Posts Tagged ‘GTA’
Now, the ‘problem’ with sandbox games is that most of them don’t have a general objective per se. The player is given the possibility to do anything he wants to, as long as it’s part of the game obviously. In GTA, if you’re not doing missions at the moment, you run around harassing people, set them on fire, run them over, jump from an airplane with a parachute, mostly senseless things like that. Newer GTA games have a storyline which you can play through, GTA2 (and so the first GTA as well I’d reckon) on the other hand didn’t have something as concrete as that. You simply could choose between three rivaling gangs on each island for which you completed missions. The more missions you completed for, for instance, the Yakuza, the more they liked you and the worse the standing got of some other gang towards you. Once you had done enough missions for one faction, you could move over onto the next island. A good sandbox game should be full of surprises for the player, keep him busy as well motivating him to stick at it. A sandbox design, which sadly is too common, rests upon the lack of a greater aim in the game, while giving the player opportunities to set goals himself, e.g. making a fortune, or more short-term goals, such as improving standings for a particular faction, being able to acquire a particular good, et cetera. Activities of simple fun should be present, too. Of course, those heavily depend the type of game.
What space sims these days lack are real dynamics that affect the short-term and long-term goals and the activities of the player. By adding the feature to choose between several races at the start, it is possible to not only define the location the player starts at and the ship he’s preferably going to fly, but also to define the style of playing and the player’s long-term goals, including his impact on the persistent, dynamic world. Other possible differences can include the reaction of the player’s environment towards him, possibly biased/defined by his race’s mores, traditions and political standings to other factions and/or activities. But before one can even get to a design as complex as that can be, one has to define the fundamental mechanics underneath.
This might start to get slightly technical, as the scripting implementation of the game logic and AI also depends on the game’s design. In the case of an implementation (which is unlikely to happen, anyway), I’d like to make sure that nothing goes wrong on that end. At the bottom of everything lie the basic AI commands for ships, no matter how they’re called or executed right now. Fly to position, follow ship, attack ship, and so on. Simply by utilizing simple commands such as these, which then again consist of lower level commands utilizing vector operations etc. (I’m not into things like that), a complete assault of a faction against another one can be staged. Furthermore, if that event depends on whether certain conditions are met, it will seem realistic and logical to the player and there’ll also be room to notify the player and to give him the opportunity to join that assault or prevent the enemy faction from gaining his faction’s space, or to economically support his home faction with resources and equipment. That would then be one of the player’s temporary objectives possibly given by the game at some point or another - preferably taking quite a time.
Projecting this from the macrocosmos of the game world to the microcosmos of the player, which he is experiencing at the moment, to the bigger game world, would mean that there would be systems which two or more factions fight over for a certain time frame. The time frame and the intensity of such a conflict would be affected by economical and military factors, for instance the amount of equipment a faction can ship to support the fleet or the number of ships a particular region can summon up, the arrangement of sectors and systems across the space, which is being fought over, and the direct or indirect interventions of the player or of other factions (pirates cutting off trade and supply lines, etc.), either on one side or another.
This would require that the owner of a system or a part of the system can be changed through scripting. Sounds easy to do, but what might come up is the issue of when a system actually belongs to a faction and when it’s effectively war-torn territory. That will be a subject of discussion. These pictures are only there for clarification of what I have in mind… more or less. The global AI relationships and its impact on the player’s decisions and goals will, too, be a hot subject of discussion.
(Yes, that’s the Llama from Vegastrike, GPL)