NPCs Non-Player Characters


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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-player_character

Some NPC interactions could be done through cut-scenes with limited interaction or possibly with options for responses as in story mode games.

In a way wolves and other critters could be considered non-human NPCs with AIs for behaviour. If they add non-player human characters, then I like the idea of them having an AI. It has been suggested that NPCs can be either aggressive or benevolent. We could share or trade items with friendly ones and perhaps struggle with the nasty ones.

Any other suggestions/ideas? this is a good spot to specify how you might envision such interactions.

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Hey! You did start a new post :)

I'm actually happy with (and would prefer) no NPCs in the sandbox since I'm almost certain they'd be immersion breaking. Trading means having an economy so now items will have monetary (and not intrinsic) value. Trading infinite scrap metal for canned food makes little sense. That also means the NPC needs to have items to trade. In this situation, most people would care less about trading and more about pooling resources in order to maximize survival chances. Would NPCs need food? If not, than why don't they share? Would there be gangs or other hostile people who try to steal from you even though this is not what most people do in survival situations? Unlike the Walking Dead, people generally want to help one another in desperate situations since groups generally do better than individuals. Can you steal from NPCs? Will there be consequences if you do? Will the consequences matter? I can go on. As you can tell, I'm very apprehensive about possible human NPCs in the game.

That being said, I can think of some situations where it may work. For instance, an invalid character (e.g. broken leg that didn't heal right) may work as a meaningful NPC with a story and justification for why they can't directly help you survive. You can either help them, steal from them, ignore them or murder them. If you're not a psychopath than the effort for keeping this helpless person alive is someone who can stay in one place and do things for you. For instance they can cook food you bring back, repair clothing, craft items you request, etc. That way there is an upside to this NPC and a story reason for why they can't help you more directly. A crippled trapper trying to survive in their cabin would be perfect for this role. However, even this may become tedious since you may become stuck on one map close to one shelter (if you can't move the invalid) and the game may start to feel like a series of fetch quests as you try to keep both yourself and this other person alive.

Long story short, NPCs have the potential to be a really neat addition but they may quickly ruin the atmosphere and enjoyment of the game if implemented haphazardly without a lot of testing and community feedback. NPCs should also be an option and not mandatory for those who prefer lone survivor gameplay. I for one definitely do not want to play a sandbox were I'm being hunted by people for any reason.

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3 hours ago, cekivi said:

Long story short, NPCs have the potential to be a really neat addition but they may quickly ruin the atmosphere and enjoyment of the game if implemented haphazardly without a lot of testing and community feedback. 

Do you feel we have a habit of implementing things haphazardly? Just curious. :)

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8 hours ago, cekivi said:

I'm actually happy with (and would prefer) no NPCs in the sandbox since I'm almost certain they'd be immersion breaking. Trading means having an economy so now items will have monetary (and not intrinsic) value. Trading infinite scrap metal for canned food makes little sense.

In my opinion a limited number of well-implemented NPCs woven into some tiny background stories wouldn't break, but rather add to the game's immersiveness. I'd definitely say being forced to make morally difficult decisions that have a significant impact on my future gameplay is adding to my personal perception of immersion. And NPCs are pretty much a prerequisite for that ofc. I really hope the storymode is going to include such a kind of decision making and I wouldn't mind NPCs being added to the sandbox at all.

You're ofc. right that being flooded with dozens of NPCs swarming all over the maps would destroy the feeling of loneliness, but I'm 100% sure that's not going to happen as the Hinterland team is aware of this issue. My bet is thus that each map will have a very limited number of NPCs which will most likely even be bound to certain areas (like finding a wounded survivor in Alan's cave or a trapper inside the trapper's homestead).

I also doubt that trading with NPCs is going to disturb the game's resource balancing. It wouldn't make sense at all for the Devs to implement NPCs that way. 

I'm not even sure if trading needs to play the main role while interacting with NPCs in general. Some NPCs might ofc. have an interest to trade with you (and I'm pretty optimistic that the Devs will make sure that bartering with them will be optional and neither an extreme advantage nor a terrible disadvantage), but others might simply lack goods or any interest to trade. They might e.g. be afraid of you and threaten to kill you if you approach them until you somehow earn their trust.

To cut a long story short:

I'm really looking forward to NPCs and am pretty optimistic that they will add a new level of immersion to the game for me personally. While interacting with them the player should be given different choices how he/she wants to behave and his/her actions should possibly have an impact on future NPC encounters.

Just to give an example: Sparing the life of some bastard who killed a man to steal his food might either make the guy help or assault you later on. Or it might force you to witness a few days later how the bastard kills a whole family the next time, possibly one that once helped you and that you feel connected to. 

At best, the possible future implications of your decisions shouldn't be obvious and make you think really hard what you want to do. :normal:

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5 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Do you feel we have a habit of implementing things haphazardly? Just curious. :)

Not really. Things have always been challenging yet achievable especially after one spends time to find out a particular tactic for evading or tackling wolves and plans for eventualities such as no knife or hatchet. The severe weather was pretty challenging for a time but that was cured in the next release with the addition of 'predictable' weather cycles. That sort of tuning is anticipated rather than haphazard. Watching Youtube a lot was very useful for uncovering useful tactics.

If you had the time to sample the bug reports and sort them into cause, (Pareto analysis) you might find a particular weakness in testing or design such as Map Validation (holes you fall into, places you get stuck, places animals get stuck) might indicate a need for some sort of special validation tool even if only a driver for an AI to cover the full map using some sort of random walk or grid pattern. I'm just wondering how many spots we haven't discovered yet by alpha testing however I do not know what your internal testing is like (nor should I without a non-disclosure agreement)

I like Tim Ferris's tactic of listing the ways people can fail and then planning for those contingencies; he gives a nod to Pareto in his lectures and his book. Ferris also mentions ruthless cutting to the essentials which takes real maturity and patience.:)

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6 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Do you feel we have a habit of implementing things haphazardly? Just curious. :)

Could you please at least give us a hint, if there will be traders I agree with cekivi there shouldn't be a monetary system but more of a barter type system. for example 2 kgs wolf meat = 5 pairs of cloth that type of thing. Since the world is "resetting" sort of speak I imagine that it would be fit for the economy to reset as well. The earliest signs of trading the human history can record is bartering so I think it will be awesome to have that.  

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14 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Do you feel we have a habit of implementing things haphazardly? Just curious. :)

Definitely Not! This is the best game I've gotten on Steam in the past year! :)

It's just with story mode launching very soon I'm concerned that there may not be enough time to design and implement NPCs for the sandbox. I'm not at all worried about the NPCs in story mode. In fact, I can't wait to meet them! 

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We've considered both Story and Sandbox implications of NPCs, and are aware that some of our players prefer a completely solo Sandbox experience. :) I think it makes a lot of sense that NPCs should be an extension of the current "resource" economy in the game, and we have various ways of supporting that idea, some of which will ship in Story Mode and others in future Sandbox updates.

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8 hours ago, vancopower said:

Could you please at least give us a hint, if there will be traders I agree with cekivi there shouldn't be a monetary system but more of a barter type system. for example 2 kgs wolf meat = 5 pairs of cloth that type of thing. Since the world is "resetting" sort of speak I imagine that it would be fit for the economy to reset as well. The earliest signs of trading the human history can record is bartering so I think it will be awesome to have that.  

I think that trading would break the feeling of immersion and isolation. If NPC's were only created as traders I think it would take away that amazing feeling of loneliness in exchange for a simplistic interaction that would have no real basis in the "story"  other than to trade you things. It would raise a lot of questions as well: where did they come from? why are they here? Having those kinds of questions unanswered I think would bother a lot of folks and even if it were explained, it would just take away the feeling of pure survival. Yeah human beings have used bartering systems throughout history but the storyline doesn't seem to fit into the context of normal. 

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@Alec: that's why I was saying one of the few ways I could see NPCs working was if the did not behave as traders but instead relied on you for survival (e.g. they're injured or elderly). I do like some of the other forum suggestions though where the NPC is transient (wants to head south) and so is temporary or lives in the area and is initially distrustful of you.

Regardless, while human characters will give tons of depth and feeling to the single player (since there will be a set narrative to follow) the emergent narrative style in the sandbox makes them much harder to implement or justify. The reasons for their behaviour has to be told through the environment, hints in other locations, etc. and so can't rely on a cut scene. Therefore, while I remain hesitant, the game has been great to date so I am open to being pleasantly surprised. I just hope Hinterlands follows the precedent set by Red Hook and gives players the option to use or not use NPCs until they have been fully tested.

In case you don't know Red Hook made Darkest Dungeon. One of their late update was corpses and the trickle down effects of corpses when they were first implemented weren't tested properly before implementation. It sharply divided the community to the point where they released a patch to give people the option to turn the "feature" off. Several iterations (and a lot of feedback) later and corpses are now so seamlessly integrated into the game (now that the mechanic is balanced) I can't see the game working without it. I'm just worried about the same thing happening here: a good idea that has some unintended consequence that drastically alters game play away from what we currently find fun.

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2 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

We've considered both Story and Sandbox implications of NPCs, and are aware that some of our players prefer a completely solo Sandbox experience. :) I think it makes a lot of sense that NPCs should be an extension of the current "resource" economy in the game, and we have various ways of supporting that idea, some of which will ship in Story Mode and others in future Sandbox updates.

Well then. There's confirmation. ;)

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1 hour ago, cekivi said:

@Alec: that's why I was saying one of the few ways I could see NPCs working was if the did not behave as traders but instead relied on you for survival (e.g. they're injured or elderly). I do like some of the other forum suggestions though where the NPC is transient (wants to head south) and so is temporary or lives in the area and is initially distrustful of you.

Regardless, while human characters will give tons of depth and feeling to the single player (since there will be a set narrative to follow) the emergent narrative style in the sandbox makes them much harder to implement or justify. The reasons for their behaviour has to be told through the environment, hints in other locations, etc. and so can't rely on a cut scene. Therefore, while I remain hesitant, the game has been great to date so I am open to being pleasantly surprised. I just hope Hinterlands follows the precedent set by Red Hook and gives players the option to use or not use NPCs until they have been fully tested.

In case you don't know Red Hook made Darkest Dungeon. One of their late update was corpses and the trickle down effects of corpses when they were first implemented weren't tested properly before implementation. It sharply divided the community to the point where they released a patch to give people the option to turn the "feature" off. Several iterations (and a lot of feedback) later and corpses are now so seamlessly integrated into the game (now that the mechanic is balanced) I can't see the game working without it. I'm just worried about the same thing happening here: a good idea that has some unintended consequence that drastically alters game play away from what we currently find fun.

In general, the purpose of being in Early Access is to be able to test/experiment with things. Having a community that is open to trying things and letting them "breathe" so we can pull data and get a sense of how new mechanics fit into the Sandbox over the long-term is really important to us, and important to making a great game. If we proceed with the belief that we have to make anything potentially disruptive or new be "optional", we lose out on the ability to truly test it and learn from how it may or may not be working. 

Bugs or imbalance issues aside (which we really focus on fixing quickly), we don't tend to release "optional" features, and we probably wouldn't do it with NPCs either. That's not to say we wouldn't create an opportunity for players to play the game with or without NPCs, it just means I doubt we would release a feature intended to get testing feedback, and then give players the choice to opt out of them, because that kind of defeats the purpose. Also, adding something that can be turned on or off by players already introduces some constraints around how far you might want to push a system or change the related mechanics, UI, tuning, etc. Everything in this game is connected to everything else.

Also, you'd be surprised how many new features or modifications to existing features often result in a negative first response which later, with more info and better understanding, become normalized and just the way things have always been. Some people disliked the direct harvesting of wood in the game when we added it, because the "auto-harvest" was easier (and exploitable). They wanted the option to turn it on or off. Now, you can't really imagine the game without it.

So...as with everything we put into the game, we add things with careful consideration, look for feedback, tune and tweak (and repair) as necessary, and so far we haven't had to remove anything we've added. Hopefully that earns us some trust, and leeway to continue experimenting. The moment we feel constrained by the community is the moment we fail to innovate, and everyone loses.

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57 minutes ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

In general, the purpose of being in Early Access is to be able to test/experiment with things. Having a community that is open to trying things and letting them "breathe" so we can pull data and get a sense of how new mechanics fit into the Sandbox over the long-term is really important to us, and important to making a great game. If we proceed with the belief that we have to make anything potentially disruptive or new be "optional", we lose out on the ability to truly test it and learn from how it may or may not be working. 

Bugs or imbalance issues aside (which we really focus on fixing quickly), we don't tend to release "optional" features, and we probably wouldn't do it with NPCs either. That's not to say we wouldn't create an opportunity for players to play the game with or without NPCs, it just means I doubt we would release a feature intended to get testing feedback, and then give players the choice to opt out of them, because that kind of defeats the purpose. Also, adding something that can be turned on or off by players already introduces some constraints around how far you might want to push a system or change the related mechanics, UI, tuning, etc. Everything in this game is connected to everything else.

Also, you'd be surprised how many new features or modifications to existing features often result in a negative first response which later, with more info and better understanding, become normalized and just the way things have always been. Some people disliked the direct harvesting of wood in the game when we added it, because the "auto-harvest" was easier (and exploitable). They wanted the option to turn it on or off. Now, you can't really imagine the game without it.

So...as with everything we put into the game, we add things with careful consideration, look for feedback, tune and tweak (and repair) as necessary, and so far we haven't had to remove anything we've added. Hopefully that earns us some trust, and leeway to continue experimenting. The moment we feel constrained by the community is the moment we fail to innovate, and everyone loses.

You guys should listen to the community and their suggestions. Just narrow them down and not take it too far. In other words. Accept some suggestions, just don't make these suggestions ruin the game's feel and atmosphere. Because that's what makes The Long Dark well... The Long Dark. It's uniqueness.

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1 hour ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

So...as with everything we put into the game, we add things with careful consideration, look for feedback, tune and tweak (and repair) as necessary, and so far we haven't had to remove anything we've added. Hopefully that earns us some trust, and leeway to continue experimenting. The moment we feel constrained by the community is the moment we fail to innovate, and everyone loses.

I can respect that. Just a little apprehensive, that's all.

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8 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

Also, you'd be surprised how many new features or modifications to existing features often result in a negative first response which later, with more info and better understanding, become normalized and just the way things have always been. Some people disliked the direct harvesting of wood in the game when we added it, because the "auto-harvest" was easier (and exploitable). They wanted the option to turn it on or off. Now, you can't really imagine the game without it.

So...as with everything we put into the game, we add things with careful consideration, look for feedback, tune and tweak (and repair) as necessary, and so far we haven't had to remove anything we've added. Hopefully that earns us some trust, and leeway to continue experimenting. The moment we feel constrained by the community is the moment we fail to innovate, and everyone loses.

I absolutely agree with this statement. In my opinion it's a general problem that many people are afraid of changes without knowing which impacts these changes might have exactly. They worry about potential problems (like 30+NPCs per map or NPCs as mindless trading bots doing nothing but offering overpowered goods) that would never happen anyway.

NPCs aren't some natural hazard beyond human influence, guys. They don't have to work like NPCs from other survival games you might know. The Devs can make them work however they want and adjust their functions to fit TLD.

Just have a little trust in the Hinterland team. They have no reason at all to implement NPCs in a way that completely changes the current spirit of the game.

All major changes made to the game since the release of the alpha never changed that special TLD feeling of loneliness mixed with both despair and hope and I'm very optimistic that NPCs won't take that away either. 

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14 hours ago, Alec said:

I think that trading would break the feeling of immersion and isolation. If NPC's were only created as traders I think it would take away that amazing feeling of loneliness in exchange for a simplistic interaction that would have no real basis in the "story"  other than to trade you things. It would raise a lot of questions as well: where did they come from? why are they here? Having those kinds of questions unanswered I think would bother a lot of folks and even if it were explained, it would just take away the feeling of pure survival. Yeah human beings have used bartering systems throughout history but the storyline doesn't seem to fit into the context of normal. 

I'm just throwing ideas, and I think that these questions that you mention can be answered like this:

You encounter a man and a woman in one of the houses in Pleasant Vally. The man is mauled  by wolves, and almost dying they desperately need bandages, and antiseptic which they would happily trade offering food, antibiotics, a hatched perhaps ect. (you have 5 days to trade after that time they are gone)

You encounter a woman attacked by wolf, if you help her scare the wolf away she we give you one basic item: piece of cloth, firewood, torch or even couple of matches 2-3.

Again in a house you encounter a young woman been looked after  by couple of her friends and family, she is too sick to travel so they decide to wait out until she gets better. They will only accept antibiotics and can trade you tons of stuff for them. For example 2 pills for box of flares (10 flares) , or a distress pistol or  5 rifle ammo, or 3 whetstones ect ect. They are desperate and will offer much. (you have 2 days to trade after that time they are gone)

You encounter a person (can be man or woman) shivering in the cold, just before your base if you take him/her in start a fire warm them up, give them food and water then they will collect sticks, and firewood as well as (rare chance) one birch or  maple sapling and put them on one of the containers in your base for 2 days then they'll leave:

 

in one day they can collect:

(20-40) sticks

(3-6 firewood) 

1 maple or birch sapling. (Rare chance)

 

I hope this answers some of your questions. :)

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20 hours ago, Raphael van Lierop said:

We've considered both Story and Sandbox implications of NPCs, and are aware that some of our players prefer a completely solo Sandbox experience. :) I think it makes a lot of sense that NPCs should be an extension of the current "resource" economy in the game, and we have various ways of supporting that idea, some of which will ship in Story Mode and others in future Sandbox updates.

I have been very vocal about not wanting NPC's in the sand box, or an option to turn them off. 

 

Sounds like the Dev team has A LOT of plans for NPC interaction.  I have faith in this team going forward and trust they will implement them in a way that does not distract from the games immersion, only enhance it

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16 hours ago, Fuarian said:

You guys should listen to the community and their suggestions. Just narrow them down and not take it too far. In other words. Accept some suggestions, just don't make these suggestions ruin the game's feel and atmosphere. Because that's what makes The Long Dark well... The Long Dark. It's uniqueness.

That's what we've always done.

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I am opposed to the idea of having NPCs in sandbox. The feeling of complete solitude and isolation is what makes this game special to me. In a sense, when I play TLD, the whole world is there just for me to exploit, to live in and to survive in. With NPCs, this is no longer the case - I can't disreagrd them, even if the game technically allows me to. I don't own the place anymore.

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Personally, my level of apprehension for this feature is directly proportional to the number of NPCs that are planned to be added. If it's just the trapper, misanthrope, and the mountaineer for instance that would allow for a lot of focus on those three characters and likely give players a lot of meaningful interactions. Plus, instead of needing to include an option to turn off NPCs, players who didn't want to interact with them could just stay in Pleasant Valley or Desolation Point.

Pity there aren't more details on the number of NPCs and the planned interactions between characters...

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Also, the trapper, misanthrope, and mountaineer would presumably all be very versed in survival due to their pre-apocalypse lifestyle. It would be interesting if some of the crafting items in the game (e.g. homemade bow) required teaching from an NPC in order to make or that they could help improve your fire starting or hunting skills.

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I don't know about the rest of you guys but for me TLD is always about realism, not some point achievement or quest type of game. Whenever I play TLD I feel like I am actually surviving just got to make it through the day, counting my supplies planing what to bring home first should I go fishing or maybe trapping today ect. However what I find difficult to believe is  the fact that I am only one there. I mean there are 10,563,805 people in Canada where are they? Surely they can't be all dead. So why do you think human interaction it will be bad idea I just don't understand. Don't you wanna meet someone. Doesn't have to be for trade. A friendly conversation or unfriendly struggle :) for survival. Also random encounters are always good. every game that had random encounters turned up to be hit: Fallout 3, Bio-shock, Morrowind, E.C.T. Don't get me wrong I am not trying to compare TLD to those games or their standards I am just stating a fact that NPC interaction especially random encounters is awesome feature to have, at the end of the day when you look in to the journal you can tell a story I helped this guy at Pleasant Valley, and these people attacked me at mystical lake. TLD is already amazing game I agree that major changes will spoil the experience but, to shut off NPC and encounters completely I think would be a great shame.

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Well... Canada's actually got around 35 million people :)

However, the majority of the population lives near the US boarder and roughly 2/3 of the total population is in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor. Northern regions do generally have low populations that are spaced fairly far apart. Remember, the likely setting for this game is Vancouver Island, not Vancouver :)

Also, the games you listed could all fall into the "FPS" category and most of those encounters were with hostile people. I think the main reason why people are cautious is, since the Long Dark has maintained an astounding degree of realism, we don't want generic aggressive NPCs or NPCs who have fetch quests, etc. We want NPCs that feel alive which admittedly is something very hard to do. But, like you pointed out, it can be done.

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On 2/26/2016 at 5:48 AM, Raphael van Lierop said:

We've considered both Story and Sandbox implications of NPCs, and are aware that some of our players prefer a completely solo Sandbox experience. :) I think it makes a lot of sense that NPCs should be an extension of the current "resource" economy in the game, and we have various ways of supporting that idea, some of which will ship in Story Mode and others in future Sandbox updates.

+1 to that remark.
I prefer a completely solo Sandbox Experience.
I look forward to encountering NPCs in Story Mode.

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10 hours ago, cekivi said:

Well... Canada's actually got around 35 million people :)

However, the majority of the population lives near the US boarder and roughly 2/3 of the total population is in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor. Northern regions do generally have low populations that are spaced fairly far apart. Remember, the likely setting for this game is Vancouver Island, not Vancouver :)

Also, the games you listed could all fall into the "FPS" category and most of those encounters were with hostile people. I think the main reason why people are cautious is, since the Long Dark has maintained an astounding degree of realism, we don't want generic aggressive NPCs or NPCs who have fetch quests, etc. We want NPCs that feel alive which admittedly is something very hard to do. But, like you pointed out, it can be done.

I meant for that particular region and not living there something like in transit working, ect I must have copypasted the text over my orig post, now I can not find the site from where I pulled the info but anyhow yea I am for that too no fetch quests no arrow to the knee guys just some encounters that bring flavor to the whole idea of survival, and it can be done. sure some of them will repeat but this too can be done in a clever way to mix it up a little, change the appearance of NPC's their voices the items they need it can be done in a not spoiling kind of way. Also instead of making NPC an option  to be turned off and on in the game start they can make some areas like TM for example completely free of NPC's  so the people who do not like any encounters could go there and survive on their own. :)

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