Alternative to NPCs

Post and debate ideas and concepts

Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby mrout » Fri Aug 30, 2013 10:53 pm

croxis wrote:How would you implement economic and piracy gameplay without npcs in single player and low population (<100 player) servers?


You wouldn't, and you don't need to IMO.
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby SirAwesomelot » Fri Aug 30, 2013 11:06 pm

Yeah, that just seems like incentive to run big servers (which have a lot of other gameplay benefits).
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby ShaneDalton » Sun Sep 01, 2013 8:13 am

This is an interesting mechanic, I think that it'd make a great thing to express the player's loneliness by resorting to build bots to talk to him and give him some sort of contact. It'd be also cool that since how they are coding the bots that they create the personality and this can reflect in what the Player is wanting to create. I am pro-bot.
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby Qworg » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:16 pm

We can't simply start with an empty universe - some procedural planets but nothing else.

There are different levels of complexity and engagement for each sci-fi trope:

1) Empty Universe
2) Empty Universe, except for "Ones that Came Before"
3) #2 but they left stuff behind (Robots! Automatic Defense Systems! Empty cities filled with crystal tech! etc)
4) Non-Spacefaring Races
5) Spacefaring Races
6) Very complex spacefaring societies/interplanetary interactions.

Where do we want Trillek to fall on this continuum? What kind of play does each support?
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby SunShiranui » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:40 pm

I'd say either 1 or 3. 4-5-6 would mean having lots of NPCs, which isn't good.
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby radar37 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:25 pm

I really like option 3 but, i think there should also be a rare occurrence in which you find a fully functional ship in orbit that is non-hostile unless you choose to attack it. And if you defeat it, without destroying it, you can loot it. I'm not sure if we need an NPC for that though...
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby Qworg » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:20 pm

Also, do we have to differentiate between NPCs and Mobs?

NPC: A fully functioning non-player entity. Works much like a player would - goals, actions, etc.
Mob: A monster/enemy ship/enemy combatant. Designed to challenge the player - a game element, not an actor.
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby mrout » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:03 am

Option one appeals to me the most.
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby amberkilloran » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:32 pm

Option 3, as presented by Qworg, seems like it could be a lot of fun provided that it was indeed something somewhat less common, as Radar suggests; the occasional derelict ship orbiting a planet or a star in an out of the way system might add some gameplay for some players who like not only creating a space for themselves in the universe, but also exploring and discovering what the world has to offer. If excluded from the core, though, I think it would certainly be ripe territory for modding support.

Comparing the other options, I feel as if option 1 is somewhat limited and, to me, lacks a certain sense of identity and a story direction. Certainly, we would have the DCPU and a general "hardcore" atmosphere, but with what goal? What drives players forward? Exploration of an empty universe only goes so far, in my opinon.

However, options 4-6 may provide too much stimulation and too little options to actually explore and make your way. Option 4 is perhaps the least intrusive option of the bunch, allowing for the range of non-spacefaring races to range from basic organisms (ie. Animals) to scattered tribes to interact with and finally to real civilizations. I think the more complex creatures you come across in the universe, the fewer options a player will have to make of it as they will.

Anyway, I am an advocate of option 3 (perhaps implemented in a mod, though I think it creates some drive to explore and discover more of the universe) while perhaps expanding what players will encounter to include basic animals (to create threats to players on some worlds or simply to add color to the universe) and possibly to basic tribes (some that may be hostile to players and others that may be more hospitable).
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Re: Alternative to NPCs

Postby croxis » Mon Sep 09, 2013 6:02 pm

I find exploration, in and of itself, to be dull after a while. I like mechanics and gameplay systems. While most people get excited about new civs and units in civilization expansions, or new couches in the sims stuff packs, I get excited about new or modified gameplay mechanics such as the world congress or actual job gameplay (I love being an architect/interior designer in sims 3).

In my mind exploration is like new couches -- nifty for a few minutes then "meh"

Another problem with an empty universe is that it offers little gameplay to the player. Sid Meier defines gameplay as a series of interesting choices. In a pure exploration environment once the player develops a pattern/habit of their gameplay there is nothing to disrupt it causing the player to make new decisions and choices. Low level mobs can disrupt player habit to a degree. Raph Koster also cites this with his children -- once his kids figured out the "winning" moves to always draw in tic tac toe they stopped playing it.

My favorite idea so far is a little mash of 3-5. Humantiy was spacefaring, entered a dark age where technology is stigmatized, and the player (+ other players and/or some npcs) are those who are interested in technology and are returning to the stars with a patchwork understanding of the technology they are using. This allows for old ruins, active ancient powererful defence systems still protecting a space station filled with pre-fall technology, to explaining the tech mismatch between having ftl but still using slow dcpus, to why the player is up in space but there isn't a lot of infrastructure or traffic around.
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