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

LennartGS

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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.

We currently have a category of economic quests, where for example the Paragon ask you to produce augmentations to replace their faltering implants. This gets added as Quest project in your colony production list. As being a 4X Game not all quests should be combat focused.

What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?
 

LennartGS

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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

Actually crop circles were an inspiration for them yes.
 

Quark02

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What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?

Please no "destroy this Watchtower" type thing where you have to destroy a structure that is way off in the distance and potentially useful to you and causes no issues to the NPC-s. It is a quest I always refuse, regardless of rewards.

How about researching and manufacturing cure for a plague (ie have to research some special thing AND THEN build it, giving a massive payout due to extra effort)?

Send n units with k chevrons (experience levels) to visit them to teach military tactics (which might also give a boosting effect to the NPC-s military strength for extra role-play). Whether those units get temporarily removed from your control, eh, perhaps it is not necessary. But they have to physically be close enough to directly communicate with them.
 

LordTheRon

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We currently have a category of economic quests, where for example the Paragon ask you to produce augmentations to replace their faltering implants. This gets added as Quest project in your colony production list. As being a 4X Game not all quests should be combat focused.

What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?

Good to hear!

What would I like? Ermmm... well just a few things from the top of my head:
  • I like questchains where you have to complete multiple tasks to get your reward. Eg you go to a location where according to a map you acquired a treasure is hidden. When you arrive you find someone has been there before you, but you see the tracks are still fresh. Next part would be to follow the tracks. Then there might be a scrap with the renegades who took the treasure, only to find out they hid it elsewhere. Something like that. These take more time and can be tricky when other business requires your attention. Thus you'd have to make a choice how quickly you want to continue your quest. I like choices in my 4X games. :) Of course these bigger quests should net you some bigger rewards.
  • Rescue quests perhaps? Where you have to safely escort an NPC to a certain location. I like those in Xcom.
  • Quests where you have to build something eg a robot and get the resources for it from different locations. This might hand you the robot you just built.
  • Trade quests where you have to invest resources or units in exchange for maybe a special NPC unit.
  • Gambling where you put some recources on the line
  • Relic search where upon returning the relic the NPC faction manages to make a great mod out of it for you.
When you go bigger on this, you need a good questscreen of course where you can see your current quests and the progress on them.
 

Rhaeg

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It's not easy to come up with original quests that are easy to implement.

I'm glad you are putting in economic quests. Diplomatic ones could be nice too, but I doubt whether the diplomacy system will support things like: "We want you to organise a truce between factions A and B". For some reason you can never ask other factions to make peace with each other in this type of game... I guess you can still have an NPC faction asking you to make peace with an enemy.

Escort quests were mentioned on the discord channel, but you'd need to a) spam a unit b) give the player some time to catch up with it before it starts moving c) spawn unit stacks that will attack the unit that needs to be escorted... Not easy at all to implement, I guess.

I like @Quark02 's research quest. "Do I abandon my current research and go into this different direction?" could turn out to be an interesting dilemma for the player.

Edit: if terraforming is in, you could have NPC factions asking you to alter the terrain so it becomes more to their liking. I'm sure intelligent plants would love it if you turned some dry piece of land into a nice lawn for them :)
 
Last edited:

Jolly Joker

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We currently have a category of economic quests, where for example the Paragon ask you to produce augmentations to replace their faltering implants. This gets added as Quest project in your colony production list. As being a 4X Game not all quests should be combat focused.

What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?
How about quests that ask to research, share or steal a specific tech for them?
 

Jean-Luc

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With NPC factions being this developed you could have PvE focused maps where multiple players work to survive and clear the map. It would need special rmg parameters so that NPCs are, for example, concentrated in the middle of the map with players around them or vice versa, have the players be surrounded. It would also require scaling difficulty based on the number of allied human players. It'd be its own game mode basically but people like a good comp stomp.

Random quest suggestion: Paragons might want you to donate a modded unit of your own to serve as their bodyguard.
 

Quark02

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Rescue quests perhaps? Where you have to safely escort an NPC to a certain location. I like those in Xcom.
This does not have to have anything to do with escorting, actually. Just a quest that says "our mightiest heroes are imprisoned in a dungeon, if you go save them some of them may join you or show their gratitude to you in heartfelt gifts!".
Or "Our esteemed scientist Dr Jekill is surrounded by evil-doers, save him for tech bonuses/tribute/great invention!".

To build on this - assist in a battle against XXX! Go and attack those units, our forces will join you (a three-way fight), whoever of ours survive may join your forces for good + battle loot.
 

LordTheRon

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This does not have to have anything to do with escorting, actually. Just a quest that says "our mightiest heroes are imprisoned in a dungeon, if you go save them some of them may join you or show their gratitude to you in heartfelt gifts!".
Or "Our esteemed scientist Dr Jekill is surrounded by evil-doers, save him for tech bonuses/tribute/great invention!".

To build on this - assist in a battle against XXX! Go and attack those units, our forces will join you (a three-way fight), whoever of ours survive may join your forces for good + battle loot.
Nice idea, I like that.
 

Dr_K

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Random quest suggestion: Paragons might want you to donate a modded unit of your own to serve as their bodyguard.

I would like to see this in general, where the quests are actually more related to the NPC faction type.

Paragon -> tech help/protection
Spacers -> destruction/warmongering
Growth -> bio research/economic quest
Automatons -> technical research
Psi-Fish -> terraform to water/build more fish tanks/be assimilated
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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I like questchains where you have to complete multiple tasks to get your reward. Eg you go to a location where according to a map you acquired a treasure is hidden. When you arrive you find someone has been there before you, but you see the tracks are still fresh. Next part would be to follow the tracks. Then there might be a scrap with the renegades who took the treasure, only to find out they hid it elsewhere. Something like that. These take more time and can be tricky when other business requires your attention. Thus you'd have to make a choice how quickly you want to continue your quest. I like choices in my 4X games. :) Of course these bigger quests should net you some bigger rewards.

Can we add branching quest chains here?

You get to the treasure location ==> random event (A -treasure is gone, footprints)(B-treasure is being dug up, cue fight/negotiation) (C-treasure is still there, cue digging it up).


From A ==> a1- follow footprints, a2 abandon quest

B==> b1, fight. b2 - negotiate. b2.1 if treasure hunters are friendly race do x. If enemy player race, report them (affects relations/reputation)

c ==> c1 - dig it up, leads to c2a - it's a bomb, c2b - it's cursed, c2c - it has some very juicy tech/resources, so you might want to keep it for yourself.


One needn't go into full rpg level stuff, but the key part to having it be branching is to allow choice. having it semi randomised stops it being repetitive.

In Gladius for example, there is one quest line, and no real choice, other than triggering the next part of the quest.


edit: I mentioned it in discord: mini last stand quest. "help defend us for x turns!" Each turn, a stronger hostile army spawns. After each turn, there is a choice - take your accrued rewards, and leave the location to it's fate, or persevere and take on the next wave. If it were 10 waves, you could end it with a monster or something.

edit: not sure if possible, or how to make it so not fiddly, but methods to disrupt enemy quests?
 

Fenraellis

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edit: not sure if possible, or how to make it so not fiddly, but methods to disrupt enemy quests?
Perhaps by way of a competitive quest, similar to the ones in Endless Space 2, which I've seen you fiddling with recently? That is to say, a Quest which all players they are positively affiliated with know of, and must compete to finish first for the reward.

For example, the Autonoms asking their related players to eliminate inferior biological units, or flip that around to eliminate mechanical units for parts. First player to destroy(disbanding doesn't count, or it could even be an opportunity cost option!) either a raw number of units, or a certain value worth of units. Either a simple 'each tier is worth 1 point,' or more complicated 1/2/4/7 T1/2/3/4 point value system. These units could be independents, or opposing players. They don't care!

They may offer a consolation prize, but I think first to succeed gets all the reward is good, too.


Some other faction requests the research of either a raw number of techs(more fair between different research values), or a raw amount of research consumption. First to reach said number wins. I favor the raw number of techs approach here, since somebody with less research, might still be able to win if they at least have enough research to get some lower tier techs done at a competitive rate.

The extra benefit of this one, is to a lesser degree, even if you don't win, you at least did some research, even if it might not have been what you originally were going to spend that research time on(also an opportunity cost here, depending on the potential quest reward).

Heck, they could even ask players to dedicate research towards a dummy-tech theoretical research, with the winner perhaps getting some research points at the end(not as much as spent), along with another reward on the side. Which would be a true opportunity cost. Research whatever you were going to that gives you direct unlocks now, or put time and research towards the quest, potentially getting nothing(maybe) if you don't end in first place.
 

BloodyBattleBrain

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Ahh i get what you mean, and I like it.

I meant, ways to use influence or covert (or even overt) means to disrupt someone else's quest, so 2 or 3 players can influence a quest.

For example, i know you are trying to protect a village for 6 turns. I swoop in and engage you, even though i know I can't win the fight, just to weaken you enough so you can't complete the quest.
 

The Mentat

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What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?

What about quests that work more like stories and give the player the possibility to decide which way he wants to follow. I’m thinking of a mechanic similar to events in Crusader Kings. Two exampels:

The leader of a NPC faction has troubles with some rebels within the city and asks the player to resolve the conflict. Now there are three options:

First you can try to convince the rebels to give up their demands. There’s a chance this immediately completes the mission, based on your reputation. There’s also a chance that it immediately fails though.

Secondly you can choose to fight the rebels: An army appears near the dwelling and you have to defeat it within 5 turns.

Finally you can also try to bribe the rebels. This will cost you 30 energy each turn with a chance of 20% to complete the quest (again each turn, so 80% probability to finish it within 7 turns.) This can potentially get very expensive of course. With a particular class that is very skilled in bribery (as Rogues in AoW3) the chances could be better.


A further example related to Quark02s suggestion:

Just a quest that says "our mightiest heroes are imprisoned in a dungeon, if you go save them some of them may join you or show their gratitude to you in heartfelt gifts!".

You can now choose the conventional method to free the hero yourself. The location of the hero gets displayed and the mission is to defeat the guards.

Alternatively you can hire mercaneries. For some energy and minerals you don’t have to mobilise your army but there’s only a certain chance each turn that the mercs succeed – and there’s still the risk that the quest fails, namely when the hero isn’t freed after 10 turns.

A third option is to use teleportation technology (that is linked to a particular decive the hero is carrying). This requires to spend research capacity for the project, so this is only a viable option for a empire that has already reached a certain level of research output.


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.

I really like the way racial mods and auxiliary forces could interact. In terms of AoW3 this would mean that for example Orcs could recruit Ogres with Warcry and Tireless mod while Draconian Ogres had Regwowth and human Ogres Devastating Charge. (Although in a fantasy setting abilities are not tied to mods of course.)
 

Fizzbitch

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Those NPC factions sound interesting! These are the Dwelling type factions, correct? As in, there's no Dwelling in between these NPC's and the major Races?

I also have one more question burning on my mind:
They will be able to send us quests, and perhaps other A.I. players will be able too. BUT with this elaborate diplomacy system, will Players be able to send quests too?! If yes, can this be done to both Human and A.I. players?
 

Rubidium

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Spelling error in quest description : scared -> sacred

But looks good guys.
That same sentence is also a comma-splice; there should either be a semicolon instead of a comma after "resurrection," or there should be a period and "these pillagers" should start a new sentence.

But other than that, yes, this looks really cool.
 

Liberty_Valance

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I love this diary.

What sort of quests would you like to see in a this game?

Reinforce/Fund
Perhaps a way to increase the strength of the dwellings/outpost, eg.
"What is it outsider?" "I'd like to give you some power/troops to help your defence" each unit or power cost for unit increases relationship slightly and also helps in stopping another faction easily rolling them when your doing quests.

Escort missions, Join combat,
'Outsider we would like to establish an new outpost please send a party to escort our pioneer to 'x' city' could you follow closely to our pioneer for 5 turns (even if they don't establish a pioneer by then but its alive the mission is completed'

'Outsider, we have received reports we will be attacked could you please send aid to 'x' city to help repel them. Another random npc hostiles spawns and you and your dwelling friends fight together to protect the city.'

Buy secret tech,
'Outsider, we have some schematics that would mutually benefit us both, would you like to fund it?'

Orders
When your annexing them maybe give them some basic functions? 'Could you build more troops''Develop your city''Help me attack this city/heroleader"

I'll have a few more ideas soon but overall loving the system!
 

LennartGS

Managing / Game Director @ Triumph
16 Badges
Jun 12, 2018
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Yes its not easy to design quests that are easy to implement, and always fun / sensible to execute for a player.

Complex branching quests we have reserved for the campaign in the past, because there is no way for AI to properly complete them. How would you feel about having AIs not engaging in the more complex quest types for non-campaign maps?

These are the Dwelling type factions, correct? As in, there's no Dwelling in between these NPC's and the major Races?

Yeah they are take the place of AoW3 style dwellings. They contain units (monsters) different from the player races, but the mechanics surrounding them are much more developed.

BUT with this elaborate diplomacy system, will Players be able to send quests too?! If yes, can this be done to both Human and A.I. players?

We have been considering this. E.g Ask a friend to Conquer City X and he gets Y. Sort of a trade with objectives rather than assets. It was soon clear that there is way more work involved in this that you might think, edge-cases due to timing and balance concerns especially for the AI.