Quantcast

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Living NPCs?

fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

Why don't we have Oblivion-style NPCs in MMOs?

 

For those of you who haven't played Oblivion, NPCs are (in general) goverened by some programming that makes them seem at least a little lifelike. They wake in the morning and eat some breakfast. They walk to where they work, maybe chat with another NPC they bump into along the way. They get pickpocketed by thief-like NPCs and scream for the police, but eventually calm down and go back to their daily routine. Then they have lunch. Then they go chill at the tavern in the evening, then they head home and sleep.

Conversely, NPCs in EverQuest or World of Warcraft (or virtually any MMO) just sit in the same spot 24/7/365, only talk to you if you're working on a quest for them, etc. Boring. Unimmersive.

 

Making an NPC seem (at least somewhat) alive is simple. Very simple. I could think of how to program a function that gives an NPC a dozen times more life than the NPCs in Oblivion have, and my total experience with computer programming is "Teach Yourself QBasic in 21 days" and "Teach yourself C++ in 21 days", read 12 years ago when I was in 6th grade...

 

So why hasn't it been done?

 

«1

Comments

  • TillerTiller Member EpicPosts: 8,880

    I guess because we have other players who do all that  XD

    SWG Bloodfin vet
    Elder Jedi/Elder Bounty Hunter

  • HousamHousam Member Posts: 1,460

    thats one thing that has baffled me for a long time

  • pixeldogmeatpixeldogmeat Member Posts: 441

    Because you have to do it across the board, for every NPC in the game and you have to take considerations for every interaction, environment, npc, etc..

    Oblivion is polished.

    MMO's are never polished. They are playgrounds.

    Easy, it's like comparing disney world to a playground at an elementary school.

    One is polished and all the "polishable" details are thought out. The other one is just "there" and it's up to the children to use their imaginations to "immerse" themselves in the reality.

    You trade AI'd NPC's for real players, maybe you aren't playing with other players? Do you really want to interact with NPC's more? Go play a single player game.

    Whats worse? An NPC that idly sits by while 10 players click on him and get private text screens or an NPC who is seemingly intellegent, walking around, and 10 players click on him and everyone gets to see the NPC jitter in circles, say the same thing 10 times and basically totally kill the life that was in it.

    While it would be fun in MMO's it is a complicated task.

    PLAY WURM ONLINE!! www.wurmonline.com

  • ianonmmorpgianonmmorpg Member Posts: 248

    I agree completely Fischsemmel.

    Relatively easy to do, and very rewarding. A city can become a vibrant and interesting place.

    I dont think we could fool an interrogation, but as already pointed out, many PCs act like NPCs, so we should be able to hide the PC/NPC boundry a little better, thus adding even more realism to an urban environment.

    The daily lives of NPCs can provide adventure ops for the PCs, perhaps the pick pocket could be a PC, or better yet a burglar waiting for the NPC to go about their well documented routines... documented by following them around. Also it means that the local tavern is full when it should be and full of people you can encounter around the town, again further prompting activities... perhaps they remember you as th last person to bump into them before their purse was lifted!

  • ianonmmorpgianonmmorpg Member Posts: 248

    Dogmeat, while I agree that would occur if we tried to incorporate such functionality in for instance on top of WOW. I think it wont take a lot of work to get an NPC to try and answer one request at a time and make comments about pushy PCs trying to get their attention.  If the PCs expect this, its not so frustrating.

  • elvenangelelvenangel Member Posts: 2,205

    Its simple until you realize you have to update 100s of NPC's at the same time or with in a few frames of each other, package it and send it across the server to 1000s of players.....what might work in say an instance with 5 to 10 people or even 40 people is one thing ... doing it for several hundred players at once so everyone is seeing the same thing is a whole nother story.    

    Simple to do for a single player does not mean its simple to do for a massive multiplayer.   I'd rather have a few npc's with some meaningless tasks to carry out then living NPC's that cause more server lag than they're worth.

    EQ2 made it to where you'd see an NPC whispering or waving to you because they have a quest that you've not taken but no one else would see it...but what your suggesting OP is something that everyone would have to see especially if the NPC's move around, I suppose its possible to say let the players choose so its done on the player's pc it'd be rather limited in what you'd see them DO then especially if its an npc that everyone needs to interact with.  

     

    Please Refer to Doom Cat with all conspiracies & evil corporation complaints. He'll give you the simple explination of..WE"RE ALL DOOMED!

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

     

    Originally posted by pixeldogmeat


    Because you have to do it across the board, for every NPC in the game and you have to take considerations for every interaction, environment, npc, etc..
    Oblivion is polished.
    MMO's are never polished. They are playgrounds.
    Easy, it's like comparing disney world to a playground at an elementary school.
    One is polished and all the "polishable" details are thought out. The other one is just "there" and it's up to the children to use their imaginations to "immerse" themselves in the reality.
    You trade AI'd NPC's for real players, maybe you aren't playing with other players? Do you really want to interact with NPC's more? Go play a single player game.
    Whats worse? An NPC that idly sits by while 10 players click on him and get private text screens or an NPC who is seemingly intellegent, walking around, and 10 players click on him and everyone gets to see the NPC jitter in circles, say the same thing 10 times and basically totally kill the life that was in it.
    While it would be fun in MMO's it is a complicated task.

     

    I'm going to focus on one point of your reply, because its the one I feel most strongly about. I underlined it in the quote above.

     

    Yes, I do want to interact with NPCs more. Why? Well, frankly... NPCs have a lot more going for them than PCs do, especially nowadays. When was the last time your character got to rob a PC blind and then shower in his tears? When was the last time your character got to burn down a PC's house because he worshipped a deity you didn't like. When was the last time a PC was in-character when he/she talked to you? When was the last time a PC gave you a quest at all, let alone a real quest (i.e. a quest that doesn't involve killing wolves until you have 12 pelts to turn in for 3 gold pieces)?

    Face it. PCs suck.

     

    I'm going to assume that no gaming company either knows how to create a game where PCs can do all of the things above, and even if they did know how to, they wouldn't have the intestinal fortitude to release a game like that to the public. And so, I'm wondering why they can't at least do it with NPCs.

  • ianonmmorpgianonmmorpg Member Posts: 248

    Elvenangel thats a fair point, its def a matter of balance. I dont have the op to test how much lag it would create. I imagine the vibrant city I described would by laggy... but I dont know that for sure.

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    Originally posted by elvenangel


    Its simple until you realize you have to update 100s of NPC's at the same time or with in a few frames of each other, package it and send it across the server to 1000s of players.....what might work in say an instance with 5 to 10 people or even 40 people is one thing ... doing it for several hundred players at once so everyone is seeing the same thing is a whole nother story.    
    Simple to do for a single player does not mean its simple to do for a massive multiplayer.   I'd rather have a few npc's with some meaningless tasks to carry out then living NPC's that cause more server lag than they're worth.
    EQ2 made it to where you'd see an NPC whispering or waving to you because they have a quest that you've not taken but no one else would see it...but what your suggesting OP is something that everyone would have to see especially if the NPC's move around, I suppose its possible to say let the players choose so its done on the player's pc it'd be rather limited in what you'd see them DO then especially if its an npc that everyone needs to interact with.  
     

    When was the last time you were playing an MMO where there were hundreds, let alone thousands, of players, all within sight of the same NPC?

     

    Yeah, that's right. Never.

  • pixeldogmeatpixeldogmeat Member Posts: 441

    Ultima Online 97 - 99

    That's when PC's were interesting, because that was the only 2 year period when a sandbox game worked. Sure SWG was good too, but you couldn't kill anyone you saw, rob anyone you saw, break into someones house, etc..

    WE NEED MORE GAMES THAT ENCOURAGE FREEDOM!

    PLAY WURM ONLINE!! www.wurmonline.com

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    Originally posted by pixeldogmeat


    Whats worse? An NPC that idly sits by while 10 players click on him and get private text screens or an NPC who is seemingly intellegent, walking around, and 10 players click on him and everyone gets to see the NPC jitter in circles, say the same thing 10 times and basically totally kill the life that was in it.

    I don't have to pick which is worse, because it would be easy enough to avoid choosing either.

     

    This isn't directed at you specifically pixel, but it reminded me again of it. There are so many people playing MMOs today, including those on these forums, who are so used to the way today's main games work that they cannot imagine a game that works in a different way. This is an example of it.

    Why are you limiting the options to 1) the NPC is inactive and dead, replying identically to any PC who intereacts with it, simultaneously or 2) the NPC is torn in every direction at once as it tries to deal with numerous PCs without ignoring any of them? Why would you be so narrow minded?

     

    Gee, what would a real person do if confronted with 10 at once? Well... maybe he would address the first to address him, and ignore the others until he finished with the first. Or maybe he would speak with one of the people that he recognizes, or the one he likes the best, or the one who slips him some cash along with a firm handshake.

    It wouldn't be difficult to have an NPC in an MMO interact in a similar manner, and it would be a step closer to creating an immersive, innovative MMO.

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    Originally posted by pixeldogmeat


    WE NEED MORE GAMES THAT ENCOURAGE FREEDOM!

    I agree. But I don't think that the best way to encourage players to act how they want to is to just throw a bunch of players together in a boring game world and tell them to make their own fun. Hence the life-like NPCs.

    A lot of players don't know how to make their own fun. A lot of players would suck at trying to make their own fun. A lot of players don't want to make their own fun.

    And for those who do? Well, they can just ignore my new-fangled NPCs.

  • pixeldogmeatpixeldogmeat Member Posts: 441

    On a funny note, i used to get real bored in UO and walk around like an NPC, dressed in NPC garb, etc.. Then I'd steal stuff from people while I was talking to them.

    Great fun.

    Those kinds of NPC's?

    oh and:

    Why are you limiting the options to 1) the NPC is inactive and dead, replying identically to any PC who intereacts with it, simultaneously or 2) the NPC is torn in every direction at once as it tries to deal with numerous PCs without ignoring any of them? Why would you be so narrow minded?

    I'm just basing my quick analogy off of current game development practices. Some games take that extra effort to make sure NPC's don't look too unrealistic, but in most MMO's I see NPC's twirling around or doing their "animation" over and over again.

    PLAY WURM ONLINE!! www.wurmonline.com

  • TillerTiller Member EpicPosts: 8,880

    Animal Crossing : The MMO :-P

    SWG Bloodfin vet
    Elder Jedi/Elder Bounty Hunter

  • ThunderousThunderous Member Posts: 1,152

    Short Answer:  Developers are lazy.

    Long Answer:  It would require a great deal more time and resources not to mention further stress of the servers.

    Could it be done?  Yes

    Will it be done?  In the likely distant future...  Yes

    Tecmo Bowl.

  • vajurasvajuras Member Posts: 2,860

    I wont get into the real reason why we probably wont see it. It varies from developer to developer.

    Problem is even in other genres developers are used to 'scripting' AI rather then dedicating real effort to drive realistic AI. They usually complain and moan they dont hagve enough time in their schedule to focus on AI as it is so they keep it basic. Plus, scripters are way cheaper then programmers. It's just not close.

    so you can hire an army of scripters, quickly train them how to hack together some basic scripts, and ship under budget


    edit- ah the guy I was replying to seemed to get it actually so removed first part of my post

  • TatumTatum Member Posts: 1,153

    Yea, Id agree.  If we cant have an MMO that allows the players to truely "populate" the world, at least we could have NPCs with something like the radiant AI from Oblivion.  Hell, MMOs are so reliant on NPCs right now, the least they could do is make them something more than cardboard cut-outs that dispense quests and utter the same few sentences forever...

  • ViennanViennan Member Posts: 27

    WoW's NPCs are just part of the scenery, they are there to give the illusion of a real world, when really they are the equivalent to every tree, bush or blade of grass in the game.

    To put it simply, a developer is not going to waste their time creating a novelty feature that does not change the game in any real way.

    If Magni sometimes left his throne, would people care? Would it matter? Of course not. Unless you had a quest to turn into him, in which case it would just piss you off.

  • TatumTatum Member Posts: 1,153

    Originally posted by Viennan


    To put it simply, a developer is not going to waste their time creating a novelty feature that does not change the game in any real way.
    If Magni sometimes left his throne, would people care? Would it matter? Of course not. Unless you had a quest to turn into him, in which case it would just piss you off.

    Have you played Oblivion?  You know how many hours people spend in that game, just interracting with NPCs?  It most definately does add something to the game, even if its just a sense of immersion. 

  • vajurasvajuras Member Posts: 2,860

    I've spent over hundreds of hours in Oblivion. Lifelike NPCs really do add a lot and help immerse me

    You can argue against more lifelike NPCs on one hand because we are playing an MMO with hundreds of other players. And lifelike NPCs may not be critical to a simple Theme park MMO like WoW because you are trying to funnel players activites through a narrow scope

    But a sandbox MMO could benefit from lifelike NPCs greatly because activites arent heavily controlled and funneled. Since player created professions are supposed to thrive in a sandbox, having lifelike NPCs can help encourage dynamic Classification. For instance if the concept of NPC murders were integrated- now we have a real theif/assassin profession. You could also bring in detectives

    Theme park MMOs may not benefit from complex gameplay. Sandbox mmorpgs benefit greatly from complex core gameplay

    This is why ive given up on simple theme parks. They really are at a dead end in their evolution- stagnant and flopping. Since they are so content driven they all fail to the lkikes of Blizzard and always will

  • ianonmmorpgianonmmorpg Member Posts: 248

    I think I  want to see a game with some persistance, hence when you log-off your character either goes to bed or goes back to work.... this makes you an NPC and so some scripting would be needed to get you to respond semi-intelligently to folks entering your shop or perhaps your bedroom.

    Plus I doubt the world will be solely populated by PC, ever see the Monty Python Sketch about Bicycle-Repairman? Basically its a world populated by Superman/women (PCs) but one of them breaks his bike (dont ask why superman needs a bike!) but nobody knows how to fix it... they're superfolk... they're doers not mere fixers. Enter our 'hero' one of these superfolks alter ego... to fix the bike.

    My point? Obvious I thought. In a world popluated solely by PCs all off fighting wars etc, who catches rats in the sewer? who bakes the bread (not a couple of loaves, but enough for the city)? indeed who stands in a field all day making sure we have wheat???

    You see in MMOs in a 'real(ish) world setting' we need the little folk, the bicycle repairmen, and why must they be as simple as trees? lets have a little more interaction.

  • GuintuGuintu Member UncommonPosts: 318

    Originally posted by ianonmmorpg


    I think I  want to see a game with some persistance, hence when you log-off your character either goes to bed or goes back to work.... this makes you an NPC and so some scripting would be needed to get you to respond semi-intelligently to folks entering your shop or perhaps your bedroom.
    Plus I doubt the world will be solely populated by PC, ever see the Monty Python Sketch about Bicycle-Repairman? Basically its a world populated by Superman/women (PCs) but one of them breaks his bike (dont ask why superman needs a bike!) but nobody knows how to fix it... they're superfolk... they're doers not mere fixers. Enter our 'hero' one of these superfolks alter ego... to fix the bike.
    My point? Obvious I thought. In a world popluated solely by PCs all off fighting wars etc, who catches rats in the sewer? who bakes the bread (not a couple of loaves, but enough for the city)? indeed who stands in a field all day making sure we have wheat???
    You see in MMOs in a 'real(ish) world setting' we need the little folk, the bicycle repairmen, and why must they be as simple as trees? lets have a little more interaction.
    I like that idea and I had it myself, I think it could work well.  Maybe it can sell something in a shop, or sleep  while your offline.  You can put in what you'd like the character to say when someone clicks on you.  If you want you can even make missions, if you're looking for something specific, or you want someone killed thats a higher level than you.

    Making NPC's that walk around instead of standing still might not be to hard.  Maybe have the NPC be a sort of an instance when you click on him/her so its only talking to you and someone else clicks on the same NPC and its only talking to that person. 

  • ianonmmorpgianonmmorpg Member Posts: 248

    I know I'm wandering off topic now, but the idea of persistant NPC versions of Offline-PCs could appeal to casual gamers permitting their chars to 'train'/'craft' while offline. Yeah, they'd be limited to some degree for the XP and/or skill levels gained (just slower advancement would be fair), but it permits you to pop in and out of the game (or this alt) and still do something with them...(Aside: I cant imagine the business model would be too upset by multiple players having limited impact on the server but still paying their cash and adding to the ever popular subscriber figures that MMOs need to be 'recognised')

    And before someone yells 'whats the point of playing?', simple, when your playing you gain advancement faster, and even the most dedicated player must log-off sometimes (I hope) and so permit them to do 'stuff' that their character needs but might not be the most exciting part of your day. It is supposed to be fun.

    The point of persistance is realism, how can folk rob you (or whatever) if you cease to exist for 20hrs a day. And who is crafting for the village if you spend all your time asleep (offline) or questing. It leeds to the closed natual economy which again supports NPCs actually taking part in the daily economy as realish folk.

    So not that far off topic.

  • fischsemmelfischsemmel Member UncommonPosts: 364

    Originally posted by ianonmmorpg


    I know I'm wandering off topic now, but the idea of persistant NPC versions of Offline-PCs could appeal to casual gamers permitting their chars to 'train'/'craft' while offline. Yeah, they'd be limited to some degree for the XP and/or skill levels gained (just slower advancement would be fair), but it permits you to pop in and out of the game (or this alt) and still do something with them...(Aside: I cant imagine the business model would be too upset by multiple players having limited impact on the server but still paying their cash and adding to the ever popular subscriber figures that MMOs need to be 'recognised')
    And before someone yells 'whats the point of playing?', simple, when your playing you gain advancement faster, and even the most dedicated player must log-off sometimes (I hope) and so permit them to do 'stuff' that their character needs but might not be the most exciting part of your day. It is supposed to be fun.
    The point of persistance is realism, how can folk rob you (or whatever) if you cease to exist for 20hrs a day. And who is crafting for the village if you spend all your time asleep (offline) or questing. It leeds to the closed natual economy which again supports NPCs actually taking part in the daily economy as realish folk.
    So not that far off topic.

    It seems relevant to this thread, seeing as we're talking about NPCs in general, and here specifically we're talking about very NPC-like behavior by PCs.

     

    I've always thought that it would be nice to have an MMO where PCs were in game persistently, but perhaps acted NPC-like (MY idea of NPCs, not the WoW or EQ or whatever NPCs), perhaps with players telling their characters how to act when they were not actually controlling them.

     

    A good off-line PC mechanic could balance gameplay between casual and hardcore players, if implemented well. For example: imagine a skill-based game with a sort of "rest experience" in it. Hypothetically, we'll say that for 4 hours per day, every PC's skills advance at double the normal rate. For 4 hours beyond that, they improve at the normal rate. Beyond that, the rate that skills improve at drops off dramatically, though it never reaches 0.

    PC would require training at NPC (or PC) owned training facilities. Perhaps a new PC can train his sword skill up to 25 before the game requires his PC spend X number of real-life hours in a training facility. Once he's paid for that training and his character has been in the facility, whether he is online or not, all at once or in chunks, his skill cap raises to 50.

    Also, the game would have a sleep mechanic for PCs. Spending a certain number of real-life hours (oh, perhaps 8?) resting allows a PC's "double skill up rate" to refresh.

    Between these mechanics, you would have multiple things for a PC to do that actually help him out, even while the player is offline (training sessions to improve skill caps; sleeping to gain bonus skill up speed while playing). Casual players would progress quickly even if they only played for a couple hours a day, thanks to heightened skilling speed. Hardcore players would still see benefits for their constant play, but the game mechanics would limit them somewhat. A reasonable balance between the two playstyles, I say.

    Then, again, adding in scripts of some kind so PCs can also be harvesting or crafting or whatever, even while the player isn't even logged in, would add more to it.

     

    A lot of people don't seem to like these kinds of ideas. In general, "hardcore" players of any kind, be they sandboxers or PvPers or just people with 14 hours a day of play time, will say "QQ! Zomg! You're encouraging botting! You're making a game for carebears!" But really, what is a carebare? Someone who whines when something doesn't go their way, when you break it down. And what are these supposed hardcore players doing, just because game mechanics cater more equally to both casual and hardcore players rather than so terribly in favor of someone who spends more time at their computer? Yeah... being carebears.

     

    Of course, I would like to see this all implemented in a sandboxy game, with (relatively) FFA PvP. An off-line PC could be slain wherever he is, though perhaps NPCs might not take a liking to murder within their training facility, or maybe the PC could hire NPCs to guard him while offline (though how effective they would be at guarding is up for debate). An off-line PC would be killable while out in the wilderness gathering resources, and lootable. Though, players could set scripts of some kind to enable their PC to provide at least a token defense against such an attack.

  • thorwoodthorwood Member Posts: 485

    Actually, Everquest is one of the few games that does have NPC's that wander around.  Most of them will not interact with you.   Dark Age of Camelot had wandering NPC's too.

    Finding an NPC that wanders can be a real pain if you need to speak to them.

    Also, if the gameworld includes collision with objects, then wandering NPC's have a habit of getting stuck in tight spots or corners.  Also the programmed movement has to be able to handle collisions with player toons moving in unpredictable ways.

    I do like the idea of player toons having some sort of persistent presence after they log off.  I think this would be appropriate such as where you set up shop as a craftsperson.

    I dislike games that require that your toon stay logged on to sell stuff.  Continuing to run your pc when you are not actually playing is a waste of resources and energy, particularly in an age where we are trying reduce energy consumption.  It also adds nothing to the game, since you are not behind the keyboard.

     

Sign In or Register to comment.