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Ketchaval

Pets = most believable NPCs?

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Interesting question, do pets make the most realistic computer run characters, because we don't expect them to be as sophisticated as human characters? Think about it, if you chuck a scooby-snack at a pet and it looks happy. That is pretty realistic. You can't enter into a two-way dialogue with them (at least excluding body language and behaviour) that is they don't usually need dialogue written out for them. They don't know how to do as many things as humans.

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Animals can difficultly be dubbed "characters". But apart from that, their scripted actions seem more realistic and logical than most Humanoid NPCs in most games. Even if I find an animal wandering aimlessly in the wilderness in a game, I don't care. If I find a merchant standing guard day in and day out against his stall, i will find this more suspicious than anything else, for sometimes, people need to, at least, take a leak or a snack. They need to stretch their legs. They're not automatons.

So, that's a very definite "yay" for the animals being the most realistic NPCs...

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I think having a bond between an animal and the player character is a great idea for the base of the relationship. The pet obeys the master - Unlike a human npc which is expected to make its own desicions, a pet is a branch of the player, and its easy to make a bond with it. Its also a great way of evoking emoition from the player when toto gets eaten by the big dragon. ;)

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Ruby from Lunar:Eternal Blue, while not an AI, was a really great character. Theres something about the smart-ass pet dragon thats great.

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A pet is a great NPC for a few emotional reasons as well.

You care for it, you protect it, you are responsible for it. It might have come from a background of undeserved misfortune. The pet (could) help you, and might either come close to death in your protection OR abandon you at times.

You can have deep feelings for the pet, but not probably not very complex feelings.

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People got addicted and emotionally attached to TamaGotchi's (Im not sure if thats spelt correctly), as you look after them, feed them, play games with them and they depend on the player or "owner" to look after them..cause if you forgot to feed the little guy it would die.

Perhaps pet npcs if done well can be like protecting a small (or huge depending if its a dragon or something) child. Of course its also about balance does making a NPC pet more "real" take awhile from gameplay, personally I think it adds more attachment and a feeling of responsability to a game, so when little Timmy the wolf gets destroyed, it makes the player feel like they have lost a valued friend.

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