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Maintaining a coherent story in a procedural Universe

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by HeadClot, May 13, 2012.

  1. HeadClot

    HeadClot

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2010
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    Ok, I am learning C# and one of the things I wanted to do for the longest time was make an open world action game with procedural content.

    I am currently making a "Wolfenstien 3D" clone in unity.
    I am working on the health system right now as well as the various levels.

    Now - Here goes a question -

    How do you maintain a coherent story in a procedural world?

    I know that this is a bit far ahead for me but I am just tossing this out there for when the time comes.
     
  2. Torsh

    Torsh

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    Some of the game will probably have to be nonprocedural to compose story elements. So you would have to fit nonprocedural game within the procedural universe.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2012
  3. HeadClot

    HeadClot

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    So like who to talk to when starting the games main quest.

    For Example - you need to talk to an base commander at friendly outpost or something like that?
     
  4. Torsh

    Torsh

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    I think so.
     
  5. virror

    virror

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    You probably need some fixed stuff for the story, but those things can still be made varied by generating the location, look and so on. But generating a procedural story is probably possible, but very hard to get decent without any fixed elements.
     
  6. NomadKing

    NomadKing

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    Adding to what Virror and Torsh said, mixing procedural and non-procedural is probably the easiest way to maintain a story or plot in a game with heavy generation.

    Take the original Diablo as an example. One of the biggest selling points was the random generation of levels, but they made heavy use of pre-fixed content as well. The town where you go back to and get quests from was pre-made, and when a specific level needed a quest item or location, it came in a pre-fixed way with the rest of the level generated around it (for example a room for a specific quest related boss).

    In your example, perhaps your main quest giver is always on level 1, but his location is procedurally chosen, or perhaps you want him in a specific room that you pre-make and randomise the rest of the level around - It all comes down to the specifics and scale of what your trying to achieve. :)
     
  7. DallonF

    DallonF

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    I know Skyrim isn't a procedural world, but have a look at how some of their quests are implemented:

    I think the key is to keep the details of your story generic, so that your game engine can fill them in.
     
  8. imaginaryhuman

    imaginaryhuman

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    I think as more and more people embrace procedural methods for content creation, they're going to realize that a hybrid of procedural and non-procedural is the best way to go. Real people aren't `totally random` in their behavior or thinking ... they don't just discard everything that came before and replace it with something totally different. People retain and store memory in order to `learn` rules and familiarity so that they can use that to understand the world. In a totally random world not much makes sense.

    For example I like a game like Jetpack Joyride which presents a high degree of randomly placed/sequenced challenges along the way. But it's too random, and that starts to become unfair, too unpredictable and doesn't make any `sense`... something unusual suddenly crops up out of nowhere that you couldn't possibly predict and that makes it much much harder to deal with, plus it makes each run of the game TOO different and sometimes just plain unfair. I think if you could blend procedural variety with some kind of measure of predictability/order, then things would work out. Think about how the real world works, you could say the world is based on chaos (total randomness) but there is definitely some `order` that has arisen, some predictability you can seem to rely on and use to learn and navigate your way around.
     
  9. Gigiwoo

    Gigiwoo

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    Jetpack Joyride is a wonderful blend of procedural and linear. It has various 'areas' where the challenges change. I'm inside one room, then a hallway, then an underwater area, etc... Each area has 'types of challenges', but the exact placement and timing varies. This establishes familiarity. For example, at approximately 30s, I have to beat the top/bottom lasers - everytime. Each game is similar, but slightly different. Tiny Wings on the other hand is a pure skill game. The randomness comes from the fact that you cannot see EXACTLY where you're going to land. Even after hundreds of plays, you can't be sure exactly how fast or far you will jump, keeping it different and exciting.

    You'll tire of both games eventually. Which is normal. But as Raph Koster wrote, 'A good game is one that teaches you all it has to offer before you stop playing.' Kudos to both!

    Gigi.
     
  10. online|offworld

    online|offworld

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    Nov 17, 2009
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    At some point, you're going to want to check out tvtropes.org :)
     
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