Chronicles of Elyria dev blog: Offline player characters

    
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Announced earlier this year, Chronicles of Elyria is a startup sandbox in a sea of such sandboxes, but some of its features are rare even within the MMORPG genre.

Massively OP has been hosting a series of exclusive dev diaries from the CoE team at Soulbound Studios over the last few weeks to further explore the game and solicit feedback and questions, and today we have the next installment. This fourth entry, written by the devs themselves, is presented below and focuses on offline player characters — characters that are a mix of player characters and AI-driven NPCs. Enjoy!

Offline player characters: A hybrid between player & NPC

Chronicles of Elyria is a pre-release MMO featuring characters who age and die over the course of approximately one year of play. We’ve introduced a new type of characters which can be found in-game: the Offline Player Character (OPC). OPCs are a hybrid between a player character (PC) where a human is directing character choices and a non-player character (NPC) with decisions made by a computer. OPCs allow characters to continue to evolve and prosper even when you, the player, is living your IRL life.

Three reasons for offline player characters

1. Limited lifespans – Given characters with limited lifespans caused by aging, we felt it was important to keep your character productive while you’re offline. Knowing your character has a limited lifespan, you’ll want to reap the full benefit during that period. Thus, when you sign off, your character continues to do many of the things you’d do while online… and some of the things you’d rather offload and not have to sit through.

2. Story continuity – Having characters pop out of existence, sometimes for a very extended time, when players are offline creates inconsistency in the overall story. This is especially true because much of the story in CoE is based on players’ activities and role in society instead of just non-player character (NPC) storyline. It’s impossible to create a single, cohesive story in a multiplayer world if the actors of the story disappear in the middle of an important scene. To solve these problems, Chronicles of Elyria employs a truly persistent world.

3. Seasons & time – Chronicles of Elyria employs seasons and the passing of time. Many things in-game are dependent on time of day, the season, or the passing of in-game time. Farming, for instance, might require planting during spring and harvest during the fall. Certain shops in town may only be open during daylight hours. And travel to a different region could take several in-game days. If a character were only able to accomplish these while online, you might miss out on opportunities because of a particular play schedule.

The solution: Offline player characters

To remedy these problems CoE introduces the concept of Offline Player Characters (OPCs). Whenever you sign off, Artificial Intelligence takes over and plays your character for you. But we all know AI is never as good as the real thing, so we’re working on a system that allows you to create and trade scripted Behaviors for your characters.

These Behaviors will let you do things like train character skills, run a storefront, perform weekly trade routes, do some gardening, and many other things. While we plan to provide a lot of pre-canned behaviors at launch, we’re really excited to see what the community can come up with, and plan to provide a lot of support to those players interested in expanding the game in this way.

Stay tuned for one last dev blog from the Chronicles of Elyria team next week!

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CazCore
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CazCore

they sure are piling on the promises

crackfox
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crackfox

This game has enough interesting ideas to offset my misgivings around character aging. The screenshots look good and the character creator looks impressive. I like the idea of the OPC system. The nearest I’ve come to that was during my very brief time in Age of Wushu where my character’s offline occupation seemed to be ‘kidnap victim’.

Vucub
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Vucub

Quincha As far as the overall story, from what I’ve read bit of Eve player-action story but with a plot that game mechanics will encourage. Best way I can put it, is it seems like a player/ group of players could become the big bad. This is a question I hope the Dev sees because he’ll explain it much better than I am.

Vucub
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Vucub

Tamanous I’m not sure but it might be better to think that an OPC could possibly be knocked out or coup de grace. Both are not permadeath but coup de grace separates your soul from your body which is part of the permadeath mechanic. Granted a permadeath would likely only happen as the character is older and since characters get weaker as they are older, it would be smart to not have an older character scripted to dangerous things while offline.

Vucub
Guest
Vucub

Snky While it isn’t a summon, OPCs can be guards. Not sure the exact mechanics but I think it will work such that either you can set your character to guard a space while your offline (like the guild hall or your house) or set them to be open to accept contracts that they are offered to guard someone (merchant taking a dangerous route contracts a few OPCs to guard them along the way).

Elirion
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Elirion

Blinkenn Exactly what I was thinking.  I liked how it was implemented in AoW.  Lots of great ideas in that game.  I’m really interested in a lot of the ideas they are coming up with in Chronicles of Elyria.  The limited life time is a neat way to get people to pay that doesn’t really bother me.  They have to get money somehow.

Wratts
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Wratts

I want my offline character to kill all the rats.  No one should claim he/she wasn’t an effective rat slayer

Snky
Guest
Snky

I’d like to take this OPC system and combine it with FFXII’s gambit system. Let me summon a guildie or friend while they’re offline and I set up a rudimentary AI that determines their behavior in fights. Tanks could be like a huntard’s pet where you direct them to /charge when ready and so forth. I’ll worry about limitations on the system later (like CDs for a summon item or how many concurrent users could gang bang my pally into group content). Bet some (most?) would perform better than if a human were at the keyboard lol.

Craywulf
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Craywulf

SallyBowls1 Have you ever played a flight or driving simulator? Which is essentially a game simulating real life physics. I really don’t see the difference between creating real life physics for vehicle simulators and vital force of real life.

Tamanous
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Tamanous

Any talk on if characters can die when offline? Thinking they should call this game Hampster Online. You get a pet that dies right around the time you start connecting with it.