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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    If you ask me, "experiences" are attempts at simulating the spirit of DM'd RPing, and sandboxes are attempts at simulating the mechanics of DM'd RPing. Two equally flawed visions towards an unattainable goal.
    I don't see it like that. Developer enforced "experiences" may try to invoke the narrative spirit of RPGs, but they aren't simulating anything because they are scripted. The developers can only hand write a few key branches. This method will never lead to true adaptive narrative. Open world/sandbox games do indeed simulate the mechanics more than anything else, but they also try to simulate the rest of the key components of RPGs, even though the end result is poor with current technology. You may not get to experience a scene as emotional as a cutscene in a heavily scripted RPG, but the development of games that tell at least part of their narrative through emergent gameplay is the only way to progress towards true adaptive narrative on a computer.

  2. #42
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    I don't see it like that.
    I know you don't.

    But know that your ideal - "adaptive narrative" as simulated by an AI - is so far away from the games you constantly laud as to make the whole argument ridiculous.

    And in the meanwhile, a lot of us would prefer at least the look of such - even if we implicitly know it's on rails - as designed by writers.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  3. #43
    Vector Jams O'Donnell's Avatar
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    This all makes me wonder what kind of graphical mods for Quake/Quake 2 exist these days. I used to use Tenebrae years ago, but is there anything fancier now?

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    But know that your ideal - "adaptive narrative" as simulated by an AI - is so far away from the games you constantly laud as to make the whole argument ridiculous.
    Then how is technology ever going to progress if we don't even bother pushing the boundaries? We don't have the graphics technology we have now by creating simplistic 2D platformers.

  5. #45
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    Then how is technology ever going to progress if we don't even bother pushing the boundaries? We don't have the graphics technology we have now by creating simplistic 2D platformers.
    Listing the rules for traffic and writing a believable traffic simulator are far and away two separate things, especially if you're supposed to care about the individual cars.

    Social life is infinitely more complex and procedurally developing memorable characters is not something in the realm of possibility now or in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I'll prefer BioWare characters to Bethesda cardboard cutouts.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  6. #46
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    You don't even need "real" AI, the stuff you might study in AI courses at university or read about in journals. You don't need Google-level algorithmic genius to make an interesting simulated world for a game. You just need the intent, and a lot of work.

    Dwarf Fortress is the work of one guy over a few years, and it already produces some really cool emergent narrative. If anything, the difficulty is not creating the events, but making the player aware of them. That's UX design, not AI technology.

  7. #47
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    You don't even need "real" AI, the stuff you might study in AI courses at university or read about in journals. You don't need Google-level algorithmic genius to make an interesting simulated world for a game. You just need the intent, and a lot of work.

    Dwarf Fortress is the work of one guy over a few years, and it already produces some really cool emergent narrative. If anything, the difficulty is not creating the events, but making the player aware of them. That's UX design, not AI technology.
    Dwarf Fortress is not an RPG so much as it's a city-builder. And yes, city-builders have found many great ways to macro social life - some in rather memorably idiosyncratic ways.

    But it's not like you can walk up and have a conversation with a Dwarf.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  8. #48
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    Well written characters and procedurally generated characters are so different that I'm tempted to call them mutually exclusive. But you could put both in a work and it could conceivably work, so they're obviously not.

    But I just can't see good character writing coming out of procedural generation. Chat bots today are indistinguishable from chat bots in 1998, because human conversation just doesn't conform to rules. Or at least, not rules that computers are capable of understanding. So you can have the bioware-style well-written characters, or you can have essentially random characters, but the latter will by necessity have no or extremely limited dialogue.

    Dwarf Fortress does procedurally generated characters and it works, because they're basically a hodge-podge of traits, which can influence behaviour and allow you to fill in the blanks yourself. But if you tried to do dialogue the same way, it'd be awful.

  9. #49
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    procedurally developing memorable characters is not something in the realm of possibility now or in the foreseeable future.
    Why not? No, seriously. Come up with, say, 20 major personality archetypes and 100 quirks (more than most games). Then develop a system that coarsely simulates childhood development, and let the character loose into the world to forge their own history.

    It's completely doable. It doesn't need to be realistic. It just needs to be believable.

    As I say, these aren't fundamental research problems. They're really just game design problems.

  10. #50
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    But it's not like you can walk up and have a conversation with a Dwarf.
    And? People get pretty attached to their Sims.

    Procedural dialogue is difficult. But you can skip that problem. We're talking about design a game, not a virtual reality simulator.

  11. #51
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    Why not? No, seriously. Come up with, say, 20 major personality archetypes and 100 quirks (more than most games). Then develop a system that coarsely simulates childhood development, and let the character loose into the world to forge their own history.

    It's completely doable. It doesn't need to be realistic. It just needs to be believable.

    As I say, these aren't fundamental research problems. They're really just game design problems.
    And who will write all those lines of dialogue?

    Or will it all be in emotes a la The Sims?

    Quote Originally Posted by TillEulenspiegel View Post
    And? People get pretty attached to their Sims.

    Procedural dialogue is difficult. But you can skip that problem. We're talking about design a game, not a virtual reality simulator.
    Okay, let's just skip dialogue. The single most important part of RPGs.
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  12. #52
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    You can procedurally generate characters, but as soon as you tried talking to them, they'd fall apart. Hell, even experienced writers (I'm including books, films, etc in this, but games are the worst for it) sometimes stumble very badly over dialogue.

    The Sims works precisely because there's no dialogue. If you translated their conversations, their actions would be basically random and very dissatisfying.

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinister agent View Post
    Well written characters and procedurally generated characters are so different that I'm tempted to call them mutually exclusive. But you could put both in a work and it could conceivably work, so they're obviously not.

    But I just can't see good character writing coming out of procedural generation. Chat bots today are indistinguishable from chat bots in 1998, because human conversation just doesn't conform to rules. Or at least, not rules that computers are capable of understanding. So you can have the bioware-style well-written characters, or you can have essentially random characters, but the latter will by necessity have no or extremely limited dialogue.

    Dwarf Fortress does procedurally generated characters and it works, because they're basically a hodge-podge of traits, which can influence behaviour and allow you to fill in the blanks yourself. But if you tried to do dialogue the same way, it'd be awful.
    I wasn't really talking about dialogue. I was talking about a narrative experience. Stuff happening in the game world that result in other stuff happening in the game world. You don't need to express everything through conversations with NPCs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    The single most important part of RPGs.
    Considering proper dialogue didn't really show up in RPGs until 1992, and even then it only showed up in an action RPG, I'd say that it isn't.

  14. #54
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    Considering proper dialogue didn't really show up in RPGs until 1992, and even then it only showed up in an action RPG, I'd say that it isn't.
    Hi.

    This may be hard for you to believe, but only through personal interaction with somebody else do you start honestly caring for and about them. Dialogue is an integral part of that. If you want people to care about your characters, you make them say things.

    This is why, even in the most actiony of action movies a la First Blood, where Rambo finds creative ways to solve lots of problems, you still spend the first half hour actually humanizing the protagonist by having him interact with other people.
    Last edited by Nalano; 04-11-2011 at 09:59 PM.
    Nalano H. Wildmoon
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  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    Hi.

    This may be hard for you to believe, but only through personal interaction with somebody else do you start honestly caring for and about them. Dialogue is an integral part of that. If you want people to care about your characters, you make them say things.

    This is why, even in the most actiony of action movies a la First Blood, where Rambo finds creative ways to solve lots of problems, you still spend the first half hour actually humanizing the protagonist by having him interact with other people.
    What does caring about developer written characters have to do with anything? I don't understand.

  16. #56
    Lesser Hivemind Node TillEulenspiegel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinister agent View Post
    Chat bots today are indistinguishable from chat bots in 1998, because human conversation just doesn't conform to rules
    It's worth pointing out that chatbots are designed to respond to arbitrary input. When the input is constrained, it's totally different.

    Turning weather data into a natural language report was one of the first examples we looked at in a computational linguistics class. More recently, I remember seeing something that did the same for a baseball game.

    If the player only has a finite number of options, it turns from an extremely complex two-way interaction (which would require something approaching "true" AI) to something that's mostly one-way with a few adjustments. It's only producing natural language, not interpreting it. That kind of procedural dialogue isn't a particularly interesting problem to me, but you can do it if you want. It's a pretty hard one to do well, to create a lot of different voices and inject some personality, and it would probably require more work than the rest of the game put together to do really exceptionally well.

    But it is a well-explored field academically. It's not just glorified Mad Libs.
    Last edited by TillEulenspiegel; 04-11-2011 at 10:31 PM.

  17. #57
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus sinister agent's Avatar
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    Fair points. It wasn't the best example. But even halfway convincing dialogue requires deliberate writing, and I think we're an absurdly long way from having computers convincingly put together all but the barest essentials of a conversation.

    It's true that you don't necessarily need dialogue to care about characters, but that only really works in some types of games (eg: strategy, sims). If you're directly placed in that world as a tangible character, it's a lot harder to do without dialogue. It's just too fundamental to how we relate to other people.

    I suppose you could make them non-human and unable to speak/understand speech, though.

  18. #58
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Nalano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wizardry View Post
    What does caring about developer written characters have to do with anything? I don't understand.
    Keiron was right: You are a bot. Either that or an alien.

    To do anything, I have to be motivated. I have to care.

    I don't care about cardboard cutouts. I cannot get immersed into a world where everybody acts like a bot. I can only view such games through the lens of game mechanics.

    Characterization matters. Characterization is something you can't just write a program for. I don't care about villager #2354, even if he's programmed to shuttle himself from his home to his workplace at appropriate times in the day, exchanging the same three canned phrases every time he comes across another NPC.

    Programs can barely speak like humans, let alone lie convincingly (or develop the motivation to lie), act condescendingly, have personal ticks whenever somebody mentions an RPG made past 1992, or any of the other things that make people human.
    Last edited by Nalano; 04-11-2011 at 10:47 PM.
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  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nalano View Post
    I don't care about cardboard cutouts. I cannot get immersed into a world where everybody acts like a bot. I can only view such games through the lens of game mechanics.
    Your "deficiencies" are not my problem, though. You hardly even see fellow humans in a game like Darklands, and it's still probably the best RPG we've ever created. Therefore I don't see how you not being able to care about a game if it doesn't have emotionally engaging dialogue and characters has anything to do with the point we're discussing.

  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jams O'Donnell View Post
    This all makes me wonder what kind of graphical mods for Quake/Quake 2 exist these days. I used to use Tenebrae years ago, but is there anything fancier now?
    It's not exactly fancy, but I've been using http://nquake.com/ (which you can use for singleplayer as well as multiplayer) and one of the things it does is beautify the graphics. I think the only changes are high-res textures rather than any fancy effects, but it looks pretty nice.

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