[MUD-Dev] Respecting NPCs

Timothy Dang tdang at U.Arizona.EDU
Tue Dec 4 20:26:30 New Zealand Daylight Time 2001


Well, it took me long enough to reply to this.

This likely isn't part of what you were looking for, Lee, but this
is how I've though about NPC involvement in a game's economy.

An NPC can be of three types: Environment, Institution, or
Participant in the economy.

  1) Environment-- An environmental NPC is economically no different
  than a mine or a spawn point. It's something which takes one kind
  of resource (arrows, gold, reagents) and, sometimes combined with
  PC attributes or player skill, converts into a different kind of
  resource. An NPC merchant who buys and sells a relatively fixed
  menu of goods at a relatively fixed price is not an active part of
  the economy any more than a well which PCs can draw water from. A
  really fancy kind of environment, such as one which dynamically
  changes its prices, is likely still best categorized as
  environment.

  2) Institution-- An institutional NPC is one which facilitates
  trade amongst players. A crude version would be a merchant which
  buys at a fixed rate, and then holds the items to sell at a fixed
  rate if another player wants, this being just slightly above
  environment. UO-style vendors are a more serious institution.

  3) Participant-- This would be an AI which has interests of its
  own that it pursues by taking part in the economy.

I've thought that dissatisfaction with NPCs in the economy comes
from not being able to decide which role they're playing. There's no
objective reason that different roles can't be combined, though. And
there's no reason that an NPC which is purely environmental
economically can't be a more interesting character in other
respects.

I don't see much purpose for making NPCs participants in most cases,
since the players will be better at it anyway. There could be
short-term reasons to do so, perhaps, such as having an NPC selling
all their worldly goods cheap because they're about to flee a
rampaging horder only they know is coming, or some such.

------------------------------
Timothy O'Neill Dang / Cretog8
520-884-7261
One monkey don't stop no show.

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