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Landfish

Character Customization and Story

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How about a system of modular story structures that selects appropriate plot elements based on character creation? You get to select certain aspects of your character before play, and based on those selections the necessary elements of the story are sculpted into a more appropriate experience. A more detailed example: If I start play with a Tabula Rasa character, each feature I define from the list I''m given will have certain sweeping changes before play even begins. Raising this character''s diplomatic skills for example would place him in a position of the story that called for someone of that skill-type, but also allowed NPCs to refer to his background more accurately. On a less sweeping scale, selecting red hair for my character might just change all references to my hair in the game. The only obstacle to such a system is collision. When two or more selected features work in tandem to produce a third result, you''re climbing the Tree of Death. A clever designer can either avoid this or use it selectively to her advantage. Any thoughts? ====== "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates "Question everything. Especially Landfish." -Matt

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Other than the fact that you''ll have to provide for content that may or may not get used (depending on the player''s choices) it sounds fine to me!

R.

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quote:
Original post by Tacit
Other than the fact that you''ll have to provide for content that may or may not get used (depending on the player''s choices) it sounds fine to me!

R.


Isn''t that one of the strengths of the Game Medium? One gets to make decisions about the experience? The writer/designer still has control in that he provides the selection...

Of course, I would come up with a more interesting way to do it, this is just an example. What you choose to allow the player to select can be just as interesting as anything else.

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An example of this being the class specific quests in Nethack (or M&M).

I think doing this on less sweeping scale can work very well, and the collision threat is small.

But as soon as you need to modify the entire / large parts of the story depending on the player's features, you're getting close to that tree you mentioned.


[EDIT] The different deities names in Nethack also fit here methinks.

Edited by - Diodor on January 29, 2002 3:35:28 PM

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quote:
Original post by Landfish
[
Isn''t that one of the strengths of the Game Medium? One gets to make decisions about the experience? The writer/designer still has control in that he provides the selection...

Of course, I would come up with a more interesting way to do it, this is just an example. What you choose to allow the player to select can be just as interesting as anything else.


Definitely! I was just saying that in some cases this might not be feasible. For example, try telling a publisher you need 2 yrs to develop a title of which you can only promise 50% will be viewed. Of course, it could be a different 50% for each person but I think you see what I''m getting at. Don''t get me wrong though...I agree with the type of system you''re proposing. But you did ask for feedback...

R.

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The idea as a whole doesn´t sound too bad, but you´ll have to limit the effects on the game to a few instances which are independant of each other, otherwise you´ll never manage all the extra content you have to create.
The current trend is to make games which the player plays once, you´re not going to find a publisher who is willing to pay twice as much for a game which doesn´t offer more playing hours than he would get whith less ..

You´re still headed for the skies, nice idea but not feasible right now. Find a way to do it with no more than 15% extra cost, then we´re talking business.

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On a matter of principle, I very much like the idea of games where only 50% or less of the content is played in one sitting. Some call it replay value, but I tend to think it will make each player''s experience more personal.

I think games should be "Deeper than they are long."

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Landfish,
Instead of trying to build a system that pre-fits modular story pieces to a character that the player defines at startup, why don''t you instead focus on modular story pieces that can be thrown at the player during gameplay, as seen fit by the evolving story? Oluseyi''s thread about narrative interpolation focuses on tying together events during gameplay, and using that technology to identify existing synergies arising during gameplay, a system could prepare and immerse the player dynamically into a situation.

Enter the situation creator, something I proposed a while back in this forum. As the game story unfolds, (or fails to unfold, depending on the player''s actions) the program decides to throw a situation at the player. This situation has been predefined by you, the game writer, although it does have a number of blanks which can be filled in dynamically at runtime. In other words, it can be custom tailored to the existing unfolding story, the player''s likes and dislikes, and the needs of the game plot.

An example might be the con plot. Rather than a random repeating encounter with all of the depth of die roll, the con plot situation is fully fleshed out, partly at writing time and partly at runtime. The blanks are filled in according to elements of the story. The setup moment is monitored by the program, and then the plot is unleashed at the precise moment on the player.

___________________________________

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That sounds like an extremely advanced system, and I hope it goes somewhere!

Meanwhile, I enjoy trying simpler techniques that could potentially be used in tandem with that system. It doesn''t take much divergence to make a game fun; although what you describe is like the Holy Grail of sorts. WHile it''s absolutely essential to look for ways to get more response out of games, I continue to believe that in the mean time, less is more.

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quote:
Original post by Landfish
That sounds like an extremely advanced system, and I hope it goes somewhere!

Meanwhile, I enjoy trying simpler techniques that could potentially be used in tandem with that system. It doesn''t take much divergence to make a game fun; although what you describe is like the Holy Grail of sorts. WHile it''s absolutely essential to look for ways to get more response out of games, I continue to believe that in the mean time, less is more.



But I am not sure it would be such a daunting endeavor. Instead of attempting to impose a plot on a player for the duration of the game, I am proposing that you impose a mini plot on the player for a short period. The only caveats are identifying the appropriate time to impose the mini plot on the player, allowing some of the elements of the mini plot to be dynamically generated, and providing consistency if elements of the mini plot arise again later in the game.

In the game writing forum, I started a thread in hopes of inspiring the more talented writers to write paragraphs with start constraints and end states, which was in turn inspired by the curse of the game writer.



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Of course you can just make the game, and when it''s finished go to a publisher. In that case they won''t complain and you can still have all the choices you want.

And there are also people who enjoy creating games for the fun of it, putting them on the net for free

---
Allow me to clear my head for once...
Stop polluting the air!

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i''ve been toying with an idea similar to this for some time. i wouldn''t necessarily want to change the game to adapt to their stats, or something like that, but i would want the system to adapt to how the player plays the game. let the choices they make redirect the narrative to a way that might appeal more to the player.

as for how, well thats a bit tricky. a while ago i found a web page on the ''36 unique dramatic situations''. it lists these different situations, the variations within each situation, and the main characters. for example:

II Deliverance
"an unfortunate, a threatener, a rescuer"

A
i - appearance of a rescuer to the condemned
B
i - a parent replaced upon the throne by his children
ii - rescue by friends or by strangers grateful for benefits or hospitality

is just one. if you could find a way to reduce some or all of these situations into some kind of system, you might be able to not only randomly generate new game stories every time, but you could also move from story to story within the same game. for instance, as the character''s roles change and/or as situations get resolved new situations would arise based on the results of all previous situations.

this may be kind of an abstract description, but honestly i can''t really write anything more; i haven''t figured out quite how i could make such a system work. all i have is this idea, maybe thats helpful...

<(o)>

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