Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:48 am

Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

After the unfortunate degradation of the previous topic (City Generation/Construction) and its justified (for once) locking, I thought it necessary to continue the discussion. Please try to keep this a little more than a shit throwing competition and hurt butt extravaganza.

Cities: Cities are good, they're a symbol of a faction's power, they're centers for NPC spawning, manufacturing, storage, and player activity. The method of construction of cities is up for debate. Here, we have several options:
1. Pre-generated cities. They would be automatically placed into the environment, much like a testificate village. This idea has been discussed and dismissed.
2. Player-made cities. Hand-made cities constructed entirely by players. This method implies too many complications, namely that not many would construct a skyscraper.
3. Augmented construction. This would use NPCs or construction drones to build cities under the control of players, similar to Millenaire.
4. Building yards. Like shipyards, just place a blueprint and materials into a block and it magically makes a building.
Methods of motivating players to build cities is also a point of discussion, which leads us into the next section, vehicles.

Vehicles: It has been agreed upon that FC will have entity-based vehicles, like tanks, planes, and mechs. Flan's mod has all of these and, void its many flaws, is a decent vehicle mod. One of the largest flaws that I see with Flan's is that you can carry an entire vehicle (an entire armored battalion, really) in your inventory. This would pose some problems with cities, as a portion of their usefulness would be to manufacture vehicles. I propose that vehicles cannot be carried in the inventory and instead must be moved manually.

NPCs are a simple solution to many problems. It has been stated that cities will feel skeletal and hollow, as it's not likely that many players will actually be in a city at any given time. If a city is populated with NPCs, it would improve the overall atmosphere. They would be used to run shops, work in factories, construction, crew ships, police the city, etc.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:30 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Should we put vehicles in a separate thread because those are quite different, and it's not good to try and discuss two things parallel, didn't work with the last one.

But anyway, on the topic of cites, I've been tying to work out how to integrate both cities and ruins into the game.

My idea is this:

We generate a series of ruined or partially dilapidated cities around the universe.

Now, before this seems too post apocalyptic, we give players the possibility to create systems which restore these cities or at least parts of them to working order, which could be as simple as giving a npc task force a set of required materials or tools.

When we generate the cities, they are given a factor, from one to ten, one being completely trashed, ten being working perfectly, and each city must be worked on but the NPCs to upgrade the city or parts of it. Perhaps we could split the cities into districts, and each could be restored individually, but the range of levels of each district can only be three (if that made sense at all)

As for populating the cities, well those NPCs need somewhere to live, and perhaps the residential district of each city determines the size and effectiveness of its npc taskforce.

Not quite sure how a player would attain the ability to claim a city, I'll think of that later.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:28 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

When I had mentioned city ruins, I only intended for it to apply to the thing I've been calling battleground cities, as a way of justifying why it has no population and why no one will be mad if you smash stuff. The point is that it should look the part of a battleground and not be repaired.

For living cities, I had discussed the NPC situation a little with our old friend Mensrea, who is planning a Millenaire/RTS hybrid thing. The idea is that instead of treating city-based NPCs as persistent entities like villagers, they would be representations of macro-scale city functions, and like most every sandbox game, the server will generate random citizens when a player approaches, and promptly forgets about them when the player leaves. Not only does this save on server resources, but the city doesn't have to go into stasis when no one is around to keep the chunks loaded, because the functional aspects of the city aren't happening in the chunk layer.

Same goes for ships, though for that scale it is probably easier to simply keep track of individual crewmembers as they go about their business. However, the crew AI would still be tied to the ship, rather than to individual entities.

The thing to figure out for cities is how the city knows what different buildings are for, or even what things are buildings (let's try to avoid cities made entirely of doors, shall we?). If the city layout is procedurally generated without player input, the city itself would decide what buildings go where, but wouldn't be able to recognize player-made structures. If players define the purpose of buildings, it would have to be a pretty extensive interface to cover everything. There could also be some middle ground where players assign sim-city style zoning to give the city some basic idea of how stuff is laid out, as well as where it is allowed to build, if at all.

I think we will end up seeing some entirely player run cities, but not many of them. But no matter what we decide on, we will definitely need some way to define where cities and strongholds and outposts are, who owns them, and how other players can interact with them.

============================================

As for the vehicle situation, vehicles should be built from modular parts (so you'd have choice of cockpits, engines wheel or leg or wing bases, etc., and different accessories which give it different abilities and roles.) The only difference between a walking mech, a strategic bomber, and a forklift would be the choice of modules used. Each module would also have predefined socket points for where you attach it to other modules, and it would restrict what modules or classes of modules can attach there (important for game balance but also for ensuring that all modules that can attach there have compatible meshes at the socket point). I'm not completely sure how different variants of modules will be manufactured (and I am envisioning a database full of components which vary slightly in stats and looks, like Borderlands or a typical MMO).

It definitely makes sense, though, to keep modules and finished products in physical space and not stored in inventory and chests. Since people already do it for pretend when they build hangars and cargo holds, I doubt anyone is going to complain if we do it for real. Resources will still have to stack, though. Not much we can do about that.

Vehicles should probably be a different topic, IMO.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:02 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

BTW Im against randomly generating crew members, first of all you dehumanize them, and you also remove the possibility of modifying their skills and developing them.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:07 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Iv121 wrote:BTW Im against randomly generating crew members, first of all you dehumanize them, and you also remove the possibility of modifying their skills and developing them.


Guess it depends, if we can do what you just said without any impact on performance then yes I agree, but from what Fr0st just said I'm not sure, might be one of those weird ones.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:30 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Eventually ships don't drive on their own, they got a player in them which means they are loaded anyway, with or without entities, and dunno about you but Id like a crew I care about ... ofc you can always automate stuff if you hate company but it will pass through the same pipeline. As for NPC ships I guess nobody will mind if the NPCs on them are generated.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:57 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Iv121 wrote:Eventually ships don't drive on their own, they got a player in them which means they are loaded anyway, with or without entities, and dunno about you but Id like a crew I care about ... ofc you can always automate stuff if you hate company but it will pass through the same pipeline. As for NPC ships I guess nobody will mind if the NPCs on them are generated.


I guess, nobody ever gives a damn about ground crew so they wouldn't be persistent. For ships it would make sense to have that.

But then what do you do with massive ships?
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 2:59 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Well massive ships are massive pain in the butt as the name suggests, and the entities running amok there are just a small part of the performance hit you'll get when a dread jumps into your vicinity.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:20 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Iv121 wrote:Well massive ships are massive pain in the butt as the name suggests, and the entities running amok there are just a small part of the performance hit you'll get when a dread jumps into your vicinity.


Alternatively you can have a select persistent few represent certain bodies of crew, so for engineering crew they would be represented by an engineering officer, this is the persistent one you can develop and changing this NPC impacts the whole engineering crew, yet the rest of the engineering crew only manifest themselves when a player is nearby, that way you can still have the crew like you described but without the performance crew.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:45 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Works for large ships, doesn’t work for small ships, and implementing two separate systems for both types is problematic.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:48 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Iv121 wrote:Works for large ships, doesn’t work for small ships, and implementing two separate systems for both types is problematic.


Well it can scale up/down depending on the class of the ships core, it would be one system, but when the ship is small the Non persistent NPCs don't come into effect, class of the core affects the maximum number of NPCs and the actual physical size of the ship could determine the number used.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:51 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

And what happens if that officer dies ?
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:14 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

I would assume they stay dead.

Why not just hiring new crew from starport NPCs, on planets and such? Servers can have an "academy" tbat makes X crew per Y (unit of time), and then they can be hired out, giving the server some K'lii?
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:23 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

I support treating the ship's crew as a unit rather than individual people. Or, perhaps, as several units, representing individual parts of the crew: Make the engineering crew one unit, and the bridge crew another, and the compliment of marines another, and so on and so forth. You can still upgrade skills and such; you just do it by group instead of individual: The engineering crew currently stationed aboard the LJS Light of Sangheilos has very few skill points in combat duties right now, and they're unlikely to gain any there, so they can be transferred to the LJS Hot Needle of Inquiry, which is in a warzone and where they'll gain experience much faster. That's way easier to deal with than having each of the crew's fifty members be an individual who must be dealt with separately, which would quickly become overwhelming on a large ship. Engineering crews are produced by an engineering academy, bridge crews are produced by an officer academy, etc.
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Post Fri Jan 31, 2014 4:27 pm

Re: Cities, NPCs, and vehicles.

Prob is they loose value as humans as a result, they becomes just a bunch of NPCs, and if the officer dies so dies all of the crew attached to it as the stats are now lost, if you just replace that person on auto it becomes even more robotic and less human, as well as means that you cannot physically loose that unit properly.
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