[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

J C Lawrence claw at 2wire.com
Thu Oct 25 15:25:49 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


On Thu, 25 Oct 2001 15:40:08 +0200 
Ola Fosheim <=?iso-8859-1?Q?Gr=F8stad?= <olag at ifi.uio.no>> wrote:
> J C Lawrence wrote:

>> I view NPCs as falling into four roles:
 
>> 0) Backdrop 1) Targets 2) player props

> Is this meant to cover pets?  

Partially.  It covers current implementations of pets.  

> I think of pets and pets as two different things. One the one side
> you have pets as a functionality extension (a ROV). On the other
> hand you have pets as a source for emotional transference and
> attachment. 

The latter case I see as incidental outgrowths.  The extra value
assigned to them (emotionally etc) is a player creation, not a game
creation.

> Very close to being opposites. The disposable versus the
> priceless, an aspect which is cluelessly abused in many MUDs by
> not having persistent and customized instances of pets.  

<nod>

Or the pet as a remote and low-feedback weapon (its stat losses
don't reflect on you).

> To me the NPC is primarily a "personified" fixation point and a
> source for identification and intent. That's what it basically
> affords. 

Yup, except that those features are not unique to NPC: any in-game
object can (and regularly do) satisfy those requirements -- such as
a vending machine, billboard, or wanted poster.  The critical
difference in regard to NPCs is that they attempt to fake life.

> One may of course ignore that and use it more or less cluelessly
> for covering just about any function one might think of (resource,
> tool, container, glorified boulders...), but then I wonder if one
> really covers the "true" roles of the NPCs. I.e. those that cannot
> be played by other parts of the system.

Quite.

> (That said, Myst proves that eliminating the NPC bodies (of
> humans) is a good idea. Characters are much more believable when
> you don't have to witness their sorry behaviour and
> responsiveness.)

Ooo!  You wound me sirrah!  (Damn, I was hoping to spring that
parallel when then thread had evolved a bit more in relation to the
advantages of NPCless implementations).

>> 3) Mechanical translation points (*)

>> 4) Incidental outgrowth

> I like the incidental outgrowth one, but I somehow feel that I
> have made an misinterpretation of your intended definition...

> I guess deploying NPCs into other regions can be used for tying
> different user-created zones to each other, i.e. reducing the
> rather weird spatial stratification that is so typical in MUDs
> (many totally independent worlds, rather than one world). A small
> problem; it is usually against norms to let one's NPCs wander off
> into other people's creations.  I personally found it quite
> satisfactory to do so anyway, i.e. launching recursively
> traversing NPC that annoy or seduce whoever they meet on their
> way, thus extending my presence into the whole spatial domain. Add
> a little bit of co-operative NPC-NPC interaction and it could
> prove to be very cool indeed. (Brings us back to the era of
> minimalist what-if-all-objects-have-the-same-mechanics
> all-objects-are-NPCs-etc discussions)

cf TrashCollectors and the original Orc Breeder scenario with
wandering queens.

>   Note: I think you can arrive at a large number of different
>   breakdowns, all depending on what the purpose of the breakdown
>   is.

Verily.  Lee's original breakdown was simple and clear, but not I
felt terribly useful in revealing interesting mechanics, or
profitable mining areas.  I'm not entirely happy with my proposed
breakdown as its fixated on a very specific quality of NPCs and
grades them on that in ignorance of all other aspects.

> One might as well ask "what kind of perceived storylines" are NPCs
> involved in? How do they obtain their position?  What kind of
> actions are they involved in as seen by the user?  What kind of
> _perceived_ possibilities are they opening up for?  And so on...

Ooooo, please.

--
J C Lawrence
---------(*)                Satan, oscillate my metallic sonatas.
claw at kanga.nu               He lived as a devil, eh?
http://www.kanga.nu/~claw/  Evil is a name of a foeman, as I live.
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