So I’ve been reflecting on Jane McGonigal’s talk. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time and I think she made some great insightful points about game design. Not so much futurist but visionary and optimist. I can get behind that. But she poses a particular challenge to the likes of, well, me. There’s not any room for AI in her vision! Sure, we’ll always have single-player story games, people enjoy it, robots are cool, yada yada yada. But, to paraphrase Raph Koster, what if multiplayer games are the future? Where be some of that computer arti-fish-ial intelligence in this?
Well, what do designers like Jane need? Boldly putting myself in their shoes, they need need ways to fight the fight. They’re trying to make a different kind of game – massively multiplayer, socially changing, reality-based, impact-oriented. Old techniques just aren’t going to be that useful to them. That means:
- supporting users,
- maintaining the experience,
- much shorter development times,
- communication tools,
- managing large numbers of users with a small dev team,
- user training and guidance,
- and real world integration
Hmmm…. sounds like web development. What else do they need? What’s game-y about them? Something like
- players assuming characters and roles,
- and assisted team formation.
Those aren’t traditional AI problems. If anything, they are closest to gameplay problems. I recall Steve Rabin’s slide from the GDC AI Summit this year where he talked about how much of game programming was moving into AI. But none of this helps these designers. That big circle of “Game design”? It’s splitting in two. Some of those designers are betting on us. But the rest have been heading in the opposite direction. Fast. And coming off of GDC, it feels like there’s a lot of them. Designers weren’t talking about how to make, well, characters. They were talking about how to make people interact with each other and the game better. If we want to get in on that party, and I think we can, we should start moving soon.
I can see where user matching, player feedback and training, maybe even sinulation fit on the path. I volunteer experience management as a second step. What else can we bring with us?