Would Advanced AI Work in MUDs?
One of the coolest features of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the amazing radiant AI system. What it does, to put it simply, is it changes how the game interacts with your character based on how you play your character. Without getting too technical, if you're a warrior, perhaps you'll be asked to rescue a child from kidnappers. If you're a mage, perhaps you'll be asked to do something else! Maybe even if you're a thief, you'll get asked to steal things. I have even been asked to enchant swords by guards.
Guards will greet you differently based on your progress in random quests -- if you just completed a quest to kill a few witches, perhaps they'll say "You did a great service by slaying those witches." Or if you just rose to the top of a certain organization, perhaps they'll greet you with "Hail, <rank name>! I never thought I'd meet you face to face. It's an honor to stand before you." If you somehow become a werewolf, they might even comment on your smell or ask if that is fur growing out of your ears. You get the picture, and if you've experienced this, it's probably made you think "Wow, that's cool."
NPC Interaction in MMORPGs
Skyrim is a very fun game, but it's single player -- and the radiant AI does a good job of making it feel like it isn't. MUDs can supply a similar atmosphere, as you forge relationships with other players in the game that will ultimately shape your character's story. And it's always a treat when an NPC becomes staff-controlled and begins conversating with players in an RP fashion!
If you get known for stealing from the young, perhaps you'll be chased down by assassins and champions. If you get known for being the best in solo combat, people will fear you -- and it won't be the scripted fear. They'll be afraid to risk your wrath, and you'll see it in their interactions. That is what is so cool about the games Iron Realms supply, they give you an endless role playing sand box environment for you and everyone else who enjoys their games to experience the atmosphere in.
Programming AI in MUDs
In the opening chapters of Mat Buckland's book "Programming Game AI By Example", he codes a sort of status updater for an NPC miner and his wife in a MUD. The miner goes and collects gold, he goes to the bar and at the end of the day he comes home and sleeps. His wife cooks and cleans.
This seems relatively simple but in the end, it is really just an NPC wandering around rooms. It can create the illusion of AI behaviour, especially in MUDs where imagination beats graphics, but its the sort of thing that tends to go largely unnoticed by the players in the long run. Even worse if the NPC sells items: nobody wants a wandering vendor.
What's your opinion on advanced AI in MUDs? Would it enhance the atmosphere of the roleplay environment, or just become something ignored and even an annoyance?
Author: Rean Moliuvia