Hi Chris,
Unfortunately, computer mediated games may never be able to match human mediated games in quality. It is not just a matter of hardware, but the programming techniques themselves are incapable of creating a truly humanlike inteligence. Current artificial intelligence is limited to making decisions based soully on logic and probability. Humans don't really think that way. We tend to base decisions on emotions, morals, and other factors that has nothing to do with logic. For example, in Sryth, when playing the Goblins of Westwold adventure, you come upon a passage with a goblin chained to the wall. The game gives you three options. You can free him, kill him, or head back the way you came. A computer AI wouldn't be able to make a decision like that logically. The reason being that the action the player chooses in a case like that is emotional and may be based on prier experience rather than strictly based on logic. A compassionate person would free the goblin. A person who gets off on blood, guts,and gore would kill the goblin for a cheap thrill. A person who simply doesn't care might head back the way he/she came and do nothing about the chained goblin. The computer player on the other hand might have to randomly pick an action from a list of actions, or the developer would have to give the computer AI special instructions to be compassionate, blood thirsty, or disinterested. In other words the computers thought process, such as it is, is no better than its programming. It is incapable of independant action and thought on its own. It is incapable of creating its own personality and roll in a game world. Anyway, I just wanted to say as a developer I am limited to what I know and have been taught. I am no expert on artificial intelligence, and it is a fairly complex field of study to begin with. Programmers, scientists, and engineers better than I am have tackled this issue of human vs computer intelligence and it is not an easy problem to solve. I'm afraid to say my AI in this or any other game will be average at best.
Smile.

Christopher Bartlett wrote:
This issue of open-ended vs. tightly scripted RPing interests me.  My style
as a game master is to set the scene, create significant non-player
characters with their own agendas, some of whom act off stage independent
of, or in reaction to the player characters, but who may not meet them until
a climactic scene.  Once I've wound this world up and set the scene, I
release the PCs into the world.  I then regard my job as deciding how the
world reacts to their actions.  They are the protagonists of this story
after all.

Now that is human role-playing.  I've never seen a computer-mediated game
come anywhere close to the richness of a human-mediated game, even in the
MMORPG world.  There is always a narrowing of objectives to fit a
restrictive model.  This makes sense in a paradigm that demands complete
determinism for each scenario, where every action must be anticipated by the
game designer.  Without massive hardware support, you aren't going to see
emergent behavior out of this deterministic model, which is the main reason
human-mediated games are still more satisfying.

I'm not expecting Tom to break this problem, although if he has ways around
it, I'm so there for playing and ultimately purchasing the game.

        Chris Bartlett



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