LostFonDrive

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What are your thoughts on having NPCs that can't be interacted with? I.e. having NPCs with a speech bubble icon or something that indicates they can be spoken to, while also having other NPCs that don't have the icon, and therefore cannot be spoken to.

The advantage to doing this is that you can make areas feel more alive and dense with people, without having to have dialog for every single person. Not only to give yourself less work as the developer, but I feel like it can be overwhelming to a player if there's 30 NPCs in an area and they might feel pressured to talk to them all even though it's optional.

The obvious disadvantage is some people probably enjoy talking to every last person, and won't appreciate having lots of NPCs that don't say anything.

Just food for thought. What are your thoughts on this?
 

Trihan

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There was a game that handled this in a way I thought was really interesting: characters you could talk to appeared normally, while non-interactible NPCs were just coloured silhouettes.
 

Milennin

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I think it's fine for busy and crowded areas, where you don't expect to strike up a conversation with a random person anyway.
 

HarlekinLehl

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You could do it the other way around, show a speech bubble above interactable npcs when the player is nearby.

I find it curious that we, as players, expect to be able to talk to countless npcs. How many of you actually go around talking to random strangers you meet on the street tho?
 

LostFonDrive

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There was a game that handled this in a way I thought was really interesting: characters you could talk to appeared normally, while non-interactible NPCs were just coloured silhouettes.
That does sound kinda cool actually
 

pawsplay

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You can use various tricks. You could use stepping animations for talkers, and not for non-talking NPCs. You could make non-talker sprites slightly smaller. You could add a graphic or halo, even one that appears when they are close.
 

VegaKotes

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Another small trick might be to have some npcs that you can talk to, both quest givers and random chatters, and then have a lot of ones that you can't talk to just out of reach. Behind a fence or behind some other NPCs or across a small pond, in a section blocked by a tree or a barrel, etc.
 

gstv87

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I rigged me a common event that takes a script call with the name of the NPC, and returns several variations of "Piss off!"
was one of the first things I designed, along with the quest system and daylight system.
it was only natural to go there, since I was already making a structured dialogue system, wasn't too hard to add a few rebound lines.
 

Basileus

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Dragon Quest 11 used something like this. There were bubbles with smiley faces over NPCs you could talk to, with one type of bubble for quest givers and another for regular dialogue. And the icon changed to a neutral face and greyed out once you spoke to them, but refreshed if an event triggered new dialogue for them. A lot of NPCs were busy and you couldn't speak to them, but if you walked next to them, a text box appeared over them. This let the player listen in on a conversation two NPCs were having with each other just by walking past them with no need to stop and talk to them. I think there were also some NPCs that were just busy doing stuff and didn't have a text box or a bubble to make the cities busier.

The icons and color-coding made it really easy to keep track of everything as you explored a new town.
 

kirbwarrior

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I find it curious that we, as players, expect to be able to talk to countless npcs. How many of you actually go around talking to random strangers you meet on the street tho?
I do, right after I walk into their homes unannounced, ask them about a guy with a big sword, and swipe their savings from their drawers.

What are your thoughts on having NPCs that can't be interacted with?
I have no strong feelings either way. What I do appreciate is games using it well; Having plenty of NPCs to talk with that give meaningful info (whatever "meaningful" means in that context from side quests, world building, character building, etc) and then further having NPCs that exist just for purposes of making the town feel more like a town. The key here is older games already have these NPCs that basically say meaningless one-liners ("Hello.", "Welcome to Bridgeton.", "I don't know why the kids are obsessed with glowing monsters and shoving them in their pockets.", "Sure is hot today.") but newer ones can get away with showing the dialogue without forcing you to interact to see it.
 

HarlekinLehl

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I do, right after I walk into their homes unannounced, ask them about a guy with a big sword, and swipe their savings from their drawers.
Which is why in my game, the player can not enter homes uninvited. I have a relationship system for all the characters that are recruitable and their homes only show up once they invited you.

NPCs houses are locked too. Or rather the way the way my city maps work, there are no npc houses.
 

Helen1701

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Depends on the context of where you have the non-interactable NPCs. Like, in a pub scene, you wouldn't have every NPC customer being intereactable, maybe just the ones that are essential to the story.
 

Saireau

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To be honest, as a player, I often talk to every NPC only to see whether they have an item or a quest or something. Replacing the 'filler NPCs' with NPCs the player can't even interact with sounds good to me.
 

Spaske

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I can remember the first time playing jade empire and going into that big city (forgot its name), there were like 1000000 npcs wich you could talk to and damn was i overwhelmed, so id say from my personal perspective, having some "useless" npc is ok but if its too many i get annoyed or dont even bother talking to them potentially missing then something. So i would say, the best thing is to somehow make it clear wich one says something important and wich one has the generic "whats up" line...
... i also find it annoying when npc do not act apropriate to the situation, like a bomb getting off, dead bodies everywhere, the npc barely hanging to live but sayin "nice weather bro"...
 

ShiraCheshire

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Maybe unusual opinion, but I'm not a fan of non-interactible NPCs. I get that if you want to make a big city then not every character is going to have in-depth dialogue, but simply not being able to talk to certain characters really pulls me out of my immersion. Makes me feel like I'm surrounded by ghosts or something.

I prefer to give the unimportant NPCs unimportant dialogue. "I'm in a hurry" "I'm heading home for the day" "Maybe I should go to the market later" and similarly quick, simple dialogue. Feels basic, but at least they seem alive.

I do like it when games make it clear which NPCs will have actually important dialogue and which are just space fillers though.
 

Mr. Detective

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I think this is a case of quality over quantity.

Have NPCs that give useful information about the world, or funny conversations, as a way to tell the players more about the game's story. And then you can have a bunch of generic NPCs that can't be interacted with in the same area. It makes the place feels alive, especially if it's a city or a town. The more interactable NPCs you have, the more time you'll spend writing dialogues for them. Time which you can use instead to finish your game/demo. So, keep them at a reasonable number so you don't end up giving NPCs filler dialogues, or get burned out.

An exception is if the maps are small, and have small number of NPCs. Battle Network is an example of this. Most of the maps are of decent size and have about a dozen of NPCs at most. Their dialogues sometimes stay the same over a certain period, too. So scale your number of interactable NPCs with the size of your map.

Also, your user name... I can't get this out of my head:

maxresdefault.jpg


*Incomprehensible Japanese*
LOSU TO FON DO RAIBU!!!!
32.gif
 

Enigman

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If there's an NPC that's accessible I'll attempt to talk to them in case they have a quest, item, funny dialogue or have something to add to the story.

I have been experimenting with a couple of NPCs who have minimal to say to the player until they have completed a couple of quests in the town for other NPCs. Player is initially an unknown stranger and proving their trustworthiness means more engagement from the townfolk (small town.)
 

velan235

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I like that approach, it would limit my “spam action button on everyone”, also it's acceptable if some NPC just doesn't want to talk to some stranger, rather than forcing “it's a nice weather” dialogue.

Also, it means that the interactable NPC should have more meaningful interaction when interacting with them (useful hints / flag, side quest, event etc.)
 
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Ilithianeae

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hello lostfondrive,

i like it when there are lots of npc´s in a village even if the most of them havent anything to say.

actually the funniest npc´s i saw are in aura kingdom. the most of them are quest-ones. but there are also other ones which are for listening only.
 

kirbwarrior

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I prefer to give the unimportant NPCs unimportant dialogue. "I'm in a hurry" "I'm heading home for the day" "Maybe I should go to the market later" and similarly quick, simple dialogue. Feels basic, but at least they seem alive.
What I really like with those is when the NPC doesn't even look at you. "Talking" to them is actually just the character listening to the NPC talk to themselves.
 

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