Flutterby™! : feeling like the Governor

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feeling like the Governor

2006-06-27 16:23:16.987001+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

David Chess linked to slides from a GDC 2002 presentation on AI in Halo. Interesting reading, among the insights is that play-testing revealed that players interpret non-player-character (NPC) increased hit-points and damage dealing as "smarter". But David Chess's commentary notes:

Major insight here is that the opponents in computer games aren't supposed to defeat you, they're supposed to make you feel like the Governor of California. More or less.

Various events are conspiring to drag me back towards thinking about computer games, and I'm realizing that I'm actually not terribly interested in going there, mostly for this reason. Games can be puzzles that make me think, games can be things that help mebuild reflexes, games can be venues for social interaction, but when games are substitute friends... well... I'm not doing myself any favors by participating in them, and I'm not sure I'm doing the culture around me any favors by offering up more of such entertainment.

Page 19 also talks about things to avoid, one of 'em being subtlety:

By the time we shipped we had made it so not only does _every single_[Wiki] Grunt run away _every single_[Wiki] time an Elite is killed

but they all have an outrageously exaggerated panic run where they wave their hands above their heads they scream in terror

and half the time one of them will say "Leader Dead, Run Away!"

I would still estimate that less than a third of our users made the connection

[ related topics: Games Sociology Artificial Intelligence ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-28 02:12:48.955892+00 by: baylink

Internal link broken...

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-28 02:37:02.509833+00 by: Dan Lyke

Thank you. Not meant to be internal link, left the contents out of the href="" attribute.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-06-28 13:52:56.569441+00 by: other_todd

This shows that the remnants of Bungie (I have refused to call them Bungie ever since they sold out to M$) still do have some idea how to design a game. In particular they know the proper difficulty level: The average player wants to be able to go through the entire game primarily as a solo hero, possibly having to use his brain several times to get through situations, probably dying many times as he learns what not to do ... but not so often that he gets frustrated; if the game is seen as impossibly hard then it is no longer fun. The player wants to WIN, and win with only a strictly limited amount of expenditure.

The problem is that page 19. The designers show that they think their audience is not capable of appreciating subtlety. They're probably right; what did they expect when they allowed themselves to be shanghaied to develop primarily for a console audience? Console players are largely a different breed. So what's happened is that, despite generally excellent design, I really didn't care for Halo because the thing that made their Marathon games so fabulous - the STORY - is completely missing. In Halo the plot is: You shoot things. You shoot things. You shoot things some more. You drive a vehicle which has bad control problems. Then you shoot more things. Not interesting!!!