[MUD-Dev] Re: Stack-Based NPC AI
Felix A. Croes
felix at dworkin.nl
Mon Dec 7 16:43:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998
The implicit assumption in the above posts on NPC AI is that the player
enters a full-blown game world in which NPCs are already fully formed.
Gamespot currently has an interesting feature about a game in which
the player starts not as a lowly adventurer but as a god, and where
the NPCs learn from players:
I'm including the text of the relevant pages for the archives.
Page 3 of 5
Clash of the Titans
While the above-described scenario already seems to be the basis of a
complex game, it is actually only the backdrop for the main element of
Black and White - the raising and training of Titans. This is the
component that takes the game beyond what Molyneux has done in the
past. Imagine a complex artificial life simulator, along the lines of,
but more complex than, games such as Mindscape's Creatures or P. F.
Magic's Virtual Petz series.
There are numerous creatures that roam Eden. You choose one of these
and place it in a pen, where you begin raising it. You can choose wild
animals such as tigers and lions, domesticated animals like sheep and
cows, or even any of the villagers to raise. Lionhead's plan is for
the Titan to become a representation of the player in the game. As
Molyneux describes it: "We want anybody to be able to take any living
thing, to train it and to treat it however they like, and for that
thing to be totally and completely unique to them."
Molyneux demonstrated this facet of the game by employing a raised
lion. It roamed the countryside, towering over the tribesmen,
literally one hundred times their height in scale, as they ran around.
It was an amazing-looking creature, a towering, half-humanoid feline
with impeccable posture and a noble face. This was the example of a
lion who had been raised with kindness. The same beast under less
desirable circumstances was an altogether different creature. It began
to hunch over, its coat took on a darker hue, and its face twisted
into a frightening snarl. To further demonstrate the versatility of
the Titans, a cow was shown, or more accurately, a cow standing
several hundred feet tall, doing a spinning kick. As these two
examples illustrated, the Titans should prove an interesting game
As you grow in power, so will your Titan grow in physical size. As you
learn spells, your Titan will watch you and learn as well. Then it
will go out and act as an agent of battle on your behalf. "When you do
something cool," explains Molyneux, "it will actually turn around and
look at you. And his face will actually smile and it will cry and it
will laugh." To elaborate, imagine as you continue casting a fire
spell in a straight line. Your creature will curiously watch you, then
eventually begin casting the spell in the same manner.
Molyneux hopes people will become attached to their creatures, as they
watch them become more experienced and grow old throughout the course
of the game. This emotional attachment is a good possibility: The
Titans are incredibly lifelike. For instance, if one cuts itself as a
baby, it will retain the scar throughout the game. Adding to this
lifelike quality is the fact that the creatures are being animated
with an interesting system, a combination of prerendered animations
and interpolation that will allow for almost infinite variety.
Page 5 of 5
Single and Multiplayer
Details on the game specifics are somewhat vague, but Molyneux has
grand plans. The single-player game is planned as an open-ended set of
events based in a persistent world. There will be no "levels," just an
expanding playing area for you to try to dominate. And the
single-player and multiplayer games will be interchangeable, allowing
you to take your creature back and forth between the two.
There are also vague plans for an online persistent universe, but
discussions of such structural elements are both theoretical and
premature at this point, considering the basic system is still being
tested and tweaked. But that's the nature of Molyneux's design
philosophy, and one that has permeated Lionhead. Jonty Barnes says it
best: "The only way to really make a game good is to play it to
But what Black and White promises is more than just another strategy
game with a new take on an old idea. It is a new idea altogether. The
fact that the game will allow you to play how you want, as a vile
tyrant or the paragon of good, and that the game will actually change
to represent that, is exciting. And the implications for the gameplay
are many. You can spend all of your time raising the ultimate good
Titan, but Molyneux describes how your creature is affected by
exterior circumstances, such as kidnapping: "It goes through this
horribly torturous experience, which affects its personality. It is
going to be horribly psychologically scarred by this experience."
Nurturing your Titan is a pivotal part of the game, but a dynamic
environment will continually test your abilities to guide your Titan
and your worshippers.
As of yet, Lionhead hasn't even hinted at a release date. Educated
guesses put the game in late 1999, but it could be as late as the year
2000 before Black and White is available to consumers. Until then,
GameSpot will keep you updated on this ambitious project.
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