Author Topic: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations  (Read 8138 times)

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Offline RickPowers

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EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« on: March 02, 2005, 06:32:20 PM »
It’s becoming well-known in the industry that we are quickly approaching a level of graphics fidelity that will put us into a negative trend which Masahiro Mori called the “uncanny valley”, a level of detail where humans look real enough that we are disturbed by the sight of them.  We’ve seen this in games already, where characters look startlingly real, except for a lack of life.  You can never quite pinpoint the exact problem, but you know instinctively that it just doesn’t feel right.  Even body scans, motion capture, and sophisticated graphics technology is incapable of creating a believable character that is indistinguishable from reality … we are able to tell the difference in mere milliseconds.

Yet with every generation, we’re employing ever-greater graphical technology in the hopes that we can sidestep this hurdle, but it simply can’t be done.  Not in a single console generation (roughly about five years apart), and possibly not even in two.  Some wise developers have already clued in to this, “The Wind Waker” being a notable example of backing away from the precipice of the uncanny valley and making characters more abstract, and thus, easier for players to anthropomorphize*, or imprint themselves upon.  (It’s worth noting that the problem with fans accepting Wind Waker’s graphic style was not with the style itself, but was a problem of customer expectations.)  In fact, the Japanese developers are keenly aware of this concept.  Have you ever noticed that many popular forms of animated Japanese entertainment (manga, movies, games, etc.) all use simple or cartoon-like characters?  Have you ever wondered why you seem to enjoy them so much?  It’s because when there is a lack of definition in a character, you can imprint some of your own personality and feelings on the character.  Beyond Good and Evil is another example of a game where the characters felt more real to us than more “mature” games employing a photorealistic graphic style.

The only way to bridge this gap (or at the very least, shorten it) is to invest in technology of a different kind, technology that will improve artificial intelligence and animation.  While there have been minor strides made in terms of motion capture, animation blending, and other techniques, a character in motion never reacts in a realistic fashion to their surroundings.  The only game in recent memory that really attempted to solve this problem was Half-Life 2, and even so, this doesn’t ring true in every case.  Carefully scripted events can give the illusion of sophisticated artificial intelligence, but if the player does the unexpected, the illusion fails.  NPC characters need to have the ability to react to their surroundings, react to the unexpected, and generally react as you would expect their personalities to react.  World Driver Championship on the Nintendo 64 had a rudimentary AI system that established rivalries with the player’s character, and seemed to challenge the player during a race.  Even just the hint of these “feelings” had players e-mailing the company with stories of how a particular driver “had it out for them”, when it was really a pre-programmed series of events.  This worked because player behavior was somewhat able to be accounted for, since there are more limited actions a player can accomplish in a driving game.  An entire generation later, Gran Turismo 4 employs no AI whatsoever, as the cars simply follow lines on the track and ignore the player entirely.

In terms of animation, a character needs to move in a more fluid fashion, which is always going to be a problem when you have a limited number of fields-per-second (or frames-per-second) to work with.  Animation blending is a small piece of the puzzle, but to reach a more believable level, characters need to have micro-movements, the subtle indicators of life that we subconsciously notice.  The way muscles move under our skin, the way our eyes react to light and to motion, the way our breathing can change under stress, these are all cues that we notice without paying particular attention to them.  To date, very few games have even attempted to tackle these problems, and with varying degrees of success.  All we’ve really seen are tech demos which are impressive in controlled situations, but still don’t fool even the casual observer.

Part of the problem is the adversity to risk that mainstream publishers have, not wanting to put money on an unproven technology or ideas.  This necessitates a need for private investment in AI and animation technology.  Sony promised advances with their “Emotion Engine” in the PS2, and they have largely been unrealized.  Having a processor capable of handling complex data is nothing more than a blank slate, but developing software algorithms and structures are a significant time and money sink, and that is something that absolutely must be encouraged and supported.  Theoretically, Sony’s Cell processor structure might make it possible to devote more resources to AI, but we would be back to the same problem that we have with the current generation.

A possible answer would be tools developed by the first parties, who have the resources and incentive to create more realistic characters, which could be licensed to developers.  Rendering engines, sound technology, and many other tools are already being licensed in order to shorten development time and cost, and this reveals a unique opportunity for first-parties to secure a compelling feature set for their console.

There is something that can be done now, however, to help alleviate the problem and work towards creating more realistic characters.  Animators need to study traditional acting techniques and human psychology, more than just kinematics and movement.  Pixar’s animated films are largely successful not just because of the story they tell, but because of the effort the animators put into acting the part and using the animated character as a proxy for that performance.  If video games are really going to become the dominant form of entertainment going into the next generation, we need to vastly improve upon the current B-movie level of acting performance and rely less on motion capture to tell the story.  The characters need to be acting all the time, constantly communicating information even when they simply exist in the game space.  What is the character thinking when not interacting with the player?  What is their motivation, not just in terms of the plot sequences, but from moment to moment?

Surely there are even more options, and perhaps backing away from photorealism as an aid to create more believable characters is a necessary step while we work on technology that will allow us to put more emotion and feeling into the games.  Most importantly, developers need to take AI and animation technology seriously as a necessary component towards creating compelling worlds and engaging stories, and even advancing the entire industry in the coming generation.


*Anthropomorphization is the act of seeing human traits (feelings, thoughts, and actions) in objects and animals not fully capable of those processes.  Commonly, people tend to do this with their pets, assuming that the animal is communicating on a much more complex level than they are truly capable.
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Offline Caillan

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2005, 06:44:12 PM »
This editorial impressed me. I remember seeing the Final Fantasy movie and noticing this problem. I don't think we'll be seeing convincing animations in a realistic style within the next generation, but we'll get a shift towards divserity in styles instead. It's happening already.

Interestingly, the same thing is happening with MIDI-style sound generation: the greatest barrier to reality is the computer's mechanical playing.  

Offline Rancid Planet

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2005, 06:50:40 PM »
Good job Rick. I liked the point made about how "photo realistic" goals need to be put on the backburner untill we have the technological grasp on expressing feeling and life through motion that we should first.

All in all a good read though, great job.

Offline Bill Aurion

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2005, 06:53:48 PM »
Wow, that was a great read...I definitely agree that the "life" of characters in games has been quite pitiful in recent years, even though the technology to do so is there...And as in your example, Wind Waker is probably the most emotionally powerful game I've played in terms of character interaction, but I feel it can be even greater...

It's something I hope the Revolution is able to achieve; the gamer interacting more with his or her games so the experience feels more real...Apply the new gaming method with more enveloping characters and you can create an ecstasy of gaming bliss...
~Former Resident Zelda Aficionado and Nintendo Fan~

Offline Hostile Creation

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2005, 07:02:44 PM »
Excellent editorial, one of the best I've read on Planet Gamecube.  You made several great points, and I can't find anything I really disagree with.  A good read and a very worthwhile one.  It's good to have you back, Rick.
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Offline ruby_onix

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2005, 07:34:24 PM »
Great editorial.

But I do want to comment on this.
Quote

(It’s worth noting that the problem with fans accepting Wind Waker’s graphic style was not with the style itself, but was a problem of customer expectations.)

I think that once Nintendo unveiled the new style, a LOT of people already made up their minds about the game, based on the style, and nothing but the style. The game was great, but people HAD to find a fault with it, so they latched onto "the ocean." "The ocean's too big." "The ocean's too tedious." "The ocean's too formulaic."

Hyrule Field in OoT was awesome, but once you got to know it, it seemed too small to be real. The town in Majora's Mask was superbly interactive (and very on-topic with your editorial), but once you step back, it's really not much of a functional "town". The Wind Waker's ocean fits right in. Magnificent and groundbreaking... until you know it like the back of your hand. But no, Wind Waker's "the bad one" here.

(Also all three games held complaints of being "too short", with Wind Waker seemingly being #2 between Ocarina and Majora.)

If the Wind Waker was just a game that didn't really live up to it's potential, then why the frenzy over the unveiling of the new "mature" Zelda? Any new Zelda would've presented the possibility of it being a more "complete" game, but the reaction to this newest one was different.

The graphics whores judged Wind Waker by it's cover. And they'll do it again. Maybe they've gotten that all out of their system by now, but I doubt it. Any other game maker that tries to do what Nintendo did is undoubtedly going to suffer for it.

Ah... I think I'm ranting.
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Offline Shecky

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2005, 07:35:39 PM »
Another good example of this, IMO, would be World of Warcraft and Everquest 2.

EQ2 shoots for the photorealism, while WoW goes for expresion and character.

Offline Selochin

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2005, 07:39:04 PM »
Hey Rick, great job, awesome editorial. I totally agree with everything you said. I don't mean to sound blashphemous, but in order to affect the most change, perhaps you should submit this article to a site widely read, like IGN or Gamespot. Those sites get massive traffic, and I'm sure they would print it it, or at least a link to PGC. Because american developers don't seem to realize this yet.
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Offline Ian Sane

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2005, 07:39:59 PM »
There are a lot of good points here.  One thing really interesting was that in order to truly look real the characters have to act all the time.  That just sounds insanely complex particularly for a game where there are so many variables and situations.  One out of place reaction to a random event and the illusion is ruined.  I wonder if we'll ever get to that level.  Not because of technology limitations but human limitations.  Teaching AI to act like a living being is such a complex idea to get my head around.  Hell if we get to that level of game design we'll have the ability to make robots.  We'll probably be too busy fighting off self-aware machines to play games.

Of course the question is do we want to have game characters that are so advanced.  If we reached a level where characters are basically virtual humans in the way they act we're going to encounter some major issues.  Violence is common in games.  If the characters act like real people then some of us will have difficulty hurting or killing them.  There would be a point where games literally could become the murder simulations that anti-game activists call them now.  The fact that it's clearly not real makes it easier for us to treat game enemies as targets meant to be destroyed.

So like Rick said I think that backing away from photorealism is a good idea for to make characters more believable.  But I also feel it's essential for us to continue feeling comfortable with our games.  Identifying with characters and having more realistic AI is cool.  Having characters eerily similar to real people is scary.  If we continue with more abstract designs we don't have to deal with that.

I think the best current game for feeling real to me is Pikmin.  The creatures are very believable.  By going with abstract designs Nintendo was able to create something that felt pretty close to an alive ecosystem.  Of course it doesn't take long for one to notice patterns in the movement of the creatures but it still has a very different feel than a standard game.  For example when I first started playing the game I would feel really bad when I lost Pikmin because it just seemed so sad to see them die because of a mistake I made.  With any other strategy game when I lose a unit I'm mad because I've lost a resource.   The game is harder now that I have less grunts to work with.  But with Pikmin I felt that I had lost a creature.  The Pikmin just acted so alive that I didn't just see them as slave labour.  They were friends helping me out.

That game doesn't look like real life.  You would never view a picture of it and assume it was a real photo.  But it has a feeling that just makes it seem more alive.

One thing I really want to see though in the future is AI that feels like a human player.  They can move unrealistically but they should feel like I'm playing with or against someone online.  That would provide a better challenge and would be really fun.  Having a character that moves and acts really realistically doesn't matter if the AI is really gullible and can be easily fooled.  A real player learns from mistakes and adapts and that provides better competition.

Offline Caillan

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2005, 08:34:58 PM »
Extremely realistic AI can be the result of only one or two algorithms. For example, we have flocking algorithms which accuratey simulate the way certain birds will fly together. Two simple rules affecting the same object can create actions too complex for us to predict, but which also have easily recognisable patterns.

You mentioned seeing a pattern in how the Pikmin moved. Well, that's simply what creatures do in actuality and should be considered a postive feature, not a flaw

Offline Dasmos

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2005, 08:41:04 PM »
Great editorial! It made me think..........i hurt..no but it was interesting.

Ian, i also agree with what your saying about the violence.....i have no trouble downing player after player after but if they had more character and emotions, like you said, i would have trouble doing it. Also I don't think Pikmin is the most real game i've played but i do agree about them seeming alive....You made think as well.........twice in one day!!!
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Offline Alfred909

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2005, 09:36:52 PM »
I to enjoyed the article. It reminds me of when movies where first being used. Stage actors had to learn a new style because broad movement looked fake.  At one point a director was asked "Would you like me to show nothing?" The response "If you could." Now video games are getting into the realm of acting and most video game creators are at a loss. I agree that the best so far has been Half Life 2, or some of the Nintendo games.
The "realism can have moral effects" statement is being brought up about PC games. The question is more about civilians in a war game. Such questions as should they even be there. what about kids. If the guns are so accurate shoudl the effects be as well. What about different ages for characters. As you can imagine these are murky waters. But with the more realistic look to modern games the question is going to be brought up. I would wonder what was wrong with people if it wasn't.
There are some interesting things going on right now. Like how video games have influence on movies. The great battle scenes in Two Towers used AI fighters to make the scenes. The camera kept a distance so no one would realise that the characters where making the same movements over and over again. Perhaps in time movies and video games will be made by the same team.  
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Offline InfinitysEnd

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2005, 04:47:00 AM »
As far as animation goes, I'd have to say the Jak & Daxter games on the PS2 have some of the most fluid and vivacious movements I've ever seen in a video game.  They are incredibly fluid and wonderful to watch.  I was disappointed that you did not mention these games, as well as Ico, which creates incredible tension and character depth through your actions (read: animations) of trying to save that helpless girl.  Ahh, if only all games were as good as Ico...*sigh*  Good editorial, though.

Offline Hostile Creation

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2005, 05:46:46 AM »
Ian made some good points as well.  Playing Pikmin 2, I had the same exact feeling about the environment and my relationship with the Pikmin.  More games should strive for the sense of intimacy and subjective realism that Pikmin achieves.
I've only seen Jak and Daxter (is it actually with an a?) in motion once, at my friends house.  I hadn't paid much attention to it, we both found it a boring game, but looking back the animation was very smooth.
Another game with excellent animation, though it never came out, was Ravenblade.  Some of that stuff was just amazing, very fluid and real feeling.
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Offline Jonnyboy117

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2005, 06:36:33 AM »
Give Rick some credit for making Ian write one of his best posts ever.
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Offline VideoGamerJ

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2005, 07:58:06 AM »
This was very well written and is just another reason why I love reading PGC's editorials so much. I've forwarded it to a couple of friends.  

Offline KDR_11k

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2005, 08:22:47 AM »
Minor nitpick: The Cell won't help AI at all since its focus is vector processing and AI is mostly branching logic, a worst case scenario for the Cell.

The main problem with AI is that games cannot use true AI, they use fake AI that relies on scripts defining behaviour. Real AI works with neural networks that are capable of learning but that's just not feasible for video games since it A requires too much training to be useful and B requires huge supercomputers to work somewhat fast.

Graphics are currently hampered by the transformation performance, you can't have enough deformation to simulate muscle movements since the consoles choke at anything more complex than simple skeletal animation, excessive use of morphmaps would kill them. The Cell might help here, provided there is no bottleneck involved in getting the data to the GPU.

But anyway, that isn't really innovation. Of course we need improvements with the AI and more believable animations would be nice but improving the AI is hard and animations are just eyecandy.

Offline vudu

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2005, 08:27:34 AM »
Quote

It’s becoming well-known in the industry that we are quickly approaching a level of graphics fidelity that will put us into a negative trend which Masahiro Mori called the “uncanny valley”, a level of detail where humans look real enough that we are disturbed by the sight of them.
After reading the first sentence of the editorial, I thought the topic was going to be about the negative psychological consequences improved graphics can have.  Meaning, if you couldn't tell the difference between shooting someone in the chest with a shotgun in Half-Life 2 and watching a video of someone blowing a hole in another man's chest it could seriously mess with younger kids' minds.  But I suppose that's a whole different editorial.

Quote

NPC characters need to have the ability to react to their surroundings, react to the unexpected, and generally react as you would expect their personalities to react.
While this sounds like a great idea, wouldn't it completely change the way games are played?  Think about playing a competitive multiplayer game against one of your friends who is as equally skilled at videogames as you are.  How often do you die?  Probably just about as often as (s)he does.

If enemy AI is brought up to snuff with your average human, games will no longer be able throw countless enemies at the player because a simple two-on-one will most likely result in death.  

Pretty much every adventure game, platformer, and first-person-shooer will have to be rebuilt from the ground up in order to compensate for human-like AI.  There will no longer be an epic struggle between one man and a legion of evil minions.  Instead there will have to be one-on-one battles (or one-on-few).

Life-like AI would definitely be great for sports games, fighters, RPG's and strategy games, but I don't see how it could happen for other genres.
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Offline Ian Sane

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2005, 08:33:33 AM »
"If enemy AI is brought up to snuff with your average human, games will no longer be able throw countless enemies at the player because a simple two-on-one will most likely result in death."

Not necessarily.  One big difference between you and in-game enemies is that often you have more health.  It's pretty common in games for example for an enemy to only take one or two shots while you can take several.  So even if the AI is as good as a person you can still have one on many scenarios provided the computer characters are weaker.  

Offline odifiend

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2005, 09:48:56 AM »
And also remember (I'm assuming you're talking about an FPS), many of your enemies are not the tip of the iceberg intellectually.  It kind of makes sense to have frequent encounters with 'slow' enemies.
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Offline RickPowers

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2005, 10:39:50 AM »
Quote

Originally posted by: Ian Sane
There are a lot of good points here.  One thing really interesting was that in order to truly look real the characters have to act all the time.  That just sounds insanely complex particularly for a game where there are so many variables and situations.  One out of place reaction to a random event and the illusion is ruined.  I wonder if we'll ever get to that level.  Not because of technology limitations but human limitations.  Teaching AI to act like a living being is such a complex idea to get my head around.  Hell if we get to that level of game design we'll have the ability to make robots.  We'll probably be too busy fighting off self-aware machines to play games.


Not only do they have to act all the time, but they have to REACT as well.  This means that animators in the future will need to be skilled in multiple disciplines.  Using the animation tool is not enough, they'll need to be skilled a mimicry, psychology, theories of acting and performance, etc.  It's going to become a VERY complex job.

Quote

Originally posted by: Ian Sane
Of course the question is do we want to have game characters that are so advanced.  If we reached a level where characters are basically virtual humans in the way they act we're going to encounter some major issues.  Violence is common in games.  If the characters act like real people then some of us will have difficulty hurting or killing them.  There would be a point where games literally could become the murder simulations that anti-game activists call them now.  The fact that it's clearly not real makes it easier for us to treat game enemies as targets meant to be destroyed.


Yes, I think this is not only what we want, but what we NEED.  Once in-game characters become nigh-indistinquishable from real actors, perhaps it will be more difficult for people to kill.  Maybe it will revulse them.  Maybe the conscience will kick in.  And just maybe, we'll start seeing new types of games that don't all fall into the "kill threats" genre that so many popular games do.

Quote

Originally posted by: Ian Sane
I think the best current game for feeling real to me is Pikmin.  The creatures are very believable.  By going with abstract designs Nintendo was able to create something that felt pretty close to an alive ecosystem.  Of course it doesn't take long for one to notice patterns in the movement of the creatures but it still has a very different feel than a standard game.  For example when I first started playing the game I would feel really bad when I lost Pikmin because it just seemed so sad to see them die because of a mistake I made.  With any other strategy game when I lose a unit I'm mad because I've lost a resource.   The game is harder now that I have less grunts to work with.  But with Pikmin I felt that I had lost a creature.  The Pikmin just acted so alive that I didn't just see them as slave labour.  They were friends helping me out.

That game doesn't look like real life.  You would never view a picture of it and assume it was a real photo.  But it has a feeling that just makes it seem more alive.


Pikmin is a fantastic example, but I think you're missing part of the equation here.  You are taught every early in the game to nurture these creatures, cultivate them, watch them grow.  You bond with the creatures incredibly fast, much faster than I think I've ever seen.  The very moment you make your first mistake, and you send dozens of your Pikmin to their death, it strikes a chord with you, on a very deep level.  I've never really seen that in another game.  The only problem that Pikmin has on that front is that you "get over" that feeling far too quickly.  If that feeling could be maintained through the whole game, I think it would be something truly special.

Quote

Originally posted by: Ian Sane
One thing I really want to see though in the future is AI that feels like a human player.  They can move unrealistically but they should feel like I'm playing with or against someone online.  That would provide a better challenge and would be really fun.  Having a character that moves and acts really realistically doesn't matter if the AI is really gullible and can be easily fooled.  A real player learns from mistakes and adapts and that provides better competition.


I've been thinking about this, and I think that the day AI comes that reaches this level, it could very well be the death of online gaming as we know it.  The flaw in online gaming is the "jackhole" factor.  Too many people use the anonymity of online to behave as if there were no repurcussions.  When sophisticated antagonist AI reaches human (or even near-human) levels, why would you need to play with real people any more?

I think there will always be a market for people who want to play with their friends over distances (something Nintendo really needs to pull their heads out of the sand regarding; short-range solutions are NOT enough!), simply because the world is becoming more accessible every day.  Online will evolve in that regard, but I know that I largely prefer single-player, just because most people online are jerks.  
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Offline Bill Aurion

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2005, 10:52:34 AM »
Let's look at Nintendogs...The dev team spent their time watching real puppies to see how they reacted, and have tried their hardest to mimic their movements for the game...I call that dedication...
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Offline Don'tHate742

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RE: EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2005, 11:38:46 AM »
Interacting with in-game charachters to the point where you feel responsible for them is the way I hope the industry is heading. The Pikmin example is perfect, but this could be used more in adventure games, RPG's, and shooters. FPS's especially could use this, where when an allie gets shot down, you feel like you've lost a friend. It would give games the emotionally triumphant feeling that movies like Saving Private Ryan or the Rock had. The feeling that is only present after you've felt like you've been through alot; emotionally and physically. Also, anyone that is more "sensitive" to the charachters in the game, will most likely play the game more often and therefore love it as they would a good movie; gamers and non-gamers alike. Feeling different emotions, the emotions that are visible in movies today, are key if the game business wants to expand to everyone.

A unforseen consequence of this is that a more compelling and emotional game would result in less and less actual gameplay time. Take the Lion King for example, a movie everyone has watched, young or old. When Mufasa was killed, people didn't feel sad becuase it was a lion's dad; no...it felt as if you lost your own father. Why? Many scenes before showed him being the dad we have; he protected us, tuaght us, and even gaves us restrictions, but most importantly, he loved us. How would you show this in a game? You can't play out emotional sequences; you would have to watch your charachter participate in the event. What you can play is the after effect. Like if your video-game brother died, you would feel obligated for revenge; and that is the sequence you play out. My point is games would become longer, less game time based and more story (even in FPS's where story is really negligible). This could be a potential turn-off for those that want more game less story.  
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Offline nemo_83

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2005, 03:53:03 PM »
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Videogame characters are digital sculptures and these are the standards they have to live up to.  If I had a copy of Final Fantasy the movie there would be much defecation.  

Once polygons are eliminated from the list of woes for developers, either through patience for technology that can do Donatello or going the direction of something like A Nightmare Before Christmas (movie) or The Legend of Zelda: WW then time can be spent animating, texturing, and lighting those polygons.  

Translucencies, impressionistic lighting, atmosphere, reflections, imperfections, and of course all of the character animation subtleties talked about in the piece will breath life into digital characters in movies and games over the next ten to fifteen years.  The thing is we don't need all of those things in games if the AI is not improved.  If the NPC still does only what it could do on the NES then where have we really gone in the past twenty years?  

 
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Offline gally

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RE:EDITORIAL: The Lost Innovations
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2005, 04:03:19 PM »
Quote

Originally posted by: nemo_83[/iThe thing is we don't need all of those things in games if the AI is not improved.  If the NPC still does only what it could do on the NES then where have we really gone in the past twenty years?


To different styles of gameplay. Can something like Kingdom Hearts (gameplaywise - never mind the expansive theme for now) be done on NES? I don't want "realistic" games - I want them only as a choice, to coexist alongside other things which are more fun to me, such as Metal Slug Advance or Wario Ware Touched.

About the lifelike characters seeming not quite real - I showed my female cousin Silent Hill 3, and at one point a dead body came down from a ceiling right in front of Heather, who was looking in the general direction of the camera. Naturally, she did not react, and her usual depressed/blank facial expression remained in place. My cousin told me "I just love how she just doesn't care or anything!" in response to this event.

The gameplay is there, the scary theme and events are there, but Heather only really seems "alive" when you're not controlling her.

Things like Link from Wind Waker moving his eyes or turning his head to look at stuff, WHILE YOU'RE STILL CONTROLLING HIM, might be a hint as to what we might see more of in the future. Characters don't seem alive when acting out scripted motions, ala Half Life 2's "cutscenes", which to me felt like being in a movie and surrounded by actors, since I could move around and do whatever I wanted while the people in the game just acted out a script and said their lines. Half Life 1, incidentally, felt more alive because the characters said more random things on their own, and reacted largely to player action or what else was going on, instead of blindly following a script.