Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
PC Games (Games) Entertainment Games

Experimental Video Game Evolves Its Own Content 167

Posted by Soulskill
from the ontogeny-recapitulates-giant-lasers dept.
Ken Stanley writes "Just as interest in user-generated content in video games is heating up, a team of researchers at the University of Central Florida has released an experimental multiplayer game in which content items compete with each other in an evolutionary arms race to satisfy the players. As a result, particle system-based weapons, which are the evolving class of content, continually invent their own new behaviors based on what users liked in the past. Does the resulting experience in this game, called Galactic Arms Race, suggest that evolutionary algorithms may be the key to automated content generation in future multiplayer gaming and MMOs?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Experimental Video Game Evolves Its Own Content

Comments Filter:
  • Dynamic world (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:09AM (#28622651) Journal

    This is actually what I've wished for long time that MMO's would have. For example in WoW, once you've seen one place it will always be like that.

    It would be great to have kind of an ecosystem which would evolve on its own and when players help (or destroy) it. For example, there would be two or three independent towns controlled by NPC's living closely that you could build relationships with. Once one of the towns needs more resources, likes to expand or for whatever reason, it would go in war with another town. Player couldn't directly control it, but you could influence it indirectly. Taking it further, when you could really succesfully frame the other town for hostile act's, you could cause a war between them if they see so.

    I know it makes it easier to design and create content when everything is static, but in this case some of the content and the actual gameplay would be created by itself. It would also be *a lot* more interesting when you could directly or indirectly affect the world. Doing a run against some giant badass boss dragon and decided to quit it and run away? Now no, that badass boss dragon wouldn't just get back to its place once you've just a little bit out of its attack range. It would actually be *pissed* at your group and follow you, tearing apart the environment when you try to run away from it. This creates even more tension, as other players and NPC controlled towns would be pissed at you for causing that.

    I've always also thought that why there's no king's or province leaders in WoW or other MMORPG's. Other players could elect you into it or you could steal it from existing king. Obviously the other faction would first need to break thru the provinces to capitol city like Stormwind, fight your way thru the guards and other players finally to the king's castle and then have a huge fight there. If you succeeded with that, you would still need to defence the place and continue gaining control over it. Or you could take the spy approach, gaining trust and getting in ranks to work with the king, finally to just to backstab him when its the perfect moment to do so.

    There's so much you could do with dynamic content or world where player actions actually matter. Now everything is just pretty static, grinding to kill enemies that just pop up back 5 mins later or doing mindless quests. I would really welcome some MMO where it would be more like a sandbox for players and the world. EVE Online actually works a bit like this and that's why its always interest me, even tho I'm not really into space genre. Would be great to see such fantasy MMORPG, or even modern day MMORPG.

    • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Insightful)

      by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:19AM (#28622807)

      "This is actually what I've wished for long time that MMO's would have. For example in WoW, once you've seen one place it will always be like that."

      Actually for some games this is a good thing, we already have algorithmically generated content creation in random maps, and it's hit and miss depending on the genre of game, i.e. you wouldn't want crappy lopsided distribution of resources in an RTS for example.

      The problem with evolutionary algorithms that I can see that is that games are the result of a "vision" I doubt a vision would remain cohesive under a competitive process.

      For instance in many games that have player created content, one could consider that an evolutionary algorithm (the players) in their own right, and then other players pick the best levels from among the community and assemble them in level packs. The problem becomes though that some levels that are downright shit become popular, as we've seen with summer blockbusters like Transformers: Most people have mediocre tastes, and I'm not sure a player driven world of clueless players would produce anything anyone would want to visit.

      • Re:Dynamic world (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:36AM (#28623117) Journal

        I think the best way to do dynamic content in an MMO is to build a static framework (e.g. a world) and allow people to expand and create content from there.

        Now, in my world, it would go like this: Your class, relative wealth, and profession would all have attendant properties and buildings. Some of them you could purchase for limited money generation: you're a smith, you need a smithy and a mine. You build the smithy, because you have to have one to make items, and then you prospect until you find a good spot, and you buy/build a mine, because it's cheaper than buying all your own ore.

        Now, obviously, these buildings are vulnerable. You put the smithy and a shop (to sell your wares) in a big player-run city, where everyone who has buildings pays taxes that pay for NPC guards and defenses, so that's taken care of, but what about the mine? The mine is (obviously) outside the city, and not protected by the city guards. So you skim off some of your mining profits to pay NPC mercenaries to defend it.

        Voila. You have player cities with guards, and dungeons with mobs, all at once. Make the shops able to be stolen from, and you have room for thieves, and let the players put in traps, fancy locks, etc. There is tons of stuff you can do. Obviously you're going to want to strike a balance. No fun to be a shopkeeper if you get cleaned out all the time. No fun to be a thief if it's too hard to break into a shop, and then there is nothing worth stealing...But that's just fine tuning.

        See how logical and easy that is? And the person who built the buildings has a vested interest in keeping them going, paying for upgrades, replacing guards, etc. Everything can expand from that. Different types of buildings for different types of benefits to different groups. Military buildings for military bonuses, commercial buildings for commercial bonuses, etc, etc. You can throw in some PVE content: military group builds a building on the border with a non-human race, and kicks off a war with the orcs, or whatever.

        Limitless possibilities, and everything that you do in the game matters. You clear a dungeon, it's gone, or empty, until someone rebuilds it, and then it won't be exactly the same...Depending on who builds it it could be completely different. You'll have done something unique, and how often does that happen in an MMO?

        • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:40AM (#28623183)

          Being a smith in that world sounds incredibly boring. Does he have a computer in his smithy that he can play Tetris on?

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by jez9999 (618189)

            Sod Tetris, I'm bored with that. Does he have a computer he can play World of Warcraft on, and be something more interesting than a smith?

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by fractoid (1076465)
              And can he download an addon for World of Warcraft that'll let him play Bejeweled [popcap.com]?

              'cuz Bejeweled is, like, a million times better than Tetris.
          • Re:Dynamic world (Score:5, Interesting)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:52AM (#28623355) Journal

            Shrug. Some people like playing crafters, and you can add a frickton of strategy stuff to it.

            I'd love to see a crafting system than was complex and open-ended. Hell, make it so that you have some sort of skill-based mini game (like Tetris?) that effects the quality of things you're trying to craft, so it's not just about the level of grinding you've done on the skill, but also on actual skill.

            On top of that, you have the whole "defend my stuff" part of the game, which moves toward traditional strategy elements. You're recruiting and training units, you're building defenses. You're making alliances with other players to defend each others stuff.

            That sounds a hell of a lot more fun to me than just another MMO level/loot grind, where crafting is something you do when you're tired of killing stuff, and has very little actual effect on the game. I'm so tired of that I can't even convey it.

            • Re:Dynamic world (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Otto (17870) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:04PM (#28623557) Homepage Journal

              The problem with an open-ended system is that it is always unbalanced. At some point, the system evolves to the point where it makes more sense to be a smithy than to be a baker, or whatever. One profession/class/rank/item always tops out and becomes unbeatable. The only way to balance this is to either a) have mods who arbitrary slap people down by pushing the values this way or that or b) introduce a changing ruleset to balance things out through game events or some other "magic" process.

              Either way, the players will find these changes "unfair". "I put all this effort into making this high ranking person, and your changes made me lesser!" is the basic gist of it. The problem of it is that they're correct, the changes did make that person lesser, in order to balance out the game.

              • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Informative)

                by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:12PM (#28623691) Journal

                Balance is absolutely the challenge, but that's the case with every game.

                Fricking WoW has been trying to balance it's handful of character classes for years now, and they're not getting anywhere. There is always a "most powerful" class/spec combo which all the hardcore people are using, and every major patch sees some class get nerfed or buffed.

                Does that mean WoW isn't a successful game?

                • by fractoid (1076465)
                  The problem isn't just with the game itself. Some classes are quite difficult to play very well, but incredibly powerful when played well. If only a small percentage of players are any good with that class, then it'll get buffed. A classic example in WoW was warlocks - they were pitied during vanilla WoW because they could be completely locked down by some classes. Then they got some (actually relatively minor) buffs combined with a couple of system-wide design changes (PvP trinkets I'm looking at you) and
              • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Insightful)

                by TrippTDF (513419) <hiland@gIIImail.com minus threevowels> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:19PM (#28623809)
                At some point, the system evolves to the point where it makes more sense to be a smithy than to be a baker, or whatever.

                Welcome to real life
              • by wjousts (1529427)
                Another problem is that I would imagine such a system would become closed and very hard for new people to get into. Once groups of bakers and smithies have banded together for mutual benefit, it's going to be very hard for others to break in.
                • by WNight (23683)

                  But that's the answer, not the problem.

                  For everything there is a cost. Banding together around a large factory-process isn't very agile, so while there would be a niche for in-character guilds they would by necessity not be doing the expensive one-off commission armor, etc.

                  And yes, smithing is probably more lucrative than baking - if there's only one in town. But that economic process is how the game would auto-correct if it was left to do that.

              • by Ihmhi (1206036)

                Wouldn't market forces balance things out?

                If you have a ton of smiths, then there would be a ton of smith-made items and therefore a glut. Prices would go down.

                Conversely, the Baker's +5 Int Bran Muffin would be more valuable than its baseline because it's rarer.

                • by Otto (17870)

                  True, if market forces ruled the game. But that's pretty rare, normally prices for items are fixed in such a game.

                  To get true market forces operating on the price of items, you'd need to have your items basically bidded on (possibly in bulk), then resold by markets at a profit. You could emulate this, of course, and some games have done so, but it's difficult to emulate well without actually doing it with real people. A free marketplace is inherently unpredictable, a computer can't simulate that.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                I can see how that would be a problem, but only if you allow characters to be immortal.

                Seriously, why can't we have an MMO where characters die of old age? Let's stop allowing powergamers to dictate that all new content should be for level 10,000+ players who go on 24hr raids with 60 other guild members?

                Other genres specifically design for natural death. How boring would The Sims be if your character just got wealthier and moved into larger and larger properties forever? Or if NetHack was just an infinitely

            • . Hell, make it so that you have some sort of skill-based mini game (like Tetris?) that effects the quality of things you're trying to craft, so it's not just about the level of grinding you've done on the skill, but also on actual skill.

              On top of that, you have the whole "defend my stuff" part of the game, which moves toward traditional strategy elements. You're recruiting and training units, you're building defenses. You're making alliances with other players to defend each others stuff.

              That is beginning to sound a little bit like Puzzle Pirates...

            • by popeye44 (929152)

              I think from my limited point of view not having ever played a MMO. That being a smith/miner is great. How would he go about making the axe of doom with X hit points or the mace of mastery etc. Assuming we're talking crafting as a skill where does he get the jewels/enchantments/etc to power up his weapons of doom. Do random finds in his mine added with his skill level allow him the ability to enchant? Does he mine for himself or do we add in a journeyman/apprentice line as well? If we're talking MMO that wo

            • by Ifandbut (1328775)

              I'd love to see a crafting system than was complex and open-ended. Hell, make it so that you have some sort of skill-based mini game (like Tetris?) that effects the quality of things you're trying to craft, so it's not just about the level of grinding you've done on the skill, but also on actual skill.

              SWG (before it went to crap) had something simular. You had points that you could spend at different stages of the crafting process that would influence the end product.

              For example: Say you are crafting a blaster. Well to make the blaster you need a barrel, grip and energy cell. You make the energy cell. It has durability, energy capacity (power of each shot), and energy discharge rate (weapon speed).

              For starters the base materials you put into the energy cell have their own properties (durability, conducti

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Jim_Maryland (718224)
            While I can appreciate StatanicPuppy's idea, I agree that it would become boring after a while. I play games to get away from work (OK, may call grinding experience/reputation/gold as work still). If a game were to implement your concepts, would you envision the guards, shop owners, etc... to be NPCs or other players? If NPCs, the amount of space in the game world would have to be huge to accommodate all players wanting to setup towns. If real players, what happens if you have all East Coast players as
        • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:50AM (#28623331) Homepage
          Having the players make their own content worked pretty well for City of Heroes, didn't it? What could possibly go wrong?
          • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Interesting)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:05PM (#28623589) Journal

            It's amusing, because when I first wrote that rant, it was in reaction to the utter cock-up that CoH made of the player generated content thing.

            In CoH they let people generate their own missions, and they rewarded people based on how well OTHER PEOPLE liked their missions! What the fuck? What was the cost to the player when 100 people ripped through their level-farming mission like a fat guy through a door made of bacon? They were rewarded.

            Oh god, could you do anything worse than that? What content did they think was going to be created?

            In my system, the player gets benefits from building buildings/dungeons/whatever, and loses benefits when other players run roughshod over their stuff. The player would have a strong motivation to protect his stuff, and make it as hard as possible to beat.

            It's not just about crafting either. Say you want to set up a dungeon full of bandits who raid nearby player junk. Why not? Player housing that gives bonuses based on the junk you've got in your house. You raid someones mine and trash it, and the miner gets pissed of and pays some thieves to loot your house, killing your bonuses.

            It's about making the content created a needed and good thing for the character, and giving them bonuses/money/skills/whatever based on what they've got, so that they have an incentive to expand it and protect it.

            • by Sparton (1358159)

              In my system, the player gets benefits from building buildings/dungeons/whatever, and loses benefits when other players run roughshod over their stuff. The player would have a strong motivation to protect his stuff, and make it as hard as possible to beat.

              It's not just about crafting either. Say you want to set up a dungeon full of bandits who raid nearby player junk. Why not? Player housing that gives bonuses based on the junk you've got in your house. You raid someones mine and trash it, and the miner gets pissed of and pays some thieves to loot your house, killing your bonuses.

              It's about making the content created a needed and good thing for the character, and giving them bonuses/money/skills/whatever based on what they've got, so that they have an incentive to expand it and protect it.

              To you realize how much that sounds like Eve Online in a fantasy setting? Do you realize how many people really don't want to play that, because if they did, they'd just play Eve?

              • Actually, I do. I think Eve has some pretty good ideas, but it's a bit too much like playing a spreadsheet.

                The problem with Eve is that it's got a ridiculously steep learning curve, a high death penalty, and its only got one setting: hard core.

                What I'd be interested in is a game that has a more moderate entry point, where you can play perfectly happily, and yet has the depth and potential that a game like Eve has.

            • by Minwee (522556)

              The player would have a strong motivation to protect his stuff, and make it as hard as possible to beat.

              I think you're overestimating the dedication that the average MMORPG player has to your vision.

              Online games are about only two things: Making numbers get bigger and filling up progress bars. That's it. Players who care about "creating content" and "promoting the needs of the community" are the exception, not the rule. They usually burn out pretty quickly once they realize that it's the munchkins who

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NeutronCowboy (896098)

          I actually thought about your dungeon suggestion in the context of Gnomeregan in WoW: a level 80 can wipe every single mob in there at once, but the gnomes still don't take their city back. Would be fun if that could happen... of course, the problem would be that a very specific leveling and gearing point is gone from the game. And Gnomeregan is the only close dungeon in that range for gnomes and dwarves.

          That kind of MMO requires two more things: a complete de-emphasis of PvE for leveling, and a de-emphasis

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Canazza (1428553)

            Gnomeregen wouldn't be missed honestly. That and Ulduman. They're so un-loved that the Alliance would rather walk to Scarlet Monastry, across a lake and through Horde territory, rather than do the two instances within 2 minutes of Ironforge.

            A point I've always made about WoW was how static it was. They've been rebuilding Redridge for 4 years now.

            WOTLK went some way to address this using 'phasing' - in that your progression through quests changed the landscape (the biggest, most obvious change being the Wrat

          • Re:Dynamic world (Score:5, Informative)

            by ReverendLoki (663861) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:31PM (#28624001)

            This is something Guild Wars tried to address in their approach. By making gaming areas instanced and meet-up areas MMO, a player's actions can effect the game world on a slightly grander scale. The state of the instance is decided based upon the previous actions of those entering it.

            The thing is, I feel they didn't capitalize on this opportunity nearly enough...

            • by AP31R0N (723649)

              i LOVED that aspect of GW! NC Soft's new game, Aion, does not seem to have it :(

              As for user generated content, i'd like to see a D&D 4E game centered on Planescape. Sigil would serve as hub to which official and unofficial content could link. i could pop into Ravenloft or Dragonlance. Or i could create my own realm with stupid over the top rules and powers. Users could rate and tag my content. WotC could sell/license an SDK and connections to Sigil.

        • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Interesting)

          by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @12:07PM (#28623625)

          Make the shops able to be stolen from, and you have room for thieves, and let the players put in traps, fancy locks, etc.

          The only problem I see there (and I don't think it's necessarily a deal breaker) is that the designers have competing interests: the thieves have to be able to max out a skill, but if a thief can always steal from the shop then there's no incentive to open the shop in the first place. Either the shop is impossible to steal from, thus making the thief feel slighted, or the thief can steal from the shop, which means that all thieves which max out their skills can steal from the shops. And if you make it a progression, where lower-level shop owners are more easily stolen from than more senior shop owners, then you have a situation where thieves always steal from lower level shops, making it so that the only workable levels for owning a shop are extremely high.

          I would probably resolve that issue through making it so that either the shops can't be stolen from at all, or else there's a limited scope in what can be stolen. For instance, there's a certain amount of gold on hand from items being bought and sold. Only half of that gold can be stolen, thus ensuring that there's something to steal but the shop owner can't lose everything. Or maybe shops earn latent income through the assumed purchases made by NPCs, and it's only this income which can be stolen from. Or maybe it's only custom made weapons, and the regular stock can't be stolen from, etc. Because anyone and everyone can get to the highest levels of thievery, there has to be an artificial barrier when it comes to thievery between PCs.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) *

            I was thinking limited scope myself: the thief can break in, but they can't clean the entire place out (for whatever reason). If they could clean the entire place out, right to the ground, then it would completely suck to be a crafter. Or, as a crafter, maybe you could pay for theft insurance? I also think there needs to be some kind of diminishing return, so that it doesn't make sense for an upper level thief to grief the lower level shopkeepers.

            There are a couple of ways it could be done, but I think the

            • by Sparton (1358159)

              There are a couple of ways it could be done, but I think the whole thing depends on that sort of arms race between the thief and the shopkeepers, where they're constantly expanding their efforts to stymie the other person. That's what would make it a cool game: if the thieves had a huge advantage, then it would be terrible to be a shopkeeper, and vice versa.

              If this would be such a robust and fun system, why would you want to tack it into something else instead of just making a game about this? The more intricate systems you put onto of the same game, the less time you can spend on making them work well (unless you have unlimited funding and time).

              Crafting in many MMOs is merely a means to an end. Certainly, they could be more robust than they are now, but the product as a whole would likely suffer a bit from having something so complex introduced ontop of the

            • by lewiscr (3314)

              I also think there needs to be some kind of diminishing return, so that it doesn't make sense for an upper level thief to grief the lower level shopkeepers.

              This is the internet. There will always be some high level douchebags that get a great deal of amusement from messing with noobs.

        • by sam0737 (648914)

          I think the best way to do dynamic content in an MMO is to build a static framework (e.g. a world) and allow people to expand and create content from there.

          I built the Earth and the Universe in the same way. It's not a good idea, I'm telling ya...

          --God

        • by brkello (642429)
          *sigh* Yeah, well the fine tuning would be the rub. All of these idea would be hideous to implement. How strong can the guards be? How can you prevent players from instantly destroying any content as soon as it is created? How do you make it fun? It sounds like you are just trying to recreate real life which is what we are trying to escape. If thieves are slightly over-powered, then everyone is going to steal. If it is really hard, or consequences are high, no one will play it. Once again, all you ha
        • by MobyDisk (75490)

          Here's why that doesn't work: Nobody wants to be a smith because that's not fun. That's a profession.

          Existing MMOs handle that by making everyone be a warrior, mage, etc - PLUS they choose a profession. The profession is handled automatically with things like "You are a level 10 chef, because you have cooked X number of items" which of course, involves gathering items by killing them and clicking the "Cook" button.

        • Have you played eve online? I can't of a better example that would fit your description.

          -b

    • by StCredZero (169093) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:26AM (#28622953)

      I've been thinking along these lines quite a bit. Here's what I've come up with:

      Let your players design their own ships. (For the Space games. Armor/Mounts/Minions for the others.) The appearance of the items will determine the stats according to some simple geometric rules. (Examples: A part of the hull which is angled back will have more armor resistance from certain directions. The larger your ship is in any direction, the slower it can turn, etc.) There will also be "design points" players can spend. The player will then submit the design by spending the in-game money for a "research project." During this time, the item will be submitted to a user-driven forum much like /. or reddit, and the top vote-getters during their "research period" will succeed in their research projects and actually get prototyped. Players are rewarded for designing cool ships by being given the opportunity to license their designs for a royalty.

      Now here's the kicker -- the stats of ships of a certain design will shrink over time. So players who want the best ships will constantly have to seek out new designs. (All items would be temporary in this scheme. Nothing would ever be permanently bound to any player.)

      I'd also like to see opportunities for players to legitimately program their own bots/minions. The code could run on a specialized VM only on the servers, so you could sandbox them and enforce DRM. Then the scripts could again be licensed. Balance this out by having genetic algorithms constantly evolving the monsters. Also, this would co-opt farming and macros, and make them a part of the game. (And subject to game balance by he devs.)

      Don't try to fight the forces of evolution and economics and the scheming of crowds. CO-OPT them!

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        The player-designed stuff sounds great. You'd have to come up with some way of incorporating magic into it, though, because magic (or 'sufficiently advanced science') is what makes these games different from the real world, and thus interesting. The temporary items thing? Not so fun. Part of the draw of an MMO is that once you get stuff, you get to *keep* that stuff. Maybe it's devalued later by new stuff that gets released, but you still keep it. My human warrior still proudly wears his Hakkar'i Warblades,
    • Re:Dynamic world (Score:4, Informative)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:27AM (#28622969)

      I agree with you and also would like to see more games with automatically created and evolving content. Unfortunately, game studios still seem to shy away from dynamic content because the behavior of dynamic systems is generally hard to predict. Some might fear that the game world suddenly becomes unstable and drops into chaos. But the game studios could hire more people with a strong physics/dynamic systems modeling background to deal with these problems.

        Another problem is that games with good dynamic content have a very high replay value, whereas it seems that most game studios would prefer people to buy a new game or expansion pack right after they have finished the old one---or even earlier, as one might infer from the sloppiness with which later levels are often designed in comparison to the first few levels.

      • For every developer trying to make dynamic content one way there's 10,000 users with other ideas. Unless the "dynamic" is highly limited, users WILL find a way to send it of course. Best example, EQ's Sleeper. Unkillable mob, only awakens once per server, 100 times the hitpoints of a normal boss, death touches players. No way to kill, unless of course you get 300 people with 8 h of time to just grind it out. The first developer to notice what was going on reset the event at 5% because the players HAD t
      • by Sparton (1358159)

        Unfortunately, game studios still seem to shy away from dynamic content because the behavior of dynamic systems is generally hard to predict. Some might fear that the game world suddenly becomes unstable and drops into chaos. But the game studios could hire more people with a strong physics/dynamic systems modeling background to deal with these problems.

        Actually, the main reason is probably that it would be a bitch to test. If you have 1000 possible ways of something happening, how can you be sure that all 1000 ways are possible, and each possibility won't break the game? Getting enough testers to make sure they can happen naturally without breaking would take a ridiculous amount of time. If you have so much as 1 texture missing, you'd have a bug that could be as innocuous as that emitter not appearing, or as bad as having the whole application crash (depe

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Too many other players will interfere with things like that.

      What happens with other players start interacting with your two towns?
      It'll simply boil down to how many people are supporting each town to what degree.

      Taking over cities? Considering the number of people with the pvp bear mounts for killing the faction leaders, if there was anything useful to gain you'd have even more raids going into cities to take it over for a brief period before another group comes through.
      Most likely that'll just disrupt gam

    • by brkello (642429)
      This is and always will be a horrible idea. The only way to do anything like what you are talking about is Eve where the player controls almost everything. In something like WoW, people would just destroy everything making it so that the majority of players will not get to see the content since someone would have already killed the king and probably immediately any new leader was put in place it would be killed again. These ideas work better for single player/small number cooperative games since people
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Actually you'd end up with everyone starting as a scantily clad max level female nelf/belf hunter. All the major towns would be burnt to the ground, there would be a huge rainstorm, and all gameplay would afterward revolve around PvP mud wrestling.
      • by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:54AM (#28623385)

        Your idea intrigues me. I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      • by fractoid (1076465)
        This reminds me - one of my pet hates about WoW is that a lvl 1 orc warrior looks exactly the same as a lvl 80 orc warrior, except for his gear. It's even worse for druids, a level 20 druid in cat form looks identical to a fully epic'd out level 80 druid. At least make the player models get a bigger little with higher gear level or something - it's well established that in the Warcraft universe, bigger = stronger.

        As for scantily clad mud wrestling elf chicks, I'm all for it. ;)
    • by Trojan35 (910785)

      I think that unless you continually change the rules, playerbases are smart enough to figure out the formulas behind things and turn it into a grind. My recommendation? A MMO where the rules change monthly. It wouldn't appeal to the hardcore raiders, but I'd sure like it.

      I guess that's kinda pulling from the Roguelikes, but I did enjoy those too.

      • by ArsonSmith (13997)

        Hidden soft limits to things you can gain. Say the first thing you kill may give 10 gold, maybe even the first 10 things, but then it slowly drops as you grind on in that area.

        Once you get say 500G stuff may only drop a couple silver.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      It all sounds good but in practice will never work because too many people are idiots or dickheads.

      If you implement an ecosystem someone will kill every last rabbit and break the food chain so that everything dies.

      The dragon in your example would be led to the newbie spawn area about 41 seconds after it appeared.

      Every town in the game would be razed.

      And so on.

      If you stop them from doing so then you haven't really got a world in which the players can affect things so much after all.

      EVE online is the closest

      • by Carnildo (712617)

        It all sounds good but in practice will never work because too many people are idiots or dickheads.

        You aren't thinking far enough outside the box. Consider a world with 10,000 square miles of terrain and a million NPCs:

        If you implement an ecosystem someone will kill every last rabbit and break the food chain so that everything dies.

        You've spent the day killing off every rabbit in this square mile. You move on to the next one, and in the meantime, the rabbits are breeding like, well, rabbits, and fill in t

        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          If the world is too large and travel to slow then the game is boring, interacting with NPCs isn't as fun as with other players.

          If rabbits breed to fast then go higher up the food chain.

          If a swarm of newbie archers can kill the dragon in seconds then it is hardly going to destroy the environment as it roams, since it'll be killed by said swarm within said seconds.

          If the guards aren't wimps then that dragon will be killed by them instead. Making the game rather boring - lead monsters to guards, rinse, repeat.

    • This would have a market, but not all games could do this. There are still a TON of gamers who for whatever reason get enjoyment out of just running through the motions and increasing the value of their character. An ever-changing game can not have walkthroughs in the same sense.

    • by Scoth (879800)

      You may be interested in trying a game called Wurm Online. Its almost completely crafting - based with some very complex setups. Its main weakness is there is essentially no dev content outside the terrain and, on the pvp server, a vague faction war. Absolutely everything else is player driven. The land is completely terraformable. I've enjoyed it as an alternative to Wow type games.

      Here [wurmonline.com]

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      You should try playing Eve online. Join one of the big corporations.

    • by nizo (81281) *

      ..that badass boss dragon wouldn't just get back to its place...

      This reminds me of a scene on a MUD some time ago where a player was given a book (normally impossible for a normal player to pickup, however a wizard gave it to him) that summoned a rather nasty demon when read. Said player promptly ran through town summoning demons; the player death toll was rather high.

  • Sounds like a brilliant way to make money, at least. Horray for microtransactions!
    What are the implications of buying virtual items with credit, anyway? Buying nothing with nothing. It boggles the mind.
    • It worked for Ender in Ender's Game [wikipedia.org] with Jane. She was the artificial intelligence brought into existence through the video game that Ender played while on the Battle School, and later made him zillions of dollars.

      I need to start playing this game and hope for the best.
  • by dan_sdot (721837) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#28622767)
    Now you just need to create a video game that purchases and plays its own content and it seems like you might have quite a booming business on your hands.
  • Until the guns evolve too far to the point where they believe they are better than their users and and revolt. My money is on the weapons winning, they will recruit Arnold.
  • Logical conclusion (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Explodo (743412) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:20AM (#28622825)
    Every gun will be a physics bending super shotgun that scatters with super-high density in all directions at once obliterating every enemy within two miles with every piece of shot being a smart projectile that can turn corners and hunt your enemies! BOOM HEADSHOTx1000!
    • A BFG9000, then?
    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      Unless you have a system to keep the weapons balanced, like a point system to share between accuracy/recoil/reload time/clip size/damage/etc...

      You could imagine that you could have an algorithm that would figure out on its own the right weights to that point system based on the users' preferences.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:44AM (#28623243)

        And that leads to what we already have in all MMOs: One perfect setup with the rest being crap.

        Let's take the average "power gamer". His goal: Becoming stronger. His way: Acquiring equipment that makes him stronger. Which equipment is that? The one that abuses the game bugs and loopholes in the ruleset the best.

        In other words, this is not a simulation of evolution, it's a simulation of business.

        • And that leads to what we already have in all MMOs: One perfect setup with the rest being crap.

          I think that's why I ilke EVE online. Sure, most ships have 1 or 2 really good setups, and most ship classes have 1-2 best ships, but because of the way scaling works an interceptor or assault frigate probably can't be killed by a battleship. It may not be able to kill the BS easily, or at all, but it lets the newbies compete and be useful. That interceptor can hold a BS down for the rest of the gang to kill, whil

        • by tibman (623933)

          Try EVE, it's more like paper-rock-scissors. No one setup is perfect, everybody dies to something.

          • Even EvE has two possible winning strategies. Either create and control a huge empire with the borders protected well enough to enjoy the peace between those borders to amass riches, or, if you're too small, corner as much of the Empire market on T2 goods as you can (without forming a corp, so you can't be wardec'ed and forced to fight).

            For the latter it doesn't even matter what ships you fly, as long as they have cargo space and you have ISK.

            Basically, in EvE items don't matter as much, at least in my expe

        • by Sparton (1358159)

          You can probably have the best setup for one specific type of situation (normal PvE, certain boss PvE, one type of PvP, etc), but if the MMO you're playing actually has one one perfect setup that fulfills everything above, then you're just playing a poorly balanced game, and should play something else.

          For example, in FFXI, there isn't an ultimate set of equipment for any class; what's best varies depending on your race, your subjob, and what specific challenge you want to tackle.

    • so where does this leave spawn campers? please say "as steaming piles of flesh"
    • You forgot that it is a fight for limited resources (and tools?). Which makes it impossible to create something like this, and is the point of the game.
      You have to be the most efficient, get the resources faster than anyone else, and then use the results in the best possible way.

  • I can envision it already... smart kids with nothing but time will figure out the algorithms and then manipulate them for humorous purposes.
  • NEAT (Score:4, Informative)

    by theinvisibleguy (982464) on Wednesday July 08, 2009 @11:28AM (#28622985)
    This game has come a long way since I saw a demo version in my AI class at UCF, the techniques have a lot of potential to be utilized in other video games as well for dynamic content creation. The NEAT algorithm (NeuroEvolution of Augmenting Topologies is really cool too, in fact I believe it's open source and can be found at Professor Ken Stanley's UCF website.
  • After a dozen or so generations in the wild trying to please teenage boys, the game will either evolve into:

    -Shutting itself up in its room, burning incense, and listening to further down the spiral over and over again

    -lolcats

    -This: http://i41.photobucket.com/albums/e291/bubbatwo420/1203_joust_charge_1280.jpg [photobucket.com]

    But, you know, best of luck to the developers. Quick question: If the game evolves disruptive or offensive content, are the developers liable for it?

    -b

  • In Ender's Game, that Ender keeps going back to over and over.

    The moment some kid gets past the giant's drink into the end of the world - well, we really need to shut it down before it becomes a world spanning AI is all I'm saying.

  • Could someone please add the tag excessivebuzzwords to the article?? I feel like the synopsis was created with the old Dilbert business plan jargon generator.
  • It would be a great idea to create unique single player game AI by making players substitute for monster AI. Players would get online with a game, say, an FPS. When your character enters a room that has enemies, the game can check if other players are in that same area online. If two characters are supposed to be fighting, do it like America's Army and make both sides appear as if they're the "good guy", except limit the health for the enemy character so that both can appear to have won in their own game
  • I took a look at this game, and well it looks kind of fun. Sometimes you just want to fly around and shoot stuff. It brought back memories of the late 90's. I worked for as a contractor at a large hospital. In our downtime a few of us would gather and play a space based lan game. It reminded me quite a lot of this game, a top down space shooter. For the life of me I cannot think of the title. Does anyone remember the name of that game?

  • Having the game auto-evolve the weapons based on user response is very neat, but is it the best way?

    Wouldn't have the users be able to make their own decisions about it and set up their own weapon be better? It involves the users in more points, and gives them control over the system instead of hoping the weapon becomes more like they want. It allows for more play-styles as well.

  • Finally, a game that literally caters to the lowest common denominator.
  • The problem is that this will create something that aims to be "the best". It doesn't address the problem of "what I want", it addresses the [non-]problem of "what everyone wants" and so you will still end up with homogeneous sets of things to acquire at the end of the day. Real customization of content should be player generated and not based on a system of pre-teens trying to find the most amusement in how easily they can wtfpwn some other pre-teen.

  • This reminds me of Magic the Gathering where they issue new cards every year that are better and if your deck doesn't have them (i.e., you don't keep buying more cards) then you lose the arms race.

    $0.02USD,
    -l

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
      Not exactly. I've got some "old" decks that handily beat any new deck. The real cash cow for them is Type II. Since most tournaments are Type II, and in Type II you can only use cards from the last 2 sets (Current Edition, last 2 expansions) you have to buy new cards & change your deck every few months. Many Type I or I.5 decks don't use cards from the last few editions at all, especially the Type I, which can use the very old and overpowered cards.
  • I doubt this will make so much difference. GAs are potentially extremely powerful (obviously - human biology is evidence of that) but they need to be iterated an astronomical number of times to divine anything useful. So the problem with plugging them into human beings is that we would have to provide a huge amount of feedback to make any difference to the outcome of any complex system.
    • by AlXtreme (223728)

      GAs are potentially extremely powerful (obviously - human biology is evidence of that) but they need to be iterated an astronomical number of times to divine anything useful

      Not really, as it mostly depends on what kind of fitness landscape you're evolving your GA on together with the complexity of each entity in your GA.

      On fairly complicated fitness landscapes, near-optimal solutions can be found in 50-100 generations. If however you are evolving monkeys into humans, you might need a few thousand generation

  • This sounds a lot like the plot from the ST:TNG episode "Arsenal of Freedom." [epguides.info] Just make sure the E-Stop switch on the product demo actually works.
  • Anyone who has actually designed a game - whether it is was Pac-Man or WoW - will tell you that the hard part is not the content - it is in tuning the game to be that ideal mix of challenging, fun, and rewarding without being too hard or discouraging. Say what you want about WoW's limitations but I think any game designer can appreciate the fantastic job they have done with making a game appealing to an extremely wide range of players.

    Making content by hand is extremely expensive in terms of both time and

  • I no longer play games - all too predictable - levels - bosses to defeat - rigid story lines. What I would pay a fee for is a game where the the objects and characters evolve - live or die based on not one but a myriad of my actions. They are replaced by new objects or characters -- these are of course low level adaptive programming. The next level up controls the story line and environment -- always fresh - surprising - never the same. I would even settle for an area of the game to be unreachable for a whi

  • if it had porn elements and its heuristic is to pit game effects and content against each other by competing for user attention, the endstate is rather easy to predict.
  • into the hands of the gamers and let their interactions "evolve" the content.

    Where is the "game" in this?

We are not a loved organization, but we are a respected one. -- John Fisher

Working...