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Old 07-25-2002, 09:53 PM   #1
Burr
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On the old forums there was a lot of talk about dynamic evolution, about which a lot focused on making NPCs more real.  I was wondering if there were any ideas on social interaction between NPCs besides that of a group of villagers acting together from time to time.

Even on non-dynamic muds, evil NPCs are often near other evil NPCs...low-level NPCs are with other low-level NPCs...gnomes are with gnomes...etc.  Such organization makes sense from both a gaming perspective and a roleplay perspective.

The way this is accomplished is by either confining each group to a particular area, or less often having them follow a defining member of their type and setting the leader adrift.

Would it be feasible to make this work more fluidly, allowing you to set all NPCs adrift (except with major goals such as their profession in mind) with certainty that they'll find groups they belong in?  For instance, if two NPCs just happen to be traveling on the same road for a certain distance, and are of races that might trust each other, maybe they'll group together and then quit the group when its time to split up again.  If things work out well that way, they'll do it again next time they meet this way by chance.  Or if one happens to be a thief who gets caught stealing, and a fight between them ensues, then maybe the next time they meet will throw insults at each other, and possibly get into another fight.  (And if one happens to lose both times, maybe he will try to find a new route.)

If an Ogre with a badass reputation enters a bar, maybe all the evil wannabes in the bar will try to follow him, and he will group them and use them in his fights until they die, or mutiny.

My examples are probably a little too complex for starting out, but if you got a basic system working wear likeness attracts likeness, you could tweak it for certain activities such as traveling, resting, fighting, and working.  Then you could tweak it a little bit more for particular NPCs, such as the Ogre, and so on.

Edit: Here's another idea along these lines. If you have a nature-friendly class (such as the typical druid class), animals in a certain area could be drawn to them somewhat. This would serve not only for atmosphere, but it also helps set up an RP situation. If animals are near druids, and you are hunting animals, then you will likely run into a druid. One way to do this would be coding it so that, if a druid is in a wooded room, each animal mob in the surrounding rooms as a certain chance of walking into the room the druid is in. That way new animals will come in and drop out as the druid walks by, so that it will look more real than animals simply following the druid. The same implementation could be applied to most PC types: fishes gravitating toward aquatic races, goblins toward orcs/ogres, birds towards winged races, children towards bards and good warriors, other citizens toward certain priests, etc., etc., etc.
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Old 08-15-2002, 10:53 AM   #2
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thats a very good idea, i just ran an idea to my programmers about Dynamic AI. now the feature i wanted to have them implement into the game is this.

NPC's are immune to hunger and sleep or so it seems, what if the npc's had to eat and drink and yes sleep.

now lets just use this weaponsmith as an example.

He starts off in his shop. ok now he started in the game with some money to buy his supplies he needs to make his iteams for sale. now he takes the time to explore his surronding area.
later on he finds that from his shop if he goes 4 east 2 north hes at the town well. he can now fill up his barrels for water, and he knows 4 east 2 south and 1 west is the downs bakery. so he will buy food to feed himself. he would close his shop when its time to sleep. wake up and eat and goto work.

now this would realy change the game, what if evil NPC's started to burn crops of wheat? would the bakery get the wheat it needs to make some of its food? would the weaponsmith afford the price changes? or would he die of starvation? this could realy affect the game.

another thing is about the AI learning would be great. this one is my programmers idea. this will be a cat for example.

someone buys a cat for a pet. later on the cat runs away or they left the cat someone and didnt come back for it.. now the cat needs to search for food and something to drink.
the cat finds a fish market somewere and learns to steal or run faster to survive. then it gets into fights with dogs and learns to claw bite jump hide sneak..... now it would be a smart cat or capble of learning if had to fend on its own. and it would keep all those skills until it dies.
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Old 08-15-2002, 02:43 PM   #3
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When you try to develop that type of AI though, how far is too far? What if an NPC starts burning down too many fields and people can't eat?
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Old 08-15-2002, 04:46 PM   #4
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then the world starts turning into a barren wastle land... But some AI's would be more advanced then others, maybe a knight goes around looking for big bad villans to arrest or kill.
most kingdoms tho would have there economy soly based on Agriculture products, maybe one kingdoms has an army protecting it but out in the vast worlds there will be times that small villages will suffer. but the case i was talking about would be a small village or town, a kingdom would keep a close eye on there economy and Agriculture wealth. a baren or Lord would hire mercs. hopefuly that answers your question.
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Old 08-17-2002, 04:16 PM   #5
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When you try to develop that type of AI though, how far is too far? What if an NPC starts burning down too many fields and people can't eat?
Sweet! An arsonist! RP opportunities galore are created by this, and the hack n' slashers can run around trying to find the villain and slay him.

Sounds like a fun time to me.
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Old 08-17-2002, 09:29 PM   #6
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yes its a sweet thing that will be appart of the new mud we are creating.
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Old 08-18-2002, 08:33 PM   #7
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Some interesting ideas here.

To address the initial post the main problem I see is that you are mixing fairly high level thought with simple basics. Sure you can teach navigation and give NPCs a way to look for similar creatures but beyond that it gets a lot more complicated. Simulating high level thought is just not an easy thing.

My approach to NPC AI has been to give them a set of base needs (food, water, sleep, play, etc) and to teach them how to fulfill those needs. From these simple things you get more complex behavior that is somewhat realistic. If they get hungry they go to look for food, if they do not need to eat or sleep they head out to work. Add in some speech so they can communicate what they need/are doing and you have a NPC that seems to be alive.

One thing to consider for the person working on the new Mud is that NPCs are active 24 hours a day while the players are not. If you give the NPCs the ability to damage the player economy it is very likely that the world will become a wasteland very quickly, and all the NPCs will die out. Once that happens you do not have much of a world anymore.

What is needed for this sort of system is an overall control system that monitors conditions and keeps things running smoothly. If the NPCs and players need food, then some sort of monitoring is needed to make sure the level of damage is not critical unless the players are available to handle the attacks.

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Old 08-18-2002, 10:02 PM   #8
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thats very true, i dont know yet on the control system but right now its just an idea but when we figure out the dynamics of it and have the stucture set it will be included in our code. not all of the npc's will have higher AI settings because as you pointed out they need to be controlled. most of them will stay within a certain area and never leave, they would have a definied limit so when making these areas , one would have to plan out ahead of time , so they would not construct a problem.
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Old 08-23-2002, 06:57 PM   #9
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One of my pet ideas in this vein is npc's who understand a certain amount of the social state of their world, and maybe even repeat gossip players have said in front of them.

Say your world has several kingdoms, whose rulers change based on whether players take control of them, a king dies and his son succeeds to the throne, and so on. And yet most muds have npc's who blather on about how idiotic a certain player is or a gnome who got ripped up by a bear or something. Well what about if certain things were stored in variables somewhere, and your npc's could really talk about their current ruler or somesuch? Maybe a kingdom gets taken over by Fred (a player), and Fred doesn't provide things the npc needs. The npc could not only talk about how his current ruler was Fred, but complain about how he didn't have enough to eat or something. I'm not sure if this is possible or how far you could go with it, but it'd sure be interesting.

I really like the idea of npc's who go to work at a certain time and buy their food and such from other shops. And if your mud has a pilfer skill or somesuch, even better. Npc robs player, npc robs npc and they start a fight in the middle of the street, etc. But as usual I digress. My point with that is what would happen if your npc's would decide to rent inn rooms, and so just because player Joe wants a cheap place to keep his stuff doesn't mean he's gonna be able to find room at the inn to do so. I haven't played very many muds but I've yet to see one with a really good player-driven economy, and I think adding stuff like this would really help. (You might hafta make the npc's money disappear if they're killed, otherwise players would just kill off their shopkeepers all the time to get rich.)

Here's another idea. Rather than just having shopkeepers respawn a while after they're killed, what if all of your npc's had certain skills, and when a shopkeeper dies the AI would look for a local npc who has the needed skills to take over the shop? That could work for other functions the npc's need to perform too. It might be too resource-intensive for the npc's to actually have to practice like players, but if nothing else they could learn skills every x amount of time without having to do anything or something.

Ok I'm gonna shut up now. Suffice it to say I have a lot of ideas in this area, and no way to code them even if it's possible. Hopefully some of this makes sense to you guys who actually know what you're doing.
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Old 08-24-2002, 08:39 PM   #10
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There are a few ways to add useful knowledge to NPCs, one that I have worked with a couple of times works via a collective database.

The Data needs to be grouped based on location and perhaps a social control (station, guild, profession, etc. As NPCs move about they can occasionally spit out a line from the database.

As the social situation changes, new information is added to the Database and other lines are changed. So when Fred takes over, the NPCs living in the city will know it. If you add a simple query function to the NPCs (ie a player can say 'What do you know about .

We tend to look at everything from the point of view of a player driving all the events. Personally I try to build the world from the NPC POV. I am actually more interested in making the NPCs interact with each other, including speaking, than I am about the players. If two NPCs are standing around talking in some fashion, the players can just listen in to learn.

As far as the Shopkeeper idea in the previous post, the idea is great but it would require a large population of NPCs. Few games support enough NPCs to have a pool to draw from. If you could overcome that limitation it would work just fine. The other little hitch is that most games do not have enough stores to allow some to be down for any real length of time, so if the search/training takes too long other problems could crop up.


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Old 08-25-2002, 02:25 AM   #11
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Well I dunno how most muds do it, but on the one I play, some of the shopkeepers don't respawn at all. Actually most of em don't. Because if they did, people would keep killing them so they'd repop with money, and everyone would be rich in a really short amount of time. So I figure the npc training thing would be a nice way to cause some inconvenience, but not total breakdown of the system.

Anyone know of any muds with balanced player-driven economies, or have any good ideas about how to make them? In fact that sounds like a good idea for another thread... *wink*

Edit (5 minutes later): Oops I meant the shopkeepers don't respawn until the mud reboots, which tends to be upwards of 10 days. This is what happens when I try to post when half asleep.
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Old 08-25-2002, 11:09 AM   #12
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i dont plan on have shopkeepers respawn, in the begining of the game they will be placed, but as npc evolve, not all but some, new shops will open most comming thing to see tho is peddelars on the street, pushing a art of iteams around, maybe that npc got enough money saved to open a real shop.
what realy depends within the whole world is how the players react and what they do to affect it, but players will face perm death also. o if they pick a fight with the wrong npc....
the new code my programmer team is making will be very dynamic and will be meant for advanced player or people willing to learn. theres alot of other things that we plan to include, but this was just one of the things.
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Old 08-25-2002, 12:14 PM   #13
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One thing about players is they always find the easiest way to get skilled or rich or whatever, and they don't tend to care all that much what it does to the balance of the mud. Sometimes I wonder why coders continue coding, when players do their best to ruin their efforts.
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Old 08-25-2002, 06:05 PM   #14
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well it wont be easy trust me, i have my staff basing the new code off of ad&d 2ed, now you might say its been done, well not realy, the exp tables will match the exp tables of ad&d and so will the monster exp. with perm death also a factor, they wont try the easy way, good ways to make money is to do work by that i mean, ure skill can make money like if ure a farmer, blacksmith ect. npc's will buy and sell stuff just like a pc would.
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Old 08-25-2002, 10:43 PM   #15
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OnyxFlame the thing is that some players only care about more and more for themselves, but there are those who care about the entire game, and others, as well.

It is kind of like a Trap that you stock with Bait. The kind of trap, and type of bait you use determine what it catches, if anything. Character PermaDeath has usually be the domain of pure RP Mush-like games where it is real cooperative play. Death has to be agreed to basically.

In the more code-driven styles of MU* some form of return to life is usually adopted by games. The level of loss inflicted varies a lot, and some, like myself, believe time out of play is the proper pain to inflict to make 'death' something to avoid.

Creating a Group project like a MU*, that is open to the public and hopes to have 100 or more players, is a complex tricky thing. Rules and Laws have to deal fairly with the players and Staff and still be effective in preventing abuse. But when applying them each tightening of the controls effectively reduces the overall number of people who will show up to play.

In the golden time of initial creation, many games start with death penalites/styles that are very harsh. But it is not uncommon for those to lessen as experience with the design does not lead to the playerbase, or general play, they were wanting to see. MU* Directors are an odd lot, we want to make the toys, and then have them played with in the way that we desire. On the other hand, as players, we wish to be able to pursue whatever we find enjoyable.

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Old 08-26-2002, 02:40 AM   #16
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yes perm death is mostly on RP muds but the code were creating and style of our mud will fit all sections of the mudders out there, weither it be hack & slash , pk & rp.
players will be able to build there own kingdoms or even become a gods. Hopefuly we will have the beat version ready within 6months.
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Old 08-26-2002, 11:24 AM   #17
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Character PermaDeath has usually be the domain of pure RP Mush-like games where it is real cooperative play. Death has to be agreed to basically.
This isn't necessarily true. The mud I play has permadeath, but the code is also pretty highly structured. (Structured enough that unanticipated patterns developed, and it's all so complicated that chars can spend their whole lives experimenting and discovering new ways to do stuff. I'd hate to be the one who had to do the math for all that. ) Anyway my point is, very little of the permadeath I've seen was "agreed to". It's a very harsh world. You can spend 2 YEARS developing your char's personality and skill, and then boom they're all gone because someone decided to backstab you. People are very rarely considerate about your feelings in the matter, they just kill your char and that's that. Some people develop ooc feuds from this, some don't. I know of one person who's threatened to kill every char one person ever makes, for a totally ooc reason that has nothing whatsoever to do with any interaction their chars had ever had, and it started 6 YEARS ago. But I digress.

I think the whole point of a mud such as I've been describing shouldn't be just sitting around working on your skills, although that's what most people think it revolves around. The fact of the matter is, it's easy to learn skills. It's not so easy to develop your character, make friends, and fit into the society in an appropriate manner. Players can risk literally years of time and effort when they decide to roll up a new char. What this creates is not a system where no one gets killed unless agreed upon though...what this creates is a system where everyone's paranoid that someone's gonna backstab them. This would be true even if there were no issues with ooc cheating. And yet when all is said and done, most people seem to realize that hey, they were the ones who decided to invest that much time and effort, if they wanted to stay alive they should've been more careful. It ends up being a pretty dog-eat-dog world, with a liberal measure of self-blame. (The "I shoulda" syndrome.)

And yet somehow we're not all at each other's throats. Yeah the mud has its psycho killers just like anywhere else, but by and large the players behind the chars get along with each other. Fred may kill a char I worked on for a long time, but when all is said and done (and after I've had a suitable period for calming down ) I'm gonna tell him hey at least you had the guts to kill me, or something similar. I'm not sure how it all works out but it does. Most of the time.
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Old 08-28-2002, 05:21 PM   #18
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Well Xanferious. I wish you luck, but in my experience games that try to be all things to all people rarely work. The fundamental differences between real RP players and normal Hack and Slash players are rather sharp and cause constant OOC conflicts.

Just like PermaDeath, it sounds good at first, but once you actally have to deal with players you will probably realize it is better to focus on one style of play if you really want to develop a strong playerbase.

OnyxFlame I do not dispute some Mud style games have PermaDeath but it is VERY rare. 99% have some sort of respawn after a player is killed. Only on MUSH type games is it fairly normal. You play on a fairly unique place.

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Old 08-30-2002, 04:08 AM   #19
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thanks i know it will be diffuct but hey its worth a hot, its been a dream of mine for the past 10 years, i have gathered a very will group of programmers and still searching for more, but i wont get into that here , anyway i was also thinking about npcs and this might be going to far now and i dont think it realy could be done, well not sure on it, but npcs share a pool or commo use of speach. instead of mpogs unless put into it for that char , but the avarge npc depeding pn what trade he or she or even it was could have a huge list of speach, maybe one signs a song or the other complains about the weather, all random realy but whne a player is persent maybe that nps will strike a conversation?
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Old 08-30-2002, 07:23 AM   #20
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If I was able to make a mud, I wouldn't worry too much about attracting people who just like hack & slash. I don't want to put up with them as a player, why would I want to put up with them as a coder? Sure I'd put lots of interesting critters in it, but they'd contribute to the story/atmosphere, and let players accomplish more than just killing stuff (i.e. turning the hides into leather, etc). And maybe if everyone runs around killing bears, they'd eventually become extinct, which would be ok for the people who just wanted to safely travel, but it'd make it hell to acquire a bearskin rug.

As for npc's that have conversations, it's entirely possible, although I have no idea how much space it'd take or if a well-done system would put any stress on the mud or anything. You could have npc's spit out random stuff occasionally, and give them keywords or phrases that they respond to in certain ways. (A simple version of this is used on the mud I play.) Heck, maybe if you mention a player's name, they could start gossiping about that player and saying stuff that may or may not be true. Maybe as well as detecting the current political/gossip state of a location, the weather could also directly affect them in terms of whether they're likely to be walking down the street or whether they go hang out in a tavern, they could complain about being hot or wet, etc. It could be really neat if done right. Heck, you could maybe even generate random likes/dislikes for them, so that if you talk about farming or give npc A a steak he'll praise you to the skies, whereas doing the same thing with npc B would give you a cold glare or make him attack you or wander off in a huff. (You could have a definite set of like responses and dislike responses, and then generate the specific likes/dislikes in each npc, and it'd just pick an appropriate response for it.)

A lot of stuff is possible. Useful and making efficient use of probably limited resources is another matter entirely, and that's what I have no idea about. I just like throwing out random stuff early in the morning when I'm more incoherent than usual.
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