[MUD-Dev] [MLP] NPC Complexity

Peter Tyson ptyson at datamonitor.com
Mon Apr 15 15:16:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: shren [mailto:shren at io.com]

> The NPC Complexity issue is doing rounds again.  This was posted
> on slashdot today but is probably relevant, or at least
> interesting: http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2002/04/rauch.htm

I thought that was a fascinating article and perhaps that kind of
complexity can be applied to MUDs one day. However, none of those
systems assume there are players in the model ;). Would they screw
up a carefully balanced NPC world? I guess they might if their
actions impacted on the rule-sets of NPC agents.

Fascinating would be virtual villages and towns which responded to
surrounding events. If NPCs left villages (and closed
shops/abandoned buildings) and moved to the city (Growing the city
and the guards/tax revenue there) due to player combat/banditry in
the region, would other players respond to put down the bad guys so
they'd continue to have shops to do business with?

To me, the lack of NPCs 'doing things' is something that I miss most
about CRPGs that PnP RPGs had (at least with a good GM). I miss the
feeling of being in a living society. It bothers me that towns in
MUDs have NPCs who work 24/7 and don't have a house to go to, it
bothers me they don't have their own issues and agendas with each
other and their governments. :)

I'm sure it would be possible with the right engine (to accommodate
a changing world) and the right (and very carefully constructed)
rule set to create a slowly evolving society that would respond to
certain player inputs in a realistic way.

However, there has to be a reason for this beyond simply adding a
cute feature. I propose that you could use an evolving rules-based
NPC society prompt the players to change their own behaviour,
particularly if it was destructive to the game design over-all.

Of course, balancing it would be.. very difficult. Perhaps
simulations could be run with virtual players, greed and
obsessiveness set to very high ;)


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