[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:

    http://www.gamespot.com/features/bandw/index.html

I'm including the text of the relevant pages for the archives.

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   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
   mechanic indeed.

   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
   death."

   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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Felix Croes




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