[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

Michael Tresca talien at toast.net
Sat Nov 3 08:38:03 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Daniel.Harman at barclayscapital.com posted on Friday, November 02,
2001 6:20 AM

> No, because I still don't give a damn about Talien and his whining
> kids.  Dramatic content has to grasp you, not just be
> there. Detail isn't significant just by being present, it has to
> related to something else. A novel isn't better if the author
> gives lots of ancilliary details about characters who have no
> impact in the plot.

Context, context, CONTEXT.  As Raph said in another thread, this is
all about context.  No NPC should just be droning on about
something.  Unless that's a personality quirk of that NPC.

But if I ask a NPC what he thinks about something, I want a
reasonable answer -- even if it is, "get the hell away from me."
Ancillary details being shoved into the PC's face is of no value --
it's just more spam, as you said.

I am not advocating that.  I am advocating that when I, as a PC,
choose to explore that NPC's personality, I can go further than
"clicking on them" -- in fact, the mere thought that "clicking" on
anybody is how interaction happens is clearly in the vending machine
category of NPC.

The last thing I want to do is click on anything.  I should initiate
the conversation by saying things like, "Hi how are ya?"

To put it another way: You would of course create monsters that take
much effort to reach.  They're in the difficult zone, the place you
can't reach easily etc.  Less than 1% of the population may actually
reach the supremely powerful monster.  But there is great prestige
for doing so, because it takes effort. Conversely, a good (and
determined) conversationalist should be able to talk with a NPC at
length and draw out more information than the guy who doesn't want
to spare him a second glance.

This creates UTILITY for the NPC to some people.  If Talien has a
family AND has important information about a quest that he WON'T
tell you unless you ask him about his wife and kids...well, it may
be worth talking to him second time around.

No, it's not utility for everybody.  But then, that super high level
powerful monster isn't for everybody either.  We'll code the
monster, but we won't invest in the NPC's personality.

Given the choice, I do not drone on at length with paragraphs of
information about how do a task at work (okay, except on here).  We
start off introducing each other, ask how the other person's doing,
and if we know each other well enough, may wander off into another
conversation entirely.  I submit this is a NECESSARY part of human
interaction -- the text-vomiting robots that NPCs are now show no
remotely human attributes and only devalue the humanoid form as an
intelligent being.  Talking rocks would be better. I don't have high
expectations for talking rocks.

Mike "Talien" Tresca
http://www.retromud.org/talien

P.S. Got my quotes right this time and everything. >:)

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