We are quite familiar with the concept of Artificial Intelligence, or AI. In almost no connection to that, I want to actually separate the two and write about Artificial vs Intelligence.
In a nutshell
I will be looking into the two major dynamic systems comprising the virtual world of games and how this actually reflects reality to a much bigger degree than expected.
The more you delve into the domain of game design, the more you are going to recognize how patterns you have been utilizing as a part of your job are easily recognizable at various levels in the world around us – social dynamics, behavioristic psychology, etc.
Let’s think about it – what is the general architecture of a game system, even the most simple one? We usually have two major components:
- (Environment) The game world – All the logic and systems that set the rules that either provide feedback to the user actions or just work on their own.
- (Player) The user actions – All the input that comes from the user.
In more complex games you would want to have the game world also provide more dynamic gameplay by introducing sub-systems of meta mechanics. A meta mechanic is a feature that might be a procedurally generated flow of game world events like spawning NPCs on the map that provide you with randomly generated side-quests (as in an RPG game). This allows you to achieve a higher level of immersion by making the game feel more “alive”, hence closer to reality.
Thus we get the two aforementioned systems – Artificial (game world) vs Intelligence (user actions) constantly exchanging information to create the gameplay flow in a virtual system (a game).
A level of abstraction but still useful
It may sound a bit abstract and theoretical but this concept has its value if you apply it at the right stage of the game design. It is also quite helpful when trying to analyze any system that provides user input. Therefore it actually transcends the domain of pure game development.
Here are a couple of more practical points you can derive from this topic.
- To what degree do I want the player’s actions to affect the game world?
- Deriving from your target audience and references, answering this question will define the complexity of your system and thus directly affect the cost of production.
- How dynamic do I want the game world to be? The higher the volatility of the system, the higher the challenge for the players to predict the outcome of their actions. This is pretty simple actually:
- At moment (X) – You apply a set of inputs (A) to a set of parameters (B1) manifested by the game world and get a result that is a function of those parameters f(A, B1).
- At a later moment (X+Y) – You apply the same input set (A) but this time the game world has changed to (B2). In this case, the result would change to f(A, B2)
- This is how you create a varied gameplay experience.
- This is how you also create a challenge for the player.
- Do I allow the player to “break the system”. This one is pretty interesting.
- We usually perceive the game (or any extrinsic system for the sake of the matter) as an “enemy”. Something hostile that is outside of our control and forces us to the desired behavior. No big surprises here from a psychological perspective I guess.
- Therefore people love the notion of breaking the rules and getting to those “hidden” levels or easter eggs that go outside of the established pattern.
If you haven’t heard about it, some of those points derive from what is called antecedent stimulus: “When an organism perceives an antecedent stimulus, it behaves in a way that maximizes reinforcing consequences and minimizes punishing consequences”
Artificial vs Intelligence – What is the takeaway?
Observe the world around you and become more mindful of the system-user framework (user interacting with an environment). It can be observed at numerous levels of reality and recognizing persistent patterns can help you craft sound dynamics that can “sell” your game idea via an easily achieved immersion (based on behaviorism). In more simple worlds – you make your game and user experience more intuitive if you base it on such paradigms. So it is not actually Artificial vs Intelligence, but those two playing in conjunction to give you a great outcome.
Make sure to check the other articles on games design on the website.