Monthly Archives: June 2008

A Conversation with a Work of Art

Simulating true conversations in a computer game is tough stuff. We’re still some way away from effectively applying computational linguistics to game playing in a way that allows a wide range of natural language input, and I’m not even sure that’s an entirely desirable goal given the enormous complexity that this would introduce into game design. So for now the general approach is to restrict the range and format of player input using a system that is easily interpreted and applied, such as a “click to talk” or multiple choice dialogue tree system.

The question, however, is this: when you play a game that implements conversation, do you feel that playing through the conversation contributes in any way to gameplay? Or does the conversation feel [More...] Read the rest

Posted in adventure games, characters in games, interactive fiction | Leave a comment

Conversations with NPCs

As Corvus Elrod likes to say, compelling stories arise primarily from the relationships between characters. Although these relationships can be generated or expressed in different ways, I think it’s fair to say that conversation is probably the most obvious and frequently used method in games. Yet it’s interesting to note that conversation systems in games are fairly rudimentary and, in many cases, pretty unsatisfying.

There are many reasons for that, of course; human conversation can be horrifically complicated to deconstruct, and dynamically generating realistic and meaningful conversation with computer-controlled characters is still years away, especially when you factor audio into the equation. As a result, most conversation systems in games are simplistic representations that often follow tight scripts and leave little room for exploration, which [More...] Read the rest

Posted in characters in games, interactive fiction, text in games | 4 Responses

Super Cthulhu Crunch Time

I’ve been away from the blog for a little bit now, as I’ve been in super crunch mode at work lately. I’ve been away at meetings all week, and I have a huge grant due tomorrow evening…which means I’m looking at an all nighter on this last night before submission. It got me thinking about what to best name this crunch time, when I came across this little gem on the net called “Cereal Killers”, a blog with spoof cereal box artwork. Some great stuff there, including “Hellfire Blazin’ Bran”, “Sugar Frosted Skulls”, “Shredded Feet (with Frosted Toes)”, “Rice Kreepies”, and of course, the aforementioned “Cthulhu Crunch”.

(Honorable mention to “Tinkles” [Who peed in your cereal this morning? [More...] Read the rest

Posted in miscellaneous | 1 Response

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

I Wanna Hold Your Hand: This month’s Blogs of the Round Table invites you to explore a relationship within a game that you found compelling or memorable.

As Corvus has admirably asserted numerous times, “it’s not the characters themselves that make for compelling stories, but character relationships.” I still contend that compelling stories owe at least part of their success to interesting and deep characters themselves, although admittedly I lack the skills to make a coherent argument to this effect. Nevertheless, I do agree that character relationships are the core of any good story, and it’s a great topic to focus on for the Round Table since so few games have really embraced this concept.

Relationships certainly do exist in games, but they exist in [More...] Read the rest

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Responses