Examples of Open World Interaction with Itself


Catching up on Waypoint episodes and Rob explains two paths for building an immersive open world:

  1. The world itself has actors, agendas routines, behaviors. Things they go out in the world and do. You’ll find the world interacting with and observing itself.

  2. What makes the world feel big is that there’s always something for you to do. The world is a vast county fair or theme park with endless minigames (the Rockstar method).

Can anyone come up with examples of the first method? I know I’ve played some but I can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

Thanks y’all!


My playing of the Borderlands series has had me encounter several instances of bandit enemies fighting Pandora wildlife, even when I’m around and firing on either faction. It’s a legit strategy to just let them take each other out or wear down their forces (if you don’t care about the XP).


S.T.A.L.K.E.R. had some GREAT mods that did exactly #1(AMK in particular). Iirc there are interviews with devs talking about how they had to tone down the AI’s so they didn’t do everything before the player was able to complete them.

the mod in question changed the game so that loners and bands of other characters would go out and about hunting down artifacts and wildlife, and would report events on the radio. It made the world feel much more active; even if you weren’t present for the shootout between some bandits, you could hear about it on your radio, and even run in to the aftermath (although the bodies are usually cleared of valuables well before you arrive)

So while the game doesn’t consist of much more than shooting, looting, and exploring, it feels like you’re just one of many stalkers doing exactly those things.

Link to a descriptor of the AMK mod

The big thing about AMK for a lot of folks (myself included) is that it simulates offline AIlife (which you can’t see due to SE deleting the IM system), and attaches NPC messages to ingame events. So, for example, if you decided to go down to the carpark and encountered a controller, killed it with a shotgun, and then left just as another stalker approached, the IM system might display a message from him about how he just saw somebody kill a controller with a shotgun down by the carpark. Alternatively, you might get a message from a NPC saying that they’re under attack from bandits, and then go the location they specify and find the bodies of whoever lost the fight. (You also might be able to get there in time to decide the outcome of things.) NPC’s will also send messages across maps-- some Freedomer might send a message saying that he has a nice LR300 for sale while you’re in the Bar, and he’ll actually have it in his inventory if you hoof it over there and find him, for example. It also ramps up/randomizes spawns and allows NPCs to travel between maps.


Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, is probably the most famous/infamous example of this. The Radiant AI system promised to populate the world with believable NPC routines and interactions (which was pretty high concept), but in practice resulted in very little in the way of interesting interaction. The better parts of it you’d hardly notice were happening (NPC’s saying commenting on one another in the streets, simple day night routines), but the stuff you remember could be fairly awkward. Keystone cops esque chase scenes/battles, or bland quests shoved in your face.

Skyrim wasn’t nearly so infamously awkward in this regard, but I think it was also less ambitious in trying to create more lifelike non-player actors.


Mount and Blade Warband features 6 factions that initially start neutral towards each other, but develop positive/negative relationships toward each other as the game develops, both with and without influence from the player. Entire factions can be wiped out without ever interacting with the player, and open warfare often breaks out simply due to the AI character running into each other on the map. You could receive a quest to rescue a lord from an enemy prison, only for the quest to be cancelled partway through if the lord escapes from prison on his own. There is also an economy system involving villages and towns that is constantly running in real time, that players can engage with on different levels, including not at all. Villager and caravan AI move across the map to trade with the town AI, and they can be attacked by bandits, enemy factions, or the player. The player can also escort the caravans and protect them from aggressors. They can also engage more deeply with the economy system by setting up their own industrial structures in friendly towns and participate in the economy system directly, but I imagine most players are more interested in the combat.


Bethesda’s open world games, I assume I’ve never touched elder scrolls, like Fallout have traders on routes that they physically travel. Also in Fallout 4, the brotherhood of steel would sometimes land there helicopters by other factions, doesn’t matter which faction cause ain’t nobody got time for those fascists, and fight.


This is just a tiny thing, but in AC Odyssey I got a side quest to go clear out a group of soldiers/bandits what have you and I went over there to find them fighting a lion. So I just sit back thinking I’ll mop up whoever’s left standing (since they outnumbered the lion and were all equal level, it should have been a foregone conclusion that the lion wasn’t going to win). What ended up happening though was they somehow set themselves on fire and all died without my intervention. Quest updated with “return to questgiver.” Job done.