Here’s how Ship of Heroes is populating its starship city with people and vehicles

    
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Can I be real for a sec here. Smashing cars was one of the best parts of City of Heroes. Being rewarded for destroying them in Mayhem missions was especially cathartic. But even if I couldn’t get my destruction on, just seeing all the people milling around and cars driving down the road sold the world as a real place.

Ship of Heroes agrees. In its latest dev post, the superhero MMO’s Heroic Games shows off just how it’s populating the world with NPCs. And hopefully safeguarding the cars from me.

“To do this, we have to decide: how many NPCs should be active in a given area? No one wants to play in a ghost town, but each NPC adds a little more strain to running the game. In the shot below, there are over 100 civilians in the Arch Park, and at any given time, a player can see about 20. We think this strikes a good balance between immersion and FPS. As a supporter of SoH, feel free to weigh in with your opinion in the forums on whether this is the right density of civilians.”

The whole piece is worth a look – just remember, this superhero city is on a spaceship. The cars float.

Source: Official site, press release
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Noyjitat

I would hope with 6 and 12gb graphics cards that we’ll have the option to render more because 100 npcs isnt too impressive with the pc specs we have now. In planetside we could have 300+ players in one give area and that was a game from 2004. We also easily had more than 100 on the rikti mothership raids and during the itf.

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MrNastyButler

Like and looking forward to the game.

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Paul Smith

I wonder why non-interactive NPCs couldn’t be client-side. Whatever the client computer can handle is what they’ll get. I’m not a programmer and I certainly don’t know about world building an MMO, but if they only matter from a scenery standpoint … push it to the client.

Obviously, this wouldn’t apply to any NPC you had to interact with.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Yeah, I’m not sure that it works quite like that, though I’m not a programmer either so I could be wrong.

From my knowledge you store the graphics for the NPC clientside but everything else should be on the server unless the NPCs are completely static. Even if the interaction they have with the world is minor, such a set walk-route, if they are not stored on the server then they will not be synced to all of the clients. Instead you’ll have a situation where two players take a screenshot at the same exact time and the NPCs will be in different locations based upon how long their individual client has been running. That’s fine for homebrew projects but for a commercial project that approach would come off sloppy to me. So for Alpha sure, but for Beta and beyond it would not be flattering to the project if I am correct.

That said, the limitations of the server strain being only able to handle 20 npcs at a given time is concerning, especially when they have to deal with large congregations of players in an area. I hope they fix whatever issue is causing that or consider a different engine.

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Magnus Itland

Generating townies locally would punish players who choose to roleplay interactions with them, whether commenting on them, greeting them or simply stepping out of the way for them. The normal procedure would be to send a token indicating the position and type of NPC and let the client flesh them out according to the graphic capabilities of the client machine.

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Peregrine Falcon

1) Narshadaa in SWTOR has no civilians walking around and it looks ridiculous.

2) COH launched in 2004 and sometimes I’d see dozens of civilians walking around. If your game engine in 2018 can’t handle more than that maybe it’s time to look for a modern game engine?

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Witches

Looks kinda empty but hopefully it looks better when everyone is moving.

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Dug From The Earth

but each NPC adds a little more strain to running the game. In the shot below, there are over 100 civilians in the Arch Park, and at any given time, a player can see about 20.

Im sorry, what year is it again? Its 2018 last time I checked. Have you seen the new ps4 spider-man game? Have you seen the 48 min demo for Cyberpunk?

20 NPCs at once because any more is too much strain to run the game? What?!?!?

If the engine (or knowledge of the engine) is already a limiting factor on performance, that is not at all a good sign.

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Dobablo

Depends what the NPCs are doing. NPCs in 2018 are expected to be a lot less static and live more interesting lives than they used to.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Yes yes! Moar news please.

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IronSalamander8 .

Mayhem missions!

They were hilarious with MM pets! Zombies were hell on parking lots. :D

This looks good, reminds me of CoH in many ways.

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Tee Parsley

Reminds me of the zombie MM I ran into, whose character design was as close to a zombie minion as he could get. Made it look like a swarming mob of undead disaster! Bet he was hell in PvP as well.

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NeoWolf

Article subject aside can I just say it still makes me happy to see a hood with HAIR inside it.. it can be done! Thank you Ship of Heroes for setting a benchmark on hoods lol