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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