6 thoughts on “Compulsion Engineers Published

  1. Philip Trippenbach

    Liked your article on Gamasutra. At the bottom of page 3 you talk about nurturing and social interaction games. No big successes here, you’re right. BioWare’s conversation trees are about as far as we’ve come. But someone is trying, and it isn’t Will Wright.

    It’s Chris Crawford: http://www.storytron.com/

    From the FAQ:

    “Interactive Storytelling is about people. You laugh with people, you argue with people, you make love with people, you humiliate people, you conciliate people. […]The characters in Storytronics are thinking, feeling entities who can communicate with each other and with player in a real language. They have their goals and desires, and they pursue them competently without the player’s intervention.”

    Storytron is rather low on the UI at the moment, but it could be interesting . . .

  2. Tynan Sylvester Post author

    Hey Philip, thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen this before.

    Interesting that they’ve finally given up on natural language and fallen back on a formal logic system for communication. As a playable game though, I have reservations. The inherent clunkiness of a formal logic system for communicating will be a problem.

    I find it interesting how different people are attacking the social interaction problem. I’ve actually written a design doc describing a ‘social strategy game’. I could only make it work by completely abstracting out the textual content of messages passed between characters and simply modeling their emotional states and having them influence each others’ emotions using an array of conversational ‘gambits’. Obviously this precludes most meaningful interaction, but it is more classically ‘game-izable’.

    Cool site by the way. The memes you’re vectoring have been rapidly colonizing my mind, to my great enjoyment.

  3. Philip Trippenbach

    Hey Tynan. Glad you liked the site. I think there’s great promise in social interaction as a mode of gameplay. I just remembered there’s someone else trying to create games based on social interaction. The prototype is called Facade. I’ve played it and it kicks. It taps directly into the social primate part of our brain . . .

    I think there’s lots of potential there. They’re working on a sequel called “Dinner Party”. Eyes peeled for the IPO . . .


  4. Tynan Sylvester Post author

    I played Facade and was somewhat underwhelmed, actually. The communication is very mushy. They respond to what you say, sort of, but you can’t coherently guide the conversation. Or maybe I just spent too much time trying to have lesbian makeouts with Grace.

    Of course, it’s a research project, not a game. I’m happy to let the academics do their weird stuff. Maybe we can draw something playable out of those ideas at some point.

  5. Philip Trippenbach

    Well, I think that’s the idea. Facade is a PhD thesis. The conversation is a bit mushy. But you have to admit that as a game it’s way more responsive and interesting than previous text-based conversational interfaces like ELIZA and such.

    As for affecting the outcome, I think the thing about Facade is that the two other characters really have their own agendas (i.e. breaking up with each other) but you can affect how the story ends.

    I agree – it’s got a long way to go. But I still played Escape From Wolfenstein back in ’89 . . . and now we’ve got Half Life 2 and F.E.A.R. . . .

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