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Thursday, June 22, 2006

What is a good game? Part VII

In our last few articles we have been discussing player vs. player combat in Ilyrias. In the next few articles we will be discussing PvE or bashing.

In Ilyrias NPCs, or mobs, will be far more intelligent than in other games. We have designed an AI system that allows them to smartly choose which attacks to use, instead of random as most games use. We have also design a “mob feelings” or fame/infamy system which will play a part of this, but that will be discussed in our next article.

In most games bashing, or leveling, is a fairly boring task. NPCs attack randomly and there is little strategy involved. You just keep attacking and healing yourself as needed. Since leveling is such an important aspect in most MMO games, we feel it should also be an interesting aspect of the game. Thus we have designed an AI system to help make our sentient creatures smarter. Non-sentient creatures, such as most animals, will not use this system, making them easier to slay.

The way it works is fairly simple, an NPC will look at its’ past five attacks and predetermine which type of attack is best. Attacks are categorized as multiple or single target, as well as damage or affliction based. Based on the last five attacks, the system will choose which would be the most likely next attack. After this, they will build a list of each attack that the NPC can use.

After having a list of all attacks possible, and a predetermination of attack style, the system will compile a list of people that are in the room. The more people in the room, the more likely they will be to use a multiple target attack. Right after this step, they will make a choice if they wish to choose a new “main target.” This choice is based of the NPCs feelings towards you, that fame/infamy system we will be discussing later. Obviously the more they hate you, the more they will target you.

After we have a list of attacks and a main target, the system will attempt (but not always accurately) to assess the main targets status. How many afflictions they have, how low their health/mental strength is and what race the main target is, are all taken into consideration. If the NPC correctly “remembers” that your race, or what race you appear to be, is weak against fire attacks that will make them be more likely to use a fire based attack.

After all of these considerations, and a couple more we won’t mention, the NPC looks at what attacks it has left to use. It then chooses one of those, based on a weight we gave to them at creation (bigger the attack, the lower its weight for fairness). This system, in testing, has increased a sentient NPCs difficulty by AT LEAST 50%. Thus we have made it so sentient creatures also give 50% more experience when killed.

As you can see, we have taken many steps to try and make one of the most basic MMO features a bit more interesting. In our next article we will explain how our mob feelings, or fame and infamy, system will make things even more dynamic.

Persistent Realms LLC Development Team for Ilyrias, the Aegadian Isles.
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