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On implementing a theory of the mind (or: What took you so long?)

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Mon, 01/04/2016 - 01:49

And a happy new year!

So, why haven't I posted anything since time immemorial? (except for a silly joke)

The reason is simple: on one hand, lots of real work, on the other hand, improving the engine became a lot like work. But not for the reasons you would expect: it was not a problem of it being tedious. Well, sure, some if was and that didn't help.

New Business Model

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Sun, 12/27/2015 - 05:12

Yes, we are alive (one never wearies of the royal we). An important message today, so that the year does not end without exciting news from Lilavati.

As a reaction to recent trends in videogame development and marketing, I have been reconsidering my options for our business model. Here are my ideas so far:

Narrative Gameplay: Why everyone is wrong (except you?)

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Sat, 01/31/2015 - 02:16

The pitch: In my humble* opinion, almost everything you have ever read about how to do narrative in games is either far too optimistic about emergence, or far too pessimistic/conservative about what games can be. Narrative gameplay - playing with the story, altering it beyond scripted choices - is a very real possibility, but I'm quite sure it will spawn neither from the sandboxes, nor from the cinematic storytellers. In this post you will find, if not the solution, at least a strong conjecture on where to look for it.

* Citation needed.

[Gameplay concept] Pathos

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 15:22

Pathos is the use of affect to persuade your audience to take a certain stance. It can work by appealing

  • to emotion ("Think of the children!")
  • to ego ("Any intelligent person knows that the result in 47." or in implication "Obviously, the result is 47. ")

As such, it may seem antithetical to Logos - it seems to be there to override reason and create arbitrary biases in people (even if you deem like me, perhaps after reading the previous posts, that logic is not a God-given web of intrinsically true relationships).

[Gameplay concept] Ethos

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 15:21

Ethos is originally meant to represent the trustworthiness of the orator - how willing the audience is to believe them on principle. It is the core of arguments from authority - which are considered a fallacy by modern cognitive psychology, but are an absolute necessity in real life: you cannot go on checking every single fact by yourself before accepting what someone else says. You will generally trust that this quantum chemist has an informed opinion on atomic orbitals. The fallacy is placing argument by authority above experience...

[Gameplay concept] Logos

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Wed, 01/28/2015 - 15:21

Logos is the core of the gameplay: it is the web of topics and arguments on which the conversation is played.

Topics are nodes, connected by links called Arguments. Here, characters in the game differ primarily by: which topics and arguments they know at the start of the conversation, and what are their opinions on various topics.

[Gameplay concept] Where to look for a solution

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Tue, 01/06/2015 - 03:51

Where to look for a solution

The first problem is simply one of building a system rather than designing a series of puzzles and clues. The second is a problem of gameplay-narrative divide. We want there to be an actual content to the conversation, and that requires it to be written down in advance, because AI just isn't good enough. The trick is to find rules that fit the content.

[Gameplay concept] First Problem

AHasvers's picture
Submitted by AHasvers on Tue, 01/06/2015 - 03:49

First problem: the guessing game

In some cases, dialogue trees can be really complex (indeed, more conditional graphs than trees) and exploring them becomes a real puzzle, see e.g. Galatea by Emily Short.

In other cases, as in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, you can see some trappings of a dialog-specific gameplay. But it is still largely a mix of skill checks and guess-the-right-answer with a magnificent paint job.


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