Development Update #15: March 2014

Read and discuss the latest big updates in the development process.

Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Flatfingers » Sat Apr 05, 2014 1:04 pm

Interesting perspective, kidpython.

I don't take your comments as an attack from which Josh needs to be defended. In part that's because I agree with your conclusion. Most games, 12-13 years on from the late PC era, are made to try to eliminate any possibility of the player being bored or confused for even a millisecond because, OMG, they might tell their friends they quit and their friends won't buy the game! That may be understandable since the bigger games these days have enormous costs, and it's considered too risky to make a game that doesn't do exactly what it's told. If you can't control the experience, how can you know whether you've hit the scheduled milestones on the master project chart?

This means that modern games are stripped of any possibility that they might ever do anything that's not been scripted and tested and focus-grouped into the same specific moment-by-moment experience that the developer wants all players to have.

There are two big problems with this mindset. One is that it assumes that there is only one unitary Gamer who demands intense sensations (action) and competitive accumulation of goods (loot) or real-world public prestige tokens (high scores, leaderboards, achievements, etc.). That's false. Players have different interests, including the exploration of interesting dynamic worlds. The success of more open, player-centric games like Skyrim and Minecraft (now the third-best-selling game of all time) supports that view.

The other problem with the "you'll have the play experience I created for you or none at all" attitude is that it fails to let games do what games are uniquely good at. We have a name for the kind of entertainment experience where you see exactly what the creator wants you to see: it's called a "movie."

Computer games are special because they have the capability of detecting the choices of the player and changing the world of the game to affect the player's next choices. Nothing else does that. So to make games in which choice has no real meaning is to completely miss the point of what computer games are for.

Such games may be a lot of fun... once. "Played it, beat it, sold it" games get made because there are plenty of gamers who do like that kind of low-engagement experience. The popularity of mobile and Facebook games also attests to the frequency of players who aren't looking for deep intellectual or emotional choice-making.

But there are other kinds of players who do enjoy those deeper kinds of engagement, whose idea of fun is dynamic places in which they can invest their thoughts and feelings -- not because they've "lost touch with reality" or any such nonsense, but because they find dynamic worlds where their choices matter to be a special kind of fun they can't get anywhere else than computer games.

Games designed to support emergent content, games with forms of ALife, games with multiple ways to solve play challenges... these games are worth making, too. There are enough gamers who enjoy being surprised to make games with unscripted, highly dynamic worlds both critically lauded and commercially viable. The numbers aren't in for Goat Simulator, but that's probably the epitome of "unscripted" right now, and look at the very positive buzz it's gotten. Some people really like sandbox worlds.

Which brings me to Limit Theory. I don't know the final form its gameplay will take. But Josh has said, from the Kickstarter on, that he's not planning on writing any Main Storyline for LT -- you will be free to do the kind of things you enjoy. That, I think it's fair to say, implies a requirement for a dynamic, emergent gameworld, and so far that's exactly what we've seen Josh delivering.

It looks like you've joined recently, kidpython, so I encourage you to search for the many comments Josh has made, and the many responses he's given to forum members (including me), about his unique style of software development. Unlike most makers of big games, who start with a "vertical slice" of pre-defined gameplay and then build the systems to support that gameplay, Josh has focused on building the foundational systems first. That means a lot of what we've gotten to see so far just isn't that interesting from a pure gameplay perspective. There isn't any gameplay -- as many gamers would define that term -- yet.

What there are more of every day, though, are the bottom-level dynamic systems that are mandatory for a game where players can (within reason) decide for themselves what they feel like doing. A game like that will live or die on the depth and reactivity of its interacting systems. A game like that needs a world to be invented from the ground up.

Which is exactly what Josh is doing.

Again, I ask that you not see these comments as a defense of Josh's approach, which he doesn't need and which I'm not qualified to offer, anyway. It's just one forum member's view of how Josh's development style does make sense, especially for the kind of dynamic game you say you're hoping to see, even if it's not the production model common to other games made by other kinds of developers.

Thanks for giving me the chance to comment on this.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby jasonbarron » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:16 pm

In a long line of great dev videos, this one was hands down the best. Well done, Josh. :thumbup:

I suspect the 5 down votes on the YT were from competing developers. :lol:

You keep up the good work, and I'll keep telling everyone who'll listen to check this game out!
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby ThymineC » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:18 pm

I wonder how much Josh (or anyone) would be willing to pay to know who exactly downvoted the video i.e. what they perceive the value of that information to be.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby jasonbarron » Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:27 pm

ThymineC wrote:I wonder how much Josh (or anyone) would be willing to pay to know who exactly downvoted the video i.e. what they perceive the value of that information to be.


I have no answer to that question, but I DO know that I'm totally ready to throw big handfuls of casholia at Josh for my copy of the finished game.

Haters gonna hate, simple as that.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby XergesXSX » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:32 am

Video feedback:


  1. I like the zoomed out (command?) interface: lots of nice little graphical touches.
  2. Great to see lots of NPCs doing their own thing; makes the world look alive. I'd like to see how the final game AI reacts when a hostile fleet comes through.
  3. Random idea: I wonder if very large ships could also function as mobile markets.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Zvanya » Sun Apr 06, 2014 10:10 am

I think kidpython has a good hypothesis explaining a higher number of down votes, at east in part. While this update was mega cool if you follow LT, it is not otherwise as "entertaining" as other updates, especially to someone who knows nothing about LT.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Flatfingers » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:43 pm

I'm not sure I agree with that, Zvanya.

I think it's more about the kind of gamer who watches the video. Definitely there'll be some who watch the video, not see any conventional gameplay, listen to Josh talking about "economic stuff," and tune out after registering their "this is dumb" downvote.

But I think there are other gamers who haven't encountered LT before who will watch and listen to the video and conclude, "OMG, he's talking about smart NPCs creating an emergent economy -- this is the game I've been waiting for someone to make!"

One person's boring is another person's awesome. The question is, what kinds of players should Limit Theory attract? (Bearing in mind that the first person Josh wants to satisfy with this game is himself.)
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby ThymineC » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:45 pm

Flatfingers wrote:I'm not sure I agree with that, Zvanya.

I think it's more about the kind of gamer who watches the video. Definitely there'll be some who watch the video, not see any conventional gameplay, listen to Josh talking about "economic stuff," and tune out after registering their "this is dumb" downvote.

But I think there are other gamers who haven't encountered LT before who will watch and listen to the video and conclude, "OMG, he's talking about smart NPCs creating an emergent economy -- this is the game I've been waiting for someone to make!"

One person's boring is another person's awesome. The question is, what kinds of players should Limit Theory attract? (Bearing in mind that the first person Josh wants to satisfy with this game is himself.)

But this entirely supports kidpython's hypothesis. The people giving their "this is dumb" downvotes would account for the slightly higher number of dislikes, while the people saying "this is awesome" and liking the video will slightly increase the already very large number of likes the video has.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Flatfingers » Sun Apr 06, 2014 1:52 pm

ThymineC wrote:But this entirely supports kidpython's hypothesis. The people giving their "this is dumb" downvotes would account for the slightly higher number of dislikes, while the people saying "this is awesome" and liking the video will slightly increase the already very large number of likes the video has.

I'm speaking to the implication behind that observation -- that when Josh posts videos that talk about abstract features like economic simulation instead of concrete features like player mechanics, that this is undesirable because such videos don't excite some potential players of LT.

The assumption is that LT videos (i.e., LT itself) need to do less of the behind-the-scenes worldy stuff and focus more on hands-on gameplay mechanics.

I'm asking whether that's a good assumption. I'm not convinced it is, but others are free to disagree.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Phillzor » Sun Apr 06, 2014 6:57 pm

Hello World!

I made a forum account just so i can post this, i have been following the updates for a little bit now. I have a few points to make regarding mainly this topic:

1. Ill start with the game itself. Looks really interesting, especially this latest update with the AI players doing certain tasks and being controlled by other, more important AI players, which i think is just fascinating by the way. I could play just this part of the game for months just to see how the AI reacts to certain things or events, like for example: "What happens if i decide to shoot them?", "What happens if i decide to shoot the station?", "What happens if i shoot one of the overlords pulling the strings?". Its always fun (for me) to see how certain things react when something happens out of the ordinary.

I didn't think AI at this level was possible, mainly because ive never seen it done before. But for a 1 man team, this guy must be a mastermind because the code he is writing is code i could only dream of writing. So yeah, props to him 1000 fold!

2. Forget the 5 or whatever dislikes on the youtube video, does anybody here know what a troll is? lol

3. I dont usually like single player games, because playing multiplayer is a lot more fun, especially with your friends. But the way the AI looks and the way how everything is procedurally generated looks really interesting and i will most likely end up buying it just to see how diverse this randomly generated thing really is.

Thats all i have for now, thanks for reading and keep up the good work!
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Victor Tombs » Sun Apr 06, 2014 11:39 pm

I used to be able to read everything that was posted on these forums but I find that impossible now. :(

There are so many kind, informative, insightful, and sometimes plain brilliant comments that I still do my best to read as much as I can. It's a testament to Josh and his work that so many feel the need to share their thoughts and observations.

Thanks for all of that and welcome to all new members. :D
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby telboy007 » Mon Apr 07, 2014 5:18 am

Dislikes on video: I reckon this was due to Josh not shooting any asteroids (mining doesn't count) in the update. ;)

XergesXSX wrote:Video feedback:
[*] Great to see lots of NPCs doing their own thing; makes the world look alive. I'd like to see how the final game AI reacts when a hostile fleet comes through.
[/list]


I'd imagine the leaders would leg it leaving the workers to get blown to bits. :D
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby mos7wan7ed » Mon Apr 07, 2014 12:39 pm

Having real intelligent non-scripted NPCs that have their own drive, goals, and some real power and assets to make it really happen... This going to set LT apart in a huge way.

A WISH
It would be cool if you could procedurally generate some basic message based conversation system. One between NPC & player and maybe NPC & NPC that players could overhear. You could use the NPC's needs, goals, standing towards the player, and the reason for the conversation to generate the conversation's topic and tone. Nothing in great detail of course, but still something helpful to further immerse the player. Maybe help the player figure out what the NPCs might be thinking\planning, or what the NPCs goals\standings towards the player might be. It would be a system that could allow the player to interact semi-interactively and not just through cold hard interactions with contracts or guns.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Asbo » Mon Apr 07, 2014 4:31 pm

Josh,

When are you going to stop messing about and get this finished mate? ...J/K love the way you show what you up too monthly, it is coming together really nice now and I cannot wait to see the finished game. I'm looking forward to see many of the different types/races ships and stations you implement going forward. Its great to hear your enthusiasm and joy when you talking through your work it's clear even to Stevie Wonder how passionate you are about this project. I've played Eve since day one and am still playing it today but I have to say this has got me well hungry to get my grubby hands on the finished game.

Your doing a Stirling job keep it up pal and I look forward to filling your wallet full of green backs when you drop this on us!

Asbo.
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Re: Development Update #15: March 2014

Postby Victor Tombs » Tue Apr 08, 2014 10:45 am

Victor Tombs wrote:Just a reminder to update the front page with the latest dev update news Josh. ;) :)


Just another reminder to add to my previous reminder.

Come on Josh, you know it's got to be done. :P
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