Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #10: The NPC Factions and PvE Diplomacy

Age of Wonders: Planetfall - Dev Diary #10: The NPC Factions and PvE Diplomacy

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LennartGS

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Hi there! Welcome to this week’s development update where we’ll be discussing the role of NPC factions and the all new PvE (Player V Environment) Diplomacy system in Age of Wonders: Planetfall.

I’d like to emphasize the game is still in development so everything is subject to change; this diary includes some WIP interface stuff and onscreen text.

As you visit the collapsed worlds of the Star Union, you’ll notice they are filled with survivors. The game recognizes the following NPC Factions. (NPC is short for Non-Primary Combatants)

· The Spacers – Mutated descendants of the urban populations. Their society and religion were shaped by gaming culture, as the empire population was entertained extreme VR experiences. With the networks gone, they seek their thrills in the physical world.

· The Paragons – The former governing and elite classes. They’ve survived the collapse through life extending augmentations and therapies which are now faltering. They haven’t lost their arrogance and entitlement though.

· The Growth – Intelligent plants escaped from biotech company Terra Tech. They strive to live in a symbiosis with other life forms, not for people with tenctaclephobia.

· The Automons – Robots from the emergency services that have developed their own autonomous AIs after the central network of CORE went down.

· The Psi-Fish – Mysterious floating aliens that have become more prevalent after the collapse.

· Marauders - An umbrella term for the monsters and pirates that are beyond reason and cannot be negotiated with, not a true NPC Faction.

The NPC Factions are far from the sitting ducks from previous AoW games, they can’t be ignored. They might have alien savage societies, but are in the majority at the start of the game.

DD10-Wmap.jpg
Approaching a Paragon Dwelling with a Colonizer.

Quests

When expanding you’ll soon run into one of more of the factions. You might decide to approach them in a friendly way, so you perform quests for them and improve relation and influence – which you can then use to ask faction armies to give up important structures for you to use. Each NPC Faction has its own set of quests and narrative flavor.

DD10-Quest.jpg
A Paragon Quest


War

If you decide to remove an army belonging to an NPC faction by force, it means war with the entire faction and a hit on your global reputation. Be careful not to start too many NPC wars as their bases and dwelling will start to spawn invading armies and your colonies might be overrun.

Sector Claims

Just as AI Players, NPC factions lay claim to unowned Sectors around their habitats. So even if you try to avoid them, conflicts of interest with your NPC neighbors will soon start to appear: if you settle in sectors next to their dwelling your relations with them will suffer.

DD10-Claim.jpg
The Paragons don’t like us settling near them

Demands

NPC factions will make demands based on their relation with you and based on the stage of the game. Small and early offenses can be made right by payments in one of the key resources. Soon demands will escalate and include demands that you hand over sectors to them. If you decline demands, relations will go further south and you are at risk of attack.


NPC Attack Events

As in AoW3 there are stacks garrisoned at NPC dwellings, and ones patrolling territories. This time NPC factions will also launch invasion attacks. This is associated with an event. An extreme version of NPC attack events are Boss events, extra strong armies that have named Boss characters with high level unit mods and henchmen.

DD10-Boss2.jpg
An NPC Boss Army alert (Highly WIP)


NPC Unit Rosters and Assets

Each NPC Faction has at least 5 unique units, including a Tier IV as well as a set of unique Mods and Operations you can acquire from them. Depending on your relation level you can recruit NPC Units as auxiliary forces. The higher your relation, the higher the level you can recruit. This recruitment costs additional influence.

Dwelling Ownership

The ultimate friendly goal is annexing a faction’s Dwelling to your city. These dwellings have resource yields comparable with the Golden Landmarks (the highest-level economic structures in the game), and the units of the faction are unlocked for production.

This is not all, NPC interaction comes into play with PvP interaction too. You can mess with the NPC relation of other players through Covert Ops and of course they’ll play a role in achieving particular victory conditions.

Thanks for reading this week's journal, looking forward to your comments!
 

Fenraellis

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Very nice, indeed.

I can certainly appreciate the increased back and forth available, as well as the interactivity of claims. Not to mention confirmation that NPC factions/dwellings will provide unique mods and operations!
 

Rhaeg

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In the screenshot with the sector claiming, are those 4 sword-icon points something like belligerence points? So if you keep playing aggressively and violate claims etc. people eventually can declare war on you without suffering any diplomacy penalties?

Love the idea of the boss armies btw and the high lvl mods! Are mods sometimes lootable btw?
 

Orinsul

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Halflings would make a good dwelling.
They're small. Would only need a small city.

The art in the screenshots looks great also.
 

Jolly Joker

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Ok, so if understand this right, there won't be any racial settlements on a "map" except for the ones th actual players, human or AI, start with, but instead there are dwellings, as in AoW 3, but more numerous, who also expand in some way, but may be annexed peacefully. When you wage war against them or annoy them and don't fulfill the resulting demands, basically all dwellings of that type on the map may combine against you, sending armies ...

Also, as in MoO, you can actively try to undermine the diplomatic relations of other main players with the NPCs (and with each other?) - but I suppose, this may backlash if a black op fails ...

Impression is, that as opposed to AoW 3 you'll have to worry a lot more about what greater consequences your actions may have. In general I appreciate the higher "density" of action and reaction, and it also looks like this won't have to be bought with a more complex, able AI, at least not in that part. It looks more like a take it or leave it thing, like Blackjack rules for the dealer: you know the rules for their behaviour, but you don't know what will be in the cards.

All and all I'm quite positive about the "upgrade" of dwellings.
 

Dr_K

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For the 4 points incurred when settling in a claimed sector. Are they global, or faction specific?

he Psi-Fish – Mysterious floating aliens that have become more prevalent after the collapse.
Are they actually fish like?
 

mr_stibbons

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Each NPC Faction has at least 5 unique units, including a Tier IV as well as a set of unique Mods and Operations you can acquire from them. Depending on your relation level you can recruit NPC Units as auxiliary forces. The higher your relation, the higher the level you can recruit. This recruitment costs additional influence.
Are NPC faction units and mods cross-compatible with race and class units and mods?

The ultimate friendly goal is annexing a faction’s Dwelling to your city. These dwellings have resource yields comparable with the Golden Landmarks (the highest-level economic structures in the game), and the units of the faction are unlocked for production.
Does this work like in AOW3, with the dwelling being it's own limited city, or are NPC units produced in normal cities?
 

Gloweye

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Spelling error in quest description : scared -> sacred

But looks good guys.
 

LennartGS

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Are NPC faction units and mods cross-compatible with race and class units and mods?
Yeah we designed faction mods to be fairly flexible. They work with requisites though. Some only work on infantry, biological or vehicles units.

Are they actually fish like?
Yes, but very alien exotic like fish. Manta ray, cuttlefish, that sort of thing.
 

Quark02

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You say that settling a sector that has been "claimed" (not sure what this term includes gameplay-wise) has negative diplomatic consequences that results in increasingly large demands. Can you make friends with the dwelling so they stop demanding at some point? Like forgive and forget?

The DEPLOY MONITOR operation is ready, but the logo of the operation is nowhere else on the UI. Are the operations that are being readied/are ready appear somewhere else or is this a case of WIP (temporary default icons or something)? If the operation were used and a new one was being readied, the message would not appear, I assume (by AoW3 standards).

The Boss warning has no "focus on" or "go to location" button, I assume this is also going to change. The rear-view mirror up top gives a strange effect.

Can you make the Fog of War more distinctive? Aside from the yellow radar blips, it is really difficult to understand the vision radii of units.

Spelling error in quest description : scared -> sacred
Technologies are people too!

Jests aside, the "This sector has already been claimed" message appears to have a double-space in front of claimed (which is blue, which in turn makes me suspect automatic formatting). I know double-spaces are probably invisible for most, but for me it is as annoying as bad kerning.
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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Obligatory BBB questions:

In the 1st screenshot, the Vanguard marines have 3 gold chevrons - is that indicative of levels of experiene. one assumes so. Therefore, is it 9 levels of experience? Or does it mean the unit can be levelled up (and that there is therefore a levelling up choice to be made?

Also, mp on that stacks shows 0/32 mp, but the marines show 2 mp left. Does that mean that they had 34 mp, or that they used 2 mp less than the Colonizer unit, perhaps due to terrain/

Also, is the Colonizer a combat capable unit now?

If you decide to remove an army belonging to an NPC faction by force, it means war with the entire faction and a hit on your global reputation. Be careful not to start too many NPC wars as their bases and dwelling will start to spawn invading armies and your colonies might be overrun.
Whoa...that's cool.

Are there independent cities that aren't dwellings, e.g. independent Vanguard outposts. If so (anjd one would hope that there are) how does declaring war on one of them count? Or is each city that isn't a dwelling basically independent?

Just as AI Players, NPC factions lay claim to unowned Sectors around their habitats. So even if you try to avoid them, conflicts of interest with your NPC neighbors will soon start to appear: if you settle in sectors next to their dwelling your relations with them will suffer.
Another gamechanger! So, it looks like it is shaping up to be a reactive, living map. Maybe too early to ask, but in the rmg, are there sliders to affect frequency, density, beligerence of npc factions?

As in AoW3 there are stacks garrisoned at NPC dwellings, and ones patrolling territories. This time NPC factions will also launch invasion attacks. This is associated with an event. An extreme version of NPC attack events are Boss events, extra strong armies that have named Boss characters with high level unit mods and henchmen.
Looks like you guys are really emphasising PvE here. Boss events seem to me a bit like cosmic events in AoW3, only more under player influence. I am excited about this. It could be a very cool way to keep the map interesting for longer.

Each NPC Faction has at least 5 unique units, including a Tier IV as well as a set of unique Mods and Operations you can acquire from them. Depending on your relation level you can recruit NPC Units as auxiliary forces. The higher your relation, the higher the level you can recruit. This recruitment costs additional influence.
As in actively recruit them before owning them? The AoW3 analogue would be being able to recruit from a vassal. And finally, we see a concrete example of influence as a resource.

The ultimate friendly goal is annexing a faction’s Dwelling to your city. These dwellings have resource yields comparable with the Golden Landmarks (the highest-level economic structures in the game), and the units of the faction are unlocked for production.
Have we heard of, or seen, golden landmarks before?

It seems you guys are actively trying to make a more reactive world, with more interaction and more strategic decisions to make and more, as @Fenraellis says, back and forth.
Do I rush this dwelling and conquer them, incurring warmonger penalties and reputation, but getting the obvious boosts of more economy and broader military access?

OR

Do I butter them up, and get them for "free" (not least of which, not using my military) but have the benefits kick in later?

It seems like a similar tradeoff, but with more teeth, than in AoW3.

This is not all, NPC interaction comes into play with PvP interaction too. You can mess with the NPC relation of other players through Covert Ops and of course they’ll play a role in achieving particular victory conditions.

Thanks for reading this week's journal, looking forward to your comments!

Particular victory conditions? :)


Edit: So, new dwellings are basically old dwellings + spawning camps + diplomacy. :D

edit: implant snatchers screenshot. I'm struggling to understand the rewards for the quest. A new rifle and 10 reputation points (blue)? and 10 ? points.


edit: Spacers :)
 
Last edited:

Quark02

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One of the problems that Endless Legend has with its NPC-s is that there are so many of them. When you start out, they quickly blur together since they are very similar or sometimes the same. So when a message pops up about them, I hardly ever know who it is talking about until I double-check.

Differentiation between different NPC-s I think you can handle pretty well in PF, since they sound pretty different. But what about multiples of the same NPC faction? ie one band of merry plants starts out in the North, the other in the South. Same species, but with separate entities (capital, diplomacy etc.). Since they can become empire-large, is there a simple way to tell them apart? (such as coats-of-arms)

Do NPC-s have diplomatic relationships with each other? Would two merry bands of plants go to war with each other if they were to claim the same sector? Could they ally themselves so that if you have good relationship with plants, you would get a bonus to your relationship with their allies, the Autonom? Can they give quests to each other (in addition to AI and human players)?
 

LennartGS

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In the 1st screenshot, the Vanguard marines have 3 gold chevrons - is that indicative of levels of experiene. one assumes so. Therefore, is it 9 levels of experience? Or does it mean the unit can be levelled up (and that there is therefore a levelling up choice to be made?
Gold Chevrons = Rank. The Other Icon = Mod Variant. Ranks auto level without choice, as in AoW3; would be too much choice together with the mod system. Of course Heroes can be customized as they level up.

Also, mp on that stacks shows 0/32 mp, but the marines show 2 mp left. Does that mean that they had 34 mp, or that they used 2 mp less than the Colonizer unit, perhaps due to terrain/
Yeah could be terrain or a cheat used for this screenshot :D


Another gamechanger! So, it looks like it is shaping up to be a reactive, living map. Maybe too early to ask, but in the rmg, are there sliders to affect frequency, density, beligerence of npc factions?
Yes, there will be control over NPC factions in the RMG.

Are there independent cities that aren't dwellings, e.g. independent Vanguard outposts. If so (anjd one would hope that there are) how does declaring war on one of them count? Or is each city that isn't a dwelling basically independent?
Yes there are independent Outposts of the main races. They are actually called Outposts. More on interaction with them in later milestone. They use a different system from NPC Dwellings and work different from AoW3.

As in actively recruit them before owning them? The AoW3 analogue would be being able to recruit from a vassal. And finally, we see a concrete example of influence as a resource.
Yes, you can recruit NPC Faction units before owning them.
 

LordTheRon

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Quests

When expanding you’ll soon run into one of more of the factions. You might decide to approach them in a friendly way, so you perform quests for them and improve relation and influence – which you can then use to ask faction armies to give up important structures for you to use. Each NPC Faction has its own set of quests and narrative flavor.

View attachment 397872
A Paragon Quest
Different quests and flavor sounds good. The screenshot has a pretty basic quest in it, like we saw them in AoW3. Are there different quests then hunting down a group of units for different reasons? I really hope some quests go deeper and require more thought.
 

Rhaeg

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Who were the road designers and builders for the Star Union btw? Were it those peeps that like to create those grain circles here on earth?

:p
 

AwesomeLion

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Positively in love with the idea of auxiliary forces. A concept that I loved ever since the elves helped the Rohirrim during the battle of Helms Deep or since I got to recruit my own Egyptian and Greek auxiliary back when I was playing Total War: Rome. So much goodness in this journal- the way NPC factions and diplomacy are being handled is just.. #Hyped
 

LennartGS

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  • Warlock: Master of the Arcane
  • Warlock 2: The Exiled
  • Stellaris
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Stellaris: Galaxy Edition
  • Prison Architect
One of the problems that Endless Legend has with its NPC-s is that there are so many of them. When you start out, they quickly blur together since they are very similar or sometimes the same. So when a message pops up about them, I hardly ever know who it is talking about until I double-check.

Differentiation between different NPC-s I think you can handle pretty well in PF, since they sound pretty different. But what about multiples of the same NPC faction? ie one band of merry plants starts out in the North, the other in the South. Same species, but with separate entities (capital, diplomacy etc.). Since they can become empire-large, is there a simple way to tell them apart? (such as coats-of-arms)
We played around with having multiple variants of a single faction on a planet and decided not to do it for the reason you mention. This way your actions against individual stacks have bigger consequences and its less confusing to the player. If we do make variants of a faction they'd be planet-wide.

Do NPC-s have diplomatic relationships with each other? Would two merry bands of plants go to war with each other if they were to claim the same sector? Could they ally themselves so that if you have good relationship with plants, you would get a bonus to your relationship with their allies, the Autonom? Can they give quests to each other (in addition to AI and human players)?
Currently NPC factions don't have relations with each other, but quests from one side might hurt relations with another.