The Mind Module (MM) is an agent architecture that give characters personality traits, emotions and moods. Characters have sentiments, which is their individual likes and dislikes for objects and object-types in a world, such as fear of spiders or love for another character.
The MM has been used in several experimental prototypes, necessary for seeing to what extent the MM adds to the playing experience. Each prototype in which the MM has been used has given pointers towards what can be explored and improved for the next iteration. Early in the process of the work with the MM (Eladhari 2003) the author was curious to establish what effect the MM could have, if added as an extra feature to a ‘typical’ MMO (as described by Bartle 2003). As the research developed it seemed more meaningful to create prototypes where the game mechanics were increasingly based on the MM. Having started out with the aim to find general solutions to questions regarding story construction and characterisation for typical MMOs with the use of psychology-inspired AI-applications this work developed towards more and more specific solutions. Here, two of the prototypes are described briefly, The Pataphysic Institute and the Mind Music application.
The Mind Music application (Eladhari et al 2006) was an experiment in expression, where the aim was to find a more intuitive way to represent dynamic emotional states. Instead of representing mood and emotion of the own avatar by numericial values or with body language (which in real-life is used to infer other peoples emotional states), we wanted to the player to hear the soundtrack of the own avatar’s mind. In a small arcade style game we used time signature (groove) and harmony to express moods, and leit-motifs (personal themes) to express emotions.
The Patazphysic Institute (PI) (Eladhari 2010) is the most extensive prototype, where the game mechanics are most intertwined with the MM. It is a game based on player cooperation, where all actions possible to perform depend on the avatars own personality, emotional state and memories of previous interactions. PI is a multi-player world in 3D that is played via a web browser. Players need to defeat physical manifestations of negative mental states. In order to do so, they can cast spells on them, but the spells available are constrained by avatars’ personalities and current moods. Players can chance each others moods by using ‘affective actions’. The system supports players to act ‘in chararacter’ with their personality and current moods – happiness, harmony, anger and depression is the basis for the core game play.
Players co-create the content of the world. If an avatar is, for example, burdened by guilt they need to ‘externalise’ the emotion to get rid of it. The player can author a manifestation of guilt (for example a martyr grandmother, complete with short dialogue and martyr behaviour), which becomes a boss. To free the player from the guilt-burden a team of players need to figure out how to put the martyr grandmother ‘to rest’ using their special personality abilities.
Mirjam P Eladhari, April 2011
Bartle, R. (2003). Designing Virtual Worlds. New Riders.
Eladhari, M. P. (2010, September). Characterising Action Potential in Virtual Game Worlds applied with the Mind Module. Retrieved from http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:hgo:diva-368.
Eladhari, M., & Lindley, C. A. (2003). Player Character Design Facilitating Emotional Depth in MMORPGs.
Eladhari, M., Nieuwdorp, R., & Fridenfalk, M. (2006). The Soundtrack of Your Mind: Mind Music – Adaptive Audio for Game Characters. Proceedings of the 2006 ACM SIGCHI international conference on Advances in computer entertainment technology(p. 54–es). ACM. doi: 10.1145/1178823.1178887.
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