Procedural story development

Initial thoughts on procedural generation of narrative:
What we have to be creating here isn’t the epic story arcs, but the daily stories individual lives. The ebb and flow of a community of software entities that interact with the players. Now given a sufficiently flexible system, that could itself generate a wider story arc with the sums of the actions of all of the entities yielding a final story, but for the time being I’d rather set my sights on something with a little narrower scope.
So each “character” in our story is going to have a bundle of wants and needs, each of which are acted upon only when they reach a certain threshold. Interactions with other characters will modify those wants and needs in both positive and negative manners. The characters will need to be able to interact with each other as well as with the user’s character, and each of these interactions will lead to differing responses based on the needs and wants of a given character.

 

For example, Given the characters Alice, Bob, and Carol.

Bob currently wants two things at sub threshold levels. He wants a pet cat and he wants Alice to like him. \

Alice has her own wants, but she really hates cats.

Carol has a pet cat.

Whenever Alice sees Carol’s cat, she becomes upset.
When Bob interacts with Alice, his desire to make her happy increases.

If Bob sees Carol’s cat, his desire to have a cat increases.

But if Bob sees Alice disliking Carol’s cat, and his desire to be friends with Alice is stronger than his desire to have a cat, he will further lower the priority of cat ownership.

On the other hand, if bob’s desire to own a cat has increased past his desire to be friends with Alice, finding out that Alice dislikes cats will further decrease his desire to be friends with Alice.

This tension can be used to develop interactions with the player.

Every character will have a pool of dialogue that is ranked in accordance with how it interacts with the wants and needs of the given character. If Bob’s desire to own a cat is high, he will be more likely to use cat related dialogue options, and he may well be willing to exchange things he has with the player for things that lead toward his eventual ownership of a cat.

On the other hand, if his desire to own a cat is lower than his desire to be Alice’s friend, he might ask the player to intercede with her on his behalf.

This could lead to a situation where the player helps Bob come to terms with Alice’s dislike for cats. They might also increase Alice’s friendlyness toward bob, possibly even taking actions to mitigate her dislike for cats, which would allow Bob to get all of the things he wants, and allow Alice to become better friends with both Bob and Carol (who really likes her cat, so is a poor friendship prospect for Alice.

 

 

 

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