The Lives Of NPCs

How it works

While at a procedural generation shindig for ProcJam, roguelike developer Darren Grey answered a question about games which have characters who interact with one another and not the player. A member of the audience suggested Din’s Curse and Depths of Peril.

“I don’t know how interesting that is – having things interacting with each other – especially if they’re out of your sight. What does it matter? A game should be player-centred in my opinion. I’m not interested in what goes on behind – simulate it. make it up, it doesn’t matter. As long as the player feels like they’re getting an interesting experience.”

It’s an answer which stuck with me because it touches on ideas I find odd about game world creation.

I want to feel that worlds exist and have a degree of permanence beyond my purview. The player is the reason these things exist, because they’re commercial products, but I feel like if you cater to that idea too slavishly you’ll end up with weird dead worlds which only spring to life as the player moves into the vicinity.

The things I crave in games are stories, surprises and systems. With an RPG the hero story might have the most monsters or lend itself to the most bombastic box blurb, but ultimately it tends to follow the same familiar trajectory. Humble beginnings, a wise dude sees a spark of promise and is avuncular at you for a bit, a path of increasingly difficult missions which lead you to world-wide renown, final act of heroism (might be tragic).

Those stories are pleasing when told well, but part of that is giving a sense of weight and consequence to other characters and the environment itself. That same sense of a rounded-out world is also what makes other types of story possible.

In the navy, you can sail the seven seas

I have a bunch of Skyrim mods installed and one of my favourites is the one which gives you alternate starting points in the world. You character can then go and join the main questline but you could also just go and live a life, unencumbered by the responsibilities chucked your way by fate. The existence of those new possibilities felt like it opened the game up in an interesting way, making Skyrim closer to a living, breathing world.

Going back to Grey, what he was saying wasn’t exactly that this stuff doesn’t matter, but that the process by which you create it doesn’t matter. Ultimately you’re looking for the player to have an interesting experience, so why spend time generating NPC interactions when you can conserve resources and use other systems to create the same effect?

With the Skyrim example, knowing the world now had a number of entry points and that some player characters might entirely avoid being recognised as the last Dragonborn was important. There was no longer a single funnel into the world, nor a single pathway through it and that was important to me.

As ex-PC Gamer writer Rich McCormick pointed out when we were discussing the idea, “I think you feel more like a hero when the world feels like it can exist without you. You can stamp your mark on a place that turns on its own; if it’s built for you, then of course you can win.”

Of course, it’s all a con to some degree or another, because NPCs need to have their behaviours dictated by equations or tools. That’s where AI or procedural generation or some other type of behavioural programming comes in. The difference is in whether the end result creates that living world feel.

I remember in Fallout 3 I always checked the items in people’s pockets. Not in a scramble to just fill my inventory and wallet, but I mean I really checked them, trying to work out why these people would have been carrying those combinations of things and telling little stories about them. That was a direct result of Bethesda’s world. The NPCs felt real enough that analysing pocket detritus from unnamed hostile mobs was a meaningful activity.

(If they had killed me and picked through my own inventory they would have found a lot of thumbs, cutlery and coffee mugs from nearby people I had killed.)

The reverse was true of Bioshock Infinite. Bioshock Infinite never felt like a living world to me, just a play being put on for my enjoyment, as though I was some cartoonish French aristocrat who had put forward a request for a game in which you make a lot of people’s heads fall off (oh, the irony). Depending on what you think of the game’s ending, that might seem apt or massively jarring in retrospect, but while playing I found it really irksome – a barrier to engagement and enjoyment.

There were some wonderful atmospheric moments in that game, but they tended to be closer to tableaux you could wander round. The rest was story sections punctuated by combat in the form of shooty busywork.

Choconapple - is that a thing?

Probably the worst element in terms of generating a believable world in Bioshock Infinite was the scavenging system. Where I spent minutes pondering the pockets of lone Fallout 3 foes, Bioshock Infinite offered up a random assortment of gubbins in whatever receptacle happened to be nearby entirely to cater to the player’s mechanical needs and with no kind of logic to their spawning.

The closest I could get to making sense of any of it was when I got to the shop which sells boxes of chocolate. The looting system meant that when you opened them they were actually full of things like pineapples which wouldn’t even match the dimensions of the container. I made sense of it by deciding the shop was run by a newly converted health fanatic, and that part of their approach was to trick their customers into eating fruit by fashioning pineapples into chocolate shapes and resealing the chocolate boxes.

For me, Bioshock Infinite was doing the opposite of what Grey advised. It had a system in place which had an effect on how I saw the NPCs. Ultimately it was intended as player-centric and helpful, but the way it had been implemented made for dull content; functional and divorced from the game’s world and narrative. I didn’t feel like I was getting an interesting experience.

Ultimately, when I’m playing a game the technical side of how an NPC came to act a certain way doesn’t matter. What matters is the result. At their best these characters and the systems which underpin them form parts of the world capable of expanding the fiction or augmenting my enjoyment of it. They hold my interest. They give reasons for my own attempts to save or interact with the world. At their best, these mechanics are invisible. It’s when they break that we remember we’re in a game that’s hankering for our engagement, and the world can suddenly seem so paper thin.

This article was funded by the RPS Supporter program.

42 Comments

  1. FriendlyFire says:

    This all comes down to one thing, really: abstraction.

    Simulating all of the NPCs you may interact with across the entire game’s map might seem attractive, elegant even, but it’s incredibly inefficient and doesn’t really impact the player’s experience. At worst, it’ll be detrimental through taking up a significant amount of resources to process (see Assassin’s Creed Unity, SimCity 2013).

    You can generally use a much more approximate statistical model, and when/if the player enters into a statistical model, you roll the dice and generate a plausible state which would solve back to the statistics you’ve been keeping track of. Yes, it means that in theory the NPCs don’t exist until the player is there, but in practice it’d be indistinguishable from simulating them individually. No game simulates all NPCs across the entire playable space, regardless of what some people think or wish. Well, no, actually, one does: Dwarf Fortress. It’s a bit of an exception though and its map size and NPC count are fairly small.

    • Rizlar says:

      Actually what you describe reminds me of many a DF dev diary. The way the game shifts between levels of detail is something Toady One often talks about. At it’s broadest the simulation seems to track population numbers, general events and notable historic figures, it’s only when the player enters that it starts resolving itself into individual dwarves with histories based on general population information.

      The quirks of the system do produce some jarring results though, like a fisherdwarf who has slain minotaurs, bears and hundreds of goblins unscathed despite minimal combat skills. I seem to remember this was related to the way combat was resolved in history generation.

      Great article though. Although broadly I agree with the quote: “I’m not interested in what goes on behind – simulate it. make it up, it doesn’t matter. As long as the player feels like they’re getting an interesting experience”, it does seem to dismiss games that seek to create a world that exists whether the player engages or not. Players aren’t stupid, they can tell when these things happen and supposedly excessive simulation can lead to some of the most interesting and distinctive game experiences for exactly this reason: DF, Crusader Kings, Stalker.

      So basically what Pip said.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Even Dwarf Fortress uses abstraction. The NPCs who get detailed histories are the “historically significant figures”.

  2. padger says:

    I think it’s important to remember that these NPCs have families! No one thinks about them ;(

  3. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I personally love systems that give interesting results thereby inferring NPC character traits.
    I got a real kick out of Din’s Curse informing me that a monster I’d left behind had started gaining levels. That said monster may have become a very real threat in the future of my game gave it a certain frisson.

    Relatedly, I plugged the 360 in this weekend after many years, and have been thoroughly enjoying Fable 2 once more.
    At one point during the weekend, I got a little bored and mischievous. I started performing the usual clown-tastic moves in Bowerstone Market, and soon had a small crowd gathered round. I then let loose with the area-of-effect lightning spell. Everyone around me died, and I spent the next quarter of an hour fighting my way out of Bowerstone, killing a dozen guards in the process.

    I returned shortly afterwards and chose to work of my crimes with “Community Service”.

    But the thing that’s stuck with me and entertained me massively?
    After many hours of play following that incident, and having cleaned up my image so that I’m now regarded as good and pure, there are still a few NPCs that remember my massacre and run screaming every time I arrive in town. And it’s the same NPCs every time; I know, because the game let me name them.
    “Scaredy” Andrew the Vendor screams like a girl.

    It’s a little thing, but hilarious, slightly mortifying and adding a huge sense of impact to my actions in the world of Albion.

    I sincerely hope that with the recent spate of old last-gen games making their way to PC, Microsoft finally wises up and ports Fable 2, the very best Fable, and an exemplar of those things Lionhead were so very good at when they put their minds to it.
    It’s all about the systems and how they interlock to create a convincing environment for you to be an arsehole in.

    My latest experiments are in the field of bigamy. So far, I’m juggling 6 families, and only one partner has divorced me!
    I get the feeling various partners would like me to spend more money on sprucing up our marital homes however. I get a suspiciously large amount of stoves as “Presents” from partners.
    One cheeky bugger even said something along the lines of “We’re so happy together. We’d be even happier if you put some care into your appearance”.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Yep, there definitely are some things that Fable games got right, and those are actually way above average.

      Oh, and i still think the final “boss fight” was brilliant, especially if you keep listening to the rant without doing anything.

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        I want to play them because I recently realized they do something I’d want to see more: they start as a regular medieval fantasy world, but in later sequels technology advances so you can use guns and stuff. I’d like more stories that do that without making it a big plot point. Avatar is the only other thing I can think of that does this, and even then an evil industrial revolution is sort of a big plot point.

  4. tumbleworld says:

    A sense that the world is alive is really important in immersion. Statistical abstraction can be fine, so long as a bit of thought is put into it, but when it’s done lazily, it can be worse than pure static.

    The trouble, of course, is dialog. It takes a lot of time. In the absence of some sort of mood-tweaked in-game Eliza conversation engine, there’s no real way to convey much nuance — well, not in a big game anyway.

    That sort of responsiveness Is one of the core areas where tabletop RPGs have yet to be matched.

  5. jezcentral says:

    You don’t just need a satisfactory interaction between the PC and the NPC. Sometimes it’s great just seeing NPCs interact. Either like Dragon Age 2 or Hitman Blood Money.

  6. Mister_Inveigler says:

    Speaking of pocket rustling, I’ve always found it jarring when spiders or animals drop gold, weapon or items in RPGs. Yes…a spider just happened to be wandering around with an Enchanted Staff or a sword of pointiness that it can’t use.

    It’s like someone ran around duct-taping these items to various animals…which actually could be the cause of their distemper…hmmm, maybe I answered my own question?

    • Premium User Badge

      Philippa Warr says:

      I killed a mudcrab in Skyrim because I felt he was too judgmental (don’t ask) and he turned out to be carrying eight gold pieces. In the fiction I created for that I figured maybe they were in the river and he swallowed them but I’d struggle to explain anything bigger. The coins were a bit of a stretch tbh. Maybe someone was using a crab shell as a purse, far cry style…

      • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

        Obviously he was one of the posh mudcrabs from the mod, which had lost its hat and monocle. He was staring at you judgementally because, without its regalia, it felt understandably… crabby.

      • SlimShanks says:

        My sister was once playing Oblivion, when she happened upon a wolf. Upon slaying the wolf, and going to retrieve it’s pelt, she found that it was carrying a knife and fork.

    • draglikepull says:

      I liked Final Fantasy 8’s solution to this:
      You’re employed by a mercenary company (more or less), so you draw a regular salary relative to your rank in the company. Every X number of real minutes spent playing (around 30, I think), you simply receive your salary. You don’t have to worry about “looting” money from your foes (which is actually kind of grim when you think about it) or grinding to make sure you have enough cash.

  7. melnificent says:

    Bioshock infinite was the worst at this. Quick make a decision before bad things happen… Such as bird or cage near the beginning. I went for dinner at this point and they were still arguing 2 hours later. If a game says quick then give the players a minute at most. Walking dead has this right with the decisions tied to a timer.

    • Jeroen D Stout says:

      In this case you can read ‘quick’ like a stage cue. It is not about actually having to be quick, it is about creating a situation in which you pretend to be quick. If in Spelunky you have to be ‘quick’ is is you, as a player, who has to be quick; in many a narrative-driven game if you have to be ‘quick’ it just gives you the chance to act out being quick.

      This is not a deference of Bioshock Infinite, just a musing on the question of player-as-agent, player-as-actor and player-as-reader.

      • Caerphoto says:

        Interesting point, that – to what extent does one ‘perform’ in a game, versus operate within it?

        • Arathain says:

          Not so much ‘does one perform?’ but ‘can one?’ and ‘should one?’. All games have abstractions and quirks, and any game worth playing becomes more so if you are willing to meet the game part way, and play the part that is offered to you.

          Of course, it’s down to what the player enjoys first and foremost. Some players derive a lot of pleasure from acting discordantly with the presented world, and trying to break interaction and look for the gaps. That’s fine, although it comes with consequences.

          I was delighted by Mass Effect 2, because there’s a point in the game leading up to the final mission where you are informed of the urgency of the task. An experienced player’s intuition tells them that, contrary to what they are told, this is the last opportunity to do everything but what they’ve been asked to do, because they won’t have the chance afterwards. The game actually gives out a consequence for this within the mission. I did the opposite- I didn’t know there would be consequence, but I put more emphasis on playing the role I was given, and when I was told to hurry, I hurried.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Arnvidr says:

    This post was really well hidden, not having the supporter tag. We (I) really need a better way to find the supporter articles. A button or something (top marks for supporter RSS feed).

  9. LogicalDash says:

    Of course, it’s all a con to some degree or another, because NPCs need to have their behaviours dictated by equations or tools.

    Just how does that make it a “con”?

    • Josh W says:

      Because it seems more complex than it is, and it is actually made around you, even if it seems not to be.

      I think the secret here (to go off on a massive tangent) is that people say they want the game to disown them, as a contrast to the fawning solipsism of many games, but that’s an over-correction. I think what we really want is a game that’s like a friend; you get on with them, they help you out, they fit to you in certain ways, but they have their own stuff happening, and they are getting on with it, and you can sit and listen to them tell you about it, or just chill out in their house while they make music or whatever.

      What I want out of a world, and I think this covers a lot of other people’s ideas too, is something that follows it’s own path, but shifts it around according to what you are doing, so that you can have a bit of conversation with it. It’s not just following a script that is timed by you, where paradoxically you have more importance but less influence, it’s the other way around, low importance, high influence. The game could do all sorts of things in your absence, and does, but you being there makes a difference because it changes what happens.

      In many games, the difference between you being there and not being there is simple, if you didn’t install the game, it wouldn’t run, and if you didn’t get to the next checkpoint, it wouldn’t continue, but your job is basically that of a generic consumer, reenacting your action of funding the game within it over and over again.

      Token participation or the void, make your choice.

      But when a game goes on in the background, and you can go one place or another, then turning up matters because you can change the events that are occurring there.

      The problem many games like skyrim have is that they try to make you the vital hero to every part of their world, which is one reason that the old strategic battle system was depreciated during that game’s development; if you are needed to make the difference to every exchange in the civil war, that’s basically a full time job. For the game to give you vast responsibilities in a low pressure way, it has to wait for you, and so the alternative is a new version of what I started with, a game that doesn’t care about you.

      It’s not that it doesn’t care because it doesn’t need anything from you, or because it doesn’t respect you and you must prove yourself, but it doesn’t automatically assume that you are the only hero that can save it in every instance. This means that you can have a sprawling civil war, and maybe in some battles you are largely irrelevant, maybe some hero characters from different factions chip in to do simplified versions of what you might have done, or maybe your involvement in the war escalates it and it would otherwise have simmered quietly without you.

      This is still a form of player focus, but one that preserves the feeling that I want, which is a game that does it’s own thing in a way that can always involve me. It’s not just running simulations, and it’s not just staging events, it’s shaping the events it simulates so that there is always a way for me to get involved with them, like “hey, I’m starting a massive battle in this ravine, want to get involved? No pressure, but it would be good to have you.” Or in skyrim mail form “We are getting heavily pressed by the stormcloaks in …….., we ask that you come to our aid. We are not outmatched, but your contribution could make this a glorious victory” or something equally medievalised. And beyond simple direct letters, you could do it by having news and gossip between npcs that implies influences in separate areas. News about events, that run in a usually less impactful and dramatic fashion when you are not present, and upscale their potential consequences when you arrive.

  10. Turkey says:

    Watching a town full of autonomous little guys doing their jobs and living their lives in a management sim is my favorite part of video games. I don’t have anything to add to the discussion other than that.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Odly enough just this morning I’ve been considering giving the free copy of the SIMs 2 Ultimate collection I got on Origina a try, for exactly that reason. I do love a good simulation but have never played the Sims. I’m…curious to see if it’s actually a game I could have some fun with.

  11. Kempston Wiggler says:

    but I feel like if you cater to that idea too slavishly you’ll end up with weird dead worlds which only spring to life as the player moves into the vicinity

    Open-world sims are the worst for this. The GTA games, etc. While driving I often crash into other vehicles, or they crash into me, or I pass one at speed that I decide I want to purloin, and while I then fixate on that particular car, about getting back to it and matching my skills against it, very often before I can actually catch it – I may be distracted, delayed or stuck in some fashion – it passes outside the bounds of the observable simulation and simply vanishes so I’m left chasing a literal ghost, a concept that has been deleted to make way for whatever randomised agent the simulation has calculated it should be showing me now. THAT experience renders all other un-directed experiences in the game somewhat hollow because you know that the NPC doesn’t continue to exist after you stop observing it; there’s no point becoming invested emotionally in randomised mathematics.

    Solipsistic simulations. SolipSims? Hm. Needs work.

    As an older gamer (I turn 40 next year) I’ve watched, transfixed, as ever-more-powerful processers struggled to simulate life well enough to entertain us believably. I grew up in the era of Tomorrow’s World, a UK science and technology programme that breathlessly sold us on the bright shiny technological future that was waiting in the wings. Technology fascinates me. Artificial Intelligence fascinates me, and I love interacting with it in games. I loved pitting myself against Unreal Tournament’s fearsome Bot AI, for instance, and it genuinely pains me to see the gaming industry almost giving up on the very idea of software intelligence in favour of empty avatars that other human beings control. (If I was interested in playing with other human beings I’d be playing with other real life human beings. Gaming, for me, has always been Me vs Machine.). It’s why I’m so disappointed in the direction Elite: Dangerous has taken, using players to shape the state of the galaxy, and why I’m conversely so enthused about Limit Theory where Josh Parnell shares details of his A.I test-beds used to refine and develop his artificially intelligent gameplay for the entirely simulated “living” universe he wishes to create.

    But yeah, sometimes the illusions of artifice break down so badly that they negate the suspension of disbelief. Those moments where the Game shines through are often jarring and, sometimes, ruinous. Remember when Valve introduced Steam Achievements into Half Life 2? Some people HATED that the painstakingly constructed narrative was being ruined by these meta-gaming elements.I guess we can all blame the guy who carried a gnome from game start to game finish.

    Wow. Rambling. Will stop now.

    …STALKER was awesome.

    TL:DR: I love AI. More AI, please. Man vs Machine is where it’s at.

  12. fredcadete says:

    About that box of chocolates: the devs were probablyexpecting people had watched Forrest Gump…

  13. HilariousCow says:

    I like that bioshock (1 and 2) does have a bit more of a living world – an ecology of agents. Not all the characters immediately attack you, and all the characters can be made to in-fight, or fight on your side. Obviously, it’s only at the combat level, but It’s a good case of have-your-cake-and-eat it, with regards to “make it player centric”. The NPC vs. NPC interactions are still important to the Player, in this case. It’s when they are totally meaningless to the player’s sphere of agency that it’s maybe not worth simulating.

  14. Cockie says:

    I like the way Limit Theory is doing this. There is no difference between the player and any NPC, NPC’s literally play the game.
    NPC’s in the system you’re in are fully simulated, those in other systems with some fancy math to reduce load.
    As far as I can tell from the devlog video’s, this feels very “real”.

  15. SpacemanSpliff says:

    Ultima 7 and 8 did living NPC’s right on a lvl I have yet to see repeated.

  16. Chaoslord AJ says:

    I really like independent NPCs also those who only interact when the player is triggering a script or random encounter but completely autonomous is cooler. If the world is only reacting to the player that’s just immersion breaking. Like when in Skyrim a Thief sneaks around in Riften and everyone is runnng to kill him or fights between bears and foxes probably triggered by my proximity though. I liked Dwarf Fortress creating a history of realms thriving and turning to dust before the game even starts.
    I wanna feel part of a inhabited living world not center of a world of bots.

  17. Nasarius says:

    World simulation is obviously inappropriate or irrelevant for many types of games. Abstract games, linear story games, etc.

    But if you’re trying to building a living, breathing world, this is very clearly the future. Dwarf Fortress is just a taste of what’s possible. I would even argue that simulated NPC AIs in a single player game could produce more interesting results than the equivalent number of players in a sandbox MMO. Fewer phallic buildings, anyway.

  18. ensor says:

    I thought the Nemesis system in Shadows of Mordor had a neat answer for world simulation: things of significance, with definite outcomes, are always happening in the game-world, and you can’t participate in all of them, with a system in place that gives you information about how to select which events to butt into. It gives that feeling of a living world without unnecessarily complex simulation, without sacrificing the player’s ability to impact that continuity.

  19. sinister agent says:

    I like it when NPCs do stuff whether or not you’re there, though obviously that’s abstracted in most games if it’s done at all. I’d guess the ones that are good at it just find the right compromise in spending resources processing the details and outcomes of that.

    Also, reminded me of this: link to extrafabulouscomics.com

  20. nemryn says:

    They say syndicates of wizards have led a boycott of Imperial goods in the land of the Altmer.

  21. SlimShanks says:

    Oh, goody, a chance to wax lyrical about Stalker: Misery!
    So you say you want AI which goes about doing it’s own thing in a believable manner? Well, Stalker games in general has AI which does it’s own stuff, but Misery really kicked it up a notch. All generated NPC’s are permanent until they die, for a start. When a new NPC arrives in the zone, they will have minimal equipment, but will spend the money they brought on food, medical supplies, weaponry, whatever. At this point, the NPC will generally find a group to join, although some travel the Zone by themselves. The group will then try to find ways of making money that are suitable to the equipment they have. For example, they won’t try to grab artifacts without protective gear, and they won’t try to hunt mutants at night without NVG’s and high caliber weapons.
    This leads to some fun situations, as you could be hunting artifacts yourself and have an AI show up and try to beat you to it. You could be getting chased by a mutant and have a group of Stalkers hunting the mutant. Occasionally you can even be exploring deep underground and come upon a group of NPC’s who were doing the same thing. NPC’s will also flee if they feel too endangered, so if you see a Stalker sprinting past you, you should seriously consider following them.
    NPC’s spend the money that they earn on better gear, and try to outfit themselves for specific tasks. However, if they run out of money and can’t find any food, they might turn to banditry. It’s disappointing to run into a former Stalker you had a fondness for, and having to fight or run from them.
    Lastly, you get a lot more attached to NPC’s than you normally would, because they are given unique backstories/personality (flavor text) you can talk to them about, and because they will save your ass. A lot. In fact, one of the primary reasons people think Misery is too hard is because they never thought to stick with groups of Stalkers for protection. But when you are running through the zone low on health or supplies, spotting a group of friendlies is like finding an oasis (reference intended), and the Skadovsk feels like the center of civilization.
    AI simulation has intrinsic value.

  22. Doganpc says:

    What if Skyrim or more accurately the next game to follow in Skyrim’s wake, made you as a player the NPC. Where the game runs along a timeline, possibly forcing game-time travel and survival (time to eat & sleep). Very much like how many of my favorite conditions for Skyrim replay’s go (no fast travel, walk or carriage). However, NPC’s are bolstered by previously saved games. For simplicities sake I’ll just continue to use Skyrim to example.

    Your first play through Skyrim with the no fast travel, food and rest required conditions sets a story+timeline background for your second play through Skyrim. Quests that were completed are no longer available as someone else is doing that to completion. Quests that continue to remain unfinished or repeatable remain for your follow up playthroughs. Your characters appear in the world, much like a ghost racer appears in time trials for racing games. So as you play different characters play through Skyrim, they appear to the follow up characters as NPC’s off doing all the things you can no longer do. Dialog choices would be rather limited and goal oriented. Perhaps a previous play with a quest the current play is on might have some insight on that particular quest.

    Now take that concept and make it real time. No longer attached to a first play timeline but a continually progressing timeline advanced by the character the furthest along. World events shared across player characters, quests being completed before your other characters can finish them (since they both heard them at the same time, A just got it done before B). Sure you might have an issue with immersion when Character A is up on a balcony while Character B walks by when B wasn’t around when A started… some might call that broken, I call it storytelling as sometimes seemingly inconsequential details such as that random face you happened across can get lost in the retelling the dramatic theme of a story. Perhaps framing it as dementia or schizophrenia may make more sense depending on the theme. Since it seems most heroes have an element of disorder in order to be heroic.

    Anyhow, that is what this article made me think. I thought it was a rather good think so I put it out there in the hopes someone will appreciate it and maybe work it into a game I can enjoy before I let go of life. You have my name, should you feel obligated to credit. :)

    • Josh W says:

      I’ve heard the game nowhere is actually trying to do exactly this, even building the AI off the player’s behavior!

  23. Caerphoto says:

    This makes me wonder what an MMO would be like if the hostile NPCs displayed some sense of self-preservation. Sure, you get the occasional type that will run away in fear if its health gets low, but what about ones that actively try to avoid you if they think you might be a threat? Maybe the level 9 bandits should try to stay the hell away from you when your exotically equipped level 80 self wanders past.

  24. klaus hamman123 says:

    A good example for this , is the guild 2 . Even though the game has it’s one issues with playability. You aren’t the important character at all and nearly all the NPC’s have the same rights as you have.