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5th Cell's new game of HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE revealed - Scribblenauts (DS)

_Alkaline_

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Sep 25, 2006
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Yes, there was an anticipation thread about this but now that the information has come out, I reckon it deserves it's own thread. Why? Because the concept sounds awesome, that's why.

There's a big interview at IGN about the game, so make sure to go there to read up about it. Here's some select quotes:

IGN: OK. Before we do anything else, fill everyone in on what Scribblenauts is, and how in the heck this game will work. It's a really unique one, so feel free to fire away.

Miah: Scribblenauts is about creation and imagination really. It's our biggest DS title to date, and after spending a lot of time on Lock's Quest and on Drawn to Life, we ended up learning a lot. This is the culmination of everything we've learned as far as understanding how DS works, working visually, technically, and everything along those lines from concept to execution.

What Scribblenauts is about in a nutshell is basically "Anything you write, you can use." That's where the concept really came from. It's the idea of "What if you had all these puzzles, and in order to solve them you can write anything; the limit is your imagination." How you do that is through this character Maxwell. As Maxwell you have to grab in-level objects called Starites, and to do that you can write anything you want, and it'll spawn that object. So if there's a Starite in the tree, you could write "ladder" and then a ladder would spawn. Climb up the ladder, and you grab the Starite.

There're more ways of doing it though obviously. You could write "axe", and then cut the tree down using the object you spawned. You could write "shuriken" and throw that at the Starite in the tree and knock it down. It's all based on real physics and interaction, so there's nothing pre-canned. You could write anything though; imagine you write "goldfish" for some reason, well a goldfish would spawn and sit on the ground. It wouldn't help you at all in that puzzle, but you could do it.

IGN: So how in the world can you keep track of that all? It has to be just a ridiculous list of assets, and then on top of that comes all the art, the animations, the info for all these interactions Maxwell has wit them. How do you even go about doing something like that. It's something – when you really think about how limitless the idea is – us unprecedented, and we're not just talking about "on DS" here…

Miah: Our Technical Director Marius Fahlbusch is one of the founders of the company, so he's been with us for a longtime obviously. When I told him the idea from the beginning other programmers would have backed away from the idea and said "How are we going to do this?" or "No, this is impossible." But he was just like "Yeah, we can handle this. We can tackle this concept." So he got started on a system where everything in the game can be data-driven. We've got this tool that we created in-house called "Objectnaut", so now designers can put in any name of any object, and put in all sorts of data. We're talking AI properties, physical properties, attraction and repulsion to other objects, weight, size, where it splits, can you pick it up, is it flammable or how do elements effect it… really all these things that you need. We're spending a great deal of time just imputing tons and tons of these objects, and once we flesh it all out with this Objectnaut system, we have a hierarchy of data.

IGN: Ok so in the trailer – that people need to check out, by the way – you can see that you write down a ladder and can then climb up it, right? Now could you also turn that ladder on its side and instead light it on fire and the tree would then burn, since it's all made of would.

Miah: You could, yup. You can flip objects, you can take an axe and cut the ladder in half if you wanted – not sure why you'd do it, but you could if you wanted – and even if it wouldn't help anything in that situation you can do it. That's half the fun of the game really. You can just do anything. It's all about messing around with these objects and properties and seeing what you come up with and how you can solve problems. That's what's really fun about showing off this game to people so far. They look at it and say "Wow. So wait, can I do this and this and this" and then of course, yes, you can.

IGN: So when you 've beaten all the levels in the game – the trailer says there are hundreds of them – what's the next step after that. Is there any level creation tool, or any lingering incentive to go back to the same level again?

Miah: Well one really awesome thing about the levels is that once you beat one, and you want to go back and play it again, you can't use the same objects again. This makes the player think through it again and figure out new ways to work through puzzles. Obviously the tree level is a basic first step, and you could think of a lot of things for it, but as you go on and the levels get harder you need to challenge yourself more to solve them. The replayability is really through the roof on it, since you can go time and time again and keep trying to do it with different objects.

Also after a certain number of completions for each level – we're sitting at three right now – you can unlock that level and just use it for free mode and goof off with it. As for things like a level creator and the like, we'll discuss it later.

IGN: Is this a game you guys are shopping around the publishers already then, or are you sitting on it and just making it yourself and keeping close to home, or what's the strategy? Obviously you don't have a publisher now since we can just talk directly and chat – you know, the way games should be done.

Miah: We're in talks with publishers now, yeah. We've had a lot of publisher interest already, so that isn't an issue for us. When Drawn to Life was finished it did very well for us, so now we've got a chance to take that initiative and take this idea and just run with it. When you're doing your own game and publishers aren't involved in the early stages so we can just do our own thing, that's where we're most comfortable. We wanted to take the money we got from Drawn to Life and turn it into our next big thing, which is what Scribblenauts is. We could design it, flesh it out, and starting working on it in private, and then when we're ready to show it off, we can, and have. We want it to be our vision though, so when we've got ability and vision we want to make it our own. With Drawn to Life and Lock's Quest already, that was us. That was our idea that people bought into and enjoyed. So coming up with the ideas, polishing it, and developing it, that's how we want it to continue, and that's what we're doing with Scribblenauts now.

IGN: So when it boils down to it – and I know this is sort of the magician revealing what's behind the smoke and mirrors – but how many words can it really recognize, and how many objects do you really have to make for this game? You can say "dinosaur" or "T-Rex" or "Raptor" and it would all be the same sprite then? How many objects are there really available for players to spawn, and how many words can it sense?

Miah: Well, the answer is that if you can think it, you can write it.

IGN: And it'll show up?

Miah: It'll show up.



There's a lot more information in the interview, including an early video of the game.

.

More details into the HOW it is done:

Jackson said:
Ok so this is what it is!

No adjectives. Just Objects. (minus copyright and vulgarity)

Bear? Yes. Giant Flaming Bear? No.

If you want to set a bear on fire, by writing torch and setting him on fire (assuming he doesn't eat you first), then yes.
 

Peronthious

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Jan 5, 2008
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Wow, this is sounding really interesting. I could see it going either way, though. Not sure how it could possibly handle all of the possible written objects.
 

antispin

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Apr 28, 2005
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Wow. It's like the Internet copy-edited the interview. Game sounds intriguing: like a modern-day text adventure; good job Jackson and crew.
 

charlequin

Banned
Oct 19, 2005
26,635
1
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Unbelievable.

Jackson, here are some objects I just came up with that I believe fall under the header "everything":

  • Beer
  • Mongoose
  • Thimble
  • Moped
  • Inkwell
  • Coaster
  • Pliers
  • Kumquat

confirm/deny
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,709
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You can write anything, and it'd come to life?

This shit sounds too good to be true, I can't even imagine just what is going on here mechanically. Even after reading the interview I don't get it :lol
 

RiZ III

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Jun 6, 2004
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Hahaha that was awesome. 5th Cell is probably the best DS developer out there aside from Nintendo.
 

Apenheul

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Feb 2, 2005
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Way to go 5th Cell. Probably my favorite developer on DS this generation, before 'drawn to life' I had never heared of them and now they're releasing one great game after another with novel concepts.
 

Jackson

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Mar 16, 2007
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charlequin said:
Unbelievable.

Jackson, here are some objects I just came up with that I believe fall under the header "everything":

  • Beer
  • Mongoose
  • Thimble
  • Moped
  • Inkwell
  • Coaster
  • Pliers
  • Kumquat

confirm/deny

Just c/p this for everything you think of...

"If you can think it, you can write it." :lol

Otherwise I'll be here forever saying yes to everyone
 

dark steve

Banned
May 9, 2006
1,196
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charlequin said:

well, this one they would at least have a good excuse for leaving out. alcohol is a flag for the ERSB, remember? One of a number of things that can cause them to lean towards a high age rating. We probably won't be able to summon cocaine either.
 
Apr 10, 2008
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To me it's more important if the levels/puzzles themselves are good, rather than if I can write every word out there.
Also the linking of different objects is interesting.
Can I make a bear hamburguer? (bear + axe + grinder + grill + bread)
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,709
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no seriously Jackson how the fuck is this possible, my mind is trying to figure out how mechanically it's even possible. Do you know just how many words exist, Jackson? Do you know what that means? :lol
 

phalestine

aka iby.h
Sep 2, 2007
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Wow, this is the kind of quality id expect from Nintendo, good job 5th Cell, hopefully the game delivers.
 

Shrennin

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This sounds awesome. So awesome in fact that I feel like going down to the store and purchasing Drawn to Life and even the game before it (I didn't because I don't use the DS a lot but this game just sounds really innovative).

Anyway, one thing that concerns me, and I'm not sure if you can answer yet but...

Jackson:

Can you write something like:

"7 foot ladder."

"Wooden ladder."

"Red ladder."

Etc. Can you add properties to things you write? If so, that would be insane.

EDIT:

And what about big things like "city."
 

dark steve

Banned
May 9, 2006
1,196
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Amir0x said:
This shit sounds too good to be true, I can't even imagine just what is going on here mechanically. Even after reading the interview I don't get it :lol

it all comes down to how the objects in the item dictionary are indexed. Think of it in terms of animal taxonomy - an otter is in the weasel family, which is in the carnivora family, which is in the mammal family. When you define that an otter is in the weasel family, you don't have to define that it's willing to eat meat, because it's automatically part of carnivora. You don't have to define that it's a mammal, either, because that's already done.

Granted, what's going on here is far more extensive, but I'm pretty sure it's the same basic concept.
 
Apr 10, 2008
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dark steve said:
it all comes down to how the objects in the item dictionary are indexed. Think of it in terms of animal taxonomy - an otter is in the weasel family, which is in the carnivora family, which is in the mammal family. When you define that an otter is in the weasel family, you don't have to define that it's willing to eat meat, because it's automatically part of carnivora. You don't have to define that it's a mammal, either, because that's already done.

Granted, what's going on here is far more extensive, but I'm pretty sure it's the same basic concept.

object oriented programming?
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,709
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dark steve said:
it all comes down to how the objects in the item dictionary are indexed. Think of it in terms of animal taxonomy - an otter is in the weasel family, which is in the carnivora family, which is in the mammal family. When you define that an otter is in the weasel family, you don't have to define that it's willing to eat meat, because it's automatically part of carnivora. You don't have to define that it's a mammal, either, because that's already done.

Granted, what's going on here is far more extensive, but I'm pretty sure it's the same basic concept.

Even with the most advanced classification, we're talking about likely hundreds of thousands of combinations.

This shit is an absurd claim, I am genuinely trying to figure out where the limitation here. It has to be somewhere... UNLESS...


UNLESS...when the game finds a word it doesn't know, it asks you to draw it!

THIS IS IT. I GOT IT DIDN'T I JACKSON?
 

phalestine

aka iby.h
Sep 2, 2007
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comedy bomb said:
oh

what about purple ninja vs flaming grizzly bear?

dunno, but it would be pretty sweet. but looking at the trailer, I dont even think you can enter 2 words at the same time. I could be wrong though.
 

Jocchan

Ὁ μεμβερος -ου
Feb 16, 2007
17,255
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www.jocchan.com
Allan Holdsworth said:
object oriented programming?
Inheritance, basically. Still, a lot of work to define everything.

Amir0x said:
UNLESS...when the game finds a word it doesn't know, it asks you to draw it!

THIS IS IT. I GOT IT DIDN'T I JACKSON?
5TH Cell made Drawn to Life.
Objects in this game are animated similarly to Drawn to Life.
Object properties are set in a tree-based hierarchy, which means easy navigation.
HOLY SHIT.
 

Fantastical

Death Prophet
May 3, 2008
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This is incredibly innovative. Developers are constantly trying to make games where it is open-ended on how the player can achieve their goals. This is that, to the extreme.
 

Jackson

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Mar 16, 2007
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Amir0x said:
Even with the most advanced classification, we're talking about likely hundreds of thousands of combinations.

This shit is an absurd claim, I am genuinely trying to figure out where the limitation here. It has to be somewhere... UNLESS...


UNLESS...when the game finds a word it doesn't know, it asks you to draw it!

THIS IS IT. I GOT IT DIDN'T I JACKSON?
:lol :lol :lol :lol

Leave the drawing to Drawn to Life please
 

Amir0x

Banned
Oct 27, 2004
103,709
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Jackson said:
:lol :lol :lol :lol

Leave the drawing to Drawn to Life please

This is just magic then, thanks for clearing that up. I was in the mood for magic after watching Narnia.

cjelly said:
Amirox is currently pacing the room trying to figure this one out.

SERIOUSLY! No one else is the least bit perplexed about how EVERY WORD NO EXCEPTIONS is possible? Think about it! Think very hard about the magnitude of such an undertaking!

I am so buying this game.