NPCs

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NPCs come and go as required by game mechanics, such as node progression.[3]

  • Some NPC movements and behaviors are dictated by time of day or other rotational cycle, others will be static.[4]

Where we place the NPC rotations that are relevant- those would be kind of rotations that exist perhaps within an hour, not so much within a day so-to-speak. So there might be five minutes of some changing of an organization's acolytes in a temple or something; and that might be because obviously there's a quest related to that rotation.[4]Steven Sharif

Elite monster 3D render.[5]

It's a really big dude and the idea behind him is you're gonna see big monsters- I think that the character comes up to like his elbow maybe, or just beneath the elbow I'm not sure- but you're going to see these big elites kind of just roaming and wandering through the world. They're not assigned any to to any particular hunting ground, they just kind of roam; and I think that component is pretty cool especially when you have an open world where you can see something unique that's not matching the monsters you're hunting in a certain area but just strolls by.[5]Steven Sharif

Goblin 3D render. Modelled by Chris Atkins.[6]

There are going to be different types of "Goblinesque" creatures; and this one has not skipped out on his leg or arm day, which is a good thing for him because he's probably going to be in a lot of fights.[7]Steven Sharif

There will be a mix of different monsters and difficulty levels throughout the world that are tied to the development of nearby nodes. As nodes advance, mobs will present new and increasing dangers that players can participate in.[8]

In the world naturally there will be locations that are going to have a mix of different levels of monsters and difficulty levels; and then those spawn tables relate to the development of nearby nodes. So as nodes develop they'll be changing the spawn tables around them to reflect their further development in the world, presenting new and more difficult dangers that the players can participate in.[8]Steven Sharif
We will have flying monsters but essentially what that means is there's going to be rotations either in the behavior tree that might make them inaccessible to targets, or they might do some like swooping attacks; they might come and land on the ground and fight you. But generally monsters are going to be accessible from on the ground, so we're not creating content for the limited number of individuals who are going to have access to a flying mount.[9]Steven Sharif
  • Certain elite monsters that are not assigned any to any particular hunting ground roam throughout the world.[5] Other mobs will have leashes that will cause the mob to reset if it moves too far from its point of origin.[10]
Leashes are relevant. There's other gameplay implications that happen when you're able to actually move populations around. We don't want to really give that to the players perspective.[10]Steven Sharif

NPC types

NPC races

NPC racial interaction

NPCs are going to react differently to different tags on a character.[12]

  • For example, Elven NPCs may interact differently with Humans compared to Elves.[12]

NPC languages

The race of a NPC influences its language and nomenclature in terms of its dialogue tree.[13]

NPC variants

There will be variants of the monthly cosmetics for NPCs and Mobs.[15][16]

We've mentioned this before about what the cosmetics do, but all of those pre-order pack items allow us to create the world. They're the NPCs in the world. They help us make NPC variants. The clothing and costumes are costumes that we'll be putting on NPCs. You're actually helping us create the world.[17]Margaret Krohn

Reputation

Good actions, such as participating in civilization building, may result in that character gaining positive Node reputation. Bad actions taken, such as failing certain quests, may result in gaining negative reputation. This reputation is gained or lost on a per-node basis.[18]

  • NPCs may react differently to players based on their node reputation.[18][19]
    • This might result in higher prices (for goods or services sold at that node).[18]
    • NPC guards will kill corrupted players on sight.[20]
    • NPCs will add a player to their hate list if that player heals, buffs or otherwise assists any player on their hate list.[21]
  • Negative reputation may also open up certain quest lines that the darker, seedier side of the world are interested in.[18]
  • Excessive negative reputation may cause a character to be deemed "enemy of the state" of a node.[18]

The more good aligned or civilization building aligned tasks that you complete, you get higher positive reputation. But if you get low or bad reputation you could be deemed enemy of the state of a node. You could be deemed kind of a bad actor and it might raise prices for you, but it also might open up certain quest lines that the darker, seedier side of the world are interested in.[18]Steven Sharif

NPC perception

There are different perception modes for different NPCs.[24]

  • NPCs in certain encounters may be aware of their local environment and can seek cover behind obstacles, for example; but this will not be prevalent in general AI designs.[25]

The best was Final Fantasy 11 back in the day where you had scent, you had sight, you had magic. Like there's all sorts of different things that you had to like protect yourself against so that certain mobs couldn't see you; and you could maintain that ability to like kind of sneak past easily... It made those monsters unique and gave them character outside of just how much damage they did to me.[24]Jeffrey Bard

Voice acting

NPCs will have voice acted audio greetings.[26][27]

  • Narrated quest lines are not currently planned.[26]
  • Adding voice acting into the game at a later point is a fairly cosmetic change.[26]

Is it difficult to add voice acting later? No, it's definitely not... It's a fairly cosmetic change.[26]Steven Sharif

Voice acting is a fun luxury to have, but it is not only a costly one, but it is also one that takes a lot of logistics.[28]Steven Sharif

Node types

Nodes exist all throughout the world and the location of said node will determine its type; but this type will be... seen at the first stage of development when the first stage when a node propagates real-time assets in the world; is basically these NPCs, these merchants that come into an area and they offer services and/or you know of stores or whatever the deal may be. You will see the flavor of the node from those merchants. So if it's a military node you'll see military people. If it's... an economic node you'll see merchants. If it's a scientific one you'll see scholars; and if it's a divine one you'll see priests and clerics. So players will have a very firm understanding of which node is which type in order to know how they want to progress.[29]Steven Sharif

Nodes are assigned one of four (4) node types, each of which contain unique specializations.[30]

  • Players will be able to identify the type of a node at its first stage of development (Expedition) based on its NPC population.[29]
Node type.[30] Specialization.[30] NPCs.[30]
Divine nodes Faith and skill/equipment augment focuses Priests
Economic nodes Trade and merchant focuses Merchants
Military nodes Combat and class training focuses Guards
Scientific nodes Artisan and construction focuses Scholars

Ashes of Creation allows you, the player, to decide the fate of the world around you. With each Node Type, you can change the flow of resources and goods in the world. Will you grow the largest Economic Metropolis and help guide the riches of Verra, or will you choose another path unlocking new stories filled with allies and enemies?[31]

Node types are predetermined and are the same across all servers.[30]

For example, if a level 4 Scientific Node is destroyed, it will become a Level 0 Scientific Node. It will never be any other Node Type other than a Scientific Node. The location of these Types relates to the influences of the area around the Node.[30]Margaret Krohn

Node types affect various services and systems at each level of node advancement.[30]

Node types will be definitive during the Beta testing stages.[32]

Beta testing will require that the node types be definitive; and that's because of how node types are integrated into the relating and corresponding neighboring points of interest and those quest lines. So it's not something we can swap very easily.[32]Steven Sharif

Player stalls

Niküan player stall concept art.[33]

If there were ever a cornerstone serving as the bedrock of Niküan trade, then this modest stall would be it. Stacked from floor to thatched roof with all manner of catch, it is prepped for a full day of commerce and trade. Here, haggling is not merely a suggestion, but a requirement.[33]

Player stalls (also called Kiosks and rental stalls) are rentable locations near the unique building in an Economic node[35] or in Marketplaces (the constructible building available for placement by mayors of any Town (stage 4) node or higher).[36]

All nodes do have the ability to spawn player stalls. If you're not an economic node and you don't have a market- that's essentially your unique building- then you can construct essentially what is I guess would be called a... marketplace; and that marketplace will then come with certain services and it will come with a certain number of stalls. The economic node as I recall has the ability to construct an auction house and the auction house serves through the economic means the ability to list and sell items and that comes with additional stalls as well for the players.[36]Steven Sharif

Renting a player stall enables players to sell items as well as provide repair and enchanting services, even when they are not online.[37]

  • Player stalls are rentable by node citizens.[38]
    • Player stalls may be utilized for a period of time based on the price paid to rent the stall.[37]
  • Player stalls are linked to a player's warehouse.[39]
  • Players are not able to be attacked or robbed while occupying their player stall inside the limits of a node.[40]
  • Player stalls do not require the attendance of the character or for that character to be online.[38]
    • An attendant NPC is assigned to the stall.[39][37] This may be an "image" of the player.[41]
  • Bulletin boards that list the items available in player stalls can be accessed from anywhere in the region.[41]
    • These give the location of the stall so players can travel there and purchase the items.
  • Stall sales are also listed in auction houses.[42]
    • This may no longer be accurate.[43]
  • Players are able to input required items for repair and also purchase required materials for that repair.[44]
  • Player stalls may still operate during node siege declaration. This is subject to testing.[45]

Banking

Nodes advance to the first stage quickly. This enables NPC services such as vending or banking items.[46]

Day and night cycle

Early Alpha-1 dynamic lighting example.[49]

This has been some of the work done on the dynamic aspect of not just the clouds and the skyline, but also the different times of days that will be experienced through the world... We are not going with a 'baked' lighting aspect; we're going with a dynamic lighting aspect. So it can be a little bit costlier, but at the same time it really adds a type of mood that you would come to expect with the aesthetic you are seeing here in a game like Ashes of Creation.[50]Steven Sharif

There is a day/night cycle in Ashes of Creation.[52][53]

Fifteen IRL minutes may equate to one hour in game time but this is subject to change.[55][56]

Transportation of goods

Personal inventory limits[58][59] are tied to a backpack.[60] Material and gatherable items are subject to quantity rather than weight limits. Caravans and Mules are intended to be the primary mode of transportation of goods beyond these limits.[61][62]

  • Mules can carry roughly 10 times more than backpacks. Caravans can carry roughly 10 times more than mules.[63]
  • Caravans will have carrying capacity limits and customizable stats, such as defensive points, speed and number of hired NPC guards.[64]
    • In addition to expanded inventory capacity, caravans also provide ancillary benefits relating to successfully completing trade routes and other quests.[65]

Inventory capacity will be relatively limited for new characters.[65]

  • Inventory expansion and weight management training certificates are available in the Galleria at City stage economic nodes.[65][31]
  • A player's inventory has sections for different types of items. Quest items for example will not fill a player's regular inventory capacity.[65]

Players will have the ability to locate items that they have stored in various locations (such as personal storage and node warehouses).[66]

We want you to know where the things are; and then the meaningful aspect of that thing is traveling to those locations to access some of those things, particularly as it relates to materials and raw gatherables.[66]Steven Sharif

Item stacks will in general have quantity limits based on the type of item.[61]

  • The stacking limit of potions might be one hundred. The stacking limit of food items might be 999 or 1000.[61]

Items transported by caravan must be stored in crates.[67]

  • The higher quality the crate, the greater its capacity.[67]
  • Crates will be required to transfer supplies between caravans and storage points.[67]
  • Crates are a potential design idea that will undergo testing and iteration during Alpha-2.[67]
Transported goods by caravan require crate capacity first and then can translate into storage capacity within a warehouse inventory management system or a personal inventory bag management system.[67]Steven Sharif

Hired NPCs

Hired NPCs are able to be customized via the character creator.[68]

Farmhand NPCs

Based on node type and progression, players will be able to hire NPCs to work as farmhands on their freehold farms. Players will be able to command these farmhands online in-game as well as offline via an application (mobile app) or web interface.[69][70]

  • Crop rotation management.
  • Plant or harvest specific crops.
  • Sell food or crops.

Mercenary NPCs

Mercenary NPCs can be hired to participate in objective-based situations.[71][72][73]

  • Varying tiers of mercenary NPCs may be unlocked based on the investment made in their progression. Highest tier NPC mercenaries are referred to as heros.[74][75][71][72]
  • Players can assign mercenary NPCs, but won't micromanage them, in a similar manner to pets.[73]
There are mercenary NPCs that can be assigned to players. We've discussed about that before and those will follow generically... a kind of pet system even you know adopted majority of the pet system with the added bonus of kind of objective based points of interest that you can assign them to. But we don't want to inundate the field with these mercenaries they'll be kind of few and far between. They'll be assigned specifically like let's say for example you know as the mayor of a node during a siege you'll be able to assign these two specific players that are citizens within your node and then they'll have those they'll spawn during the during the node siege; or vice versa and the castle siege you know guild leaders can assign mercenaries that are available based on the progress of those subsidiary nodes around the castle siege whether or not you have those available to your defense or your attack.[73]Steven Sharif

Tavern NPCs

The way that the tavern NPCs are going to work is you'll have patrons of either in-node taverns that will have the ability to list items as part of that NPC's merchant store and those items will mainly be around food and drink; and those types of craftable things that are relevant to these taverns; and those items will grant buffs based on proximity. And then additionally players can build taverns on their freeholds- we've discussed this in the past- they will list their craftable foods and drinks and whatnot with their NPC at that tavern as well; and players who interact with that can purchase them- you know have a drink at the tavern, eat some food at the tavern; and that'll give them a buff for a period of time as long as they remain proximity of that freehold.[76]Steven Sharif

Tavern NPCs ("bartenders") are merchants that are present in Taverns in nodes and on freeholds.[76][77]

  • Tavern NPCs sell food, drinks, and other crafted items that have been made for that tavern. Consuming these items will grant buffs for a period of time, providing the character remains in proximity to the tavern.[76][77]

You're going to probably want to sell items to other players more than necessarily tavern merchants but they'll be there as well.[76]Jeffrey Bard

Player stall NPCs

Attendant NPCs may assigned to occupy a player stall while that player is not online.[39][37][38]

  • Player stall NPCs may be an "image" of the player.[41]

Artificial intelligence

Jermaine Torment of Illwind boss mob.[78]

You can see how we utilize some of the different armor pieces- you've probably seen some of these pieces on different outfits like that toast Corvid Castigator cloak is on him.[78]Margaret Krohn

Ashes of Creation utilizes an adaptive artificial intelligence (AI), which means that different encounters with similar creatures will yield different player experiences.[79]

  • Utilizing new AI technology that hasn't been seen in other MMORPG projects.[80]
  • Bosses are scripted and make decisions dynamically during boss fights.[81]
  • NPCs performing "idle actions" to make the world seem more alive has been discussed by the developers but is not confirmed.[82]
  • Certain AI behaviors might activate based on progress within an encounter.[83]
    • Higher frequency of AoE attacks depending on how many players are participating.[83]
    • Unlock rage, recovery effects and buffs.[84][83]
    • Supporting other monster types or classes nearby.[84]
    • Additional adds and add classes.[83]
  • NPCs in certain encounters may be aware of their local environment and can seek cover behind obstacles, for example; but this will not be prevalent in general AI designs.[25]

There are AI systems that don't relate to controlling NPCs.[85]

There are some additional AI parameters that are set that don't relate necessarily to controlling NPCs. There are AIs with regards to the development of the borders for nodes in the direction and also the decisions that are made of which lower nodes to enslave as vassal states. There's AI that relates to a little bit of the stock market that's going to be present in the economy. There's some AI systems that are going to be announced also that are pretty innovative I think with regards to the MMORPG genre and that's going to make the triggered event system very interesting I think; and that's you know with regards to how nodes kind of develop and the environment reacts to that development by you know spawning these triggered events of you know a horde of zombies attacking a city or a legendary raid boss coming out of the mountain. I think there's a lot of opportunity for some of the innovations that's been in the AI sector of game development too to come out in Ashes.[85]Steven Sharif

Population based scaling

The prices that NPCs sell items for will scale based on the economic activity on a server. Prices will rise to combat inflation and fall as a population diminishes.[86]

The node system allows the developers to scale the experience needed to level a node and the attrition that affects a node based on activity.[86]

Things that NPCs buy and sell kind of scale based on the economic activity that exists on that server... As inflation rises, prices rise and everything kind of ends up being equal, even though there might be a couple of extra zeros. So that can go up and it can also go down so as a population leaves, things become less expensive and players don't have to do as much to earn that. On the other side of things we look at the node system and the node system is set up in this really flexible way that allows us to scale the experience needed to level a node and the attrition that delevels a node to scale based on activity too. So you know it's just a matter of adjusting a couple of constants and that goes up and down and the server can watch it and change those on the fly as it needs to.[86]Jeffrey Bard

Artwork

See also

References

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  3. Interview, February 7, 2021 (31:37).
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  15. steven-cosmetic-variants.png
  16. steven-cosmetics.png
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  44. player stall repair.png
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  46. Npc vending.jpg
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