Chris Crawford would be proud…

September 12th, 2008 by Michael

We implemented the last behaviour today. That makes for a total count of 70 behaviours. Behaviours are things that the characters can do. It’s a concept from the Drama Princess engine that we use in the game. And even though Chris Crawford is famous for saying that interactive storytelling requires thousands of verbs, we’re pretty proud to have exceeded the classic amount of 5 verbs (turn right, turn left, move forward, move back, and fire) quite a bit.

To be fair, there’s actually a few behaviours that won’t be used anymore, remnants of Drama Princess tests and old versions of the game. “Bow to Greet” and “Wave” are not part of The Path and “Dance” didn’t make it either. But “Move Happy” is still there, “Go Home”, “Chase”, “Act Sad”, “Drink” and even “Pray”. Many of these behaviours can be acted out by several characters. But some are reserved to a single one (often because of the limits of asset creation -each behaviour typically requires a unique animation for each character- or sometimes because it’s not appropriate to the story -things that a certain characters would never do).

In Drama Princess, behaviours are like little programs that run at the very bottom of the software structure but that are capable of influencing the entire game. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea -I’m not a programmer ;) . But it’s very practical. And it works quite well. Each behaviour can be entirely unique, though several share common elements (like go to a certain spot, or look at an object -which , I guess, are extra verbs that I didn’t count separately).

All the behaviours we need for The Path are in the game now. But they are by no means finished. Many require a lot of tweaking and fixing. And we also need to quite extensively author the rules by which characters can choose to act out certain behaviours. As you may or may not know, all characters in The Path (including the avatars) are capable of autonomous behaviour (at least in the main part of the game). They choose to do things based on what’s around them and how they feel about those objects and characters. Since these feelings change, so can does their behaviour. A lot of our authoring now involves limiting the freedom that the characters have. Because they have no intention to simply act out our story. We need to force them a bit. We’re like the directors of a troupe of anarchistic actors. It’s fun, but…