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Love Story or… Tell me again why I agreed to do this? Warren Spector Game Developers Conference San Jose, CA March 25, 2004.

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Presentation on theme: "Love Story or… Tell me again why I agreed to do this? Warren Spector Game Developers Conference San Jose, CA March 25, 2004."— Presentation transcript:

1 Love Story or… Tell me again why I agreed to do this? Warren Spector Game Developers Conference San Jose, CA March 25, 2004

2 Welcome Thanks a lot, Eric –(Insert dripping sarcasm here) I dont have a clue how to make a love story game. If I DID know, Id do it…

3 Thinking about the problem Pick your platform and/or game style –For me: Single-player, Story-based, Character-based. –For the other panelists, maybe something different (MMORPG? God-Game?…) Abstract out the real problems –Read all available research materials. –Think until blood pours from forehead. If blood, drop the idea immediately. If no blood, ask key questions. Get help from others –Synthesize.

4 Platform - MMORPG Create appropriate visual representations –Sight is critical, say the researchers Offer shared experiences –Shared interests are a given (playing the same game…) –Introduce some risk (get the nervous system working) Let nature take its course –Real people interacting with other real people Offer online wedding ceremonies, cheap.

5 God-Game Pick the things you want to simulate –Stages of love –Physiological elements of love Create player avatars and a multitude of AI- driven characters Offer activities designed to affect measurable characteristics (re stages, virtual physiology) Track status of each NPC wrt to player When stats reach appropriate level, alert player he has won at the Game of Love.

6 Story Game Beats me

7 Ask appropriate questions What are we trying to do? Whats the potential (why do it)? What are we trying to simulate? What are the challenges? How well-suited to games is the idea? Has anyone done this before? What are the player goals? What does the player do?

8 Your Answers Here (Hey, Eric wanted some audience participation so here it is.) (Be glad I didnt do what I originally planned to do.) (I was going to get two of you up here to play out a love scene, to show how hard it is to get people to feel something specific…)

9 What are we trying to do? A game about love A story game A single player game A platform agnostic game

10 Why do this? Something new. Grow the audience. Better characters/actors. Impossible.

11 What do we want players to experience? Stages of love? –Attraction, Romance, Passion, Intimacy, Commitment… Physiology of love? –All five senses –Hormone release (testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin…) Courtship rituals leading to specific outcomes? –Companionship, Sex, Marriage, Family, Divorce… Feelings associated with being in love? –Elevated heart rate, dry mouth, sweaty palms, inability to sleep.

12 What are the challenges? Cant force players to feel. Requires character interaction. Love is a many splendored thing. We know this isnt real.

13 The feeling challenge Cant force feelings No empathy in games

14 The character challenge Our characters are weak. The best of them look bad. The best of them move like marionettes, and the puppeteer is drunk. Conversations? Not good.

15 The senses challenge All five senses contribute. Not in games…

16 The unreality challenge Anyone here think games are real? Part of the appeal of games is that theyre not real. –Fine for killing monsters or solving puzzles –Trouble for a game built around the players emotional response.

17 How well-suited to games? The bad… Not very –No winning or losing –No points –Few obvious goals –Few action verbs

18 How well-suited, the good On the other hand –Classic fantasy –Common experience –Potential for pain in real world

19 Has anyone done this before? Japanese dating sims? Ico? DXIW? (Oh, those Spiderbots!) Grim Fandango?

20 Dating sims

21 Ico

22 Deus Ex and the bots

23 Grim, very grim…

24 Player goals Not winning or losing No scoring points in a relationship Fall in love with a virtual character? Learn something about love? Deal with someone whos in love with you?

25 What does the player do? What are the verbs of love? –Talk? Hug? Kiss? Other (ahem) physical manifestations of love? –Sweat? Feel giddy? Exude pheromones? Ooze oxycitone?

26 Why is this such a hard problem? We dont do emotion well. We dont do character well. We dont do kinesthetics well. We dont do interaction well! We know it isnt real. Thats the real challenge of the game of love

27 So what CAN we do?

28 Character studies Better characters –More convincing models –More expressive physicality –More sophisticated conversational approaches

29 Pursuit, not feeling Focus on pursuit and lessons, not the feeling of love –Testing behaviors in risky situations –Believable consequences follow from reasonable choices

30 Guidance counseling Externalized situation –Guide a character –Dont be a character Track behavior and responses closely

31 Represent (unrealistically) Play with elements we can control –Rendering –Audio

32 Thanks for listening!


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