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TechnoGoth

LOOK!!! Its a man walking in the woods! It must be a quest!!!

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TechnoGoth    2937
I'm sure Wavinator in his/her many posts has covered this subject but I'd thought I'd bring it up again. Must every encounter, and event mean something? Or would you rather have the world populated by npcs performing actions? These actions would be abstracted too some degree depending on the game but the actions would cause events. For instance the man standing in the woods could be waiting just taking a rest on his way home and not even know who the player is let alone have something he needs them to do.

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Coz    169
First, I think Wavinator is a he, since is name is Aaron, sounds male to me :p

About encounters, I think that ideally all things in the world have a game experience enhacing reason, otherwise it's just a waste. It might not be as meaning full as a quest, but it might just be to set the mood of the game.

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evolutional    1393
I'd like to see NPCs performing actions that have a reason, whether it be a reason for them or a reason for the game a whole. It'd be nice to come across someone cutting wood and think "perhaps he needs to light a fire to cook dinner for his family" rather than think "ah-hah! he's cutting wood for his quest!".

The thought of NPCs living normal lives, doing trivial actions for their own purpose could add a level of reality to a game that wouldn't normally be there. For example, if you decide to kill the guy cutting wood his family wouldn't eat that evening, nor any other. He could also have been a carpenter, so his death would result in a short supply of furniture in the village. His action, however trivial, would then be important to the game as a whole. If you or something else affected the ability to perform them the ripple would be felt elsewhere in the game. The player would be able to perhaps cut/carry more wood for the man in the forest - the after-effect would be that he was able to spend more time making his furniture, leading to higher quality products and perhaps a rise in price or just that you can buy more chairs in the shops :)

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onyxflame    203
Love the ideas, evolutional. :) I'd sooo love to see that in a game.

One thing I've been semi-annoyed with during my entire RPG playing experience: why is there ALWAYS room in the inn for your party to stay and rest up? Why can't people (NPC's) be going about their lives, and one day there just happen to be so many of them staying in the inn that there's no room for you? Maybe you'd have to do dishes in the inn in order to get a temporary spot on the floor or in some servant's room, or you'd have to haggle to be able to sleep in the stables or something. Or maybe you just have to wander around occupying yourself until tomorrow night.

And with all these dragons attacking villages, why do the villagers all sit there waiting to die? Why don't some of them become refugees? Maybe that's why the inn is full - refugees from a dragon-ravaged town are occupying it. :P (Which would give you a reason to kill a dragon NOT involving getting large amounts of treasure or some specific reward from a king or whatever.)

In general, I think things should have *some* meaning though...even if as another poster said, it's just atmosphere. But atmosphere should be interspersed with genuinely useful stuff. For instance, the NPC's that wander around in the first NES Ultima game. Some of them say nothing more important than "it's a good day to do laundry". Which is nifty in moderation, but when you have to hunt to find an NPC who says something not involving laundry, it gets annoying. So, as with everything else, you have to strike a balance.

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Way Walker    745
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Love the ideas, evolutional. :) I'd sooo love to see that in a game.


I have a problem with it. While it's not a quest, it's still requiring there to be something the player can do that'll affect the big picture. Basically, just a quest on a smaller scale.

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One thing I've been semi-annoyed with during my entire RPG playing experience: why is there ALWAYS room in the inn for your party to stay and rest up?


Well, in Final Fantasy 6, there is a point where the inn keeper refuses you a room (or was it that he charged you so much you refused? I forget).

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Why can't people (NPC's) be going about their lives, and one day there just happen to be so many of them staying in the inn that there's no room for you? Maybe you'd have to do dishes in the inn in order to get a temporary spot on the floor or in some servant's room, or you'd have to haggle to be able to sleep in the stables or something. Or maybe you just have to wander around occupying yourself until tomorrow night.


Because that's boring. In the distant past, I remember playing games with a day/night cycle where I couldn't do much at night. It was just boring down time. "So put some interesting game play at night." Well, then it just becomes "To get this quest/play this mini game/have this encounter/whatever, you have to stay up past your bed time", which makes it less atmosphere and more a hook into a quest/whatever, where we were looking for atmosphere.

Also, if the inn functions like in an FF game, it'd be extremely annoying if the inn were full. A better option would be to have more than enough beds/rooms for your party, and have some of the others filled with random people.

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In general, I think things should have *some* meaning though...even if as another poster said, it's just atmosphere. But atmosphere should be interspersed with genuinely useful stuff. For instance, the NPC's that wander around in the first NES Ultima game. Some of them say nothing more important than "it's a good day to do laundry". Which is nifty in moderation, but when you have to hunt to find an NPC who says something not involving laundry, it gets annoying. So, as with everything else, you have to strike a balance.


Yeah, I think Fallout did a good job of this. You would get a full dialog screen if you could have a meaningful interaction with someone. Otherwise, they just spouted something (possibly amusing). Sure, there were repeats, but it always seemed there was something I hadn't seen them say before. Basically, make it obvious to the player if there's something meaningful or if it's just atmosphere.

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JimPrice    815
I liken this analogy to Dungeons and Dragons (come on, own up, some of you must have played it).

I was there near the beginnings of the game, and in those days it used to be:

You enter the room. There's a half-dozen evil lizards. Kill the lizards!!!

Yup, they just sat there waiting for people to come along and put them in their place (usually a very short and bloody process).

As the game, and gamers, matured, we all learnt a new word.

Ecosystem.

Wow - what a difference - suddenly things existed for a purpose. No more would you find completely obscure situations sitting back and waiting for things to happen to them.

The limit on computer games has obviously been computing power - I think most people would love to have a living, breathing system to run around in - somewhere where you can just hang out for a bit. From what I read Fable takes some steps towards this, and has been genuinely well received.

One area that, IMO, is ripe for exploration, is the MMOG. Once you've bought your basic package, why not have the option of being 'just an ordinary person' - but for no fee (as opposed to playing the hero for your normal monthly fee). When you want to kick back you can log on as 'Jack the Baker' - no level advancement, but you can interact with other players (someone asks for directions - you decide whether to give him the wrong or right ones; someone wants some bread (or more interestingly, something from the normal MMOG crafting functions), you set the price, or tell him you need half-a-dozen dragons eggs - you get the idea). Given the popularity of The Sims, it seems some folks don't mind just living ordinary lives on the PC.

Or maybe I'm just reallllllly sad.

Jim.

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Jon Alma    406
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You would get a full dialog screen if you could have a meaningful interaction with someone. Otherwise, they just spouted something (possibly amusing). Sure, there were repeats, but it always seemed there was something I hadn't seen them say before. Basically, make it obvious to the player if there's something meaningful or if it's just atmosphere.


The possible problem I've seen with this is that the player (or at least me) ends up skipping past the atmosphere NPCs and as a result missing a lot of the atmosphere. In addition the important bits of quest information end up being signposted (ah a dialogue - important info coming up) and the player ends up playing the game on rails - no real information filtering needed.

I'm busy adding NPCs to a RPG game I'm working on and I'm trying as much as possible to make dialogue with each NPC interesting in some way (some NPCs are important to the main quest, others offer up side quests, others give useful background information/atmosphere, others mislead the player and lead him/her off on a red herring and so on).

In doing this the secret seems to be to keep the number of NPCs down to avoid too much work as a designer and too much dialogue as a player.

Jon.

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rian carnarvon    107
i remember the first elder scrolls : ARENA. in that game you could only break into houses at night, therfore the night was less boring. the innkeepers refused to give you rooms if you lowered the price too much, and eventually gave up bartering if you were too stubborn. the shopkeepers did the same. there were npc's that did unique things, and there were very few quests. it was a primitive game to be true, but it and it's sequal: DAGGERFALL had something that games nowadays seemto have lost.

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Cosmic One    308
Not sure if it's been done before, but instead of you having to go up to every NPC in the entire game to interact with them, why don't some of them come to you? Take the man chopping wood in the forest for example. Say you were walking by, maybe he calls to you, explains his problem and asks for your help. Now you know about his plight, and can still choose to ignore the problem if you wish, or walk away in mid sentence.

It's a classic example from a lot of games. There are NPCs in need of aid, direly, and they just stand there and twiddle their thumbs as you parade around them in your shiniest armor and elitest +5 weapon. Maybe they have an exclamation mark above their head, fine, but they still don't actually seek out help.

If NPCs played more actively than passively I think it would eliminate some of the confusion about everything being necessary, cuz you don't have to take initiative all the time.

As ever,
**Cosmic**

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onyxflame    203
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I have a problem with it. While it's not a quest, it's still requiring there to be something the player can do that'll affect the big picture. Basically, just a quest on a smaller scale.


What's wrong with affecting the big picture? I LIKE affecting the big picture, I just don't want it to be such that by the end of the game everyone loves me because I've helped them out so much. At least with the woodcutter example, you're affecting the world in a logical but unexpected way...unexpected in that you don't HAVE to interact with him, but if you do help him or kill him or whatever, things happen because of it. It's like the ecosystem someone else mentioned, only taken to another level entirely. (Of course to be 100% realistic, NPC's would have to be born, age, and die, woodcutter's wife could maybe take up with another man, etc etc etc. Probably more bother than it's worth, and how are you going to see the whole lifespan of any given NPC unless you have a much longer lifespan than he does, which just feeds back into the "you're so powerful, do all these quests for me!" bit.)

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Because that's boring. In the distant past, I remember playing games with a day/night cycle where I couldn't do much at night. It was just boring down time. "So put some interesting game play at night." Well, then it just becomes "To get this quest/play this mini game/have this encounter/whatever, you have to stay up past your bed time", which makes it less atmosphere and more a hook into a quest/whatever, where we were looking for atmosphere.


Why does atmosphere have to be seprate from quests and important actions? Take the laundry example from my last post. If Mary says she always does laundry on Wednesdays, then that means she's gonna be home so you can't rob her house, however you could crash on her floor if needed. It also means you can steal her underpants from the clothesline on Wednesdays, if you particularly want to. So you steal her underpants, and people eventually find out about it, and pretty soon every time you walk into the local tavern, the townspeople point and laugh at you. Trivial event turned into a more interactive event that also adds atmosphere.

And sure, maybe washing dishes is boring. But people play the Sims all the time, where you have to wash dishes, and they seem to like it. (I personally loved the part in I think it was chapter 3 of Dragon Warrior 4, where you were playing the shopkeeper's assistant, and had to sell stuff and take the money back to the shopkeeper. It got old after a while, which is why it was good that you didn't have to do it for long, but it was just so different from what I expected that I adored it anyway.)

As for the day/night thing, you could always do like Castlevania 2 & make tougher monsters come out to hunt at night. Have some town residents who stay up late, and others who go to bed early...if they have patterns, you can learn who's best to rob when, or just who you'll be able to babble with at 3am. Also, make it much more likely that a thief will wander through the alleys trying to rob you. If you have an arch-nemesis, he could occasionally send henchmen after you at night, trying for surprise. (Side note: what about a part like in LOTR where the bad guys try to attack you while you're sleeping in your nice safe inn room? I know other games have done this, but what about if it wasn't some big scripted scene but just something that could happen in normal gameplay if you pissed a certain person off? And why is it so bad to run into baddies while recuperating in an inn, when you're only at half health or whatever? It happens all the time in D&D games, not to mention at least 1 Ultima game.)

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It's a classic example from a lot of games. There are NPCs in need of aid, direly, and they just stand there and twiddle their thumbs as you parade around them in your shiniest armor and elitest +5 weapon. Maybe they have an exclamation mark above their head, fine, but they still don't actually seek out help.


It'd have to be done carefully otherwise it'd get annoying as hell having some guy run up to you every 3 steps. I remember this beggar NPC in Ultima 6 I think it was, for SNES. He always accosted you just after you exited a certain building, and somehow managed to pretend to be Lord British while begging for money. And he got really REALLY annoying before long.

For that matter, why don't any of the NPC's seem capable of doing anything for themselves? (I'm thinking of Lufia 2 here, where the king has you go do tons of stuff even though he's got a bunch of soldiers. The game explains this by saying his soldiers suck, but if they suck that bad, how has the kingdom managed to stay in one piece all these years?) Why can't you ever ask them to do anything for you? ("Here kid, here's a few coppers. Go buy me a sandwich.") What if there was a guy who told you he was on a quest for some sword, and you went and got the sword for him, and he was actually annoyed at you for doing it because that was how he'd intended to prove himself manly?

Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. I know a lot of this stuff is either impossible to code or would take so long no one would want to bother with it, but someday I'd like to see games that do this kind of stuff. (Of course, all this could easily work in MMORPG's, however it'd require people to actually RP instead of just wanting high skills/levels and lotsa l00t.)

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Way Walker    745
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Original post by onyxflame
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I have a problem with it. While it's not a quest, it's still requiring there to be something the player can do that'll affect the big picture. Basically, just a quest on a smaller scale.


What's wrong with affecting the big picture? I LIKE affecting the big picture, I just don't want it to be such that by the end of the game everyone loves me because I've helped them out so much. At least with the woodcutter example, you're affecting the world in a logical but unexpected way...unexpected in that you don't HAVE to interact with him, but if you do help him or kill him or whatever, things happen because of it. It's like the ecosystem someone else mentioned, only taken to another level entirely. (Of course to be 100% realistic, NPC's would have to be born, age, and die, woodcutter's wife could maybe take up with another man, etc etc etc. Probably more bother than it's worth, and how are you going to see the whole lifespan of any given NPC unless you have a much longer lifespan than he does, which just feeds back into the "you're so powerful, do all these quests for me!" bit.)


I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't suggesting that the player not be able to affect the big picture (since that's probably the point of playing the game), but I was suggesting that perhaps there's no way to affect the big picture by interacting with the woodcutter. Perhaps he's not popular enough that anybody would take much notice if he died, and lazy enough that bringing more wood just gave him more leisure time. Either way, nothing really happens. Would that also be acceptable? If not, it's just another "LOOK!!! Its a man walking in the woods! It must be a quest!!!".

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Why does atmosphere have to be seprate from quests and important actions? Take the laundry example from my last post. If Mary says she always does laundry on Wednesdays, then that means she's gonna be home so you can't rob her house, however you could crash on her floor if needed. It also means you can steal her underpants from the clothesline on Wednesdays, if you particularly want to. So you steal her underpants, and people eventually find out about it, and pretty soon every time you walk into the local tavern, the townspeople point and laugh at you. Trivial event turned into a more interactive event that also adds atmosphere.


Or she just assumes they blew off in the wind or were stolen by depraved squirrels, gets some more, nobody finds out, and you have women's underwear in your inventory. Sounds reasonable to me.

I don't see what this has to do with atmosphere being seperate from quests (Unless it is a quest, which I thought we were trying to get away from) and important actions (Is getting a bunch of drunks to giggle really that important?). When I hear "atmosphere" I think "something whose purpose is to enhance the feel of the game". I think it's appropriate to have something just for atmosphere, with no greater purpose. Then again, my immersion isn't broken by not being able to pick up lamps.

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And sure, maybe washing dishes is boring. But people play the Sims all the time, where you have to wash dishes, and they seem to like it. (I personally loved the part in I think it was chapter 3 of Dragon Warrior 4, where you were playing the shopkeeper's assistant, and had to sell stuff and take the money back to the shopkeeper. It got old after a while, which is why it was good that you didn't have to do it for long, but it was just so different from what I expected that I adored it anyway.)


Personally, I've never played the Sims, but my understanding is that that's something you have to do to advance in the game. Also personally, I find levelling up boring in RPG's, but that's something you have to do to progress at some points, so I do it. As for selling stuff in Dragon Warrior 4, it is a nice change of pace, perhaps making it seem like there's more to the world, but insisting that something like that be possible with any given NPC seems to be taking the concept too far.

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As for the day/night thing, you could always do like Castlevania 2 & make tougher monsters come out to hunt at night.


I was just told I can't heal... so I have to fight even tougher enemies? I think I'll save some time and reload now ;)

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Have some town residents who stay up late, and others who go to bed early...if they have patterns, you can learn who's best to rob when, or just who you'll be able to babble with at 3am. Also, make it much more likely that a thief will wander through the alleys trying to rob you. If you have an arch-nemesis, he could occasionally send henchmen after you at night, trying for surprise. (Side note: what about a part like in LOTR where the bad guys try to attack you while you're sleeping in your nice safe inn room? I know other games have done this, but what about if it wasn't some big scripted scene but just something that could happen in normal gameplay if you pissed a certain person off? And why is it so bad to run into baddies while recuperating in an inn, when you're only at half health or whatever? It happens all the time in D&D games, not to mention at least 1 Ultima game.)


Seems a bad idea to make a supposed safe-haven unsafe. I'd feel it morally equivalent to an ambush in an FPS that you can only really survive by knowing it's coming. Cheap kills and such. If it's known in advance that that sort of thing can happen (i.e. it fits with the rest of the game) sure, why not? So long as I have a fighting chance.

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For that matter, why don't any of the NPC's seem capable of doing anything for themselves? (I'm thinking of Lufia 2 here, where the king has you go do tons of stuff even though he's got a bunch of soldiers. The game explains this by saying his soldiers suck, but if they suck that bad, how has the kingdom managed to stay in one piece all these years?) Why can't you ever ask them to do anything for you? ("Here kid, here's a few coppers. Go buy me a sandwich.") What if there was a guy who told you he was on a quest for some sword, and you went and got the sword for him, and he was actually annoyed at you for doing it because that was how he'd intended to prove himself manly?


Because if some NPC is going to save the world, my raison d'etre is gone ;) (Note, I think it would be interesting if some game didn't have me save the world, but I help some NPC save the world, or am doing something else interesting while some NPC saves the world)

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Anyway, I'll stop rambling now. I know a lot of this stuff is either impossible to code or would take so long no one would want to bother with it, but someday I'd like to see games that do this kind of stuff. (Of course, all this could easily work in MMORPG's, however it'd require people to actually RP instead of just wanting high skills/levels and lotsa l00t.)


Maybe if there were less focus on killing and more on economics/politics, it'd work better in an MMORPG? While reading rule books for som PnP RPG's, I thought "Why do all these rules have to do with combat?". Then I realized it was because that's about all you can make rules for. Anyway, this is all for another thread, eh?

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Way Walker    745
Quote:
Original post by Jon Alma
The possible problem I've seen with this is that the player (or at least me) ends up skipping past the atmosphere NPCs and as a result missing a lot of the atmosphere. In addition the important bits of quest information end up being signposted (ah a dialogue - important info coming up) and the player ends up playing the game on rails - no real information filtering needed.


See, for me, this isn't a problem. I don't have a lot of time to play games, so having important, game play relevant information sign posted is a very good thing. The very fact I'm playing a game puts me on rails. If I didn't want rails, I'd write a book. I see games as something like a very fancy Lone Wolf or Choose Your Own Adventure book. Rails with choices.

Also, to me, the very fact that it is "atmosphere" means it shouldn't be experienced directly. I want to breath atmosphere, not do atmosphere. That I see other NPC's around me going about there business does change the feel of the game. I don't need to interact, or even be able to interact, with them for them to enhance the game.

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JTippetts    12969
I'm pretty much the same way, Way Walker. I don't like to have to sort through 100 different conversations to find the thread of something important that needs to be done, or to find the next step in my great Master Plan(tm) that needs doing. Recently I've started Morrowind, and one of the things that bugs me most is the terrible uncertainty about what, exactly, I'm supposed to be doing. There are side-quests galore involving rising in rank in the Mage's Guild, exterminating evil-doers, hunting down rare-books, gathering mushrooms, yada, yada, yada... but what am I supposed to be doing? I honestly have no idea; I'm just drifting aimlessly from one end of the continent to the other. It's starting to get a little boring. Some big signposts, preferably with glaring red flashing letters saying "This Way to Next Step in Quest" would be very welcome right now. [grin]

My idea of well-constructed atmosphere pretty much coincides with yours as well. People going to and fro, busily engaged in their various day-to-day lives. When screwing with their day-to-day lives becomes a major gameplay element, I'm not likely to be interested. It's too easy to become entangled in an endless snarl of sidequests that detract from the main object of the game.

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onyxflame    203
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I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I wasn't suggesting that the player not be able to affect the big picture (since that's probably the point of playing the game), but I was suggesting that perhaps there's no way to affect the big picture by interacting with the woodcutter. Perhaps he's not popular enough that anybody would take much notice if he died, and lazy enough that bringing more wood just gave him more leisure time. Either way, nothing really happens. Would that also be acceptable? If not, it's just another "LOOK!!! Its a man walking in the woods! It must be a quest!!!".


Of course it wouldn't have to have much of an effect. Not every woodcutter is important. But I wouldn't want to go to all the effort of killing him and then not even have anyone notice. Maybe his wife hated his guts, maybe everyone in town hated his guts, but someone should at least say "Oh Fred's dead, cool" instead of just babbling on about their laundry as usual. Few things annoy me more than when something happens and no one seems to know or care. (Suzie saying "We're all doomed!" AFTER you kill the dragon. Yeesh.)

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I don't see what this has to do with atmosphere being seperate from quests (Unless it is a quest, which I thought we were trying to get away from) and important actions (Is getting a bunch of drunks to giggle really that important?). When I hear "atmosphere" I think "something whose purpose is to enhance the feel of the game". I think it's appropriate to have something just for atmosphere, with no greater purpose. Then again, my immersion isn't broken by not being able to pick up lamps.


Well, you could do this in a variety of ways. Maybe the drunks laughing at you bit has no effect, maybe it means people you meet will be too busy cracking jokes to tell you about important things, maybe it means people who like or hate you more because of this whole event chain will raise or lower their shop prices. It doesn't really *have* to have an effect though, because the whole purpose is for it to be an interactive piece of atmosphere. No it's not a quest, neither was the woodcutter example. It's just bits of the world you can interact with in ways 500 other games haven't already done, and thus I'd consider it normal gameplay actions.

Of course, if this event does have meaning (read: plot development possibilities), maybe you could end up running into a group of perverts who routinely steal undies, who decide to admit you into their group and you make beautiful nefarious music together. If something like this happened, the whole flavor of the game could change just from one little random action on your part. Which means that literally *anything* you're capable of doing in the game could spawn a plotline, rather than having to wait around for Joe to give you a quest.

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Personally, I've never played the Sims, but my understanding is that that's something you have to do to advance in the game. Also personally, I find levelling up boring in RPG's, but that's something you have to do to progress at some points, so I do it. As for selling stuff in Dragon Warrior 4, it is a nice change of pace, perhaps making it seem like there's more to the world, but insisting that something like that be possible with any given NPC seems to be taking the concept too far.


I don't know whether I'd even want to wash dishes to stay at an inn, it was just an example. Maybe waiting on customers in the common room would be more fun because you'd get to hear the gossip and you'd have to run back and forth and remember who ordered what. Not to mention dealing with the occasional dirty old man who tries to pinch your butt. Definitely more interactive than washing boring dishes, and it could spin off future goals too (rescue Marge's lost kid, try to get Max and his wife back together, steal Fergus the pervert's horse because he's disgusting and stinky and your butt will never be the same), which makes it more integral to the game and not just something tacked on for the hell of it.

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I was just told I can't heal... so I have to fight even tougher enemies? I think I'll save some time and reload now ;)


Well, if it's night, wouldn't that give you a better chance to avoid enemies you don't want to fight? :)

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Seems a bad idea to make a supposed safe-haven unsafe. I'd feel it morally equivalent to an ambush in an FPS that you can only really survive by knowing it's coming. Cheap kills and such. If it's known in advance that that sort of thing can happen (i.e. it fits with the rest of the game) sure, why not? So long as I have a fighting chance.


It could easily be coded so no one would accost you unless you had at least 50% health (or whatever other % you want). You'd definitely need to know it was possible though...and you might even be able to do the same thing to random guys sleeping in the inn.

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Because if some NPC is going to save the world, my raison d'etre is gone ;) (Note, I think it would be interesting if some game didn't have me save the world, but I help some NPC save the world, or am doing something else interesting while some NPC saves the world)


Well, saving the world is about as cliche' as you can get anyway. So either you'd have to think of some other overall goal, or turn it into SimMedievalWorld, and have various villians pop up based on previous events so that even if some NPC was trying to kill the evil Emperor of Doom, you could still try to kill the Baron of Flatulence. (I kind of like this idea actually...what if the villian you have to kill is a villian you basically created yourself? For instance, Woodcutter's brother is a prosperous merchant, and he gets pissed at you for killing his brother, so he hires a bunch of mercs and assassins and you have to (a) survive, and (b) burn his house down with him in it, or whatever other method of defeating him the game allows for.)

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Wavinator    2017
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Original post by TechnoGoth
I'm sure Wavinator in his/her many posts has covered this subject but I'd thought I'd bring it up again.


o_O Well, you sure know how to get a guy's attention! [lol]

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Must every encounter, and event mean something?

Or would you rather have the world populated by npcs performing actions? These actions would be abstracted too some degree depending on the game but the actions would cause events. For instance the man standing in the woods could be waiting just taking a rest on his way home and not even know who the player is let alone have something he needs them to do.


I think this is where we're going no matter what. I can see it with the development of Morrowind: Oblivion, the popularity of the Sims, and the explosion of MMOGs. People in general want a universe that has more of a semblance of life. But at the same time they want to be catered to. This for the single player game creates a strong tension resolved uniquely to each game.

An important determinant is whether or not the game is goal directed or features sandbox play, though. If you're about getting your objectives then anything you have to stop and examine may become a nuissance, especially if it yeilds nothing critical.

If, OTOH, you're just out in the country looking to spark off random interactions, then I think it is fine.

One last thought: Things that are supposed to be non-interactive are best for this, not people. Animals, robots or machinery work best because with a human there's an automatic expectation of interaction and potential disappointment when there's none to be had.

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Nazrix    307
Another side of this is instead of thinking what does ths NPC have to offer me, perhaps the player can initiate something with the NPC. If we give our players things to do to NPCs as well as things NPCs can do to the player or each other you'd have a whole new range of possibilities.

If the NPC is treated more like a real person, then he's not just some guy who chops wood. He has a whole life that you could interact with.Maybe you want to befriend him, have him invite you in to stay the night and rob his house.

Stupid example, but the point is that the more tools we give our players to interact with NPCs the more they can initiate events to take place with NPCs.With most RPGs the only way to initiate anything is to start a conversation the ends in getting some information or starting a fight.

There's no tricking the NPC, no asking the NPC to do you a favor or anything that deep. Of course I'm talking more about a game that has the "ecosystem" people have mentioned.

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TechnoGoth    2937
Funny enough reading this thread the first thought that occoured to me was some gag in which the player constantly badgers the wood cutter asking if he needs somethings or has problem and the wood cutter just replies "Nah, I'm fine, I'd rather do it myself"


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Mephs    354
(First off I admit to have skipped reading a few posts here, but only so I can post before I have to head home!!)

My own game is going to feature player controlled GMs as a standard feature, partly to combat this exact problem. I personally think that with single player games, we may be fighting a losing battle to try and take into account the thousands of tiny little factors that go into deciding how an NPC may or may not interact with you.

I figure that when we have multiplayer capabilities available, why not make a hugely complex job incredibly easy and simply have a player take care of these details? I really don't think a computer is ever going to be a reasonable substitute for a human storyteller, and I can't think of a much better way to allow for almost infinite replayability!

Picture now a man walking in the woods. Under player GM control, the man could come up and greet you with a quest, he could greet you and walk on by, he could draw weapons and prepare to fight, he could dissapear in a puff of smoke or he could run away in fear... the options are endless!

I admit however that it is still a worthwhile thing to discuss, as though it is a complex subject that could be dealt with easily by a player, it would still be useful to advance our automated systems for the single player experience.

Just a thought anyhoo,

Cheers,

Steve

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solinear    145
OK, I could start this with some huge quoting session, but I'll just skip all of that.

Here are the reasons why you get the "Hey, a guy with seemingly no purpose, he must be there for a quest" scenario:

1) Limited world. This is the biggest one. There are hundreds of thousands of people even in a small kingdom. However, in most MMOGs you'll only see hundreds. Why? You don't have terabytes of space to hold all of the information that a 'real' game world would hold. Heck, just look at the size of most game worlds. The maps are 100ths of the size that a more realistic one would be. Even Everquest (which is 'huge' by most game standards) is only a small number of square miles (maybe in the hundreds, but not much more than that).

2) Enjoyment. Trying to sift through the hundreds or even thousands of people who would be walking around even a small town/city streets to find the 3 people who would actually help progress your game plot would be worthless. These are the people who are likely to contribute something to the game experience. Whether it be through quests, information or just comic relief. Even with map size, it's about enjoyment, walk across the town you live in... I know the small city that I live in (~250k people in the 'urban' area) would take an hour or two. Nowhere near fun. I'd much rather take 10 minutes to do the same thing and get on to the fun stuff... combat and quests.


These are the big reasons. Sure, you could (in theory) make a game that had all of the people that London would have in the 1500s in an alternate universe with magic and such, but would it really be enjoyable to walk through the squalor and dirt that was the city back then? Dodging thieves and random kids trying to beg from you? Even if you made the entire game to consist of just London, there would be a HUGE amount of data that was there just for accuracy and would do nothing to promote enjoyment or plot development. There can be something said about immersion, but enjoyment trumps immersion and accuracy every time.

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Wavinator    2017
Quote:
Original post by solinear
Trying to sift through the hundreds or even thousands of people who would be walking around even a small town/city streets to find the 3 people who would actually help progress your game plot would be worthless. These are the people who are likely to contribute something to the game experience. Whether it be through quests, information or just comic relief. Even with map size, it's about enjoyment, walk across the town you live in... I know the small city that I live in (~250k people in the 'urban' area) would take an hour or two. Nowhere near fun. I'd much rather take 10 minutes to do the same thing and get on to the fun stuff... combat and quests.


But isn't this a sorting problem? What's funny is that you're assuming a player has to tag every NPC out of those hundreds / thousands / whatever even though you and I do not do this IRL. IRL, you and I have our list of friends and contacts and their daily experiences may generate references based on what we tell them we're doing. If I tell someone I've recently had a need to create a website they may know someone who can help me. When this fails there are directories of services that serve the same purpose, though without the reliability of friendship; these directories may even be rated by some other source for quality, so that I can figure out who in my area is best at repairing something, or making something.

If the future of games involves larger worlds this is one way that such a sorting problem (who has the gameplay I need to get to) will be solved. It might even be fun going from reference to reference and getting caught up in their personal plots and drama.

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