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New type of NPC
crowds/swarms

So, in my D&D experience s a GM, i find that sometimes it is good to be able to represent a group or crowd of enemies with one NPC, rather than trying to individually manage a dozen or more. I would propose a new type of NPC for our GMs to use that represents this, combining the attack and health pools of several NPCs into one 'crowd', perhaps even giving it the ability to attack more than one person at a time by splitting it's attack capabilities?

This would allow for GMs to puppet themely riots and mobs more effectively, and require teamwork to take down.

Springboarding off that...

A crowd of over 10,000 bystanders is here.

> drive w

You plow your HondaMitsu Koi through the crowded streets of red, injuring a few bystanders that try to get out of the way.

A crowd of over 10,000 bystanders [to you]: Aaaagh!

😛

A horde of nameless NPCs might be a good idea. Not to make everything about gangs, but it would also help to realize the sheer scale of gang fights in the Dome, where there's thousands of members of the largest gangs. A crowd or two of gangers going at it would look like all out street warfare, and that's badass.
I think scripted NPC creation/behavior, room emotes based on ambient crowd size, and reactions to PC activities such as shootings, explosives, etc would go a long way create a sense of ambience than amorphous NPC's representing large entities.

I recognize this is hugely beneficial in Pen & Paper but with the server is handling a lot of dice rolls - I think it would be a bit brazen to introduce a new type of NPC rather than investing in NPC behavior.

I don't think this would work -at all-.

With the way combat is, it'd need an entire rework so we weren't hitting an entire angry mob in the left ear with a baton. And that's way too much work to suggest for this sort of concept.

@HolyChrome

You could just have it say 'you hit one of the mob-goers in the left ear with a baton.'

But that's not an invalid point, obviously.

That's not the way targeting, weapon messages, stats, or anything of the like works though.

Like I said, -everything- would need to be reworked and have a dozen more things attached to it. I think we're good as is.

@HolyChrome

A good point, though I do not think it would take a lot of recoding, as the weapon impacts read off of a list of locations, which the mob could just utilize a genericized version of perhaps?

Missing and hitting into the crowd sounds pretty themely actually.
I don't think as much would need to be reworked as you think. The mob, as outlined here, would simply be one NPC that represents a large amount of NPCs.
It would require a -ton- of recoding as every NPC has the same regions as your character. All armor, weapons, and combat are based off this.

This would -not- be some afternoon's work.

The same regions?
Limbs, etc.

But honestly, I really think you could just flavor it as, 'you swing your dildo at one of the mob-goers and hit a mob-goer in the left ear.'

It's exactly how messages work. You don't need to track specific mob-goers or crowd NPCs, because it's just one big crowd with one health bar that represents the strength of the crowd in general, and an abstracted 'weapon' they use to attack.

I don't like the idea of fighting one vaguely described mob, as opposed to taking on individual NPCs who can be immediately recognizable through specific features. Not sure if controlling a group of NPCs is a concern either because of the ease commands like 'escort' or 'follow' provide. NPCs of the same faction also already automatically attack whoever their buddy is targeting or being targeted by.

It just seems very unnecessary when existing mechanics do the job so well that they're often overwhelming when utilized correctly.

You would though.

Literally every weapon has dozens of messages attached to it. Each one with three points of view.

You spin around Batko, tripping Batko with a sweep of your leg, and bop Batko in the ear.

HolyChrome spins around you, tripping you with a sweep of her leg, and bops you in the ear.

HolyChrome spins around Batko, tripping Batko with a sweep of her leg, and bops Batko in the ear.

Now do this for every hit, miss, block, and parry. For every point of view. For every weapon.

Every single one would need -new- messages added so they had context.

This isn't even taking into account the bonuses and negatives involved with group combat. Or the different damage types. Or grappling an entire mob. Or what weapons like grenades or automatics would do to a group. Or how you'd block an entire mob's attack with something like a cricket bat.

Let's keep mobs to actual swarms of NPCs.

But here's where I'm confused. I understand what you're saying. But what's stopping you from replacing 'batko' in these examples with, exactly what I said, a generic name.

You spin around 'someone in the crowd', tripping 'someone in the crowd' with a sweep of your leg, and bop 'someone in the crowd' in the ear.

'an angry mob-goer' spins around you, tripping you with a sweep of her leg, and bops you in the ear.

'an angry mob-goer' spins around 'someone in the crowd', tripping 'someone in the crowd' with a sweep of her leg, and bops 'someone in the crowd' in the ear.

It's not a beautiful implementation, but we have animals that rub their eyes as they wake up from being unconscious, too, so it's not exactly the worst looking messages.

It's a matter of having the effective name of the 'NPC' here being these words. Not saying it's easy, I haven't looked at the code, but I don't think it'd need a huge rework or anything.

Because then you'd need an entire new set of pronouns to be reworked into the system for each individual instance.

It's a neat idea. But literally none of it would work.

I suppose. I'll just acquiesce to the more experienced, here, there's probably a lot of things I'm missing here.
Call it something like "a member of a group of five Sinners" give it a number of lives, fully heal it each time it would die, and have it add a corpse to a pile each time it would die, maybe even lower its damage on each death. Each member of the group attacks one at a time.

The "pile of corpses" could be a single object to reduce bloat.

There. Illusion of fighting many with one mob that needs no pronoun changes.

Heck, even lower its attacking speed on each death, too. That way it feels like you're thinning out the mob.
Fighting an NPC named "five Sinners" would have drastically different outcomes than fighting five actual Sinners though.
Fighting an NPC named "five Sinners" would have drastically different outcomes than fighting five actual Sinners though.
I don't know how you're saying all these "woulds" when there are ways around it.

Technical limitations aside, it's a cool idea, yes?

It's similar to the Idea about randomizing weapons for gangers.

Good and neat, but way more of an undertaking than you might imagine for little in the way of results.

@HolyChrome

Yes, but you're talking about five named sinners, which represent a higher category of ganger. I mean, in previous discussions we have talked about how there ambient gangers get killed, seemingly violating code, and how players represent the absolute stand-outs in this society.

Utilizing a swarm-rule type mechanic could give the GMs a new tool to affect a mass gathering of angry mixers, really adding to the ambience rather than having one or two NPCs running around with a lighter, each individually puppeted.

Okay.
Fighting a horde of NPC Sinners would probably represent a mass of inexperienced or 'cannon fodder' gangers. This would also reinforce how good the 'named' NPC gangers are.

And, I mean, this also has applicability towards (as said in the original idea) riots and such.

Technical limitations are there, yes, but I still think it's a good idea if it is possible. And if it's reasonably possible, the staff will consider it. I don't think they need anyone to tell them what is codedly possible or not. That sort of feedback on ideas threads kind of irks me.

I've never said anything was codedly possible or not.

Really, anything is technically- able to be coded . Just a matter of how much of a complete pain in the ass it would be to create and integrate. This would be up there on that scale.

Codedly reasonable then.
A big trouble I can see with implementing this is how to factor grapple in. I can see how it might be able to spoof messages for a single entity so it looks like multiple people for normal combat messages, but the moment you grapple the crowd your character will somehow be taking down multiple people in one grapple because mechanically it is a single entity. You could set it so the crowd cannot be grappled at all like certain NPCs but then balance starts to become questionable at best.
Everything is sort of built around the idea of a small number of MOO objects standing in for a large number of IC things, whether they be civilians, or vehicles, or gangers, or Judges or whatever.

I think it starts to muddy the water about how a single NPC is meant to be a representative sample of some relative number of additional present IC characters, if you start having group NPCs in certain situations and not in others.

We. can. do. this.

The concept of a crowd, giving it population characteristics, what the percentage is any given group. Those groups have factions, those factions can drive behavior.

When it comes to combat, we spawn npcs dynamically when you shop in the market. This could work the same way in that when the mob is attacking someone, npcs are flitting in and out of existence and the player has no ability to prevent any individual from the crowd from fleeing back into it and being replaced by other attackers. And yes, crowds could spawn multiple npcs in this manner.

I like this idea and its evolutionary from where we are today. Good stuff.

Can we consider the gameplay and theme now rather than the supposed code hardships?
In plenty of my posts, the actual gameplay is mentioned, batko, so let's not pretend otherwise.

Even beyond code, I don't think this would be a fulfilling experience when we already have individual puppets to manage. This seems like one of those things that's far better on paper than it is in action.

From a combat standpoint, fighting five people is far different from fighting one thing representing give people.

From an RP standpoint, what if you want to capture one person out of the group?

I feel like it would water down interactions with puppets and move away from how we're supposed to treat all NPCs as people rather than "mobs" in a game. Pun absolutely intended.

"Can we consider the gameplay and theme now rather than the supposed code hardships?"

If that's the rubric we have a laundry list to address before getting to...whatever this is.

Which isn't to be dismissive. I get the premise and it's an interesting idea, but it inherently puts a serious weight on the NPC side in a way that alters game balance / design in a way SD doesn't necessarily want to put a finger on the scales, or at least hasn't in all the years I've played it. And I think it introduces coded and meta complexities that aren't immediately obvious. There are a LOT of mechanics that rely on individual entities existing and acting as they exist now. Sure, there are ways to engage with the strengths / weaknesses / results of those mechanics with this kind of change but it's not a small task and the question is what is the benefit of doin g so versus how things currently exist versus how things currently exist with smaller changes?

When coder resources are incredibly short, 'what do we gain?' is the chief question IMO. I don't know what it is we gain here that is so interesting.

@HolyChrome

I disagree, not entirely, but enough to respond. I believe there is absolutely an application for something like this. While I understand that there is a huge difference between fighting five people and fighting one thing representing five people, there are also many other things in the game that are compromises in the name of theme.

From an RP standpoint, capturing one person out of a mob is difficult to begin with, as the moment you grapple one person out of the mob, you open yourself up to being grappled by several of them in turn. Beyond that though, by using a mob to represent a group, the GM is worrying about one token, and has the attention to spawn in the individual NPC you captured if the scene calls for it.

As to your point about this watering down interaction with NPC as people, I feel like this is a fair complaint, but I think the counterpoint to that is that this idea embraces the large world mentality that we seek in our RP. A nameless mob of protestors rampaging around Gold is far more thematic (in my opinion) than three named NPCs walking around different corners of the sector and causing PCs to have to run from point A to B to C and back again.

@Jameson

I am not experienced enough to even begin to try and figure out how exactly this affects game balance. The systems of Sindome that purposefully obfuscate the mechanics from the players make that a nearly impossible task to begin with. That being said, I also do not have the power to unilaterally implement something like this. The people who develop the game however do have the ability, and the insight into the mechanical balance. I would trust that our fine coders and game developers would balance this suggestion if implemented in order to make it fit with the meta as they determine is best.

"What do we gain?" However is something I feel somewhat armed to respond to. Much as I responded to HolyChrome above, I think we gain a better sense of the scale of Withmore when we are not fighting the same named NPCs or even one or two generic NPCs, but rather a seething faceless mob that is angry about their lot in life or about splicers or even about the apartment complex two blocks north of them that got a new soda machine installed. There is a TON of themely RP to be had by giving the GM's this additional tool in their toolbelt. But again, if the developers do not think it's worth it, they will not implement it, so I don't think you have much to worry about there.

Thank you both for your insight and feedback though, I really appreciate the candid feedback everyone gives in these threads. <3

I think one benefit that people haven't mentioned yet is that with the example that's been used of 5-10 people being a 'crowd' object, when compared to 5-10 actual NPC's in combat is that basically any tactics, RP, or really -anything- gets thrown out the window when your combat scroll is whipping past at 96 lines a second.

Representing a group with a single object and having 1-2 PC's interacting with that object opens up a lot of possibilities that really aren't possible right now.

I'd also imagine that the server load for a instance of combat of 3 objects in combat vs. 12 objects in combat would also be significantly lighter.

I personally think that this is one of the coolest recent suggestions that aids in enforcing the theme. 👍
It would honestly be really cool to see these rolled out for events, too. Like if there's a MOB waiting for Juicy Vee stuff. Or if someone tries to roll a gang and they call for backup.

Also, to a lesser degree, they could be used to "show" how "busy" a bar or location is. It's something we're constantly teaching immies about, to respect ambipop.

Unless there is a crowd NPC in every single crowded-flagged room, I think it sends mixed messaging to players how they're supposed to interpret ambient population from the game's feedback.

I think there's already issues with characters parsing no NPCs as a room being empty, it stands to reason that a coded crowd in one room and not in another means the room without is not crowded, which is not the case necessarily, but the feedback given to the player wouldn't make that clear.

I think the ideal to do this with minimal change to existing combat dynamics is simply making ambient crowds have a "danger zone" just like weather. If certain factors escalate to social unrest, the ambient crowd in the room messaging would change and just like the weather and how crowds exist now be visible when looking in the cardinal direction of said room.

This would be combated by crowd control weapons and other means but result in the spawning of NPC's which could take on various behavior scripts and faction affiliations. Maybe one NPC runs for his life because he's a $harmless tourist but another who is a ganger tries to fight any TERRA or WJF in the vicinity because they're running a $anti-authority script.

These same types of code which trigger riots could also influence crowd behavior scripts under different circumstances such as a missed gunshot in a room resulting in a bleeding tourist NPC stumbling out of the crowd, or an explosive device causing even more mayhem, etc.

I think to focus on individual behavior $cripts that could then be used as an amalgamation of the whole to symbolize crowd behavior would be more immersive and not alter combat dynamics radically while having the same impact.

I don't imagine gangs leading amorphous blob NPC's around but rather the unruly mob a result of PC driven action, GM button pushing, and thematics.

Treating room population like weather is kinda brilliant.

Mobbing with a chance of riots.

Love it.