Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The NPC Uprising is at Hand!

Our mission continues this week and the final maps are being prepared with diligence and speed never before seen among mere mortals. We've still got a few to go, but thankfully the quality isn't being sacrificed to the great Crunch Gods and everything from user path to chest placement is being crafted with the utmost care.

We're also putting together some more subquests. The first round has been designed and is ready for scripting and design of the second round has begun. We've got your standard item fetch quests that are the bread and butter of role playing games, but others are much more involved - often revealing elements of the story you'll miss out on if you let the game lead you by the hand. Our advice? Have a little look around before you jump to the next section of the game - you'll be pleasantly surprised.

When you think of the story in an RPG (or any game really) you'd think the bulk of the writing difficulties come from crafting the actual... you know... story. Not so! It's the pesky NPC dialogue that populates towns and villages that is the real irritant of narrative design. Why? Usually you have one option when writing NPC scripts - and that's to make them completely utilitarian. Using them to give clues to hopelessly lost players, reducing your digital denizens to mere information conduits - their lives losing all meaning the moment their hints are internalized by the player, leaving them to wallow in seas of despair when the game's code no longer calls to them. We actually lost our entire first batch of NPCs to mass suicide. They formed a little pixelated Heaven's Gate cult and did themselves in during one of our play tests.

Keep that in mind the next time you heartless fiends pass by Old Woman #6 in the latest next gen RPG. She's been waiting for you her whole life! Talk to her! Let her feel loved and important at least once during her miserable existence.

You. Owe. Her.

Heedless of our NPCs' quality of life we've begun filling the game with their endless chatter, if only to give you the illusion that the towns you venture to are inhabited by delightful and interesting people and not slaves chained to a single line of script, forced to do nothing but address the fleeting interests of cold, unfeeling RPG fans.

You people make me sick! Get out!


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