The Elder Scrolls

PROCEDUALLY GENERATED STORYLINES

TheElderScrolls12 - PROCEDUALLY GENERATED STORYLINES

A trend that has arisen from Bethesda’s recent releases, has shown that the studio has been pushing for “infinite gameplay”. I can’t be the only one picking up on this.

They embarked on this journey, by implementing a mechanic known as Radiant AI to Oblivion’s NPCs, enabling mere lines of code, to react semi-intelligently to unfolding events and the current circumstances.

Then, the “you-can-play-forever” gimmick was made clear, when Skyrim hit the shelves, boasting of a feature known as — Radiant Quests! You are tasked to complete missions, that are randomly generated each time. Promising start to a brilliant concept that can be expanded upon in future projects, don’t you think?

It was minimally upgraded in Fallout 4, but it still felt lacklustre, especially as a 2015 title. It was reduced to an oftentimes mind-numbing cycle of “go here, kill that”, which was tolerable to an extent, but a missed opportunity nonetheless.

They added players as a variable in the controversial Fallout 76, because there is nothing more unpredictable than other players. Whether you like it, or not, 76 was a clear cash-grab to fund the technology needed for SF and TES, which brings me onto my next point.

They want to manufacture an unending gameplay loop, but all of their attempts were futile, due to their mundane, repetitive nature.

Based on gut feeling alone, after breathing life into AI, and producing quests with the roll of a dice — I think the next step would be to computerise the process of storytelling.

Not many, or perhaps, no games have adopted such a feature — and it would definitely leave a footprint on the industry as a whole.

If Bethesda is keen on pushing for procedurally generated/infinite content in RPGs, randomising the story would spice things up a little.

The pivotal aspect, the selling point, the soul of the genre. It would be a daunting, risky move, a leap of faith even, to take what fans of the genre hold dear, and put it through a lifeless, mechanical, word-engine, to churn out plots.

Read:  A Complete Rework of the Elder Scrolls: Legends - Introduction and Part 1: Prophecy.

However, if done well, this could revolutionise the gaming landscape.

Think about it, a system where it attributes jungian archetypes to generic tropes, stringing these variables together, tap into database of lore, and cleverly formulating a storyline, mixing-and-matching to perpetuate the illusion the stream of content is infinite, when numbers are just being swapped, or lightly modded.

Bethesda already carved out the skeleton, with Radiant Quests, all it needs is a little bit of flesh, and it could be groundbreaking.

Don’t get me wrong, I want a handcrafted, AAA experience, but their vision to automate a digital world is evident, and reworking their godforsaken, dice-roll quest mechanic on the side is a start, instead of rehashing the same decade-old technology every release.

Thanks for the read.

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