After getting a basic rundown of Matt's game idea, our group began to attack the problem of how to assign complex behavioral drives to non-player characters (NPCs). We began by looking at at Maslow's hierarchy of needs:
From here, we came up with a variety of character needs, which could conceivably drive behavior.
Physiological/ Basic Needs: Food, water, shelter, clothes, health (mind + body), reproduction (sex), sleep
Safety/ Security: Protection in numbers, protection from specific group members (leader), hiding place/ safe house
Social needs: Companionship (See mental health), friends, family (Love), trust, 'Us vs Them' (families, class, race, religion)
We worked backward from Matt's description of the game and our brainstormed character needs to come up with three basic 'behavioral desires': searching for resources (like food and water), seeking shelter (either hiding places or safe houses), or fighting
An NPC will prioritize these behaviors based on a variety of internal characteristics (which can be affected by their temporary emotional state). For example:
Brashness: An NPC has some innate predisposition to engage danger (D)
- A low D means the NPC will avoid fighting at all costs
- A high D means the NPC will actively seek out fighting
Stamina: NPCs have some innate drive
- A high S means the NPC will easily undertake the action they desire most
- A low S means the desire to undertake any behavior falls, leaving the NPC fairly inactive/ unlikely to undertake any behavior
Dependence/ Independence: NPCs have some innate predisposition to group up (G)
- A high G means the NPC will closely follow other NPCs/ the player
- A low G means the NPC will not likely follow other characters and may wander off on its own if already in a group
The player may influence an NPC's goals by 'ordering' them to do one of the three basic behaviors
- The likelihood that an NPC will alter its behavior based on the player's commands depends on some internal characteristic trait 'O'
Together these traits and basic desires govern the more complex behaviors NPCs will undertake throughout the game.