Originally Posted by Alyssa_Fox
Originally Posted by Try2Handing
While "NPCs looking lively" does add to the feeling that the world is alive, the kind of "being alive" that the other guys and I are talking about is beyond that. It has to do with the personality of NPCs, the things that they say, the stories that they tell, their history, their reaction to world events, and the way world events happen. These are the things you don't immediately perceive like all the cool animations. They involve more writing. It takes good writing, and it takes reading and playing time to see and appreciate. Voice-overs certainly help add personality to a character, but it takes more than that for the character to feel alive.

I agree, writing is the most important part here, but writing alone is enough only for some people. Many people, including me, never read popular plays, but we love going to theaters to watch professional actors act in those plays, because the way those actors present their characters is what makes these characters "alive" for us.
Those plays are only fun to watch because the characters are doing something interesting.