Artificial Intelligence (AI) in MMOGs is a hot topic on Terra Nova this week. Let us introduce a parallel discussion. Damion Schubert ("You Don't Want Realistic AI") and Jamie Fristrom ("Manifesto Thingy") banter a fresh insight on an observation made many times (e.g. lately in these comments): namely that MMOG AI is for the most part simplified because it needs to be a player solvable puzzle.
In most games, the best way to think about A.I. is to think about it as a puzzle the player needs to solve. It’s roughly analogous to the cards that start face up in solitaire - it’s the visible circumstance that you have to modify your gameplay patterns to deal with. Everquest’s model has persisted because it provides an interesting problem that can be solved either by a solo player or a group.
EQ’s AI is also somewhat deterministic, which is to say that if you know how the AI works, you’re not going to be surprised a whole lot. You certainly could have more randomness thrown in and/or hide more behind the virtual DM’s screen, but having a game where the AI is fairly transparent makes it easier for groups to congeal and plan their strategy. The more the AI requires players to evolve to random circumstance, the less faith players will have in casual pickup groups.
Damion points out that this doesn't mean that AI realism has to be avoided in MMOGs (though it is now), but that it does mean that AI realism will puzzle different gameplay patterns. In other words realism will necessitate a different kind of game than we may be used to.
In Richard's earlier comment, he cites "Who Needs Emotions? The brain meets the robot" - a book whose conclusion was overviewed with this bullet: "Beware the Passionate Robot." If the synonym for Passion were Realism, emotional or otherwise, then too beware, for a kiss may not be a gameplay pattern in your world... yet.