Building a better monster
Sirtech's "monster wrangler" talks about monster behaviour in Wizardry 8
Monsters are traditionally the cannon-fodder of fantasy role-playing games, often standing around waiting to be slaughtered and then charging straight at your characters the moment you come within range of them. Now Sirtech Canada are trying to "build a better monster" for the eighth installment in their long-running "Wizardry" series, and as such they have decided to appoint writer and designer Charles Miles as "monster wrangler", responsible for keeping track of the 500 different varities of monster you will come across in the game.
"We wanted our creatures to wander throughout the terrain, so the player would constantly be surprised and challenged by their behavior", according to Charles. "We clearly succeeded in making unpredictable creatures, because they often succeeded in surprising their creators. Sometimes these surprises were due to bugs, [such] as when the creatures began to spin in place like dervishes, or when the fish would sometimes jump out of the water and pursue you over land. More commonly, the surprises came from the monsters doing what came naturally. For example, if a fight broke out in town, the shopkeepers used rush out to see what was going on. We had to give these gawkers strict orders to stay at their posts because they had an annoying habit of getting killed during the street fights."
Now how often have you seen that happen in a role-playing game before?