NPCs in Survival Mode


software.dog

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Been an avid fan of TLD since 2016, I've recently been playing Wintermute for the first time! I'm really enjoying the added structure storymode lends to the mechanics of the game. ūüôā¬†

There have been criticisms of Wintermute needing to diversify a bit from 'fetch quests' and I can understand why. But I've really enjoyed what NPCs have added to the game. Going from complete solitude of survival-mode, I felt more engaged with the game when presented with the challenge to provide for others in addition to myself -- e.g. some of the "food drives" for the Grey Mother or Thompson's Crossing shelter.

I love how open-ended the adventures are in survival mode, but always found myself getting bored of my saves around the hundred day mark. I greatly enjoy the challenge of the game and its message, but in survival's current state, sometimes it feels too demoralizing to know that: 1. some scavengable resources have no respawn/rejuvenation; 2. you are never able to run into another person in-game. (To the first point, yes, I know the game pushes you to diversify away from packaged food and hunt more, but it severely cuts into the ability to develop lategame playstyles that aren't sedentary/boring). This might also be the 2020 talking, but it's much more enjoyable a game/less completely fatalist when you do get to see a friendly face between wanderings. 

My wishlist aspect is to incorporate the NPCs into survival mode at some level. Call me crazy, but sometimes it just feels even better when stumbling in from the blizzard with a broken ankle if Father Thomas is keeping the lights on for you. Opponents will say the infinite fireplace might have to be nerfed so you don't stay put forever, and I agree, but why shouldn't you be able to share some resources with other survivors? To this point, I also found myself wanting to share excess resources in Wintermute with NPCs (like damn I really left Jeremiah hanging when I didn't leave him ANY food, huh?)... If they were in survival, I would love some kind of favor system. Imagine being able to 'invest' your current overabundance in raw meat with an NPC near homebase or on a common route, and the next time you visit them, they return the favor with a randomized gift of supplies or nonperishables (probably dog food lbr). Optional quests like the side quests could provide opportunities at similar boons as in Wintermute (perhaps scaled to the difficulty settings of your game). 

I think the inclusion of some NPCs would add so much to the survival experience, and be an amazing opportunity to expand on game mechanics. Wintermute has breathed new life into the landscape by putting other characters on the path, so I would love for that expansion to carry over into the sandbox games.

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Welcome to the forums @software.dog :)

You make a good point about seeing a friendly face every now and then. I'm thinking that if you like how storymode is structured, there's always the possibility to drag out the story and keep playing survivalish within limited region(s). Cause the way I see it NPCs are one of the main variables that distinguishes survival from storymode. You're on your own in survival and if NPCs were introduced it wouldn't really be survival anymore. There are plenty of decent games out there that rely heavily on NPC interaction, and that handles it very well. I like that we create our own quests, our own goals, in survival. Also, if the NPCs in episode 3 is the best character writing we get, I would almost pay money not to see anything like it again, whatever gamemode. And I get that this is highly subjective, some like yourself truly enjoy storymode and some like me prefer survival, and I'm happy that we're provided both options. That said, I hope we get to meet Jeremiah again in episode 4 or 5 :)

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I liked that one Forest Talker who refused to meet with you face to face in story mode episode 2. You conduct your deal through a closed door. I wouldn't mind a survivor mode NPC of that ilk.  Someone you can trade and barter with, but you never actually meet face to face.  He or she would task you with bringing them certain supplies, and 24 hours later the agreed upon payment is left outside.  It would be a nice way to provide a plausible means to renew any resource, even things like MREs or emergency stims or whatever.  Stuff that doesn't show up via beachcombing.

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Hinterland may eventually do something about NPCs in a survival mode setting, but that would start to make survival mode look more like story mode.  Obviously not to the same extent, but while story mode lives I would guess they wouldn't want to make survival mode look like it.  It would be a lot of effort better spent on bug fixes, new gear, new regions, and story mode development and implementation.

If Hinterland decides to add NPC(s) to survival mode, that's fine.  If the NPC was useful to me, then I would use it.  If not, then I would not. 

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On 11/8/2020 at 6:55 PM, ajb1978 said:

I liked that one Forest Talker who refused to meet with you face to face in story mode episode 2. You conduct your deal through a closed door. I wouldn't mind a survivor mode NPC of that ilk.  Someone you can trade and barter with, but you never actually meet face to face.  He or she would task you with bringing them certain supplies, and 24 hours later the agreed upon payment is left outside.  It would be a nice way to provide a plausible means to renew any resource, even things like MREs or emergency stims or whatever.  Stuff that doesn't show up via beachcombing.

That's a great suggestion, it's a midpoint between both things; curtails the elements of complete isolation and what I was saying about resource renewability. Nice thought.

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On 11/8/2020 at 6:00 AM, manolitode said:

Welcome to the forums @software.dog :)

You make a good point about seeing a friendly face every now and then. I'm thinking that if you like how storymode is structured, there's always the possibility to drag out the story and keep playing survivalish within limited region(s). Cause the way I see it NPCs are one of the main variables that distinguishes survival from storymode. You're on your own in survival and if NPCs were introduced it wouldn't really be survival anymore. There are plenty of decent games out there that rely heavily on NPC interaction, and that handles it very well. I like that we create our own quests, our own goals, in survival. Also, if the NPCs in episode 3 is the best character writing we get, I would almost pay money not to see anything like it again, whatever gamemode. And I get that this is highly subjective, some like yourself truly enjoy storymode and some like me prefer survival, and I'm happy that we're provided both options. That said, I hope we get to meet Jeremiah again in episode 4 or 5 :)

Hey, thanks!

That's been more or less what I've been doing. It feels too bad to leave all the resources behind after more barren survival playthroughs! You make a good point, there are tons of more traditional, NPC-populated first person survival games. Maybe that's what makes TLD so special, and as others have said, it would be a mistake to make survival mode identical to storymode. And oh man, as much as I enjoyed the NPCs, I'm with you on character writing. There were so many missed opportunities to flesh out the other survivors, like the straggler survivors we carry back to Thompson's Crossing in Ep3. Those people were all incredibly vulnerable and I was so interested in their stories, I was crushed that they were just faceless nobodies with shared voiceover lines when I spent many in-game hours with them saving their lives. Really wanted to like Molly and understood what she was arguing about her invisibility pre-Calamity, but her motives of "revenge" were super scattered and made little sense... even if you try to consider "this person is narratively unreliable/out of reality" lens. Really liked Jeremiah too! :) Hope to see him make a return as well 

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7 hours ago, software.dog said:

There were so many missed opportunities to flesh out the other survivors, like the straggler survivors we carry back to Thompson's Crossing in Ep3. Those people were all incredibly vulnerable and I was so interested in their stories, I was crushed that they were just faceless nobodies with shared voiceover lines when I spent many in-game hours with them saving their lives. 

Couldn't agree more! I would have liked it if one of the recovering survivors had personality, talked to us, perhaps gave us an unexpected clue on the aurora mystery. Or at least, the survivor camp in church could have been more like what we see in apocalypse movies. People gathering, slowly recovering and creating new bonds and group constellations before they face the unknown disaster. Instead we got silence and coughing. I guess I was just hoping for something more after the great quality of episode 1 and 2.

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 It's a topic that has come up many times before.  I recommend the search function as well.  There has been a lot of really good conversation about this particular subject in previous threads.

Personally, I think that adding NPCs to the Survival Sandbox would be a mistake.  

On 9/20/2020 at 6:46 AM, ManicManiac said:

I think Story Mode is where the human NPCs belong... not in the Survival Sandbox.

On 10/8/2020 at 8:16 PM, ManicManiac said:

I fundamentally I don't really like the idea of NPC's in Survival Mode.
I just think that the human NPC's belong in the Story Mode... and not in the Survival Sandbox.

 And to echo a few others:

On 10/7/2020 at 11:18 AM, TiffTastic said:

To me it would ruin the ‚Äúlast person on earth‚ÄĚ vibe of the game in survival if there were NPCs.

On 10/6/2020 at 7:03 PM, Catlover said:

one of the main things in TLD is the feeling of isolation. Adding NPCs would, in my opinion, take that away and make it feel like less of a mental struggle.


:coffee::fire:

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Hi!

I know roadmaps are not a reliable way to think about the game progression, and they have been discontinued ages ago, but still a lot of the things from the Roadmaps have made its way to the game. One of the goals on the Roadmaps were NPCs. 

I believe NPCs are making their way into the game eventually. Id say the game is building up to that point - and I for one welcome it. I think NPC interactions would add a whole new and great element to the survival in sandbox of The long dark. 

NPCs in sandbox is a bit of a unpopular idea by a lot of the players here. I understand the appeal of "alone against wilderness" but I dont believe it is fair to say "The long dark is about being alone against the wilderness". Yet, even in the lone world, you still see some evidence of human activity. Mysterious signal fire, for example. Campfires, backpacks, supplies scattered around. And even the unfortunate survivors who did not make it. That said... I believe they should be an optional option in Sandbox.

One question I would like to ask others: Why do you (not) want NPCs in the Sandbox?

Here is how I look at that same question: I believe NPCs would bring a lot of out-of-routine interactions in the Sandbox, if you could come across them during your survival. Much like unpredictable weather or misfortune of an animal attack - something that would somewhat "force" you out of your routine. This has a tremendous potential for one major issue players struggle with in Survival. And thats the feeling of repetitiveness and loss for drive to explore at some point of the game, being content to doing the same tasks over and over again to keep living day-to-day. Where unpredictable weather can put screws to your plan to go fishing for one day at most, a strike by an NPC thief "making off" with some of your valuables while you were out of your home would create a sense of urgency to track them down and recover your goods, or cutting your losses and just giving up your items. "What is more important right now?" Track the thieves who made of with one of your rifles, or process that bear you killed one zone away? You can decide.

Here are some NPCs interactions how I would like to see them: 
1. Stationary NPCs. These woudl be your "native" NPCs, in randomized locations with a set base, or at least a region. You could develop a relationship with them, in a sense that they would be your "neighbours" - but could have both warm and hostile disposition to you, depending on how you would treat them. Say you went to visit "Noah" who lives in BR Hunting lodge, in hopes to trade some pelts for some of his ammunition. You enter, and find out Noah is not there. Your character would make a comment he probably went out hunting. So a few hours later, you might hear gunshots. A flare might fly up... from a distress pistol. You know what that means - Noah is in trouble. You may chose to go and help him, or just leave, which may result in finding his remains in the future, or finding him pissed off because he got into trouble, and you did not help him. And after he saved himself and returned home, he found evidence of you being there but not helping. 

Coincidentally, you could one time be in a bind, and have to fire a distress pistol... and there could be a chance to someone comes to save you, treat your wounds and drag you into a shelter somewhere.

These might sound so very complex, but it would literally be one more new mechanic developed on the side of the mechanics we already have with NPCs.

2. Roamers. NPCs you would not find in set locations, but would happen upon. Ranging from people in need to distrustful survivors, to people with a mission for you to do for some reward, to the already mentioned thieves, who robbed your location for something of value and forced you to chase em. Once again, could be done thru a use of many things in the game already - you could use smoke rising from campfires to locate other survivors, use tracks in the snow to track them, or maybe find slight adjustments to the game that would indicate their goal, or sense of direction. You might find your robbers in the end, to find out that it was just a desperate man, trying to feed his very sick daughter, who was mauled by a bear. It could be a thug, who would give you his piece of mind, resulting in a struggle not unlike our current animal struggle mechanics, in order to overpower them. 

You could just find the thieves corpses after the literal "karma" in a form of a brown bear who entered their camp one night, mauled a few and made the rest scatter and die elsewhere.

There is a lot of ways one could add NPCs into the game in a seamless way that would enrich your survival experience, with an option to just not have any at all. And they could adjust the land just a little bit, for only a short period of time, and still offer unforgettable experience and tremendous immersion.

Ask yourself - if you had the option to travel half an island to go visit a neighbour and maybe even trade with them, would you not want to, after playing for 5 hours of being alone? If you can properly immerse yourself into the game, you might just crave that bit of "human" contact in the end.

I would not want to have "Jeremiah/Grey mother" experience with NPCs in sandbox, that they would be like "quest givers" of some area. 

I understand if people have different opinions and want something different from the game :) cant make everyone happy, in the end.

 

 

 

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I am very indifferent to this idea. If they add such characters to the game. I'm not going to argue. If they are not added. I won't be upset.

I want to add something to the discussion. Such characters must be added in a very dosed manner. More precisely, they should be quite small, in order not to change the atmosphere of the game too much, which has developed.

I also think that everything should happen in a random order.

 

Edited by k0s0ff
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  • 2 years later...

Personally, I love this idea. I know that a lot of people insist that you are the only person on this entire island, but adding NPC's or even pets could be interesting. 

1. Instead of turning on the radio during an aurora and hearing the same music every time, maybe it can offer opportunities for quests via PSA's, cries for help, encrypted military messages, or even morse code.  This can also work with the shortwave radio during auroras or glimmer fog.

2. Random encounters: How would you feel coming across someone surrounded by a pack of Timberwolves, someone being chased by a predator, someone half frozen on the ground or in a cave, someone drowning in Forlorn Muskeg, or someone who fell and lies at the bottom of a rope. 

3. Each encounter where someone is injured requires you to help them, heal them, feed them, or end their misery.

4. What if the random encounters included domestic animals like dogs and cats and not just people. What if helping animals resulted in pets residing at your base as a reward. 

 

 

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So I love BOTH story mode and survival‚Ķ and an NPC might be added in the form of the ‚ÄúTrader‚ÄĚ update. ¬†
 

However, I also love the solitude, and really don’t want that ruined by the slippery slope of adding too many people.  
The LACK of zombies and combat with other humans is why I bought this game.  If NPC’s are added and a slow creep toward armed combat with other people makes its way in… it will RUIN the game.  
 

Perhaps an ON/OFF switch via custom? 

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I think this game can just keep adding stuff, especially if all those additions come with custom settings or separate modes altogether. The current state of survival mode should certainly be preserved 100%, but in my opinion, the more the merrier.

Why not add another mode like 'Survival Plus' that adds NPC's, pets, quests, and human enemies? Blackrock just feels like it should have prisoners trying to rip your head off. It's literally a PRISON! LOL. 

Anyways, even if they add none of these things, it won't be a problem. The game is great as is. In the end, however, why not?

 

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