Game Development Reference
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problem in realistic simulations such as the virtual Bosnian village given in
[Gratch01]. Showing emotion is a secondary problem in games. This may sound
completely counterintuitive; what could be more emotionally engaging than
showing emotion? The real problem to solve in games is evoking an emotional
response in the player . How we get there is a secondary problem and a free choice.
In simulation, showing emotions is primary. Evoking emotions is secondary, but
it is a strong indicator of success. As luck would have it, modeling emotions in
games is not a particularly difficult problem. To varying degrees of fidelity, we
can make our game AI feel at a level comparable to how well our AI thinks. We do
need to keep foremost in our minds that the feelings that count are the player's
feelings.
AI game programmers are afforded great liberties with the AI's ''feelings.''
Everything from faking it to sophisticated models beyond the scope of this topic is
perfectly acceptable. Modeling feelings may be unfamiliar, but it is closely ana-
logous to modeling thinking. In games, we are not required to particularly care
about the AI's feelings. Even if the AI programmer creates a high-fidelity emotion
system, the game designer may override the AI's feeling at any time. We are
familiar with overrides from the behavior side already; the designer says, ''Make it
do this, here, regardless of what the AI thought it should do.'' The designer does
this for dramatic impact. The designer may also say, ''Make it feel angry here,
regardless of what it wants to feel.'' The AI might have decided to feel depressed,
or it might be coldly planning future retribution, but the designer wants anger for
the emotional impact.
While we do not particularly care about what the AI is feeling, we care deeply
about what the player is feeling. We especially care when the player has feelings
about the virtual characters in the game. ''I've saved them! I've saved them all!''
the player shouts. On occasion, we can get the player to be affected by the feelings
attributed to the virtual characters. ''Oh, no! She's going to be really angry at
me!'' the player says. These are emotional responses from the player. They do not
require emotions to actually be present in the virtual characters. People attach
sentimental value to non-feeling objects in real life; they even attribute feelings to
inanimate objects. Often, children worry about how lonely a lost toy is going to
be more than they worry about how sad they will be if they never get it back.
The game succeeds when players feel compelled to describe their playing
experiences to their friends with sentences that start out, ''I was so...'' and end
with words like ''pumped,'' ''scared,'' ''thrilled,'' or even ''sad.'' Evoked emotions
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