meaning and definition

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    What is a mob?

    A mob, short for “mobile”, refers to a type of non-player character (NPC) found in multiplayer online games, particularly in multi-user dungeons (MUDs).

    These characters are programmed by the game to perform specific roles. They may be adversaries like monsters or function as part of the environment, like city guards, shopkeepers, or quest givers.

    While the term suggests mobility, not all mobs move around; some may be stationary, always found in the same spot within the game world.

    Historically, the term originated in early text-based online games where server resources were limited.

    Originally used to describe any mobile (or potentially mobile) entity that players could interact with, the term has since evolved to encompass a broad range of interactive characters within a game, whether they move or not.

    Mob FAQs

    How do mobs differ from other NPCs in games?

    Mobs are a specific type of NPC designed with particular roles or behaviors in mind, often as obstacles or aids to players. Unlike other NPCs, which may exist for story or ambiance without direct interaction with the gameplay, mobs typically engage with players through combat, quests, or as part of the game’s economy.

    Can mobs be controlled by players?

    Generally, mobs are controlled by the game engine and follow predetermined paths or scripts. However, in some games, players might have the ability to summon or control certain mobs temporarily, but these instances are usually well-defined and limited by the game’s mechanics.

    For example, controllable mobs might include pets, livestock, mounts, or retainers. In some games, players may use controllable mobs to represent close family members, as well.

    What happens when a mob is defeated?

    When defeated, mobs often provide players with experience points, items, or other forms of in-game reward. The specific outcome can vary greatly depending on the game’s design. In many cases, defeated mobs will respawn after a set period, allowing for the continuity of game challenges and resources.

    Are all mobs hostile?

    No, not all mobs are aggressive or hostile. While many are adversaries that players must combat or avoid, others serve non-aggressive roles such as vendors, quest givers, or simply part of the game’s living environment, contributing to the game’s depth and realism.

    Myths about mobs

    • All mobs are enemies: A common misconception is that all mobs are designed to be adversaries. In reality, mobs can fulfill a variety of roles, including allies, neutral parties, or part of the game’s economic and social systems.
    • Mobs are only found in combat-oriented games: While mobs are prevalent in combat and adventure games, they can also be found in a wide range of game types, serving different functions such as storytelling elements or environmental features.
    • Mobs are simplistic and predictable: While early game mobs may have been limited by technology and exhibited predictable behavior, modern mobs can have complex scripts, capable of surprising and dynamic interactions with players.
    • All mobs are mobile: While many mobs do wander around in defined areas, being mobile is not a requirement for, well, mobiles. Many mobiles are set up to be stationary and are meant to always be found in the same place.

    Mob examples

    • An enormous red dragon that guards a treasure-filled cave, attacking players on sight with its fire breath.
    • A cheerful shopkeeper in a fantasy town who sells low-level potions and equipment to new visitors.
    • A vigilant city guard who patrols the streets of the capital, attacking obvious criminals or assisting players in fights.
    • An elderly priest (quest giver) who stands in the same place, offering tasks and blessings to players who approach them.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."