AC – Sculpting possibility space

Will Wright. Creator of SimCity. Overview of building games.

Interactive (Sims) games and story based games (like Myst). Described his experience playing the newest Grand Theft Auto. There’s a world there that you can interact in. The user builds the story of their world (procedural narrative versus scripted narrative based game). Basis for creating a model to approach game design.

Possibility space (or your landscape). What is the space that users can experience or what are all the possible outcomes. They’re able to measure what directions users take through the Sims environment when users upload their games from their local computer to the network game.

What are the raw materials we build worlds from?

  • Paradigms (how you take some element of reality and deconstruct, extrapolate the future, cybernetics, chaos theory
  • Complex adaptive systems that change based on feedback–self adaptive–related to genetic algorithms & artificial intelligence theory)
  • Topologies (hierarchies, landscapes), dynamics (different ways nouns can change over time like propagation, growth, allocation, specialization). The failure side of games is actually what users like the best. It’s why they come back and play again.
  • So, developers spend a lot of time on failure states.

The power law distribution governs social networks. Works in gaming too. Fundamental laws in systems: disorder/ order, local/global, cooperative/compete.

Showed a clip where users in the Sims can create movies of their worlds. Showed one where users created a sitcom trailer. Example of derivative content where users use the game to create unique stuff that’s detached from the game.

The future is metrics. In games, the computer can formally measure what you do. Create interesting metrics (like how far do they venture from the norm of game play, look at the relationships they build in the game, figure out what type of people they’d like to meet in the game, map out where people go through the possibility space of the game).

Amazing thing about game developers is that they are very multi disiplinary. They’re not just into computer science but things like relatively theory, quantum mechanics and any other models that are used to describe reality. Very impressed by that (especially from a non gamer perspective :-).

Interesting note from Q&A: For every line of code launched, they throw away about 10 lines in development.


2 Comments on “AC – Sculpting possibility space”

  1. Greg Linden says:

    I would have loved to be at this talk. Some of the most interesting artificial intelligence work is being done in games.

  2. Andrej Gregov says:

    There was a strong showing of game developers at the conference. Another really interesting presentation was about Second Life. Amazing things being done in virtual worlds.
    Hope you didn’t mind too many typos in these posts. Hard to listen and type fast :-).