The cover of the guide to the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game.

Trapped in Amber

November 19, 2011 / 6 comments

Last time I checked in with you guys about Mouthwash, I mentioned that I was no longer sure I wanted to use D&D-style dice rolls to determine skill effects, but didn’t know what to replace it with. On Twitter, Stephen Winson suggested I look into a diceless tabletop roleplaying system based on Roger Zelazny’s fantasy series…

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A screenshot from Mouthwash testing, showing a short and nonsensical dialogue between two characters name Roni and Maryam.

The Next Step

November 6, 2011 / 11 comments

Fuckin’ Shakespeare, I know. But this insipid nonsense represents an important step forward for Mouthwash, because Maryam (an NPC) is now capable of having goals: in this case, making Roni (the player character) happy and expressing her own emotions. She’s also capable of taking simple steps to meet those goals, provided she has access to…

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Error code from Java debugging, in which an NPC fails to find her own emotional state.

A Mystery to Herself

October 21, 2011 / 0 comments

Hey, so blog’s on hold this week after all due to personal matters. I’ll be back in a week or so. I’ll have a bit more to say about Mouthwash then, since I’ve actually made progress on the AI basics after a long stretch of brickwalling.  For now, I leave you with the observation that…

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Mouthwash: Viewpoints

August 31, 2011 / 6 comments

In previous discussions of Mouthwash, I’ve mentioned that there are four domains in which actions can take place: goals, emotions, viewpoints, and relationships. I’ve talked a bit about goals and emotions, which brings me to viewpoints. This was the domain that scared me the most when I started sketching out Mouthwash, because it’s the domain…

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Mouthwash: Emotions and Stats

July 22, 2011 / 6 comments

The time has come to check in again on the Mouthwash conversation engine. Earlier I mentioned that speech acts in Mouthwash have effects in four domains: goals, emotions, viewpoints, and relationships. Basically, this is meant to be similar to saying that an action in turn-based RPG combat can affect the domains of character health/MP, stats,…

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Conversation Games in the Wild: Deadwood

June 24, 2011 / 7 comments

One of the things I’ve been doing in the course of developing the Mouthwash conversation gameplay is to analyze transcripts of TV shows with good dialogue. The idea is to have some good examples to work with while I figure out conversational skills and how all the dynamics work together. So the first thing I…

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AI and Character

June 17, 2011 / 3 comments

I’m starting to set up some of the basic AI programming in Mouthwash, my work-in-progress conversation system. (Some background here.) I wasn’t planning to get to that stuff so soon, but it became apparent pretty quickly that a lot of other stuff depends on the speakers having “goals.” So I’m having to deal with planning…

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Words as Actions

April 4, 2011 / 0 comments

Shortly before my blog’s hiatus, I wrote this post, in which I talk about the kind of conversation systems you see in games.  I was particularly concerned with the lack of variety as compared to, say, combat systems.  Everything seems to be some combination of response triggering and branching paths. People sometimes blame the blandness…

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Conversation in Games: Trigger, Branch, Repeat

April 23, 2010 / 11 comments

Bento Smile’s Air Pressure Why is there so little variety in conversation systems in games?  Conversation is one of the most essential and frequent things humans do.  It is a common source of interest, drama, and comedy in both real life and fiction.  It reveals character, it advances plotlines, and it uncovers information.  It’s hugely…

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