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Player-AI Interaction

#1
Hi Josh, and everyone else who's sure to start piling on this forum! I'm super pumped to be here and watch this incredibly ambitious game grow. :D

I have a couple questions about NPCs in Limit Theory. On the site, Josh, you say "AI players live their lives as well, and throughout your journey in the universe you will see factions fall, planets overrun, wars waged, treaties signed, and so on. Inevitably, you will cross paths many times with the NPCs trying to forge a life in the universe - for better or for worse."

That's very exciting, and it raises a couple of questions:

1) I know we'll be able to hire NPCs to fight/haul for us - but will we be able to form persistent relationships with individual NPCs based on something besides money? Like, say, if I come to the rescue of a trader who's under pirate attack out of the goodness of my heart, will that one trader continue existing, and will he remember what I did for him? Will individual NPCs and their attitudes toward you remain persistent, and change based on your interactions? That way, if I was ever in trouble and that trader was in the same system, he might come to my aid. He might even give me discounts on trades or something. I think that would add a really unique, human element to the game: it would be incredibly vast - infinitely so, just like real space - but human friendship, love, and hate wouldn't be lost in the scale.

2) I imagine that, on a faction level, NPC-NPC and player-NPC interaction will be persistent, since you say factions will rise and fall. Since factions can rise and fall, does that mean that factions will have a finite number of NPCs and ships (and/or stations/planets where their faction can build ships)? I'm curious to see how faction rise and fall will play out.

Thanks for your time! :)
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#2
insolent wrote:Hi Josh, and everyone else who's sure to start piling on this forum! I'm super pumped to be here and watch this incredibly ambitious game grow. :D

I have a couple questions about NPCs in Limit Theory. On the site, Josh, you say "AI players live their lives as well, and throughout your journey in the universe you will see factions fall, planets overrun, wars waged, treaties signed, and so on. Inevitably, you will cross paths many times with the NPCs trying to forge a life in the universe - for better or for worse."

That's very exciting, and it raises a couple of questions:

1) I know we'll be able to hire NPCs to fight/haul for us - but will we be able to form persistent relationships with individual NPCs based on something besides money? Like, say, if I come to the rescue of a trader who's under pirate attack out of the goodness of my heart, will that one trader continue existing, and will he remember what I did for him? Will individual NPCs and their attitudes toward you remain persistent, and change based on your interactions? That way, if I was ever in trouble and that trader was in the same system, he might come to my aid. He might even give me discounts on trades or something. I think that would add a really unique, human element to the game: it would be incredibly vast - infinitely so, just like real space - but human friendship, love, and hate wouldn't be lost in the scale.

2) I imagine that, on a faction level, NPC-NPC and player-NPC interaction will be persistent, since you say factions will rise and fall. Since factions can rise and fall, does that mean that factions will have a finite number of NPCs and ships (and/or stations/planets where their faction can build ships)? I'm curious to see how faction rise and fall will play out.

Thanks for your time! :)
1) That's the idea! My vision for NPC interaction is to have a very personal system like you described. Yes, you will form persistent relationships with NPCs that will actually continue to exist after you interact with them. In this way, you will indeed be able to form "friendships," such that someone else may well be able to come to your rescue out of the goodness of their heart if you get in trouble! I think this will open up an incredible variety of gameplay potential that we don't usually see in games...and it's part of why I'm so excited about the single play experience of LT!

2) Yes indeed. I'm not too sure how faction dynamics will work yet, but I imagine that it will all arise naturally from the AI system. NPCs will choose to join factions based on whatever factors influence the decision process, as a result the faction will grow, and operations will expand. Wars will come and go, cutting down numbers of factions and possibly demoralizing members to the point of leaving the faction. I imagine that when faction membership drops below a certain level, it will just cease to exist.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#3
JoshParnell wrote: 1) That's the idea! My vision for NPC interaction is to have a very personal system like you described. Yes, you will form persistent relationships with NPCs that will actually continue to exist after you interact with them. In this way, you will indeed be able to form "friendships," such that someone else may well be able to come to your rescue out of the goodness of their heart if you get in trouble! I think this will open up an incredible variety of gameplay potential that we don't usually see in games...and it's part of why I'm so excited about the single play experience of LT!

2) Yes indeed. I'm not too sure how faction dynamics will work yet, but I imagine that it will all arise naturally from the AI system. NPCs will choose to join factions based on whatever factors influence the decision process, as a result the faction will grow, and operations will expand. Wars will come and go, cutting down numbers of factions and possibly demoralizing members to the point of leaving the faction. I imagine that when faction membership drops below a certain level, it will just cease to exist.
Now all that sounds very cool! Your vision of factions is even more rich and detailed than I had imagined. There's never been a game, to my knowledge, where individual NPCs have so much autonomy, freedom of choice, and so many simulacra of emotions and preferences - especially not on this scale! I'm so excited to see where this leads.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#4
I am interested in faction dynamics as well. Designing a series of algorithms for managing them seems relatively straightforward however in comparison to procedurally managing NPC interaction of any complexity. I have been reviewing Josh's comments regarding NPC interaction and, other than the above exchange, the following passages appeared most pertinent:
Recruiting system: yes. Dialog system: yes. Quests: yes. Alien races: race system is undecided at this point. I plan on giving lots more details on NPC interactions in future updates! In the mean time I will be working on prototyping some of the systems so that I can show everyone what I have in mind!

Well, I really want to keep you interested, but, to be honest, part of the essence of this game is the lack of developer-constructed narrative. Sure, there IS narrative within the game. You CAN interact with NPCs in meaningful ways, through quests, missions, and even forming friendships. You can become a part of a faction and craft a life for yourself in any number of niche jobs. But there is no central campaign, no guiding light, etc. Of course, there will be a tutorial. However, embedding an artificial narrative into the game is really orthogonal to everything that Limit Theory stands for, so, unfortunately, I cannot promise anything of the sort. But, as I said, that does not preclude the potential for meaningful interaction in the game (as long as you are capable of constructing your own narrative, you will be fine, and I will give you as many tools as possible for doing so in a very concrete way)! Hope that answers the question.

Mapping won't be dependent on skill, since there won't be player attributes in LT, but there is a direct analogue: the quality of sensor logs that you accumulate will be a result of the quality of the sensing equipment that you fit to your ship. But...I'm getting ahead of myself!! Need to save some of the secrets for updates!
It's a sandbox and I don't have a problem with the absence of a given plot. Having a whole universe to explore and interact with, in essence creating my own narrative, as an interstellar Alexander the Great, Magellan, or Henry Morgan should be a blast. Meaningful interaction with depth and variety however, I am not certain would be easy to generate. Sure quest and missions are fine but friendship are presumably defined by more than just a quid pro quo relationship.

I suppose that if a certain complexity could be achieved in how quests, missions, and NPC personalities are structured player imagination could fill in the rest. I am keen to know whether there will be a finite set of component parts that the engine will randomly assemble or if some more sophisticated methodology will be employed to generate such content procedurally.

I am also curious about the lack of a skill system. It should certainly not be terribly difficult to keep track of a small number of variables. Such character customization not only adds to player immersion but could also be used to modify interactions with NPCs in any number of areas. The checks involved by the game engine would be very simple yet they could have a meaningful impact on any number of important outcomes such as trade terms, repair costs and potential cooperation in delicate negotiations for example.
I know not what life is, nor death.
Year in year out-all but a dream.
Both Heaven and Hell are left behind;
I stand in the moonlit dawn,
Free from clouds of attachment.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#5
Tom wrote:I am also curious about the lack of a skill system. It should certainly not be terribly difficult to keep track of a small number of variables. Such character customization not only adds to player immersion but could also be used to modify interactions with NPCs in any number of areas. The checks involved by the game engine would be very simple yet they could have a meaningful impact on any number of important outcomes such as trade terms, repair costs and potential cooperation in delicate negotiations for example.
RPG most often mean skill system. But there's a problem with adapting NPCs interaction to PC skills: it expands the number of lines to be written quite dramatically.
That said, even the simplest set of player skills tend to reinforce player immersion, so I think it'd make an interesting stretch goal. ^^
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#6
RPG most often mean skill system. But there's a problem with adapting NPCs interaction to PC skills: it expands the number of lines to be written quite dramatically.
That said, even the simplest set of player skills tend to reinforce player immersion, so I think it'd make an interesting stretch goal. ^^
I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment, Atarun, which was promptly lost due to my being distracted and timing out from the forum.

To summarize, I don't believe that a conventional RPG-style branching dialogue tree is practical for a game like Limit Theory seeing how it is being made by a single developer. Josh could, of course, bring on collaborators but I was not specifically counting on such.

I suspect that the character interaction in Limit Theory is likely to involve a series of NPC types and a pool of dialogue choices. The combination of the two would make generating procedural interaction straightforward and potentially limitless. My hope is that such interaction generation can be enriched via the introduction of cognitive skills for the player and key NPC attributes. As an example, the player character arrives at a busy spaceport and begins looking for potential business opportunities or possibly for bounty assignments. He therefore engages various merchants who are looking to ship cargo, during these interactions the PC's negotiation skill would be matched against the merchant's savvy attribute to determine trade terms. Conversely, when meeting with clients as a bounty hunter, the check could be for the PC's awareness and knowledge against the client's desperation attribute to determine the size of the bounty. As for hiring a crew, the PC's perception, intuition, and knowledge would aid them in hiring a pilot or purchasing a repair droid with the most desirable traits among the available candidates. The dialogue options would not necessarily change, though with a large enough pool of dialogue options they could be grouped according to given values and made available based on a value check (i.e. PC negotiation skill 4 against merchant savvy attribute 2 would result in dialogue bucket 2).

In most games skill advancement is based on level progression. Such a system is clearly not in the cards for Level Theory. However, skill development could be keyed to skill use or unlocked via achievements. Players would start off with entry level skills (with perhaps one or two skill points that they could utilize as they wished) and then progress from there.

At any rate, these are merely ideas. Whether or not they are viewed as useful, there is little harm in presenting them.
I know not what life is, nor death.
Year in year out-all but a dream.
Both Heaven and Hell are left behind;
I stand in the moonlit dawn,
Free from clouds of attachment.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#7
Tom wrote:I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment, Atarun, which was promptly lost due to my being distracted and timing out from the forum.
So it doesn't only happen to me, then? ;)
At any rate, these are merely ideas. Whether or not they are viewed as useful, there is little harm in presenting them.
Indeed. And being a huge tabletop RPG fan myself, I've never met a skill system I didn't like or a video game where I wouldn't have wanted a skill system implemented.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#8
Atarun wrote:
Tom wrote:I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment, Atarun, which was promptly lost due to my being distracted and timing out from the forum.
So it doesn't only happen to me, then? ;)
How long are we talking about here?? I've been trying to find and change the timeout value so that this doesn't happen to you guys, but the only value I can find is 2 hours...did you really spend more than 2 hours on a post? :shock: If that sounds right, I'll change that number. If not, I need to keep hunting for the right value...
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#9
JoshParnell wrote:
Atarun wrote:
Tom wrote:I wrote a lengthy reply to your comment, Atarun, which was promptly lost due to my being distracted and timing out from the forum.
So it doesn't only happen to me, then? ;)
How long are we talking about here?? I've been trying to find and change the timeout value so that this doesn't happen to you guys, but the only value I can find is 2 hours...did you really spend more than 2 hours on a post? :shock: If that sounds right, I'll change that number. If not, I need to keep hunting for the right value...
Well, I think you missed the part about being distracted, Josh. I am not certain about Atarun or other posters but I often participate in forums from work or while engaged in other tasks or activities. As such, the possibility of not finishing posts for hours does, indeed, occur with some frequency. If the timeout value could be raised without much of an effort that would be welcome. In the meantime, I will just try to get into the habit of using notepad to compose anything over a couple of paragraphs. ;)
I know not what life is, nor death.
Year in year out-all but a dream.
Both Heaven and Hell are left behind;
I stand in the moonlit dawn,
Free from clouds of attachment.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#10
The timeout is most likely the web session, usually around 300 seconds. Forum software won't have control of this as it's actually a setting on the application server (ie: your hosting company).
For long posts I usually quote the original, copy-paste & edit it in an external editor like sublime.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#11
Deej wrote:The timeout is most likely the web session, usually around 300 seconds. Forum software won't have control of this as it's actually a setting on the application server (ie: your hosting company).
For long posts I usually quote the original, copy-paste & edit it in an external editor like sublime.
Ah, makes sense...that's a shame.

Btw, +10 for mentioning sublime :)
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” ~ Henry Ford
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#12
Would be cool to have a companion/buddy system like Mount & Blade Warband, you find these people that will join you for whatever reason, they fight alongside you and later on the game become your lieutenants basically, each commanding their own army, the cool thing is that you can customize them with skills and gear, and each have kind of a unique personality(not very fleshed out of course)

Not sure how feasible this would be, maybe not at all.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#13
Henrique Vignon wrote:Would be cool to have a companion/buddy system like Mount & Blade Warband, you find these people that will join you for whatever reason, they fight alongside you and later on the game become your lieutenants basically, each commanding their own army, the cool thing is that you can customize them with skills and gear, and each have kind of a unique personality(not very fleshed out of course)

Not sure how feasible this would be, maybe not at all.
+1! I like that idea. Based on what Josh has said so far about the level of NPC interaction and hiring followers, this doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility.
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#14
Wow, I just read the Q&A between Josh and Brian Rubin over at Space Game Junkie, and there was some really exciting stuff! One of the things I was most excited about was Josh's statement that the procedural missions will actually be provided by factions or even individual NPCs to accomplish a specific objective within the gameworld!
My goal is for the missions to arise naturally from the AI in the universe. For example, an NPC decides that he wants to make a trade run between planets X and Y, but notices that security along the route has been dubious as of late. As such, he posts up a request to hire an escort at planet X to help him get to planet Y. If you happen to land on planet X in the interim, you’ll have the opportunity to take the mission. Or, perhaps a faction notices that too many traders are getting attacked in one of the systems they hold. The faction might post up a patrol job on a space station in the dangerous system, in an effort to improve security so as to not lose trade business.
Wow. To me this is revolutionary, and will make taking procedural missions feel even more impactful than it did in, say, Freelancer: the mission outcome will not only affect you and your relationships with factions, but also the balance of power between factions and sometimes your relationship with individual NPCs. If you were to take a mission from Faction X to wipe out an asteroid base belonging to Faction Y, you have actually just hurt Faction Y's war effort and helped Faction X, thereby helping X win and maybe leading to Y's extinction as a faction. VERY cool stuff! :shock:

Here's the Q&A: http://www.spacegamejunkie.com/intervie ... d-timiness
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Re: Player-AI Interaction

#15
insolent wrote:
Henrique Vignon wrote:Would be cool to have a companion/buddy system like Mount & Blade Warband, you find these people that will join you for whatever reason, they fight alongside you and later on the game become your lieutenants basically, each commanding their own army, the cool thing is that you can customize them with skills and gear, and each have kind of a unique personality(not very fleshed out of course)

Not sure how feasible this would be, maybe not at all.
+1! I like that idea. Based on what Josh has said so far about the level of NPC interaction and hiring followers, this doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility.
+1 I too like this idea very much.
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