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How about an Artificial Life Engine?

Discussion in 'UHall' started by hawkeye_pike, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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    Static Spawn vs. Artificial Life Engine

    When I decided to become an UO subscriber back in 1997, I somewhere read a very appealing description about the artificial intelligence of game creatures. I managed to dig out the exact wording of this ad, after carefully going through my 10 year old UO papers:

    "Nearly everything in the world, from grass to goblins, has a purpose, and not just as cannon fodder either. The virtual ecology affects nearly every aspect of the game world, from the very small to the very large. If the rabbit population suddenly drops (because some gung-ho adventurer was trying out his new mace) then wolves may have to find different food sources - say, deer. When the deer population drops as a result, the local dragon, unable to find the food he’s accustomed to, may head into a local village and attack. Since all of this happens automatically, it generates numerous adventure possibilities."

    (It was one of Designer Dragon's original concepts. I reproduced some of his ideas from my memory.)

    This statement describes one of the most entertaining and challenging features of UO, which unfortunately never got implemented. Because of several hurdles and concerns, the whole artificial life idea was considered a boondoggle and never got past Alpha. So, today we still have static spawn with very primitive monster AI, which is why the world of UO is a static and mostly predictable place which offers very predictable challenges to the adventurers.

    Today, certain creatures (both animals and monsters) spawn in a certain area, where they wander around and do nothing. When you kill them, they will respawn in the same place after a short time. This applies to overground spawns as well as dungeons. The consequence is that when a player goes there and kills stuff, it has no effect on the world whatsoever. The creature just respawns. This may sound like an advantage to someone who wants to gather a lot of resources, but it has several downsides, which outweigh our lazy resource farmer's argument:

    Everything becomes predictable. You know where to go when you need a certain item (gold, resources, skill). Adventuring and exploring becomes obsolete. People just recall to a point of interest, do their thing and recall out. It neglects the huge potential the world of Ultima Online has: Being a world that always changes in unpredictable ways. A world where players forge their own destiny.

    It may be worth considering whether UO really needs more items, more land and more extensions, or whether the game would benefit much more from making the existing content more interesting, challenging and dynamic. What a good game needs, is causality. The actions of players need to have a visible impact on their environment.

    Features of an Artificial Life Engine

    So, what exactly is the Artificial Live Engine? The idea behind this system is that every creature is driven by its individual needs, like Food, Shelter, other Desires/Aversions (in that order). Every object in the world has certain properties that determine the purpose and usability of the object (WOOD, METAL, MEAT, FRUIT, HIDES, VEGETABLE, WATER, GRASS, TREE, BUSH).

    A rabbit would produce resources like:
    - MEAT (small amount)
    - HIDES (small amount)
    For surviving, it would pursue its needs:
    - VEGETABLE (Food, small amount)
    - GRASS, BUSH (Shelter)
    - CARNIVORE (Aversion)

    A wolf would produce resources like:
    - MEAT (medium amount)
    - HIDES (medium amount)
    For surviving, it would pursue its needs:
    - MEAT (Food, medium amount)
    - CAVE, TREE (Shelter)
    - CARNIVORE (Aversion)
    - OTHER WOLVES (Desire: Pack instinct)

    A dragon would produce resources like:
    - MEAT (large amount)
    - HIDES (large amount)
    - SCALES (medium amount)
    - TREASURE (medium amount)
    For surviving, it would pursue its needs:
    - MEAT (large amount)
    - CAVE, MOUNTAIN (Shelter)
    - GOLD, TREASURE (Desire)

    Creatures who live in a pack may change their needs and hunt down bigger MEAT suppliers (like big animals or even humans). If a need cannot be satisfied, the creature may take higher risks or travel further to search for food or shelter. Creatures would become more powerful, the more "fights" they'd win, up to a certain level.

    The creature behavior would apply to the following rules:
    • If hungry, search for appropriate Food. Attack/eat. Wander as far as necessary to find food.
    • If not hungry, start looking for a Shelter. If a shelter was previously chosen, go there.
    • If in the lair and not hungry, look for things of Desire. If those things are found, bring them back to the lair.
    When a dragon spawns, it first would look for food. When its need for feeding was satisfied, it would search for a shelter. A big enough cave or mountain pass, for example. It then might try to satisfy its desire for gold and treasure, and hunt down other monsters or players, before returning to its shelter to store its loot. If he becomes hungry during this process, it'd start hunting for food. Now, should a tailor kill all the deer in the dragon's vicinity to gather hides, this would affect the environment. The tailor would (unwittingly) deprive the dragon of its food source. The dragon then would increase its search radius, and even could invade a nearby village. The players wouldn't even have to kill the dragon; they could feed it by supplying herded animals, for example, after which it would retreat to its cave.
    If a dragon would wipe out a wolf population, this could lead to a stronger rabbit population (due to a lack of natural enemies), which - as a consequence - would again attract wolves. A balanced biological cycle!

    When Ultima Online was in Alpha testing, such a system was actually in place, and it worked. You saw cougars hunting deer, wolves killing rabbits and eating them, then after feeding, retreating to their lairs or searching for other things they desired. The radius, however, was very limited (about 2 screens) due to pathfinding issues. The creatures even got more powerful the longer they lived, improving their abilities similar to players. A wolf who had been in a lot of scrapes could get tougher. (Due to a lack of a cap, this actually led to some incidents some of us have heard about in legendary tales: Bunnies surviving in the wilderness for a long time would become dangerous killer rabbits, who could take down an entire pack of wolves or even kill clueless adventurers.)

    Such an Artificial Life Engine could be applied to all kinds of animals and monsters, even in the dungeons. Monsters feeding from other monsters, searching for items they want, hoarding them in their lairs. Monsters who cannot feed would become more agressive, also towards players. They even could have a pack instinct and team up against players. This would make a dungeon very dynamic and unpredictable. Any player interference would unbalance the system inside a dungeon level and completely change the dungeon in an unpredictable way. If being left alone for a long time, the dungeon would establish a new balance once again.

    Hurdles of the Resource System

    Complex pathfinding algorythms would be needed to allow creatures to find their way to a desired resource, even if it is far away. This requires a lot of calculating and thus a lot of CPU power. This was a technical reason against such a feature back in 1997. However, CPU power has increased twentyfold ever since, and I'm sure there are ways to make pathfinding more efficient. Ideas to put monsters to sleep when no player is near (in order to save CPU power) would not be reasonable, because then the whole system would become mostly static again.

    As you can imagine from above examples, a world full of thousands of different creatures would have to live in an ecological balance. The system has to be balanced, when no player is involved. This means, you don't want to end up with a world full of dragons, just because they are at the top of the food chain. When players enter the world, they will automatically unbalance the system by hunting down animals and monsters. This will have an unpredictable effect on the world, and therein lies all the fun, but also the challenge.

    I wonder why nobody has tried to implement such a system yet. It would be so much more fun playing in a game world which reacts dynamically to player activities. A dynamic world would even diminish illegal player scripting activities. The examples above only show how dynamic game content could improve creature hunting and its effects. In a future column I will give more examples about what potential lies in such a system. The possibilities are endless!
     
  2. It Lives

    It Lives Lore Master
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    All this would have to happen all the time, even when no one is around. I like the idea!

    However it sounds far to intensive for it to work. Lag, higher system specs, and so forth...:)
     
  3. Harlequin

    Harlequin Babbling Loonie
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    Very well thought out and incredibly good idea. I think this has been implemented, although differently in the UO we play today.

    The town invasions and champion spawn does that in a smaller and controlled scale.

    You kill lizardmen/ophidians/zombies that has taken over an area (town and area around champion altars). Once you kill too many, the ogre lord/ophidian matriahs/lich lords start coming out because their minions are not bringing enough food/loot back. If you kill too many, then the Champion General/Neira/Crimson dragon comes rampaging through the area.

    It's close, but lacks some of the dynamics of what you described. To do so, they have to consider alot of other factors, what if certain guilds control an area in an attempt to block certain animals from spawning, (like how they blocked nightmares in T2A) Or if players intentionally overhunt that area leaving no spawn for other players. Or will people complain that they can't ever find a firesteed because it resets and spawns only once a day and request for the spawn to be reverted to a normal spawn timer etc.

    Even the economics implemented originally has since been chaged numerous times until it no longer resemble a proper economy as players start breaking it. Same thing for NPCs that will request for things when you say "Quest".

    It will work great in a small environment, but there will be alot more things to consider if there are several thousands of players.
     
  4. Kiminality

    Kiminality Guest

    It would all be calculated server-side, so there would be little direct client-side impact on performance.
    However, things enter a "dormant" state, when away from players, to cut down on server load. If this idea required no culling, then there would be an impact on server performance.

    With any system, the higher the number of variables at play, the more unpredictable the outcome can end up.
    Add to that the constant "farming" of mobiles.
    Then, add the Commons Dilemma/Tragedy of the Commons.

    All that aside, I do like the idea.
     
  5. Cear Dallben Dragon

    Cear Dallben Dragon Babbling Loonie
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  6. Harlequin

    Harlequin Babbling Loonie
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    My, that's a long interview, still only halfway through it. Good listen though, kudos for the link. Quite funny that most of the subjects brought up so far was about UO rather than TR heh

    Any idea if there's a transcript of the interview anywhere?

    I particularly like the part when he talked about implementing pvp where the prey don't feel miserable (victimized) and leave.
     
  7. Cogniac

    Cogniac Grand Inquisitor
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    I distinctly remember them trying out a small feasibility test of this sort of thing during Alpha (or maybe it was one of the Betas) with just a few animal types. Animals would hunt animals lower on the food chain, and they would gain experience from killing, thus making them more powerful. At least until something bigger came along and killed them.

    Unfortunately, they forgot to put any caps on what level animals could reach (or they thought that it would balance itself), so eventually the wolves killed everything, then turned on each other. In the end there were no animals left in the entire world except three or four superwolves running around that were each 10x more powerful than an ancient wyrm. People would go out in groups of 20-40 to try to kill them and one of the superwolves would shred every last one of them without blinking, growing stronger in the process.

    Good times, good times.
     
  8. Viper09

    Viper09 Grand Poobah
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    You always have good ideas Hawkeye :D

    /signed
     
  9. Nh'bdy

    Nh'bdy Guest

    Amazing. A very well thought out and in depth post. I suppose I have to see one fault, in a game where we can fling lightning and down a hind forty times over, so few creatures would make it through larger life cycles, then again, how amazing would it be if a dragon had been running so long it was beyond any we'd ever seen. I could see a militant druidic-counter revolution fending off poachers. Or guards could destroy those hunting in Brit and proclaim Thou areth a criminal! To hunt the king's deer! Thou hast strayed from the path of virtue! or something along those lines.
     
  10. Maplestone

    Maplestone Crazed Zealot
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    The problem with these sorts of simulations is that you actually want a game, not a simulation in the end. In a realistic simulation, the things that are fun to hunt will be under heavy stress while the things that are most unrewarding or annoying to play against will take over your ecosystem. Your ecosystem will evolve to minimize fun.

    The other thing you need to abandon if you implement with one of these systems is the notion that it will come out in a way that matches your vision. The example of the super-wolves is not a quirk, it's an example of the sort of unnatural outcomes to be expected. An ecology simulation which is complex enough to be interesting is impossible to control.

    I love the idea of full ecosystems, consequences to hunting and having "emmergant bosses". Back in school I used to write these sorts of simlife simulations as a hobby (as well as trade-network simulations). But what I found very quickly is that what I wanted to see was something that looked like an open simulation, but actually ended up in a pre-imagined, pre-designed end-state.
     
  11. hawkeye_pike

    hawkeye_pike Babbling Loonie
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    Not being able to control it, not being able to predict the outcome, wouldn't that be exactly the reason why it should be tried?

    UO in the Early Days (and still today, in part) followed the philosophy that the developers and game masters interfere as little as possible, letting the players govern their gaming world. In the beginning, this led to a lot of trouble with PKs and cheaters. But actually, players were organizing and thinking about measures against those threats.

    I absolutely agree that the balancing is the most tricky issue in this scenario. But as much as UO was and is a social experiment with uncertain outcome, the environment should be as experimental and dynamic. Maybe one day ancient wyrms would swarm Britain, out of control. Or maybe a large herd of Ki-Rins would invade Luna in search for food. The interesting part would be to see how players will come up with a solution. What they'd do to solve the problem. I guarantee that you will suddenly see players working hand in hand against the threat, helping each other. (And if the system gets totally out of hand, it still could be balanced and tweaked afterwards.)

    I consider this food for thought for game developers.

    P.S.: The simulation already worked in Alpha, except for the fact that the devs forgot to put a cap on the animals, which lead to above mentioned killer rabbits and PK wolves. You could start slow, with a few types of animals, and extend the system step by step.
     
  12. Maplestone

    Maplestone Crazed Zealot
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    I'm not against the premise, I'm just warning that it's much, much harder to set up such simulations to actually feel fun and natural than you'd think (even without players accidentantly or deliberately unbalancing things).

    What might be a better model would be a sort of pseudo-ecology like Spore has (I consider that game a big failure as a sim, but as window dressing, the wandering creatures and tribes kinda worked).

    The Lost Lands would be a nice playground for experimental systems - no player housing to get caught in perpetual invasion and enough land to get a good variety of events happenning (although the topology makes pathfinding/wandering a bit of a nightmare).
     
  13. This was in the last beta for sure. It was also, to some extent, still around at launch. It was common to see grizzly bears killing hinds and such back then, completely independent from anything else.

    Also, if you were killed by an Ogre, and you had the food or item it "seeks out" in your pack, it would loot your pack.

    This was especially interesting, because it you had your food in a pack inside your pack, the Ogre (or whatever monster) would loot that pack...so sometimes when you killed a Troll or an Ettin, you would find a pack full of reagents, or a player's gear. This made loot much more random, although it was uncommon to find anything.
     
  14. Oh, I would sooo love for this to be implemented - even on a smallish scale. I've been a longtime proponent of restoring overland spawns to the levels of somewhere around P16 and not the throttled ones we have now.

    I've also felt the random overland spawn of <something> different is seriously needed. What if that random overland spawn had this ALE so it could be experienced in limited form before a full-scale implementation?

    A dragon appears N of the Hedge Maze and begins foraging. Oh, a fat, juicy cow! >chomp<. As it wanders toward the road to Skara Brae several travelers note the beast and begin to prepare for combat. It has spied them and desires more food! Battle ensues ...
     
  15. It make take care of a few cheaters in the bull pens scripting taming. :)
     
  16. Ender

    Ender Crazed Zealot
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    Higher system specs? If you made the minimum specs for UO any lower you could run it on some of the old Apple machines <_<
     
  17. Gheed

    Gheed Certifiable
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    The whole concept sounds faboulous. So much would have to be chaged though. Take that bunny for instance. Right now you can pick a fight with one and it actually wil try to kill you. Wouldn't work that way for this. It would have to run and hide. So then do you give rabbits hiding to compensate for the rabbit hole? You'd have to speed the bunny up and tell it to run like hell if anything approaches. If so the only real chance of seeing a rabbit would be to chase it down on your mount.

    In fact mob running/flying speed plays an important role in making the whole idea work I would think. So the UO player base would have to adjust from being the fastest creature in game to being one of the slowest. Which makes sense.... unless you are a tamer.
     
  18. Black Sun

    Black Sun Grand Poobah
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    You've got my vote. Sounds like it'd be fun if implemented correctly.
     
  19. deadite

    deadite Sage
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    Great post. THIS is what made UO for me. This original concept that they pursued. A virtual world where players LIVED, not *played*.

    THAT is what sold me on UO.

    For some reason, I am still here today. After all these silly game mechanics have been added to turn UO into another EQ clone.

    The devs speak of putting the ULTIMA back into UO. Well, that goes much further than just adding some familiar names or rehashing dungeon layouts from 15 year old games... The above concept would put the ULTIMA back into UO much more than anything else that has been implemented since it's inception.

    Obviously, "Ultima" means different things to different people. But to me, Ultima not only means the lore, but it means groundbreaking new designs, free will, deep storylines and mature (as in grown up) content. Sadly, UO is lacking most of these in it's current state.
     
  20. Fink

    Fink Guest

    Nice ideas.

    It sound like it would need a re-arrangement of some server architecture.. you would have a dedicated machine continuously crunching all the ecological data, and a server throwing info back & forth between the users and the ecosystem.

    Maybe the server takes all the to-and-fro activity of the players and crunches it down into net results that the ecosystem can more easily digest.

    Some sort of time lag would be in effect so that the ecosystem doesn't go into a mad tailspin the moment some newbie starts slashing away at rabbits, so the ecosystem wouldn't necessarily need real-time results.
     
  21. I once read that quote awhile ago and was stunned such an implementation was ever considered for UO.

    I feel that it would create an extremely dominate game style vs most modern day MMOs whose sole-purpose of playing resides around PvP and player interaction. Creating an AI that we as players can interact with as much as fellow players would greatly expand the games experience.

    For instance, I'd go a step further. Create a "smart" AI for example the dragon. Currently, the system is set to aggrovated/wild and it will ALWAYS attack you. Based on certain circumstances, the dragon may or may not decide to attack your character based on several circumstances.

    Circumstances such as

    1) threat level (does it consider you dangerous? calculated somehow..)
    2) are you intruding amoung its original spawned territory?
    3) are you carrying items of interest that it may find suitable as "treasure"

    Certain characteristics that the dragon may find justified instinct reason to attack or pass you by/retreat.

    But for this system to work, server lines and dungeon instances would have to be removed and allow all spawn to free roam sosaria. Dungeons would then become a "home base" for certain spawn clans like Destard for dragons and Deceit for the undead. This just means you can enter the dungeon and find a bulk majority of the spawn within these areas but alternatively the spawn can leave the dungeon and make a living outside of its set environment.

    Apply this concept to all the games creatures (even npcs), and then we introduce and entirely whole new level of interest and concept.

    Not to mention the benefits of revamping skills into whole new ideas creating a unique playing style for each profession (the tracker/herder/treasure hunter etc).

    And with improved AI, NPCs guarding cities may serve quests such as "the dragon came out of nowhere and is destroying nearby farms, kill it and receive our reward for aiding the royal guard etc"
     
  22. Esmeralda

    Esmeralda Sage
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    This sounds completly awesome!
    I mean nowadays, at the moment you understand the system of the game, you theoretically won uo! This would bring some adventure back, some excitement and maybe some frustration to those who make their living from farming ;)
     
  23. Dragons were not always instant agro in UO. In fact, in the early days, a Dragon would pretty much leave you alone, unless you attacked it...much like a polar bear in present day UO.

    I am not sure, and maybe someone else who has been here a long time can tell me, but was it true that once you attacked a Dragon that it went agro to everyone until someone killed it? Because that is how I remember it. I could be wrong though, that was like over 11 years ago now.
     
  24. canary

    canary Guest

    I recall back in the day seeing things like a lizardman attacking a horse...
     
  25. Surgeries

    Surgeries Grand Poobah
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    It was most assuredly in Beta, but I'm not sure how much longer after Beta it made it.

    I do remember that animals "Trained" up through interactions with themselves, and with no interactions from humans, at all.

    A rabbit that escaped capture and death by a predator became a tougher rabbit, if it lived. If it lived a lot, it became quite a bit tougher.

    Bunnies didn't aggro, unless aggroed upon, but my buddies got wtfpwnaged by bunnies when they decided to try training on the bunny...more than one time. And boars, and Great Harts...well...you get the picture.

    It was dang fun...it would be great to have it implementable, in a game, it really would.

    Let me rephrase that...

    I can't wait until they figure out how to implement these ideas...again! :)
     
  26. I also remember in the very early days that you had NPC beggars, and they had families and what not that occupied the building in the towns. There were NPCs everywhere...and not just shopkeepers.

    Also, you could come across an Orcish Mage that was as tough as a Lich because it had fought so many positive karma (positive noto) creatures.

    I can also remember that you could hire NPC mages in Jhelom and have them go to the rim of the fighting pit, where you could attack them and they would cast on you, doing zero damage because they were considered "in town" while you gained Resist like crazy!

    I still have the same 100 Resist points I gained from doing exactly that!
     
  27. Harlequin

    Harlequin Babbling Loonie
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    I remember hunting Dragons and Daemons using blade spirits without them aggro'g me (unless we attacked it directly), but it targets the first attacker, I don't remember it attacking other people though.

    However, I also recall my guild mate without taming skills had bought a dragon and showed it to me at the stables. It aggro'd someone by itself and got my guildie and itself guard whacked.

    Most monsters were non aggressive in the old days, because I clearly remember when the devs wanted to implement monster aggression, I went to test centre to check it out. There was a gate to the Valor Isle and you get all these debug messages telling you what monsters were going hostile at you.
     
  28. Funny you mention that, because I also remember going into Hythloth back then, and the demons there were not agro either.

    That was in like the first 2 or 3 weeks I think.

    I also remember that taming was not difficulty based at all...so anyone had a chance to tame a Dragon...but I think you needed taming skill to actually control it, or it went wild and turned on you, or someone around you...sometimes in guard zones.

    Summoned Demons used to do the same. If your magery was not quite high enough, you could summon one, but it might go nuts and attack someone randomly...which was a real pain in the noto days, because your summoned demon could kill someone, or even attack someone, and you would drop in noto...and become grey. Noto PKs loved you if you were grey.
     
  29. Harlequin

    Harlequin Babbling Loonie
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    For taming I think it was the other way round - you need taming to tame it, but you can transfer it to anyone, even those without taming. But they don't seem to be that obedient and tend to randomly aggro mobs around them.

    Because a lot of non tamers had several dragons tagging along, that's why there was a need to revamp the taming system to remove the rampant twinks.
     
  30. Bazer

    Bazer Slightly Crazed
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    MM would be pretty neat but then it also does sound a little confusing but itd be fun.
     
  31. kinney42

    kinney42 Seasoned Veteran
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    I am FAR more excited about this then SA.
    Does that say enough about how great this idea would be if implimented?
     
  32. Splup

    Splup Guest

    This would be amazingly cool.
     
  33. Zyon Rockler

    Zyon Rockler Guest

    Even though it's probably going to be complicated and take alot of work it makes the most sense to implement systems that we can understand. A good example to create a virtual reality would be to include reality itself. I understand that it's a fantasy game but when we enter the world we need certain guidelines to ground us.

    In a world like UO we already know that it mimicks the world in which we live in. As an adventurer when we cut something we want it to bleed, when something chases us we want to be afraid and when we eat we want to be satisfied. We want to be able to love and rule, we want there to be peace and war.

    Believe it or not, because we have our own world to look at, it actually makes making the virtual world easier. The problems, I would think, would mostly be in figuring out how to do, not so much as what to do.

    I think everything should be taken into consideration when we begin these processes, so that everything can eventually be plugged in. For instance, the creation of the world, its' landmasses, its' weather, its' water ways and deserts, cold and warm climates, tides and jet streams, mudslides and floods.

    Then there's plant life and sunlight, animals and fish. All of these things need to interact with each other and be able to remain in tact even when the human element is added.

    That's what makes this idea so beautiful. It deals with the creation of intelligence and how to make things seem more alive. I think if you were to create a rabbit, you would need a list of its' food resources. So, I think rabbits eat grass, carrots, maybe even insects, i'm not sure but to build the intelligent rabbit this intelligence would have to be added to them.

    It might be possible to add a few given sets of information to all creatures. For example: carnivore, scavenger and plant eater (for lack of better word).

    So, plant life would have to be given resources, so that as an animal nibbled on it, that resource could go up or down so that animal could grow. Same with the human taking something from the plant, such as an apple or a peach.

    Then, you would have certain animals that were aggressive to each other. Maybe they would be territoral or just protective of their young and of course they would be food to each other. So, it would be important to the game, that the human character have the need to eat and then different foods could give different quanities of energy. This would determine how long before the animal would have to hunt again or eat.

    The animals would need to sleep. If you did not sleep for example: you would have to log in a bed and sleep 8 hours or your character would be tired and lose str, dex and int. for example.

    This way animals would have to eat and sleep to survive and depending on what they kill could influence their str, etc...

    I remember when you could trap a spawn simply by walking around an obstacle. Now they pathfind to come after you. This was considered intelligence. I think that similar to this small change affected all the spawn would be the most important ones because it was a change that made everything better. I think that that should be taken into consideration.
     
  34. Cear Dallben Dragon

    Cear Dallben Dragon Babbling Loonie
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    is it just me, or every once in a while do you all see remnants of this still happening. i see deer and horse take down mongbats every now and then
     
  35. Maplestone

    Maplestone Crazed Zealot
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    If a nice person trains and releases an animal, it keeps the owner's karma and will, like pixies, take offense to evils that cross its path.
     
  36. Maplestone

    Maplestone Crazed Zealot
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    It looks like there's more interest/excitement in the idea :)

    (stream of consciousness thoughts follow)

    The coward/falsehood/hatred AI would provide a nice basic layer of attitudes towards its environment.

    To rephrase hawkeye_pike's ideas of desires, add a "basic foods" resource layer similar to the wood/ore/fish 8x8 layer (creatures wandering around would harvest that layer). Have creatures leave an area with their foodstuff only if they are starving or if something they are adverse to enters their area.

    Mobiles and characters would also be treated as walking resources. For example, if you have carrots in your backpack, your character would be considered a vegetable resource (want!) and a predator (dontwant!) by wild rabbits, so they would try to "falsehood" up to you to steal them.

    Intelligent creatures would have faction/tribe/guild allegiances as a resource they seek/avoid. Factions and "friendships" could be seen as a resource too. True "monsters" would simply be hostile to all characters.

    There are all sorts of ways to expand on the idea, adding new layers of complexity. For example:

    If a creature passes across a threshold of skill (defined differently for each creature), it becomes a "miniboss". It will spawn normal types of its kind around it (essentially replacing the local spawnsite) and creatures around a miniboss of their species will not grow hungry as quickly. Different tiers of miniboss would be like blackrock infection / paragon / ML-miniboss (eg: like how Lurg is to Trogs) with extra loot appropriate to their tier.

    "Leader" creatures, that cause local creatures to want to follow them and follow the leader's desires.

    "Wandering Spirits" that randomly train creatures or change their desires/fears/hatreds.

    "Tribal Stones" that assign alignments to creatures that touch them.

    etc, etc (but those would be all secondary to getting the basic ecology working in a way that felt real)
     
  37. I know that in the very beginning, neither taming nor provo were difficulty based, so you had a chance to tame or provo pretty much anything, it was just that your rate of failure was higher with low skill.

    I cannot remember if taming for specific creatures had minimums to tame though, but it seems like they did now that I think about it. I know that once a creature was tame, you could transfer it to anyone though.

    I don't think anyone had tamed a dragon back before taming went difficulty based though...I could be wrong. I was working on taming from day 1 of production launch (after beta) but I didn't even attempt to tame a dragon for at least a month or so after launch.