I found myself wondering Jeff Orkin's muse about "the future of AI in an increasingly multiplayer-dominated world." He asks whether the AI in the virtual world will be limited to roles for which no player would want to engage. This is a religious topic in the games community, easy to miss. But then along the way comes a report of a "massacre" of Chinese players by Korean players in Lineage and old questions surface: better to trust the world to AI (and game design) or the players?
Jeff's post "AI, Inner-Life, and the Multiplayer World" extends the discussion from an earlier Gamasutra article by Bruce Blumberg ("Anticipatory AI and Compelling Characters" ). Both are notable reads. A theme that emerges in both discussions is the distinction between an intelligent act and its signal. In other words, behaving intelligently is not always sufficient to communicate that intelligence - the need to communicate and divine intent is critical. As Blumberg wrote:
The absence of anticipatory behaviors that predict significant changes in motivational state (and hence behavior) is a consistent weakness of many AI models of behavior. As a result, changes from one motivational state to the next often appear startling and ultimately inexplicable. One source of the problem is that by modeling motivational contexts as finite states, such a system only knows how to display that state when the system is in that particular state.
Analogy with the lessons from Kismet ([1.]) and those involved in social robotics might be possible. The ability to express intent and social cues via gaze, for example, can go a very long way in communicating something more than just what it does. By contrast, is Deep Blue intelligent or just smart?
In a way, Dmitri's work ( Cultivation Hypothesis) along with Ted's theory of players aping the virtual world AI (ref) could suggest a pitfall of "AI effects" in virtual worlds. A contrasting view is to leave it up to the players to do more, and leave the AI to running NPC rabbits and shopkeepers.
But if people-quality intentions are important, consider their pitfalls...
Recently billsdue ran a post (Financial Times source) of how South Korean players in Lineage are "are ganging up to obliterate the Chinese, whom they view as greedy and rude." Stories like this are hard to parse from hype (the other media effect), but they do point to a deeper conundrum:
How much content should a player be allowed to control?