[MUD-Dev] AI's in MUDS and Online Gaming

IronWolf ironwolf at ewa.net
Wed Dec 8 20:28:58 New Zealand Daylight Time 1999

Wow... certainly a lot of background and research in this department! I remember
thinking it was pretty neat using the SGN function in BASIC to make a one object
in 2d/3d space chase another... (Yeah, I'm WAY out of practice. I still think in
line numbers.)

Seriously though, I've found that a pretty good practice for what is and isn't
feasible on computers is to ask yourself if you could do the same thing, and
what would be involved. For example, scanning handwriting. Even a reasonably
sharp human being can have trouble doing this, considering the wide variations
on penmanship. So how could you write a program to do the same? (The answer was
to do it backwards... create a form of writing that's easier to scan. A
librarian friend of mine told me about this.)

There are a lot of cheap and easy ways to give the illusion of life to a game
but not actually have it. In Ultima 7, a single player CRPG, the NPC's would
wander about, and shut and open windows, as well as extinguish lights at dawn or
light them at night, with accompanying phrases like "It's too stuffy in here"
and "There, that's better". This wasn't an enormous amount of code, just a quick
spot check on location at intervals. But the payoff was the illusion that life
was going on around you, that the NPC's were living their own lives. Adding in
daily routines just reinforced this. (All the NPC's would go to the town tavern
at night or morning to eat, would go home to sleep, and whatnot.)

I am of the opinion that an accumulation factor should be a part of any online
game's internal features. Monsters should learn from mistakes, NPC's should
remember events and details... to a degree. I've got a lot of ideas in this
area, but I've not quite formulated a complete explanation yet. I shall work on
it so I can present it fully, and not do it halfway and leave a lot of


"Divide by cucumber error. Reinstall universe and reboot." - Terry Pratchett,
Hogfather, Discworld series

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