Re: True AI

From: Patrick Dughi (
Date: 09/30/99

        Been reading the posts on AI over the last couple of days, but
hadn't had a free moment to repsond.  Here's my thoughts over it all.

     AI is bad. That's right, it's bad.  Mull over that for a second.

        What would make AI bad for a mud?  The first thing that comes to
mind is difficulty.  The only thing worse than no AI is an AI that works
like crap.  You don't want to play an adventure game where the creatures
are any less interactive than the postmaster or receptionist.You're going
to want (for humanoids/sentinents) a system where not only do you have the
ability to converse with a mob in a meaningful manner, but also each
person will have to differ; both in viewpoints and attitudes based on
physical things like race, gender (if any), intelligence, hunger, sex
drive, etc, but also things that differentate a character like violent
tendancies, hobbies & interests, attitudes towards different races &
individuals, knowledge of a profession and others around them, etc..

        You would want to apply enough of those so that a casual
conversation could turn from weather patterns to migration patterns to
hunting to hunting monsters (a potential 'real' conversation).  It would
be sad if each person had only the ability to respond in one way -
no one ever says the same thing the same way each time;

"Hey - it's a nice day"
"What a nice day!"
"You don't see many days as nice as this." etc...

        Else, it would feel artifical, and forced.

        In anycase, lets assume that you can get all of those things done
somehow, maybe a generic english language output formula with a weighted
thesaurus of words, and pre-defined speech patterns.

        Okay, now, the second problem; Scope.

        You will have to apply these different traits, attitudes, speech
patterns, likes, dislikes, etc - to every creature you want to seem
intelligent - and each one of these will have to be done individually.
It's nice to have a common set of things to talk about, weather, harvest,
whatever, but to make it so people actually use it, this common set of
things (even if they have different responses) is going to be in the

        This is the largest problem.  I'm not sure how long it takes for a
builder to turn out a decent zone on most muds (even stock) - but with
full descriptions of rooms, objects, mobs, after balancing and rewriting,
etc, I would be surprised if someone could turn out a full zone in 2 weeks
time on any sort of constant basis.  Adding AI adds maybe an hour plus per
mob, for many zones, and in the end, only a few people will notice or

(Oh, and we're only talking about conversation, I've totally left out
things like going to sleep/work/home/hike/pray/eat/forage/exercise/fight/heal
and the sort)

        So, my advice to you - only add things that directly affect your
players, if you want someone to even notice them.  Maybe have shopkeeprs
able to haggle (and remember who cheats them regularly, and who doesn't
mind letting them keep the change - and don't forget shopkeepers who are
racist/bigoted/etc).  Making mobs use skills and spells is an incredible
leap (and you'll be rebalancing your mud for the next month).  If you even
add a flag so a mob will attempt to equip itself with armor and weapons
from a character.  Perhaps even something as complex as having mobs go
home at night, and open up shop in the morning would be a better goal.


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