Swarm Technology in Game Design

From fake open-world games towards real open-world games.

Watch this video for expansive exploration where current open-world design is losing it.

Game Mechanics under Scrutiny.

Here you can see the basics of swarm behavior, like in schools of fish, or flocks of birds. Now imagine that even movements of nomadic tribes could be scripted like this in open-world, mixing daily behavior and trekking.
So, what if games had aspects of neural networks integrated?

What is Swarm Technology?

How the ecological system of Ultima Online failed, yet was an essential step forward.
Maximum regulation freedom for players? This is just the beginning, I think.

When information becomes viral

  1. Reality works like that. Kingdoms fell because of lack of wood because they chopped all forests down. Empires fell because too many men died in battles, unlike games where you can conquer forever. Empires may fall because of climate change or a new religion. On an even deeper, incredible important, level: Nature is not a commodity, and we humans must truly learn to understand this. Currently, the ecology of our oceans is in danger! Building Sims that treat nature as a commodity makes young people think it’s a matter of management, whereas, in reality, it is all about balancing, adapting to change, and protecting nature, even when the economy might seem to suffer because of that.
  2. On a more cheerful note, replay-ability. You may make yourself super strong and fast and problems few. You may create huge amounts of problems and be swept away. Settings you may change may include animal populations. So players can create their own problems, many monsters fights, or more people politics (by putting settings at very stable when it comes to nature). One can even leave clear settings out and leave it to the players. Expect them to make YouTube video’s advising each other what stats get what results, thus more free marketing and a lively community.
  3. Lesser cut-scenes are needed. King asking for (non-descriptive) help. King offering more/less power to the player. King either leaving his palace with head down or king rewarding player for his successes. And the player will have so much more options on how to solve an issue. Multiple ways to conquer an enemy camp become possible. Not only attacking is possible, but also creating a hungry bear plague over time doing the work for you or meddling in politics until the funding of the camp dwindles to zero.
  4. It offers more variation in gameplay. Games can become ultra-tough killing sprees. Or after a while finding the best balance to make a country thrive may be the deeper game. For this, you may have to become a gardener in the eco-system, a general in the army, and diplomat between towns, a builder, a killer, and not in the least a detective to find what hidden patterns shape each problem. Is an invasion a conquest, or are the invaders running from a problem at home? That’s for you to find out.

What will be different in the design?

This game can’t deal with players going on a killing spree against the good guys. Fun, but a bit sick too. And the consequences the game currently offers, are too light. Some swarming might make all guards react much smarter and cooperated against players running amok.

What could it mean for games?

  1. Instead of you reacting to what the game brings to you, and the game reacting within set limits to your actions, the game could also react within itself. This means you can be swallowed up by events, that swallow up the whole game. You might have migrating herds of animals that even have seasonal behavior. Or you might have an actual refugee crisis as a horde pushes people out of their lands. You might return to a village after a while to find the villagers are now involved in a fight with a village nearby. The evolvement of NPC’s with each other will create a more immersive experience, less predictive developments, and a feeling of being part of history, rather than a scripted story. The cycles of local daily life, may (in slow ways) start to interact with the cycles of the larger world. A village where the mine runs dry may be abandoned unless the player establishes new sources of income for it.
  2. Instead of well-placed enemies, you could have enemies that roam the map and even may follow trails left by the hero. (Cross a river!) You could have civilians that slowly would get more suspicious and or angry at the hero, while others still might feel positive towards him. You could have tipping points where populations might start a rebellion, either incited by the hero or against his rule. You could have armies forming out of peasants as their king becomes madder every day. And in MMO’s players loving to kill a lot may find they leave a trail of clues (cookies) and soon have a large posse breathing down their neck.
  3. In a more advanced mode villages might be in the process of slowly growing, with new people arriving. Growing tensions between subcultures might lead to interventions from the hero who might prevent genocide or, sadly, take part in one. (players might still think in Us or Them mode, only to find later that other options were available too.) You might have an economic system, where if NPC’s go below a certain amount, they either start begging or robbing. As a lord, you might discover your tax policies have actual effects on people's behavior, that not even the game designers could predict. Think how an NPC farmer may start poaching, fishing, or moving when his food income runs too low. Or how an NPC knight that doesn’t get paid enough, may start looting, then robbing or join the enemy if their loyalty stats are too low.
  4. Now we come to where the tech needs to be really smart. Instead of a few cutscenes, all scenes could be unscripted dialogues. With a smart AI system of dialogue creation, all NPC dialogues might have meaning and possible consequences in the game. In a Western listening to certain crooks in a corner might help you prevent or prepare for a bank robbery. Several developments might be started out of sight slowly growing in force. In a Western town, a bank robbery might be prepared, by one crook seeking others willing to aid him, while at the same time cattle ranchers build an army to chase natives and or sheepherders away, while the priest starts a campaign against alcohol. NPC’s meeting each other will have a tentative dialogue which researches what development is most dominant and urgent in their actions. From this, outcomes may ensue.

How It may Work In Conversations

How can this be done?

What’s the tipping point for people to revolt or start lynching others?

Choose the deciders for your game.

Can cookies bring more effective detective aspects to MMORPG’s?

Crime Fighting

Huge Increase in Replay-ability



Towards a revolution we all want to dance in, for a flourishing planet.

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Floris Koot

Play Engineer. Social Inventor. Gentle Revolutionary. I always seek new possibilities and increase of love, wisdom and play in the world.