Author Topic: Knowing NPCs  (Read 3443 times)

Endorya

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Knowing NPCs
« on: May 08, 2014, 03:13:00 PM »
I was just finishing assembling 3 more computers here at my job when my mind started floating (again) towards my project - yeah, one thread in my brain was taking care of the computers while another one was brainstorming game design, if you guys enjoy creating stuff you know how this usually goes.

Anyway, I've been figuring out for some time now some aspects on how the player could handle NPCs in a large city using my game's interface. But first let me describe how my game behaves while in cities so you can have a general view of the whole thing and to better understand my questions. You need also to understand that I don't classify this game of mine as a roguelike, though it is strongly inspired in the genre sharing some of its features, being procedural generated content the main one.

Instead of having your character travelling by turns in a tiled grid to interact with the city, the player is presented with a "fine" interface (operated with mouse + keyboard naturally) from where he can browse the city's contents. I haven’t yet idealized the whole set of options available for this interface but it will be something like having the 'Explore', 'Houses', 'Services' and "People" buttons.

The 'Explore' is the first thing the player will have to do to. This will simulate the character walking around the whole city memorizing its buildings and the persons who are currently in it. This is basically collecting data from the city to the interface with time elapsing realistically during this process having into account the city's size. For very large cities the exploration task can last more than 1 day. This action is only necessary doing once for each new city entered. When the player revisits cities everything in them is automatically updated in the city's interface.

After the above step is done, all houses, services and NPC will be available in the interface in their corresponding sections.

Houses - Shows a full list of houses the city has. They will be marked as unknown until the player enters them or knows more about them - the player can actually break inside houses to rob them.

Services - Shows what kind of services the city provides, like repairing equipment, joining guilds, tournaments, shops, healing temples, bounty hunts, resting, trading etc.

People - Shows a full list of people (NPC) currently existing in the city. They will be marked as unknown until the player talks to them or until he gets information about them through other sources. The ‘People’ section will have a powerful data grid containing all the uncovered information regarding NPCs including their names, gender, age, family name, wealth level, profession, faction, relationship status, friendly status, trust level, the number of times the player has talking to them and even their attractiveness level. The interface also lets the player perform searches and filter persons by any of the mentioned descriptions. If you have played EVE Online you know exactly what I mean.

I'm not doing this post to understand how do you feel about this city operating system but very interested in knowing how would you like to interact with NPC and how would like to handle their information. Your feedback in this matter is very important to me.

1 – Do you like the idea of talking with each NPC individually to know who they are?
2 – Do you like the idea of the NPC's information starting hidden or not, or maybe just partially?
3 – Would you prefer having the ‘Explore’ option also uncovering all the NPC's information automatically with increased time elapsed, simulating a quick chat with everyone in town?
4 – Would you prefer having their information hidden with the exception of those who are quest givers? Or just having quest givers being highlighted?
5 – How many NPC you think that is reasonable to have in a large city taking into consideration that each one of them can be interacted with?
6 – How much do you actually enjoy speaking with NPC and listening to their stories?

Please note, the player is not forced to talk with everyone but he can do it if he wants to. This is just something that the game lets you do, just another game play option. Quests that are NPC related have NPC's names in them so you don't need to talk with everyone in town to search for them.

Thanks a ton!
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 07:40:21 AM by Endorya »
"You are never alone. Death is always near watching you."

AgingMinotaur

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Re: Knowing NPCs
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2014, 08:29:37 AM »
First off, I think the general idea (of a "choose your own adventure"-type interface for exploring cities) can work quite well. The devil is in the details, of course. Every single action should be meaningful, as should choosing between them.

The 'Explore' is the first thing the player will have to do to. […] This action is only necessary doing once for each new city entered.
So, is this actually needed as an option, or will it just clutter the interface? If it's the first thing the player has to do before s/he can interact with the city, and its never done more than once, it seems to me you might as well automate it when the player first enters the city. Players who don't want to spend time/resources needed to explore the city, should simply not enter it.

1 – Do you like the idea of talking with each NPC individually to know who they are?
2 – Do you like the idea of the NPC's information starting hidden or not, or maybe just partially?
3 – Would you prefer having the ‘Explore’ option also uncovering all the NPC's information automatically with increased time elapsed, simulating a quick chat with everyone in town?
4 – Would you prefer having their information hidden with the exception of those who are quest givers? Or just having quest givers being highlighted?
5 – How many NPC you think that is reasonable to have in a large city taking into consideration that each one of them can be interacted with?
6 – How much do you actually enjoy speaking with NPC and listening to their stories?
It all depends, of course. If game time is a resource, it might make sense to start out with houses and NPCs hidden, and the player having to decide which ones s/he wants to find out more about. In that case, you must afford enough information to make the choice meaningful, not just picking a random name off of a list. If talking to everyone is a reasonable course of action, I'd say make people automatically known. In a crpg, it can be slightly boring to go and talk to everyone once you enter a new town. Without even the interface to actually explore a map, it would be even more of a chore. Another option might be to start out with only places available, and introduce the NPCs as the player meets them.

Concerning point 6, I enjoy it if it's either very well written or adds to gameplay in an interesting way. Talking to umpteen bland NPCs ("The weather is nice", "My sheep are white", "A chair is a piece of furniture") in case one of them has the information I need – not so much.

As always,
Minotauros
This matir, as laborintus, Dedalus hous, hath many halkes and hurnes ... wyndynges and wrynkelynges.

Endorya

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Re: Knowing NPCs
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2014, 03:30:20 PM »
First off, I think the general idea (of a "choose your own adventure"-type interface for exploring cities) can work quite well. The devil is in the details, of course. Every single action should be meaningful, as should choosing between them.
Well that's a surprise. Not only I wasn't expecting a response but in case it happened, I thought it would be just about bashing the concept. That was nice to hear.

Quote from: AgingMinotaur
So, is this actually needed as an option, or will it just clutter the interface? If it's the first thing the player has to do before s/he can interact with the city, and its never done more than once, it seems to me you might as well automate it when the player first enters the city. Players who don't want to spend time/resources needed to explore the city, should simply not enter it.

Good point and I just realized that I failed to fully explain the concept. The exploring is indeed connected with resources and time but when players enter a new city some basic information is automatically added to the 'Interface / player's journal', I completely forgot to mention this. At least 1 Inn and about 20% of the remaining services and / or houses are automatically revealed. It wouldn't be fair and it wouldn't make any sense forcing the player to spend a day "exploring" the city when he just needed resting or selling something.

Quote from: AgingMinotaur
It all depends, of course. If game time is a resource, it might make sense to start out with houses and NPCs hidden, and the player having to decide which ones s/he wants to find out more about. In that case, you must afford enough information to make the choice meaningful, not just picking a random name off of a list. If talking to everyone is a reasonable course of action, I'd say make people automatically known. In a crpg, it can be slightly boring to go and talk to everyone once you enter a new town. Without even the interface to actually explore a map, it would be even more of a chore. Another option might be to start out with only places available, and introduce the NPCs as the player meets them.

Concerning point 6, I enjoy it if it's either very well written or adds to gameplay in an interesting way. Talking to umpteen bland NPCs ("The weather is nice", "My sheep are white", "A chair is a piece of furniture") in case one of them has the information I need – not so much.

As always,
Minotauros
Thanks man. That was exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping to receive. Instead killing we should trust Minotaurs. ;)
« Last Edit: May 13, 2014, 03:48:52 PM by Endorya »
"You are never alone. Death is always near watching you."