Game Development Reference
In-Depth Information
just as likely to cause an emotional response in the player as being stabbed in the
back. The positive feelings can be reinforced if the advisor occasionally thanks the
player and offers up advice or volunteers to do dangerous missions.
The game AI could pick which way the betrayal works, or even if the betrayal
happens at all. An experienced game designer will point out that branching
scripts are hardly new and might claim that they are not AI. They are, as we saw in
Chapter 2, ''Simple Hard-Coded AI.'' They just do not require an AI pro-
grammer to script them. The scripting system itself is probably the work output
of an AI programmer. The AI programmer does need to make sure that the
scripting system does not get in the way of the designers, but instead frees and
inspires them. Their needs might require the techniques of other chapters. The AI
programmer may not have training as a playwright, but the AI programmer can
ask the designers what tools they need to ensure that they can evoke an emotional
response from the player. Someone else may write the script, but AI owns the
action. It is possible for the AI to own the script, but this is rare.
In the game Fa¸ade , the AI owns the entire plot sequence. The AI interprets
player input as best it can and reacts accordingly. In this one-act interactive
drama, the AI has access to 27 plot elements, called beats in dramatic writing
theory, and any particular run-through of the game typically encounters about
15 of them [Mateas05]. Fa¸ade certainly succeeds as interactive drama, but it is
not the first thing people think of when they think about computer games . While
it does not fit this chapter's ''on the cheap'' emphasis on techniques that are
accessible to beginners, it does show just how far AI-controlled plot has already
gone. For many designers, there are serious issues beyond abandoning control to
the AI; Fa¸ade shows at most 25 percent of its total available content in any given
run, often less. Unless the experience provides a compelling reason for repeated
play, the rest of the assets are effectively wasted.
Somewhere between simple branching scripts and total AI control, designers find
their particular sweet spot for AI interaction with the plot. This is the spot that
the AI programmer must support. The simplest techniques can be added as
necessary, but more complex capabilities must be designed in from the start.
It's no surprise that computer games are often called video games; this is due in
part to their history, but also to the fact that games have such strong visual
elements to them. We touched on camera AI in Chapter 2. Camera scripts allow
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