Zero Player Mode

Discuss technical features of Limit Theory and the LT Engine

Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Schizophrenic » Fri Aug 28, 2015 5:00 am

I love this idea so much it finally convinced me to register! It reminds me of something I played a long time ago.

I used to play a MUD where scripting was the accepted way to play. We would take manual control of our characters to do really tough areas, big bosses, quests and PVP and whatnot, but most of the time our characters would be autopiloting around, killing stuff, while often we would be sitting there watching, analyzing, and continually refining our scripts' decision making processes.

This part is a game unto itself. You're still playing a game, but it isn't the game of directly fighting stuff with the character. Instead, it's the game of putting your character in a position to succeed. You tell it, in a general sense, where to go, what to fight, and (most importantly) how you want it to do it, and it goes and does it. The payoff is seeing your character rise to the top by doing it more successfully and efficiently than anybody else. Limit Theory has so much more depth of things to do, of course, than that old MUD that I played.

I would love to see this option exist!
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Talvieno » Fri Aug 28, 2015 9:09 am

I've played other games like that. Age of Empires II comes to mind specifically - I had a lot more fun writing an AI to destroy the computer players than I did playing myself.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Jetison333 » Fri Aug 28, 2015 12:04 pm

Reminds me of Screeps
Scytale wrote:Look, I know people suck. That's the whole point! My question is, are you going to be as horrible as the mob, or are you going to work to be better?

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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby cptmashek » Sat Sep 19, 2015 11:21 pm

TGS wrote: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.

Yes! This is something I still do with Distant Worlds! It's also kinda fun to have the beep boop going on in the background while writing, programming, or doing housework. It's neat to be able to dip in and out as I want, without having to pause the game or deal with game aspects I don't like. Having LT do this too, would be a dream.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Jazehiah » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:36 pm

This sort of directed autopilot sounds like it could be interesting. I'd love to set one up and just let the world run in my computer's background. Maybe turn the lock screen or screensaver into a live view of what's going on in LT.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby DWMagus » Thu Sep 24, 2015 9:38 am

Zero player mode; for when you don't have time to play with yourself -- the game will do that for you!
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Thu Sep 24, 2015 10:20 am

DWMagus wrote:Zero player mode; for when you don't have time to play with yourself -- the game will do that for you!


>.>
<.<
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Silverware » Thu Sep 24, 2015 2:29 pm

Cornflakes_91 wrote:
DWMagus wrote:Zero player mode; for when you don't have time to play with yourself -- the game will do that for you!


>.>
<.<


Isn't that called a hooker?
ᕕ(ಠ‸ಠ)⊃━☆゚.*・。゚
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby DigitalDuck » Thu Sep 24, 2015 4:59 pm

Silverware wrote:Isn't that called a hooker?


No, those play with you. It's a cam-girl, who plays with herself while you watch.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby plillevold » Sat Sep 26, 2015 8:53 am

DWMagus wrote:Zero player mode; for when you don't have time to play with yourself -- the game will do that for you!


I don't want LT to do that!?

...ohwell, at least its not going to be multiplayer, that would've just been weird!

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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby TGS » Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:46 am

I just want to clarify after rereading this post that there is a strong distinction between automation, functionality centric "autopilot", AI driven self-aware command (Yes it is a distinction) and full on auto-play mode.

Automation is done through scripts or out-of-game commands/macros/scripts/mods (even if those scripts are LTSL scripts) to essentially play the game or elements of the game.
Functionality centric "autopilot" is essentially a game function such as autopilot that performs a function for you in the game. This is a game mechanic not an external script/macro.
AI driven self-aware command would be where you have micro-entities under your command such a pilots, gunners, fleet commanders that you give fuzzy orders and they carry out the orders to the best of their ability.

Then there is full on auto-play which is what the OP and the majority of the thread is about. This is actually a game function that takes the player out of the game entirely and simply populates the game with AI actors and thus the player is merely an observer. With or without "god" controls, it is largely irrelevant. The main point here is that the game is for all intents and purposes playing itself.

The problem as I see it is that there are going to be people in this thread and in the LT player base itself that want all of those things to be options, while some (Hopefully few) might wish to actively discourage any and/or all of them as some form of blasphemy to the "true gamer way" or some nonsense like that. Some might throw some silly logic to push their point home when the reality is that there is no rule that states how a game should/could/would be played. There are entire genres of games that play as if they are nothing more than storybooks or interactive movies. Some of which are very lax on the interaction portion. So the truth is that no one should be telling anyone else what is and is not a game or how the game should or shouldn't be played because no one is forcing you to use the feature. The only mildly reasonable logic to an argument against features like this is that it might detract from game development time, but barring that any objection is purely selfish. I've mentioned it in other threads and I'll mention it here. It is that "Oh I won't use it so he shouldn't bother with it" that sort of thought is rubbish. Now I know this is an oldish thread and I'm not trying to be confrontational or mean but in rereading it I saw how much people were misunderstanding (Perhaps intentionally) the OP and a few seemed to even be trying to argue against the inclusion of said feature(s). Btw... pretty sure they're already in. That is all, thank you.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Flatfingers » Fri Oct 09, 2015 2:20 pm

I understand your distinction, TGS, and it's also the True Zero Player Mode that interests me -- the full "clockwork universe."

From the sounds of it, that's very nearly a necessary component of the kind of game it sounds like Josh is trying to make. So I actually think ZPM is not just possible with out-of-the-box LT, but likely.

But -- and there's always a big but ;) -- I have a couple of chin-scratchers regarding ZPM.

1. A clockwork universe is neat, but not as much fun if you can't see the gears turning. To really enjoy ZPM, we need a way to be able to explore the universe as a kind of omniscient, disembodied consciousness -- one that's able to travel anywhere, see what's happening, and maybe even query individual NPCs to learn what they're trying to do and why. ZPM needs to do more than just be LT running without the player; it needs to let the human Observer appreciate that universe at a high (and maybe high-speed) level. Also having access to a low (inside the NPC's brain) level would be nice as well, but my feeling is that that's less important than watching the whole game universe change.

In other words, ZPM isn't enough -- there must be a way to display the effects of ZPM to the human "player."

Alternately, maybe ZPM should be defined as fully hands-off: you can simply say, "automate [or remove?] my character." That activates Zero Player Mode, in which the game goes into a very simple display mode, simulating all parts of the game world at the highest level without displaying anything about it. Then when you're ready to play again, you re-enable control of your character, at which point everything local to your character goes back into fully non-simulated mode.

That might be easier to implement. Not as much fun IMO as an interactive ZPM, but better than nothing.

2. How does research work in ZPM?

Once again I come back to what I'm increasingly concluding is a fundamental incompatibility between a "play-forever" simulation and a "play-to-win" game, and that is the tech tree. I tend to really enjoy researching technology in games to be won, such as Civilization and Master of Orion. But those are games to be won. In a game that's meant to be a simulation running for a very long time (in in-game terms), how do you allow characters to continue to improve their available technologies through research without research eventually becoming pointless?

Not only do I see that as an interesting question for LT in single-player mode, it also affects Zero Player Mode -- assuming the goal remains that executive NPCs ought to be able to do as many of the things that a human player character can do as possible. If exec NPCs can do research in the regular game, I assume they'll also/still be able to do it in ZPM... so how long can you run LT in ZPM until research advances become so trivial as to be meaningless?

(Note that designing research so that some breakthroughs randomly yield numeric "advances" that are actually worse than what a character currently has doesn't help here. No rational actor would switch to a tech that's worse than what they currently have, so all this would do would be to slow down the insertion of new technologies. It does nothing about the problem of eventually running out of numerically meaningful tech advances, it just delays the inevitable reaching of that state.)

The alternative to making research advances a numeric change is to define them as new combinations of functional effects. ("Blaster" plus "anti-gravity" equals "gravitic shredder," for example.) But even that must eventually reach an end as all combinations are generated.

If it were up to me, I think I might say that research progress is actually switched off completely in ZPM (as a full simulation mode).

But maybe someone else can square this circle. It's possible that I'm just not being imaginative enough, that I'm just wrong to see a fundamental incompatibility between simulations and games where technological progress is concerned, that there's a way to implement progress that remains meaningful no matter how long a game universe runs.

I know there've been threads about this; I've contributed to them. But to my knowledge they've never generated anything like a consensus agreement on how research progress can be implemented in a way that delivers a consistent amount of fun regardless of how long someone plays LT, or how long it runs on its own in Zero Player Mode.

(Note: I don't see this, and am not talking about it, as a "problem" to be "solved." The incompatibility of research progress with world-simulation isn't a defect in either playing a game or running a simulation -- it's just an effect that arises when a game designer decides to make a game that includes both progress and ongoing simulationist features. The question is not how to "fix" that -- because nothing is broken -- but rather which of those incompatible elements to emphasize under particular conditions or player preferences.)



Summing up: I like the idea of ZPM, and I think it's not only workable, it's probably already working. The only things I wonder about are being able to see the results of ZPM, and how technology advancement through research should be handled in ZPM.
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 3:31 pm

I'd still say we use a self-similar power and cost curve system, that the relative advances and costs stay constant for the whole number space.

So an increase by relative 10% power takes 10 "average" research module x time units, and a 20% increase takes 40 rmxt .

For any point in time.

In early history a research unit produces 1 per time unit and needs 10 for the 10% increase, in later history it produces 10 units but needs 100 for the 10% increase.

Self similarity throughout all of history, regardless of when or where the player is, research progresses at about the same rate
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Flatfingers » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:08 pm

Cornflakes_91 wrote:I'd still say we use a self-similar power and cost curve system, that the relative advances and costs stay constant for the whole number space.

So an increase by relative 10% power takes 10 "average" research module x time units, and a 20% increase takes 40 rmxt .

For any point in time.

In early history a research unit produces 1 per time unit and needs 10 for the 10% increase, in later history it produces 10 units but needs 100 for the 10% increase.

Self similarity throughout all of history, regardless of when or where the player is, research progresses at about the same rate

I understand. You're suggesting controlling the rate of increase of tech power through cost, rather than through the power numbers themselves.

But that only shifts the effect; it doesn't change the effect: eventually increases in tech become too expensive to obtain, and progress effectively stops even though the universe keeps going. At that point, research starts to become irrelevant to the game -- power is dictated only by producing more stuff than the other guy.

(To be fair, that state is what you'd get immediately without implementing research for tech progress as a game world feature. Research just slows down the "power through sheer numbers" effect by providing an alternative way to be "better" than other factions.)

I feel bad talking about this, as I usually prefer to try to come up with constructive ideas. But so far I'm just not seeing a way around research becoming irrelevant in Zero Player Mode even faster than in Single Player Mode. Is that an effect that anybody but me cares about?
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Re: Zero Player Mode

Postby Cornflakes_91 » Fri Oct 09, 2015 4:23 pm

I care, else i wouldnt think about it :P

And no, i dont think that it would halt at some point, because i assume that everything scales, research module capacity, resource extraction, production, building materials needed, etc

So that the time to archieve a given goal always takes roughly the same time.

The 10 or 100 research point costs are timewise the same effort with an equally upgraded research module, and upgraded factory used to build that research module, and the time needed to gather the resources needed to build all those things.

there is some modulation on what is "better" over time, but the overall balance of things stays the same.
Things shift up or down, but on average all moves back to the designed balance point.
Some better ore extraction comes along, but the next gen of ships needs more ore, so the time-to-ship returns to its initial value.
Some better research modules get designed, but next gen research takes more points, so research time returns to normal.
Etc


Time needed to collect the ore needed to build a ship stays constant, production time stays constant, the time needed for an average gun to destroy the ship stays constant.
With variations local in time.
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