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# Chain reaction storylines - rpg

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45 replies to this topic

### #21Nazrix  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 06:19 AM

quote:
Original post by morfe

Repetitive? No way ... But, it does depends on how the quests are assigned. I'm using a scripting engine which implements inheritance, so I might have a class Find_NPC which is a child of class Quest, and parent of class Rescue_NPC, and so on ...

I'm trying to be vague on purpose - I don't want to give too much away just yet (so sue me ) - but I've made sure I can cross over sub-quests between classes. I guess I'm turning my quests into neurons, which can be dynamically linked and destroyed to one another.

It works a lot better than it sounds, and I've had some fun trying it out. One of my favourite memories is running all over the place after this girl who went missing, and turned out to have been kidnapped, and then sold to slavers, escaped, and joined a cult, and when I finally caught up with her, she killed herself rather than come with me.

So, it doesn't get that boring

-------------------------------------------------
Mindphuq Software : "Who do you want to do today?"

Okay, sorry, I thought that you were probably being vague on purpose, but I just wanted to be sure

'Cause in Daggerfall, what they did w/ quests IMO, really messed up what could have been an even cooler game. I just wanted to warn you of their mistake.

Thanks for clearing that up. That does sound like a very nice idea

"NPC's are people too!" --dwarfsoft

"Nazrix is cool.' --Nazrix" --Darkmage

Edited by - Nazrix on September 9, 2000 1:29:30 PM

### #22Paul Cunningham  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 06:36 AM

quote:

Moved
Anyway i won´t be very active for a while, i''ve temporarily lost the use of my right hand to tendinitis. it''s all your fault people, by making me type so much

Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<Et|-| ~
ERROR: Your beta-version of Life1.0 has expired. Please upgrade to the full version. All important social functions will be disabled from now on.

Thankyou

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

### #23ahw  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 08:01 AM

(I like it when I am ignored)

I''d like to know, couldn''t we describe a plot in simple terms, so as to be able to modify it, mix two stories, make easy branching, etc ?
Then, once you have the skeleton/program, you add fluff and stuff, style, et voila ! a quest/plot generator ?
Yes I am being as vague as possible, because I am trying to do the above thinking, and haven''t come up with enough to show.
ut maybe some examples.

A story is composed of :
-Actors, they an be objects, people, creatures, whatever. They are the one that can modify the plot.
-Locations. The places where the action talkes place.
-Schedule. If the players don''t do *anything* there still should be something going on, IMHO. Each actor could have it''s own schedules. There could also be global schedules, to create new situation (winter is coming, a volcano erupting, etc)

Each actor would be have a personal agenda, things he has to do, places to go, goals to fulfill. And of course, the missions of some NPC might very well conflict with someone else.

I want to state that I am not trying to talk about literary things here, but rather crete a way to modelise plot in some simple, modifiable way.

As well, I am not being very specific to the context used. I am personally thinking about MMORPG, as in my opinion, it would probably be the hardest medium to work on to make an interesting story.

### #24Nazrix  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 08:39 AM

ahw,
I may not be understanding this correctly...

Would this basically mix & match those components making different combinations of the elements that make the story/quest? The only thing I see is that the player would start recognizing those components from previous stories/quests.

That might be okay if it's an MMORPG type game. I just wanted to be sure I'm understanding it correctly.

Forgive me if I'm totally missing what you're saying though

"NPC's are people too!" --dwarfsoft

"Nazrix is cool.' --Nazrix" --Darkmage

Edited by - Nazrix on September 9, 2000 3:44:39 PM

### #25ahw  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 09:07 AM

Well, I''d like to know how we can "describe" a story in simple terms, so as to be able to code that in some way (script language ? anyone ?).

example of some plots to work on :
.Iznogoud complex (I wanna be khalif in place of the khalif)
.vengeance (this bastard, killed my brother/raped my sister/betrayed my friend, etc)
.rumors (I bet X is a werewolf/witch/traitor, etc)
.blackmail (discover him, deal with him, double cross him)
.lost mail (love letter, diplomatic secrets, battle plans, black list)
.debts and loans (honor debt, how to get rid of the loan, the loaner comes after you )
.rescue (the princess from a castle, the spy from a dungeon, the favorite courtesan of the king without the Queen knowing,...)

I have over 40 little plot items here ... and as you see, each describe a variety of situations.
now could we formalize that ?

you will note that I am not trying to go in the direction "story writing as an art form", but rather "analytical study of plot creation"

### #26Nazrix  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 09:28 AM

I see what you''re saying here, ahw.

So, the idea is that once you have the quests/stories down to a component level. They can be randomly combined together and each only used once which would be good for a single-player game, or used more than once for an MMORPG.

I don''t think the components should be used more than once or twice in a single-player game ''cause then the player would start recongnizing the components I think. I could be missing something here though.

"NPC's are people too!" --dwarfsoft

"`Nazrix is cool.' --Nazrix" --Darkmage

### #27ahw  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 09:50 AM

yes of course, it wouldn''t nice to have repeating "component", but what I said is that "components", ideally, can be decomposed in lower level building blocks (Actors, Locations and Schedules, maybe ?) and thus recombined, interwoven, etc, did I mention that I have here around 40 or so "components" (I think synopsis is the correct for word here). When you think that most games plot can be summarized to one component, I think we wouldn''t be risking the running out of story before a while ... as well, I''d like to discover multiplayer (party) specific vs single player vs Massive MP.

As soon as I have more material, I will start a new thread.

### #28Paul Cunningham  Members

Posted 09 September 2000 - 11:11 PM

Well every story is made up of different elements correct? I remember Landfish raving on about the need for a message in stories, its probably just his personal preference here but i was wondering how could you randomly generate a message. It would have to come from a list of preset messages. Each message would contain a construction kit basics on story elements require to tell the story. Elements are then laid out (like actors etc) and the player then chooses their route of exploration into the story. From here the computer modifies the details according to where the player is going.

Its kind of like a dream where you can do what ever you want but regardless of what you do there will be some sort of resolution at the end and things you can affect along the way.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

### #29ahw  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 01:13 AM

uh uh ! the "message" is the part I call fluff and stuff. It is different from the actual plot. Because it is what make the same plot used over and over so different eveytime, it''s hte personal touch provided by the writer. I don''t want, and I don''t think there would be any point in generating random "messages".
Rather what I am talking about is being able to separate the plot from the fluff ans stuff.

I am thinking more and more that a plot is just like a project schedule (we had to use MSProject this year), you have the people involved in the project, you have a schedule to respect, some tasks in the schedule won''t be done before some other, or without some agent, a task can be late, or a person missing, etc.
Then, *the way you tell the plot* is what make a story, what passes a message to the player/listener.

### #30Merrick  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 01:18 AM

Are you treating "message" in the context as a moral of the story? That''s a pretty dangerous thing to do in any game where weapons are involved ...

Merrick

-------------------------------------------------
"Children come to us in a state of purity and perfection from the great undifferentiated absolute and then, like everything else on this planet, we fuck them up."

### #31Paul Cunningham  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 07:54 PM

I''ve got to admit, i don''t know a hell of a lot about the subject of story writing. Could you elaborate on what you were indicating there morfe? Sorry.

I love Game Design and it loves me back.

Our Goal is "Fun"!

### #32Merrick  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 08:35 PM

What I was asking was whether the "message" they were discussing was like a moral - an underlying message that isn''t directly stated, but rather implied. So that through a fictional story, you are making moral or ethical insinuations.

I''d provide an example, but I can''t think of one ... writer''s block! Nooooooooo....

-------------------------------------------------
"Children come to us in a state of purity and perfection from the great undifferentiated absolute and then, like everything else on this planet, we fuck them up."

### #33Nazrix  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 08:49 PM

I think morfe was joking about that...as in if the moral of the story was in games (which usually include killing things) it''s not a good thing

### #34Knarkles  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 09:03 PM

This type of "story web" could perhaps (in the future?) be implemented with some serious mind-numblind AI and a "story describing language", perhaps resembling (or based on) SGML. My idea was to write the general plot of the game, so that the AI would fill in the details for small quests, dialogs etc, but it could be applied to this context also: describe the details also, but leave some things based on attributes like place, mood etc.

Especially dialogs and other messages would probably end being too generic, too similar to each other, but as AI and language recognition evolve, we could use some kind of chat bot type of AI to handle dialogs, so you could simply write what you would want to say. This same AI would then be responsible for generating intelligent dialog based on another AI: the "story-generating AI." I repeat myself, and I know this is dreaming, but it is a nice dream.

-Jussi

### #35ahw  Members

Posted 10 September 2000 - 09:35 PM

I think what I am coming down to, is that if you try to decompose a story, you get a bare bone structures that include Agents (they could be beings, or objects), Locations (the places where the action occurs) and Schedule (basically, a way to describe what *should* happen if the players don''t do *anything*).
The problem with current plots, is that most of the time, if the player doesn''t decide to go on with the plot, the plot jsut stays in hold. you get things like "Hurry Sir Knight! The boat is waiting for ye", and you go in town fill your bags of equipment, then decide to wait a little bit in the town to get more HP, and then finally go to the boat, who, luckily for you, has been waiting here for 48 hours that you would show up, otherwise the fate of the world would be gone don the drains...

One thing I''d like to point out is that most of the time, the fate of the world is at stake, which create the need for this rigid structures. Or the "world at stake" is just a stupid excuse like in Diablo where the villagers know of a great evil, but knowing that will make plenty of money on brave adventurers somehow make them overcome their fear and stay there, just at the entrance of the gates of Hell ...

morfe : I was saying that no no no I don''t want of a "random message" being generated; "oh yeah, so the moral of this story is that, uh, wait, what does ''best laid plans of orks and trolls always need someone smalle than yourself ?''".
Naaaah.
I am trying to distinguish the difference between the artistic part of writing/plot and the technical part.

Locations seem pretty self explanatory. The areas where we can mess is the Agents, who so far seem to be simple triggers, that stay there and wait until you show up.
As for schedule, they are not really dynamic, it''s more like finite state machines (well, it is actually, isn''t it?) where the plot changes state *only* if the player do something.

I think if you want to give a real impression of life, you have to start makingthe player feel like if they don''t do anything, the story is jsut gonna go on without them. ("I heard some party of brave adventurers took upon themselves to free the princess after you refused to do that quest, Sir Knight...").
Now how cool would that be ?
We would end up with situations that would be much more like in RPG where the DM have to give some real good reasons to a player to go on and follow the actual story they have planned (the *hook* is decisive). And jsut like in RPG, if the players don''t want to do anything, so be it, let''s see what happen (generally, in this case, either you let it go, or something real big happens and kick the player team on their head with a big flashy arrow showing *that way*)

Other thing, we should deal with NPC as if they were information nodes. informations should be spread, distorted, forgotten, acquired, rather than being prewritten dialog items that are enabled/disabled depending on the state of the machine.
This would create reputation, rumors, possibilites to hide info, torture, bribe, and other form of dynamic communication, rather than a simple "we forgot to get the item B, that''s why he won''t stop saying the same thing over and over".
To do that, we have to analyse dialog a bit better ... what is dialoging sp?), what are the components of it, what do we do when we talk ?
We transmit emotions ? We exchange information ? (I don''t want to worry about actual text, just like I don''t want to worry about actual story... it''s all fluff )

Posted 10 September 2000 - 10:54 PM

http://sigart.acm.org/proceedings/agents97/A018/A018.PDF

Give me one more medicated peaceful moment.
~ (V)^|) |<é!t|-| ~
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### #37Langman  Members

Posted 11 September 2000 - 02:27 AM

Assuming you have overcome most of the other problems with trying to generate a story line in the first place. One way to keep the world ticking over is that in addition to the people going about their daily lives, you also have complex AIs that essentially do the job of the player. A single player version of a MUD to clarify.

Their actions would cause the story to evolve as well as your own and it is better than a MUD as the AIs can be controlled. The program can ensure that the game doesn''t get out of hand. If the player doesn''t do what is expected but the AIs do that''s fine, but if a lot of human players ar*e around, you wind up with a terrible game.

### #38ahw  Members

Posted 11 September 2000 - 04:13 AM

I am going downnnnnn ...

OK, the more I think about it, the more it feels like an adv. database problem (the kind of stuff I wasstudying in BSc, not "how to do a DB in SQL").

To have interesting, self generated plots, you need building blocks, OK. You need Agents (should we distinguish animated/non animated Agents ? Characters vs Objects), you need Locations (the easiest to deal with), and you need some Scheduling, at different level.

Now look at Agents. Take NPC. They have to have a sort of DB of what they know, do, are, in order to give, get informations, and also in orde to generate/accomplish goals. The fact that some goals might be used a quests being secondary.
(I think more and more that if you don''t really try to achieve a goal directly, you will do so and gain much more in the process)
So NPC would have an inner memory (DB) of Agents, specifying the relationship, the last time they saw them, where they might be, who they are, what they do, etc... a set of known Locations with the associated activities, schedules an Agents linked to those places ("I work in my shop, where you can find my assistant". "I go to the pub in the evening where I can meet my friends, who are ...").
As well, they would need to have a memory that records events, past and present ("exchanged information with Agent #3168 yesterday", "go to the shop during the morning, home for lunch, shop for the evening ...").
*Talking* with an NPC, becomes a sort of challenging request to a database. There are plenty of knowledge you could get, but you have to use the proper questions (SQL, here we go again )
Or you could use *other* methods, torture would get you ANY information that is more or les related to the topic you want, telepathy would allow you to go browsing in a human brain, you would have at last a way of detecting lies, because the truth would be existing in the memory of the NPC, etc...

mmm, I think I am gonna have to browse quite a bunch of stuff.
I don''t even wanna talk about natural language here, I''d like to know if it could be feasible in he first place.
Also I''ll have to find some readings concerning the dialog process ...
Yeah, I think I am gonna have more than my MSc to do in the next two years !

### #39Landfish  Members

Posted 11 September 2000 - 11:00 AM

Well, my first instinct IS "it can''t be done."

My second instinct is to say that the application would need a kind of "Storytelling" Logic with which to examine what happens and the potential plotlines.

Making it avoid cliche, and suprising the player would require an entirely additional logic. That one I don''t think computer''s can have, but I might be wrong...

### #40Nazrix  Members

Posted 11 September 2000 - 12:27 PM

I don't think at this point, AI could achieve a "storyteller logic". Even if we were able to come up with some sort of simulation of that, it would be formulated and not really do the job.

When doing something like this, I think it's just part of the territory that it wouldn't contain the same sort of careful planning a pre-written or even loosely-written plot would have.

Again, it's an intersting concept...I still think it could be used in an MMOG.

It could be used in a single-player game but I think the game would have to be constructed knowing that limitation of this method. Perhaps only use this for the "side-quests" and come up w/ a main story that contained more planning.

Edited by - Nazrix on September 11, 2000 7:28:45 PM

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