| The computer-generated characters, called agents, have minds of their own.
“Every agent has its own choices and a complete brain,“ Regelous said. “The most important thing about making realistic crowds is making realistic individuals.“
To bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s books to life, gathering 70,000 or so tall, broad-shouldered extras, dressing them in elaborate armor and choreographing them slaughtering each other was out of the question. And that was just one scene from the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring.
So in 1996, director Peter Jackson asked Regelous, who had worked on Jackson’s film The Frighteners, to come up with a program that could handle the task.
In Massive, agents’ brains -- which look like intricate flow charts -- define how they see and hear, how fast they run and how slowly they die. For the films, stunt actors’ movements were recorded in the studio to enable the agents to wield weapons realistically, duck to avoid a sword, charge an enemy and fall off tower walls flailing.
Like real people, agents’ body types, clothing and the weather influence their capabilities. Agents aren’t robots, though. Each makes subtle responses to its surroundings with fuzzy logic rather than yes-no, on-off decisions. And every agent has thousands of brain nodes, such as their combat node, which has rules for their level of aggression.