Apologies for lack of Posts

Hi guys, 

Sorry about my recent lack of posts. This is partly due to the fact that I’m only a student 50% of my time, but mostly that I found blogging about this adaptive games stuff really tricky. However, I do need to do this, so I’m taking back up now. I’ve thought about how best to do this, and I’m not sure I’ve come up with a good answer, but at least I have formulated some form of strategy.. We’ll have to see how it pans out! :P My new strategy is based on only making one point per post, which I hope will encourage more of a discussion on that one point at a time, and it should also keep my posts shorter. I appreciate that as little time I have to write these posts, you guys have even less time to read and comment on them! 

So without further ado, here’s today’s point:
I’m trying to establish a set of guidelines regarding how to ensure appropriateness of adaptations, based on player emotions, to the game play. Today I’m considering this with respect to the storyline. In some games it may well be not just appropriate but downright exciting to adapt the storyline itself to the emotions of the player. Games such as Fable II and Fallout 3 could benefit from such adaptations, allowing the player to experience a new story every time they played through the game. This would also increase the life span of the games, as the replay value would increase dramatically. Unfortunately, adapting the storyline itself is tremendously difficult, and has yet (to my knowledge) to be done successfully (based on emotions or not).
 
Do you guys know of any games that does this successfully, or games that do something similar, hack it somehow?
What do you think about the concept of adapting the storyline to player’s emotion? Or adapting any part of the game to the emotions of the player?
 
Until next time!
Phew    

6 Comments
7 Comments
Posted by Phewsie

Hi guys, 

Sorry about my recent lack of posts. This is partly due to the fact that I’m only a student 50% of my time, but mostly that I found blogging about this adaptive games stuff really tricky. However, I do need to do this, so I’m taking back up now. I’ve thought about how best to do this, and I’m not sure I’ve come up with a good answer, but at least I have formulated some form of strategy.. We’ll have to see how it pans out! :P My new strategy is based on only making one point per post, which I hope will encourage more of a discussion on that one point at a time, and it should also keep my posts shorter. I appreciate that as little time I have to write these posts, you guys have even less time to read and comment on them! 

So without further ado, here’s today’s point:
I’m trying to establish a set of guidelines regarding how to ensure appropriateness of adaptations, based on player emotions, to the game play. Today I’m considering this with respect to the storyline. In some games it may well be not just appropriate but downright exciting to adapt the storyline itself to the emotions of the player. Games such as Fable II and Fallout 3 could benefit from such adaptations, allowing the player to experience a new story every time they played through the game. This would also increase the life span of the games, as the replay value would increase dramatically. Unfortunately, adapting the storyline itself is tremendously difficult, and has yet (to my knowledge) to be done successfully (based on emotions or not).
 
Do you guys know of any games that does this successfully, or games that do something similar, hack it somehow?
What do you think about the concept of adapting the storyline to player’s emotion? Or adapting any part of the game to the emotions of the player?
 
Until next time!
Phew    

Posted by RagingLion

I don't know if this example aligns 100% with what you're talking about and interested in, but when starting talking about the game adapting to the player(s) I can't help but think of Left 4 Dead.  That in itself is perhaps an unusual example because in some senses it doesn't have an overarching storyline or at least a traditional one but it actually has many of the features of one.  I know that the writers behind L4D talk about the concept of emergent storytelling, which means that the story you experience is your own personal one which is the product of your own gameplay and the experiences that then result.  It's like you're making your own story up in your head based on your experiences, e.g. the drama of the daring and perhaps suicidal rescue that was staged because you and your team decided to leave the safe area and go back and help a downed teammate.
 
Anyway, emergent storytelling isn't specifically related to adapting a game to the emotions of the players.  But what is related is the AI director present in L4D which is partially there to pitch the difficulty level appropriately but also generally tailors the experience which is different every time.  You can be in situations where as the player you think "this is quiet...too quiet" and then suddenly you get a horde of zombies rushing at you from all sides.  That's pretty good emotionally adaptive stuff.  However, it would be dishonest of me to suggest the game is really constantly playing with my emotions.  Perhaps is does a bit more the first few times I played through the campaigns and probably more so on harder difficulty levels where the experience really becomes a struggle, but after a while you get numbed to any real emotional effect it can have on you.  It changes up the gameplay itself which definitely makes that interesting but my emotional state is not changing on any real level.  Hmm, maybe I just need to play on a harder difficulty level more to heighten that kind of thing.
 
The one last thing I thought was relevant to your thoughts is that there's quite a lot of dialogue present in L4D, none of which changes the gameplay but is normally just there for comic relief.  All of this dialogue is contextual and even after playing probably 50+ (maybe 100+) hours of L4D you still hear new things.  For example if just two particular characters are left with the others having been killed you will likely have one or more particular dialogue exchanges between the characters (independent of the players doing anything) that you hear that are reflective of their situation.  Now it's not always the most emotionally stirring game because you're often very aware you're just having fun playing a game, but it's this kind of contextual dialogue which you would need to have in an adaptive storyline where the game's writing is hopefully reflecting the emotions you're feeing yourselves.
 
So that's what sprung to my mind.  I may have gone off track from what you're interested in but that was the first thing to come to mind.  In general, yes, adapting the storyline to the players emotions sounds great and I'd love to experience it.  I don't know if Heavy Rain is relevant to these interests but I'm excited to see how that game comes out (though I don't have a PS3) since it seems to offer so many branching story opportunities and looks like it'd be different every time you played it.  But is that the story changing more  upon the player interactions/gameplay rather than your emotions which is what you were discussing?  But actually, is there overlap between emotions and actions since surely you take actions based on emotions.  I'll leave you to think about that.

Edited by ahoodedfigure

When you say "emotions or not" with regard to the story adapting , what do you mean by the "or not"?  RagingLion's example is a recent one that does adapt based on player behavior.  Was that what you're getting at?

Edited by Phewsie

I was actually thinking about a more traditional story adaptation, in games which are heavily based on story lines, RPGs and such like. However, emergent storytelling is still valid, and you're right, RagingLion, Left4Dead is very good at adapting to one emotion, stress. It's the only emotion they look at, but the data they collect to deduce stress levels is quite vast. Although I knew of this game I hadn't actually tried playing it until today, so my personal experience is very limited here. But having read up on the Director, I am more than a little impressed. So I withdraw my earlier statement saying this has not been done yet, and replace is by saying that to my knowledge no one has yet developed a game which successfully adapts to a range of emotions. This is a very good start though! :)
 Thanks for pointing me in this direction, I'm not sure how I missed this a year ago! :P
 
But thinking in terms of more traditional story based games, with a non-emergent storyline, how would you answer my original questions?
 
Oh and if there are any more games like L4D, or more points to which you wish to refer re this game, please, bung them in too! :D
 
And, yes, ahoodedfigure, that's exactly what I was getting at! :P

Posted by teh_destroyer

Dragon Age: Origins........ I feel as if I am falling in love with the damn game 0_0

Posted by Xeiphyer

Wait.. lack of posts? You have 7 posts?!

Posted by Cube

Apologizing for lack of posts? ha..hahaha..haha