[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

Freeman Freeman
Fri Oct 26 08:06:43 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


> From: Michael Tresca [mailto:talien at toast.net]

> I wouldn't dismiss chatbots so quickly.  See:
 
>   http://aimovie.warnerbros.com/html/flash.html.

'Talked to it.  I wasn't impressed.
 
> That silly AI chatbot (actually ALICE) managed to fool many, many
> people merely because there COULD be a person occasionally
> inserting a real sentence in with the automated responses.

If they were talking to a real person, then they weren't "fooled"
into thinking that they were talking to a real person.  They were
fooled into thinking that they were not talking to a real person,
which is entirely the oposite thing.

The chatbot was not the least bit convincing.

That said, seems like a tinysex bot would be a trivial thing to
implement in a convincing manner. :P

>   1) Stop making NPCs obviously NPCs.  Everyone gets the same kind
>   of description modifiers (be it titles, colors, whatever).

This frustrates players who are looking for people to talk to, only
to find idiotic NPCs at every turn.

>   2) Make the basic conversation object a chatbot.

I favor the "Just tell me yes or no and then shut-up" approach to
NPCs.  But ultimately it depends on what the NPC actually
represents.  Generally they don't represent people at all.  They
represent vending machines, door-knobs, road-maps, and mission
kiosks.  When they don't function as those things very well, because
some programmer has a vision of trixx0ring the users or something,
then the NPCs are essentially "broken".

Conversation systems in which the NPC says "A" and you have the
option of responding with either "B" or "C", but nothing else, make
for more convincing NPCs than open-ended chatbots or (god forbid)
keyword triggers.  The NPC can then be programmed to respond
intelligently when you say "B" or "C", and to never say anything
stupid or irrelevent, which chatbots always do.
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