Category Archives: characters in games

Day Three (at the AGDC): Stern on Linear Storytelling

The last day of AGDC was an excellent day, with two talks in particular that led to a good deal of spirited, academic discussion about storytelling and a third lecture that demonstrated some very slick next-gen controllers that could have a significant impact in the future on game design and interface.

The first talk of the day was given by Andrew Stern, he of Façade fame, although he did not focus specifically on the accomplishments of that project. Instead, his talk, provocatively titled “Linearity is Hell: Achieving Truly Dynamic Stories in Games,” explored the possibility of truly dynamic storytelling in games and how a system like that might be designed. Stern did acknowledge that this was more of a theoretical talk and that he [More...] Read the rest

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Day One (at the AGDC)

It was an entertaining first day at the AGDC. It’s certainly more fun listening to talks about interactive storytelling, cinematic design, and writing characters in games than it is listening to talks about pharmaceuticals and obscure research findings.

As expected, Chris Crawford’s talk was, to a large extent, a rehash of material that I believe he has presented previously. Still, seeing it in person, particularly with his entertaining delivery, was worth it. His talk was titled “15 Conceptual Shifts: Moving From Games to Interactive Storytelling,” and it reviewed many of the points he has tried to make over the years — among other things: stories are about people, not things; the importance of interactivity; and the role of verbs as opposed to nouns. And, of [More...] Read the rest

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Conversation: They’re All Talking (About It)

I guess conversation is where it’s at these days. Recently I began a series of blogs on conversation mechanics and how interactive fiction games can perhaps show the mainstream game industry how to do better dialogue (starting here, continuing here, and most recently here). Others have also recently jumped in on the action.

Over on Gamasutra, an article written by Brent Ellison popped up not long ago to define dialog systems because, as he says, “very little literature has addressed the mechanics behind character interaction in games.”

Ellison essentially covers the basic mechanics of different dialogue systems in games, including branching and non-branching dialogue, hub-and-spokes dialogue, and even parser-driven dialogue. He does a fair enough job of summarizing the more common systems, [More...] Read the rest

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Conversation Sophistication

I used to think that the only way we will see good, satisfying conversations in games is if some developer comes up with a combination of a highly advanced parser, capable of accepting a broad range of user input, and sophisticated AI code that can dynamically respond to this input. However, a more careful examination of some recent interactive fiction games has led me to believe that most of the tools already exist, and that what’s really needed are skill and patience. Skill to write well and to construct systems that account for dynamically changing conditions, and the patience required to do so.

Last time out, I discussed the conversation system used in Emily Short’s Galatea, a game that focuses on a single conversation [More...] Read the rest

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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

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