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View Full Version : Thoughts on NPCs (JK2 developers welcome!)


ed_silvergun
11-13-2001, 10:03 PM
We have talked about NPCs (non-playable-characters for those who don't know :D) in the past, but I thought it was time for more specifics, particularly in terms of the different functions NPCs could serve within the game. Who knows, maybe somebody might even be listening to our thoughts... ;)

My ideas revolve around the ways that NPCs can be used to enhance aspects of gameplay or further the plot of the game. It's all very well having loads of droids scattered over the maps for that "Authentic Star Wars Feel" (TM) but I can't help feeling that maybe NPCs could be used in slightly more creative ways in this game.

Let's take some established examples. In level 9 of MotS, the "New Republic Escort Ship" there was one point where you had to get an Artoo unit to help you open a door. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about. We've already had a number of innovative uses of NPCs in JK and MotS, such as the use of medical droids to heal you, New Republic soldiers to help you out in fights, etc. etc.

So, I'll start off with a few ideas about new NPCs and how they could be used in this game. Hopefully others of you will have your own ideas and be able to add some more. :)

Mouse-bots: in DF and JK this basically ran around squeaking, but did very little. How about using them to alert guards or set off alarms? If a mouse-bot sees you, you have to kill it quietly and discreetly, otherwise it will run off, squeak at the nearest trooper, who'll send for reinforcements, and bam! game over.

Protocol/interpreter droids: Maybe there could be some alien NPCs who have vital information which you need to complete a puzzle or level, but which don't speak Standard. Here you'd have to locate an interpreter droid and escort it safely through the level to the NPC, whose dialogue it would then translate. This would be a neat way of changing the pace by incorporating an "escort the NPC" scenario into the game.

Interrogation droids: Another neat scenario would be if you needed the code for a door or something but the imperial officer refused to give it to you. Perhaps an interrogation droid could be used to get this information out of him?

New Republic NPCs: Remember the rescue Crix Madine scenario from the original DF? (Wadda ya mean, you haven't played it?!?!?! :rolleyes: ) A rescue mission/escort prisoner to safety scenario would be great in JKO. Raven have done it before in Elite Force with those escort Seven of Nine and escort Tuvok missions. So why not a free-the-prisoner-and-escort-them-to-safety type mission in JKO? It would be even more fun if the prisoner was an established Star Wars character (Wedge? Lando?).

Gonk droids: (I know, I'll probably be shot for suggesting this - sorry Gonk, mate :)). What I though was, instead of collecting batteries for flashlights/macrobinoculars, etc. you could top up on power from Gonks. This would function a bit like the wall-mounted health-dispensers in Half-Life, except of course, the droids would move about a bit.

That's all I can think of for the moment - hopefully others can add some more thoughts of their own. These suggestions are simply designed to highlight ways in which NPCs can be involved more in the gameplay rather than simply being used as a "novelty" feature as they are in so many games. I don't know about you guys, but I got tired of being asked to "leave me alone" every time I spoke to an NPC in JK.

[ November 13, 2001: Message edited by: ed_silvergun ]

SlowbieOne
11-13-2001, 11:01 PM
I can't count the times I've thought how unusual it was going through a whole bunch of trouble just to get to an area that was specially made for.....Health and Shields?

I would say spots like that in JK was something that took a little away from the game for me. I liked looking for the secrets, don't get me wrong, but I found myself saying "Why?", and brought me more aware that I was playing a game in fact, istead of being immersed.

I think there are more realistic ways to get items, and the NPC's being a big part of that. Say for instance you save someone and they repay you.

A lot of you may say that a game shouldn't be too real. I am not one of those people. However, I think they should always have games that appeal to people that want the game just to play regardless of realism, as well as games that are as realistic as possible. Jedi Knight 2 should be considered a "Serious" game.

NPC interaction is proving to be one of the first giant steps towards making more serious games. :)

GonkH8er
11-14-2001, 12:24 AM
I'm fine with that. As long as i can shoot the crap out of the stupid thing after it has given me free stuff.... :)

Some very good ideas there ed.

And perhaps with civilians, if you are toting a gun around them, they might scream and alert enemies of your presence, as with the mouse bot.


Oh, and we need some backstabbing NPCs too... :)


Hey, and I just realised I'm over 1000 posts. Yay me.....

*and there was much rejoicing*

I'll have to make myself a fruit basket :D

[ November 13, 2001: Message edited by: GonkH8er ]

toms
11-14-2001, 01:18 PM
i think all those ideas are pretty cool.

I am not sure how you could quietly kill a mouse bot... but it would be fun to have to manically chase after one and blast it before it could get around a corner and warn the enemy.

I wouldn't want them to get rid of secret areas though... it adds a nice bit of fun to a game trying to spot them and figure out how to get to them. THey might not be realistic... but they are fun.

nykel007
11-14-2001, 06:39 PM
Excellent points. I really hope Raven picks up some of those points. The escort duty with the interpeter sound good, would you really need an interegation droid?

StormHammer
11-14-2001, 06:43 PM
Originally posted by GonkH8er:
I'll have to make myself a fruit basket

You mean you're not one already? :D I've been a basket-case for years. ;) j/k

Well done on passing 1k, Gonk.

As for NPCs...hmmmm...a lot of good ideas so far.

Well, generally, I wish they didn't follow a preset path every time I enter a level.

I would like to see less scripting and the AI to be a bit more sophisticated...so the NPCs can make some decisions about where they are going to go and what they are going to do.

They may have a preset objective, but the way they reach it should be more random - and they should react differently to similar situations - not the same response every time.

Of course, that would mean removing some of the scripting, and ramping the AI up quite a bit.

I mean, say the first time you play the game you bump into a character...they might just turn around. The next time, they might punch you. The next time they swear at you under their breath as they look at you with disdain. People don't always react in the same way to certain events...it depends on their mood at the time.

Would it be possible to set random moods and characteristics for characters on entering a level, like passive, aggressive, helpful etc...? Or how about random behaviours...like drunkeness, laughing at a joke, brawling in the street (and those involved scatter as you pull out your lightsaber), or couples doing...er, kissing. ;)

As for Mouse Droids...shouldn't they be transmitting what they see/sense etc., to a remote station somewhere? I don't think they need to run for reinforcements...they should be able to raise the alarm remotely. They should just run as a matter of self-preservation.

In terms of other NPCs...how about some domesticated/passive animals? They could react in different ways than their owners...and there is always the opportunity for creating a stampede, as in TPM.

I guess I'd just like to see some flora/fauna that doesn't necessarily attack you on sight. Again, it would add to the atmosphere, while adding some other elements, such as hazards (stampedes), and having some animals betray your position by fleeing from you. Of course, it would also make sense if you could shoot down a creature and make a meal of it to boost your health.

A greater variety of droids appropriate to location, and carrying out their designated tasks would also be good - instead of just milling around aimlessly, as suggested.

Of course, the ability to switch off a rambling Protocol Droid is essential. ;)

NPCs who lead you to secret caches, etc., would also be welcome.

Other than that...just give me a well-populated cantina where all of the imbibers aren't out to drill holes in my head. ;)

acdcfanbill
11-14-2001, 06:54 PM
well, i was checking my guide to the SW universe, and i cannot even find what mouse droids are used for... unless someone else has info on them, for all we know they might not even be able to alert alarms, are they barely sentient cleaning droids? or are they sophisticated survellence droids? i dunno, but i doubt that you average cleaning, or message carring droid has specific uplinks to report intruders, much less the equiptment to detect and defferentiate between friendlies and hostiles.... so until we find out what a mouse droids function is, how do we know what they are used for...

also, i think that only specific droids have the capability to alert security systems, i.e. probedroids, and maybe interrigation droids, but you average R unit, or protocall droid prob doesnt possess this capability...

wardz
11-14-2001, 07:03 PM
well done gonk, give him a large slap on back,

Checked your mail yet gonk?


wardz

Alan
11-14-2001, 08:05 PM
well, i was checking my guide to the SW universe, and i cannot even find what mouse droids are used for...

acdcfanbill, mouse droids were used on the Death star to transport high security data around the station, as far as I know, and I can only presume they would be used for roughly the smae purpose elsewhere.

Which, in turn, leads to more missions involving droids. Like, for example, there is a highly guarded, heavily alarmed section of a building you need to infiltrate, and you must extract the password/code/whatever from a mouse bot to enter.

GonkH8er
11-15-2001, 12:20 AM
You'd have to catch it first :) From what I remember, they were fast little devils.


How would you go about catching a mouse bot? I don't think cheese would work, somehow...

[ November 14, 2001: Message edited by: GonkH8er ]

acdcfanbill
11-15-2001, 04:54 AM
well, if a mouse droid had passwords to enter, it would prob be for their door only, and they need a what, 1 ft by 1 ft door, and unless we get force body compact, these doors might be useless to us... besides, how is a mouse droid supposed to reach up and hit a switch??? :rolleyes:

Darth Lunatic
11-15-2001, 07:11 AM
Both Jedi Knight and Mysteries of the Sith had space ports and cities "full" of people wondering around...well just standing there saying stuff like "Leave me alone!" and "Leave us in peace". Well it would be great if JK2 took that to the next level, and included even more of those civilian types in the game, that were doing a lot more than just standing there looking as lifeless as possible. I wouldn't mind having to talk to some to find ways to certain areas of the level. Maybe get equipment from them to complete a goal in a level. Or even persuade them to follow you...and carry a gun!

Increasing interactivity with NPC's will add an RPG element to this game that will increase its immersivness and depth a great deal. A key feature which could seperate this game from all other FPS and 3rd Person shooters.

GonkH8er
11-15-2001, 10:15 AM
I advise everyone to go watch the latest JK2 movie..... the gamegal one from e3....... again

listen to what dan says.

Darth Lunatic
11-15-2001, 11:05 AM
Ohhhh a GYM!!


However, unlike Jedi Knight, this game won't have quite so many RPG elements quote from some gamespot thing.

DAMNIT!!

[ November 15, 2001: Message edited by: Darth Lunatic ]

SlowbieOne
11-15-2001, 12:19 PM
When they say there won't be quite so many RPG elements, aren't they contradicting themselves according to the E3 demo?

Dan: "There will be MUCH MORE NPC interaction."

True, they will not have the RPG element of the choice of going to the Light or Dark side, but wouldn't "much more NPC interaction" qualify as an RPG element?

I guess it depends on how they use it.

nykel007
11-15-2001, 01:14 PM
I saw in one of the Massai whatever MoTS levels, it was a Hoth level where you play Han Solo and have to escort the princess to the MillFal. The creator said that he designed it so that the prin. would follow you where ever you went. So I don't see why Raven can't make this feature apart of the game, would ease upon a escort mission.
I also noticed from the screenshots the HUD and that the colour scheme to kyle's health is different, at full it's blue, midway it's yellow and critical red I find this should stay.

toms
11-15-2001, 03:25 PM
ok. but for escort missions you should at least have "wait" and "follow" commands. That way you can get them to wait while you check around a corner, rather than have them run aimlessly into a fire fight. ("using" them could toggle wait/follow).

you might have to follow a mouse bot to wait for it to open a door and then force speed through before the door shuts...

they were damn quick and very hard to hit if i remember from DF... ;)

ed_silvergun
11-15-2001, 03:25 PM
Some very good ideas, there guys. Certain ones might be harder than others to implement, but I would think at least some of them are possible.

I was aware that there would be more NPC interaction before starting this thread... the object was really to go into some more spcific ideas a) because it is an interesting subject to discuss and b) because there just might be a few things the developers hadn't yet thought of.

Nykel, you asked whether an interrogation droid would be necessary. I'd wondered about this too, after all, wouldn't Kyle just use the force to either extract the password from the enemy, or to persuade them to open the door? Well, he would if it was an imperial officer he was dealing with, but what about if he came up against a force-resistant enemy (like Watto "mind tricks don't work on me" in Episode I)? This would change the nature of the gameplay, by divorcing Kyle from his natural method of dealing with this sort of obstacle, and forcing the player to find an alternate solution.

Just a thought. ;)

GonkH8er
11-16-2001, 04:00 AM
What dan also said was that some interaction with NPCs wasnt necessary..... but it was helpful in finding shortcuts, etc,

He said you can go through with your blaster, fps style if you want. Or you can make it more RPGish. It's up to the player, essentially

toms
11-16-2001, 01:10 PM
If there are any town based levels, having a black cloaked creature with a long nose start following you subtley might be quite cool. If you spotted him and approached him he might run away or something.

Having an NPC escorted through a level by Stormies might be cool, either someone you have to rescue, or a top level imperial you have to kill / capture / question / rob.

or even having kyle escorted through a level surrounded by stormies, handcuffed, and they would hit you with the butts of their weapon if you tried to break away... that way you would have to pay attention to your surroundings until an opportunity to escape presented itself.

i always like the follow without being spotted levels from thief..

nykel007
11-16-2001, 01:29 PM
So I soppose an intergation droid might be necessary in some cases. I also read somewhere that depending on your own reaction to NPC's it would deterime their reaction. So if you go in guns blazing and sword swinging they might not help you out at all.

techsurfer
11-17-2001, 05:09 PM
I think you should be able to pick up Mouse bots with force pull to get them to open doors for you. Then you could drop them to the ground again. When you did this you couldn't use a weapon though - unless you wanted to chuck the mouse bot at a storm trooper to knock him over. This would mean that the mouse bots would be useful even though they run off quickly.

techsurfer
11-17-2001, 05:11 PM
I think you should be able to pick up Mouse bots with force pull to get them to open doors for you. Then you could drop them to the ground again. When you did this you couldn't use a weapon though - unless you wanted to chuck the mouse bot at a storm trooper to knock him over. This would mean that the mouse bots would be useful even though they run off quickly.

matt--
11-17-2001, 05:36 PM
If we could have health and power dispensing droids walk around, I would force push it around the level so that I can use it when need be. :cool:

StephenG
11-17-2001, 05:37 PM
Originally posted by TomS:
<STRONG>If there are any town based levels, having a black cloaked creature with a long nose start following you subtley might be quite cool. If you spotted him and approached him he might run away or something.
</STRONG>

*off topic*
i think it would be cool that on one mission you start off wearing a black cloak thing, like luke did at Jabba's place. Or maybe one mission (a BIG city or spaceport) were you have to keep your identity a secret and so you have to wear a black cloak thing.