Rowan:Randomisation and object modifiers

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List of candidates for randomisation, with pros/cons and some example modifiers:

Contents

NPC traits

Some ideas taken from Zenbitz's post. Ideas modified to reflect personality/motivation combinations
NPC traits relate to their personality, motivation and needs. By randomising every value, every NPC can be different, yet similar enough to enough other NPCs to form a Faction.
Personality
This operates on a sliding scale, of 0-100(?).

Active         <---> Passive
Self-serving   <---> Altruistic


Each personality trait can be combined with:
Motivation
This operates on a sliding scale, of 0-100(?).

Avarice
Greed
Loneliness
Safety
Aggressiveness
Thoughtfulness
Effort



Motivation Active Passive Self-serving Altruistic
AvariceThiefJealousMiserlyGenerous
GreedFrugalHungryGreedyProvident
LonelinessHermitAntisocialLonerPariah
SafetyDefensiveComplacentParanoidGuarding
AggressivenessOffensiveSchemingViolentForceful
ThoughtfulnessStudiousPragmaticSelf CentredCaring
EffortHardworkingIdleEgotistCommunity-spirited

Pros:

  • Each NPC exists as a rounded person, interesting and varied.
  • Allows for NPCs to have a role suited to their temperament. No overly generous bandit lords, or complacent gun store owners.
  • Randomisation ensures that there will be a spread of characters. not too many, not too few (statistically speaking) in any given faction.
  • Allows for complete randomisation of NPCs, so every game will feel different just by the people you speak to.
  • All possible to create from random seed. No hardcoded details necessary.



Cons:

  • Coding will take longer.
  • No guarantee of certain personality types. You might have a hard time finding a gun store, for instance.


Towns and other locations

By setting up all buildings, or building parts, with an ID, locations can be generated out of a subset of the available buildings with little effort. Entire areas can be created and placed using similar randomisation of map coordinates.
Pro:

  • Every game will be different through the differences in locations. Sometimes there will be barren tundra with nothing in it, giving the bleak and uncaring feeling of a post apocalyptic ice land. Other times, every town will be spaced fairly evenly throughout the map, giving the player regular rest stops and lots of opportunity for politics and quests.
  • Easy to code. A few tags on every building part can tell the game what it is and what types of settlement it should be found in.
  • Buildings made part by part will have an authentic shanty look to them, as if residents have expanded the dwellings as and when they can. Uninhabited places will have a run-down, claustrophobic feel, with the possibility for things to hide round every outhouse.


Cons:

  • Odd building shapes could cause problems, or houses with unnavigable layouts might appear in every village.
  • Pathfinding round strange buildings could also cause issues.


Enemies and Encounters

With varied NPCs, come varied enemies. They should have goals based upon their faction personality (a conglomeration of the individual personalities, which tend towards a specific trait or set of traits), and be dealt with in a variety of manners. Greed-driven foes could be bought off, since fighting is typically just a necessary part of the mugging process. Violent thug gangs of lawless, bored or plain aggressive NPCs might not be content to go away; the loot is purely secondary to their quest for excitement. The enemy difficulty could be limited by some measure of character progression, by area, or not at all.

Pros:

  • The game will have enemies of all shapes and sizes. No two roving bandits will be exactly alike, and each faction will have a different feel.
  • Each faction will have different objectives and personalities to each other faction. Some might get along well enough, others might be at each other's throats.
  • Blurs the line between civilisation and anarchy. There are very few "bad guys" so most fights will be for survival, sustenance or strong disagreement.


Cons:

  • With no-one being directly antagonistic, where will the thrill of combat come from? Bears are only interesting so many times.
  • Unless most fights are one on one, any gang will tear the PC several new holes. Why would anyone with a bunch of like-minded friends get into a fight alone?


Quests

A system of random quests will probably end up with "go here, kill this X times, bring back Y of Z", so it's probably not what we should be thinking about. However, with a large pool of main quests and minor quests, the game world can be made to be interesting for multiple playthroughs, merely by supplying the player with different scenarios. Smaller quests, more like favours, can be repeated over and over, like deerhunting missions or sick people in town need treating. These favours would provide an additional source of income, increase skills and help get the community behind you.

Pros:

  • Avoids the hassle of shite, competely random quests.
  • Provides the player with many additional hours of gameplay.

Cons:

  • Requires huge effort and creative ideas from the writers to produce enough quests that most of them won't be repeated within a couple of games.


Trader Stock

Pro:

  • By making each trader's stock random, the game can generate new stock whenever necessary, based on the economic circumstances of traders, the local area and any major events that influence the location. When combined with the proposal for random NPC personalities above, this means that the concept of "weapons trader", 'general trader" and the like can be dispensed with, in favour of using the NPC's personality as the basis to generate randomised goods. Aggressive traders will tend to stock weapons and ammunition, safe traders will tend to stock armours, etc etc.
  • Eliminates the traditional types of trader in favour of more realistic, living trade with NPCs needing things and offering what they've scrounged together.

Con:

  • Shops might have none of the things you want/need. Randomising the stock will logically prevent the game from ensuring a supply of anything.
  • Coding all of this could be difficult

Weapons

Pros:

  • Reduces "vendor trash". If randomised weapons are found with modifications often enough, players will take time to think over their decision to sell everything.
  • A lucky find can provide a player with new options.

Cons:

  • Every weapon will have to be carefully weighed for value before deciding whether to use it or not, as it could be dangerous.
  • Weapons going wrong could occur when the PC/player least needs it to, wasting time and frustrating the player.

Examples:

  • Crossbow with a heavier stock. Great for bashing, but increases encumbrance, makes it harder to aim properly. Early in the game, everyone might be toting melee weapons, so your new crossbow is only a half decent ranged weapon and a half decent melee weapon. Hilarity ensues.


  • Brand new pistol taken out of the dead hands of an opponent. Very powerful, very accurate. Unfortunately, converted for a rare and expensive ammo type. Could be very powerful, or useless, depending on PC finances and availability of the ammo.


  • Ice pick dug out of the snow has lighter materials in the head. Low encumbrance, well weighted for a swing, but has a nasty habit of snapping off in the middle of hectic fights, causing bodily harm and repair costs.


Consumables

Pros:

  • Interesting food will keep players on their toes. Every can of luutefisk or slice of lefse could hold dangers, but they could also be particularly good, or offer other benefits.
  • Lots of room for screwing about with the character to provide immersive gameplay. Poisoned bread could land the PC laying in the dirt, exhausted and on the brink of hypothermia until discovered by trappers, who ask for something in return.
  • Escapes from the "food is bland" stereotype of most games. Given that good food may well be a manner of decreasing stress, or preventing its onset, ensuring that it isn't a gamey healing potion is important.

Cons:

  • Nothing is sacred! Bread could just as easily kill you as feed you. A bottle of fine chianti turns out to harbour a specific breed of parasite, one that can be removed by only the most legendary of doctors!
  • May take the character far away from the player's intended goal, forcing them to backtrack or spend a fortune they don't have on expensive medical bills and supplies.

Examples:

  • A can of luutefisk has played host to a swarm of flies. The moment you open the lid, they swarm out, depressing and frightening you.
  • When you eventually decide to butcher your fresh sheep carcass, you discover that the beast in question was part of a pre-war flock designed for their excellent wool oils. The oils make a fine lubricant, which you may use to ease the friction on your weapons, or store for later. The meat is delicious, by the way.

Ammunition

Pros:

  • Varied ammunition can create tense and exciting fights, with the tactical abilities granted to you by differing ammunition types.
  • Player strategies may be moulded by finding a small cache of unusual ammunition, or a large one of normal ammo.
  • Randomised ammunition will, like every other suggestion here, increase replayability by providing differences between games.

Cons:

  • Combinations of certain randomised weapons with certain bits of randomised ammunition could be overpowered and game breaking.


Clothing and Armour

Pros:

  • Randomised armour allows the fairly basic types of defence to be spruced up, providing greater depth in choices of protection.

Cons:

  • Having randomised armour could lead to situations where the PC simply cannot make use of all the loot they've picked up due to weight constraints. Given the much greater weight of armour, compared to all other items, a few particularly heavy pieces of armour could over encumber the PC.

Summary

For almost every item type detailed here, there are a few major concerns applicable to all:

  • Randomised items in a long game could very well be ruinous if the RNG doesn't smile upon you, or overpowered if it does.
  • Randomising items is only worthwhile if they will be unusual enough of the time. In classic roguelikes, there are enough unknown items to always keep the player guessing.
  • Depending on the level of randomisation (right down to the base stats?), creating enough art for every item possible, without lumping too many together under one graphic, could prove to be an issue.

Randomised items will increase replayability and add interest to the game by providing the player with many options and decisions, if well executed.

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