Zero Player Mode

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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Mistycica » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:09 pm

DigitalDuck wrote:It's always a nice distraction to allow the AI to battle it out amongst themselves whilst watching. If a game has decent enough AI that doesn't revolve around the player, then removing the player (or replacing them with an AI) is a relatively simple change that adds a lot, even if only to serve as an "attract" mode of sorts.

For example, in nearly every fighting game it's possible to set both fighters to AI, and in many racers all-AI races are allowed. Games like platformers and shmups don't usually have player-like AI, so they're excused for not doing this.

But for a game like this, where the players' existence is entirely secondary to the AI, there's basically no obstacle to including a zero-player mode, so there's basically no reason not to.

Of course it shouldn't be the main selling point. But you'll be surprised at how many people like to leave something like that on the TV in the background, and sometimes it's almost therapeutic.


I absolutely agree and I'm not surprised :3 I love the fish tank concept, and I think that the whole appeal of PCG and good AI is partly just watching what wackiness and/or smart stuff it comes up with! Perfectly the reason people love Dwarf Fortress, too. You give vague orders in a huge world, the rest just happens. Like !!FUN!!.

It's just not appropriate for most games, which tend to center around gameplay and placing the player in an elevated position and cheaty scripted worlds. You said every without sarcasm marks! Perfectly valid to get hung up on that :D

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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby DigitalDuck » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:15 pm

Mistycica wrote:It's just not appropriate for most games, which tend to center around gameplay and placing the player in an elevated position and cheaty scripted worlds. You said every without sarcasm marks! Perfectly valid to get hung up on that :D


I'm not sure I'd agree with "most", but whatever. Fiiiine.

Every* game should have a zero player mode.

* does not actually mean "every".
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Basmannen » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:19 pm

Scytale wrote:In a game where the player is on the same standing as the AI, how is 'giving the AI the controller' not the same as watching a Let's Play on youtube?

I also strongly disagree on what I see as the implied sentiment that all games should have the player on the same standing as the AI.

I can only speak for myself but there's something I really love about the equality of AI vs. AI. That's also the reason why I only play civilization on prince (standard difficulty), and why I hate civilization (the AI is terrible and there's no zero player mode).
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Flatfingers » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:25 pm

DigitalDuck wrote:Every* game should have a zero player mode.

* does not actually mean "every".

Actually, now you've got me thinking how that might work in a first-person shooter or an interactive fiction story....
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Scytale » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:40 pm

Basmannen wrote:
Scytale wrote:In a game where the player is on the same standing as the AI, how is 'giving the AI the controller' not the same as watching a Let's Play on youtube?

I also strongly disagree on what I see as the implied sentiment that all games should have the player on the same standing as the AI.

I can only speak for myself but there's something I really love about the equality of AI vs. AI. That's also the reason why I only play civilization on prince (standard difficulty), and why I hate civilization (the AI is terrible and there's no zero player mode).


Oh sure, I agree that the AI in Civ is awful and I do like games where player and AI are on equal or similar-in-practice-if-not-in-principle standing, but there are games where the quality of the AI isn't quite as important. Or rather, where there are more important elements in the game so that the AI does not have to be on equal standing to the player. Some true-by-default examples include games that just don't have AI, such as exploration games e.g. NaissanceE, Gone Home, Dear Esther, Kairo, Mirrormoon and so on.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby DigitalDuck » Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:42 pm

Flatfingers wrote:Actually, now you've got me thinking how that might work in a first-person shooter or an interactive fiction story....


FPS probably wouldn't be that difficult - if you already have groups of enemies that can attack each other, then it's already not player-centric, so assigning AI to the player role should work at least as far as combat goes; the only thing would be leading the "player" where they need to go, which would need pathfinding and/or pre-placed waypoints.

Interactive fiction played by an AI?

Hmmmm. Since an IF story is a glorified tree, would it not do for the AI to simply make a random choice at each decision? Taking into account that past events can alter the tree (so that random choice would have to apply to the extended tree, not the simplified tree), if it is making multiple playthroughs, it could ignore branches that have already been fully explored, and therefore play every possible story.

... Might take a while, though. :mrgreen:

EDIT: But of course, at this point we're talking about writing AI to accommodate a zero-player mode, rather than just using it. :mrgreen:
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby ruckuz » Mon Jan 05, 2015 6:10 pm

Gazz wrote:
ruckuz wrote:X3 had an autopilot but wasn't exactly zero player you had to still had to do some things.

That's not true if you scripted yourself an autopilot to do those things. =)

I guess, surprised no one has done it yet.

'The real reason I want a zero player mode is I have a disability that inhibits me from games that require quick constant user input.
So I usually play turn based or 4x games.
I know LT combat looks simplistic but I would likely be a sitting duck if I had to defend myself.
I was hoping I could just 'activate autopilot' to defend myself,(much like x3).
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby nikki_ » Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:46 pm

Time to revive this post!

I think here's what some of us are getting at. We'd like to see some sort of "god-mode" like what Josh has for development, except that we're just a "witness" to the events that are going on around us.

We are essentially omniscient. We'd be able to use his cool "widget menus" to see the inventory, specs, affiliation, etc of a ship, planet, station, etc.

I'd love to see that.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Flatfingers » Sat Jun 06, 2015 1:39 am

As long as I can also pick an NPC and see into his brain.

Watching them "think" would not only be fun, it could be handy as an AI debugging mode.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Basmannen » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:04 am

Flatfingers wrote:As long as I can also pick an NPC and see into his brain.

Watching them "think" would not only be fun, it could be handy as an AI debugging mode.

+1
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Relancer » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:05 am

It depends on how the game is built. It sounds simple in principle; after all, you just switch the human player for an A.I player, then it's essentially just spectator mode until you decide to take back control.

Programmer stuff:
Spoiler:      SHOW
But the player controls the game through a UI, not the A.I. It depends on what approach Josh has taken, if there's a base character class that both Human Players and the A.I are derived from, then it might be a lot easier to switch them at will, but if they don't inherit from the same base class, then Josh would have to write more code to switch between them, perhaps by having a wrapper class that provides a common interface, or one that mimics the interface of the player class.

You're right that a lot of the work has already been done. The A.I exists, the Player exists, but switching them around is not so straight forward, as it very heavily depends on how the game has been programmatically designed. Usually when I design a game, I have the A.I and the Human Player inherit from the same Interface class, which enforces the use of the same methods to control certain actions. So regardless of whether it's a Human or A.I object, both have the same methods for walking, talking, fighting, and so forth.

However, in a much larger game, you may have all the player controls separated out into a Controller class, and if you've followed the same paradigm, and made the Controller class for the A.I and Human inherit from the same base class/interface class, then it should be relatively straight forward to switch them.

This is all also highly dependent if Josh has taken an OO approach. I haven't seen enough of his code from his videos to tell.


This is extremely dependent on how the game has been designed, not whether or not it's possible, as it clearly is. I'm quite a stickler for objected-oriented design, but that's because it just makes designing so much easier
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Dinosawer » Sun Jun 14, 2015 4:36 am

Player-npc equality is one of the basic design pillars upon which LT is built, so it should be fairly easy. Also, Josh has mentioned in the past that the background of the main menu would be exactly this.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby plillevold » Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:36 pm

Relancer wrote:It depends on how the game is built. It sounds simple in principle; after all, you just switch the human player for an A.I player, then it's essentially just spectator mode until you decide to take back control.

Programmer stuff:
Spoiler:      SHOW
But the player controls the game through a UI, not the A.I. It depends on what approach Josh has taken, if there's a base character class that both Human Players and the A.I are derived from, then it might be a lot easier to switch them at will, but if they don't inherit from the same base class, then Josh would have to write more code to switch between them, perhaps by having a wrapper class that provides a common interface, or one that mimics the interface of the player class.

You're right that a lot of the work has already been done. The A.I exists, the Player exists, but switching them around is not so straight forward, as it very heavily depends on how the game has been programmatically designed. Usually when I design a game, I have the A.I and the Human Player inherit from the same Interface class, which enforces the use of the same methods to control certain actions. So regardless of whether it's a Human or A.I object, both have the same methods for walking, talking, fighting, and so forth.

However, in a much larger game, you may have all the player controls separated out into a Controller class, and if you've followed the same paradigm, and made the Controller class for the A.I and Human inherit from the same base class/interface class, then it should be relatively straight forward to switch them.

This is all also highly dependent if Josh has taken an OO approach. I haven't seen enough of his code from his videos to tell.


This is extremely dependent on how the game has been designed, not whether or not it's possible, as it clearly is. I'm quite a stickler for objected-oriented design, but that's because it just makes designing so much easier


I think you over complicate this. Seeing the world through the eyes of an NPC ship is just a question of "attaching" the view camera to the ship. After all, these ships are moving, trading and fighting already. Why not just follow their movement? Then the game engine doesn't have to do any extra magic to swap the player for an A.I. player, just go in and out of "follow mode".
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby TGS » Mon Jun 29, 2015 4:51 pm

I would absolutely love this system, though I'm pretty sure it is going to be in the game in some form. There is another game called Distant Worlds, that I often times fire up on my laptop with full automation mode (Basically the game plays itself) and I just watch it. I know some people don't like that and think "How dare Josh waste time on such a feature because I will never use it" but I can say from my perspective as well as I'm sure many others, it will be an amazing feature that many will use.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Idunno » Wed Jul 08, 2015 9:27 pm

Probably one of the better ideas that's popped up on the forums. It had my support when it was first introduced, and it has my support now. :ghost:
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