[MUD-Dev] Getting info from NPCs

Patrick Dughi dughi at imaxx.net
Sat Jul 29 19:03:59 New Zealand Standard Time 2000


> Dmitri Zagidulin said:
> > NPCs are a time-honored source of information,
> > rumours, quest info, tips, etc, in any and all RPGs.
> > How do we get that information to the players?
> --snip section on various methods--
> 
> I've been fiddling with option number three, the AI.  I've taken some ELIZA
> style code that was ported to Circle and have been slowly trying to twist it
> to my own devious ends.  I've created a 'talk' command that you can use to
> start a conversation with any appropriately flagged (one that would be
> considered sentient) mob, and they then respond to what you say, triggered
> on predetermined words and groups of words.

	You might be intersted in the following post on imaginary
realities which was quoted sometime previously;

http://imaginaryrealities.imaginary.com/volume2/issue5/toei_rei.html

	There's also a repository of similar ai-like systems with the same
sort of keyword-matching that was described, though some go a bit further.
However, I disremember which MIT system hosted them.  Most are simply
specialized variations on a theme.  One is set up so you can have a great
deal of synonym-usage; they will respond "hi","hello","howdy","greetings",
etc instead of a single response type.  Another is specalized to work more
on determining what a player says; filtering into greetings/conversation
endings, questions, statments, threats, etc.

	Generally speaking, they're all only as good as you make them.. 
that is, each system works as it ought to - but to make it appear
realistic in any one given situation, you have to provide the information
database (database as in trigger/response/information store).  If you want
to talk about orc raiders, you have to set up the database so that any
possible way of talking about orc raiders is covered.  Of course, you'll
also want to put in any of the information about orc raiders you want to
spread. 

	You'll have to end up crosslinking everything as well - if someone
talks about crime, you have to have a way to match it to the orc-raiders. 
If they know about more than one thing that could be a crime, they'll have
to figure out how to respond to that.. etc... 

	What it ends up though is that writing just the database backend
for a single NPC, making all the links, etc becomes more time consuming
than writing the system ever possibly could be.  Even if it's
compartmentalized enough that you can use bits of it for other npc's it's
still time consuming at a magnitude greater than any area-builder wants to
devote.

	What did go in was just a simple keyword-trigger setup.  In the
end, it was decided that as nice and immersive as we wanted it to be, it
was the other players that truly provided the immersive experience.  Npc's
can be set up with keyword type triggers for their special information,
and depend on an area-wide common subroutine for generic information
(what's your name, how are you doing, nice weather we're having, etc). 
Not all inclusive, but enough to act as scenery for our stage.  The only
real actors were the actual PC's.  We were planning on coloring the system
with an attitude type setup, where one could be gruff or happy, or perhaps
both but only happy to elves..etc..  That fell though, but it would mostly
just be synonym matching for the common subroutines; "What's your name?"
vs "You got a name, Boy?". 

						PjD




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