Town Simulation

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by AlexWeldon, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. AlexWeldon

    AlexWeldon New Member

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    This was brought up earlier, so I guess I should address it now.

    The idea of this generator is not that it's used on its own, to produce game content. It's supposed to be used as a backdrop.

    Think of a typical RPG town. You've got a few important NPCs with whom you have human-written conversations and who give you pre-scripted quests... you've got a few shopkeepers... and then everyone else in the town just wanders around aimlessly and says something like "More goblins around these days, aren't there?" when you attempt to talk to them.

    What I'm talking about is something that could replace the latter group with a randomly generated community that actually has a little bit of personality, real tasks to do, and some real user interaction. Nothing that's necessary to advance the game, but something that would give each town its own flavour and add some replay value to the game by letting the player make his own mini-quests by involving himself in the local goings-on in between the real, pre-scripted quests.

    From that point of view, the crappy, computer-generated dialogue is an asset, rather than a weakness... because it's not replacing the human-written dialogue of the major NPCs... it's replacing "More goblins about these days, aren't there?" "Looks like rain." "I don't know your face. You must be new around here." "More goblins about these days, aren't there?" etc.

    -----

    This kind of rich background is something I'm interested in more generally. I was also, at one point, thinking of writing a sourcebook for pencil-and-paper roleplaying games detailing a bunch of harmless but interesting plants and animals, as kind of a counterpoint to the endless "Monster Manual" type books. In most games, if the GM mentions something, it's either something potentially valuable, or something potentially fatal... adding in some benign encounters would shift the focus back onto exploration and roleplaying and away from dice-rolling and endless combat... Of course, it would also make the occasional were-rat, or man-eating tree that much more surprising, because it isn't the first small animal/inanimate plant that you've described to the players, and the last five or six actually were harmless.
     
    #21 AlexWeldon, Jun 5, 2008
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2008
  2. jefferytitan

    Original Member

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    I would agree that there are obvious limitations to the approach. I don't see it as making creativity out of nowhere. I view it more as transforming one type of creativity into another. Most programmers don't have what it takes to be an artist. But if they set up an initial scenario and good rules they may be able to produce something which is perfectly good space-filler (i.e. better than if the programmer designed a space-filler town themselves), or produce something which can be manually tweaked into something nice. Perhaps you wouldn't want it to run in an automated way at all, but rather as an interactive process. You watch it evolve, and if you don't like the direction it's going you can wind it back part way and manually tweak it a bit before running it again.

    I'm not so big into the textual descriptions myself. I think it would be interesting from the angle of making a town where things HAPPEN, rather than people just walking to work and back again. You could get embroiled in a feud between NPC families, watch them build a new barn, or similar. It would also mean that you couldn't treat a town as furniture any more. A town may be perfectly safe today, but if you see brewing anti-elf sentiment maybe you shouldn't come back this way. Of course choosing a level of granularity that you can actually simulate well is important.
     
  3. ChrisP

    Indie Author

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    Yes, it's fair enough to use this kind of algorithm as filler and then handcraft the interesting bits. I'm glad you see it that way.

    I bet most of Morrowind could have been randomly generated and nobody would have noticed! (And, indeed, Oblivion apparently had some degree of randomly generated content. Procedural forests for example.)
     
  4. Teeth

    Original Member

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    Hi, I've been researching generating towns (although not the social side) and posted up some details here

     

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