Jump to content
  • Advertisement
Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

!@#$#! Lying NPCs!

This topic is 3655 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

If you intended to correct an error in the post then please contact us.

Recommended Posts

I don't know how often this has been done in games, but what would be the impact of information in a game that couldn't be trusted? Considering the phenomenon of bugs, how dependent the player often is for the game's entities to tell him/her what to do and where to go, not to mention rewards and progression-- how should a game handle NPCs that lie? For instance, a commander that seems to always send you in to battles with suicidal odds. Or an NPC that gives you directions to nowhere, potions that don't work, and a target to kill that gets you in trouble with the entire village. Should the game overtly telegraph to the player that they're potentially getting bad information? I would love for them to use their heads and protect themselves in advance, but I'm not sure how that could be accomplished. I realize that there needs to be a choice in which path to follow (two commanders, more than one NPC), but how much should you assume in terms of handholding? And how do you tell the player that the game's not buggy, but rather that they've been the victim of a lie?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Advertisement
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
And how do you tell the player that the game's not buggy, but rather that they've been the victim of a lie?


This would be a hard one, if I remember correctly in morrowind a lot of NPC's gave bad direction, some actually seems to believe they were in a different city and gave direct that would have been correct if they were in the city they mentioned.
Unless its spelled out to me in big letter that they lie if a NPC's gives me wrong direction I will probably just assume that the scripters pulled a all nighter before the release date and ran out of coffee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is something I definately want to see more of, particularly in RPGs.

I think one way of pulling it off is that the lies should be (at least initially) involving information that is seconded by another (usually meta) source. For example quest logs, map markers, GUI feedback, etc. That way, the lie can be told, but when you are in a position to realise the information is a lie the second source can be updated to reflect that fact. Quest logs can change to describe the lie, map markers can disappear or change to a question mark, etc. By doing so, you can give obvious signs that the false information is intentional, and set up expectations for later in the game that such lies are possible.

The big key is consistancy. In most games, we write things off as bugs becaue they are as common, or more so, than in-game lying. The only time lies are typically used are for major plot twists, and often then only outside of the gameplay (eg, a questline that requires you to trust them, then a cutscene revealing a lie). For lying to be accepted as part of the game, it needs to be introduced early in the game, and to be consistantly applied over a variety of information sources. Not necessarily lying all the time, but it should be obvious that all sources can potentially lie.

Breaking players' meta-game expectations is the biggest immersion killer and where theyll complain the most, I think. By all means use story and gameplay to imply that certain characters are honest in order to have a shock betrayal, but simultaneously manage the player's knowledge that lies are part of the setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In Mass Effect, there's a scene like this. A quest giver suggests that the player talk to some old drunk at the bar, and then says something like "I wouldn't call him a reliable source of information, though."

The conversation with the old drunk is somewhat misleading. He's a cynical old coot, who doesn't exactly deceive the PC, but basically gives his own confused version of what he knows. At that point in the game, it's a sort of detective mystery, so the clue that information might be inaccurate was important.

There was also a very old RPG (I don't remember which one) where we meet a fellow with one hand cut off. He's balancing a bag of ale or something on it. Says it's an old war injury. Later on, it turns out he's a theif. I don't remember ever hearing about what he stole that got his hand chopped off. It was interesting enough that I still remember it.

Should the game warn players that something like this is gonna happen? Most games don't have this feature, so players are accustomed to expecting the truth.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by caffiene
This is something I definately want to see more of, particularly in RPGs.

So do I, too.

Quote:
Original post by caffiene
I think one way of pulling it off is that the lies should be (at least initially) involving information that is seconded by another (usually meta) source. For example quest logs, map markers, GUI feedback, etc. [...]

And at least GUI elements not obvious to the player should be explained in the manual, so the player is already _prepared_ to suffer from lies. Err, well, those 15% that read the manual at all ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The key for me would be that the lying NPC's motivation would need to be shown fairly clearly. If some guy tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then when I go east, he's there waiting for me with a group of bandits, then that's fine and interesting. If he tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then I go east and there's nothing there, and it's actually west, and the NPC never says anything more about it, then I'd assume it's a bug.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by makeshiftwings
The key for me would be that the lying NPC's motivation would need to be shown fairly clearly. If some guy tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then when I go east, he's there waiting for me with a group of bandits, then that's fine and interesting. If he tells me "The dungeon is to the east", and then I go east and there's nothing there, and it's actually west, and the NPC never says anything more about it, then I'd assume it's a bug.

This reminds me of Gothic 1 (2 too) lies. In the first camp you encounter, there are guards who demand money for 'protection'. If you don't pay, later in the game a worker asks you to help him retrieve a medallion outside the city. At the destination, he tells you that not paying money was a bad idea and tries to beat you up with two other guys.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Myst series has several of these; believe the wrong person, and you end up doomed. Focusing on the first one, it is never made explicit, but just from wandering around their rooms and stuff you learn of their personalities, which enables you to make a reasonably informed choice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When playing D&D, this was often the case. The DM would expect us to look into things before we trusted what an NPC told us. Actually, there were many situations where we were expected not to take things at face value. In CRPGs this is usually not the case. NPCs tell you where to go and you're expected to hack and slash your way there. Rather than playing down our intelligence, it would be interesting to have a game that expected us to do a little digging before jumping into unknown territory.

Now, how do you implement this in a way that doesn't alienate the dumber-than-a-box-of-oatmeal crowd? Or, do people really MIND being challenged? Myst was popular, after all. Then again, how do you implement this, period?! Back in the day, "word command" games handled this well but then there hasn't been one of those in years (oh, fond memories of Tass Times in Tone Town). Didn't the LucasArts adventure games deal with these sort of situations? Full Throttle and Grim Fandango come to mind.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
NPCs that lie

In real life when someone lies there are cues that can indicate that that person is lying. In a computer game, if you can't reproduce that ability for the player, then they would be unable to tell the computer was lying. This would become frustrating as then there would be no way for a player to make an informed decision about a new NPC they encounter.

Now, if you could be really subtle with facial animations for NPCs while they are talking, you could include "Tells" that an observant player could pick up on. This would allow you to program in such behaviours into the NPCs.

Have a look at books (or websites) that try to teach people to pick up on other people's body language.

A game that added body language to the list of interactions that it can do would be a major improvement in game feedback.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Advertisement
×

Important Information

By using GameDev.net, you agree to our community Guidelines, Terms of Use, and Privacy Policy.

Participate in the game development conversation and more when you create an account on GameDev.net!

Sign me up!