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Envisioning Randomness -- and Visible Processes?

Started by droqen, January 17, 2022, 11:51:09 AM

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droqen

January 17, 2022, 11:51:09 AM Last Edit: January 17, 2022, 12:13:47 PM by droqen

cover of Envisioning Information, by Edward R. Tufte

droqen

Roll for your life: Making randomness transparent in Tharsis

Quote from: Zach Gage"If something says you're going to have a 90 percent chance and you fail, you think it's unfair. But if somebody says 'You're going to be successful at this unless you roll a one on this ten-sided die,' and you roll a one, it's kind of exciting."

droqen

In a game with dice, randomness is not a black box - it is a physical system which we can grasp intuitively. We can hold a cube with six faces in our hand and turn it over and over and over again, feeling the potential for chaos and all of the possible results. When we roll a "1", we know what happened.

droqen

At the very least we can fool ourselves into thinking we understand it because we can interact with all parts of the system; they are tangible and have a feeling.

droqen

Artificial Intelligence is the same way, to some degree. (I'm talking about AI in games.) For the most part AI that people like a lot has some wonderfully unrealistic 'tells', hooks for understanding what is, beneath the surface, either literal randomness, or at least contains some elements of unpredictability. AI that feels unpredictable and incomprehensible feels worse, regardless of whether it is in fact random beneath the surface.

People talk about F.E.A.R. a lot, and every discussion about why its AI was so enjoyable centred around how it allowed the player to envision various facets of the unknown behaviour of the enemies.

- Flashlights, making visible their view cones (a trigger for when the AI changes behaviour)
- They announce what they're going to do / what they're doing, making visible the result of their AI processing (an unknown/invisible process. perhaps not 'random' but certainly unpredictable in many cases)

A lot of stealth games also expose both of these things. There must be more here, but I've never played F.E.A.R. myself.

droqen

Starseed Pilgrim has randomness that can be envisioned: its seed growth patterns. Though there is a hidden process - how does each individual tile growth step work? - it can be seen as one entire random process, which is visible and tangible. The process in action can only be stopped, not altered otherwise once started, but it feels like something that can be seen and touched.

droqen

Seeing the process that generates a proc gen level is somewhat similar - just watching it unfold is beautiful. It allows me to envision a 'random' process. I think observing a level be generated would be significantly more pleasurable if I could dance around on it, halting processes at will... That would feel fascinating.

droqen

January 17, 2022, 12:11:07 PM #7 Last Edit: January 17, 2022, 12:13:17 PM by droqen
Then again, I've always liked exposed machinery. Seeing what's backstage, getting to explore the guts.

droqen


two-page spread from Girls' Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou) by Tsukumizu

droqen

Envisioning Randomness is a good place to start for me because Randomness in games is normally a process the produces important results. So, maybe I can break this down into some bullet points. What am I looking for?

- a process whose results are important to me
- i can't tell what the results are going to be
- when the results come out, i can understand why they turned up that way

droqen

When presented with a process whose results are important to me, I will naturally attempt to compute what the results are going to be, which is why it's necessary that I can't. However, I like partially computing what the results are going to be... hmm. That third bullet point isn't necessary. It's something else.