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Author Topic: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs  (Read 3307 times)

Default Settings

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Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« on: April 20, 2008, 05:56:22 PM »
Well, the "Nemesis" concept got me thinking and apparently I have too much brain capacity left while driving, so here are some ideas:
How about simulating some of the other merchants to a deeper detail? I would like to see, say, 6 merchants per quadrant with their own name, ship and tracked wealth and relation towards the player. They could have a preset preference for certain traderoutes or goods where they will be likely to show up in space or at bases with appropriate freight. This could also factor in their relation to the player: If the player has a history of trading with iron ore then Bob, the iron trader, would see him as a rival while Joe the tobacco dealer will have a neutral attitude.

Their interactivity with the player could also depend on the compared wealth levels:
    - if the merchants are vastly richer they wont see the player as competition and could patronize friendly players with missions or even trading hints.

    - if the wealth levels are about equal the options would be limited - since most privateers probably are of the jealous persuasion they would rather prefer not to help their rival unless they are really good friends. But they could suggest to "team up for a dangerous run", basically an escort mission.

    - If the player is vastly richer he could hire the merchant to accompany him on a trip, essentially as a cargo space extension.

Of course the above ideas aren't necessarily limited to merchants and could be adapted to NPC mercenaries, maybe even blurring the lines between the factions allowing them to be: Privateers. Here are some details and other random ideas:
    - How about an "iron-man" mode with only one save slot, maybe even usable only on planets?

    - Extremely rich merchants could have convoys made up of several ships (freighters and fighters) to protect themselves from pirates.

    - Maybe rich players could do that too, on a more permanent base than one-time escort contracts?

    - Merchant ships could dock in space to trade their goods. Or board each other. :D

    - Unique NPCs could also have unique ship configurations. Maybe Crazy Charlie wants to get rid of all his shields so he can rapid-fire his neutron guns?

    - How about the possibility to hire storage space on a planet? Obviously the player would have to pay rent but this allows for some resource speculation when prices rise again. Of course there's always a chance of thieves and accidents.

    - Extremely rich traders could have offices or "contact terminals" on some planets where they would offer communication and trade options similar to a personal meeting in space. (To keep with the spirit of 16th century privateering this could be called a "Kontor" or something like that.)

Anyway, at some point I'd like to see following scene in the game:
Code: [Select]
The player's ship drops out of autopilot, a single Daemon draws near. It's Bob, a "low-level" privateer who got hired by a wealthy  merchant friend of the player to deliver a message.
Bob warns the player that one of his enemies hired a mercenary to find and kill him. The player thanks Bob and changes course towards Vichy, where he knows he will find some of his mercenary friends.
He plans to ask them if they know something about the name and ship of the killer and, maybe, to find out who hired him.

Widmo

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 10:12:07 PM »
Quote from: "Default Settings"
Here are some details and other random ideas:
- How about an "iron-man" mode with only one save slot, maybe even usable only on planets?
This sounds really roguelike-like. You can already play like this by using just one slot. Certainly adds to the fun.
Quote from: "Default Settings"
- Merchant ships could dock in space to trade their goods. Or board each other. :D
I always wanted to damage merchant ships so much to force them to drop cargo, scoop it and fly away to sell it somewhere. Sometimes pirates suggest me to drop my cargo but doing that doesn't make them cease fire.
Quote from: "Default Settings"
- Unique NPCs could also have unique ship configurations. Maybe Crazy Charlie wants to get rid of all his shields so he can rapid-fire his neutron guns?
I noticed named Retros use guns other than lasers which was pleasantly surprising. I second the motion to extend this behaviour also to other gadgets. Self note: do not regret if/when some Tarsus pilot welcomes me with Plasma Cannon.

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2008, 10:10:00 AM »
Those are all very good ideas. Some will be pretty easy to implement:


Quote from: "Default Settings"
- Extremely rich merchants could have convoys made up of several ships (freighters and fighters) to protect themselves from pirates.

Pretty much all the required code for this is already done, so it's just a matter of assigning some escorts to some of the merchant ships.


Quote from: "Default Settings"
- Merchant ships could dock in space to trade their goods. Or board each other. :D

When 0.3 is done (and the bugs have been ironed out) I'll begin work on walking around on your own ship, as well as boarding other ships. I'm not sure I'll have NPCs docking and boarding with each other, but we'll see...


Quote from: "Default Settings"
- Unique NPCs could also have unique ship configurations. Maybe Crazy Charlie wants to get rid of all his shields so he can rapid-fire his neutron guns?

The targets you receive through the Mercenaries' Guild bounty hunting missions, as well as the fixer assassination missions, have somewhat unique ship layouts with special weapons, shields and ECM stats, so that's already somewhat in the game.


Quote from: "Default Settings"
- How about the possibility to hire storage space on a planet? Obviously the player would have to pay rent but this allows for some resource speculation when prices rise again. Of course there's always a chance of thieves and accidents.

This could certainly be interesting. :)


Quote from: "Default Settings"
Code: [Select]
The player's ship drops out of autopilot, a single Daemon draws near. It's Bob, a "low-level" privateer who got hired by a wealthy  merchant friend of the player to deliver a message.
Bob warns the player that one of his enemies hired a mercenary to find and kill him. The player thanks Bob and changes course towards Vichy, where he knows he will find some of his mercenary friends.
He plans to ask them if they know something about the name and ship of the killer and, maybe, to find out who hired him.

I think we're moving into the realm of scripted stories here. Instead of hardcoding stuff like this into the game, I'd rather have players make this on their own using the scripting language that will be implemented further down the road.

Default Settings

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2008, 12:29:39 PM »
NOTE: This message was written by Christian Knudsen (me) as a reply to Default Settings' message, but I accidentally hit Edit instead of Quote, so my reply overwrote his message. :?



Quote from: "Default Settings"
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
I'm not sure I'll have NPCs docking and boarding with each other, but we'll see...
I was thinking more on the lines that some random traders may be willing to dock with the player's ship and sell their goods while in space, like some sort of spaceborne peddlers. Obviously trading like this would be unregulated and not approved by the merchant guild, so prices would be everywhere across the spectrum and some of the goods might not even be legal. And now assume that, say, 5 % of these traders are actually disguised pirates and it will be a good opportunity to introduce boarding operations in the game.


Ahh, okay. That's an interesting idea. Especially when actual docking and boarding between ships becomes possible in the 0.4.x versions. The risk of getting boarded and a fight breaking out will balance out the advantage of cheaper commodity prices.

Quote from: "Default Settings"
Quote from: "Christian Knudsen"
I think we're moving into the realm of scripted stories here.
This was thought to be an extreme example based on my ideas above of what random events might be possible. It would require simulating relationships with  merchants, one being so bad that merchant A "creates" an assassination mission and another relation so good that merchant B reacts by creating a "Deliver warning" mission. Other NPCs would have a chance to have heard a "rumor" with some substantial facts about the murder plot.
Of course this would be far easier to include as a scripted event, I just wanted to show how tracked relationships could be used at some future point far down the road.


I think I'll focus more on the player/user scripted stories before I focus on this kind of tracking of NPCs (at least beyond having a bounty hunter nemesis that will hunt you if you don't pay your fines). It's not that I don't like randomly generated content of this sort, I just want to focus more on the scripting as I feel that will offer more to the community and can get the community involved in a very directly creative way. Also, I'd love to play the stories that players will be able to create. :)

Widmo

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2008, 12:16:29 PM »
Default Settings, where you got my reply to Christian's post from? I can neither see nor remember writing it but it looks like it really happened but was deleted. Pretty confusing.

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2008, 12:36:14 PM »
There's something strange with this forum. I wrote the above reply, not Default Settings. His message seems to have disappeared...?

EDIT: Whoops. I think what happened is, when I responded to Default Settings' message, I accidentally hit the Edit button instead of the Quote button, so my reply overwrote his message. Sorry about that! :?

Default Settings

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2008, 01:28:33 PM »
Apparently half of my last post also got lost when Christian edited it, so I repost it here from memory:

Quote from: "Widmo"
I always wanted to damage merchant ships so much to force them to drop cargo, scoop it and fly away to sell it somewhere. Sometimes pirates suggest me to drop my cargo but doing that doesn't make them cease fire.
Yeah, that too. It irritated me even in the original Privateer. Weak traders are too stupid to realize that they have already lost, and strong pirates are too stupid to realize that they have already won.

Quote from: "Widmo"
I noticed named Retros use guns other than lasers which was pleasantly surprising.
I now realize I noticed this before, but I thought I have been imagining things.

And even if it looks that way, I am not one of Christian's alternate forum accounts. :)

Christian Knudsen

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Re: Some thoughts on merchant NPCs
« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2008, 03:13:17 PM »
Quote from: "Default Settings"
And even if it looks that way, I am not one of Christian's alternate forum accounts. :)


That's right, you're actually the only real account in here. All the others is just me talking to myself. :aww: