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Thread: - E3 - 2018 - ENTER THE HYPEZONE -

  1. #101
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    I see what you mean, Malf, but the result still comes across to me as generated and therefore formulaic. I look at that text and I can guess at many of the systems behind it, but it's the systems I see, not the character. I find it fascinating, but in a pretty abstract, conceptual way; in the end, I find that static, tightly scripted but well written/acted/animated storytelling engages me emotionally in a way that little else does. Subtlety, ambiguity, nuance: for me these make a good character and a good story much more than the accumulation of detail does.

  2. #102
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Yeah, I get your admiration over how dynamic and interconnected the attribute system is Malf, but I agree with Thirith about how the end result appears to the person experiencing it. It's great that the system's so granular, but if the game can't find a way to make those variables express themselves in human terms it parses as just a lot of cogs and gears adding on to the simulation. The thing is, it's not really building an interesting narrative out of it, it's just about hammering them together via its various systems to see what happens. And that makes sense! It's a simulation where you're given a god's eye view of things, so its prime focus isn't about what whether a dwarf is able to navigate an existential crisis by going on a vision quest or something.

    I was mulling over this earlier in the day, and I think one of the ways this gap can be bridged - apart from giving the game a language parser and allowing its inhabitants to speak to and understand (or even misunderstand) each other - is by giving each NPC a set of goals that can organically change along with a primary goal. Let's say a dwarf want to become a master beard-coiffer, for instance, but in order to do that he needs capital, so he searches his skills (but is blind to many of his own attributes/possible skill trees until he learns of them) for an optimal path to earn it that doesn't involve killing and looting everyone (or maybe let a random seed determine this with a statistically low chance of the 'psychopath' bit flipping to '1') and goes about the world interacting with it to see what he's good at.

    Slowed down to an appreciably human level and tweaked to let interaction and conflict between each individual's goals emerge organically, it would be... an utter fucking mess. But for each frame, it could possibly be glorious, and a step towards something more structured and refined.

  3. #103
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Gah, I had a whole reply laid out and lost it thanks to a borked keyboard on my work Mac >:E

    Suffice to say, I don't think you can ever get truly meaningful simulation in games with a strong central narrative, and that some of the skill in playing something like Dwarf Fortress is being able to read the complex, interlocking systems in order to weave your own story. The rest of the skill is in communicating that story in a way others find interesting.

    Games with a strong central narrative necessarily constrain the player's palette of interactions; great simulations attempt to provide the player with all of the tools necessary to tell an interesting story. And the crux of it is that for people who enjoy sims, the intensity and passion is because the stories experienced are theirs. Not written by someone else, not inflexible with limits that can't be broken (there's a reason why we keep going back to ARMA for example, even though we're not exactly brilliant at it, and it's NPC barks are... functional, to put it politely).

    If you never play Dwarf Fortress, I doubt I'll ever be able to convince you that the stories told by its players aren't mere flights of fancy based on the cold, algorithmic output of a text parser.
    But once you've played it, traditional narratives in games seem somewhat... static. It's about the difference between exploring and expanding your own imagination, and experiencing the immutable, recorded ones of other people. These certainly have value, but I would argue that the act of creation is ultimately more rewarding than that of consumption.
    And Dwarf Fortress compels its players to tell their stories.

    Now to get a game that will convincingly simulate everyday life with no canned or scripted interactions, yet be perfectly comprehensible and entertaining with little effort expended by the player?

    Sounds like an AI complete problem to me.

    BTW, if you're interested in the best DF stories, head over to DFStories.com. I recommend starting with something like The Fable of Catten and the Eagle. There's also links to the now legendary Boatmurdered and the story that popularised the dwarf name Urist, One Dwarf Against the World

    Anyhoo, this is the wrong thread for this!
    HYPE!
    'It can never be that simple': Designing the quests of Cyberpunk 2077

  4. #104
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: Switzerland
    Still on that non-E3 tangent:
    I can't speak for Sulphur, obviously, but I just want to make clear that I'm not in any way saying your view of Dwarf Fortress' procedurally generated stories is wrong. I'm just fairly certain that it isn't for me. For me, there's a clear difference in what I want out of a story and what I want out of a systems-heavy game.* While I love the chaos, craziness and moments where everything, against all hope, comes together in our Arma sessions, that doesn't scratch the itch I have for good storytelling, and it has little to do with the satisfaction I get out of a well-told novel, film, TV series or even story in a game. Also, as someone who spent a large part of his professional life studying literature, I've never found stories written by others to be static or something to be consumed passively. As such, my experience of stories authored by talented storytellers may be fundamentally different from yours, and I think it'll be a good long time before computers can approximate that sort of storytelling.

    *There's also the aspect of cooperation or at least of playing with others. I find I enjoy multiplayer shenanigans (though there too, I prefer them to be constricted by some kind of structure that tends to be authored), but give me a single-player sandbox and I tend to default to the same small number of behaviours. I like having systems in games, but I'm not the kind of player who pushes those systems and explores all the different expressions they can have. It's why I largely prefer story-heavy games (if the story is well told) - or, if not story, then characters, themes and atmosphere - to system-heavy games.

  5. #105
    Member
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: Qantas
    My motivation for interacting with NPCs in an RPG is mostly the hope of getting information or an interesting quest or making a trade. I'm only interested in simulating normal people going about their everyday lives as a backdrop to make the game world more believable. If that became a focus of the gameplay I'd get bored. Most people's everyday lives are pretty boring after all.

  6. #106
    Chakat sex pillow
    Registered: Sep 2006
    Location: not here
    Quote Originally Posted by Malf View Post
    Suffice to say, I don't think you can ever get truly meaningful simulation in games with a strong central narrative, and that some of the skill in playing something like Dwarf Fortress is being able to read the complex, interlocking systems in order to weave your own story. The rest of the skill is in communicating that story in a way others find interesting.

    Games with a strong central narrative necessarily constrain the player's palette of interactions; great simulations attempt to provide the player with all of the tools necessary to tell an interesting story. And the crux of it is that for people who enjoy sims, the intensity and passion is because the stories experienced are theirs. Not written by someone else, not inflexible with limits that can't be broken (there's a reason why we keep going back to ARMA for example, even though we're not exactly brilliant at it, and it's NPC barks are... functional, to put it politely).
    Yup, looks like we're talking past each other here. Got no bones about DF being a great experience for you in terms of a story sandbox, Malf. Just my (and possibly Thirith's) priorities for game narrative tend to lie elsewhere than systemic algorithmic loveliness or taking on the onus of creating a story. (If I really wanted that, I'd... write one out. Video games aren't my medium of choice for this, an empty page has a far wider palette in comparison. I also didn't take to Minecraft for similar reasons.) Part of the problem is, coming from the other side and expecting games to fill in a coherent and satisfying narrative, there's a limit to how much I can project my imagination onto NPC interactions to fill in the abstract bits, but that's the burden of my own expectations and preference, not a limitation on the part of DF.

    Or, y'know, just take it that I agree with everything Thirith said above.

    Now to get a game that will convincingly simulate everyday life with no canned or scripted interactions, yet be perfectly comprehensible and entertaining with little effort expended by the player?

    Sounds like an AI complete problem to me.
    Oh yeah. That's the logical endpoint of it, but the possibility space of modelling how to get there with what we currently have, that contains a good set of hypotheticals to chew on. Anyway, that's for another thread if we want.

    Back to E3 - um, the unlovely technical bits of why TLoU 2 in motion looks so good!
    Last edited by Sulphur; 20th Jun 2018 at 14:07.

  7. #107
    Thing What Kicks
    Registered: Apr 2004
    Location: London
    Quote Originally Posted by Sulphur View Post
    Yup, looks like we're talking past each other here.
    Not exactly; I'm still addressing the original tangential ideas discussed by yourself and Thirith on the previous page about simulating every-day life believably in an RPG and pointing out that if you really want that, maybe RPGs and even immersive sims aren't where you should be looking. There are other games out there that do that. I myself have an appreciation for things like DF, Maia, Rimworld and my guilty pleasure, The Sims. I'd even go so far as to say that The Sims at its best is one of the great, unrecognised open-ended RPGs. Not even half-joking there.

    And I would also argue, as noted above, that a simulation of every-day life really doesn't gel well with a strong narrative thread. Despite Thirith's point that he finds literature far from static, we ain't talking about literature here*. We're talking video game stories, and even the best are not really much better than middling novels. When you add even a mote of systemic play to these stories, they break massively, with narrative inconsistencies cropping up all over the place; Nico Belic being one of the more obvious examples.

    I also object to the idea that GTA is good at simulating every-day life; it's horrible once you see the man behind the curtain. There's no persistence whatsoever. The world exists in a very noticeable bubble around the player, and if you move outside that bubble's radius then immediately return, every character is reset and randomised. At best, it offers adequate window-dressing that's good enough to convince the player on a moment-by-moment basis that the world's alive. But even then, with it's astronomically huge budget, you'll get tell-tale repeated barks.

    *And regarding that point, I would still argue that literature is definitely static, but the audience is fluid. Different people at different points in time will interpret stories in different ways. Hell, the same person may interpret a book differently on subsequent readings beyond the original. This doesn't change the fact that the words on the page remain the same.
    Now if we're talking oral tradition, well that's an entirely different sack of badgers.

  8. #108
    Member
    Registered: Jun 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by Renzatic View Post
    Not an official trailer, but still neat nonetheless.

    Oh man, Sapkowski would rage to no end, but if they subliminally tied Witcher into Cyberpunk, that would be amazing

  9. #109
    Member
    Registered: May 2004
    If simulation of everyday life is boring, then what do you call characters standing around doing nothing? And who says you have to make it boring? You could well have Twin Peaks level of weird characters doing all kinds of weird things. In fact, Swery's new game looks to be heading in that direction. You can choose what to simulate and how the simulation plays out. You don't have to simulate being stuck in traffic for two hours. You can choose the bits that are interesting or relevant to the game.

    Also, simulation is not the end-goal of most games. You're not just supposed to observe people going about their day and doing their routines, you interact with them and pursue your own goals, quite possibly conflicting with the goals of the NPCs. They should be characters with their own stories and secrets and wants and desires and simulating them means that the characters react to their surroundings and each other in unique ways.

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