[MUD-Dev] Questing (was: Request for ideas)

Joe Andrieu jandrieu at caltech.edu
Wed Oct 3 07:32:22 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Eli Stevens
> From: "Vincent Archer" <archer at frmug.org>

>> Synthetising explanation texts at each node (which need to take
>> into account what arc you came thru, what arc you're scheduled
>> for the next quest step, what factions the quest imparts) is also
>> a good research topic, since you're going to mix and match
>> sentence parts, and build a grammatically correct
>> sentence/paragraph from it.

>> It's not a novel feature, but it's an area that's never been done
>> right as far as I know. Combines graph theory, a little AI,
>> automated text generation, a bit of linguistics, everything for
>> everyone.

>> (my own estimation is 6-10 man-months of work at least, which is
>> on the big side for a team student project).

I would wager a bit more than 6-10 man months, depending on how you
define success. A randomizing quest generator is pretty
straightforward.  However, quests are not stories.  Now, maybe by
story-based you just meant interesting things to do which are
consistent with some sort of backstory.  In that case, the tricky
part is the knowledge representation and reasoning (KR&R) system
that maintains the state of the universe in a way that your AI could
use it to generate smart quests.  Note that you really don't want to
try a simple hueristic or state-based model (the example given). The
explosion of possibilities becomes intractable with any significant
breadth in your story-universe.

On the other hand, finding out how to generate stories dynamically
is a much harder--and much more interesting--challenge.  This is
precisely because a story is NOT simply a sequence of events. It
isn't even a sequence of interesting events. At most, those are
histories and they are generally about as compelling as reading a
log file. Indeed, some people like reading log files; but they are
not stories unless you are willing to read a story "into" the events
after the fact, ala the "stories" in The Sims.

Check out Aristotle's _Poetics_ and Robert McKee's _Story_.  If you
see how reversals can drive a story from exposition to complication
to climax and denoument, then you can start developing automated
story generation in a MUD.


Joe Andrieu
Realtime Drama

joe at andrieu.net
+1 (626) 395-8045

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