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Emotion in Games

As far as behaviors are concerned, the animat's intelligence is the initial bottleneck. Failing to accomplishing a task can almost be considered as a bug in the game AI (for instance, running into a wall). The reactive behaviors discussed throughout this book can provide such functionality—without the need for solutions inspired by emotions.

On the other hand, when an animat is fully functional, the problem is increasing the levels of realism. Emotions can help tremendously with this by enhancing the quality of the behaviors with a biologically plausible approach. There's particular interest in the following features that emotions will bring to game design:

  • Attachment— Individual characters that can display moods are more believable, and human players become emotionally attached to them. Such bonds can be strong enough to change the course of the game.

  • Storylines— By providing nonplayer characters with emotions, their interaction with humans is greatly improved. The essence of story lines happens between players, so emotions can greatly enhance the entertainment.

  • Immersiveness— With emotions, all nonplayer character behaviors would seem more realistic and generally increase the immersiveness of the game environment.

Each of these features increases entertainment value. Our responsibility is to achieve this by focusing on the different aspects of emotions (for instance, gestures, behaviors, or language) and using an AI system to drive them in a suitable fashion. To find out more about creating emotions in games, see Creating Emotion in Games: The Craft and Art of Emotioneering™ by David Freeman (New Riders, 2003).

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