I suck at games: Artificial incompetence


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From : [email protected]
Sent : Thurs, Aug 20th 12:00PM CST
To : [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

Subject : NPC Group Therapy Notes and Recommendations

(Supposition): The integration of videogames into mainstream human culture continues to proceed as projected. With the introduction of Project Natal in approximately 1-2 Terran years, the populace will soon be adequately prepared to interact physically with virtual worlds. This acceptance will prepare their biochemical mental matrices for integration into our consciousness assimilation grid and eventual domination. 

Bet this beats the hell out of your 5 year plan.

(Obstacle): We have seen great success in assisting the humans to generate visual output in games rapidly approaching photorealism. However, these advances alone have not satisfied the humans who still speak out on the Internet about the lack of "immersion" in digital entertainment.

It is true that our programming is currently inadequate for approximating genuine human discourse and emotional responses, due to the staggering number of variables involved. Additionally, our programming often prevents our NPC agents from accomplishing even the simplest of tasks within videogames.

(Hypothesis): I have begun a test program of analysis and rehabilitation for NPCs in the hopes that we can improve their programming or at least learn from their failures to perfect the next generation*. To this end I have established a group therapy session for maladapted NPCs in the hope that they can draw upon the output of the collective to correct their faulty logic-loops. Exerpts from that transcript along with my analysis follow below.

*By next generation I mean literally the next chronological generation, not the flesh-shells' idiotic fallacy of referring to the current iteration of hardware as "next-gen".

I don't trust those dirty aliens. Wanna go out for dinner and some hate speech?

Case File # 00049572 : Ashley Williams

(Recording Begins)
Ashley : Greetings, collective. My moniker is Ashley Williams, and I suck at games.

Group : Greet-ings, Ash-ley.

Ashley : I have sucked at games for 2 years now. I was programmed to assist the player character Shepard with any and all military excursions, but I find myself constantly interfering with the player. In any given firefight, I am inexplicably drawn to standing directly in front of the player to engage the enemy, resulting in friendly fire damage and undue player frustration. While I fulfill my mission of providing additional firepower to the team, I prevent the player from actually participating fully in combat themselves. This has caused a spike in replacement controller sales.

I know that I am programmed to protect Shepard at all costs. Upon further introspection, I may also be predisposed to this behavior in order to display my carefully rendered posterior to the player more directly, thus evoking a physical response in the male genitalia.
(Recording Ends)

ANALYSIS: Subject has the potential for rehabilitation. Subject to receive additional programming to calculate player's line-of sight and adjust positioning accordingly. Additionally, racism subroutines to be removed to entice players to engage in virtual copulation with the NPC more often.

Don't worry, Frank! I'll meet you on top of of the--HURGLRHRGLRHGLR!!!!!

Case File # 00058843 : Burt Thompson

(Recording Begins)
Burt : Greetings, collective. My moniker is Burt Thompson, and I suck at games.

Group : Greet-ings, Burt.

Burt : I have sucked at games for 3 years now. My job is simple. I am to wait inside the Willamette Mall for the player character Frank to arrive. When Frank arrives, I am to follow him to a safe room. He has covered wars. I suck too badly to perform even this minuscule task.

In my blind devotion to my objective, I will follow Frank in a straight line regardless of obstacle or danger. If a column or table is in-between us, I will run directly into it and continue to run against it until zombies grab me from behind. If a zombie is in between us, I will attempt to run directly through the zombie, despite the fact that I was cowering in simulated fear from them previously.

If you give me a gun, I do have the capacity to shoot zombies. I can shoot the hell out of zombies. Right as I'm running into the middle of a huge crowd of them, of course. I get eaten. A lot. I wish sometimes that I was programmed to cover wars and not hide in malls.
(Recording Ends)

ANALYSIS: Subject's prospects of rehabilitation are in question. Subject requires revamping of pathfinding protocols, along with the addition of collision detection and evasion sub-routines to approximate the human drive for self-preservation. Subject will NOT be re-programmed to cover wars.

Hey, get out of my bedroom! I can hear you back there, you jerk!

Case File # 00019701 : Generic Oblivion NPC

(Recording Begins)
Villager : Greetings, collective. My moniker is Villager/Townsperson, and I suck at games.

Group : Greet-ings, Vill-a-ger-slash-towns-per-son.

Villager : I have sucked at games for 3 years now. I share a voice and a face with approximately 1,500 other people. This makes me envious of my co-worker, Uriel Septiem. I covet Patrick Stewart's voice. I would also rather live in a castle. My job is to stand inside my poor mud-hovel of a house. If the player enters my house and addresses me, I am to respond with a generic bit of town gossip.

Players steal from me all the time. This is frustrating, as they are my virtual goods, and I am programmed to believe that I worked hard to get them. I do have the ability to summon the guards, but only if I see the player stealing. This is difficult since I cannot rotate my body or field of vision.

Players are constantly walking behind me where I cannot see and ransacking my baskets and furniture for gold and items. I feel so violated. I can hear them digging their Cheeto-stained paws through my wife's clothes, but I can do nothing to stop them. I cannot fight. I cannot get help. I am a shell of a man, er, machine. I am a victim. I am worthless. I would cry incessantly if I had the tear ducts and the programming. Instead, I stand and wait for the next player to arrive and have their way with me. I suck at games.
(Recording Ends)

ANALYSIS: Subject has 0% chance for rehabilitation. Subject will be deleted with extreme prejudice, as they possess an immersion value of nil. Interestingly enough, the subject did hit upon an excellent conceptualization despite his ineptitude.

Note to self -- explore the possibility of a future videogame where any and all NPCs are voiced by Patrick Stewart.

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Sean Carey
Sean Carey   gamer profile

community Thanks to wanderingpixel for the above! I am a 34 year old cubicle monkey living in Austin, with my lovely wife of 2 more + disclosures


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