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This is something I never quite figured out why mmo's never really did.
In almost any mmo it's always the same. You have npc's that merely stand around in the world, just waiting for someone to get "near" them and then they aggro and you either kill them or run away.
It's extremely predictable, it's bare bones, and most of all it makes the entire AI seem both dumb and lifeless.
To me this is one of the major things I'd love to see changed in EQnext, no more useless mobs just STANDING AROUND doing nothing. No more "cone of aggro" that pops when you get within "x" distance of them.
Why not give the AI an actual needs based system? Give animals basic needs, such as a need for food, water, shelter, which the AI has to fulfill on it's own.
Then you give the animal AI variations. Such as some animals being herbivores vs carnivores vs omnivores. Then you have some animals that live in packs, some that are alone, some that are in herds. Some that are territorial, some that migrate depending on the season in game, some that are aggressive, some that are passive and run away (IE deer/cattle/etc) some that are only defensively aggressive (IE you give them room/don't put them in a corner an dthey don't attack, but if you do they'll defend themselves)..
Then finally, instead of having the "cone of aggro" type of detection they actually have a sense of sight/hearing, and even if it is permitted, smell.
Something along the lines of games like say Metal Gear Solid or Splinter cell type of AI.
Imagine all the possibilities that are opened as far as combat when you have this kind of AI compared to the usual mmo AI.
You want to be sneaky? You don't "pop invis" and just walk anywhere you want around a mob, rather you actually have to use the shadows and be QUIET.
You want to distract an enemy? Fire a noisy arrow (think of like in the Thief games) or throw something nearby that they can hear.
All kinds of things can be done if the AI is brought up to a level that some single player games have done.