Designer Dave Rickey (whose credits include EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, and now Wish) notes that increasing bandwidth makes deeper AI available in large social games. Up to now, AI basically just decided whether to fight the player and then how to fight badly enough to lose, over and over. And over. Other NPC actions were scripted: "Take this bottle to my sick cousin and return for a reward." Rickey urges designers to re-think their inattention to AI. That got me excited about Wish as a game.
Perhaps the future of AI in these worlds will be a 'massively social AI' that involves the users in dynamic relationships among the NPCs. Extensive AI can create events that generate emotional investment: a spouse is seduced, a child abducted, a land ravaged. It could also create the possibility of reward and resolution, by yielding to the user in the right way, at the right times. And a massively social AI could create a level of collective immersion that validates these emotions and makes them real. By making a large number of people feel that these events are meaningful, the AI can make its emotional gifts that much more credible: As a user, I am happy not only because this robot says I did well, but also because other players - real humans - attest that what I did was hard and also valuable. Ultimately, a social AI could create a home-like atmosphere: a group of people who know very much about me, who know what a hero I am, who call on me for help, and who cheer when I return.