Computer RPGs I’ve learned to play rely heavily on combat as the way to gain experience. Couple of previous post discussed about alternatives to combat, and Matt’s comment made me thinking about a bit different type of way to perhaps create emergent play in RPGs. No idea if this would work, but here goes.
Imagine there’s bunch of goblins guarding a treasure cave. Each goblin would have motivations, such as these:
- Need for food (avoiding hunger)
- Shelter (avoid rain for example)
- Being safe (for example, sticking with a bigger group or perhaps running away)
And so on…
Now, our hero arrives near the treasure cave and thinks for a moment about the situation. In our typical RPG, you’d usually draw your sword and hack’n’slash em.
But what if we could instead have AI that reacts to different stuff. For example, hero could leave food near and make noises that attract goblins to check out the noises. When goblins go check noises (that would be programmed in a common “guarding behavior” AI), they would see food… and hungry goblins would remain there to eat the food. Others might instead return. If there wasn’t any food, all goblins would return back.
Or what if hero uses a rain spell: it starts rain and it causes goblins to scatter: some go find shelter at nearby trees… some perhaps would go back to cave.
These type of motivational goals, combined with behaviors such as guarding might create interesting or different options for players, without need for custom scripting for every single event. Instead of focusing scripting events, you would focus on creating new goals and behaviors.
Here’s some more motivational goals for creatures:
- Ensure safety of your child (works for bears as well as humans)
- Greed (wants gold)
- Item collector (wants to collect for example different swords or beast claws or whatever)
Et cetera. By adding more and more of these motivational layers, and then with behaviors/intelligence on top of that, we might be onto something.
You could add there some scripting or random events: perhaps somebody else approaches the cave and goblins immediately attack that guy… leaving our hero to sneak past the goblins. Or perhaps hero decided to hire somebody to “ride near this cave the next midnight”.
Experience might be rewarded from trying different options, if there would be some sensible algorithm for that. Or, experience might be based on finding items or visiting locations, not killing creatures between you and the treasure.