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10/19/2002

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Bowler

My wife bought a GC just to play this game. It's actually a brilliantly conceived addiction. You have to show up everyday just to see what's new in the store/town dump/beach. If you don't, you will most certainly miss that piece of furniture you were hoping to buy to complete your "Exotic" or "Green" collection. The store rotates stock daily.

In October, for instance, you have to buy candy from the town store for each NPC in game (there's 15 typically, and there's only 4 pieces of candy to be bought per day). Since you're supposed to "touch base" with each NPC once per day, if on Halloween you don't give each one of them some candy when you talk to them, they'll take an item out of your inventory and replace it with some junk (old can, a boot, etc.), thereby "tricking" you. If you *do* give them candy, they may possibly reward you with a rare piece of furniture. The fact that this is just a one day special event boggles my mind. How do you game-test a game that has the potential for 365 possible events? And that's not counting the day-to-day things that happen every day.

At any rate, this is brilliant game-design. Compel the player to play your game every day. Brilliant.

nowak

I agree.

Animal Crossing is like an annoying digital drug, complete with withdrawl symptoms. I want to go to the store to input a code I got from a co-worker -- but the store is closed for rennovations. ugh. So I go fishing. I want to finish my fish collection, but some fish aren't in season. ugh. I get a few fossils and send them to the museum... but I have to wait til' tommorrow for them to come back. ugh!! I want to talk to the locals, but it's the middle of the night and they're sleeping. ARGG!

Of course, like the sucker that I am, I'll come back tommorrow to get all that checked... repeat this pattern ad nauseum, and you have an idea of what AC is all about.

randomlife

I may have to pick up a Game Cube for this game. Well, of course then I'll get to play Eternal Darkness, Pikmin, and the upcoming Zelda game too...

Jane, I thought of a couple of things we've discussed before when I first heard of this game. This sounds like the sort of game where you get to create your own goals and side adventures. Didn't you once say that side adventures are one of your favorite aspects of console rpgs? This whole thing is side adventures!

Also, you get to immerse yourself in a real-time world. I'd love to see how the program handles conversing with the same NPCs over and over again. Do they always have new (and appropriate) things to say?

justin

Wow - Animal Crossing has got a lot of fans - I've been looking for a reason to get a GameCube. This could be it.

It sounds a little bit like a single-player simulation of a multi-player experience (sorta like .hack in that way). A wold populated by citizens, fickle NPCs with tempermental schedules. There are quests, but there's also the activity of just existing in this world, of communicating with people and managing your relationships. It sounds deeper and more engaging than dot-hack, certainly more addictive - that game hasn't been played where I live in over a week.

Bowler

Hey, Dave (randomlife)! Not sure if you know who I am. Liz (my wife) and I came down to visit Jennie, Sam, and Tim about two years ago. Didn't know you lurked here as well! :)

I wanted to warn you guys that it isn't totally a "make-your-own-side-quest-adventure" type thing. True, you get to dictate what it is you're going to do every day. Are you going to try and catch fish to pay for that new addition to your house? Are you going to run errands for the NPCs in town? Are you going to see just how pissed off you can get that jerk-hole NPC? So yes, you do dictate your own path, but there is no real main path for you to follow (no final goal/objective), so it's not so much like Morrowind where you can get lost from the main quest, since there really isn't a main quest.

But regarding the question of the NPC's having enough and varied things to say, it's not as robust (or as random) as you'd probably like. A lot of times, the same two NPCs have the exact same thing to say to you. Which is bad/lazy code. The one thing that I do like about the NPC code is that the grumpy NPCs typically only have grumpy/nasty things to say to you, and the nice ones stay nice. However, not to spoil things for you, but you do occasionally get to tell them what their catch-phrase is going to be, so right now we have two characters saying "dag, yo!" and "boyeeeeeee!"

Oh, also, some of the coolest things about the game are also the most annoying, like how Nintendo is trying to use this title to sell more hardware peripherals. To get "the most" out of this game, you'll need a GBA, a GBA/GC connector cable, and the Ecard reader. The GBA and the GBA/GC cable allows you to travel to a tropical island, but that island is only two screens long, and not "all that." I said "to hell" with the Ecard reader, because I have an NES sitting here collecting dust. I'm not about to pay $50 for the priveledge to play emulated old NES games. Also, you can travel to your friend's town (if you know someone else who's playing Anim Cross) by putting their save card in the other card slot on your GC. You can then take the train from your save card to theirs, and shop in their store, pick their fruit trees, interact with their NPCs, etc etc etc. Haven't had the chance to try that yet.

jane

thanks for the advice, Bowler. the game does indeed sound fascinating, and i will have to get a gamecume so i can play it.

and i love the idea of simulating a MMORPG environment. i mean, critics already complain that kids today can't socialize "properly" because they are socializing online too much. what happens if they start socializing with increasingly sophisticated NPC AI in a faux multiplayer game?!?

mnickel

I'm really suprised that these MMORPG simulators don't employ more of the chatbot-type technology.

I can't believe that they wouldn't be able to include some of this type of tech: Anna is one good example


Maybe Nintendo should consider using the solution directly from the ALICE AI Foundation

They could sprinkle in the appropiate conversation elements that would direct players towards the goals/side quests of the game using AIML, and you could have something nice...

I realize that the interface in a console game, ie: click and choose your response, isn't really condusive to a chatbot, but hey, gotta promote the sales for the USB keyboards, eh? :)

Joe

AC is amazing. Yeah, it's not exactly a Life/Community Simulator, but I think it's more interactive than The Sims (it's closest genre neighbor) and much more interesting to play on a daily basis.

Unlike most games, where you can play for 10 hours on Day One and beat it, AC encourages you to play for 15 minutes to 1 hour every day. It's gaming in short bursts. It's a pretty interesting dynamic, and the game takes advantage of it in fun ways... like making you wait an entire day for mail, waiting a couple days for trees to grow fruit, etc.

Having multiple towns is definitely the way to go, if you have other people in the house willing to play. My wife and I visit each other's towns regularly, trading items, leaving surprises for each other, and seeing what in the other's Nookingtons.

The only strange thing about visiting another town is that one of your villagers will move out (moving into the town you visit), every time you travel. We tend to get attached to our animals, so losing a favorite pal and getting a crappy one in return makes travelling stressful.

The e-Reader is an interesting gimmick. I think by the end of the month, a set of Animal Crossing cards is due. Scan the cards and get free stuff added to your game... items, songs and textures. I like the e-Reader, if only because it gives Nintendo a legal reason to stand against emulation of old games.

jane

multiple towns! leaving present for each other! oh how fun!

i must get this game. now, the only question is, a U.S. or Jpnese gamecube? or one of those pre-modded ones sold via Hong Kong or Taiwan?

i love the idea of chatbots... but maybe that's too "real". what i mean is, perhaps players will start having actual social relationships with chatbots.

wow! what a crazy thought. then those kids in Japan who suffer from hikikomori (see post on Bud.com) will have "friends" to talk to who aren't real people. maybe less frightening/intimidating so, more comfortably predictable. chatbots as therapy?

mnickel

Re: chatbots

The kinda scary thing is that the ALICE chatbot, i think, has the ability to pull in outside references in addition to the things currently being talked about. I believe it just depends upon how much data has been loaded into the "brain" using the AIML...

For example, in the case of those kids in Japan, one could theoretically design AIML that would try and steer conversations away from isolation ideas and towards more social discussions...

It would be a very touchy situation, what if the kids exhibiting hikikomori *preferred* the chatbots over In Real Life social interactions? Maybe once a level of trust between the person and chatbot was established, the chatbot could begin recommending more social behaviors.

Would you want the chatbot to encourage or discourage hikikomori?

I think that the chatbot could help provide a more socialogical perspective to the kids. "Like draws to Like" or something like that... :) I'm sure that the other people that they deal with through their online persona's (email, mobile phone, irc) may not have developed socialogical skills either.

Maybe the chatbot could "reach" them in a way that real people can't because the interaction would come though a medium in which the kids are comfortable.

Psycholocial Behavior modification is tricky and scary... :)

Games are easier. :)

In a game, MMORPG or MMORPG simulator, conversations would be focused on the things and event particular to the game. So instead of the NPC's having 10 or so preprogrammed responses, the NPC's might have a set of concepts that it could draw from and try to communicate to the players based on the PC -- NPC interactions. If conversations ran out of character, then the NPC would walk away, attack, stop talking, etc...

I know that they do this today, but the conversations are so, um, static and predictable...

When thinking of chatbots, I'm always reminded of the "ractor's" in Neil Stephenson's "The Diamond Age". In the Virtual Reality of the book, simulators, the chatbots provide the basic interactions, but if more "human-like" and dynamic interactions are necessary, ractors pick up the script. The simulation goes from human - chatbot, to human - human.

In my opinion, full-fledged chatbots haven't been integrated into games because of economics. I'm not sure how large the ALICE "brain" is, but I have to believe it's pretty substantial. There is only so much space available to a console game. Granted, that is getting bigger by the day.

The guy who runs this site: http://www.gameai.com , Steve Woodcock runs a game AI developers roundtable. His findings indicate that the amount of space available to an AI is minimal compared to the entire size of the game. Something like 2% rings a bell. That number is increasing though... :)

Whew! Much longer of a post than I'd planned... :)

Bowler

"His findings indicate that the amount of space available to an AI is minimal compared to the entire size of the game. Something like 2% rings a bell. That number is increasing though... :)"

I'm surprised AI isn't touted more than it is. The rise of online gaming really shot AI in the foot. I remember the Reaper-bot for the first Quake, and I nearly shat myself when I first installed it. Honestly, no one had ever experienced an AI that acted so utterly HUMAN in nature up 'till Reaper-bot. I think that guy went on to work for Epic's Unreal, if I'm not mistaken.

But anyway, it's ironic to me that the same game that spawned the road to incredible (human-like) AI (at least in my opinion) is the same game that helped squash the need for it.

Oh, and don't worry about AI taking up only 2% of the game files. Art and animation files are typically the footprint hogs on the game media. AI takes up more than 2% of the code, if that makes you feel better :)

PAINPAINPAIN

AI can sometimes make or break a game. The best AI I've ever experienced has to be in Halo, where on the hardest setting, the AI is super-realistic. Or as realistic as you can get on a planet which is actually a giant floaty ring in the middle of nowhere invaded by big purple aliens which go "wootwootwoot" a lot.

Anyway, Animal Crossing. Yes, I am compelled to play this game for the "living" feeling of being part of a virtual world, something we all probably crave when we play video games. I was a big fan of both Shenmues too, because they were like living someone else's life, though someone who took no crap from anyone, especially sailors.

Steve ;)~

Jay13x

If you can read Japanese, definitely go with the Japanese version of the game! The English version removed quite a bit, including some of the games. I'm a regular at that GameFAQs board under the name SZ Agent. Also there is a trading board there for Animal Crossing, just ask one of the people on the main board for the address. You can exchange items over the internet Via the code system, and I made a lot of use of it in order to get a lot of the nintendo games. Also the Japanese Website for Animal Crossing has a code generator so you can get all the NES games, and in the American Version the official website has had three codes for games so far, with a new one every month. This is a great buy and will keep you occupied, just dont cheat by setting the clock forward or back and you'll get months out of this game, if not years. Just play half an hour to an hour a day and your set.

drz

where do you find the code generator on the animal crossing
website?

phil

this game rock is so cool

Puppyduppy

I love this game!I have The Sims and I used to play for hours on the weekend, Taking up my time, kind of wasting it. I now have stopped playing The Sims, and have started playing AC every day for short amounts of time.I've played it once or more times a day since I got it! It's great 'cause I have a reason to get stuff done. If you don't have AC get it!

Terri

Usually my new games wear off after half a day of playing them non-stop. I've been playing AC every chance I get for two weeks now and I'm not complaining...

jimbo

BTW..

Does anybody die?

Coz, I like dead people in my games.. In fact I have a very simple criteria..

If no-one dies in the first 30 seconds (and this can be me) the game is crap..

Is it simple, or am I?

Jimbo

anton

I have an NPC in my town who calls me 'slacker'.

Seriously, how did they know?

Hideo Tsuneoka

I completely disagree with everyone who thinks that game is good. I asked for it for Christmas last year, and it was a big mistake.

A game, where you buy a house, and have to get a job, to pay for your house..... You have to go to work everyday, and make money, then furnish your house with furniture, and entertainment things, and buy clothes for your wardrobe... And you form relationships with the people around your town...

Hmmm.... Interesting... So you go to work to buy things for your home and freetime.... Sounds familiar... Almost like real life! Gamers, playing a game, to get a job, to buy games in the game... That just sounds like a waste of time... You'll get home from work in REAL life, then pop in Animal Crossing, just to go to work in a GAME?! To buy furniture, clothes and games for your GAME house?!

That's just madness. Madness, I say. And it's not like you can do twisted things like in The Sims, such as inviting people over to your house, inviting them upstairs, then switching to build mode, and removing the stairs, thus trapping your neighbors in your new prison. Possibly collecting more people, keeping them in seperate rooms, or in one massive room, lots of fun! Don't give them a bathroom, just a fridge, and a bed, only ONE bed, mind you. Eventually some will die, and their ghosts might haunt you!

See that's a little more incentive to play a game like that, doing crazy things no one would do in real life.

But animal crossing... Geesh... Writing letters to the people in your town, getting new stationary to write letters on. Struggling to write them with the controller, and trying to word them so they understand.

It's just a bad idea, to me. I was sitting there after work, playing this game, and I thought, "What the #$%@ am I doing? I just got BACK from work!" at which point I popped in Marvel Vs. Capcom 2, and all was well.

-Hideo

Laurie

I'm also a Animal Crossing addict. I think you have to be certain "I don't like to have my characters die on me," "I like to forage and shop," and "interacting with fuzzy critters sounds like fun" person. You also have to resist the option to cheat time by advancing the clock. I'm not so good with that one, and usually play 2 days in one session of 45 minutes. Still searching hard for the rest of my Cabana bedroom and Exotic living room. And here's a free hint - expand your basement before you do any other expansions.

Here are some good places to get info and stuff.

Official AC site, with monthly newsletter of events and a free item, Nintendo's Animal Crossing.

Amazing community of thousands of other addicts, just as addicted as you are, willing to trade stuff and information, Animal Crossing Community. They also have a great set of FAQs, and images of almost all the objects in the game.

As for my other gaming addictions, I've just discovered The Sims for GC. I was really into the Windows version, but my computer couldn't keep up. Just wish my TV screen was bigger. 13" isn't cutting it. My next big release: Harvest Moon coming in October or November!!! Can't wait!!! I haven't been able to get into any other games, though I enjoy the Mario series (even though those princesses are SO annoying). I'm the opposite of one of the other posters - if any character dies within the first 30 seconds of play, forget it. I can't handle that sort of stress after working all day.

L

Someone annomonus

I think that i want to play animal crossing alll DAY!!!!! i want to make a new and better animalcrossing when i grow up. I will rule ANIMAL CROSSING!!!!!!! i want to say that i know some pretty good facts and codes i could share with u so just email me!!!!

Someone annomonus

I think that i want to play animal crossing alll DAY!!!!! i want to make a new and better animalcrossing when i grow up. I will rule ANIMAL CROSSING!!!!!!! i want to say that i know some pretty good facts and codes i could share with u so just email me!!!! @ mandy_angel7@hotmail.com

Someone annomonus

I think that i want to play animal crossing alll DAY!!!!! i want to make a new and better animalcrossing when i grow up. I will rule ANIMAL CROSSING!!!!!!! i want to say that i know some pretty good facts and codes i could share with u so just email me!!!! @ mandy_angel7@hotmail.com

Maya

I play this game about 3 hours every day but I still haven't been able to get a NES console to play my games on - I have Pitfall and Super Mario but no NES - how do I get one!!!

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