[MUD-Dev] New topic: AI and NPCs

coder at ibm.net coder at ibm.net
Sun Aug 31 08:58:20 New Zealand Standard Time 1997

On 27/08/97 at 09:17 AM, Caliban Tiresias Darklock
<caliban at darklock.com> said:

>Has anyone managed to implement something resembling tactical
>intellect in MUD mobs? 

That used to be a common source of threads in r.g.m.diku.  The common
approaches were things like formation combal (both for players and
PC's), selective targeting by NPCS (if a group, get your magic user to
get their magic user first, and then their healer, target your damage
concentration (ie who you attack) such that each blow has the greatest
possible chance of reducing their net damage per tick by the largest
percentage, etc), healer NPC's which stodd "behind" the NPC formation,
tanks, etc.

It would seem we don't have many DIKU players here...

Some of the methods that caught my eye:

  -- formations.  Either tanking of players into an almost phalanx
like brick, or frontal tanks (older style).  

  -- limited summoning.  Attack one mobile, and he'll call to others
nearby to join him.  
  -- scouts/sentries.  Weak, easily killed mobiles.  They keep
lookout.  If they see anything, or are atacked they scream like
banshees.  Other, stronger groups then converge to defend/attack. 
Thiefs (sneak) were used to kill them with alerts/warns.

  -- selective targeting.  Target your damage concentration (ie who
you attack) such that each blow has the greatest possible chance of
reducing their net damage per tick by the largest percentage.

  -- supply chain targeting.  As applicable target their healer to
reduce/stop their regen rate.  This factors into the above equation,
especially for groups of NPCs.

  -- one-on-one targeting.  If grouped allocate some of your attackers
to "occupy" the attention of specific attackers on the basis of
maximally reducing their damage percentage.  This allows the rest of
the group to concentrate on other attackers who are closer to death
and damage the attacker's strength more.

  -- viability targeting.  Most games don't scale attack ability by
how close to death they area.  A guy with 1hp swings a sword just as
hard as a guy with 500hp.  Target the rapidly killable one's first.

  -- divide and conquer.  Use the various above tactices to most
fragment their attack.  Attempt to occupy their strongest attackers
with side-line one on one battles while other fragments of your group
concentrate on knocking out the weak ones, while your magic users
targets their magic users, while a portion also concetrates on getting
their healer, etc.  

  -- full magic use.  Full reasonable use of all game's magic
capabilities.  This encludes area spells, dragon/demon summons,
fireballs, blindness , disorientation, etc.  Casting love spells on
your enemy is a great one here.

  -- reinforcements.  If the opponent has such, or the NPC group seems
statistically unlikely to survive, send a runner for reinforcements.

  -- mage summons.  If the attacker's magic users outclass yours,
summon, send a runner for a magic user replacement.

  -- healer summons,  If the attacker's damage rate exceeds your
recovery rate and you are statisically unlikely to survive, summon a
healer to tilt the scales theother way.

  -- retreats.  If overwhelmed, retreat back to positions of strenght
(ie more defenders, positional advantage, location of healers/mages,

>I've been thinking about this sort of
>halfheartedly, lately, and considering that this sort of thing isn't
>often seen. There are several very simple tactical maneuvers which
>appear at first blush to be rather easy to implement -- selection of
>targets, for example. 

I'd note that all of the above are pretty easy to implement and not
all that uncommon in the DIKU world (tho all together still seem to be
rare).  They also raise the challenge level of even simple combats by
at least an order of magnitude.  The individual NPCs may be wimps, but
even fairly meager "intelligence" such as the above can have major

>In most D&D style games, the creatures should
>concentrate on removing single targets rather than spreading attacks:
>a wounded creature hits just as hard as a healthy one, but a dead one
>doesn't hit at all. In systems where spellcasting can be easily
>disrupted, such disruption should attract at least one creature's
>efforts. Different methods would fit different creatures, such as
>some who would target the weakest creatures first to thin the numbers
>rapidly and then retreat, while others might attack the strongest
>creatures first in order to simplify the extermination of the entire

Uhh, yeah.

>There are additional possibilities, like the inclusion of raiding
>parties: groups of creatures that go out and literally attack and
>obliterate areas to loot and pillage them. This could actually create
>rudimentary quests, as important families could on occasion attract
>kidnap attempts and have an automatic response of posting a reward. 

If you look back at the Orc breeder/fighter/noble/king scenario this
was one of the cases:  

When the population of the Orc warren rose above a defined population
density, then fighter/noble bands set to wandering the surrounding
countryside.  Such wandering groups had two charges:  destroy anything
not from the home warren, locate a new set of caverns for a new

The repopulating mobiles, or reset-less quests thread also extended
the Orc scenario to the endlessly recreated "Rescue the kidnapped
princess" quest.  Then such wandering Orcish bands would percentage
chance target the enemy noble, and attempt to carry them away in
chains for ransom/"protection".  I semi-recall that the population
migration (population flows like a liquid from high to low population
densities) also had a percentage of such wandering mobiles being
rogues (kidnappers and such).

>Anyone thought much about this? It *looks* rather simple, but like I
>said I haven't really gone in depth. What sort of efforts have other
>people made in this regard?

Just the above.

J C Lawrence                               Internet: claw at null.net
----------(*)                              Internet: coder at ibm.net
...Honourary Member of Clan McFud -- Teamer's Avenging Monolith...

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