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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#33
Katawa wrote:I would argue that the difference between a mundane and epic quest is solely the quality of the storytelling.
And this is the reason why I stopped arguing (for now) for complex missions, in the sense of story telling. Because I do not yet see how to integrate the procedural generation and interesting storytelling within LT1.0.
I guess we will have missions that may evolve to a relation with a NPC, but I still think (and hope?) that we need a human hand to make the storytelling compelling. This is why I guess it must be plug-ins that are scripted but use assets procedurally generated (so existing independently of the script). But let's say it's for LT 2.0....
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#38
Strong-form storytelling in an open-world universe of smart-ish NPCs may not be possible.

Crafting a story requires characters who do what you tell them to do. How would that work in a game where NPCs will show emergent behaviors, where you can't control -- or even reliably predict -- what a given NPC will choose to do?

This is something I've been working on for a game I've been designing that also needs advanced NPC AI, and now I'm wondering if it might work for LT as well.

The short version is to stop thinking in terms of building hard-coded stories that you want to tell to players, and think instead in terms of designing "scenarios" that drop NPCs with selected personality traits, roles, resources, and (importantly) conflicting goals into the world, then turn them loose to do whatever they're going to do to achieve those goals.

The emergent stories you get from that model will be generated in the player's mind from their personal experiences caught in between powerful characters trying to obtain mutually exclusive goals. So many people did exactly this in the original The Sims that Maxis enhanced this "share your stories" feature in later iterations of the game -- and again, that emerges from enabling interactions among multiple characters with conflicting goals.

So what I'd enjoy seeing in LT is not a storybuilding tool, but a scenario creator for defining NPCs with particular personalities, goals, and resources.

Especially if those scenarios can be saved as external files that can be shared and imported. :)
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#39
I reckon that if you want stories, you should tamper with the world and not the characters in a game like Limit Theory.

For instance, the events that occur for a planetary colony will be stochastically determined, right? Well why not capitalise on that non-determinism and "inject" a scenario for a colony like famine, disease, over-population, under-population, etc. - the goods that the colony supplies and demands will change, they will offer different contracts to agents (colonies should be able to directly issue contracts to agents in LT just like factions in my opinion), and then get agents to naturally respond to these events.

I believe Elite: Dangerous is aiming for something similar.

This can extend to spawning NPCs with particular personality types as well, since this is all stochastically determined too.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#40
ThymineC wrote:I reckon that if you want stories, you should tamper with the world and not the characters in a game like Limit Theory.

For instance, the events that occur for a planetary colony will be stochastically determined, right? Well why not capitalise on that non-determinism and "inject" a scenario for a colony like famine, disease, over-population, under-population, etc.
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This can extend to spawning NPCs with particular personality types as well, since this is all stochastically determined too.
I understand what you mean, and being able to spawn certain kinds of events is useful for creating "man's struggle against X" type plots.

But stories are about people. People can be affected by world-events, but a focus on world-events gives you history, not a story.

That doesn't mean I don't want history. ;) I'm just suggesting that a focus on people, on their needs, interests, goals, plans, and actions, is what makes something a story. So that's what I'd concentrate on if I were going to build story-generation of some kind into a game like LT.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#42
We've been talking a little bit lately about how stories might be generated in Limit Theory.

So I thought I'd pop this thread open again for several reasons:

1. To continue discussing those ideas again
2. To mention Ken Levine's GDC 2014 talk on "narrative Legos"
3. To make sure the Storyline generation thread also got a mention (and maybe a reboot)

It's been several months, with lots more development done, plus we've welcomed many new members since then. (Hello! :wave: ) So I'm wondering if anyone else has some new thoughts on how Limit Theory might be tweaked to allow meaningful (i.e., emotionally and intellectually engaging) stories to emerge through play.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#43
I pick up on your mention of allowing stories to 'emerge during play', and allude to another discussion where, among other things, we discussed games which appear to be designed, or in any case function, to develop narratives which are defined by the player experiences rather than by game content. I refer to games such as Dwarf Fortress or FTL in this sense.

I quite frankly cannot see any way in which LT would not be such a game in this sense; this was the pitch Josh adopted, in spirit, two years ago: to live our own life in LT, and to make our own story,

Modding could allow for plots, I'm sure, and one reason I'm in love with the 'Getting Home' mod idea is because it slightly more directly ties written content to player-generated narrative. But in vanilla, purely player-driven narrative is likely.

...or did you take this as given, and were asking what sort of narratives would arise?
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#44
I've heard a number of people over the years object to the idea of designing games with the intention that sufficient story is generated by players making things up themselves to explain game events.

I think there's some fairness to that objection. Some amount of imaginative effort is needed to fill in the blanks in a computer game, but why should the player have to do all the work? I also think there's a fair argument that, given what a computer game actually is, if you're not letting the player help create the story to some extent, it's not much different/better than watching a movie.

But sometimes that's pretty much all you get from a computer game -- there's a hard-coded Main Story and nothing you can do will deviate from that. I also don't think that's a wise course for game design, even if you dress it up with QTEs for moment-to-moment "choice."

My view is that the future for storytelling in games will be somewhere in between those two. That's why I was glad to be a (very small and insignificant) part of the Storybricks team for a while, and why I'm very interested in Ken Levine's popularization of the "narrative Legos" idea. Some way to specify the atoms of Story, and a system for combining those atoms to create molecules of meaning, would allow game developers to create some games that work collaboratively with each player to allow the events in those games to be strung together into a story that has meaning for that player. It wouldn't necessarily be the same story that another player discovers, but maybe that's a strength of such a system.

I don't know that LT is really engineered to do that. I could be wrong, but it sounds to me so far to be further on the DF-like, "make up your own story about what happened" side of things. That's not a defect in LT or Josh; I mean, there are only so many hours in a day. :)

But it would be very interesting to see if some atomic-plus-generative system might be modded into LT. What if you could wrap in-world events in story atoms, link those atoms to particularly well-defined NPCs with opposing goals, then combine those atoms and characters according to some well-known plots (based on player input) to create large-scale chains of story that feel meaningful to the player?
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#45
Maybe we could use stored metadata to create some semblace of "follow up" missions.

For example data like the general area, what enemies encountered, general performance etc to determine if someone should be hired again for some mission that has some similar border conditions.

"This person did well when protecting our transport against the guristas in the northern asteroid field, we should hire him for our attack on the gurista base"

Maybe no "epic" arcs would emerge from that, but at least something resembling a continouscarc.

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