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amazeing4art

NPC faction reactions and aggro

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I'd like to write about NPC reactions to the player characters actions (especially stealing or aggressive actions), and how in a lot of even really good games the dynamics of this have been disappointing to me. And give some suggestions and hear other peoples thoughts. 

 

First, I often find it frustrating and amateurish when all NPC's of a certain faction immediately attack you when you do something too aggressive. Even in amazing games like BG2 this happens; to me it seems in some degree laziness on the part of developers. Or lack of time to implement something more interesting. 

 

For example, this is bad design to me: when you fail a pickpocket check against an overweight, old merchant NPC in a large town, and he turns red and immediately attacks your party of amazingly well-armed adventurers in full plate mail. He just suicides. His friends suicide too! And all the women and children in the room run at you to impale themselves on your spears as well. All unarmed and wearing colorful shirts. 

 

A little better would be the merchant shouting... "help, guards! thieves!" and then you have to run away before the guards arrive. If the guards catch up to you (i.e. get close enough) then they say "come with us, you are under arrest!" and then you have to decide... kill the guards and really have that whole faction hate you, or agree to be arrested and be transported before some official. Where you must pay a fine, or be imprisoned for a day, or who knows what interesting situations might arise. It could all be done with cut-scenes and a generic small "courtroom" that is used for this purpose no matter where in the game world you are (other than wilderness areas of course). Stealing could affect your reputation generally with that town/faction, and specifically that merchant might not ever sell to you again. 

 

Perhaps even better would be: If you fail to steal or pickpocket, or do something too extreme in general... you don't always get caught immediately. First, maybe usually (if pickpocketing, say) you just don't get the item and can't try again for some time. But to avoid the "reload game" response to failures in pickpocketing, stealing, or any other aggression... you could find that even after you successfully pull something off, maybe three days later suddenly guards accost you the next time you enter that area, "you are under arrest, we have 3 witnesses who saw you steal from that merchant!" Then you have to decide what to do and how to handle it. If you want to reload you really can't do so easily, because too much game time has gone by, so now you have to deal with the consequences.

 

The same could occur if you publicly kill some innocent NPC. Rather than guards coming to get you immediately, or the entire town turning red and attacking you, maybe 3 days later you find yourself in trouble with the town guard; the forces of lord so-and-so whose merchant you just killed. Ten well armed guards say "come with us now!". Reload would not work so well there, you have to deal with the consequences. 

 

If you steal from someone in the wilderness or far away from a city, they should only attack you as a last resort, and only if they think they can beat you (and have a chance). Otherwise they should run away, or stop talking to you after accusing you, etc. 

 

I know all this is extra work but it might make stealing, pickpocketing and other "aggressions" actually work. In BG2 for example, pickpocketing was a joke, if you succeeded it was free loot, if you failed, you just reloaded and tried again, because the consequences were so severe and immediate, and not nuanced at all. 

 

Also, unrelated to stealing... I would love to see only armed guards or competent people rush to attack you, no matter what you do to some other NPC. The way a lot of games work it would be like, six guys walk into a bar with swords and kill someone, and then everyone who is unarmed at the bar just instantly and collectively decides to rush the swords rather than run for the exits. Most people run for the exits unless they are well armed and well trained, id like to see most NPCs and even some creatures (xaurips working in a mine, for example) behave this way too. It would make killing more realistic and would also mean a lot less meaningless slaughtering of weak NPCs.

Edited by amazeing4art
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Good old Ultima 8 had an amusing way of dealing with this. Commit a crime, and the victim screams "Town Sorcerer!", who appears in a puff of flame and proceeds to blow you up. Well, it was amusing the first couple of times anyway...

 

I agree that this generally isn't done very well in games and is probably the exact reason why PoE1 didn't have any pickpocketing. Calling the guards in is a good idea, but ultimately, if you've made an "enemy" of a plot critical NPC, the game sort of brakes, right? And unless committing crimes is a big part of the game, creating an entire court/jail sequence would be a huge commitment of resources.

 

What they've said in the Q&A:

 

Yeah, you can pickpocket people in this game. When you go to pickpocket someone, obviously if you do it right in front of their face, you fail. I don't know if it's a guaranteed fail but it's pretty much impossible. You have to be in Stealth mode, that's like the modal state—when you are in Stealth mode, your standard interaction with people is picking their pocket. If you want to talk to someone don't sneak up on them.

When you interact with them you get a pop-up interface. It'll show you items that—it's not random, it's basically: you can take these items without being detected; these items you can take but you're gonna be detected. Sometimes you just don't care, "I'm going to take this and they're going to aggro on me and I don't give a crap". Then there's stuff that, you know, this on them but you can't. You can't take it no matter what. And that's how pickpocketing works.

Also, as previously suggested, you can put explosives—you can put little alchemical bombs on people and blow them up. Which is very funny.

KA: Can I reverse pickpocket a hundred full plate mails on a person and just root them?

JS: No, you cannot do that.

 

So its pretty clear when you're going to succeed and fail. I guess this is a good system.

 

Edit: I think they also said that if a companion turned against you, they wouldn't "suicide attack" so they are thinking about this stuff.

Edited by Heijoushin

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I would really like a more .. realized system, that has actual consequences like vendors closing shop to you and all (and not just of the corresponding faction; like when you go ham on the citadel knights to retrieve a certain armor*) based on your background and reputation, currently it seems far to lax.

 

I mean i can kill half the people i come accross for no reason, and people still sell me more weapons and gear (lol). But then again we have things like the bleak walker disposition hypocrisy and similar stuff...

 

Edit: *(you cannot tell me that wiping out a whole garrison doesn't influence [realistically] the common plebs / merchants in any way.. )

Edited by Duskshift

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I don't know why they are even bothering with pick pocketing.  The system has never been done well in an RPG in my opinion.    If you screw up, then you just simply reload.  Once you max out pickpocketing, it becomes overpowered to the point where you can steal anything. 

Edited by bonarbill

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