COMMUNITY - FORUMS - GENERAL DISCUSSION
Protecting yourself and your valuables - How are nobles going to have enough guards
+12

Greetings! As I failed on generating enough interest (amusingly enough, I guess that's going to change if they find their character spirit walking and all their house inventory gone every so often upon going on-line) in my questions on the last Q&A to get them up-voted and answered, maybe I should try to stir curiosity on the subject on the forum first. Because I love the idea of the features and the stories related to that, but I'd be eager to learn how Soulbound Studios is planing to pull it off.

I keep reading that nobles proclaim the intention to have guards/police/army (which is great!), but nobody has ever mentioned how they want to manage that. Not everybody is going to be online 24/7, people want to go on adventures, you need other vocations as well to keep things running and characters of higher age aren't suited for the task. How are they going to maintain enough guards around the clock to fend of small enemy groups?

Let's say you have roughly a hundred players (and as many NPCs) living in a village, each of with their own house. Now a group of ten bandits comes into the village. If there's nobody to stop the bandits, they could break into every house, kill the owner, steal the mounts, the valuables and burn or destroy the rest. They don't need a Casus Belli for that and it can happen at any given moment. That is why most kingdoms proclaim having guards/police, to provide some form of safety to their inhabitants (just like it used to be IRL). The difference (and problem) between IRL and CoE is that people only had one job (a guard didn't go for adventure) and that the guard would be on alert all day long. They might not patrol, but they could be woken up and called to arms within minutes. You need at least four to eight times as many guards in-game compared to IRL, if you want to keep a minimum amount ready all the time. Which have to be found (not everybody wants to spend a good amount of their spare time patrolling streets), payed for (the rest of the people has to pay higher tax) and selected according to online-time-frames. It's a non trivial task, isn't it?

That is, unless you want to rely on 'offline character scripts' and NPC AI. But try to compare PvP and PvE in any game. The less taxing on hardware an AI, the easier to 'kite'. A group of 10 players in most every MMORPG can basically annihilate a complete area of computer enemies, simply because AI can be 'outplayed' very well. Most games migrate that issue by granting their computer controlled creatures absurd stats (a lot more HP/att/def/unlimited stamina/magic...) and some special skills (teleporting back when you lure them), but that would be somewhat strange for CoE. How many hundred AI controlled WEAK creatures does it take to stop a group of only ten active players who can easily outsmart them? Weak, because it would be strange for a 'realistic' [and I ~love~ that realism!] game like CoE when your character suddenly becomes superhuman while you are offline and gets heck of tricky to revert (if you get quadruple the health, what happens if you log back in and have lost some?). I think all of us MMORPG players have seen creatures lured into fire/hazard/traps to damage themselves, have seen teams of players using an 'aggro switch' (or the lack thereof) to kill creatures from afar without taking damage, have seen players running and shooting creatures around obstacles or from a 'safe spot', have witnessed creatures being lured to single them out, have seen players kiting attacks because they were predictable,... In short, PvP players love the thrill PvE won't give them, because some human players are far, far better (and a higher risk) than any AI they have ever meet in a game. Else they would play PvE?

And since we know nothing about offline character scripting other then that it is planned, we don't know how 'smart' we can program our offline-alter-egos.

But we do know a few things. We've seen that 'parcour' is going to be possible in CoE. Running an A* pathfinding on a navmesh is taxing for the CPU. Trying to do pathfinding on a dynamically player-generated parcour environment in an MMO... Trying to program an unpredictable AI, that isn't taxing on the CPU (because you need to run hundreds of thousands at the same time), that can present a challenge to a small group of experienced PvP players (with voice chat) in a skill based combat system... that is, well, something I'd love to get more details on.

What I know is that Soulbound Studios is debating either JS or C# and to utilize the power of .NET, as stated in a Q&A video. But there's many a point in this that's not been laid out yet. I've compared CoE's offline character scripting with the only example of such an idea on the market that I'm aware of: https://chroniclesofelyria.com/forum/topic/13192/questions-about-offline-character-scripting-details#post138329 And these scripts are trivial compared to what would be required for CoE?

I'd greatly appreciate feedback (by nobles, by people who want to play as guards, by other programmers who are familiar with AI and most of all by Soulbound Studios)!


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3/14/2017 3:33:34 PM #1
+1

I'd wager that for baron level characters and higher, their script will keep them in their keep or stronghold or house with plenty of guards. As for gentry and adventurers I'm not certain.

My guess is NPC guards will be as strong as you suggested. I also think that this is part of the challenge presented to players in the game. And I'd imagine these challenges will draw more players to the better protected cities.

It will likely fall on the barons on how these issues are addressed in the country. Maybe kingdoms, dutchies, etc will be allotted a generous number of guard type NPCs.

This is an interesting question tho. Especially for those adventurers who travel and sleep on the road.


Kingdom of Tyria Dutchy of Aquitania Follower of Void - Once you know the truth, you are eternal.

3/14/2017 4:14:06 PM #2
+2

The reason your question didn't come up in the last Q&A is probably because it didn't relate to Pre-Alpha experiences; the entire point of the Q&A.

As to the topic of conversation in this thread, just like PCs, NPCs will have skill sets they can improve upon. Rather than have a static Level 1 guard, or a Level 3 guard to deal with, you will be encountering a NPC that, based on their programming, will be training, patrolling, and defending daily. While some may be of a lower skill than you, others may not be. Yes, in my town part of the taxes collected will be to help pay for town guards and defensive structures.

A high-level player could very well come into a little backwater town and probably kill everyone, but that little town might also have a high-level former knight just looking for some peace and quiet. If a group of bandits does happen to go on a killing spree, that news can spread and soon after you could have a posse on your trail. While NPCs won't be one-hit wonders (I don't think), I don't think they'll be pushovers either.

3/14/2017 4:24:02 PM #3
+4

@op, you are forgetting some core elements to protect your settlement.

  1. Caspian confirmed there are pets like dogs which tell you if there is someone suspicious.

  2. Destroying anything is as hard as building that same thing. If you have a wall around your settlement, others need sieging weapons to destroy it.

  3. Others should not know where your nobles are hiding while offline. Get some secret chambers and escape routes going and a script that can use those routes.

    Replace the a* algorithm with a static route script or in case you want to make a nerdy script, use quadtrees and the d*pathfinding algorithm.

  4. make sure to place enough traps in your settlement.


3/14/2017 4:32:04 PM #4
+2

And you're assuming the attackers can run around all day to lure NPCs away (you can't) that NPCs use a basic aggro system based on damage or taunts (they likely won't) have limited ranges they can pursue in (they don't,or may see your retreat and just let you run away) and that the damage you take in one fight won't cripple you in the next if you fight again soon after (it likely will).

Would it be possible for 10 players to wipe out a town? Maybe. But you'd need a lot of prep and an absent minded populace without guards.


3/14/2017 4:49:30 PM #5
+0

Maybe someone will create an app (if CoE design will allow it) that sends a warning to your smartphone when you are not online and your house is being attacked.

An app could (besides warning you) provide interface with basic instructions for the guards, you could tell them what to do (simple general orders).

Additionally (if you are high placed individual, a King for instance) an app could provide you with an option to warn other important people (who also use app) that your castle is under attack so they come to help if they are able to.

That would be nice to provide some realism (Kings being always actively protected), but I am not sure if this could also introduce some possibility for abuse or exploit (hacking an app and checking which kings are offline, where other people are etc).

Hmmm hmmm


3/14/2017 4:53:18 PM #6
+2

Anybody running a city or town should consider that the level of defence a city has is only as good as the number of npc guards and their skill level, and since were talking about AI the skill level will never be high enough so numbers will be even more important, and I say npc guards because it will not be long before people figure out that they can hit late night while most people are asleep for the easy win.


3/14/2017 5:32:14 PM #7
+0

Start by reading about offline player characters (OPCs). Secondly there will potentially be a number of NPCs, so at no stage will things be abandoned. At no point will you have a good indication how quiet it really is at a given time.

Aside from the military types you have other players, including craftspeople, mercenaries etc. In kingdoms like the viking kingdom of Tryggr, even craftspeople will be expected to undergo basic combat training and possess a weapon.

So, aside from the fact a criminal will potentially be vastly outnumbered by superior forces, you have an actual deterrant. From life to life there are 2 core things you'll want to take with you:

A legacy, and skill.

The justice system leaves open the possibility to lose both. It's only fitting when you're potentially commiting acts to worsen the legacy of others.

While suffering prison time your skills actually atrophy. In addition you may be evicted or lose property if your actions warrant it. In that situation, who is the worse off? The victim or the perpetrator once caught? As it should be.

3/14/2017 6:39:00 PM #8
+0

While we don't yet know the extent of OPC scripting I am looking at your question through a different prism. I don't feel that we will have to hire and recruit all the guards you will feed you will need. Remember most if not all nobles will be jumping into a NPC who already has a seat of power for their first life. They will be assuming a King/Duke/Count that already has a organizational structure in place. These structures will include NPC Guards which were already protecting the NPC King for that kingdom. So I see that the structures for protection and enforcement of laws should already be there just the scripting or orders may change. Now you can reduce the pay and thin your numbers or pay NPCs more and increase the numbers. You can also hire specialty players or NPCs for added protections but as for as the basics there should be systems in place.


"Count Eldric Blackmoore of The Haven, a fortified community on the edge of civilization offering direct support for the Hunters, Explorers and Gathers of Elyria"

3/14/2017 6:39:26 PM #9
+0

I understand that PC guards will probably have more active jobs, like escorts etc. but I wonder, will they have automated behavior when offline, so that they can be effective like NPC guards at protecting a town when they are not online?


Region: Europe

3/14/2017 6:53:53 PM #10
+2

Posted By Gromp at 11:39 AM - Tue Mar 14 2017

I understand that PC guards will probably have more active jobs, like escorts etc. but I wonder, will they have automated behavior when offline, so that they can be effective like NPC guards at protecting a town when they are not online?

I think the main point of logain's post and the question is how effective will the opc/npc guards be in defending a city or town. And i said they better be really effective cause most invading forces will wait till the middle of the night to hit a town or city when 95% of the opposition will be opc/npc.


3/14/2017 7:02:59 PM #11
+0

OP you seem to be under several mistaken impressions. First, as a noble I don't think I'll get robbed, I know I will. It's my responsibility that I don't get robbed of all my stuff all at once. And hunting down the thief who robbed me... well, that's part of my fun.

Second, OPC scripting and AI in general is not meant to be a substitute for player skill. If it were it would just be a matter of who could write the best C# code (which is .NET btw, javascript is not). But will it come close? Yes, I would think so. It's simple to write a quick A* implementation for a grid-based game but advanced AI using state machines, which is what they're going for judging by the comments about AI having 'motivations and feelings', is another matter entirely.

Third, the network being able to contain this huge amount of AI data streaming might normally be a concern but they're using SpatialOS, a cloud-based implementation that distributes the processes across servers. Their site has more on the details and I think it's in open alpha or beta now.

Fourth, it's 'parkour'. Just kidding, but I'd look up some more on advanced AI in games before waving any red flags just yet. Sure, swarms of PvP players probably will happen. And then the united efforts of a kingdom will come to chase them down and put them down. The PvP in CoE isn't meant to be player vs AI but rather players vs other player's rule of law.


3/14/2017 9:51:01 PM #12
+0

Your whole post is based on a premise where characters IG will not react unless a player is online to do so for them.

It falls apart because OPC and NPC characters both will react to events around them. So 10 bandits coming into a village will eventually be A) seen and B) heard.

Offline Player Characters and NPCs will be able to defend their homes. Players who happen to be on at odd hours (like myself, who has an odd sleep schedule) will also be about.

Ergo, have fun trying to defend yourself. Cheers!


Meh, my two cents.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Friend code: F41EFF

3/14/2017 10:41:04 PM #13
+3

Posted By LorenzW at 2:51 PM - Tue Mar 14 2017

Your whole post is based on a premise where characters IG will not react unless a player is online to do so for them.

It falls apart because OPC and NPC characters both will react to events around them. So 10 bandits coming into a village will eventually be A) seen and B) heard.

Offline Player Characters and NPCs will be able to defend their homes. Players who happen to be on at odd hours (like myself, who has an odd sleep schedule) will also be about.

Ergo, have fun trying to defend yourself. Cheers!

Did you even read his whole post?

His entire point is that OPCs and NPC guards will just get kited/perched down and whittled away until the town has no passive defense left.

It's a legitimate question that has no obvious answer and has occurred to me as well.

NPCS (including the best OPC scripts) will never compare to the ingenuity of a live person in a situation as dynamic and complex as combat.

They have limits in how they can think. We don't.

My only immediate thought is that the piling of wounds, hunger, exhaustion and the compounding of durability loss on gear from trying to cut through hordes of npcs and OPCs may be a high enough barrier to entry that most towns that are somewhat prepared will be too high cost for their gain.

That's just a theory right now though.

3/14/2017 10:58:53 PM #14
+2

Cjmarsh's post briefly touched on the point I would like to make.

If a group attacked my town during the daylight hours and we fought them, they won and they looted - I've probably made a good enemy, one who I can send my soldiers out to fight, and who I will have a healthy PvP relationship with.

If a group of players come in while I have only my NPC guards on duty, steal stuff and destroy things just for the sake of griefing, I will contact every ally I can, tell them what has happened and set about wiping them from the face of Elyria.

PvP'ers I think will find places to enjoy themselves, and will in a lot of ways actually be welcome. Griefers are just going to have the structure of an entire County, Duchy or Kingdom come down on them. Because no leader in an area wants anyone around who is being toxic and playing like a tool.


Currently planning the settlement of Bladelock, a fringe outpost in the wilderness of the APAC server. Join the Duchy of Kybourne Discord if you would like to talk about joining us, or even just get to know some of the APAC community. If you are new to the community, the Design Journals will answer a lot of your questions.

3/15/2017 1:33:53 AM #15
+1

Posted By Vucar at 11:41 PM - Tue Mar 14 2017

NPCS (including the best OPC scripts) will never compare to the ingenuity of a live person in a situation as dynamic and complex as combat.

They have limits in how they can think. We don't.

We also have limits, nothing is unlimited. :)

Our limits are just a bit wider that script limits.

EDIT: for example, a person who just placed minus on this post is very limited individual, it is likely that even scripted NPC will be more effective than him actually controlling a character himself.

I do agree though that it is possible that players will find some way to exploit NPC pathing, or some other exploit to make NPCs ineffective... BUT...

Caspian claimed at one point (somewhere, don't remember where) that they will consider everything that players abuse to gain advantage (and it wasn't intended) as an exploit.

So if a group of players is caught doing shady stuff to make NPCs ineffective, they can be punished for exploiting. Will they risk it? It's up to them.


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