Procedural Genrated Universe

The place to hang out and talk about totally anything general.
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xander
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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:43 pm

Shwart!! wrote:Question is where a limit would be reached. You could explore for 4 or 5 real weeks and reach he end of our galaxy-then what? Fly until you hit another one? I doubt you, or anyone else, would do that. If the galaxy was large enough, then a limit might never be reached... but then again, it still could.

Shwart!!

If the game is done well, there are millions -- possibly billions of stars in the galaxy of explorable space. It would take thousands of explorers such as myself to find them all. Let us assume that the game allows me to travel from star to star in an hour (I would be happy if it took a day or a week, but I would imagine that most people would not -- there are lots of things that you could force the player to contend with on an exploration vessel; power management, asteroids, navigation through gravity wells, pirate or alien attacks, &c.). Upon arrival at a planet or star system, I can imagine hours -- days or weeks, even -- of things that a player could accomplish to occupy their time. Once in orbit around the star, it might take some time to catalog the planets, determine if they are habitable, collect samples, meet with indigenous sentient life, avoid their missile screen, &c. For me, much of the reward in an MP context would be finding things that no one else has yet found, naming planets after myself, &c.

It is not about reaching the edge of the galaxy, but about expanding the boundaries of the explored galaxy.

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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:51 pm

How many planets would there be? Enough for everyone?

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Postby Chucko » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:53 pm

plenty, and I would have my own and I would be like the predator (the movie). Anyone who landed on it would be hunted down by me and killed. It would be like a jungle place too. Or I would sneak aboard your ship and have you take me to a city or something so I can sneak around and kill people there.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:56 pm

Seriously, it would be awesome if you could do that.

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Postby BrianBlessed » Fri Jan 26, 2007 6:58 pm

That does sound incredibly similar to the galactic exploration in Spore. Admittedly, to my knowledge, there is none of the power management, space fighting, economics and trading or stuff like that. But it probably the closest thing we will get to an exploratory knowledge fest for some years I imagine. What with the cataloguing planets, flora and fauna, trying to make them habitable and so on.

However I don't quite see how taking a week to travel from star to star would be bearable, unless there were planets and asteroid belts and actual things on the way. Alternatively you could have similar system to that displayed in Star Wars, wherein you have to set a course to avoid any stellar objects aswell as taking into account gravitation and if you don't set a manual course it just takes an incredibly slow long course which could take thrice (or more) as long. So you can use equipment, map like readings, statistics and any knowledge of systems you can gather to set the most effiecient course without flying into a sun.
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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:10 pm

wwarnick wrote:How many planets would there be? Enough for everyone?

wwarnick

If the universe is procedurally generated, I don't see why there could not be an infinite number of planets. If we wish to make the game somewhat realistic, we can limit that number. According to Cornell University's Curious About Astronomy site, there are approximately 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. That is enough stars for every person on the planet to have 16 of their very own, with a few left over. Let us assume that 1/10 of those have orbiting planets, and 1/10 of those have habitable planets. That is still a billion stars with habitable planets. If I were to design the game, it would take quite a bit of time to get to and explore a new star system -- something on the order of 2-3 weeks. Many of the activities could be handled when the player is logged out (i.e. interstellar travel, wait time for probes, &c.), so this might represent 1-2 hours of playing the game every day. Assuming that the game became very, very popular, and 100,000 people signed up, and each and every one of them decided to be an explorer, it could still take years to explore the entire galaxy. And I assume that most people wouldn't want to play explorers, as it wouldn't be a very action oriented kind of activity.

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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:15 pm

Yes, but even procedurally generated, data would have to be stored for each planet. Of course, in the future maybe a game that massive will be the norm, but at the moment, it's a little big.

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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:04 pm

wwarnick wrote:Yes, but even procedurally generated, data would have to be stored for each planet. Of course, in the future maybe a game that massive will be the norm, but at the moment, it's a little big.

wwarnick

Yes, but not necessarily much data. Just a seed, and some ancillary information about whether or not it had been explored, &c. The only planets that would really need a vast collection of data would be inhabited planets, and even they probably wouldn't need much until players started visiting them regularly.

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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:29 pm

In that case, the planets would need to remain fairly static in order to work. This would bar the players from affecting the worlds in any significant way. For example, colonization.

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Postby Crook » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:38 pm

Not if the colonization could follow pre-determinable pathways - i.e another procedurally generated system. You'd never say where to put every brick, you just say 'city here' or whatever. That input is the new seed for the planet. With a true procedural universe the limitations are small. The problem is still size. While Xander might want to explore on his own, hour after hour, most gamers would find that deadly dull. It would be interesting to see a universe take off if the population rose sufficiently. This won't happen though for one main reason. Space MMORPG's have never caught on well, certainly not like fantasy ones. Spore seems to go someway to what we're describing here though. Looking forward to that.
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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:44 pm

wwarnick wrote:In that case, the planets would need to remain fairly static in order to work. This would bar the players from affecting the worlds in any significant way. For example, colonization.

wwarnick

Most planets wouldn't need to be much more than static. Imagine a gas giant like Jupiter. You can't land on it, you can't colonize on it, and probably nothing lives on it. What do you need, more than a seed? For inhabited worlds, or colonized worlds, you need more information, but that is directly linked to the number of players interacting with that planet. Even then, when a player is not present, the world can probably be reduced down to very little data. And, honestly, I am talking pie-in-the-sky, computational power be damned.

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Postby xander » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:46 pm

Crook wrote:While Xander might want to explore on his own, hour after hour, most gamers would find that deadly dull.

Exactly. I don't see most users being explorers. I see most of them battling pirates and aliens closer to home, or partaking in political intrigue on the densely populated planets. But, if you have a procedurally generated universe, and it really is quite large, there is plenty of space for people like me to explore.

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Postby BrianBlessed » Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:48 pm

I wouldn't have thought the computing power to generate a giant levitating pie would be that vast, despite your exclamations.
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Postby wwarnick » Fri Jan 26, 2007 9:15 pm

Depending on how extensive the gameplay is. I mean if it were like Freelancer, then sure, gas giants would be stored as a seed and no more. But if we were able to claim planets and colonize them and so forth, then maybe you'd build floating platforms or gas refineries. The sky's the limit really with that scenario, but I'm thinking you're looking at simpler gameplay.

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Postby KingAl » Sat Jan 27, 2007 2:51 am

Stewsburntmonkey wrote:So basically giving people what they enjoy is bad. . . What a ridiculous idea.


The ridiculous idea is that everything that people enjoy is good. People enjoy gambling, and smoking. People enjoy taking illicit drugs. You can't entirely blame those who are addicted to these things for being attracted to the chemical effects of these things, particularly if they aren't labeled as bad by society - but this makes those who supply these services particularly reprehensible: they're exploiting a human weakness.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote: Quite, it's worth is in it's entertainment value (and perhaps artistic value). However you dismissed games like WOW because they were so entertaining. Not every film can be an art film and not every game is going to be some deep introspective creation (few in fact are).


No, I did not dismiss them as entertaining. Let's forget the 'games can be art' angle, because at the current point its just confusing the issue. Essentially, elements of MMORPGs such as WoW cosist of things like 'XP farming'. First things first, this process alone isn't fun - ask any WoW player and they'll tell you it's laborious: you cannot compare it to mindlessly entertaining films. However, they still do it, because they seek the reward.

Stewsburntmonkey wrote: However, you just got done calling reward a weakness. The two ideas are rather contradictory. You're not making a very consistent argument here.


Alas, you're merely misunderstanding my argument. Evolution is not a perfect process. Attributes which are advantageous survive, even when they are a disadvantage in a different context. Many people would consider religion a good thing - it brings people together, supports them emotionally in times of need etc., but at the same time the exact same thing leads to bloody wars. Physical addiction is a similar example: the body ceases to produce certain chemicals because they are being provided by an external source - a logical, useful process which ensures that when certain products are in abundance the body doesn't have too much of it and stop functioning properly. However as a result, if the external source - e.g. an illicit drug - ceases to provide the chemical, the body reacts violently: hence withdrawal symptoms and physical addiction.
So yes, the innate human tendency to seek gratification is a weakness. Gambling relies on the reward systems: people expect reward and so they continually stick more coins in the pokies and pull the lever. The drudgery of 'XP farming' is comparable to gambling, though less directly destructive: it isn't a fun process, it merely plays on people's drive for reward. This is exploiting a human weakness, just as much as gambling is, and just because people choose to play it doesn't make this any less true: people choose to gamble, even when they know that it's bad. Reward is addictive - full stop. Appealing to reward is definitely lowest-common-denominator game design. Hence my objection.

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