Another Game Mode

Disclaimer: unlike many here, I am merely a novice in game design, and have only a negligible understanding of the challenges that will be encountered when attempting to realize game design within a game engine. The following will doubtless betray my ignorance, but, being conscious of this, I welcome even so-called soul crushing criticisms as learning opportunities (I find discussions concerning design peculiarly energizing, and I am motivated to improve upon my understanding of design principles).
I acknowledge and respect Gavan's need to exercise restraint, and that this suggestion may (if worthy) be best implemented as a mod.


In pursuit of brevity, here is my preamble:
Roguelike play is hard-- too hard for some! **raising a shamefaced hand**
Casual mode alleviates this problem, but considerable resistance remains to experiencing the full benefit of an open, breathing and malleable world.
Sandbox removes resistance, but behaves more as a dev or 3D art tool rather than being a game in itself.

The ideal game mode for me would feature the power and immortality of sandbox coupled with the AI-driven nature of roguelike or casual.
I would like a god mode.

Player powers are described by the following rules:
- The player is an invisible and invincible influence.
- Action types are subdivided into four: Giving, Taking, Secrets, and Knowing (this last being information gathering, whereas the former three are proper miracles).
- Giving (additive/benevolent intervention) and Taking (subtractive/destructive intervention) actions are enacted within the vicinity of or directly upon game characters.
- Secrets are the least limited actions, but must be done stealthily, ie. outside of game characters' sensing radii eg. fashioning a massive underground city, Minecraft-style.

- Knowing actions empower the player with knowledge:
-> Poll a game object or character for full knowledge of attributes, relationships, motivations, etc. (certain types of information could be hyperlinked to further ease navigation of the game world)
-> This second action is admittedly a daring suggestion: calculate the future of a given character. This power would necessarily have limitations: in order to ensure the accuracy of the prediction (whether of death or significant goal achievement), the player must be voluntarily bound to the character's vicinity and abstain from intervention in the game world.

Of course, it is possible and even likely that a player using the 'Second Sight' will want to interrupt the determinism leading to this future (or else be unconcerned with maintaining it), and so taking this action should by no means 'lock you in'; therefore it should be trivial to 'unbind' and a widget could indicate the game's detection of a possible swerve from the calculated deterministic stream.


- Giving and Taking would be limited, with all but the smallest actions requiring Fuel.
- Fuel gained from accumulating Score.
- Score accrued based on a detection algorithm measuring the 'ripples' player actions cause.. abstraction & scope-capping probably necessary for performance.
- Score from the AI's discovery of Secrets and from Fuel-required actions generates a fast-decaying (decay rate modified by Score:Fuel efficiency?) Fuel so as to cap the snowball effect (while still allowing catastrophic rampages).

Additional features even less thoroughly (read: hardly at all) considered:
- Player advancement through unlocking of more powerful actions.
- Retain the role-playing element by choosing a 'deity identity', be constrained by this choice.
- Other gods (multiplayer or AI)
- AI behaviour plausibly respects the existence and action of god(s)

I should probably admit to the fact that I ran most of this by @Flatfingers first and found courage in his positive response.

Comments

  • I like it!

    You could even design a campaign or story element, where you (as a god) get given objectives like "manipulate the situation in this village to achieve a desired outcome", "perform miracles to attract x number of worshipers" or even something like "convince the village to sacrifice a virgin to you".
  • edited October 2014
    Bravo!!! I really like this - I'm going to give it a little more thought before I post up a full reply, though. There are one or two things in there that irk me - first and foremost being the "calculate the future" thing.
  • edited October 2014

    I like it!

    You could even design a campaign or story element, where you (as a god) get given objectives like "manipulate the situation in this village to achieve a desired outcome", "perform miracles to attract x number of worshipers" or even something like "convince the village to sacrifice a virgin to you".

    Ooo, excellent! Yes, I had clearly forgotten to consider the quest/objectives void.
    Talvieno said:

    Bravo!!! I really like this - I'm going to give it a little more thought before I post up a full reply, though. There are one or two things in there that irk me - first and foremost being the "calculate the future" thing.

    :(
    I'm sorry you're irked. The whole god game thing is pretty much an excuse I made up to try to justify a precognition mechanic, but I suppose I'm still struggling to fit this pet notion of mine properly into a design. >.>
  • The big thing about the precognition mechanic is that it would be almost impossible to do correctly unless you simulated everything EXACTLY as you would otherwise... And even without random variables, this would really, really kill your computer. Josh ran up against the same problem when he was trying to get his market stuff figured out - and he couldn't manage to figure out a way around it. Economic theorists still can't - and we're talking about a problem where economy is only a small portion of the whole.
  • Oh. So your objection is based on hardware limitations.
    Yeah, I was kindof banking on the hope that, if you set aside the human element (this mechanic would obviously not be viable in a multiplayer scenario), the computer could crunch through everything even at the required full fidelity (minus graphics of course) within a time frame that would not annoy the player.

    Anyway, I meant what I said about craving criticism! Fire when ready. :D
  • edited October 2014
    image

    This is an excellent idea. No, really - it is. I love it.

    I would change it just a bit, though.

    Help/Harm/Comprehend/Create/Destroy/Direct

    Help: It helps an NPC in some way, as you described above. It seems more immediately recognizable than "Giving".
    Harm: It harms an NPC in some way.
    Comprehend: My version of "know"... just because HHCCDD. :P
    Create: You create something powerful in the world - an artifact, or hidden city, or tome of knowledge, or shrine, etc.
    Destroy: You are a terrible force of destruction in the world - typhoon, earthquake, meteor strike, etc.
    Direct: You become visible for a time - you are Zeus or Ares in human form. Mortals worship you or spit at your feet (depending on what kind of a god you are). In this form you can give NPCs quests or personally aid them in some very concrete, well-defined manner, with much more control than "Help"... but it would come at a price - you are vulnerable.



    Also... I don't like "fuel"... It doesn't make sense... How about "divinity". It takes divinity to be able to create a whirlwind, and when you run out of divinity... you are a mere mortal.


    The "ripple actions" can't be measured, as I said before... however, divinity could be gained through worship, perhaps... Do you make your people worship you out of fear, or out of awe? Perhaps both, but in different towns? Which populations would be better suited to which? etc.


    As an additional element: Another meter/quantity measure which rewards doing things from the shadows, rather than visibly meddling in the lives of your people. I would call it "respect". If your people respect you, it would be far harder for you to lose their worship, and they would worship you more strongly... at the same time, keeping your respect high requires you to not mingle with your people... not to destroy within their sight or to create. Not sure how it would play out, but it sounds interesting - to me, anyway.



    I LOVE the other AI gods. I almost suggested it myself before I knew you mentioned it.
  • edited October 2014
    Aww, boo.
    I really wanted the option to tag with both Awesome and LOL (for the extremely fitting image), but apparently there can be only one.

    HHCCDD looks good to me! :)

    Yes, I left it as only vaguely implied, but 'Fuel' was a placeholder and certainly not very interesting.
    Your Divinity and the possibility of spurning immortality through reckless use of power is conversely an intriguing notion!
    That threat element may just be the zest that would put the game into this game mode.

    I still would like a second opinion on whether or not an abstracted approximation of 'ripples' might be doable,
    but I'll concede that I need not die on that ridge. ;)

    I am all for the Respect thing: rewarding the player for choosing his shots carefully (and making Game of Shadows play a valid choice) --while taking care not to cripple the alternative bust-in-there-and-mess'em-all-up approach-- seems like a great idea to me.


    But the real reason I'm up in the wee hours of the morning is that I was struck with what might be the beginnings of a solution for the precognition mechanic. Now this is still a long shot, even the optimist in me can see that, but please hear me out:

    I recall an aphorism that says "Don't judge a man until you've walked two moons in his moccasins".
    This served to spark the notion that maybe a spirit walk action could be the way to present the player with precognition.
    Of course, if it's done wrong, a spirit walk would annoy the player just as much or more than an extended loading bar.
    But, I have hope that there may be a way to do it right, and that maybe we could discover this right way.

    To explain:
    Step 1: The player initiates the spirit walk. This will trigger a save point. Now I'm hoping here that the save/load process is well optimized.
    Step 2: Now bound to the target character, the player's UI changes to reflect this bond, displaying the current needs and all that.
    Step 3: Probably some gratuitous graphical rendering to indicate that it is a spirit walk. Smoke & mirrors, yes, but I like that stuff.
    Step 4: ??? This would be the thing that doesn't insult the player's intelligence but engages him (or her) throughout the walk. Note that this is not a possession: the character does not lose control in any degree. This Step is the crux, I believe.
    Step 5: In any degree except in that that the player also controls the passage of time ie. End Turn button.
    Step 6: Here's where precog comes in (sneaky-like), but actually it started away back at Step 1. For every End Turn, additional turns are also simulated, and in fact it also quietly does so during the 'tween-turn lulls that it is Step 4's responsibility to induce.
    [Aside]
    The character is simultaneously living both present and future, or, from a different and probably more lucid perspective: the player observes the character's 'past' while it is living its 'present', the player's possible future-- now I'm depending again here on this trick not frying the hardware or whatever)
    [/Aside]
    Step 7: The efforts of Step 6 pay off with a prediction milestone (there can be multiple, with Death being the concluding milestone).
    Step 8: The player continues the walk or pops out (this can be done at any time), or zips back to the save point from Step 1 (I hope you see the very juicy possibility that this option exposes!).
    Edit: I should have mentioned that the zips back option would allow keeping the goods (any accumulated milestones).
    Step 9: Profit! :D

    Milestones would require a widget showing the type of milestone, perhaps a few details of the predicted situation, a location and a temporal marker.
    A sort of flag could also be plopped into the map or rather the specific voxel in question, or something like that.
  • I am all for the Respect thing: rewarding the player for choosing his shots carefully (and making Game of Shadows play a valid choice) --while taking care not to cripple the alternative bust-in-there-and-mess'em-all-up approach-- seems like a great idea to me.

    No, not at all! Respect (needs a better name) wouldn't cripple it by any means. Rather, it just rewards you for doing things from the shadows. I feel like this mechanic really does need fleshed out more, though.

    Another potentially interesting addition I thought of: Perhaps there could be rituals for NPCs to perform, too. For instance:
    1. An NPC desperately wants your help, so he performs a ritual to summon you so you can help them out.
    and
    2. You're a horrible, mean god, and the people fear you. A group of haters perform a ritual to summon you and weaken you so you can be killed.

    Other rituals (based on the amount of respect/fear people have for you and your reputation) might include things like showing you a portion of the map, raising your divinity, requesting you to kill a certain person, asking you to protect certain people, etc. Things like quests... but also like prayers.

    RE: Spirit Walk
    Um... I'll be honest... I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here... I see the prediction stuff, and that worries me, but if it's only a few turns ahead, it might not be so bad. Predicting your own character's moves isn't something you can really do... you would have to fully understand the player's personality to do that with any degree of accuracy.

  • edited October 2014
    Er.. with the rituals and reputation and such I'm worried you're leaning a little bit much into this threat thing.
    Playing as a deity, I don't think I would want to feel that I'm being led by the nose by the world's populous.
    I do like the idea, though, of the AI having thoughts about the player and other gods that make sense and affect behaviour.
    Talvieno said:

    RE: Spirit Walk
    Um... I'll be honest... I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here... I see the prediction stuff, and that worries me, but if it's only a few turns ahead, it might not be so bad. Predicting your own character's moves isn't something you can really do... you would have to fully understand the player's personality to do that with any degree of accuracy.

    Well that's my bad for failing to clearly define my terms.
    Whenever I say 'character', including the one to which the player is bound, I mean completely AI-driven character.

    This might sound like it flies in the face of my above "don't lead me by the nose" sentiment, but that is pretty much what is happening with spirit walk: the AI has a firm lead in shaping reality in the world, while the player's ability to change anything at all is temporarily suspended.
    The whole point of the exercise is reconnaissance into a possible future following the credo "Observe, don't Disturb!"
    What I think makes the magic trick possible is removing all of the human element that you can, and 'effectively removing' what you cannot: my assumption here about the simulation is that there is an unavoidable human element --that is, the location of the player within the game world-- which affects determinism by dictating what is the LOD focal point of the simulation (detail of simulation is tied to proximity to the player).
    You could just make this focal point static, but I think mobile is more interesting. Binding this mobility to an AI-driven character removes any need for the simulation to attempt to anticipate it.

    As for "only a few turns ahead", you'll understand now that that is not at all what I mean. Step 4 is the distraction buying time for the 'vanguard simulation' to get as far as possible and as fast as possible ahead of the simulation's rearguard (what the player is seeing the character do).
    [Aside]
    I believe Step 4 needs to be:
    - computationally lightweight
    - a darn good distraction which the player can genuinely enjoy
    - barred (for the duration of the walk at least) from affecting any change upon the game world
    - sensibly connected to the context of spirit world recon
    - a means of meaningful progression for the player
    [/Aside]

    Another thing that just clicked in my head today: I've been talking like the player would only be reaping milestones explicitly connected to the target character, but now I'm pretty sure that it would be foolish to stop there. You could get all of the milestones pertaining to all of the characters in the simulation. You would definitely need filtering power over that data though!

    Edit:
    I think it is about time I step back and cast a critical eye over this spirit walk feature:

    Suppose, for the sake of argument, that all the technical hurdles are hurdled, the magic trick worked, and here I am, the player, surveying with the help of a well designed UI the results of a spirit walk after zipping back to the Step 1 save.

    These results are a definitive answer to the question:

    "If I the player auto-follow character so and so, and perpetrate no intervention, until character so and so meets death, what notable events will have happened in that time?"
    (The precise definition of 'notable' here may vary. Certainly births, marriages, and deaths at the very least.)

    OK...
    Is the answer to that question interesting to me as a player?
    Is it useful?
    If so:
    Why is it useful? And what are the limits (or, what is the extent) of its usefulness?
    What questions am I not asking that I should be asking?

    hmmm...
  • Okay, so let me get this straight.

    1. The game plays through and lets you watch in hyperaccelerated time as it predicts everything that is going to happen for an arbitrary time period - say, a week. This is a spirit walk.
    2. The game reverts to how it was before this, and you play in normal mode, using HCD2 to make as many changes on the world as possible, while expending the least amount of effort.
    3. The day ends, and scores how well you did based on how different the game world is from the spirit walk world.

    That makes sense. I like that. This is good. Let's go with this. This completely overcomes a decent number of technical hurdles because the player gets to watch as it predicts everything. It still might take a while for a week to pass, even hyperaccelerated, but hey - at least you have something to do while you wait.

    Differences could include...
    - completed/failed quests
    - deaths
    - romances

    The score might also be affected by how much you've done to change things - i.e. making a ton of changes would net less points as say, killing a butterfly that eventually brought the downfall of an entire city (a la Boatmurdered).
  • it would be interesting if you could interact with the world during a spirit walk. Not change things, but like, ask NPCs questions, which their "spirit" answers without affecting how things work. So, say your spirit walk reveals that someone will assassinate the king, you could find the assassin and ask them why they are doing it, who hired them, etc. The point of this would be to let you find out things about the world which are not plainly visible, to further allow you to find the perfect changes to make.
  • @Talvieno
    1. Yep, that's it. Well, almost. Except that you aren't watching the accelerated thing, but are presented with what is (from the perspective of the simulation) effectively the past. Also, the arbitrary bounds would be either a max memory thing or the death of the character.

    2. Yes, I reckon this would be by far more beneficial to a 'from the shadows' play style than the other.
    There would also be a pop out option ie. accept the currently shown past as the new present (all this temporal goofiness is getting a little dizzying, I think) and continue from here with HCD2.
    Also, a third option: continue walking (although no additional simulation heavy work would be done) and perhaps if you do really well with the spirit world stuff then you get a proper resurrection at the end for the character. Resurrections in games tend to be too easy, I think.

    3. It didn't even occur to me that this would provide a way to do a real 'ripples' score measurement! That's brilliant! :D

    Triple score for working in a very appropriate Boatmurdered reference. :P

    @Mystify
    I like it. I like it alot. :)
    Yeah, I also forgot to mention above that spirit walk would not restrict information gathering.
    But the idea of spirit walk exposing additional information fits in perfectly.
  • :\ Effectively the past? Okay, I'm confused again... going ahead in time is one thing, but "predicting" the past is another thing entirely... It would have to store the coordinates and actions of absolutely everything in the game... Then you're running up against a memory/hard drive issue rather than a CPU issue.



  • edited October 2014
    Sorry, I'm just muddying the water with this temporal relativity jargon.

    What I mean is that there are two distinct yet related game states that are simultaneously loaded and being operated on. There is the slow moving one that the player sees through the spirit world lens, and then there is the fast-as-possible one behind the curtain gathering all of your "from the future" intel. The slow moving one has to be "real" too though, I think, to allow the pop out option. Does it not?

    And this is the thing that worries me about my little magic trick: I don't really know what you can or can't do as far as juggling multiple simulation instances (All I have to work from is a very fuzzy inkling based on Josh's spiels). I mean, it sounds like a tall order to me. The two states are definitely related, so there could be (Josh would say there has to be) some elegance to exploit... **shrug**

    Edit: so basically, yeah, what you said. Getting the prediction stuff is easy enough, but pulling off the trick of maintaining a full here and now at the same time is the scary hairy leap.
  • A couple of quick notes (no, seriously, quick -- stop laughing! :)):

    1. The set of core action types seems reasonable, but its similarity to some systems of magic I've seen in the past makes me think one more type might be appropriate: Transformation.

    Creation and Destruction are important modes of action. But they emphasize bringing things into existence or taking them out of existence -- it's also fun to be able to alter the form of existing things so that they have different functional characteristics.

    2. I was floored by Baile's idea of precognition as an active feature of a computer game. Certainly there are some serious implementation challenges to overcome, in particular the combinatorial explosion as time from the present increases... but I also think that, with the right design and implementation, this is a thing that today's PCs are capable of doing.

    In fact, this idea excites me precisely because it's something that only computers can do. You can read ahead in a book or skip ahead in a movie or song... but only an expressive form rendered by a computer can let you change to a different future from a set of alternative possibilities. That's a kind of entertainment moment that you could only get through a computer game. It's something someone needs to do to make it clear that computer games can be a form of entertainment that can do things that passive forms like books and TV/movies can't. That's not just technically cool; it's important for computer games as an industry to distinguish themselves as their own art forms -- not just interactive movies.

    OK, that high-level stuff said, a practical point: suppose your character owns a device that can show him the most likely occurrence in the next five minutes. That's obviously an extraordinary ability. In a game, you'd need something to balance that capability so that every action you take isn't guaranteed to maximize all outcomes in your favor.

    One option would be that this power is limited so that you can only use it every so often. I don't like that option. It's basically a cooldown timer. I don't like cooldown timers. Those are functional, but they're sort of lazy design -- there are more interesting ways of defining player power so that it remains neither too hard nor too boring. (I also don't care for buffs, the crack cocaine of games. Don't get me started on that.)

    Another option would be to play up the imprecision of precognition. Maybe you see multiple futures, and there are usually enough of them that you need to intuit which is most likely. Or maybe you can see multiple futures, but some of them are just flat-out untrue, and part of the gameplay is you figuring out (given some clues) which futures are believable so that you can make effective choices with them.

    Yet another option would be to assign the precognitive power to an NPC, who -- as a person -- has to be asked, persuaded, to use it. That persuasion then becomes an important gameplay system, and would be a good way to highlight the AI of a game that had really good NPC AI.

    But the option I like best would be to enable consequences for using the precognitive power. Rather than dictating the use of the precognitive power to the player by limiting access to some consumable resource, consequences leave the decision to the player. Think about how Frodo's use of the One Ring made him visible to the Nazgul -- the choice was always his, but every choice had consequence. That's not only a deep story element, it's beautiful game design.

    Finally, imagine the precognitive power being invested in something external to your character. It's great; you can see what's coming and maximize outcomes... right up to the point when the Big Bad realizes how you've been evading his traps, and manages to steal the external predictor away from you. Now not only is this super-valuable gameplay asset no longer available to you, the Big Bad can use it just like you did, only more so. What will you do about that? Also, what if that power is invested in a person (NPC)? That's not just good for an exciting change in gameplay, it's a classic story element (if your game has a linear story).

    OK, stopping now. :) But the potential of seeing a little bit into some likely futures really does seem to be like a brilliant idea that only a computer game could deliver. Somebody needs to make that happen.
  • edited October 2014
    Yay!
    It really was silly of me to do all that fretting about implementation technicals (and me not even a programmer!) when I should have been frolicking in amongst the exciting design possibilities.

    I was personally thinking of the second option, imprecision. Knowing precisely a future in which you do nothing is neat, sure (especially since AI activity ensures that said future is anything but bland), but you'll need to apply your knowledge of game systems to plan out and reckon in your own activity. Gavan's aversion to the use of dice rolls actually makes this much more powerful, does it not?

    The idea of rounding up a number of predictions to scrutinize and weigh up, much like a Sid Meier's Civ player surveying his map and the political situation before launching an invasion or a settler, especially appeals to me.

    I was also excited about analyzing multiple different predictions from the same starting situation just purely for science. Wouldn't it be absolutely fascinating to see exactly how things changed (and with the computer doing all the fact-finding legwork for you), simply because you moved the focal point of the simulation in this direction instead of that direction?

    Edit:
    P.S. I actually did have transformation in mind to be rolled in to Giving and Taking. I envisioned two general types of transformation: one added [something] to and the other subtracted [something] from the target. Oversimplification?
  • To the last point, I wouldn't call that oversimplification so much as not quite getting to the heart of transformation as a distinctive concept.

    Consider the fairytale trope of turning a prince into a frog. You could think of that as destroying man-ness and adding frog-ness... but that misses what's interesting about this transformation, which is that he's still a prince -- he's the same essential thing, just in a different form and with different capabilities. (I can't believe I'm using this as an example, but this is also true of The Transformers. The form and functions change, but the essence remains.)

    I think that's a usefully different kind of world-alteration power than the destruction of a thing, or the creation of a new kind of thing. Whether it adds enough to be included along with creation/Give and destruction/Take is, of course, up to the designer to decide.
  • edited October 2014

    he's still a prince [...] The form and functions change, but the essence remains.

    Could one say that the additive/subtractive operations are performed as a suppression of identity, a removable layer superimposed over the target?

    Edit: You mention the frog prince and Transformers, but I can't help thinking of The Emperor's New Groove: Kuzco the llama-egotist and Yzma the indignant yet adorable evil kitten.

  • he's still a prince [...] The form and functions change, but the essence remains.

    Could one say that the additive/subtractive operations are performed as a suppression of identity, a removable layer superimposed over the target?
    One could, if one were determined to see all things as nails because one happens to have a really satisfying hammer. ;)

    Seriously, sure, you could certainly do that. You might even develop a plausible-sounding reason for just using creation/Giving and Destruction/Taking to explain all modes of change to all things. (Where Secrets and Knowing are other processes.)

    The question is whether that's the most satisfactory internal structure for the overall thing you're trying to design. If explaining everything in terms of addition and subtraction feels right for the end result you want, then that's definitely how you should go. If it doesn't feel right to you, it's unlikely to feel right to any consumer.

    I myself might go with something like:

    Destruction -- removing a thing from the world (power, action)
    Transformation -- changing one thing to another without altering its essence (security, process)
    Creation -- bringing a new thing into the world (knowledge, craft)
    Enhancement -- nurturing a thing into the fullest expression of its true self (inspiration, art)

    To my mind, those four forms of exerting one's will over some part of the world neatly cover the most fundamental things we do and why we do them. For me, they have a very strong resonance with the basic motivations of people. That means that when they're translated into an expressive system -- magic, for example -- they feel right; nothing is useless, and nothing is left out.

    But that's absolutely not the only system that can feel good. A Giving/Taking system can be made to work. You just might have to push a little harder to explain actions that turn one thing into another without creating or destroying it. ;)

    Edit: You mention the frog prince and Transformers, but I can't help thinking of The Emperor's New Groove: Kuzco the llama-egotist and Yzma the indignant yet adorable evil kitten.

    I enjoyed Brock Samson's character in that.
  • edited October 2014
    OK, consider the really satisfying hammer dropped.
    Now I take the bait: would you elaborate on Enhancement? :)

    Also, how about making spirit walk play as a rogue-like? The spirit plane has its own native hazards: misstep and you're out.
    Not dead, but your precognition was both incomplete and confused (mixed in misinformation).
    Heh. No, I'm not seeing much other than frustrations in that. Or would it be welcome tension and challenge?

    And what about the consequences route? I'm wondering what sort of consequence might give a god pause.
  • The spirit walk is an intersting mechanic, but you don't want it to get bogged down and overly complex.
  • Enhancement is sort of the fourth leg of the Chair of Worldy Action. In addition to adding, removing, and changing things, people can grow things (especially themselves or other people) -- make them more of what they are. (This can also be subverted into Diminishment, although that starts to edge into Destruction activity.)

    Again, though, what I'm describing here is what I find useful. I think it does get to something pretty basic about human motivations, which means that mechanics effectively keyed to them should feel familiar to players. But it's a system; there can be other systems. The important thing is not finding a general and perfect system, but designing a particular system that works best for the overall vision of the game you're trying to make.

    That requires being able to look at the components of a system not just as the things they obviously are or do -- this is a hammer, I use it to hit things -- but metaphorically, as expressions of deeply felt human needs and wants. A hammer, to continue that simple example, may be a symbol of crafting, or of repression. So if the overall vision for your game is to explore how people behave when they are forced to comply with heavy-handed rules, maybe the creation of a system that needs hammers lets you support that vision symbolically. Players can just use a hammer as a simple play mechanic without engaging with the subtext, but it's there for players who want it.

    This is why I see Enhancement as a useful metaphorical mode. Players can make things, and break things, and change things, and those are frequently useful in games... but if your game has character progression, and particularly if it includes a story of personal growth, looking for gameplay systems as ways to subtly emphasize that Enhancement behaviors are important can be very effective. That way the overt story is supported by gameplay actions that the player takes (and probably takes pretty frequently) -- all the pieces of the game work together.

    This is somewhat hard to talk about, but I hope that made some sense.

    On a "spirit walk" mechanic, that might not be a bad idea. Usually when you have some very cool specific play mechanic, you want to find several ways to apply that mechanic. You can take it away temporarily, or modify its effects. The way that Valve handled the gravity gun in Half-Life 2 was a great example of using both of those ways of ringing changes on a neat mechanic. That keeps it from getting boring during a longer game.

    A spirit walk or other mode that alters how the precognitive ability works could be a reasonable kind of temporary modifier to it.
  • I'd love a spirit walk mode, together with the ability to "inhabit" an NPC and take over their lives. On death you go back to spirit mode and can take over another one. I recall I read something like that in some awesome blog post.
  • Speaking of "games that need to be made." ;)

    IMO, of course. This kind of thing wouldn't be for everyone, but I think those who do like being part of -- and not necessarily The Hero of -- a highly dynamic world would really get into a game where characters have distinctive abilities, and you can enjoy using those abilities by inhabiting any character... and their friends and family know when that's happened and can respond plausibly to it.

    I love that last bit.

    Anyway, back to Baile's God Game!
  • edited October 2014

    This kind of thing wouldn't be for everyone, but I think those who do like being part of -- and not necessarily The Hero of -- a highly dynamic world would really get into a game where characters have distinctive abilities, and you can enjoy using those abilities by inhabiting any character... and their friends and family know when that's happened and can respond plausibly to it.



    An amusing (or horrifying) feature of DF adventure mode is that the player character, while procedurally generated at the start of every game, has real relationships with the people of his hometown, as well as a history there. They have personalities, hopes, dreams, fears, likes and dislikes already built in because they're generated using the same algorithms as any other person in the game.

    Of course, you as the player never see that... You're essentially a god that's forcibly taken over the character's actions, and while they might be helpless, they're still fully aware of what's going on, and will even shed tears as you force them to murder their loved ones. If you do enough you can even drive them to insanity, but they are unable to speak, move, scream, or even plead for you to stop - all they can do is cry.
  • **shudder**
    I used to wonder why I felt dirty after playing adventure mode.
    I would like it if Toady exposed the character's bio as optional reading, and you could try to be a nice Armok.
    Some people enjoy coddling or otherwise cherishing their dwarves.
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