Author Topic: 'Collateral Romance', prototyping, what Spore might really be  (Read 14406 times)

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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 »
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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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.

Offline Wahh

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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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Offline Jaleho

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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.

Offline Borogove

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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.
-- Bernard Meltzer

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

Offline Jaleho

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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.

Offline Jaleho

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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 »

Offline Wahh

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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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Offline Jaleho

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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.

Offline Borogove

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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.
-- Bernard Meltzer

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

Offline Jaleho

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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 »

Offline Borogove

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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.
-- Bernard Meltzer

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

Offline Jaleho

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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