[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

Lee Sheldon linearno at gte.net
Sat Nov 3 10:18:15 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Tresca

> But I've watched people coo over Furbies for hours.  Why?  Because
> on the conversational scale, it's still higher than the vending
> machine.

> As a new player who doesn't necessarily have the ability to judge
> the conversational NPC, I'm more likely to be impressed by one
> that holds my conversation longer.

While I applaud your championing the rights of NPCs to be more
complete characters, I would caution against trying to find a single
solution thast would cover all the NPCs and their interactions in a
world.  And while you may not be saying this, your previous example
of the conversation with a merchant made me go, "No!  That's exactly
what I don't want!"

I want to be able to conduct my business as fast as possible, and be
gone.  I don't want to click (or talk my way) through a dialogue
tree to buy a sword.  However, I fully support NPCs fulfilling more
than one function in the game.  So I'd much rather have a covert
mechanism to switch from the shopping list interaction to a more
human one.  I think we have ample evidence of how this works in real
life.  Think of how you usually interact with the cashier when you
buy your groceries: a smile and quick greeting is about it.

But think what happens when something else enters the scene: a
dropped carton of eggs, a slow bag boy, the sudden announcement of a
sale; or even bigger things like a clinging fog that descends over
the store like at the beginning of Stephen King's "The Mist." (Okay,
not real life, but lots of things can be substituted!)  Immediately
you shift into a much more connected, less rote, relationship with
the cashier.  Here, a deeper ability to converse would be welcomed,
and to use the chatterbot example, since it doesn't have to be
generalized, since it can be limited to a specific incident, it can
feel all the more naturalistic.


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