spoke’n roll’d

Un blog, oui, Mais le blog de khelben.

Archive pour mai 2015

Hello everyone !
I Have been away from this blog since a very long time mostly because I hadn’t much to say (Silence is golden blablabla) but also because writting always tend to make you promise stuff, you are not sure to do in the end.
So in order to keep track of what am doing, and to make sure I will do my best to complete my task. Today am gonna talk about character personality in video games and why they should be improved.
I have been reading some papers on the matter for a few day now… (and my cat helped me too) so I can now propose a quick sum up of why it would be cool to have ‘real and unique personalities in video games’ and of all the infos I need to start off.
My friend Skaven will talk someday about the Behavior tree system he wonderfully did (still haven’t tested it in game) for his next game to come. I hope I will be able at this time to give you a second article with some working examples.

I am gonna start by quoting things and mostly commenting on it.

One particular problem commands our attention. Each person confronts us with a large number of diverse characteristics. This man is courageous, intelligent, with a ready sense of humor, quick in his movements, but he is also serious, energetic, patient under stress, not to mention his politeness and punctuality. These characteristics and many others enter into the formation of our view. Yet our impression is from the start unified; it is the impression of one person. We ask: How do the several characteristics function together to produce an impression of one person? What principles regulate this process?
We look at a person and immediately a certain impression of his character forms itself in us. A glance, a few spoken words are sufficient to tell us a story about a highly complex matter

Here comes the programmer question: How do I make people believe this npc has one true personnality based on multiple parameters/traits? Yeahh not that simple !

Each trait produces its particular impression. The total impression of the person is the sum of the several independent impressions. If a person possesses traits a, b, c, d, e, then the
impression of him may be expressed as:

I. Impression = a + b + c + d + e

Few if any psychologists would at the present time apply this formulation strictly. It would, however, be an error to deny its importance for the present problem. That it controls in considerable
degree many of the procedures for arriving at a scientific, objective view of a person (e.g., by means of questionnaires, rating scales) is evident. But more pertinent to our present discussion is the modified form in which Proposition I is applied to the actual forming of an impression. Some psychologists assume, in addition to the factors of Proposition I, the operation of a “general impression.”
The latter is conceived as an affective force possessing a plus or minus direction which shifts the evaluation of the several traits in its direction. We may represent this process as follows:

Ia. Impression =

To the sum of the traits there is now added another factor, the general impression.

Ok so to sum it up. We basically add every parameter to form a global view of an individual… and just afterward we taint it with a general impression(GI). This GI then will curve all the other parameters in the direction you decide it should go (so it fits the best your GI).
In other words… Parameters are not THAT important, what is important in the end is the GI you are picturing for someone.

So if we start considering someone’s personality based on different traits and numbers, we have to go further, we also have to help the player in his conception of a GI toward the npc. I think most of the people do not have this intent at first when dealing with a computer based individual. We do not tend to create affiliation with artificial intellects. Why is that ? how to deal with this problem ? These are the questions we are rising.

I do believe (so it is yet to be proven) that players don’t believe in npc’s personality mainly because they know they are computer driven, they find the pattern and they know what’s going to happen.
What if we prove to the players (and thus from the very beginning of the game) that every npc as a very unique personality, that if you kill this npc, you won’t meet someone like him ever again. What if these computer driven people are easy to get emotionally attached to ?
This might seem as a child fantasm but if you think to it fully. What are the difference between all the cats in the world ? Yet you believe you really have a unique link with yours, something that you cannot find elsewhere (spoiler alert, this is not true).

This sentiment is based on your global impression for your cat. This same GI we don’t know how to introduce in a video game.

Scientists have made experiment to try to understand the process involved in the GI creation.

For instance they gave two population (A and B) a list of words. The exact same words except for one. ‘Cold’ or ‘Warm’.

A. intelligent—skillful—industrious—warm—determined—practical—cautious

B. intelligent—skillful—industrious—cold—determined—practical—cautious

They asked the two population what came to their mind after hearing these list :

Series A (”warm”)

A person who believes certain things to be right, wants others to see his point, would be sincere in an argument’ and would like to see his point won.

A scientist performing experiments and persevering after many setbacks. He is driven by the desire to accomplish something that would be of benefit.

Series B (”cold”)

A very ambitious and talented person who would not let anyone or anything stand in the way of achieving his goal. Wants his own way, he is determined not to give in, no matter what happens.

A rather snobbish person who feels that his success and intelligence set him apart from the run-of-the-mill individual. Calculating and unsympathetic.

Here is an image suming up what are the words they used the most (percentage of population N)… and it looks pretty odd !


So if we had to reverse understand this. If we want a player to think a npc is ‘warm’ we should make him serious, generous ,honest and happy… well no big news.
What is important here is that these results show that a change in one character quality has produced a widespread change in the entire impression. Plus, the terms “warm-cold” did not simply add a new quality, but to some extent transformed some of the other characteristics.
The hard thing here is that it actually doesn’t change EVERY parameters. So we have to link traits and map them to apply a negative/positive multiplication factor over the whole parameter population which define an individual.
The multiplication factor has to be defined by the importance traits have. For instance, the “warm-cold’ words are of a great importance because they arouse a mental set. They will weight a lot when creating a virtual personality.

But the goal here is met, we have “proved” that we can come to a general impression based on different traits.

Yet other questions are now rising:
- How do we show characters traits to players ?
- How do we map important traits and their multiplication factors toward other traits
- Are every personality possible ? Is it dangerous in term of emotional implication to have unrealistic personality living in the game ?
- How do we generate all these personalities with behavior trees ?

I will not promise I will answer all of these questions but there is one thing for sure… I will try.

ps: you hold the right not to agree with me.. still I will prefer to hear it in french !
And sorry for the english mistakes !