One of the regular criticisms of Skyrim has been its NPCs – the old ‘arrow in the knee’ joke came about because their conversational abilities are limited at best. They don’t react, they just parrot the same lines over and over again. But now, finally, there’s a mod for the game that aims to fix that. It’s called CiF-CK, and offers the NPCs of Skyrim some artificial intelligence to tap into.
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This comes from Gamasutra, who reported on the mod and paper coming from NC State University. It was made by computer science researchers at North Carolina State University and Universidade de Lisboa, resulting in the paper “CiF-CK: An Architecture for Social NPCs in Commercial Games.” It’s going to be presented later this month at the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence and Games in New York.
So, how does it work? I’m neither a sociologist nor computer scientist, but the press release reports that it uses “social behavior models to make individual NPCs more reactive and adaptable to player behavior.” In short: instead of each individual situation being a script for ‘this is what happens when you walk in front of the guard’, individual NPCs will interact with each other.
The example given is “if Agent A was nice to Agent B, and Agent X hated Agent B, then Agent X would be less likely to “like” Agent A.” If the player, then, is Agent A, this would impact how Agent X responds to you later down the line.
Think of it similarly to how Fable treats fame and good and evil – just in a less binary manner. It seemingly becomes much more complicated than that, and is more focused on relationships. Because of its scope, the mod is only currently fully active in two locations in Skyrim, but you can access the mod on the Steam workshop now.
It’s called Social NPCsso go install it to get the best idea of what the team have done. If you get to see the talk on the paper at the IEEE Conference on Computational Intelligence then let us know how it is!