatives?

 

I'm also trying to design a "seamless inventory system", as in you don't have any pop up menus of any sort, all the items are carried on you somehow, be it in a backpack or in pockets and to access them you simply get out your backpack and look down into it do see everything. Is this type of inventory design something you think would add to the game or just extra work for no payoff?

Edited by Beacon

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I don't know of any game similar to what you describe, but I'm not that much into survival games either.

 

Regarding the AI question, this is something that will probably be better answered in the Artificial Intelligence subforum. My two cents, though. There's almost always a better way to go than a complex collection of if statements. Take a look at this article about behaviour trees. Mind that there might be better options, my experience when it comes to AI is quite limited.

 

The inventory mechanic sounds a bit weird. What I understand is that the player basically looks inside their backpack as a regular object in the game world. I can see a couple of potential issues with this approach.

  • The inventory space is very limited, since you are limited by the physical capacity of your backpack. Forget about carrying three shields, two full sets of armour and several hundreds of potions. Since the setting is apocalyptic, having to choose wisely what to pick up and what to leave and a very limited space to carry stuff might work, though.
  • Browsing the inventory can be difficult. How will the player access an item that's at the bottom of the backpack? I would rather have the game present me an organised list of what stuff I have than having to spend time moving stuff to find that stupid thing again. Browsing through a backpack sounds a lot easier when you have two hands to interact with it than when all you have is a mouse pointer and some keys.

If you are after a mechanic that don't pause the game and take the player outside the world so they can carefully look through their inventory, Severance: the edge of darkness used a mechanic that I liked a lot. When you pressed the key to browse the inventory, the next item on the inventory list would appear in a corner of the screen and you could equip or use it or press the key again to go to the next item. It didn't pause the game and it didn't show a window with all your items nicely organised. It was easy to browse through your inventory, you didn't have to do anything unusual or weird; but the game wouldn't pause for you to look for that specific item in the middle of the combat; if you stopped to look for that specific item, you'd probably be dead by the time you found it.

 

Truth to be told, in that game you had actually three inventories, one for weapons, a second for shields and yet another for potions, which made using and changing items in the middle of the combat quite possible. A single inventory where all sorts of items are listed in no particular order would probably make it more difficult (but not impossible).

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But I wanted to hear if anyone know of such a game that already exists

 

There are games in which the apocalypse is happening, but it is a part of the story rather than the focus (typicaly you have to stop the apocalypse happening, à la final fantasy 7, if I recall correctly), or the prototype series which happen during a small scale virus apocalypse in Manhattan. But no complexe ai interaction in those.

 

Else, there is Alone in the dark 5, which happen during some kind of apocalypse. There was also a particular way of handling inventory in Alone in the Dark 5, you didn't have any menu, but rather when "opening the inventory", the character open his jacket and look inside his pockets. Is this the kind of mechanism you are looking for?
 

I would like to design an AI system that you can interact with basically by chatting with it, would just a complex collection of if statements be the best way to go about doing this or are there other better alternatives?

 

As Avalander said, the behaviour tree is an alternative (the article is very good also)

I am actually working on an AI which use the information it gathered during its life (know this place, that person, know that the player is dangerous), its mind state (happy, optimist, suspicious) and event that happened (the player threatened its family, its dog died).

 

But this require a really huge amount of text.

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When it comes to inventory, you'd only have a backpack etc to carry things in during specific circumstances. Let's say you're on your way back from a camping trip or coming home from work with a briefcase.

Most people will only be able to carry what they can sling over their back with a strap, put in pockets, or carry in their hands. How about you go outside the box and make this your carry mechanic until someone actually finds a backpack, this could be interesting...

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Most people will only be able to carry what they can sling over their back with a strap, put in pockets, or carry in their hands. How about you go outside the box and make this your carry mechanic until someone actually finds a backpack, this could be interesting...

The idea is to have the same mechanic for things you carry over your shoulder and in your pockets too, basically nothing should go "invisible" and end up inside of you but you should be able to tell where everything is. So either you have keys for your pockets, or you look at your pockets and what's in your pockets get outlined, and you can see what's over your shoulder by looking to the side while standing still etc.

 

 

  • The inventory space is very limited, since you are limited by the physical capacity of your backpack. Forget about carrying three shields, two full sets of armour and several hundreds of potions. Since the setting is apocalyptic, having to choose wisely what to pick up and what to leave and a very limited space to carry stuff might work, though.
  • Browsing the inventory can be difficult. How will the player access an item that's at the bottom of the backpack? I would rather have the game present me an organised list of what stuff I have than having to spend time moving stuff to find that stupid thing again. Browsing through a backpack sounds a lot easier when you have two hands to interact with it than when all you have is a mouse pointer and some keys.

The limited inventory is something I'm going for, if you need to carry more stuff you need to find a way of doing so, like finding a trolley or something.

Browsing the inventory is the biggest issue to overcome, I'm not quite sure how to do this yet, my main idea (with the backpack) was that you would divide the backpack into layers so if you want something at the bottom you use the scroll wheel to select which layer you're in and all the layers above that layer become transparent so you can see and select easily. This I imagine would also give some more features to inventory management since you would want to place items you use often at the top and items you use less often at the bottom of the pack.

 

Else, there is Alone in the dark 5, which happen during some kind of apocalypse. There was also a particular way of handling inventory in Alone in the Dark 5, you didn't have any menu, but rather when "opening the inventory", the character open his jacket and look inside his pockets. Is this the kind of mechanism you are looking for?
 

The Alone in the Dark inventory is kind of what I'm going for only more extensive and customable, so you choose where to put your things and they don't just automatically end up in one specific pocket.

 

 

Regarding the AI question, this is something that will probably be better answered in the Artificial Intelligence subforum. My two cents, though. There's almost always a better way to go than a complex collection of if statements. Take a look at this article about behaviour trees. Mind that there might be better options, my experience when it comes to AI is quite limited.

That article was great, if I combine behavior trees with case based learning somehow I should get an AI that behaves a lot like a human and actually gets better and "in sync" with you over time, so having an AI companion for a long time makes it better meaning you won't see them as disposable since you "trained" it. If done correctly I wouldn't have to hard code things like "Trust" since it would be a side effect of it learning the players behavior and what to expect from the player :) Now I just got to figure out a good way to combine the two, but hopefully someone else has already done something similar. Off to more research, thank you :)

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Have you played Project Zomboid? It takes place (or CAN take place, depending on the settings you use) immediately on the event of a zombie outbreak, so things like food and tools are relatively plentiful and the power and water are still usable. Managing inventory is pretty important in that game. It is Early Access and I believe they are planning things like AI characters who do their own thing, but the last time I played the only other entities in the game were zombies.

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Maybe for AI you can combine a behaviour tree with goal oriented action planner.

A GOAP can sometimes give more unexpected behaviour of an AI which appears very smart as you just give it actions such as "go to ammo", goals such as "stay alive" and "kill player" and it forms a plan, e.g. "to kill the player and stay alive I must upgrade to a better weapons, get ammo, track and find the player and shoot, if I get low on health I run away to the last health pack I saw".

Just behaviour trees can't do this easy as each behaviour condition needs to be manually coded so it takes a huge tree for behaviour like this. GOAP builds a tree dynamically and automatically, well not such a tree as a path of actions to achieve a goal which it adapts in real time during game play.

Check it out, it's quite simple :)

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Have you played Project Zomboid? It takes place (or CAN take place, depending on the settings you use) immediately on the event of a zombie outbreak, so things like food and tools are relatively plentiful and the power and water are still usable. Managing inventory is pretty important in that game. It is Early Access and I believe they are planning things like AI characters who do their own thing, but the last time I played the only other entities in the game were zombies.

Yeah I've seen it and tried it a little bit, but I want the transition from civilization to post-apocalypse, not immediately after a zombie outbreak. I want to start in a city and be able to prepare ( preferably I don't just want a zombie apocalypse game, but a random apocalypse game so you don't know what to prepare for ) and then when "the shit hits the fan" you just have to try and survive the initial mayhem and then try to set up some sort of survival camp and preferably there should be AI companions throughout the game, so you start out with like a wife and family and you try to protect them during the initial phase then you meet new people etc. Project Zomboid has the potential to go a route like that, but I highly doubt they will.

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Maybe for AI you can combine a behaviour tree with goal oriented action planner.

A GOAP can sometimes give more unexpected behaviour of an AI which appears very smart as you just give it actions such as "go to ammo", goals such as "stay alive" and "kill player" and it forms a plan, e.g. "to kill the player and stay alive I must upgrade to a better weapons, get ammo, track and find the player and shoot, if I get low on health I run away to the last health pack I saw".

Just behaviour trees can't do this easy as each behaviour condition needs to be manually coded so it takes a huge tree for behaviour like this. GOAP builds a tree dynamically and automatically, well not such a tree as a path of actions to achieve a goal which it adapts in real time during game play.

Check it out, it's quite simple :)

 

It could work, setting the cost functions would be quite difficult but an evolutionary algorithm could probably do that quite well, however it would not necessarily produce human behaviors but rather behaviors which worked well in the game. It could however be a good way for the AI to form an opinion of player suggested actions. If the player say "Let's go to the town city and find food" the AI could identify "find food" as the objective and respond with the GOAP's suggested way of gathering food where it prioritizes staying alive and each area has a risk factor too it so it chooses the area with the lowest risk factor and the highest "food factor". And since the values for these factors are reached by and evolutionary algorithm no two AI's would think the same and they could disagree as to what is the best course of action and you could have arguments between AI's and players creating a group dynamic. So it could be very interesting and definitely worth a try. Thanks for the suggestion :)

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A survival RPG in which the player character's well-being depends on inventory and friendship with AI agents imposes a lot of disagreeable constraints on the "apocalypse":

  • The disaster must be fairly advanced, with the game set when society is already collapsed, after the interesting slow initial period in which people attempt to prepare and adapt with increasingly desperate measures (not catching the plague, escaping the enemy, containing the zombies, avoiding the war, etc.) but are not forced into a survival adventure.
    Things can go from bad to worse (for example, you might be reduced to hunt rabbits for food until you begin finding disgusting mutant ones) but not really from good to bad.
  • Most natural catastrophes aren't bad enough. A game about finding food, water and shelter for many days until rescue ships reach a tsunami-blasted island or until the first helicopters are able to fly into a burning city would be emotionally weak. A true collapse of civilization requires a global problem and a relatively long time to cook.
  • If civilization is over, shouldn't NPCs be hostile and self-interested? Can a friend be more useful than a slave?

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