Author Topic: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be  (Read 14381 times)

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Offline Borogove

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'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« on: January 21, 2006, 08:01:24 pm »
Well, this is an idea I've had bouncing around in my head for a long time, but this article spurred me to post about it:
http://archive.gamespy.com/gdc2004/challenge/index.shtml

It is basically a quick summary of GDC 2004's Game Design Challenge, where Raph Koster, Warren Spector, and Will Wright presented ideas for a 'love story' game.  Wright presented his idea as a game that happened within another game (he suggested something like Battlefield 1942). 

This got me thinking.

One thing WW seems to be a big proponent of is doing a lot of prototyping for games, and we've also seen that he likes to stretch the limits of a game to allow new sorts of user experiences ("Tony Hawk's Grand Theft Auto 1942" in the GDC2003 speech).
Is he making them the same thing with Spore? 
We already know that Spore consists of tools for editing most things about the world around you - as far as shapes, placement, and space anyway, but suppose it added tools for constructing new behaviors, for setting rules that would allow new behaviors to occur.  If Spore would have revolutionized gaming before...man, just think what it would do then.  For Collateral Romance, for instance, create a new planet, then plop down city A, and city B, drag some sliders for their attitudes, set them to be at war, and hit play on your simulation.  Now  add the civilian players, set objectives for them, and take control of one to play along.

I am wondering if Spore might function as a platform for rapid prototyping games and doing other experimenting with dynamics.

Way back in the younger days of the forum, Jaleho began a long discussion which went along similar lines...but I think I failed to grasp what he was suggesting at the time.  Spore as a platform for developing games...not by game developers, but by the gamers themselves(or were you?  Feel free to correct me, Jaleho.  In fact, please do.  I greatly enjoyed the last discussion).

I doubt that Spore is going to turn out to be quite the game-experimentation toy I'm talking about...but someday there will be one.  And I can't wait. (No, seriously.  I can't.  I'm actually working on my own feeble attempt at making one).

I tried to both keep it short and convey the message. 
Anyway, I would very much like to hear other people's thoughts on the matter.


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Offline Golgrig

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2006, 08:17:41 pm »
heres some of the views on spores potential along the same lines. Spore Engine 2.0 and the precursor The Potential of Spore
thebasic thing for me is that spore could allow new games to be made both quickly and easily.

great enthusiasm
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Offline 7LES

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2006, 08:18:46 pm »
that would be so awsome if you could do that like there is the evolution game in spore and a prototyping one.

Offline Eagleon

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2006, 09:04:35 pm »
I tend to try and do this with lots of games, regardless of the intentions of the developer. For instance, in Unreal I had great fun setting up little arena fights using the cheats. The ability to freeze time helped with this, and I missed it in a lot of other games. The Skaarj warriors and the giant flies were in particular a lot of fun to play around with, because they had great animations, or so I recall.
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Offline happydan20

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2006, 09:15:43 pm »
what is a game really? at its base its a graphical simulation (sometimes not even that) with a set of rules and objectives underneath.  I just think about the amazing things people have done with mods for games, to make new games...  I am very excited to see what those that know how to do such things do with spore....  perhaps it really will be a platform for game development the likes of which no mod community has ever been given.

one can dream:)
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Offline Krakow Sam

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2006, 02:44:59 am »
Has anyone else noticed that all three guys doing that contest have an identical facial hair/glasses configuration? :P
Sam is basically right, he's just cranky.

Offline Hydromancerx

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2006, 03:19:23 am »
Has anyone else noticed that all three guys doing that contest have an identical facial hair/glasses configuration? :P

OMG they are clones!! Will Wright is acually a clone!! Er.... wait or maybe they are clones of Will!!!  :o

Offline Golgrig

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2006, 03:46:47 am »
Golgrig
(hissing sharply)
Stay on topic you or I'll put the #$%^ing leeches on you.
Golgrig turns back to Krakow Sam  - smiles reassuringly.

(Golgrig's thoughts)
How long could we maintain, I wondered.  How long before one of us starts raving and jabbering in this post?  What will he think then?  This same lonely post was the last known home of spore fans.
Would he make that grim connection when Hydromancerx starts screaming about spore and huge Will wrights coming down on the post?

Golgrig posts (intermittently - sometimes in sync with his thoughts, sometimes not.)
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but as for the real topic i have said it before but i still think this game could be the unreal engine for next gen genera games

allowing fast design
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 04:36:19 am by golgrig »
"6.4 Um's per minute" or "The Speed of Wright

An adventurer in the land of who gives a ****

The idea is to mix one ingredient that will burn very fast with a second ingredient that will supply enough oxygen for that burning. This burns so fast, it's an explosion.

Offline Wahh

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2006, 04:52:37 am »
That was pretty funny Golgrig, but seriously, get help  :-\  :D  I can definitlely understand where you're coming Borogrove, and I like the idea of both gamers and game developers trying out new ideas on the Spore engine.  How many mods have players made of FPS like Doom and Quake?  Now just think about what can happen if the game itself is really modular in terms of content (ie, the engine will figure out all the mods for you, you just need to stick them in) and actually part of the game is modding in a way.  (side note, I hope you can export your creature onto your computer.  That way I can make a file with all my favorite creatures in it and share it how I will.  If everybody loves sharing creatures, how about full, balanced environments of many creatures that fit with each other.  It's like the difference between having one Magic card you like to trade or a full deck, side note over.)  The game designers themselves can also use Spore by having a peak under the hood--modifying the physics, changing the algorithims for creature movement and environment creation, learning how the software communicates with the server, etc.  It sounds just like an old car--you can make a million tweaks under the hood, each one possibly making it better.


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Offline Golgrig

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2006, 05:32:30 am »
Clap... Clap...  Clap...  Clap...  (builds to a roar)

By George you've got it

Golgrig: We interrupt this post to annoy you and make things generally irritating!

Golgrig : Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Spore forum here at Gaming Steve's. My name is Golgrig and I'm your host for tonight. You know, once in a while it is my pleasure, and my privilege, to welcome here at the Spore forum, some of the truly great international artists of our time. And tonight we have one such artist. Ladies and gentlemen, someone whom I've always personally admired, perhaps more deeply, more strongly, more abjectly than ever before. A man... well, more than a man, a god, a great god, whose personality is so totally and utterly wonderful my feeble words of welcome sound wretchedly and pathetically inadequate. Someone whose boots I would gladly lick clean until holes wore through my tongue, a man who is so totally and utterly wonderful, that I would rather be sealed in a pit of my own filth than dare tread on the same stage with him! Ladies and gentlemen... the incomparably superior human being, Will Wright!
GamingSteve : [from PM] He can't come!
Golgrig: Never mind, he's not all he's cracked up to be.

And now for something completely different!

Golgrig: where have you been?
Hydromancerx: I just spent four hours burying the cat.
Golgrig: *Four hours* to bury a cat?
Hydromancerx: Yes - it wouldn't keep still.

And now for something completly diferent... Gaming Steve!

Gaming Steve: Well last week, we showed you how to become a gaming journalist. And this week on "How to Do It" we're going to show you how to play an FPS, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here's Will Wright to tell you all how to make the world a better place through gaming.
Will: Hello, Gaming Steve.
Gaming Steve: Hello, Will.
Will: Well, first of all, become a Game Designer and create a marvelous gaming engine, and then, when the gaming world really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there'll never be any boredom ever again.
Gaming Steve: Thanks, Will, great idea. How to play an FPS.
[produces a typical FPS]
Gaming Steve: Well here we are. You blow this up and you move your character shoot enemies here and there.
Wahh: Great, great, Steve. Well, next week we'll be showing you how black and white people can live together in peace and harmony, and Steve will be over in Microsoft showing us how to reconcile Windows and Linux. So until next week, cheerio!




what possible use could a revolutionary game engine have to developers focusing on content lets here some ideas. personally i think that spore could be as much as a benefit to the Simulation/ RTS genera as the unreal engine is for FPS.

Golgrig : Ah, I'm afraid we'll have to stop the post there, as some of the ideas which followed were of a violent nature which may have proved distressing to some of our viewers. Though, not to me, I can tell you.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 06:06:34 am by golgrig »
"6.4 Um's per minute" or "The Speed of Wright

An adventurer in the land of who gives a ****

The idea is to mix one ingredient that will burn very fast with a second ingredient that will supply enough oxygen for that burning. This burns so fast, it's an explosion.

Offline Wahh

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2006, 06:01:04 am »
I just read the article.  Way to go WW, that was hilarious!

I do have to agree with you though, the love genre sucks.


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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2006, 09:50:52 am »
Way back in the younger days of the forum, Jaleho began a long discussion which went along similar lines...but I think I failed to grasp what he was suggesting at the time.  Spore as a platform for developing games...not by game developers, but by the gamers themselves(or were you?  Feel free to correct me, Jaleho.  In fact, please do.  I greatly enjoyed the last discussion).

I've taken to splitting up my view of Spore into two parts, combined into a third which can greow into something greater than the sum of the other two parts:

First, you have the "SporeEngine", the tool, which utilizes procedural methods, total customizability, content seeding, ranked content, physics, and all that jazz.

Then you have "SimSpore" the game, in which you raise a being from cell, to animal, to tribe, to civilization, and into space.

My idea is that the SporeEngine could be used to create a massive world-spanning online game world -- let's call it the "SporeServer". It could be accessed through a console, a PC, whatever. This server could have asynchronous capabilities, or an option to be truly multiplayer. You would log onto this server, and once logged in, play a game. One of the games that utilizes this server would be the good ol "SimSpore" game we're all looking forward to. (In a way, this is already what is in the works).


Now here's what I was (and still am) advocating...


Take any game... ANY game... and I say it could be included into this "SporeServer".

If you wanted to play "SimSpore", you do so. Log in, click "Spore", and play as normal.

But what if you wanted to play, say... Medal of Honor: European Assault (I'm only chosing that game because we deathmatch it at work in the afternoons)?

Simple - you log on, click on "Medal of Honor: European Assault" and play THAT game... BUT it is *LINKED* to "SimSpore" through the "SporeServer."

"What is the point of all that?" you may be asking.

The point is, you end up with an experience that benefits four groups of people:

1. Spore players
2. Spore developers
3. Medal of Honor players
4. Medal of Honor developers

How does this "linking" benefits all four groups?:

1. Spore players

Spore, to our knowledge so far, doesn't seem to have any first-person gameplay. Past the creature stage, the player is essentially playing the role of an "overseer", managing the civilization as a whole. This limits the experiences, in my opinion. I created this world, now I want to see it from the eyes of someone who lives there - exploring the city, piloting those vehicles, taking on enemies in hand to hand combat. In this Server concept, now you could. If you simply want to create vehicles and send them into battle, fine. The game plays normally. But if you want to get into the driver's seat yourself... click a button, and suddenly, you're there. You are the willosaur armed with a tail rifle, running out onto the battlefield. Your civ continues to run in the background like it always did, but now you are engaged in a "mini-game" of sorts, where you have ammo, maps that are procedurally generated based on the buildings in your city or the city of the neighboring civ you're invading, enemies with AI to pick off, or teammates (through AI or other players on the server) to help out. And when the battle is over, you go back to design new building to replace those that were destroyed, or vehicles for future battles, just like Spore already intends to.

And for those who aren't interested in FPS gameplay, it just so happens that somewhere in their galaxy is a blue-green world, on which bipedal primates are currently engaged in a massive world war, in which you can chose to observe or interfere. New technology and people to beam up and run off with, if so desired, or chose a side and bring ufo invasion into WWII!

2. Spore developers

Guess what? By having another developer add their game to your server, you just gained all that FPS functionality without having to program it yourself! Your players just got a massive boost to their gameplay, and it didn't require any work on your part after creating the initial SporeServer app!

3. Medal of Honor players

You're busy blasting german soldiers. While stopping to rest, you look up into the night sky. All those twinkling lights, so far away from the horrors of war going on around you. Sure, they may just be decoration in the background, but suddenly, they've just made your experience a whole lot richer.

Now, I'm not talking about aliens invading WWII if you don't want that. Players of MoH will get a ton of enhancement through this "Server" without any sight of three legged critters or spaceships. The game can run and function almost exactly like the good old FPS they're used to. So what are they gaining? User customizable content.

In the GDC video, Will starts out talking about the mood he was getting from the conference -- next gen games would require more content, and artists to make it, and money to pay them. A big part of his presentation was "it doesn't have to be that way."

How many different character models are there to chose from in Medal of Honor: European Assault -- eight? Ten? How many guns - about the same? Maps? As you can see, a very small amount of content costs a lot to make. Why not let players create it?

If a player were to log on to SporeServer, and click on MoH, perhaps their menu now comes with a couple new options - "browse new content" and "create content". In the "create" option, they would now be able to create new buildings, and obstacles, and plants, and trees, and maps, and textures, and weapons, and missions, and player models, and who knows what else. In "browse", they could instantly scan an online database of all this, review it, vote on it, see how popular it is, how high quality it is, how challenging it is, how historically accurate it is... suddenly now, you have online players trying to create more and better wwii game elements all on their own for free. If the game never runs out of maps, players will pay it even longer.

And all this content would be available cross-game as well - if you wanted your spore civilization to use german panzers in battle, you buy one from the shopping list. If you want to fight on normandy using laser cannons and aquatic fish-soldiers, you simply toggle that option. Historical accuracy for those who want it, traditional FPS gameplay, and now, all the customization you might want.

4. Medal of Honor developers

Are you kidding? Your players are making the maps and models FOR you! That has GOT to save a ton in your budget! Put it into adding new elements in the program - reaction to limb injuries, armor protection, AI teammates, abilities to climb ladders or dig into the snow or roll while lying down or use chewing gum to attach a small mirror onto your bayonette to peek around corners, or vehicle piloting, or whatever! Get interns or beta-testers to create your initial content for free, then let the community expand it! Start simulating other campaigns in the same game -- or other wars! Let your programmers figure out new camera filters or rendering processes!


I think I could make this arguement for ANY game. And every time a game is added, it adds to all other games and benefits from them as well - throw something like animal crossing into the mix -- spore players can now take their creatures and have them collect their own breeds of local insects or fish, or dig up the fossils of the creatures they evolved from. Medal of Honor players can write to and receive letters from their family back home, or spruce up their customizable barracks to help distract them from the horrors of war. Animal Crossing players could now play a city-wide game of FPS paintball with their fellow towsfolk, or have more control over what their house looks like, make their own custom furniture, import non-earth animals as citizens... who knows!

The possibilities are endless. The only drawback I see is that competition will be difficult to work with - why would anyone buy your WWII FPS if there is already a better one on SporeServer? Which just begs the question, why do people do it now? How can a hundred FPS all compete on the market if they're all the same thing? If the only reason you stop playing one game and pick up a nearly identical one is because it has a new story, new maps, new graphics... SPore is already proving that is going to be a thing of the past with customizable content. Developers will be forced to focus on making better tools, better abilities, better application... rahter than "look! our zombies have TWICE the blood!" or "our guns glow PURPLE!"


Any thoughts?

Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2006, 10:06:48 am »
How many mods have players made of FPS like Doom and Quake?

And don't forget, those required external programs that are sometimes hard to use. Imagine putting the character model builder or the map creature RIGHT IN THE GAME, and even include a tutorial of sorts on how to use them (like Spore is - the tutorial before the sandbox). Image how many MORE mods would be available for those games. And with a ranking system, you could filter through the best ones.

That's why seperating Spore the "goo-to-god space game" and Spore the "procedural methods, user-created content tool" into two is so effective. Like Steve said in one of the podcasts, basically "it doesn't matter whether Spore succeeds or flops - it's going to forever and completely change the entire game industry".

Spore "The Game" is just another game (although a cool, extensively huge one). Spore "The Tool" will redefine how every game of the future is developed.

Offline Wahh

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2006, 10:34:32 am »
I believe I had mentioned the fact that the "modder" on Spore is built in, and, like you said, that makes it far easier to generate content.  The portal of yours, Jahelo, is a brilliant idea because it frees gaming companies from the "content war," but do you really think that the legal ramifications could be worked out.  Just thinking of the power EA would have over the gaming industry if they owned the "central server" gives me nightmares.  What makes you think that gaming companies are willing to give up some rights and money from their game just to get it linked to an EA server?  And then there's the question of who owns what and for how long.  It's a brilliant idea, Jahelo, but the practical hurdles are just too huge.  Maybe in a decade, minimum.

Sorry to crush your dream, Jahelo, but us pragmatists have to live too you know  ;)


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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2006, 10:50:30 am »
Just thinking of the power EA would have over the gaming industry if they owned the "central server" gives me nightmares.  What makes you think that gaming companies are willing to give up some rights and money from their game just to get it linked to an EA server?

Who said it had to be EA? :) Actually, you may have solved my question of competition -- there's no reason there has to be ONE SporeServer -- any other developer out there is free to create their own multi-game in this same format. You really think that once Spore comes out, some other competitior won't be taking the time and money to clone the concept? Or maybe even improve on it?

My thought is that this becomes the next stage in game development - EA produces their own mega-server (SporeServer), through which all their games can be linked, content-wise. As a competitor, why would anyone buy YOUR FPS? Simple - you make YOUR server. Put YOUR games into it. Now, you are fighting to get developers to add to your collection of inter-connected titles.

"Hmm... SporeServer has The Sims and Madden... but MicroServer has Halo and Oddworld..."

It wouldn't be that different between picking your favorite console system - maybe you own only one, and buy the games individually... or maybe you own multiple systems and can pick from multiple games.

The difference is, when you buy one xbox game, you don't get all the content from every xbox game. In this, you would - not all the gameplay, but all the content. Wouldn't that make the product line even more valuable?

I don't know all the details of the game industry business, but there's bound to be a way to do it, to share content and still have income and competition

Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2006, 11:52:28 am »
It would be very interesting to see EA/Maxis attempt to make another game that uses the Spore servers in this way.  It seems somewhat like Steam, which I think is a great concept.  No one of these games would necessary to play the others, only the main server(s), which you could have free access to.  Editting tools could be released freely, with periodic updates when a new game adds a new type of content to be created.  A furniture editor for The Sims or one specifically for building stadiums in Madden, for example. 

Then, games could be developed using the Spore engine, or they could be built with their own engines, but they could be "SporeServer Enabled".  By which I mean, when you play some FPS like World War II: Yep, Another One, it could be looking in the realistic-WWII section of the giant Spore database to pull its content from.  Or when you play Harry Potter, it might have an entire section of the database reserved for that one game(maybe due to licensing issues), and that's all it would use, but it could still benfit from the tools used to create it and potential updates as EA changes or adds to the Harry Potter content on SporeServer after its release.

I could see the content sharing going on within EA much faster than a decade.  More like two years.  The trick is it would have to work very well for the first game that tried to use it...OR marketing would have to get very much behind the idea.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 11:55:22 am by Borogove »
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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2006, 12:22:29 pm »
I think there's another advantage to this "shared content server" idea, too...

Think of Pixar - a lot of models were created for toy story. And more for monsters inc. And more for incredibles. and so on, and so on. Someone had to sit and model every object in each of those movies. In a live action film, you can go buy a chair and stick it in a scene. And twenty other movies can buy the same kind of chair and use it again.

Also, for characters - each character is built individually. Yet, in live action, you have an ACTOR who, with a little makeup and costume, plays many many roles. Why doesn't a 3d company make a stock of actors and have them play different parts - a dad in this film, a superhero in this film, a firefighter in this film...

Just look at Spore -- if EA owns all the creatures created in Spore, they could easily grab them and make a movie using all those models. They could make a new game using all the models from Spore. Think how FAST and EASY and CHEAPLY they could creeate a new game:

"Ok, i have this idea for a cool new sci-fi FPS... the first level is city35 from hydromancerx, the second level is city12 from borogove, and the monsters that attack you are predator703 and predator918. Toss all that in the FPS engine and get someone to do a voiceover, and we can have this game ready in an afternoon."

If content is already done, think of all the stuff they CAN spend time on - new engineering, physics, graphics, story... the maps and models are done for them ahead of time, and they just pick from their own smoregasbord (sporegasbord?) of content to stick in there - entire world and monsters and weapons and vehicles -- DONE!

Now imagine a whole line of this content - sci-fi, fantasy, historical recreation...

Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2006, 12:56:52 pm »
I'm all for tools to speed up game development...things have gotten way out of hand.  Returning for a sec to the original direction I was going with this thread, how about a similar tool to replace the hours of coding the way we mgiht be replacing modelling/texturing/level design?

The other day I thought of a good analogy for the idea...well, maybe not so good but here it is.  I use a Firefox extension called Aardvark.  This extensions lets me edit the page I'm viewing quite a bit.  Among its features, it can remove an element (say, advertisements), change column widths,(great for those darn blogs and their skinny columns), and change colors.  It's a great way ot get around the poor design you see on a lot of pages that might get in the way of enjoying the content.
Now, how many times have you played a game and wished you could make little fixes here and there?  Like, "Man, if only my character wasn't sluggish, I could really enjoy this game", "jeez, this part of the game sucks, I wish I could skip to the good parts", "this giant monster is fun, but what if he uprooted those trees and tried to club me with them!".  I can't speak for the rest of you, but I know I am always having such thoughts.  So what if we could pause the game, tweak it around, and hit play again, the way I alter webpages Aardvark?

At this point, what I'm talking about has little or nothing to do with Spore.  Spore is about content -- players creating the "nouns" and "adjectives" of the world.  What I'm talking about is dynamics and gameplay -- players creating the "verbs" and "adverbs".

I wince at the language I just used -- likening game elements to sentence parts -- I actually hear that sort of thing quite a bit regarding game design from folks like Raph Koster and Chris Crawford, (noted game designers, both of them), but I don't think breaking it down that way gives any real insight into the player's experience.  Instead, I think it would be better broken down into "game loops" the way WW did in one of his talks. <EDIT found the link>.  At the lowest level there is instantaneous direct response to user input.  Mario moves.  Mario jumps.  Once that is mastered, the player moves up to more complex actions based on that -- jump on a goomba, collect coins, hit blocks, cross gaps.  From there we build up still further to level completing, exploring,  boss fights, etc. until at the highest level you have the whole game.  These are feedback loops.  Push A and I see Mario jump -- super-quick lowest-level feedback.  Moving up, the time length and complexity of what I'm doing increases, but its still all about this loop of performing an action or series of actions, seeing its effects, and doing it again, moving up to higher level goals as I get good at lower level ones.
...shoot I went off on a tangent there, sorry.

But I guess it gives me a good point to go on about the idea.  The feedback loops I envision for this meta-game are (time estimates may be way off)
  • (instantaneous) - alter game dynamics, observe immediate effects on gameplay
  • (1-2 seconds) - make specific tweak to gameplay
  • (~1 min) - add new feature, maybe something like a jetpack into your platform game
  • (~5 min) - gameplay and experience of game changed significantly, good point to show it to your friends and have them try it out
  • (???) - gameplay altered enough to break out of original genre completely.  Game now stands on its own, not looking like just a variant of the starting point
  • (hours?) - New, polished game put together.

Note that this is talking about gameplay changes only...not story or graphics or any of that.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 01:07:29 pm by Borogove »
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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2006, 02:54:46 pm »
I'm all for tools to speed up game development...things have gotten way out of hand.  Returning for a sec to the original direction I was going with this thread, how about a similar tool to replace the hours of coding the way we mgiht be replacing modelling/texturing/level design?
What I'm talking about is dynamics and gameplay -- players creating the "verbs" and "adverbs".

This is a creature I've played around with for a while - he's not too fancy looking, but he's very useful for visualizing... well, lots of things, especially what you're talking about:



If you look over the elements of Pao, you can see that ANY program element can be broken down into one of these categories. Think about it:

Communication: An object can consciously or actively transmit information into its environment -- living things do this, as well as machines. This data can be received by other beings and machines.

Expression: All objects give off unconscious, involuntary information information into its environment-- an apple expresses it is red, a furnace expresses it is hot. This data can be received by other beings and machines.

Sensation: An object can gather information from the environment -- a compass senses north, a leaf turns towards the sun, an animal looks at things.

Consumption: An object can take another object into itself -- a box, a jar, a bag, a body of water, a hungry creature. To affect the container means affecting its contents as well.

Confliction: An object can force characteristics on another object -- breaking, shaping, coloring, opening, closing.

Transmission: An object can manage it's own resources -- energy into motion, data into communication, ammo from pocket into gun.

Digestion: An object can break down another object into it's essential qualities -- food into nutrients, house into materials, story into words

Reproduction: An object can create more of itself, or transmit its own characteristics into another object -- crystals, bacteria, Agent Smith, The Borg

Transportation: An object can change its location in 3d space -- vehicle, animal, character

Cognition: An object can perform computational processes using data it has obtained -- a lifeform, a coke machine deciding whether a dollar is valid, a thermostat regulating temperature

Emotion: Intelligent objects may make decisions based on personal characteristics that have changed it from its original state -- soldiers going into a battle they know they will lose, soldiers ignoring the orders givn them, time-sensitive devices

Interaction: Objects may manipulate other objects - changing their positions, taking posession of them, releasing posession of them. Conflict and consumption are similar to interaction. Most of the physics inherent in a game world are processes by which the world uses interaction on the objects within the game.

Absorbtion: An object may completely destroy another object and take the components of that object into itself, sometimes taking on a new form itself -- ingredients into batter, health packs into a person, dirt into a hole

Excretion: An object may leave behind a new object created within itself (whether actually or simulated) -- a vending machine, a water hose, a cookie jar. Interaction and consuption are related to this depending on how the object originated in the object (in a game, a soda machine is probably unrefillable - but instead, it may contain objects whic can be replaced and removed, rather than "created")

Thinking of programming as a modular system (like the unreal engine) and realizing all object characteristics, actions and interactions could be categorized into these 14 groups, makes thinking of ways to simplify programming much easier. I've actually tried to build a customizable game engine using this model, but didn't get very far due to "the day job"

Have at it, if anyone is interested.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2006, 03:07:25 pm »
Your ideas are once again profound, Jahelo, but, once again, overly idealistic.  Do you really want EA to have the power to pump out a game in an afternoon?  The market would be flooded with so many crappy games that even the gems would be lost in the crap.


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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2006, 03:20:24 pm »
using Borogove's examples:

"Man, if only my character wasn't sluggish, I could really enjoy this game"
"jeez, this part of the game sucks, I wish I could skip to the good parts"

These are pretty simple - they just require changing a variable here or there. There are cheat codes or programs to do this kind of stuff.

"this giant monster is fun, but what if he uprooted those trees and tried to club me with them!"

Now you're thinking - adding an element that doesn't exist in the game. It would require an engine that could allow players to adjust game physics without seeing or permanently messing with game code. Imagine these as modules - like, little boxes you could pick from a list and drag onto the character:

1. Monster can see the environment (probably already can, if it can see you the character)
2. The trees are visible (they may be you the player, but not to the monster)
3. Monster understands the properties of the tree (if he can see it, and understands it is an obstacle, he can make choices to avoid it. if he sees it as a potential weapon, he will make other choices).
4. Tree can be manipulated if manipulatorStrength > 100 (this allows strong monsters to mess with the tree, but not most weaklings)
5. Tree can be obtained by manipulating (we alreald said only strong characters can mess with it, so if an object can manipulate it, it can also take it. If the monster understands the properties of it, he now knows he can take it.

So, we've now defined the tree as an object that can be taken, and the monster as something that can take it. Now it needs motivation to do so.

So we think - why would it go to the trouble of doing so? Probably because every time it hits us with its fists, we've been stabbing it with our sword, and it doesn't like being stabbed. Or does it? In a lot of games, creature AI isn't advanced enough to have an enemy dodge, parry or run away. But really, it doesn't take much:

6. Monster must kill enemy (it's already doing that)
7. Monster must avoid being hit.

Suddenly, the creature is forced to make decisions -- "both of these goals are important, so how do I decide what to do?"

8. Tree as weapon increases attack range.

Attack range is important - it means you can try to hit an opponent where it is less of a danger to you. Suddenly, that tree is looking pretty good. The monster wants to hurt you, and not get hurt himself. He knows the properties of the trees. But is it strong enough to use it?

9. Monster understands the properties of itself.

The creature sizes up a nearby tree - it knows that tree will help it achieve its goals, it knows how to get it, and now it knows that it has the ability to do. Now you've got a wild, tree-swinging monster on your hands.

All that's left is to make it an effective weapon - a nerf sword may get at hard-to-reach heroes, but it won't do much good:

10. Based on the weight of the tree and how fast it is moving, it will cause x amount of damage to anything it hits.

Including the player character.

If each of those ten elements could be reduced to a block of code, and simply dragged onto an object by the player, you've not created a new action that never existed in the game. And all those elements could be used EVERYWHERE thoughout the game - any game - because they have been reduced down to pretty simple thought processes. Slap a pretty interface on them, have some simple fields or sliders to adjust values and point to other objects, and you're in business.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2006, 03:27:39 pm »
Your ideas are once again profound, Jahelo, but, once again, overly idealistic.  Do you really want EA to have the power to pump out a game in an afternoon?  The market would be flooded with so many crappy games that even the gems would be lost in the crap.
I don't mean to put word's in anyone else's mouth , but my answer would be:
HELL YES.

Reducing the development cost will allow them to do something truly amazing that would change the games industry radically.

They could make a game, and if it was crap, they could throw it away.

I'll be back after dinner for more thoughts on the game-making game (it was turning into a really long post...)

EDIT:
WHOA: In a video Jaleho once linked us to:  http://stanford-online.stanford.edu/courses/cs547/030502-cs547-100.asx. at about 1:24 minutes into it, WW suggests that maybe...Spore WILL let you actually edit the dynamics of it???  Hardly conclusive evidence, but hints that what I was talking about in the original post is not completely crazy.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 03:42:00 pm by Borogove »
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2006, 03:41:25 pm »
Your ideas are once again profound, Jahelo, but, once again, overly idealistic.  Do you really want EA to have the power to pump out a game in an afternoon?  The market would be flooded with so many crappy games that even the gems would be lost in the crap.

Flooding the market just means the consumer has to take more responsibility on themselves - as they should. It puts the responsibility on the producer to market their product better, and the consumer to make wise choices. Video gaming crashed in 1984 because of oversaturation. And what arose from its ashes that year? The Macintosh - ushering in personal computers. A couple years later the NES was born.

This is a free market economy. You have the choice to make things faster and cheaper, or better, and consumers can chose whether to get a dozen inexpensive and mundane items, or save up for the high-quality one. Saying "i don't want a company to be able to make more products because then someone else won't get noticed" is akin to saying "let's outlaw these 'automobile' factories, because they threaten our horse and buggy companies". If you don't like all the crappy games out there, STOP BUYING THEM! Demand better products! Or go make your own!

I've bought maybe ten games in the past ten years, for all systems including the old gameboy color. I don't see the need to scoop up all the crappy games just because they're new. I wait until i have the time and money, then research them, and buy one.

Television started to realize how cheap and easily it could make reality shows. The networks are flooded with them. So -- I STOPPED WATCHING. If the game industry does the same thing, what will you do - keep buying them, or go outside and do something else with your life?

I mean, i know this is a gaming site, but geez... they're video games. Things like flight simulators and simcity and america's army can be used in other ways, but in the end, 95% of video games are "hit this button until something dies". let them flood the market - I'm a smart enough consumer to go looking for the gems. That's why I don't buy CDs or listen to the radio, I go to garageband.com -- most of it is crap, but the gems you find are controlled by their creators and not produced by a marketing organization.

The day the tools arive when EA can produce a game in an afternoon means you or I can produce a game just as good in a few days. I'd rather live in a world of creators than consumers anyway.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2006, 04:00:22 pm »
WHOA: In a video Jaleho once linked us to:  http://stanford-online.stanford.edu/courses/cs547/030502-cs547-100.asx. at about 1:24 minutes into it, WW suggests that maybe...Spore WILL let you actually edit the dynamics of it???  Hardly conclusive evidence, but hints that what I was talking about in the original post is not completely crazy.

If it doesn't end up in Spore, how much you want to bet he designs an even bigger game after it that will let you? If anyone could, it would be Will.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 04:13:15 pm by Jaleho »

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2006, 04:13:21 pm »
You all have made some very compelling points, I concede.  It would be true that putting more power in the hands of anyone to more easily create games, especially if all the gamers are given the same power, would create better games.

I just really don't like EA.  I mean really.


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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2006, 04:47:04 pm »
I just really don't like EA.  I mean really.

Well, who does? Or Microsoft, or Disney... unfortunately, those are the guys in power right now, pushing out the little guys. But not forever. Read "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman - it really shows technology is changing business worldwide, and how if we as people don't start taking control of our own futures, china and india will bury us. Education, business, technology, it's all about us saying "I'm going to make a change" rather than "I'm goign go to work for some big company for a paycheck, and let someone else make the change", because even if we end up working for a big company, it just means that big company is now full of people committed to making a change -- and that can transform a company.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2006, 06:27:57 pm »
The day the tools arive when EA can produce a game in an afternoon means you or I can produce a game just as good in a few days. I'd rather live in a world of creators than consumers anyway.
Amen, brother.


The conversation had shifted to a focus on devolopers, when I really was talking about the player experience.  Putting the gamer in charge of his experience, not EA.

And as for getting too much crap...well, welcome to the internet.  People can already crank out a game in an after noon.  and many do.  Mostly it is done with tools like Flash, DarkBasic, Game Maker, Klik 'n' Play, or RPG Maker.  Most are bad, and almost none are deep, but it still easy to find good ones, if you are interested enough to look.  But the real point was not that I thought better games would result, but instead that making games can be as fun as playing them, and I would like to see that opened up to a wider audience.  This means making it accessible, so no scripting languages to learn, no tedious low-level work(unless they want to), and even more importanly, making the feedback loop very tight. 

What I mean is that when the user wants to make or alter the game, they need to be able to do so and see immediate effects without waiting for compiling or loading times.  It means interfaces that go beyond usability, and beyond efficiency. It needs to be play.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2006, 06:35:12 pm »
when the user wants to make or alter the game, they need to be able to do so and see immediate effects without waiting for compiling or loading times.

Did you watch the unreal engine video on the GDC site? If not, go watch that (Game Technology and Content Creation for the Next Generation -- Tim Sweeney) and then see what could happen if THAT were combined with the spore engine -- artist-as-programmer meets programmer-as-artist... my favorite part is when he is showing the physics demo (the rolling balls onto the catapult) and you see how it is all scripted through these little element boxed all linked together... come to think of it, i'm going to go rewatch it.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2006, 06:37:23 pm by Jaleho »

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2006, 06:48:45 pm »
Ah! keep getting new responses while I type my next post!
Please post a link too, if you have one.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2006, 06:58:17 pm »
Ah! keep getting new responses while I type my next post!
Please post a link too, if you have one.

www.pqhp.com/cmp/gdctv/

scroll down to
Game Technology and Content Creation for the Next Generation -- Tim Sweeney

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2006, 07:26:37 pm »
Quote from:
When companies like Electronic Arts come out and say "we have 150 working on our game, " it's like, their tools must not be very good if they need to have that many people working on their stuff.
Wow.  That quote struck home.

Is it just me or does Tim Sweeney look like a clone of John Carmack?
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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2006, 07:36:18 pm »
Is it just me or does Tim Sweeney look like a clone of John Carmack?

And sounds like Homestar Runner... :)

Unreal Kismet - Visual Scripting -- THAT is the tools I'm going gaga over... modular programming, no hand-coding, all pre-made boxes of info linked together to make things happen... and all the info in it is DOWN right now... the unreal technology site is broken... arrrg

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2006, 07:45:03 pm »
Continuing this:
..What I mean is that when the user wants to make or alter the game, they need to be able to do so and see immediate effects without waiting for compiling or loading times. It means interfaces that go beyond usability, and beyond efficiency. It needs to be play.

And that's where I'm hitting the stumbling block... I think I have found decent solutions to letting the player define the physical space in which the  games takes place, and in designing the verymost low-level interactions, but so far my solutions to the higher-level goals are less than satisfying.  Well, that's not entirely true.  I spent a good chunk of my weekend doing research trying to get past this, and I found ways (mostly borrowed from pen+paper rpgs) that postpone the problem up a couple levels, but fail to really solve it.

I may be limited by my approach, I am thinking mainly of it in terms of how the user defines the player's abilities...what he can do at the different feedback loop levels.
To abstract it up I broke it down into interactions at these levels(using an FPS as an example):

time scale
immediate(<1 sec) - direct control of avatar, move aim, shoot, etc.
low (seconds)        - shoot monster, flee, get item, leave room, dodge attack
mid (~1 minute)    - clear group of enemies, search for critical path or items
high (~5 mins)       - exit level
highest (>5 mins)   - complete all levels

Note that I don't mean to specifically consider these exact levels and timespans, but that I'm merely looking for a clever way to let the player control the gameplay at higher levels.  I feel like I'm hitting the limits of my imagination here...it's not that I haven't come up with any solutions, it's just that they fail to meet my goal of accessibility.  If my mom couldn't make a game with this thing, then I will have considered it a failure.  So far my attempts have come up with things that are either rather tedious(filling out interaction tables) or just plain annoying(interruptions asking the player how a situation should be handled), or just too complex for other reasons.  I've been thinking that I may be able to approach it from the other end.  Lock a win condition that is the same throughout all games made with this tool (like get 10 points) and then just have the player tie that into the levels between (i.e. completeing a level earns a point), but that really doesn't seem to offer a way to control the mid levels.  There's also the idea of making them somewhat pre-made and just dropped in somehow.  I initially dismiss this idea as against the spirit of the project, but I may return to it.  Edittable flowcharts and diagrams have the same not-play feel that I am seeking to avoid. 

Actually, in the process of writing that much I think it dawned on me that I was being very silly... the player/creator does not need to control mid-level feedback loops directly.  In fact, that is probably the best way to make it like play.  By changing what they an at other levels, they would hopefully be able to explore the space of what could emerge in terms of gameplay.

Well, that was  lot of talking to myself for one forum post.  Sorry if it didn't make sense because I didn't give enough context or anything.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2006, 07:53:28 pm »
Sorry if it didn't make sense because I didn't give enough context or anything.

Well, pick a game, any game - super mario brothers. Then give an example of what you would want to change, and when the player could change it. Then we can go from there.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #34 on: January 24, 2006, 05:34:18 pm »
Whew, sorry for not replying faster...work is taking up way too much of my time.  Bad timing for me to be getting so interested in my personal projects.  This is an idea that has been bouncing around in my head for an awfully long time, and I have recently decided to get serious about doing it.  So, in part, I brought it up because A. sometimes explaining my ideas to someone else is enough to help me figure out a problem and B. so I could steal your ideas :) 

At the moment, I am calling it "GameToy" -- a name I am somewhat stealing from the card game about the games industry, GameGame.  I'm not actually trying to teach anything with this game, unlike GameGame, and it's not some weird attempt to do Understanding Comics for games...I actually don't think there's a good way to do that within a game and something like Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun does a better job.  It's that I have had a lot of fun making games and my goal is to make a software toy which enables me to share that with everyone. 

It might help to do a concrete example like you said, though the idea is sort of that the whole thing could change radically as the user plays with it. 
For a Mario Brothers clone, you would have the dials set to side-view, and a "straight" world with no width, limited height, but very "long".  The dials for player control would be set to physics-based movement and jumping.  You could also change settings for enemies and other NPCs, number of obstacles, etc.  So rather than have the player have to lay out the game tiles or geometry, they are instead tweaking the rules of a generative system which builds the world in front of the player as he explores.  I think that this fits my goal of giving the user the power to create and try out his game ideas, without making it too daunting or tedious.  I just wish that keyboards came with dials built-in so that it wasn't just a GUI metaphor :)

What I was thinking earlier was that it lacks a way to control the higher-level interactions, which are built out of the direct, small ones.  Things like stomping on a goomba or getting to the castle are slightly more complex than simple moving and jumping, but are made up of those lower-level interactions.  How would the user control what the player does, on that level?  Well, the thing all of the higher levels have that the lowest doesn't is that they (can) involve more than one element of the game(the goomba in squishing goombas).  The easiest solution I came up with is an interaction table.  Each game entity would have an entry in the table for each other entity it could interact with, and the user would have to fill in what form that interaction takes.  A couple examples: Goombas hurt Mario, unless the goomba is underneath him, in which case Mario squishes the Goomba.  Stars do not interact with Goombas.  When Mario touches a star, he gets replaced by the Starman Mario entity, who has slightly different interactions than Mario, Super Mario, and Fire Mario, but does happen to have the same ones as Starman Luigi.

This solution sucks, basically.  The number of table cells the user would have to fill out is O(n^2) (with n being the number of game entity types)...the table could be full of defaults so that the user doesn't need to go change many of them but mostly the problem is that it still sounds pretty un-fun.  So, that method stinks and I look for a good way to improve.  If we were to make the interaction table for Super Mario Brothers, we'd see lots of repeat information and correlations -- why special-case each and every interaction?  Also, there's an interaction with time which would be very hard to do well with this table, animations and AI lack a good way to be represented.  For instance, all enemies harm Mario, Super Mario, and Fire Mario on contact from any side but the top, and all blocks float in place ignoring physics.  So alternate method 1 is to simply pick a role when placing an entity, and then specify a few special rules if you feel like it(i.e. Spinys can't be stomped, Beetles are immune to fireballs, bullet bills unaffected by gravity, mushrooms turn you into Super Mario instead of killing you).  But there are other ways to go about it, too.  Another approach I was thinking of is like what Jaleho mentioned above.  Each object, NPC, avatar, and anything else, could all contain all the stats any of them would ever need, and basic behaviors could be dragged onto them(i.e. drift aimlessly, walk until it hits an obstacle, chase player, spawn entity X every so often.), then, the game would also need a library of "effects" or "verbs" or whatever we should call them that can be tied to both player input and those behaviors.  Another one that I am thinking of is kind of strange.  Basically, I would break game verbs into various types(like damage, push, transform, movement) and you would set each entity to emit "particles" of the different types in different ways.  For instance, a goomba would emit damage-ons to the sides and down, with a radius only of its own size, and self-affecting propulsion particles.  A mushroom would emit "growth" particles.  I dunno, this method is weird, and it would make it difficult to mimic existing games very closely within the system, but it also suggests strange new things(mushrooms make anything grow!).

I still want to do a crapload more research, and I'm sure I will want to prototype a couple of those ideas(particularly the last one) before I decide on one.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2006, 05:35:55 pm by Borogove »
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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #35 on: January 24, 2006, 06:18:08 pm »
So, are you saying the player would tweak the enemies as they are playing? Like "oh, spiney's again -- i'll just click on them and remove the "damage from below" option and add a "can be smashed from above" option so I can stomp on them.

That would sort of take all the challenge out of it... I mean, I haven't read all of that "Disasters" thread, but what makes any story or game fun is obstacles to overcome. Simply letting a player remove the obstacles defeats the purpose. Even a real-life sandbox has obstacles - limited space, limited ammount of sand, limited mosture, sand begins to crumble as moisture leaves... If you really could do anything with it, what would be the point?

Now, if you mean a player can set up a level however they want, and then play the level to test it out, then that's a level editor -- lots of games have that.

Maybe I'm not getting what you mean.

Offline Golgrig

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #36 on: January 24, 2006, 07:46:14 pm »
I'm thinking he means a tweak by the program (scale of difficulty) or by a Modder (user), this would make a much more personal game.

i keep thinking about the Fantasy Game from Enders Game it was adaptive like the kind of thing Will likes to make, it would be able  to learn a user's desires, by watching what you do, so it learns about you, and then customize itself to your preferences. It would  build up a personality profile on you, based on the tens of hundreds of hours you spend playing it. You might not even be aware that it has customized itself to you.

a personalized gaming experience as much an expression of your personality as a portrait.  you would be free to explore your "inner" game.

my world would be Sim Everything, my little spinning galaxies of beings created in my own form.....  And the creator said let there be light and then his phone rang out opening the Way for the Great Shutdown and loss of power ravaged the world and darkness reined.
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Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #37 on: January 24, 2006, 08:30:43 pm »
Well, first off, it is not a "game" in the sense of having an overall, set goal to work towards.  Instead I am going for a toy that happens to be booted up and played with like you would a video game.  A Lego for dynamics(ooh! there's a maketing tagline!).  I meant to explain that when I mentioned the name GameToy, but then forgot to. 

The idea isn't that you're tweaking existing games...it is a program in which you build your own video game, so the challenge thing is sort of moot.

If you really could do anything with it, what would be the point?
It is certainly going to have limitations, and major ones.  But, uh, I am really kind of shocked that statement came from you, Jaleho.   

If you really can build anything out of clay, what's the point?
If you can draw anything, what good is a pencil?
If you can play anything you want, what good is a piano?
If you can read anything you want, what good is a bookstore?
If you can make any creature/civilization you want, what's the point of Spore?
What's the point of a rubber ball?

Revisiting the challenge thing, there really isn't much of a challenge in the Sims.  Killing a Sim happens pretty rarely unless you are trying.  Yet it has all kinds of "failure".  Maybe you didn't make friends with the person you wanted to, maybe you didn't get that raise today, maybe you just can't seem to do enough in one day.  Same for other toys.  What's the challenge in an action figure?  Legos?

I'm going for a different sort of fun than a typical game goes for.  The sort of fun I have when I create something. 
This guy was quite fun to put together:

It's not skillful, it wasn't hard to do, it's not clever, in fact it's kinda stupid.  That's not the point.  I enjoyed doing it.

There certainly are going to be challenges that the user faces when he sets his own goal.  Like how crazy of a shoot-em-up can I make?  But the challenges are going to be A. the limitations of the program and B. their own imagination.

Now, if you mean a player can set up a level however they want, and then play the level to test it out, then that's a level editor -- lots of games have that.
Actually, my intention is to NOT give the player direct control over what levels look like.  Rather I would be letting them tweak the settings of a system that creates the levels for them.  But yes, lots of games have level editors, but they are not generally very user friendly.  But anyway level design isn't what I envison people focusing on, but rather the gameplay.  And it's not so much that you set things up, and then play them.  It's that in playing with GameToy you are changing the game inside it.

But all this is just how I envison implementing things, and may come up with another solution.  The core of it is this:  I have had a lot of fun making games and my goal is to make a software toy which enables me to share that with everyone.  A toy in which you make games, or just play with dynamics and see what happens.

So to this:
So, are you saying the player would tweak the enemies as they are playing? Like "oh, spiney's again -- i'll just click on them and remove the "damage from below" option and add a "can be smashed from above" option so I can stomp on them.
I say Yes, tweaking like that is how you play with GameToy.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2006, 09:16:14 pm by Borogove »
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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #38 on: January 25, 2006, 08:45:14 am »
The idea isn't that you're tweaking existing games...it is a program in which you build your own video game, so the challenge thing is sort of moot.

So... it's a game engine, but modular without coding...?

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If you really could do anything with it, what would be the point?
It is certainly going to have limitations, and major ones.  But, uh, I am really kind of shocked that statement came from you, Jaleho.

Boundaries are one of the most beneficial elements an artist can have. Any idiot can take an all-powerful tool and create anything with it - talent comes from working within limitations and STILL being able to create something amazing:

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If you really can build anything out of clay, what's the point?

You can't -- make a section too thin and it won't support the weight above it. Make it too solid and it will explode when put in a kiln. Also, you can't make fluffy or furry clay, or metallic reflective clay, or elastic clay... you either have to find other media to work in, or SIMULATE what you want in the media you have -- ever seen those marble sculptures that look like flowing fabric? If all anyone had to do was press a "carve fabric" button, it wouldn't be impressive any more.

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If you can draw anything, what good is a pencil?

You can't - first off, it's 2-dimentional and it's black and white, and it's slick or grainy graphite? How do you represent a 3-dimentinal furry colored beast with a pencil? Shading and lighting to simulate volume and texture and contrast. If all you had to do was hold a pencil up to your forehead, think of something, and wave it in front of you, there'd be no skill involved.

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If you can play anything you want, what good is a piano?

For starters, you can only play ten notes at a time - twenty if you're barefoot, twenty-one if the keys have been sterilized and your tongue is in good shape, and 22 if you're male and peverted. Let's just say your're using your fingers... because of the layout of the keys, you can't have six really low notes and four really high notes all playing at once, because your thumb doesn't stretch that far. Also, a piano doesn't play wind or brass or percussion sounds... you can't play two identical notes at the same time, because once C# in the fifth octave has been pressed down, you can't press it again until you let go of it. You can't smoothly move between one note and the next like you can a trombone. And despite all these limitations

Quote
If you can read anything you want, what good is a bookstore?

There are TONS of topics nobody has written books on. And just because you happen to find a book, doesn't mean it's well written, or unbiased, or easy to understand, or accurate, or interesting...

My local Borders only carries the NEW books... most things I hear abound and are interested in are out of print. And my local library sucks (they don't even carry "Walden", for gods sake).

Then again, reading isn't a creative act - it's the participation in someone else's creative act, so it doesn't fit your list so well.

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If you can make any creature/civilization you want, what's the point of Spore?

You can't. Tweety bird is a perfect example. Will said "the engine will let you build anything you can think of - but I suspect he will have low fitness in the world". In other words, you can design anything you want, but in the struggle for survival, a lot of the more absurd creatures won't make it to the tribal stage. This is going to force people to use a minimum of logic - "ok, this isn't working, I guess I really do need to give my predator more than one foot if i expect him to catch any prey". And since there will obviously be a limit to how much you can evolve each time, you can't just jump from one-celled critter to bipedal primate with thumbs. That way, when you finally get to space and have your genetic editor to build whatever you want, you have an idea what works and doesn't work. You're still free to build whatever, but now you are aware of the limitations placed on forms, so don't be surprised when you come back to your zoo planet and find all your creations starved to death.

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What's the point of a rubber ball?

A hackey sack and bowling ball don't bounce. A football is not a sphere, so when it hits a surface, it is more difficult to predict the angle of the bounce. A helium baloon is lighter than air. Even something as simple as a rubber ball has set properties, forcing the user to adapt their play strategies to its particular size, shape, weight, mass, elasticity, visibility, ect. ect. To change the properties of the ball mid-game is to change the entire set of rules for the game using the ball. To change them in your favor defeats any sort of gameplay. "Look! I made a three point shot!" "Well, yeah -- you have a remote-control ball and you moved the hoop to three inches off the ground - big deal."

Quote
Revisiting the challenge thing, there really isn't much of a challenge in the Sims.  Killing a Sim happens pretty rarely unless you are trying.  Yet it has all kinds of "failure".  Maybe you didn't make friends with the person you wanted to, maybe you didn't get that raise today, maybe you just can't seem to do enough in one day.

What do you think challenge is - it's overcoming failure! "Whoops - that din't work, let me try again... Nope, let me try a new technique... Aha! Success!" Just changing the rules so you succeed is cheating and pointless - why even play then?


Quote
What's the challenge in an action figure?

Limited articulation points, having to animate it manually, poor balance, simulating day-to-day life with non-removable clothes, insufficient grip to interact with objects, heat sensitivity, plastic brittleness, scratches and gouges that don't self-heal, inability to change expressions, no true growth cycle, unrealistic scale... overcoming all those and still pretending that this character is involved in a story you create.
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Legos?

Twenty years ago, I was building Transformers with legos, with a limited number of movable parts at my disposal and only so many ways they could move. And I succeeded.

A couple weeks ago, I saw a set of legos that were in essence, complete molded dinosaur toys that had the little nubs on their backs. You didn't even build them.

"Look! I made a dinosaur!" "No, you opened a package with a dinosaur inside it."

Quote
I'm going for a different sort of fun than a typical game goes for.  The sort of fun I have when I create something. 
This guy was quite fun to put together:

It's not skillful, it wasn't hard to do, it's not clever, in fact it's kinda stupid.  That's not the point.  I enjoyed doing it.

But that's not a game - its an art project. A game has goals to overcome, goals that take some ammount of skill to achieve. A sandbox is not a game. It can be used as a TOOL inside a game, but it is not a game in itself.

Quote
There certainly are going to be challenges that the user faces when he sets his own goal.  Like how crazy of a shoot-em-up can I make?  But the challenges are going to be A. the limitations of the program and B. their own imagination.

If they're making their own game, great. If they're "editing" my game, no way. Letting them just jump over all the ahrd stuff to get to the fun nugget at the end... that's the core of what's wrong with America nowadays anyway -- "I deserve all the good stuff, and I don't want to have to work to get it."

Quote
Actually, my intention is to NOT give the player direct control over what levels look like.  Rather I would be letting them tweak the settings of a system that creates the levels for them.

That's just splitting hairs over a generative system. Pulling a slider to "no enemies and lots of gold" still gives them a pointless level, regardless of whether they are  actually placing the coins one by one.

Quote
But yes, lots of games have level editors, but they are not generally very user friendly.  But anyway level design isn't what I envison people focusing on, but rather the gameplay.  And it's not so much that you set things up, and then play them.  It's that in playing with GameToy you are changing the game inside it.

Then again, it's not a game, it's a toy. It can be used to make a game, but it isn't a game in itself if you have complete control.

Quote
But all this is just how I envison implementing things, and may come up with another solution.  The core of it is this:  I have had a lot of fun making games and my goal is to make a software toy which enables me to share that with everyone.

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A toy in which you make games

A game engine...

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or just play with dynamics and see what happens

Or a simulator...

Sorry, I'm just not seeing the revolutionary part of this... it just sounds like you want an amateur game builder toy - and there are lots of those around. Besides, if someone isn't willing to put a minimum amount of effort into learning how to design a game, how good of a game are they actually going to be able to make? There are drag-and-drop fps editors, if that's what you want. But if you really want people to mess with the dynamics, they need to UNDERSTAND them, which takes effort.

Quote
So to this:
So, are you saying the player would tweak the enemies as they are playing? Like "oh, spiney's again -- i'll just click on them and remove the "damage from below" option and add a "can be smashed from above" option so I can stomp on them.
I say Yes, tweaking like that is how you play with GameToy.

So, I could just, flip a switch, and suddenly, my Spore creature is instantly invincible and rules the galaxy. Well, that was fun.

-----

"I'll give them heroics -- I'll give them the most amazing heroics they've ever seen! And when I'm old, and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so than everyone can be super heroes, EVERYONE can be super! And when everyone's super -- No One Will Be..." - Syndrome, "The Incredibles"
« Last Edit: January 25, 2006, 08:48:38 am by Jaleho »

Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #39 on: January 25, 2006, 08:53:45 am »
Sorry, I'm just not seeing the revolutionary part of this... it just sounds like you want an amateur game builder toy - and there are lots of those around.

http://www.ambrosine.com/resource.html

TONS of game-making toys that require no programming.

Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #40 on: January 25, 2006, 10:35:44 am »
Wow, if I'd known you would be responding to each of those examples, I wouldn't have given so darn many.

Quote
Boundaries are one of the most beneficial elements an artist can have. Any idiot can take an all-powerful tool and create anything with it - talent comes from working within limitations and STILL being able to create something amazing.
First off, I'll say again that of course it will have limitations.  Huge ones.  You wouldn't have hardly any control over the graphics, for instance, and you would lack find control over a lot of things.  But that's unimportant anyway, I don't have any funny pretense that I am creating a new artistic medium.

Quote
What do you think challenge is - it's overcoming failure! "Whoops - that din't work, let me try again... Nope, let me try a new technique... Aha! Success!" Just changing the rules so you succeed is cheating and pointless - why even play then?
Because changing the rules is fun.  You'll have some idea for what you would like to happen and try to make it work.  Somethings won't work out quite the way you intend, or it won't turn out as interesting as you thought, and you can go back and try another technique.

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Then again, it's not a game, it's a toy. It can be used to make a game, but it isn't a game in itself if you have complete control.

You're getting it!

Quote
But that's not a game - its an art project. A game has goals to overcome, goals that take some ammount of skill to achieve. A sandbox is not a game. It can be used as a TOOL inside a game, but it is not a game in itself.
Okay, okay, bad example.  How about Gravball then:  http://www.meyermike.com/viewgame.php?id=4.
Stupid game, but I had fun making it.  And, yeah, it is not supposed to be a game, its supposed to be a toy with which you can make game-like things.

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Pulling a slider to "no enemies and lots of gold" still gives them a pointless level, regardless of whether they are  actually placing the coins one by one.
Yes.  It is uninteresting, and thus, one of the "failure" states of GameToy.

Quote
Sorry, I'm just not seeing the revolutionary part of this...it just sounds like you want an amateur game builder toy  - and there are lots of those around.
Uh, I'm really not under any delusion that it is revolutionary.  But I do hope that it will be fun and a unique approach to the game-builder-toy idea.
I have tried a good number of them, and none really fit the bill of what I am trying to do, but I will check out that list you linked to.

Quote
Besides, if someone isn't willing to put a minimum amount of effort into learning how to design a game, how good of a game are they actually going to be able to make?...if you really want people to mess with the dynamics, they need to UNDERSTAND them, which takes effort.
Well, if I'm lucky then playing with GameToy will be a good way to learn about game design.  I don't really care whther the end user makes an awesome game or not.  I'm just trying to make it something that anyone can use.  Whether they are any good doesn't really matter. 

I'd actually have to disagree with you about people needing to understand dynamics before they can have mess with it.  Messing with them sounds like the best way to learn it, anyway.


hmm...the little quotes interspersed throughout the post makes it annoying to read doesn't it?  I'll try not to do that next time.
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Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #41 on: January 25, 2006, 12:05:48 pm »
Quote from: Borogove link=topic=2135.msg55104#msg55104
First off, I'll say again that of course it will have limitations.  Huge ones.  You wouldn't have hardly any control over the graphics, for instance...



Quote
Changing the rules is fun.  You'll have some idea for what you would like to happen and try to make it work.  Somethings won't work out quite the way you intend, or it won't turn out as interesting as you thought, and you can go back and try another technique.


Quote
Quote
Pulling a slider to "no enemies and lots of gold" still gives them a pointless level, regardless of whether they are  actually placing the coins one by one.
Yes.  It is uninteresting, and thus, one of the "failure" states of GameToy.

So that's what I'm basically getting at - people who change the rules to benefit themselves quickly find out they've just deprived themself of the fun that comes from overcoming an obstacle placed in their path. But they keep doing it. This goes beyond games, of course...

A lot of my suggestions for Spore, for instance, would make the game more difficult, because it would be more REAL.

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I have tried a good number of them, and none really fit the bill of what I am trying to do, but I will check out that list you linked to.

DarkBASIC has one... 3d game maker, where you get to mess around with properties of objects and drop them into the game.

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I'd actually have to disagree with you about people needing to understand dynamics before they can have mess with it.  Messing with them sounds like the best way to learn it, anyway.

Anyone can pull a slider back and forth, but what are they actually learning from it? When someone says "I want to put a jump function on my guy so he can get on top of that block", they have no idea how complex that really is, and letting them click a button doesn't teach them anything. It's like giving a kid a lego airplane and then telling them they can learn about aerodynamics from it. They'd be better off with a paper airplane that actually flies and lets them reshape the paper to see the effects.

I'd rather see a series of mini-toys that teach small elements of game design individually, rather than a giant toy without any real skill being transferred. Or at least, the mini-toys beng able to be combined into the mega-toy, only after you've mastered the parts (sorta like spore - learn the tools first, then get the sandbox to play in with them)

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hmm...the little quotes interspersed throughout the post makes it annoying to read doesn't it?  I'll try not to do that next time.

No, I like quotes. It helps you to know what is actually being referred to, and not trying to guess "when did I say that?"

I'm not trying to argue with you, I'm just really trying to see what there is in your idea that hasn't already been done somewhere... Heck, if I understood it, I could probably help with it!

Maybe you need to make a prototype - that seems to work for maxis :)

Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #42 on: January 25, 2006, 02:08:48 pm »
I did try 3d Game Maker...and my impression of it was that there was only game you could make with it...I thought it was terrible, but it had similar goals to what I'm attempting.
For a little while I was even the poster child for DarkBasic with my game Zwischenzug(Why did I pick that name? WHY???) :)

Quote
Maybe you need to make a prototype - that seems to work for maxis
Absolutely.  I think I might actually do some prototyping in Flash first because right now my graphics engine doesn't seem to run on most computers besides mine.  I suspect I can fix that just by turning off the shaders, but I haven't looked into it yet.  As a side note, one goal of the project is that it would be my tool for prototyping in the future.

Unfortunately, I just odn't see where I am gonna get a couple hours to devote to some prototyping until probably the weekend AFTER this one...

This project isn't actually meant to do anything that other game creation tools haven't in terms of product features.  What I seek to do is:

  • Find ways to get the highest degree of flexibility I can, while still keeping it super easy to use.
  • Have the "tool" and the "game" happening at the same time.  Instead of making a change and then recompiling, I can make a change while it is still playing and observe the effects while I am still changing it.
  • Basically, make a tool that looks more like a game.
  • Probably the biggest difference is that the focus is on making using the tool fun, rather than on just being a tool for making a product.

I might make a separate executable or something that just disables the editting controls, for sharing the game you've made with others.

I could even make it a game about game-making by giving the user goals and limitations.  Like, make a game with no enemies that takes AI player A between 30 seconds and one minute to beat.  But of course I need to have a fun toy before adding goals would make it a fun game.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

Offline Jaleho

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #43 on: January 25, 2006, 03:46:07 pm »
I think I might actually do some prototyping in Flash first because right now... Unfortunately, I just odn't see where I am gonna get a couple hours to devote to some prototyping until probably the weekend AFTER this one...

Heck, just give me the basics and I'll whip up v. 0.0.1a so you can get started. Just write up something like "There should be a player character that can move left and right along the ground with the arrow keys, jump with the space bar, and picks up spheres. As each sphere is touched, it disappears and adds one to the score. The character can't move past the edges of the screen."

then say "ok, now the player should be able to click on the player, or one of the spheres, and change what keys move the character left and right, what key jumps, how fast they can move, how high they can jump, where the ground level is, how many spheres there are, where the spheres are located, whether or not they disappear when touched, whether they give a positive score (and what amount), a negative score (and what amount), or no score at all, and the color of the sphere."

Then you and/or I can just keep adding to the engine.

Offline Borogove

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2006, 11:58:07 pm »
I think I had 3d Gamemaker confused with FPS Creator.  I just downloaded a 3D GameMaker Demo, aber, es ist auf Deutsch!  Jetzt lerne ich, wie viel Deutsch ich mich noch errinern.

I'm sure I butchered that grammar...

Also, it's nigh 3am, but I got a good start on that prototype, but then I got distracted and turned it into a prototype for a weird RTS idea I had...
I was gonna link to it, 'cause I thought it was kind of cool, but it really doesn't look anything like what I'm talking about here so I'll wait til I'm further along.

Maybe I should take this to a game design forum someplace, though...
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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #45 on: January 28, 2006, 09:08:37 pm »
I hoped to be further along in this today, but here's what I got for a quick prototype:
http://meyermike.com/temp/PrototypeA.html

Arrow keys to control the "O".
Work the sliders with the mouse, of course.
You get bonus points if the image in the background rings a bell.

Oh! And I took the sound out because it made the file huge and I was too lazy to do a loading screen.

Obviously, it only demonstrates a small part of what I am attempting(some of the avatar-control controls) and I probably can find a better style of interface.

I will probably take this over into the general or PC Games forum, since it no longer has anything to do with Spore.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2006, 09:12:10 pm by Borogove »
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
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Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

Offline Vivec

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #46 on: January 28, 2006, 09:12:25 pm »
This isn't supposed to sound rude, but what is the point?
Vivec, you're the best forum member ever.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #47 on: January 28, 2006, 09:28:01 pm »
...I'm having a devil of a time explaining it to people  :'(

Essentially, there isn't one.  I'm going for what I think is an interesting approach at build-your-own game software like 3d Game Maker, Klik 'n' Play, and numerous other ones.  Following Jaleho's advice, I'm trying to prototype it piece by piece to see if it can actually turn out to be something worth making.

So I guess I should have mentioned right at the start that this isn't a game, nor is it supposed to be particularly entertaining(though I hope it does give a good 10 seconds of entertainment).  I'm just seeing if the create-the-game-while-playing-it idea is stupid or not.  Unfortunately, I don't think that having just avatar controls is enough to be able to tell just yet.
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
-- Bernard Meltzer

Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

Offline Vivec

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #48 on: January 28, 2006, 09:40:32 pm »
Unfortunately, I don't think that having just avatar controls is enough to be able to tell just yet.

I'm going to have to agree with you there.  ;)

And for the record, it was more like 30 seconds.
Vivec, you're the best forum member ever.

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #49 on: January 28, 2006, 09:45:26 pm »
And for the record, it was more like 30 seconds.

woohoo!

\(^o^)/

Also, I reposted it over in PC Games, which is probably more appropriate: http://www.gamingsteve.com/blab/index.php?topic=2214.0
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-- Bernard Meltzer

Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #50 on: January 29, 2006, 09:45:28 am »
Quote from: Jaleho
"I'll give them heroics -- I'll give them the most amazing heroics they've ever seen! And when I'm old, and I've had my fun, I'll sell my inventions so than everyone can be super heroes, EVERYONE can be super! And when everyone's super -- No One Will Be..." - Syndrome, "The Incredibles"
And when noone is super, EA isn't! 
I dunno, it just seems silly to restrict something in order to protect the specialness of the few. 

And I'm not just advocating laziness...Well, maybe I am, but I just don't see the downside to making game-development easier.  Have other tools for games or other media been questioned that way?  Were people worried about the home video camera making other films less special?

Anyway, regardless of how well this turns out, it doesn't have a hope of making good game designers out of just anyone.  The specialness of commercial games is in no danger from GameToy (just from themselves...).

The Incredibles is one of my favorite movies of all time, btw :)
Use those talents you have. You will make it. You will give joy to the world. Take this tip from nature: The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.
-- Bernard Meltzer

Check out my games:  http://www.meyermike.com

Offline Leng

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Re: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be
« Reply #51 on: January 29, 2006, 04:33:10 pm »
since the other thread seems to be going nowhere i'll repost here:

read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primal_chaos

so what it the game?  basically you start with a blob of stuff.  think of the natural questions you would have about this blob.  what shape is it?  does it have any definite form at all?  how does it act?  where is it?  are there other blobs?  how does it interact with these other blobs?  then you answer your questions.
 
 
 
I have been told
not by one but two of my lovers
that I've got a heart of gold
but I'm unable to share it with others
They call me a poet who'll never have a poem
a tiger with no taste for bone
I'm the wonderful wonderful wizard who's waltzing alone