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In-game Text -- Possible?


demagogue

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In-game text prompt, that is.

 

This is a quick question just to test the waters and see if there are any fish.

 

Ever since I noticed you could type text in-game in Thief with the command line ( cntl+; ), I had this idea that it might be possible to add commands in-game through a text-prompt, sort of like IF-style or the old AGS games (kings quest, space quest, etc.) built into the game, where you could say particular things to NPCs -- like saying a particular password or answering a question to get past an NPC (i.e., the input triggers some AI movement), or "ask X about Y" to learn new info (i.e., the input triggers a screen-text or voice file), where the text itself is triggering things in-game -- and I thought if done right, it might really add to the richness of the game's interactivity, push it more in the interactive fiction direction, which is good IMO. I've played around a lot with parsers, so I could do a lot of the work if the basics were in place (and even pretty unsophisticated parsing can add to a game), but getting the basics into place is what I don't know.

 

Of course, everything concerning the command-line in Thief is beyond access. But what about TDM?

Is it reasonably possible to get a text prompt in-game and link it to in-game tools, enough that an enterprising FM-maker could take care of setting the links up by hand?

Where on the possibility scale is something like that?

 

Keep up the good work, gentlemen.

I salute you.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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The text commands are for interacting with the game code itself, they are not used within the context of the particular level being played. To use it as you suggest would be very difficult since there would be no easy way of separating "in-game" commands from the debugging or cheating meta-commands such as "activate God mode" or "give all weapons".

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You would sort've have to code a whole 'nother console for dialogue, so that the keyboard input would switch from controlling the game to typing text, but like OrbWeaver says you shouldn't have access to debug console commands when talking to NPCs, so using the regular console would not be good.

 

Maybe it could be done through the PDA system, by creating some kind of PDA-like dialogue GUI that pops up and overrides the keyboard input. I forget if you can still control your character in game while in the PDA mode (i.e., if you press left while looking at the PDA, will you walk left?)

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All of that sounds right.

 

For how I was thinking about it (thinking back to some AGS's), a dialogue GUI popping up would do the trick ... and even if it pauses the game so you can't control the character until you exited the mode, it wouldn't be the end of the world. If I could get just that much up and running, I'd be willing to try getting it set up with a basic parser... It sounds hard, but I can't help but think it would really open up some awesome possibilities. Anyway, I'm just throwing out the idea.

 

Also, I forgot to mention plan-B, what about a menu based dialogue-system a la Deus Ex 1?

I just love NPC interaction, and anyway I can get a foothold into it I'm interested.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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I think this would be easily possible via scripts. After all, all the menus that you can see in the mainscreen of Doom 3 are also plain GUI scripts. The cool thing about the Doom 3 design is, that everything is consistently and uniformly designed. There is no such thing as a main menu. It is simply just another GUI. The same that you can also use in-game as well.

Gerhard

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That's good news, and makes it sound pretty straightforward to implement by an FM-maker (or someone releasing a generic script later on FM makers can build off of) without any extra work on you guys' part in development. That's a really great thing and I hope something that FM makers start using ... it was definately part of DX's magic.

 

I still wish that I could get a functioning text-prompt in-game... (This is now my own, out-of-play meta-comment :P ) I've long had this dream that fps's and IF could be somehow integrated. And if you think about it, there are really just two main missing links (that I can think of), since most kinds of movement and most kinds of basic object manipulation are already in FPSs ...

 

1) is open NPC interaction.

2) is maybe non-standard (open) object manipulation, using objects in non-intuitive, novel ways. Frobbing an object, or an object to another object, is a pretty blunt instrument, but then again a good designer can do a lot with just that, as I've seen in many a creative T2 FM. And adding much more complexity only marginally opens up the kinds of interactions you can have for the trouble.

3) Edit, maybe three. Also, there's non-standard (open) player movements like lying down, sitting down, dancing ... again, interesting, but only marginally so for most games, esp given the trouble it'd probably cause.

 

But NPC interactions, and in particular *open* NPC interactions, seems almost fundamental to getting really immersive / interactive (IF-level) story-telling & puzzle-solving off the ground. So really #1 is the main missing link that could make a difference. The difference between menu-based and open/text-based dialogue/interaction is maybe how much you want to lean towards the console side vs. the IF side of NPC interaction ... You can tell where my sympathies are.

 

Anyway, TDM just rekindled my ideas and made me wonder if it's possible and what would have to be done to get there. Thanks for replying, all.

 

------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Edit. On reflection, it occurs to me that most (even seemingly open) NPC interactions could be taken care of with a menu that comes up when frobbing an NPC.

 

Along with a list of pre-provided phrases for various AI, there could be also a more open menu system that could allow the player to "ask" the AI about a particular listed topic/object/person/place (not all of them with answers, of course; Q: can you modify a menu list so that new objects you discover can be added?), or "command" an NPC to do a listed action (create a distraction), or even a nice list of "stock-phrases" ("What the hell are you looking at?", "shhh....", "evening") ... open enough that there's lots of room for experimenting and creativity, but closed enough to make it functionally manageable ... just a lot of links to take care of, time-consuming at worst. The more I think about it, the more it seems there's something to this idea.

 

For my own gratification I'll think about it some more, look at how different Adv games use dialogue menus in different ways, and see what I come up with.

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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:D Doom 3 the textadventure made by Infodoom.

 

From the ads:

 

Enjoy the cruel universe of Doom 3 when you walk through the labyrinth of an underground SciFi mar research facillity. With the new and improved engine 358 words were added to the parser to allow you even more creative ways of killing zombies. You can type complex sentences like this "Go to the elevator, press the button, turn around 180 degree and press the trigger on the shotgun targeting the imp first.". You can even store macros on a key with commonly used phrases like 'shoot' to be available at a single keypress.

 

System requirements:

CGA graphics card or better.

80x25 Text screen.

12MB RAM

15MB Harddisk

80286 or better

 

There is also a premium release available shortly whitch features impressively prerendered images with up to four colours, to supplement the textadventure.

Gerhard

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On reflection, it occurs to me that most (even seemingly open) NPC interactions could be taken care of with a menu that comes up when frobbing an NPC.

There is a good reason you don't see any text adveture style games nowadays :) GUIs have made that style of interface unessecary. The old argument for text input games was that it was more "realistic" because you didn't see a list of possible options - you had to be "smart enough" to know what to type. But this pretty much always ended up with you trying various ways of typing the same thing to find a way that the computer coud understand what you wanted to do - you were basicaly fighting with the interface. That is not fun, and not skillfull. To control something, you need to understand the interface. Part of the game should not be working out how to tell it what you want to do.

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Frankly, this doesn't belong in a thief game, and I haven't seen typed dialogue in a game, an rpg, or anything of the sort outside of a mmorpg in the past decade. It is completely unnecessary. If you wish to have dialogue then you might employ the morrowind system or the baldur's gate system by choosing replies etc. Typed dialogue would take too much (the code searching for keywords) work for it to be worthwhile when you can simply do otherwise. Typed dialogue came from the era of muds when people had to type commands do actions. Oh wait, we have controls to perform actions :laugh:. Do what you wish.

Edited by Ombrenuit
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lol, i love how every thread anyone makes goes waaaay off topic lol....

 

let's get it more crazy. maybe a keyword will work.

 

cheeseschpangleburgers

 

Well, it's not that offtopic, just instead of disscussing text in thief they are disscussing text games.

 

Is KIng's Quest or something is one of them?

Too late to save us but try to understand

The seas were empty -- there was hunger in the land

We let the madmen write the golden rules

We were just Children of the Moon

We're lost in the middle of a hopeless world

Children, Children of the Moon watch the world go by

Children, Children of the Moon are hiding from the Sun and the Sky

 

© The Alan Parsons Project - Children of the Moon

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Yeah my post wasn't off topic at all, as far as I'm concerned. I was just pointing out how parser based inputs are outdated.

 

I think the original kings quest was one of those "parser games". Don't quote me on that, I think that's what you call them. As in they "parse" the text you type, to turn it into an in-game command.

 

The original Zork game was one too. And so was the original Space Quest game.

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Uh oh, I can imagine it now...

 

> get loot

 

I don't see that here.

 

> get candlestick

 

You pick up the golden candlestick

 

> open door

 

Door is locked.

 

> lockpick door

 

Pick door with what?

 

> pick door with lockpicks

 

Your hands are full!

 

> put candlestick in bag

 

Put candlestick in what?

 

> put candlestick in backpack

 

I don't see that here.

 

> put lockpick in nostril, twist

 

You have died. Would you like to play again?

 

> no

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Uh oh, I can imagine it now...

 

Well, for the record, I was really just interested in NPC interaction.

The rest of it I agree is better off using other control methods, of course, and don't really care about.

 

So I spent a lot of time in university studying AI ... but I was most interested in parsers and natural language. And we were doing some pretty exciting stuff that I knew would sooner or later make it into games ... I mean, pretty sophisticated AI comprehension, goal orientated responses, etc.

It's one thing to say that using text as a control for movement or object manipulation is absurd ... it is I agree. But for NPC interaction, that's where open textured language might really shine. And I don't think any game has seen the state of the art on it ...

Don't get me wrong, I think menu-based interaction is the best way to go design-wise and for all practical purposes, and like someone said, you don't want to be fighting the console.

 

My motives for suggesting it in the Dark Mod were pretty much entirely selfish in that I wanted to keep working on a game-oriented NPC parser that I'm already playing with anyway, but in the context of a game I really like, where I can care about the characters. It wouldn't be good as a default feature - honestly, natural language parsers aren't there yet. I just wanted to know if it'd be easy for me to rig for my own kicks. That's it. And nothing really like the examples you guys rightfully poked fun at.

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Uh oh, I can imagine it now...

 

Can you continue writing??? :laugh:

Too late to save us but try to understand

The seas were empty -- there was hunger in the land

We let the madmen write the golden rules

We were just Children of the Moon

We're lost in the middle of a hopeless world

Children, Children of the Moon watch the world go by

Children, Children of the Moon are hiding from the Sun and the Sky

 

© The Alan Parsons Project - Children of the Moon

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Can you continue writing??? :laugh:

 

Yeah, funny as hell ... I should have added that but was being rushed in that post, which I find always makes me sound more serious than I really am...

 

I remember doing something like this in anticipation (or anxiety) of just how bad Thief III might be (3 of us in a row, keeping it going):

http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthread.php?...6828#post796828 :P

 

 

And yeah, nat'l language parsers have so far to go. I still hope you guys think about some menu-based NPC-interaction system, though, or at least put it on the back-burner. (& I'll maybe deal with how I might set up my own idea myself after release if I still feel like it ... now that I have an idea of how it might even be possible. Crackpot as it admittedly is; when you've played around with parsers and IF stuff long enough, like any programming, it just becomes 2nd-nature to think about, and since I'm only in this FM biz for my own kicks, I thought it couldn't hurt to ask what's possible for me to do myself when the time comes).

 

More OT, I find it (maybe ironically) reassuring that stupid topics like this are up in the thread queue (even if it is my own topic) ... It gives the impression that you've pretty much got all the basics under control and it's just a matter of time getting it all together. (.")-b

Edited by demagogue

What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you but I know that it's mine.

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Well if parsers can get to the point where they can reasonably understand any natural language that someone can type, then we will see it in games, but I guess that is a long way off yet.

 

 

Forget text based language parsers, full voice recognition and speech parsing is just around the corner (well, within 2 - 8 years anyway). Already phone companies etc are using automated speech recognition software to handle basic customer enquiries, and while it is by no means at the level where you could have a natural conversation with a computer AI, you can nevertheless interact more realisically than picking options out of a menu or typing simple text commands. Chews up quite a few CPU cycles though, so it might take longer to appear in games than it does in other areas.

 

There are a number of text-based AI programs around that can engage you in a fairly realistic conversation, and most people can't pick that they are talking to a computer unless they stray into areas that the computer hasn't been programmed to deal with.

 

The reason such parsers might not appear in games is that they take a huge amount of time to program (and to record voices if it is a speech program), and game studios might not see it being worthwhile financially to employ dozens of professional linguists and programmers to work on speech AI for a game that will not make the money they spent on it back for years, if at all...

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Let me throw this tidbit in really quick:

 

The other day, I was on the phone with the phone company's voice recognition support bullshit thing, getting progressively annoyed, and the thing may have had a moment of emergent lucidity!

 

Computer: "If you would like help with a billing dispute..."

 

Me: "Oh, just GIVE ME A FRIGGIN' PERSON!"

 

Computer: "I'm sorry, did you say you wanted to speak to a customer service representative?"

 

Me: *pause* :blink:

 

Me: "Yes...?" :unsure:

 

Computer: "Please hold, I'll have someone to help you in just a moment."

 

The only thing I can figure is that it either:

1. Interprets raised, angry voices to mean, "get this guy a service rep, pronto!" or,

2. It heard me say "PERSON!" and knew that meant "get this guy a service rep, pronto!"

 

Either way, the whole thing was pretty cool, actually.

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