The 4th Humour
uninfluential words from an uninfluenced man
Bile humour Apathetic hemetic Fluent indifferent Emetic Phlegmatic
Sunday, April 20, 2003
NPC Theory -- Introduction
Anyone old enough to be reading this probably remembers all the old adventure-style Sierra games, such as King's Quest, Space Quest, and (if your parents didn't know it was an adult game) Leisure Suit Larry. For those who don't, the user interacted with the environments in these games through the direct control of a single protagonist (henceforth referred to as the "Player Character", or "PC"). While exploring different areas and solving various puzzles, the PC would often have to "talk" to one of the computer-controlled characters in the game (a "Non-Player Character" or "NPC"). Each NPC had a finite number of responses to a given stimulus, such that if you asked the same question twice, they would give the same response, or set of responses, every time.
For example, suppose you (rather, the PC) walked into a convenience store in one of these games. The shopkeeper there fills a single role in the game and thus has a limited set of actions within that role's space (RS); that store is the only place you will ever encounter the shopkeeper. If you ask about an item in the store, you'll be told about that item. If you decide to purchase an item, he'll make the transaction with you. This is the expected behavior of any shopkeeper. If you ask him how he's doing, he'll say "I'm well, thank you." If you ask again, he'll say, "Fine, thanks." Ask again and you'll get the original "I'm well, thank you" response. Well that certainly isn't normal, is it? So you decide to leave the store and he says, "Thank you, Sir, and God bless your lineage!" Just for kicks, you walk in and out of the store again, and again you hear, "Thank you, Sir, and God bless your lineage!" Weird. People in real life aren't like that.
Or are they?
The NPC Theory asserts that this is exactly how the real world works. In its purest form, it states that everyone you meet is an NPC with a limited and ultimately predictable set of responses to any given stimuli. This idea was originally conceived by Irk*, relayed to me and further developed by TheyC*, and developed yet further by myself over the past two or three years.
Now you (you predictable and limited NPC, you) might already disagree with me, saying things like:
"People are more complex than that! How can you stereotype everyone like that?"
"How can you say that you are a PC? Or that I am? Or that anyone is?"
"So do you see NPCs as lesser beings?"
"Why is a person considered to be an NPC?"
If so, don't bail on me just yet. All these questions, and more, will be addressed in the upcoming months. This isn't just a whimsical theory here for my own and others' amusement. It's a model of human behavior. I observe, experience, and apply it in my own daily life.
* These people will remain anonymous unless they tell me otherwise.
Continue on to Part 2