More Thanh Words

"My name is Thanh and I'm a Blogger". Now that I have admitted to that, I can say that I'm a stereotypical "geeky" Engineer who enjoys sci-fi books and movies and into all things technological. I also love music and have a passion for FOOD. I'm a social person and like to talk to people. I hate people who are fake or overly aggressive. If you're also into some serious discussion, with a pinch of sarcasm and a dash of real emotion, then please read on.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, Review Part 3 By Kin

This is the third part of the game review by Kin. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 first if you haven't read them.

A personal review of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion by Kin

Part 3: NPC and AI

It’s been a long time between my previous review and this one. My only excuse was that I was playing Oblivion. A quick update; I’ve finished the Main Quest, and other quests from the Thieves Guild, Fighters Guild, Mages Guild and the Dark Brotherhood. And believe me or not, there are more. Not as big as these other missions but there are still more to do. Business is never finished in Oblivion.

As discussed at the conclusion of my Part 2 review, I was going to finish off by talking about NPC and AI. As a reminder, they stand for Non Playing Character and Artificial Intelligence respectively. These two subjects are very closely related. In fact talking about either topic in video games must always involve the other.

A Non Playing Character (NPC) is essentially any or all of the characters in a game whom you do not control. That means any persons, creatures, thing or object that cannot be moved or manipulated by the player’s keyboard, mouse or joystick. To be plain and simple, it’s everything that you encounter, whether friend or foe, that can move, talk, attack, and simply think for themselves.

This leads to the second topic in Artificial Intelligence (AI). In simple terminology, it’s the brains of every NPC. How every NPC does or think is governed by the mind of the computer. The CPU inside every desktop computer or video game console made has 100% control of how every NPC behaves, reacts and interacts with the player. Whereas we all think with our brains, our computer counterparts have artificial intelligence.

The underlying strength of Oblivion lies deeply within the AI of every NPC. Every individual character or creature has their own mind, their own personality, and their own daily routines. The average citizen in a town would sleep during the night, and then wake up in the morning to shop or work in town (good time for an old fashion burglary). At the end of each day, it’s back home for dinner and bed. On other end of the spectrum, wandering bandits can be found hiding behind bushes waiting to launch an assault on an innocent and defenseless passerby. Characters in the game don’t just interact with the player’s character, but with each other also. Conversations and sometimes confrontations between NPCs can be observed simply by standing and watching.

NPCs can not be directly controlled, but that’s not to say they can’t be influenced. As mentioned, every character has different personalities. Their attitudes and perception towards the player are major factors to their own actions. By bribing or sweet talking to the town guards, I could easily get away with crimes when caught red handed. A good friend turns a blind eye. On the other hand, I could really piss some shop keeper off and he/she would sell me wares at rip off prices or refuse to tell me vital pieces of information.

Being the famous and much-loved hero or being the most infamous a-hole, the choices are up for grabs. How the game is played and how goals are achieved all have almost limitless possibilities. One thing is for sure, whatever is done or how it’s done plays the largest role with every NPC. Their respective AI can and will think for themselves. Their actions and their attitudes can play an integral part towards the successes of the beloved hero. Or it can simply lead to downfall for most wanted fugitive.

This concludes the final part of my three part series. I hope it will inspire many people to join me in not playing Oblivion, but living it with me.

Happy Gaming!


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