How NPC's can be made "better".

So, if you're like me in most MMO's... an NPC is generally unimportant unless they fall into 1 of 3 categories.

1. A tool, repairing, mending, potion seller, transit, teleport, trader, etc some NPC you can "use".
2. Story related, typically the type of NPC that follows your main story and will move depending on where you're at in it. Some players like to talk to these since they can be available with specific dialogue for specific quests for a limited time... But mainly it's because they want to progress the story and gain the exp that likely goes along with it.
3. Side quests/unlockables. Any NPC that is just a requirement to fulfill for either going completionist mode, or unlocking something like mount usage, dungeon unlocks, new content unlocks and etc.


Let me disclaimer here and say, I DO NOT OBJECT TO HAVING THESE. I think all 3 of these categories are perfectly fine in design and provide organization for every MMO and has become expected among the MMO community to set their own goals and organize themselves.

With that out of the way, the problem? Any other form of NPC falls into some sort've pop culture reference dialogue, a tutorial dialogue about how you can right click to attack, or world building lore that may not even cater to everyone playing. This makes anyone else walking around without an icon over their head immediately worthless to the average individual since it makes a very plain "they don't give me something, so I don't need to interact with it" mindset. I would like to propose 2 ideas to change/fix this that would help Ashes of Creation especially kick off.... Also feel free to correct me if some of this is already planned or mentioned.

1. NPC's providing actually useful information in their dialogue that can tip you off to secrets. Something I adored in older games was when an NPC talks and gives you a subtle hint that you may not realize is even a hint at first glance. You talk to a farmer and maybe they say "I swear I saw someone just climbing that mountain up there a moment ago... Can't imagine how they do it". Meanwhile the NPC is looking in the direction of said mountain. Something subtle like this may come across as just mindless chit chat to make alive feeling characters, but perhaps instead turning that into "go towards the mountains, you'll find something useful atop it" or maybe a nudge that you could find something akin to climbing gear in that way. I really enjoy this concept because then I feel more encouraged to talk to NPC's to see if I can't find something interesting or unique. Not necessarily tutorial telling me how to play, but maybe secrets that encourage exploration and travel.

2. NPC's with RNG/random "awareness" or "relationships" or "affinity". So, let's say you've got a guard who you speak to saying "Geez, they put me out in the middle of this field to guard by myself. What if they come from behind me? I wouldn't even see it coming!". This could be a secret trigger to say you could actually stand behind the guard for a full minute straight, then they may suddenly show a side quest over their head or they show a status of their affiliation to you over their head. Maybe if you did this, they're pleased with you and pay you some random amount in money, or maybe they tell you a secret or offer you a quest for some materials. Maybe if you just run off after speaking with them, they show a status they're displeased with you, and you go up to them questioning why they would be mad at you, and they in turn offer a quest to kill X amount of enemies. The main reason behind this idea would be it could create something akin to what you would find in games like Fallout or a telltale game. Where your actions on a small scale, may have grander scale effects... Perhaps because you knew about what that guard was going through, now the NPC market board owner of that city near that guard is suspicious of you and won't let you use the market board until you do X. Another example is like Red dead 2 as well. Maybe some NPC's tip you off but it ends up being a trap/setup by their hands to capture you or get you alone against a group of bandits by following some fake trail on the path. Then you go back to them and they bribe you not to kill them or you could find an officer that was actually looking for them in the city nearby.


Something to make each individual's "adventure" feel unique to their own. Everyone has a different personality, is naïve or suspicious of everyone. Making triggers random and how NPC's respond based on characteristics of your character's stats or how they respond to X amount of NPC's or enemies is what would be neat about this. One person could say an NPC gave them X item based off doing this activity, while another says they got this item through a different activity and so on. Overall just a way to changeup how we interact with NPC's.... Maybe they're not just one-offs either, they may have multiple triggers ands things you could do that involves other NPC's. A lot of the rewards could be purely cosmetic, emotes, or simply just intel about the lay of the land. Maybe some NPC's could even respond/react to live player happenings like seeing someone get killed near them by a corrupted player or learning their name. Maybe even offering a small bounty opposed to player bounties to encourage a new activity you could commit to. Or maybe they LIKE seeing players killed and try to lure you into somewhere a corrupted player could have an advantage against killing you... so on and so forth.

TL;DR: A reason to talk to NPC's and be in the world you're in. It'd be overall more immersive to see players interacting with different NPC's in each town too. Rather than just idle at marketboards or in random spots, they'd look like they were actually apart of the world and interacting with it.
Future mercenary guild owner in Ashes of Creation
“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
― G.K. Chesterton
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Comments

  • If I recall correctly, I seem to remember people saying they wanted random NPCs walking around so that the cities felt "alive" and "lived in".

    But yeah, I'm all for them having some sort of purpose. I'm also all for some of them purely being there for future meme creation, like the gool ol' "arrow to the knee" joke.
  • daveywavey wrote: »
    If I recall correctly, I seem to remember people saying they wanted random NPCs walking around so that the cities felt "alive" and "lived in".

    But yeah, I'm all for them having some sort of purpose. I'm also all for some of them purely being there for future meme creation, like the gool ol' "arrow to the knee" joke.

    Could always go the route that FF14 does and make the "walking around NPC's" non-targetable and just around vs the ones that can be interacted with.
    Future mercenary guild owner in Ashes of Creation
    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton
  • Love all of this, though from a game design perspective I have a feeling this kind of RNG NPC stuff would be horrendous to implement for an MMO. Not that I have any experience, but trying to create the depth of interaction/interconnectivity in Baldur's Gate 3 into an MMO, while cool, I could see taking an extra year to implement.

    Point #1 would be great though. I'm also guilty of skipping dialogue because it "means nothing," so seeing useful info in there would be great. Or like the quest summary says "go kill the troll" but doesn't make mention of the fact you have to use acid or fire on the killing blow (that tidbit is in the quest giver's dialogue).
  • Miinstrel wrote: »
    Love all of this, though from a game design perspective I have a feeling this kind of RNG NPC stuff would be horrendous to implement for an MMO. Not that I have any experience, but trying to create the depth of interaction/interconnectivity in Baldur's Gate 3 into an MMO, while cool, I could see taking an extra year to implement.

    Point #1 would be great though. I'm also guilty of skipping dialogue because it "means nothing," so seeing useful info in there would be great. Or like the quest summary says "go kill the troll" but doesn't make mention of the fact you have to use acid or fire on the killing blow (that tidbit is in the quest giver's dialogue).

    I don't particularly see it being too difficult. If trigger A is met, NPC A gains their quest or is triggered. If trigger B is activated, NPC B is activated.. Etc etc. I wouldn't think it'd need to be super intricate and a must for every single NPC either but if there was the option of having 2 choices of dialogue.... 1 being useful intel and the other being potentially a secret... I'd definitely appreciate having both options. They could even be as simple as an NPC saying "making these leather hides is hard work on my family but we'll make do with what little we have" meaning, just craft 5 leather hides while in their shop or in front of the NPC = they get a smiley face over their head and ask "would you be so kind to trade me in return for some dye I have leftover for color'ing gear?".

    This could even be something gradual that has players go back and retrace their steps to meet NPC's again and see if they even have a trigger. Certain times of day having certain NPC's could even attribute to some of this.
    Future mercenary guild owner in Ashes of Creation
    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton
  • maouwmaouw Member
    edited November 18
    @Valic
    For a couple of quests, that's ok.
    But if we're talking about procedural generation of NPCs for every possible quest for every possible node - oh boi... the engineers will be working on that for ages alongside someone who has to write a whole bunch of dialogue that can be reassembled, and they have to do all of that without making the quests feel like another fetch quest.
    Otherwise you're asking them to hand-craft questlines for every possible village/metropolis that players could build (103 of them). That's gargantuan.

    Baldur's Gate (And Divinity Original Sin) do a great job of this, but those games have set progression so it's much easier to tailor around that (only like... 5 towns that never change). Whereas AoC is a bucket of who knows what's going to happen next.
    I wish I were deep and tragic
  • Miinstrel wrote: »
    I'm also guilty of skipping dialogue because it "means nothing,"

    It means something to the NPC ;)

  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    ACTIONS
    I would like to see some NPC respond to actions with varying frequency.
    • Most NPC`s in game just stay static, that is fine
    • Some NPC`s have day / cycles which is also great
    • Perhaps monthly / seasonal cycles for some vendors between Nodes
    But I have a few thoughts.

    Take for example a typical armor vendor for no other reason than as an example perhaps:
    • 90% of time for buy/sells typically they stand there
    • 7% of buy/sells they perform an action or random selection of different responses.
    • 3% of buy/sells for an elite / rare / special item perhaps the move from their spot and grab / take the item to/from a shelf / back room and present on the table. And not just for the player to see but for all in the area to see that a high level transaction was taking place.
    • 0.1% of buy/sells something different again

    All just to take away the banal/repetition over time.

    SPEECHES
    Dragon Age Inquisition, I thoroughly enjoyed the random 1 off thing some of the party members said. Would love to have varying frequency with NPC pre-set speeches
  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    NPC`s businesses in town with overlapping sales.

    Perhaps let the players sales results determine if the business stays profitable and continues or not and/or gets replaced by another tenant.
  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds
    This was something Everquest Next was working on. Giving NPC's needs and want's.



    This kind of stuff would be cool to see. Unfortunately the project died.
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
  • VhaeyneVhaeyne Member
    edited November 19
    This was something Everquest Next was working on. Giving NPC's needs and want's.



    This kind of stuff would be cool to see. Unfortunately the project died.

    Cool system, but it feels like it makes more sense for a single player game.
    In a MMO you have a real world full of real people with wants and desires.
    I feel like the apex for MMOs is going to be when we don't need NPCs, because players will have enough reasons to deal with each other.
    CctsKnC.png
  • maouw wrote: »
    @Valic
    For a couple of quests, that's ok.
    But if we're talking about procedural generation of NPCs for every possible quest for every possible node - oh boi... the engineers will be working on that for ages alongside someone who has to write a whole bunch of dialogue that can be reassembled, and they have to do all of that without making the quests feel like another fetch quest.
    Otherwise you're asking them to hand-craft questlines for every possible village/metropolis that players could build (103 of them). That's gargantuan.

    Baldur's Gate (And Divinity Original Sin) do a great job of this, but those games have set progression so it's much easier to tailor around that (only like... 5 towns that never change). Whereas AoC is a bucket of who knows what's going to happen next.

    Well that's the thing, I wouldn't necessarily like this attached to every single questline. Rather, I'd like to see it not attached to quests at all other than something very mundane and minute as an accomplishment. Imo, just 3 NPC's in a singular town/metropolis that exist solely to have something trigger based off how you interact with them, or maybe killing enemies a certain amount, etc... isn't that bad? It's very easy to link things too, so you could even have things be from point A to point A rather than point A to point B. As an example, granny knows their brother lives up north, the brother knows granny lives south.... Do a thing with either one, they lead you to the other.
    akabear wrote: »
    SPEECHES
    Dragon Age Inquisition, I thoroughly enjoyed the random 1 off thing some of the party members said. Would love to have varying frequency with NPC pre-set speeches

    Maybe something along the lines of how red dead 2 would have random NPC's show up at specific times to say certain dialogue at a fixed point in time? FF14 also did this sort've thing, though some(if not all) of it is client-side.
    akabear wrote: »
    NPC`s businesses in town with overlapping sales.

    Perhaps let the players sales results determine if the business stays profitable and continues or not and/or gets replaced by another tenant.

    Honestly, not even having to go that far. Something as simple as the NPC's dialogue changing based on sales in ratio to the rest of the town would be just as cool. They're doing well, you talk to them, they're in a good mood for it. Their rivals across the streets doing better? Maybe they say they're down in the dumps because of lack of profits etc. Would give people some useful into about maybe what will be rising in the economy or what's popular while not being a super complicated system or a "demand" to talk to the NPC.

    Future mercenary guild owner in Ashes of Creation
    “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
    ― G.K. Chesterton
  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    Some great ideas here.. keep them coming!
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited November 20
    Vhaeyne wrote: »
    This was something Everquest Next was working on. Giving NPC's needs and wants.
    Yep. StoryBricks is the ideal.
    We will have to see how close these devs can get and still launch the game in a reasonable timeframe.

  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds
    A friend of mine was telling me about a Ranger in EQ that roamed the woods and if she caught you killing the wildlife she would attack. Think she was higher level and was tough to kill. He also said you needed to farm the animals to level.
    Never got that far in EQ. Someone else know the whole story?
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
  • This was something Everquest Next was working on. Giving NPC's needs and want's.

    This kind of stuff would be cool to see. Unfortunately the project died.

    Oh, ouch! You bring up old painful memories my friend. It wounds me... :(
    I followed EQN for a long time, participated in the Landmark portion of the game and in the contests to add possible architecture to the game. All back before that terrible Sony/Daybreak Games fiasco crushed it into dream-paste.

    I haven't been willing to 'get excited' about a up-in-coming game ever since.
    Well, ever since AoC. Finally I can be excited again! And don't have to worry about corporate shenanigan's.
    Stephen Sharif is my James Halliday (Anorak)

    17102045741am-vaoep.png

    “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons even death may die.”

    -HPL
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    A friend of mine was telling me about a Ranger in EQ that roamed the woods and if she caught you killing the wildlife she would attack. Think she was higher level and was tough to kill. He also said you needed to farm the animals to level.
    Never got that far in EQ. Someone else know the whole story?
    I remember encountering that, but...over 20 years ago, so I don't remember the details.
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    edited November 20
    I hope the devs are able to provide us with evolving NPC storylines.
    Instead of Fippy Darkpaw always respawning with the exact same story for decades, we should see an evolution of history with each new Stage - both victories and defeats.
    Which storeowners prosper and which storeowners fail?
    A town becoming a city should affect each NPC to some degree. Some NPCs should be affected by new buildings being built or a new Religion gaining prominence, etc.

    Might be too much work, though.

    I frequently use the Kithikor Forest example from this clip to explain how compelling this kind of conflict can be. I am typically a pacifist carebear... but...!! If I have to kill some Dryads in order to buff my Stealth, I will kill some Dryads. And if player-character Druids attempt to fight me in order to protect the Dryads...well...I might have to PK those Druids. Not because I like PvP combat, but because I'll do whatever I gotta do to buff my Stealth.
    That's some powerful design, when you can turn a carebear into an unremorseful killer.
  • While i would LOVE all of this, I also have to be realistic. This is not going to be a single player experience and as such, trying to give every random NPC in depth dialogue and meaning to the area would be a daunting task considering both the scope of the world and the randomness of nodes.

    I would just be happy if all of the NPC's weren't just standing around in the same freakin' place 24/7/365 waiting for us to interact with them.
    isFikWd2_o.jpg
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    At some point, procedural generation should help, but...I think we are more than a handful of years away from that.
  • You guys are forgetting a very important part to make npcs better...

    I want a close up camera to the NPC were are talking to ESO style.

    ECyObSI.jpg

    In order to have characters in the game that are important and recognisable, we need a closer look to the people we are talking to. Just seeing a giant text box in the screen won't really do it.

  • NagashNagash Member, Leader of Men, Early Alpha One Tester
    Kionashi wrote: »
    You guys are forgetting a very important part to make npcs better...

    I want a close up camera to the NPC were are talking to ESO style.

    ECyObSI.jpg

    In order to have characters in the game that are important and recognisable, we need a closer look to the people we are talking to. Just seeing a giant text box in the screen won't really do it.

    that's not a bad idea to be honest, really brings the person into perspective
    nJ0vUSm.gif

    The dead do not squabble as this land’s rulers do. The dead have no desires, petty jealousies or ambitions. A world of the dead is a world at peace
  • We'll get to appreciate the skill of the game artists, too.
  • PlagueMonk wrote: »
    While i would LOVE all of this, I also have to be realistic. This is not going to be a single player experience and as such, trying to give every random NPC in depth dialogue and meaning to the area would be a daunting task considering both the scope of the world and the randomness of nodes.

    I would just be happy if all of the NPC's weren't just standing around in the same freakin' place 24/7/365 waiting for us to interact with them.

    Yes. This.
    Just standing there. Forever. -_-'

    It drove me crazy that in Final Fantasy 11, shops would have hours/days that they were open. (Well, that part was interesting, because I appreciated the realism of giving NPC a 'day off' work).

    What I didn't appreciate was that those same NPC STAYED STANDING there during the hours/days the store was closed. Why?!!

    (Just despawn them for a bit SE, come on...)

    /rollseyes
    Stephen Sharif is my James Halliday (Anorak)

    17102045741am-vaoep.png

    “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons even death may die.”

    -HPL
  • For people who play in different timezones or have different waking hours, closing shops between certain hours doesn't seem like a particularly helpful feature.
  • daveywavey wrote: »
    For people who play in different timezones or have different waking hours, closing shops between certain hours doesn't seem like a particularly helpful feature.

    I wasn't suggesting that at all. I agree with you. I just thought it was stupid that NPC are usually programmed to be soooooo static; that even when they 'should' be gone. They aren't. They are still standing there. Stationary.

    Note: Just to be clear, the 'closing times' in FFXI were in-game days/hours. So it was more like; wait a IRL half -hour or something and the shop would be open again. Timezones didn't matter at all.
    Stephen Sharif is my James Halliday (Anorak)

    17102045741am-vaoep.png

    “That is not dead which can eternal lie,
    And with strange aeons even death may die.”

    -HPL
  • DygzDygz Member, Braver of Worlds
    Kionashi wrote: »
    You guys are forgetting a very important part to make npcs better...
    I want a close up camera to the NPC were are talking to ESO style.
    Not forgetting. Just assuming that is inherently the case for any game currently in development.

  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    NPC
    • decrease taxes / prices the more you do for your node
    • decrease taxes / prices the more you do for that particular NPC
    • open up benefits / buffs / gear / potions paths etc the more you do for a NPC
  • bloodprophetbloodprophet Member, Braver of Worlds
    This was something Everquest Next was working on. Giving NPC's needs and want's.

    This kind of stuff would be cool to see. Unfortunately the project died.

    Oh, ouch! You bring up old painful memories my friend. It wounds me... :(
    I followed EQN for a long time, participated in the Landmark portion of the game and in the contests to add possible architecture to the game. All back before that terrible Sony/Daybreak Games fiasco crushed it into dream-paste.

    I haven't been willing to 'get excited' about a up-in-coming game ever since.
    Well, ever since AoC. Finally I can be excited again! And don't have to worry about corporate shenanigan's.

    Same here. Those were dark days indeed.
    Most people never listen. They are just waiting on you to quit making noise so they can.
  • akabearakabear Member, Pioneer
    Ah EQN, there was so much potential in some many of the ideas in that game.
    1. Would love nothing more than to see the destructible landscapes with players making their own dungeons by digging
    2. The NPC Mobs responding to the actions of players
  • mushinmushin Member, Braver of Worlds
    Maybe have npcs with hidden quests so we give more effort in interacting with them.
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