I promise…I looked. I didn’t find anything about this…so here I go.
Firstly, I realize that NPCs are borked right now. One day, if life is good, however, they won’t be. When that day comes, I’d like to be able to shout commands to any followers via a special interface. Ideally, NPCs will have both a broader and more specific set of configurable AI patterns in dialogue. What I’d like is the ability to set a series of AI conditions as a command, and then execute it with a shout. The success of this shout could be based off of the speaking skill, as well as the chance that they’ll choose to execute the commands. And perhaps there could even be a new skill like ‘Tactics’ which opens up new AI possibilities in dialogue. Essentially, this is to represent the greatest strength of human beings, which is the ability to suss out a situation, and plan a strategy, and execute it using communication as needed to alter behavior.
So, for an idea of how I imagine this working out, lets assume that you’ve got 2 NPCs which you’ve recruited. You set up two different commands…first one we’ll call Watch My Back. The AI in this stays within 5 squares of the PC regardless of other conditions. The AI engages any hostiles that attack the PC, and prioritizes the PC’s target in the case of multiple mobs. The second we’ll call Sniper. In this, the AI has the NPC stay wherever they are when the command is called and proceed to take shots with their most accurate ranged weapon at the mob it is has the best chance of hitting. If enemies close to within 15 squares (say) then the Sniper command is closed, the PC is alerted, and they can issue a new command or let the NPC go to its default behavior.
These are just some basic ideas and examples. Little points. Shouting commands should generate noise dependent upon the distance of the NPC to the PC. I’d like to see a AI code that allows the NPC to shout back information as well, or, even better, use radios to avoid making lots of noise. This way I could make a scout program in which the NPC patrols at a certain radius from the PC, and radios in information about threats (or even specifically requested items) as soon as they become visible. It could be as vague as, ‘Boss, we’ve got a Shocker Brute NE of my position’, or as specific as allowing the PC to actually view the NPCs vision radius.
Anyway, I know that this stuff is a long way out, but ideas were coming, and I thought it better to put them down here than to let them bleed into the ether, unheard.