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July 28, 2014, 08:26:27 AM
TIGSource ForumsDeveloperCreativeWritingNPC Brainstorm
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Kegluneq
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« on: June 03, 2011, 09:27:14 AM »

I feel like a big problem in game writing, namely RPGs and its sub-genres, is that the NPCs just don't get much depth. They're less of non-player characters and more of signs with faces.
Every person in the world has a personality and a history, but not every person is you. NPCs may not be the player, but they still are characters.

Post your idea of an NPC, don't be afraid to go all out. Give him/her personality, motives, likes/dislikes, rivals, even an accent! Try to keep things within a fantasy setting for now, we'll change if we run out of ideas.


Here's mine to get things started:

John run's the local bakery. An ambitious fellow, his goal is to one day make the best sweet bread in the world. He has the hots for the pastry girl across the street, but so does the fruit vendor who supplies her. Can John get the girl and the bread of his dreams?

The player could help John by running quests for John to find exotic ingredients, or by buying lots of fruit from Mr. Fruit Vendor, forcing Ms. Pastry Girl to get fruit elsewhere and reducing her face time with the fruit guy.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 06:19:36 PM by Kegluneq » Logged
SundownKid
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« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 01:58:47 PM »

This is a pretty funny idea. But, shouldn't there be some kind of changing setting guideline to keep it from becoming a total mish-mash of different worlds? I think it would be more fun to try to make a character within a setting than something completely random.

Anyway,

Setting:

Fantasy

Description:

Dan is a school student who is playing hooky, but unfortunately the school is a magic academy and the truancy officers can find him using their crystal ball. You as the player must foil the truancy officers by covering his tracks.
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Kegluneq
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« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2011, 06:03:56 PM »

Hmm, that's actually a pretty good idea.

Then we'll make the setting fantasy for now, should we run out of ideas we'll switch.
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filosofiamanga
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« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2011, 09:26:57 PM »

 Cheesy
I actually feel the same when watching RPG, the NPC doesn't seem... well, characters, they seem to be humanoid signs.
It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.

It's a lovely Idea, well... I'll give my try.

GIRLS:
***
Carolina is a girl that was saved by a magician from die in the hands of a monster when she was only 6 years old, she receive a medallion from the magician that she seems to carry to everywhere. She wants to enter the magic school, but this school is too far from her natal town, so she must travel, but the path is dangerous, so she ask help to her friend Camila to see if his brother can help her.

Camila is the nice and typical blonde, maybe she's a little dumb because she didn't like to read books and the nerdy stuff her friend (Carolina) seems to love. She love however to use new dresses that came from Carmen, the older elf. She has a strong and older brother that works to bring the food to the family after his dad where kill by a monster when trying to save Carolina.

Rosalinda is the barteender love interest that keeps making gossips of all the town, she also read the cards and the tarot from the travelers. She is saw a lot of times on the cementery at nights, maybe she's a witch.

Pacifica is Carolina's cousin that recentelly was rescued from a team of bandits that kidnapped her, she was saved by Camila's brother and fall in love because of this. She speaks the languaje of the elfs and dwarfs, she's very smart and intelectual, she know a lot of history, art and music.

Marlene is the town principal dancer, she's the wife to the main musician in the town, she wants to create a circus to travel all around the kingdom, also she like to dance using sticks in fire, that seems like a dangerous dance that she learn in her natal and exotic land.

Mercedes is a nun of the principal church in the kingdom, she has a good heart, she's really old and have a lot of wisdom. When a man broke her hearth in her youth, she decided to enter the church and dedicate his love to only God.

Diana is a priest of an ancient temple, dedicated to an older God, she likes to debate with Mercedes about their religion, always getting to an agreement about being good to others without caring about which god is the real one.

***
GUYS

Carlos is Camila brothers, his dad adopted Carolina from a dying friend, He's strong, mainly because he works as lumberjack and in the market, carrying the people's heavy burdens. He is a realistic man, he doesn't think in long term because he knows he must work hard to pay the debts.

Rolento is the taxes recolector, he is very miser, but he has an strong crush on Camila, so he like's to borrow money to Carlos expecting someday he'll possess camila as a payment.

Daniel is the town musician, he likes to sing to love and womens, that's how he made Marlene fall in love, he read a lot of poetry, he also want to start traveling around the kingdom.

Rafael is the other town musician, he like to improve his performance each time he can, he know a lot of music history, that's why he likes to chat with Pacifica, inviting her to be in his house sometimes until late night.

Cecil is the town alchemist, he has a lab, he learned a lot in his travels about science and herbal medicine, so he's very renowed in the town. But when he start talking about crazy stuff like the earth is round, people start joking at his back.

***
Other races:
***
ELFS:
Manuel is a bandit elf that was captured a long time ago and never leave the town, he spend time with Cecil talking about his far away land, farther than the mountains that surround the town.

Carmen is an old elf that was raised by a human who found her lost in the forest when she was a baby. She loves to spend his time making clothes that are famous in the kingdom, She love to see her new creations in the body of Camila.

LIZARDS:
Arcadio is the boss of the bandits that wanted to kidnap Pacifica, he's very agressive and doesn't like to be in public.


Like I said It's a lot of fun to create NPC and detail them.
Tell me what you think, what should I add?
« Last Edit: June 03, 2011, 09:31:59 PM by filosofiamanga » Logged
Kegluneq
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« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2011, 06:53:16 AM »

Good stuff! I especially like Cecil, his premise is so simple, but I feel like you could go really far with it.

It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.
That's exactly what I was thinking. One of the reasons I made this thread was to find inspiration for a game I'm working on myself.
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SundownKid
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« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2011, 07:04:30 AM »

It's very funny to make an NPC, I wonder why they don't get too develop, I would love an RPG with only one town in the entire game, but if each NPC is a real character.

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime. You stay in the same town the entire game, but every character has their own schedule and unique things to say depending on the time of day and year. They all have their own businesses and other things to worry about. The game is quite funny as well.
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LDuncan
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« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2011, 07:43:56 AM »

What might be more useful is to develop 3 or 4 traits that govern your NPCs personality, then describe how he would react in the given situation according to those traits. This will make it easier to spot a cliche character, and also stop you from adding so many traits that your character becomes unrealistic or unbalanced (think Edward from Twilight... he's good at everything and he's amazingly hot and he's super strong and he's super fast and he's... etc., the list goes on). Not saying that I've seen any of that yet, but I can see some newer writers thinking that breadth = depth. This could help them focus on depth instead.
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filosofiamanga
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« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2011, 09:31:22 AM »

That's exactly what I was thinking. One of the reasons I made this thread was to find inspiration for a game I'm working on myself.

Yeah, drop me a message in my MSN, check my profile, maybe we can have a good time chatting.

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime.

Thanks, I'll give it a try.

What might be more useful is to develop 3 or 4 traits that govern your NPCs personality, then describe how he would react in the given situation according to those traits. This will make it easier to spot a cliche character, and also stop you from adding so many traits that your character becomes unrealistic or unbalanced (think Edward from Twilight... he's good at everything and he's amazingly hot and he's super strong and he's super fast and he's... etc., the list goes on). Not saying that I've seen any of that yet, but I can see some newer writers thinking that breadth = depth. This could help them focus on depth instead.

I think 3 traits for a NPC is enough if it's a traditional RPG, if it's more like The Sims I believe 4 will be enough.
Even 1 good trait for a NPC is enough if the character really represents that trait.
The same could be said about the colors (traits) in a painting.
Having more colors doesn't mean the painting is better, sometimes 1-2 colors is enough.

About Edward, he seems to be the typical Mary Sue.
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LDuncan
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« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2011, 09:38:05 AM »

About Edward, he seems to be the typical Mary Sue.

Technically, Bella is probably the Mary Sue, since she's basically a blank template and the only time she's ever described, she looks pretty much like a younger version of the author. Edward is just there to fulfill the reader's fantasies.
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Kegluneq
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« Reply #9 on: June 04, 2011, 02:47:28 PM »

You should try Rune Factory 3 out sometime. You stay in the same town the entire game, but every character has their own schedule and unique things to say depending on the time of day and year. They all have their own businesses and other things to worry about. The game is quite funny as well.

Just checked it out, that's exactly how NPC's should be! Of course I understand why many games don't do it like that, but it's a pretty good example of what I was looking for.
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #10 on: June 04, 2011, 03:32:00 PM »

John run's the local bakery. An ambitious fellow, his goal is to one day make the best sweet bread in the world. He has the hots for the pastry girl across the street, but so does the fruit vendor who supplies her. Can John get the girl and the bread of his dreams?
Hehe he reminds me of Kazuma in the crazy manga Yakitate!! Japan. Nice idea.

Scifi (soory oversaw the fantasy constraint): Joel, 7 years old, wants to become a spacetruck driver when he grows up. He plays his dream all the time. You can often see him humming arround at the traffic-calmed side street next to the café, where his mother is a waitress. At school the kids mock him because of his "stupid low ambitions". This year, on his father's day of death, his mother buys him a tiny RC model spacetruck. "Mom, this is so phat, best dad day ever, ever!" But after playing excessively with the flying toy spacetruck, the spacetruck gets too far away and Joel looses control over it. He hears a distant clank. Obsessed by the toy he combs through the entire neighborhood, without finding it.
There he lies at the wayside, drenched in tears, can you help him?
« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 03:43:49 PM by Chromanoid » Logged
1982
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« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2011, 10:13:21 AM »

My opinion is that rather than trying to come up with written, predefined personalities, game makers should try to develop elements and formulas of procedural NPC personality creation within a game.

Written content has been already seen in movies and books for some time, and there is not much new ground to cover. At least not for average game designers who are not usually very original artists in this area.

However, game worlds and content could be generated procedurally and some by random if designers would take more approach on this. Something that cannot be done in films and books, EVER. Specially there is lots of undiscovered possibilities in procedural NPC.

I have never experienced truly fascinating game story or NPC, they all recycle the same cliches which are completely dead already. However I have experienced even very badly executed procedural content, which even in such experimental state is much more interesting than basic stuff.



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Chromanoid
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« Reply #12 on: June 19, 2011, 11:04:17 AM »

My opinion is that rather than trying to come up with written, predefined personalities, game makers should try to develop elements and formulas of procedural NPC personality creation within a game.

Written content has been already seen in movies and books for some time, and there is not much new ground to cover. At least not for average game designers who are not usually very original artists in this area.
I think we can improve NPCs just by innovative dialogue systems and better interactivity. PCG could enable us to add more of the same old NPCs - this cannot lead to better NPCs but only to more "bad" NPCs.

I have never experienced truly fascinating game story or NPC, they all recycle the same cliches which are completely dead already. However I have experienced even very badly executed procedural content, which even in such experimental state is much more interesting than basic stuff.
Did you play text heavy rpgs like planescape torment or fallout, did you play games like simon the sorcerer or monkey island? Books and movies are being written although there are many of them already.
You did mention it: Many game makers aren't that creative when it comes to story telling. This brainstorm could deliver ideas for deeper npcs and finally lead to richer experiences with npcs in games - just by improving the stories behind the characters. PCG can not cure flat characters.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 11:17:24 AM by Chromanoid » Logged
1982
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« Reply #13 on: June 19, 2011, 11:32:23 AM »

PCG can not cure flat characters.

No, that's why it is completely different approach and much more interesting one. I want games to be adventurous experiences about discovering something that is not predefined. What could be more interesting than connect with NPC characters that consist sophisticated elements of intelligent design. "Well" written character doesn't cure the fundamental flatness of the experience, where in interactive environment (game) I connect with dumb, forced story carrying characters.
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Chromanoid
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« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2011, 01:56:44 PM »

PCG can not cure flat characters.
No, that's why it is completely different approach and much more interesting one. I want games to be adventurous experiences about discovering something that is not predefined. What could be more interesting than connect with NPC characters that consist sophisticated elements of intelligent design. "Well" written character doesn't cure the fundamental flatness of the experience, where in interactive environment (game) I connect with dumb, forced story carrying characters.
I think that the way "well" written characters are implemented into games has to be improved. As I understand you, you want procedural "undefined" intelligent npcs that may break the story or at least deliver a more interactive improvisational-acting-like experience. I want that too. But on the way to electronic souls that serve our games as actors we should nevertheless think about stories that can vitalize npcs and their environment. I guess w/o ideas about stories that make npcs vivid we cannot think about building procedural story tellers.
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