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TechnoGoth

Rpg, npcs and party control

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In many rpgs, you have a party which consists of a group of npcs. Now when it comes controlling this party do players need to have complete control of them? Combat For combat I''m thinking of having a system where the player gives the npcs orders, and policies that will determine their actions. The npc will follow those orders and polices based on their opinion of the main character, moral, as well as their abilites. Orders Orders include both general commands and ecounter specific commands. General commands are things like protect charcter X, intercept enemy, prevent completion of incantation. Encounter specific commands include orders such as guard the door, activate trap. The purpose of the orders is to attempt to direct the npc during the heat of battle since the player has no direct control over the other character. The player can issue multiple orders to a single character the characters intellegance stat deterimines how many orders and how complex the orders you give a npc can be. If the npc is given to many orders and too complex orders, then the npc may not be able to complete the orders or fail in the attempt. Polices Polices govern the npcs decision making and behaviour in battle. They include policies such as prevent civilian casulties, nonlethal combat, aid comrads, target most dangerous, attempt to capture enemy leader. The npc can only have a single policy at a time, so there decisions are governed by that policy. However if the agent has a low opinion of the main character, then there is chance that they will switch to a policy more suited to their personality. Also if their moral drops to low then the npc may adopt a flee for battle policy. Non-Combat Outside of combat the npcs personality, attitude towards the other characters and moral all come in to play. Towns see the thread on Private Actions. Equipment There is a party stash where all the party''s equipment is placed, each character also has their own inverntory of equipment. Anything in the stash can be used by any party memeber. You can give npc specific equipment to use and depending on their attiude towards you and their personality they may ask/demand to keep the item or simply use it for as until you take it back. ----------------------------------------------------- Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades Current Design project Chaos Factor Design Document

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I think that any constellation of points on these continua could be acceptable. You could have minimal or no control over combat, but extremely fine control over what they do in town, while have limited influence over what they do with their equipment. These are things that shape gameplay, however, and so you'll want to balance them carefully to realize your vision for the game.

For my part, I like to have pretty solid control over my main character, but relegate my secondary party members to an orders system. In combat, this could amount to something like the Unreal Tournament orders, like "Cover Me!" or "Take their flag!". You could say, "Mage, keep out of the fight, using long ronge spells for healing and fighting. Knight, hang back until the enemy archers are neutralized by magic, and then rush whatever's left. Theif, try to flank that wizard-looking guy. I'll go in with Knight and cut loose with the monkage." Or even shorter-term, you could just issue commands like "hold position", "attack [target]" or "retreat".

In towns it could translate to a to-do list for each party member, like this: "Knight, here's 500GP. Go get a nice broadsword. Mage, score us about 300GP worth of potions, your choice. Theif, hit the dark places and see what you can find out about this 'Dragon-Man', but don't do anything that might get you arrested. Here's 200GP, don't be afraid to grease some palms. I'll take care of selling surplus loot. We'll meet back at this inn by dusk. Try to be sober."

If they finish their chores (or get distracted), they might just go to the inn, or a bar, or take a walk, or start a fight, or whatever, depending on their personalities. This falls under the "private action" topic, and all content of that thread is applicable.

As to equipment, I think that the player should have absolute control over inventories, but characters could access things in their personal inventories at will. The problem with this is that a character might use his Magic Disc of Justice on a weak enemy instead of saving it for the boss. Maybe the player could "lock" certain items. "Carry this, but don't use it until I tell you to."

Editted for sundry revisions.

[edited by - Iron Chef Carnage on March 20, 2004 1:20:42 PM]

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In terms of the NPCs being controlled by AI, I have to make a few demands. I''ve had entirely too much experience with RPG AIs taking obvious strategic mistakes. For example, going for the strongest possible potion to cure someone, when the fight it going to be over in a turn (wasting the potion), or even using specialty potions which may help this battle, I was saving for another fight. Theres also blowing through MP really fast, or attacking enemies that aren''t scan''ed, examined, detailed, or whatever, but I know will be missed quite often.

To this, rather than a "HELP ME!" option, I''d prefer a list of meters that associate no passionate response.

MP Usage: Liberal - Moderate -(Conservative)- None

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Inmate2993, I think that any of those issues would be solved if there was a solid "rules" (or orders) system. You could order the party members to restrain from using big potions when the enemies are almost dead. Or small potions. Or powerful magic. Has anyone here used the Warcraft3 triggers system? A good system for giving orders to your party members could be something like that (but not with that complexity and a lot more like natural language so that anyone can use it). Like, for each NPC, you had a list of orders, shown as simple text like the examples of Iron Chef Carnage. You could then create new rules, delete them, and maybe even change their order, for stuff like like the rule at the top is followed over all the other rules and so on. You could also double-click one of them and start editing the text - some words can be clicked to change their values (like, in "Stay back until [something happens]", you could replace that with any event you want, and this event could even have more nested values inside it). This way it could get as simple or as complex as the player wants.

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Iron Chef Carnage:
quote:

I think that any constellation of points on these continua could be acceptable. You could have minimal or no control over combat, but extremely fine control over what they do in town, while have limited influence over what they do with their equipment. These are things that shape gameplay, however, and so you'll want to balance them carefully to realize your vision for the game.



Balancing, and gameplay issues appear in most games, I thinking minimal npc control will work out as long as the system is intuitive enough and complex enough as to not present a hassel to the player.

quote:

For my part, I like to have pretty solid control over my main character, but relegate my secondary party members to an orders system.



yes, I was planning on giving the player full control over their main character but with the player having minimal npc control.

quote:

In combat, this could amount to something like the Unreal Tournament orders, like "Cover Me!" or "Take their flag!". You could say, "Mage, keep out of the fight, using long ronge spells for healing and fighting. Knight, hang back until the enemy archers are neutralized by magic, and then rush whatever's left. Theif, try to flank that wizard-looking guy. I'll go in with Knight and cut loose with the monkage." Or even shorter-term, you could just issue commands like "hold position", "attack [target]" or "retreat".


Complex, orders like that will be allowed, once I figure out the additional technical requirements. A complex order is made up of two or more atomic orders.

An atomic order would be:
attack [target];
rescue[target];
retreat;
holdPostion;
moveTo[location];
stealthMoveTo[location];
find[target];
find[object];
inRange[target]

while a complex order would be:
and
until
waitFor
then
arrives

so you could get orders like:

stealthMoveTo[tower] and holdPostion until inRange[enemyLeader] then attack[enemy leader].

this would be complexity 7 order so low intellegence npc would have a high probablity of doing something wrong at some point.


Then main things though is that, that kind of complex order would normally be given at the start of battle, since in the midst of battle the player would most likly be to busy fighting to issue more then just atomic orders. Then again some player may adopt a general style of play, where they keep the main character out of battle and issue orders to the npcs.

but for the most part npcs will act autominously in battle.

quote:

In towns it could translate to a to-do list for each party member, like this: "Knight, here's 500GP. Go get a nice broadsword. Mage, score us about 300GP worth of potions, your choice. Theif, hit the dark places and see what you can find out about this 'Dragon-Man', but don't do anything that might get you arrested. Here's 200GP, don't be afraid to grease some palms. I'll take care of selling surplus loot. We'll meet back at this inn by dusk. Try to be sober."



Well those would fall under the duties, I'm not sure if the player would give duties to all their npcs, more likly only a few npc would be given duties and the rest would perform private action. The idea of giving the knight 500 coins to buy a weapon could work. I was thinking more along the lines of adding a broadsword to your merchants to shopping list, or perhaps even a more general 500 coins of new weapons. The merchant AI would be intellegent enough not to buy 500 clubs at 1 coin a piece instead it would look at the current inventory and replace heavily damaged frequently used weapons or purchase a better one instead. So if the knights broadsword sees a lot of action and has dulled because of that the merchant would probably buy a new one, or even two if they feel a spare might be needed. It would also make decisions based on the needs of the group so rather then spend all 500 on a katana for the knight, it might decided that the knight can make do with a 300 broadsword because the 2 archers need better bows and if their is enough leftover it might decided the buy the wizard a new staff even though he has never used the old one.

potions and other perhishables would be handled by the quartermaster who autorestocks at every settlement.

quote:

As to equipment, I think that the player should have absolute control over inventories, but characters could access things in their personal inventories at will. The problem with this is that a character might use his Magic Disc of Justice on a weak enemy instead of saving it for the boss. Maybe the player could "lock" certain items. "Carry this, but don't use it until I tell you to."



Well their are two inventories the party stash, which anyone can use and characters choose their equipment from before battle, and then their is the personal inventory which contains the npcs personal possesions, for instance a knight may own a famous family sword.

Perhaps marking items as reserved would be a good thing, the player could delgate these items to the npcs of their choice and then issue an order in battle to use it. Altough I think personality and situation should come into play here to, so don't expect the npc with a disc of justice not to use it,if their life is danager.



-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I'm a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document



[edited by - TechnoGoth on March 21, 2004 4:15:09 AM]

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Inmate2993:

quote:

In terms of the NPCs being controlled by AI, I have to make a few demands. I''ve had entirely too much experience with RPG AIs taking obvious strategic mistakes. For example, going for the strongest possible potion to cure someone, when the fight it going to be over in a turn (wasting the potion), or even using specialty potions which may help this battle, I was saving for another fight. Theres also blowing through MP really fast, or attacking enemies that aren''t scan''ed, examined, detailed, or whatever, but I know will be missed quite often.

To this, rather than a "HELP ME!" option, I''d prefer a list of meters that associate no passionate response.

MP Usage: Liberal - Moderate -(Conservative)- None



That kind of direct control would defeat the purpose of what i''m aiming for which is minimal npc control. Things like potion use would depend on personality and situation, a cowerdly npc might drinking your strongest healing potion after reciving even a small scratch.

As for mp, well that complicated since there is no MP in the game I am designing at the moment, instead magic is called incantations, it more ritualistic it requires ceratin items, consumables, chanting,concentration and time. The main factor is time though since it may takes several rounds of uninterupted chanting to perform an incantation. Also incantations are powerful and can seriously effect the outcome of battle.



-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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quote:
As for mp, well that complicated since there is no MP in the game I am designing at the moment, instead magic is called incantations, it more ritualistic it requires ceratin items, consumables, chanting,concentration and time. The main factor is time though since it may takes several rounds of uninterupted chanting to perform an incantation. Also incantations are powerful and can seriously effect the outcome of battle.


cool idea. i picture some crazy battles with the whole party closely protecting a "wizard" who has been chanting for 8 "turns" and is about to unleash hell. it could get your heart pumping

is your goal to increase realism and reduce micro? if so, you may be in advertently adding a lot of micromanagement problems like in the following examples:

after the potions are distriubuted, the player needs to manually take all the good potions away from the "coward". or, the "flamesabre" was autosold in the last town because it was never used in the "firerelm". the player is now pissed cuz he was saving it for the "frost giant".

little things like that. they can easily be solved (by designer, or player), but the more the AI is used, the more little things like that will pop up, and are bound to be missed.

good ideas tho keep it up, i look forward to a playable project.

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quote:
Original post by cbass2
quote:
As for mp, well that complicated since there is no MP in the game I am designing at the moment, instead magic is called incantations, it more ritualistic it requires ceratin items, consumables, chanting,concentration and time. The main factor is time though since it may takes several rounds of uninterupted chanting to perform an incantation. Also incantations are powerful and can seriously effect the outcome of battle.


cool idea. i picture some crazy battles with the whole party closely protecting a "wizard" who has been chanting for 8 "turns" and is about to unleash hell. it could get your heart pumping



I''m glad you like the idea

quote:

is your goal to increase realism and reduce micro?


Neither, its to create an RPG where the player can only control themselves but has to lead and influence others.

quote:

after the potions are distriubuted, the player needs to manually take all the good potions away from the "coward". or, the "flamesabre" was autosold in the last town because it was never used in the "firerelm". the player is now pissed cuz he was saving it for the "frost giant".



Well the point about the potions is one that could be of concern to the player, the question is should the player be allowed to take back what they don''t want the npcs to have? The player could of course keep all the best things for themselves but the npcs would grow to resent this.

As for selling the flamesabre, that not really a problem since the merchant only sells things you have marked as loot.


-----------------------------------------------------
Writer, Programer, Cook, I''m a Jack of all Trades
Current Design project
Chaos Factor Design Document

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