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The Radiant AI is a technology developed by Bethesda Softworks for The Elder Scrolls video games. It allows non-player characters (NPCs) to make choices and engage in behaviors more complex than in past titles. The technology was developed for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and expanded in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim; it is also used in Fallout 3, Fallout: New Vegas and Fallout 4, also published by Bethesda.
The Radiant A.I. technology, as it evolved in its latest iteration developed for Skyrim, comprises two parts:
The Radiant A.I. system deals with NPC interactions and behavior. It allows non-player characters to dynamically react to and interact with the world around them. General goals, such as "Eat at this city at 2pm" are given to NPCs, and NPCs are left to determine how to achieve them. The absence of individual scripting for each character allows for the construction of a world on a much larger scale than other games had developed, and aids in the creation of what Todd Howard described as an "organic feel" for the game.
The Radiant Story system deals with how the game itself reacts to the player behavior, such as the creation of new dynamic quests. Dynamically generated quests are placed by the game in locations the player hasn't visited yet and are related to earlier adventures.
Like Oblivion, we use our Radiant AI system, so most of the NPCs eat, sleep, work, etc
"The other thing it does is give the game a more organic feel than scripting could. NPC’s won’t always be standing there doing the exact same thing at the same time. The fact that your experience and what’s going on in the world around you in your game is a bit different than other people is pretty cool. The conversations you’ll overhear and subsequent quests you’ll be able to get as a result will vary. It makes the world feel much more realistic and alive."
"We can use it for miscellaneous quests, you go into town, you want to make friends with somebody, we'll generate a little quest for him that seems simple and that it's ok to go through the radiant story system. For a bigger quest, we want somebody who you're enemies with. We want to use him in that quest in some way. We'll pick the closest person who hates the player. He fills in that role."
To add meaning -- and perhaps drama -- the system determines which NPC should be captured by examining your character's history and picking an NPC that you've actually had a relationship with in the past.
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