Tutorial NPCs listening

This tutorial shows the implementation of an NPC object that responds to characters speaking in their location. In this example the NPC parrots what is said, but any actions could be triggered this way.

It is assumed that you already know how to create custom room and character typeclasses, please see the Basic Game tutorial if you haven’t already done this.

What we will need is simply a new NPC typeclass that can react when someone speaks.

# mygame/typeclasses/npc.py

from characters import Character
class Npc(Character):
    A NPC typeclass which extends the character class.
    def at_heard_say(self, message, from_obj):
        A simple listener and response. This makes it easy to change for
        subclasses of NPCs reacting differently to says.

        # message will be on the form `<Person> says, "say_text"`
        # we want to get only say_text without the quotes and any spaces
        message = message.split('says, ')[1].strip(' "')

        # we'll make use of this in .msg() below
        return "%s said: '%s'" % (from_obj, message)

When someone in the room speaks to this NPC, its msg method will be called. We will modify the NPCs .msg method to catch says so the NPC can respond.

# mygame/typeclasses/npc.py

from characters import Character
class Npc(Character):

    # [at_heard_say() goes here]

    def msg(self, text=None, from_obj=None, **kwargs):
        "Custom msg() method reacting to say."

        if from_obj != self:
            # make sure to not repeat what we ourselves said or we'll create a loop
                # if text comes from a say, `text` is `('say_text', {'type': 'say'})`
                say_text, is_say = text[0], text[1]['type'] == 'say'
            except Exception:
                is_say = False
            if is_say:
                # First get the response (if any)
                response = self.at_heard_say(say_text, from_obj)
                # If there is a response
                if response != None:
                    # speak ourselves, using the return
                    self.execute_cmd("say %s" % response)
        # this is needed if anyone ever puppets this NPC - without it you would never
        # get any feedback from the server (not even the results of look)
        super().msg(text=text, from_obj=from_obj, **kwargs)

So if the NPC gets a say and that say is not coming from the NPC itself, it will echo it using the at_heard_say hook. Some things of note in the above example:

  • The text input can be on many different forms depending on where this msg is called from. Instead of trying to analyze text in detail with a range of if statements we just assume the form we want and catch the error if it does not match. This simplifies the code considerably. It’s called ‘leap before you look’ and is a Python paradigm that may feel unfamiliar if you are used to other languages. Here we ‘swallow’ the error silently, which is fine when the code checked is simple. If not we may want to import evennia.logger.log_trace and add log_trace() in the except clause.
    If you would like to learn more about the text list used above refer to the Out-Of-Band documentation.

  • We use execute_cmd to fire the say command back. We could also have called self.location.msg_contents directly but using the Command makes sure all hooks are called (so those seeing the NPC’s say can in turn react if they want).

  • Note the comments about super at the end. This will trigger the ‘default’ msg (in the parent class) as well. It’s not really necessary as long as no one puppets the NPC (by @ic <npcname>) but it’s wise to keep in there since the puppeting player will be totally blind if msg() is never returning anything to them!

Now that’s done, let’s create an NPC and see what it has to say for itself.

@create/drop Guild Master:npc.Npc

(you could also give the path as typeclasses.npc.Npc, but Evennia will look into the typeclasses folder automatically so this is a little shorter).

> say hi
You say, "hi"
Guild Master says, "Anna said: 'hi'"

Assorted notes

There are many ways to implement this kind of functionality. An alternative example to overriding msg would be to modify the at_say hook on the Character instead. It could detect that it’s sending to an NPC and call the at_heard_say hook directly.

While the tutorial solution has the advantage of being contained only within the NPC class, combining this with using the Character class gives more direct control over how the NPC will react. Which way to go depends on the design requirements of your particular game.