[MUD-Dev] TECH: Complex NPCs

Sasha Hart harts at reed.edu
Tue Apr 2 14:37:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2002

[Tryguy47 at hotmail.com]

> I should be able to render a decent animal though, right? Dogs are
> fairly easy to represent. They can have emotions, and goals, and
> complex interactions, and all this can be rendered to whatever
> level of detail I need.

I have never seen anything as "high-tech" as the following in a MUD.

         > ring bell
         > give pot pie to fido

         > ring bell
         Beastly fido drools.

Note: people like to talk down pavlovian conditioning on the grounds
that it is "too simple."

It's an incredibly hard process to model (unless you cheat). It
amounts to developing something a bit short of a universal algorithm
to predict virtually anything.

Trust me, even if you could accurately model something as
complicated as emotions, goals, or complex interactions...

and I will lay odds you can't within your lifetime...

no one would believe you'd done it (that it was an accurate model,
that it wasn't too simple, etc.) unless you presented them with
something that was simply magic and refused to tell them how it
worked. The only explanation people will accept for their behavior
is no explanation.

> What if I represent a human with a basic dog mind, and edit the
> behaviour to match, and add scripted speech to it? Was that such a
> leap?

No, but considering that you are not even close to being able to
make a dog mind, this is both more ambitious than anyone can manage,
and less than people expect from "realistic" NPCs.

> Humans in games will always be toys in the near future. And that's
> ok. All I said I wanted to do was make a better toy.

This is a good goal, considering that the academics don't have a
100% model of the sea slug aplysia. Which I would not characterize
as interesting NPC material :)

Play to the strengths of the medium: use storage to make NPCs which
have excellent memories. Use computational power to to make NPCs
which are cutthroat business competitors. Use the mud DB to cheat
"knowledge." Cheat.

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