A new EA patent has surfaced online, and the technology it protects could play a substantial role in shaping future games from EA and its studios, particularly BioWare, which is currently working on a new Mass Effect game and Dragon Age 4. The patent in question involves NPC behavior, and, more specifically, equipping NPCs with the ability of self-learning, which in turn would permit NPCs to adapt to the decisions the player is making. Of course, NPCs reacting to the decisions players make isn't a revolutionary idea nor a new one. If you play a Renegade Shepard in the Mass Effect games, NPCs react differently to you compared to a Paragon Shepard. They do this though because of precise scripting on the behalf of BioWare.
So, what's different about the patent? Well, if you read between the lines of the technical jargon, it sounds like the aim is to make NPCs react not only to decisions players make over the course of a story, but to the player's playstyle as well. In other words, rather than check if you made a certain decision to influence dialogue, the NPC would react to all available data about the player, and then adapt themselves based on this data.
The implications for the new Mass Effect and Dragon Age games are obvious, as this would be an evolution in the BioWare formula, which is predicated on giving weight to the micro and macro decisions players make by having NPCs and the larger game world react differently based on said decisions.
That said, for now, these possibilities are locked behind a patent. Not only is it common for nothing to ever come from patents, but even if this patent is put to use, it could be years before we see fruit from it, and of course, it may not be utilized in the way we are imagining.
As always, feel free to share your thoughts and hot-takes in the comments section or, alternatively, hit me up on Twitter @Tyler_Fischer_ and let me know over there. What do you think of this new patent?
H/T, Game Rant.0comments