Subject: NPCs
From: Tommi Leino (
Date: Tue Nov 16 1999 - 16:18:15 EET

Just some quotes pointing out why NPCs are boring, taken from the
discussion with me and Arianne RPG project.

Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 13:43:42 +0300 (EEST)
From: Tommi Leino <>
Subject: Re: Arianne RPG

On Sat, 25 Sep 1999 wrote:

> I visited your project and WorldForge too.
> I think that they are very good but we are developing a more OFFLINE centered
> RPG game, where we will focus more
> in AI on NPJ.

So you found the line then :) Majik has always been massively multiplayer
game with no any offline playing options and will never be so. In future
all will have some sort of net connection and I think it is better to 
interact with real people instead of bunch of code, no matter how good AI
engine you do. I would actually like to see Majik with no any NPCs
(except monsters and animals) at all, with everything controlled by the
players, but that is not possible until we have thousands of players 
online. Until then, it is a necessity for our NPCs to have a decent
AI in order for our economy system to work for real, so they will go
out and buy food when they're hungry, do work to gain money and produce
goods people can buy etc. That code also could be then used by offline
players, but we haven't yet decided if it is a good thing to do so,
with permanent death system it is not so fun to get killed when you're
not online and it would run the game to be more like "fantasy character
manager", where you tell your character to do something, be offline for a
few weeks and come back to see the progress.

Date: Sun, 26 Sep 1999 12:22:42 +0300 (EEST)
From: Tommi Leino <>
Subject: Re: Arianne RPG

On Sun, 26 Sep 1999 wrote:

> Yes, the idea of a online game only is good. But in Spain, I have to pay
> 1 US $ for 1 hour of internet and i can't afford more than 1 hour per
> day, so the online game is just out of what I can afford.

Not so far away from the prices here in Finland.

> An one big, big, big problem with your focus about online game is that
> nobody would like to do the work of an NPC, just like to manage a
> tabern, work on a stable, or kiss the king's feet. So we need some NPC
> because if everybody is a fighter or a wizard and there is only one or
> two taberns around the world  then this is a Quake III arena clone.

*nods*, sucks, but there is already one game where this works somehow,
the Ultima Online. Maybe not to work on a _stable_, instead they could
trade the horses and not to kiss the king's feet but instead to act as
a messenger for the king. This actually worked in Majik 3 where the
players could grow carrots on their farms, they just planted the seeds
and then did go to adventure and only once per day to check their farms
if they need more water, have disease or anything and when the crops
where ready it did take a bit more time to take em all of the ground
and sell them in the shops.

In Majik we don't like to place restrictions on anything, we just offer
choices. In the beginning the character wouldn't be already an adventurer
with all needed equipment on, ready to kill monsters instead they would
have only few pieces of coins, some clothing etc. and then they could
decide whether they want directly to go in to the forest to kill rats so
they could sell the skins or directly to take on some dangerous quest,
it's pretty sure ones offering quests are able to provide equipment
needed. All these mundane tasks would be just another way to gain money
and usually they doesn't require you to stay at farm for the whole year,
just few days. There is exception though, guards would need to stand at
their post for quite large amount of time every day, and they would
just stand. That wouldn't work without some code for offline players,
which we don't like even if it is so realistic and thus there needs to
be NPCs to fill such positions, otherwise it would be just too easy for
thieves to raid these farms.

> And if you can't see the diference between an NPC and a person we will have
> a more complex world, that run smother than one where there only humans.

You can't do that :) They will always see the difference and actually it
would be good for them to see difference, if you're running an online
game. You really want to know whether the one you met is a human or NPC,
and you will notice it when you talk to it, but that's pretty boring to
initiate talk just in order to see if the object is a NPC. And if these
NPCs ever would talk, it would be just too artificial. You can't never
do enough good AI to get them talking as good as a human, and thus I've
come to accept the vision where the NPCs would be just background folk,
walking around just to give some impression the city is not dead, being
a guard, a shopkeeper, but not more important roles, they would not have
names, and if they would, they would be so called "unique NPCs" (thus
when killed they really die, not to be replaced by another one
automatically) and mostly controlled by us. They would fill positions such
as a king until a player comes up and takes over.

Date: Mon, 27 Sep 1999 10:03:26 +0300 (EEST)
From: Tommi Leino <>
Subject: RE: AI of NPC

> Then we will see if anyone could see the diference between an human an a
> computer.

That is the difference:

NPC (Majik 3 AI engine): Aberax, the mad astrologer. 

You say in sartog, 'hello aberax.'
Aberax exclaims in sartog, 'hi!'
You ask in sartog, 'so how are you today?'
Aberax says in sartog, 'you tell me how.'
You say in sartog, 'i'm not telling how you should feel.'
Aberax says in sartog, 'dont be so negative.'
You say in sartog, 'i'm not, you're just too stupid.'
Aberax asks in sartog, 'but why be concerned about it?'
Aberax says in sartog, 'you will see it soon..'
You ask in sartog, 'what exactly i will see?'
Aberax says in sartog, 'tell me more.'
You say in sartog, 'i go.'
Aberax says in sartog, 'please go on.'
You say in sartog, 'yes i will.'
Aberax asks in sartog, 'how can you be so sure you will?'
You exclaim in sartog, 'i already did!'
Aberax says in sartog, 'i see.'
You say in sartog, 'bye.'
Aberax exclaims in sartog, 'goodbye!'

PC: Beregar Dar'Eldath, the dark elf adventurer.

You say in sartog, 'hello beregar.'
Beregar says in sartog, 'hi.'
You ask in sartog, 'so how are you today?'
Beregar asks in sartog, 'fine, and you?'
You say in sartog, 'it's a boring day.'
Beregar asks in sartog, 'what's the purpose of this conversation?'
Beregar says in sartog, 'and i have to agree with that.'
You say in sartog, 'i just need this for one mail.'
Beregar says in sartog, 'err, well not actually :).'
Beregar asks in sartog, 'what mail?'
You say in sartog, 'comparing NPC vs. PC :).'
Beregar says in sartog, 'oh...'
You say in sartog, 'but i need to go now.'
Beregar says in sartog, 'well, i bet NPC:s make much more less typos :).'
Beregar exclaims in sartog, 'bye!'
You say in sartog, 'bye.'
Beregar kicks you angrily in the butt.
Beregar grins evilly.

In an online game which is based on interaction it is impossible to
blur the difference. If it would be plain monster killing with no
need for conversation it would work, but not otherwise. In Majik 3
we also had an engine for "learning", that was our Joulupukki. It
was actually quite fun.

Tommi Leino / Majik 3D project

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