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Is murdering innocent NPCs fun?

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Randommerade, Dec 20, 2014.

  1. TheAlmightyPixel

    TheAlmightyPixel

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    I think it is extremely game dependent. In my opinion, games that do NPCs pretty well are GTA (V), Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Titanfall (again, my opinion). In GTA V, there are many kinds of NPCs, such as police officers, shopkeepers and pedestrians (and drivers). In GTA, if you kill a police officer, a pedestrian or a shopkeeper, you'll get the law on your tail. And this isn't exactly killing, but if you steal a NPC's vehicle, you might get a bounty on your head (in Online), which adds consequenses to harming NPCs.
    Deus Ex's NPCs aren't really too meaningful, but still, killing them has some consequenses. If you kill a NPC, the nearby NPCs may start to shoot you, or look for you. Titanfall, on the other hand, does NPCs in a good way (in my opinion), by adding NPC soldiers on the battlefield, that either fight for you, or against you, and if you kill the enemy NPCs, you gain points. This way they add something into the game, and actually serve a purpose (Rather than most pedestrians in GTA V that are just walking on the sidewalk, doing nothing).
    But to just compress it down, killing NPCs should have consequenses. And those consequenses shouldn't be something extremely dull (in Far Cry 3 & 4, if you killed enough innocent NPCs, you'd simply die. Makes no sense.), but something that actually adds something to the game. Otherwise if you kill an NPC and nothing happens, except that it's body just flops onto the ground, it might ruin the mood or make you feel like the NPCs are nothing but decoration.
     
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  2. Teila

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    Jessie, no one said it was bad. :) But it is not useful for all games. Believe it or not, some games are not just about combat. In a game where players can kill everything, including innocents without any consequences and other players and NPCs just walk by without any reaction is also magical, really, and it seriously breaks immersion.

    It is all about the way you do it and the audience you are trying to please.

    Edited to add..either it is magical or it is about a world where we have been completely desensitized to violence and killing people in front of us for no reason becomes meaningless. In a normal world, that is unrealistic.
     
  3. Tomnnn

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    Could be a smart DLC / easter egg. Would you pay $5 for DLC that included the developers and their families in the mix of random npcs being killed?
     
  4. Teila

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    Oh my....sorry, but that desensitization I talked about? Good example.
     
  5. Tomnnn

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    Just going with what caomengde777 said xP

    You're right in that it's meaningless to me - but because I have a clear separation of virtual life and real life, not the reasons you may be worried about for more impressionable persons. I'm completely desensitized to destroying gameobjects :p

    Can't exactly kill a sequence of binary numbers in RAM :3
     
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  6. Teila

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    That might be true, but it would really bother me if avatars of myself and my children were killed by developers in a game and they really enjoyed doing it. Creepy. My daughter agrees with me, by the way and in her teenage girl way, really expressed her outrage. LOL
    :D
     
  7. Tomnnn

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    I think your daughter might be the target audience for my game that never was.

    The other profiting feature I forgot to mention is that one of the ways you can interact with it is watching tv together. The show itself is just static and nonsense still frames and sound effects, but the commercials are actual ads on a little tv screen in the game world :D
     
  8. Teila

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    While this is off topic, I am sending some love to the moderators. :) Doing a great job! Thanks.
     
  9. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    We're a violent species so there is probably a reward mechanism in place or we would not consider violence to pay off. And that's the key here: risk and reward is hardwired into us.

    We feel rewarded if we took the risk to kill something - for example for food - or to protect loved ones from a dangerous or competing element.

    However to kill without compunction indicates mental illness or a broken mind. It just isn't healthy. We've evolved to have *some* pleasure in killing or fighting, and reflecting this in games that suit it isn't a bad thing.

    However I have to state that killing things without a motive or purpose isn't necessary for anyone with a healthy mind. It isn't missed if it's not there. If killing without purpose thrills someone, then that person needs to spend a moment to reflect why that is, and hopefully become aware of why it's bad for them to act like this or seek this as entertainment.

    This relates to game design in justification of violence. Healthy humans are rewarded for justified violence, as is any animal.
     
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  10. TonyLi

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    Violence is a part of nature, but too often in games and movies it's just lazy design used to compensate for an inability to come up with more interesting forms of conflict.
     
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  11. Tomnnn

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    Or a sufficiently self aware being that is making choices without reason. The ability to make arbitrary decisions is one of the most interesting things about us :p

    Same with sex & story. They know they can fill a few minutes with that and hope the audience is dumb enough to accept that in place of any back story. Basically if you combine all of these elements, you get the samson story from the bible ;)
     
  12. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    Are you certain they're arbitrary decisions? :)
    The conciousness is a very noisy place and you'd love to think it was just random or an arbitrary decision.
     
  13. Tomnnn

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    Well of course I don't think so, being that I have very extremely deterministic universe views, but the illusion is impressive enough. There are definitely variables in place that determine why sometimes I scratch the side of my face when it doesn't itch or why some people walking down a hallway turn left instead of right and walk into a wall. Being human is wonderful and complex like that :D

    And other times the reason given besides "I don't know" isn't a very good one either. Like, "because I can". An evolution of the mind has certainly taken place, because there's no way that reasoning like that would aid survival in the wild lol
     
  14. thechubbymonkey

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    I think you should only be able kill NPC's that have to do with a quest or something like that.
     
  15. DanSuperGP

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    So, I have mental illness and a broken mind because I sometimes drive on the sidewalk for no reason on GTAV?
     
  16. Kiwasi

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    Sorry to come late to the party. One of the key things that hasn't been mentioned yet is escapism. Games are often built around a different existence from the one you live. What could before different from our normal day jobs then roaming the streets killing anybody that looks at us strangely? From that point of view killable NPCs are great.

    I do have to agree that unkillable NPCs often break believability. I remember one quest giver in skyrim that continued to wander around his camp giving orders, and still gave me quests, all after I'd overtly killed every soldier in his command. This was especially strange after so much of the NPC system was done well in that game.
     
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  17. puppeteer

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    I'll give my opinion on this from a gamer's point of view, taking GTA as an example:

    While playing GTA I try to avoid any unnecessary "complications" while doing my missions or driving to my next objective. Rarely ( actually, never! ) do I just start a session for the purpose of killing civilians just for fun, because it's not fun for me. Is it because I think they are innocent? No, I think the reason is rooted in gameplay rather than morality.

    In general, if you attached score or achievements to killing neutrals, I would do it gladly and even enjoy it, not because I'm "killing innocents" but because it became part of the gameplay goals. Contemplating the innocence/guilt of cartoon characters I'm running over is the last of a gamer's worries.
     
  18. OmegaGrim

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    More high fives for NPCs and ambient creatures? And then kill for points
     
  19. Tomnnn

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    That contrast / break in consistency probably made it all the more obvious. Kind of reminds me of entering a guild and seeing everyone eating dinner... then FUS RO DAH [accidentally] and I've blown all of their food off the table. They remained sitting, unresponsive and some of them continue to play their eating animation despite losing both their meal and cutlery.
     
  20. hippocoder

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    So that's what thanksgiving is like in the Tomnnn household.
     
  21. Tomnnn

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    'Fus Ro Dah' is a great downplay of the sneeze the plagues my family, which could cost you your dearly if you underestimate its ferocity. As for skyrim antics, I rushed through the story and then proceeded to use the pc command that lets you trade places with the object you're looking at. You haven't truly experienced skyrim until you've role-played as a chair.
     
  22. novashot

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    I don't think it's required... but I also find is should be allowed just because of the fact I find it very troubling when these wonderful villagers put all of their problems on me and my life when it turns out they are all immortal and only I suffer from death. Everyone should be killable... if you break your game...your problem (or skyrim style...they only get knocked out until their usefullness has passed)

    I believe I've only killed a bunch of innocent people once in a game... Fable (original on xbox). I was walking around Knothole Glade with my wife... an assassin pops out of no where to take a swing at me... he misses me and kills my wife beside me.. He messed with my family and half of the world payed the price...or at least every zone between there and the nearest bandit village...
     
  23. This_Game_Lags

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    My belief is "What can it hurt to make NPC's killable?"

    You are making a game to entertain people. Adding and handling of options is what gives a game entertainment value.

    If you make all your NPC's killable but they respawn over time then there is nothing wrong with it.

    My rule is for video games: "If it exists, I should be able to kill it."
     
  24. iKonrad

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    I believe it's not killing NPCs fun, but having an option to do so.
    And since video games are there to take us to the world we won't have a chance to experience in real life (fantasy, crime commitment, being a detective and so on), the more options it gives us, the more immersive and believable game world is. Therefore, if GTA wouldn't implement killable pedestrians, the game would lose a LOT of its charm and immersion.
    Let's remember that people are not semi-inteligent robots bumping from one quest to another. They love to explore, experiment, try and error. That's why it makes sense to have all those features in games.
     
  25. TonyLi

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    Apart from the moral and sociological questions (does it desensitize us to real world violence?), sometimes it can simply break the game. In Emily Short's highly-regarded text game Galatea, the only activity is to converse with a single NPC. If you killed that NPC at the beginning of the game, it would get kind of lonely with nothing to do.

    Immersion is great, but it's just a means to an experience. If the experience that you're trying to create is a sense of do-anything freedom, then, yes, the player should probably have the ability to try anything. But games can provide other experiences, too.
     
  26. Tomnnn

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    If it does, the user has a fundamental lack of understanding of what video games & virtual reality are and should be kept away from stimulation they can't handle. We don't need Jack Thompson coming back into the limelight.
     
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  27. DanSuperGP

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    That's hilarious.

    Something that was said at the AI Summit at GDC a few years back regarding Skyrim and the bucket on the head thing.

    People act like it's incredibly stupid that if you block an AI's head with a bucket, you can steal from them and they won't see.

    But that's because they don't get how amazing it is that the NPC sees with his eyes, and understands the context of what items belong to him.
     
  28. TonyLi

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    That harks back to the old advice that it's not important that an NPC do something smart. It just has to not do something stupid. Not seeming stupid is its own, often neglected, topic; maybe someone will start a separate thread about it.
     
  29. DanSuperGP

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  30. GarBenjamin

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    Murder is an interesting way to phrase it. I don't know about others but when I play a game enemies, guards and other residents of cities are just made up crap to destroy if I want. They are some graphics, sound and code which represents an object I can push off a cliff or whatever. I never think of it as murder. It is more these game entities are there and I want to see how I can interact with them. Usually very limited.

    However I have seen some FPS type of games where players snuck up and slit throats of enemies. That seemed much like a conscious planned case of murder (albeit to an imaginary thing).

    Is it fun to destroy? Sure it is. But I think that has more to do with games nearly always putting the emphasis on destruction. If you could repel objects with some magnetic force or other power, change the terrain, heal people and otherwise contribute I think that could be quite appealing as well. So yes mindless (and strategic) destruction is fun. And easy to implement.
     
  31. GarBenjamin

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    Just realized I never actually made the point I was after. Lol

    What I was getting at in my previous post is destruction of objects including NPCs is fun because it lets us interact and change the game world. That is the essence of the fun I think. As a player say you are walking down a street with a few people. The people hand out messages or say some random nonsense. There are some barrels and and other objects around. What is more interactive and provides more satisfaction? Talking to the NPC and getting the same canned response or smashing the barrel and seeing the debris on the ground? You were a pawn in the first scenario and in the second you had the power to change the world. At least in this small area on a small scale. Now if you could kill an NPC it is not so much satisfaction from killing them as it is you impacted the local game world. You had the power to do something of your own choice.

    That is what I mean. You could be building things instead of destroying (minecraft gives players the ability to build their world and I would say people get more satisfaction from this than destroying the enemies although terrain destruction is as important as construction). I think people just miss the point of games sometimes. They are for interaction. Destruction is a way to interact and is the most common because it is the easiest to implement.

    If the NPC was a wounded soldier and you had to save their life by retrieving some magical herb and using it... if you did that and the game said "bing you got 10 xp and 20 gold" that is pretty lame. However, if you did that and the game said "bing the soldier turned out to be the commander of an army and invites you to join him on a great quest" that would be a little better. If "you saved the mayor's life in gratitude all shops in town have lowered their prices" that is better. If a horse was presented as a permanent mount to speed up your travels that is better. If you earned a new skill or ability that is better. I mean better than you got a bit of xp and a bit of gold. With that kind of interaction and impact on the game world from your actions there is no wonder players turn to killing the NPCs or trying to lock them away.
     
  32. ANTMAN0079

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    "We're a violent species..."

    So are sharks, alligators and every other predator on the planet. But they don't spend time having never ending subjective 'discussions' about it.
     
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  33. Kiwasi

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    How do you know? Do you speak shark? Cause that would be totally awesome. :)
     
  34. DanSuperGP

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    Fish are friends... not food.
     
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  35. Randommerade

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    Just keep swimming!
     
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  36. IcedCoffee

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    GTA gets boring after about 30 minutes. But I like having the choice of killing any NPC I want to. Especially the ones that unintentionally block paths. Morrowind was nice enough to let you know when you've killed the wrong guy though.
     
  37. Tomnnn

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    Well according to unfortunateLogic2014, allowing violence against a group in a video game actually promotes real world violence and normalcy of violence against that group in real life (as long as that group is neither white nor male).

    They would if they could. There's nothing an evolved species enjoys more than discussion :)
     
  38. 1701329761

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    its hillarius, but only happend if the game doent not have what to do.
     
  39. Randommerade

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  40. El Maxo

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    a lot of people talking on here are very black and white about this subject. I think that a lot of games are doing this quite badly, e.g. kill guy 1 gives you x amount of cash but give him water gives you x amount of respect from the village. I feel like the butterfly effect in games is missing out, maybe if you let that guy live he will end up killing a villager.

    Very basically summed up and sorry if I am not explaining myself well enough.
     
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  41. Randommerade

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    I get what you mean, it would be really cool to see such consequences.
     
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  42. El Maxo

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    I belive that is something that they plan on adding to the witcher 3. I know in come games they do have similar things to this but they all feel so scripted. Something with depth would really add to these mechanics. Add a dash of randomness for even more fun.
     
  43. Tomnnn

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    @El Maxo are they truly innocent at the time and they become a murderer later, or are they faking it with murderous intent the entire time?

    It'd really mess with your player to have the npc be truly innocent, but their survival inadvertently will result in other(s) dying. What will the player choose to do if they figure it out? :p
     
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  44. El Maxo

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    It could add depth, so many paths it could go down and be used in game mechanics. Plus it would make you feel like you are actually having a impact on the game.
     
  45. AndrewGrayGames

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    Chair Simulator 2015.

    Do it @Tomnnn - you'll be rolling in dough.
     
  46. Tomnnn

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    As an Italian I take offense to the literal translation of this statement.
     
  47. Teila

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    LOL I love pizza!
     
  48. Tomnnn

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    I may or may not have had pizza 3 times in the last 2 weeks.
     
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