Thursday, February 04, 2016

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High Fidelity Adds Feature for Recording Complex NPC Behavior in Oculus Rift-Integrated MMOs

Virtual Reality NPCs

The latest update of High Fidelity, Philip Rosedale's upcoming Oculus Rift-enabled virtual world, has another new feature besides massive concurrency that's seriously impressive: Full body avatar recording which can be applied to an NPC.

"The recording takes what your avatar is doing and any of the attachments and records them all," as High Fidelity's Chris Collins explains it. "With all the movement trackers that are available, it is very easy to record avatars and then make them playback on whatever trigger you want. E.g. if an avatar walked into a room, make an NPC turn around and and start talking [to them]."

One powerful application of this technology is making NPCs in MMOs much more complex and interesting. Usually, NPCs move around in a very simple loop (if they move at all), but this recording feature opens up a means of making them behave in a much more complex, intricate fashion -- including and especially in large groups of NPCs:

Watch the video above, with the avatar recording featured in the beginning, and then mass groups of NPCs featured at about 1:15 in:

"At this point of the video there are 200 NPCs," Chris tells me. "It really just comes down to the user being able to download the playback file, which includes audio, avatar movement etc etc for the recording." He says it's even feasible (albeit with a crazy long file for users to download) to record 24 hours worth of avatar movement -- opening up the possibility of creating an NPC behavior loop that covers its entire day.

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I haven't been in High Fidelity in a minute, but I should go back and see what's new.

I was talking to someone about HF the other day and said, "if I could grow plants there like you can in Minecraft, I'd be set. I'd build a house and just grow plants all day." Meaning, if it were an integral part of the system already.


Fancy! Now please fix the constant disconnects. And no, "plug in a network cable" ain't a fix. This is 2016, you get a free wifi router with any hotdog you buy...

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