Posted by: kaising | April 16, 2010

design criticisms and changes

Issues with current goals:

1. Decision Tree learning is probably better suited to slow training.

Games that do not focus just on one creature (e.g. Black and White, where you have many other features as well) may be a better environment than a one-on-one activity with a learning creature. Otherwise, if the user can only interact with the creature, there may not be enough immediate feedback. Tuning it to allow for immediate feedback makes it seem unnatural, or perhaps even make the nuance possible with decision trees unnecessary.

–> How do we fix this without adding features?
have some features only take one training instance to work 50% of the time,
and then a second to work 100% of the time. Maybe even have one example
work 100% after the first instance, or a solution such as this:
one of the four move slots is for abilities that have 100% response
rate (the creature performs them every time you ask) but aren’t
very strong moves.

Additionally, perhaps there could be a future mode where more than one creature
can be trained at once; or they could even be trained together for two-on-two
battles. (Two-on-two battles are an interesting new feature in later Pokemon
games as well.)

2. Limiting moves to four slots makes for awkward ‘choose a move to forget all training for’ moments. It seems unnatural to forget the training for just one move.

–> How can we fix this?
I think limiting the number of moves the learn is important for strategy. However,
maybe it would be more interesting to have training for multiple moves make them
each less powerful, or less ‘accurate’ (where accuracy is like the parameter in
Pokemon, i.e. the likelihood that a command will result in the action being
performed.

3. Having training move and fighting mode in addition is probably necessary to provide motivation, but means that there need to be a lot of moves that are useful in both situations – e.g. like ‘flash’ in Pokemon, which lights caves outside of battle, and lowers opponent accuracy in battle.

–> This isn’t a true design flaw so much as a huge timesink in terms of time spent designing.

4. Creatures should probably do motions on their own that can be trained on, e.g. they randomly do all kinds of possible moves on the environment. However, this means that a lot of authoring needs to go into the environment, and move variety is limited to how many moves are expressed as prompts in the environment. This also may be frustrating to the player, as their control is rather indirect. Clearly this is very different from the Pokemon mechanic – so we can no longer rely on that precedent as giving a broad, interested audience.

–> Focusing the design more on explorable environments and active creatures that do
things on their own should address these concerns. This is preferable to the passive
creature that you condition, I think, as it feels more natural, and the game / AI pushes
back a bit more. Coding and algorithm updates to come…
Also, it is possible that special moves could be taught via conditioning using rare items
still, for the sake of variety.

5. Leveling up might not have a place here, as much of an incentive as that may be in most games. The player should still level up, but creatures should perhaps only implicitly level up, and become more useful through training like real animals. Giving up the leveling mechanic that is such an incentive in precedents like Pokemon is rather risky, but I think it is worth trying for the sake of experimentation.

6. Having decision tree learning through positive/negative reinforcement means the creature should be doing disadvantageous things sometimes.  This can be really annoying if a lone creature is the sole focus of the player.

–> One solution is to have their stupidity be comical.  Then the player will punish them for their stupid acts.
   Another solution is to have some combinations of moves be far more desirable than others. The player uses training to encourage moves that work well together, and discourage ones that do not.

7. Do we have them only train to create a move set, or do we make them train the controls for each move as well?

–> Training the control for each move is kind of interesting technologically, but not really warranted here for every move. Perhaps some special moves could be trained, however; e.g. train them to perform a really (pre-designated as) ‘special move’ when they see a particular item. Then you can send them into battle with the item and have them see it at some point. This also limits to one special per creature per battle.

8. How much control does the user have over their creature in battle, and how does training relate to this?

–> There are two reasonable options right now, it seems. One is that the user has little control; they can throw items out when they want their dude to use their special attack, or otherwise prompt. The other one is that the N most likely behaviors become moves you can just select Pokemon-style in turn-based battle with opponents. In the latter case, some moves’ accuracy may depend on how the move are rated relative to each other; e.g. fireball may have trainingweight*2 % accuracy.

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