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Bork: On His Own
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:13 pm    Post subject: Bork: On His Own Reply with quote



Okay, I think it's been Fost I've been chatting a bit with in e-mails about this fantastic project of mine that's so mind-blowingly spectacular. *chortle* Anyway, I've then proceeded to forget to post about it like I threatened to for five days or something. Here it is:

Bork: On His Own is an automated CRPG.

What with the who now?
To explain, let's start with my inspiration. It all started when I heard of Progress Quest. I was, as is often the case with joke programs, introduced to it as a proper game, and had my head filled with hopes and expectations as I downloaded and installed it. It's basically a game that lets you create a silly character that will battle monsters and gain levels automatically FOR you so you don't have to do all that tedious "grinding" as they call it. All you have to do is wait.
Of course, there's no combat system, and the character always wins. It's basically just an exercise in creating weird monster names and strange names for quests. It has no actual merit outside the parody.

But by the time I'd noticed this, I was already aflame with ideas and wishes. What if there was a combat system? What if you could SEE the character doing these quests and killing these beasts? What if your character gained different skills depending on how he beat his enemies? What if he would sometimes run away from strong foes? What if all his choices were made by THE CHARACTER?!

And that's when I decided I needed to design this game. I say "design" rather than "make" since I'm not a programmer in any sense of the word. I've done the Hello Worlds of fifteen different programming languages, but never gotten further than the simple calculator programs. And I still couldn't really compile them. So I'm entirely dependant on other, more talented, people's shared enthusiasm for the project and their willingness to help me.

BORK IN A NUTSHELL
You have a character (Bork) who you could maybe regard as you protegé. You can tell him what to do when he asks (which is often in the start, but rarely to never as he gains experience) but never where or when to do it. Basically, he will from day 1 and until the day he dies always choose where he moves. Therefore, his movement algorithms are extremely important. I have deviced, without knowing if it's technologically feasible, a method of having him choose where to go by fear factors and factors of interest. I made a simple series of images to graphically describe it in a non-boring fashion:



The redder the colour, the more likely he is to move in that direction.

More boring and lengthy explanation:
Let's say you have 100 "points" of interest. These 100 will be equally distributed among all the eight (or sixteen, or thirty-two, or three-hundred-and-sixty. Whichever works best in the end.) directions if he has NO clue where to go. At that point, he is likely to step in ANY direction. Once he starts walking in that direction, he's most likely to continue that way (unless his Intelligence score is rock-bottom.) or at least for a while. After a certain amount of time with nothing new, he will lose interest in that direction and be more likely to change directions. If he sees a road, he'll follow that in some direction. If he sees a town, he'll be likely to go there (if anything, to ask for directions.)


MORE ON AI:
What I want is for him to sort of always have a set of options when he meets someone new. These could be, for example; "ask for helpful directions", "ask for money", "ask for a job", "ask for food", "demand money", "pummel and take money", "strangle and spit on the corpse", or "ask to see person's private parts". For example. All options will be given scores on how courageous, selfish, evil, etc they are, and he will act according to what you've taught him as a "kid". If you start early on by having him strangle rats for no good reason, he will be more likely to become a cold-blooded killer than if you start by teaching him to pick flowers and sell them on the street for money.


ON GRAPHICS:
The format I'll be most likely to running is a 3D map with characters and misc. objects as flat planes, or card-board cut-outs if you will. I might have to give these cut-outs a bit of depth to make them viewable from the "side" since I don't intend to create 400 different characters with 8 viewpoints, etc.
Also, I'm doing the graphics. They were originally meant to be pixel-art, but I'm moving more towards a more hand-drawn approach in my head right now, though it has yet to be tested.

And that's all I can think of right now. There's tons more in my head, but it's not all organized and stuff. I'll post more as it happens.

PS: The project updates, along with some of those pixel-art characters and stuff can be seen at http://www.anywherebb.com if you go to the forums and enter the "Members' Projects" section. From there, go to "Bork: OHO - Project Updates." Sorry for the inconvenience of having to give directions, but it's a frames-based site. If you don't want the hassle, go to this direct link: http://anywherebb.com/postline/posts.php?t=1386
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And I also just now finished another series also depicting his thought-processes. They wouldn't be QUITE as detailed in the game as here. I took some artistic license.

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No.118



Joined: 04 Nov 2005
Posts: 46
Location: England



PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Is it just going to be watching the character wandering around killing stuff? Surely that would become a bit boring before too long?

You should include some way for the player to assist Bork indirectly. I assume that the player would choose his stats at the beginning, but what would come after that?

Is the player basically cast as a 'god', watching over their little disciple? Perhaps you could have control over the weighting of the AI- for instance, how aggressive Bork will act, what sort of objects he should be more interested in and so on?

Hell, you've probably already thought of all this yourself so why am I even posting? Why are you posting? Why is anyone posting? I'm off to watch some progress bars...
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Sat Feb 11, 2006 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The idea, which I forgot to mention, is that it will function as a background app that would also be interesting to look at when you have nothing better to do. I'm planning on having it dock as a top-side window with a small icon that shows what's happening at the moment. When he gets into battle, it'll flash red or something so you can click in and watch.

And, yeah, you basically mold a character through your help to him in the beginning. If you tell him to cut off someone's head and spit down their throats, it's likely he'll get very aggressive in the long run. So you do have control over the AI.

Also, I'm planning on giving you the change to directly modify the personality bars instead of tutoring him manually.

Finally, there are plans to make you able to prompt him to stop what he's doing and do something else. If he's very intent, though, he might not listen.
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Sorrow



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 146
Location: Australia



PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent. i love the idea...rofl as much as it isnt realy a game, more an excuse for you to make an AI progy? Razz
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BluePhoenix



Joined: 08 Jun 2004
Posts: 96
Location: Between Georgia and Cuba



PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmm. This reminds of a game I read about for the SNES. I never played the game but I remember that the premise was that you were the Jiminy Cricket to little robot girl who knew nothing about life and needed you to show her what's right and what's wrong, which sounds rather similar to this.

I think a better analogy than "god" and "disciple" would be "parent" and "child" or (for the geeks) "master" and "padawan".

I find myself impressed with the thought you've put into the basic algorithm of how he decides where to go, but you might want to put some thought into the map system. Basically will it be tile based or not. Tile based is more limited but much easier to create than a freeroaming zone.

I would suggest starting small with a little 2D version like the one in your nifty diagrams. Not pretty but it adds a unique "flava" to it.
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Fost
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Joined: 14 Oct 2002
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reminds me also, of what my impression of princess maker will be like when I ever get round to playing it (I've been meaning to try that out somehow for years!). I've probably got completely the wrong impression, but it sounded like you make key decisions in the life of a princess as she grows up, which affect the eventual outcome.

Another tack (random thought time) you could take with this idea - make it into a high speed strategy game. Strange adventures in infinite space, and oasis (which won the GameTunnel indie game of the year award), do something like this -take a huge concept, and speed it up so it lasts a few minutes then give the player control over key moments. In Bork's case, you could do Bork's entire life in a couple of minutes. Random events and decisions you make at key moments could mean his life pans out in any number of ways.

Also, I still think there's no reason you can't do something like this in Blitz - it doesn't seem like it's something that is going to make your graphics card overheat, more like somehting that requires a lot of work on the AI and map builder, but I'd have thought there's going to be CPU cycles applenty to do that in blitz.
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you guys (especially you, Fost) for your input and suggestions. If you won't MAKE the game for me, I'll have to leech off all of your collective knowledge in the hopes of maybe one day finishing this. I'll try to answer everything that's been mentioned now.

Sorrow:
Actually, no. I just want to see this game made. And I would never be able to program an AI. It's taxing enough for me learning to play the guitar. ^_^

BluePhoenix:
I've always thought of it as a mentor and protegé game myself, so that's pretty much spot on.

Heh, the cute little "animation" is just a surface thing. Fear (or threat, or whatever) factor will be very important in the game in terms of how Bork reacts to things. He may have a phobia of pines, which could lead to him either attacking or running from any pine he sees, depending yet again on a different characteristic, his courage. yes, I'm planning on having a random phobia generator. That should make things interesting. ^_^

Yeah, regarding the map system, it'll be randomly generated. A friend of mine is working on a planet generator using a random slicing method. It looks pretty good so far, but there are a few kinks to work out still. After generating the planet, we will have to generate the terrain and then the countries and their towns etc.

We will see just how it works out once I actually manage to plop down one of these babies *points at the images below* onto the map and make him move around. Think of them as cardboard cut-outs (maybe even with an extra slab between their feet to help them stand up.) that roam around, not as actual sprites.



Fost:
I've been playing Weird Worlds for a bit lately, and found it a welcome change from the sometimes gigantic missions you go on in World of Warcraft to gain a new pair of gloves, so yeah. Weird Worlds is cool. But not the kind of thing I have in mind, really.

I have been thinking, though, of offering different kinds of gameplay. This is an idea I had early on: Take the "brain" of the Bork you've been training for years, insert him into a completely fresh character while your friend does the same on the same map, and then pit them against eachother in a whirlwind of a deathmatch. Who will find the legendary whatsit of doom first? Only the best brain will win. So take the weeks-long process of building your Bork and condense it to an hour of online character racing, so to speak. I haven't thought about that idea for a year, so it needs refining, of course. And, anyways, all these ideas I'm talking about are just losely hanging about. I really have no idea how I'd do all of this.

Only thing about Blitz (which I've looked at and I think looks interesting) is that I need to find AI programmers who work through Blitz. I've been looking at Game Maker for learning myself how to at least get a GLIMPSE into game developing. Maybe I'd even be able to build a rudimentary AI there. I don't know.

I'll post loads more as I think of it.

EDIT: And I know, I know. I need to work on that metallic armour. It doesn't look like anything but cardboard. I think I know what I'm doing wrong.
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2006 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm learning Game Maker now for the fun of it, and just because I may have a chance to make some sort of a prototype for the movement algorithms etc. when I advance enough.

Following a tutorial, I made the first ever game, Catch the Bork. After that, I played around a bit with the things I'd learned and made Bork the Breeder. Press F1 in the game to see some info and background story. The plot is very involving. Very Happy

Bear in mind that these are my first ever games, and I've already been able to follow the King Kong example of no GUI. I'm such a genius... Yeaaahh....

Catch the Bork: http://www.magnulus.com/bork/games/CatchTheBork.rar
Bork the Breeder: http://www.magnulus.com/bork/games/borkthebreeder.rar

PS: I recorded all the sounds myself. I'm the da Vinci of gaming!
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been working on Bork again, though mostly graphically. I've revised the design again to fit more to the animated gifs I showed earlier, since they seemed to be relatively popular. (And because they're much quicker to produce)

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Fost
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 11, 2006 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice art style. I love the look of Bork in his suit of armour!
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Sorrow



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 146
Location: Australia



PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

im tempted to help you with this, i do love AI... :p


but im thinking not only have bork "thinking" and doing things but also have other creatures in the game "thinking" and developing along side your one, each with it's own ultimate goals and needs Razz [may be it simple ones]
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2006 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fost:
Coming from you, that's a huge inspiration, Nick! Thanks! I'll keep posting as I make other things.

Sorrow:
If you'd like to help, I'd love to recieve some. Do you have any example work or something I could look at? If not, we could probably still have a chat at some point if you like. I'll leave it up to you, though.

Regarding the enemy AI, that's always been a WISH of mine, but I've never actually dared incorporate anything more than a close-range AI in the design because I have no idea how much power it would take to control potentially a hundred thousand creatures at once.

Maybe if you separate all creatures and humans and various other NPCs into categories, and every category updates once a minute as long as they're out of range of Bork. That way, it would be a sort of underlying turn-based system. But the moment they pass into a certain radius around Bork, they start updating in real-time. It'd have to be a relatively big radius, considering that some things will be able to detect him far off.

Concerning NPCs (or Terks as I like to call them.), the idea was to, in the long run, give them different kinds of social behavior. Let's take Wizards as an example. And keep in mind this is just basic brainstorming.
Wizards would behave differently according to their age. Let's say you have toddlers. They have no control over their power, since it's just raw potential without training. They'd pretty much just discharge magic randomly, but perhaps particularly when they are upset or angry. So don't pick on them, because their raw magic could easily kill a grown man if gone awry. Then, there are the teenagers. They're usually in flocks, mainly around city gates or stores. If you approach them, the males might harangue you just for the sake of showing off. Older wizards are more in the vein of the ones we know from other fantasy fiction.

What I suppose I'd need for something like this to work is some sort of a modifier at the creature creation level. I want one racial or species-driven modifier of traits like aggressiveness, bravery and so on. Then I want a RANDOM modifier for every one of these, because not every single creature of the same genus acts the same. The random modifier turn out a cowardly skeletal mouse, for example.

What I also want to do is give Bork and all NPCs fobias. Simply put, they'd be given a random fobia from a variety of choices. Maybe they're afraid of the colour red. Or frogs. Those kinds of things. These would alter a character's level of Fear and could prompt them to go into a blind panic where anything could happen if their Fear-levels are already nearing the top. I think fobias could be one of those fun little wildcards that makes it interesting. Because you never know what will happen.

Ask me if you're interested in hearing about my thoughts on calculation of Fear. I'll come back to you on it, as I have to get goin'.

Hope you found my little rant interesting.
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Sorrow



Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 146
Location: Australia



PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 2:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's times like these that i wish i had of heeded my dads life time advice of "write everything down, you may need it one day!".

Unfortunately i don't have anything relevant i can show you programm wise. however ive spent a good deal of time thinking about making a real AI, although i never ended up solving the problem of creating a sentient programm i learnt alot about how to write high level AI, which i might add nobody else admits too being able to do.

Id love to spend some time talking too you about the games specifics and hopefully produce a features list, which even if i don't decided to help is invaluable for you. Especially if you try to enlist another programmer in the future.

You can reach me at Sorrow333@hotmail.com

Email or MSN is fine, or feel free to send me PMS on here, i check them all about the same.
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Magnulus



Joined: 08 Nov 2005
Posts: 556
Location: Bergen, Norway



PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2006 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks a bunch!
I'll send you an e-mail right away, and then we'll see how it goes from there.

Anyway, I just read an article on Game Tunnel which says that Gamepark Holdings are giving out a prize of $5000 to the best game. This basically means that if me and whomever wants to help sent in a game to them by the 30th of september, and it is good, it could mean big bucks. And if there IS nothing to be won, then at least we'll have managed to actually finish the game (if we have by then, that is.)
Article: http://gametunnel.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=678

Now... For a Bork game to work on a GP2X, I think it'd have to change form a bit. I actually subconsciously traced back to where you were, Fost, with thinking about Weird Worlds. Well, the thought process was rather "But on a hand-held, it would make no sense if you didn't control him yourself. And making it too big and epic seems like a bad idea, too. Maybe if I just do sort of an adrenaline-rushed RPG thing, kinduv like... yeah, like Weird Worlds!"

Right now, it's all so up in the air. I don't really know what to do. Should I develop a straight-out Bork game first? On a small world with independently "thinking" NPCs but a non-thinking Bork? Should I do that first and THEN branch out into the huge, epic, semi-controlled game I've been wanting to design for two years now?

The lessons learned could be useful, I guess, and it's not as if I wouldn't be working on the original design at the same time. I mean, I'd still be working on NPC AI and world generation, so then Bork: On His Own would actually sort of be in development simultaneously with Bork: By Your Hand (or whatever it'd be called. Maybe just Bork.)

What do you guys think? Do you rather want to play Bork or On His Own? What do you think is advisable? Do I lose Sorrow's support if I decide to make a different game?
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