Tuesday, 10. May 2005

The fifth state

I forgot to tell you about the fifth state, Interrupt. Using Interrupt, the bot can interrupt whatever it's doing, save the current state, do something else first, then go back to the state before the Interrupt and complete the interrupted action as necessary. "As necessary" means that what it ends up doing might not be what it started out doing, because the results of the Inner Behavior that Interrupted the Outer Behavior get evaluated together with the saved state of the Outer Behavior, and thus, can modify it. Behaviors can be nested; any Inner Behavior can be an Outer Behavior having its own Inner Behavior, and Interrupt works the same all the way in, and out again.

Why Interaction = Conflict?

In reaction to Different folks got different problems, Andrew Stern commented:
While I agree with Conflict = Story, I don't think Interaction = Conflict is always true. That is, I don't think players will always generative interesting conflict; without some help from dramatists (e.g. a drama manager), naive players may only generate banal, uninteresting conflicts, such as griefing or attempts to break the AI.
But where's the agency in that? Why view the player/client as "naive", and judge her actions as "banal" and "uninteresting"? This is not at all an attitude that I would suggest.

In Improv acting, this is called "blocking" (unfortunately, there's other usage of "blocking" in Method acting - "[t]he placement and movement of actors in a dramatic presentation" -; namespaces are sooo important).
If you are offered an idea by another player that you reject, ignore, or condemn, you are Blocking. The scene dies at this point and all cooperation is lost.
So as a rule, I design my bots so as not to block. A block is a bug. Go with the flow.

But of course, *stomp* the mofu who insists on playing the nasty for too long. "You know what your problem is? You can't believe that I'M THE BOSS 'round here is what your problem is, dude!" That's your drama right there. So I support Griefing as a common behavior for all my Actors, human or not.

What does this have to do with Interaction = Conflict?

I look at the Imitation Game as an application composed from four components:Game, Interaction, Conflict, Story. Conceptually, I view the arrangement as two crosswisely operating flip-flops, where one flip-flop unit's output at any time is either Game or Story, and the other one's is either Interaction or Conflict. At any time during operation, the System is in one of four states:

Game , Interaction
| Game , Conflict
| Story , Interaction
| Story , Conflict

meaning that there are always two components delivering output. Empty outputs are legal, as well as empty inputs. But the normal mode of operation is that the player/client enters some textual input, which changes the bot's state, the state change generating an output as a side effect.

As for the Interaction | Conflict pair, the purpose of the Interaction component is to minimize the effects of Conflict, and the purpose of the Conflict component is to minimize the effects of Interaction. Death is where maximum Conflict has driven the value of Interaction to zero.

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