Next Stretch Goal and the NPC Contact System
Ready to Own a Faction?
We've tackled Mac/Linux support and are maneuvering into position to fire upon Planetary Ownership! But what comes next?
At the next level, you'll unlock the ability to create and manage your own faction. Doing so will entail the ability to manage recruitment, advancement, training, and, of course, organize missions for your faction! Want to build a mining empire? Take it to the next level by starting a mining guild. Organize faction-wide events to dangerous systems. Manage your relationships with neighboring factions by signing treaties, trade agreements, or war declarations. The ability to control an entire faction will take the RTS element of Limit Theory to the next level.
I've also reset the stretch goal poll and added several new options, so go vote now to determine what the $200K goal will be! http://forums.ltheory.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=21
Personally, I think I'm most excited about this stretch goal. Owning planets is cool but...managing an entire faction? Come on, it doesn't get better than that!
Please note that, as stated in the last update, this stretch goal will come as a free, post-release content update for the game if we hit it. Again, this is to make sure that we don't push back the release date too much by adding stretch goals!
Non-Player Characters in Limit Theory
Regrettably, I haven't had time to do another video demo yet or prototype this system, but I'm eager to share with you some more details concerning NPCs and NPC interaction in LT, as I feel that it's one of those features that will make the game truly unique.
In Limit Theory, the NPCs that populate the universe don’t simply spawn out of nowhere, perform some trite task, and then evaporate out of existence forever. Rather, non-player characters are dynamic, persistent entities that go about their business just as the player does. Moreover, NPCs play by the exact same rules as the player. They boast no infinite bank account, no ability to teleport, and certainly no omniscient knowledge of the entire universe. Like the player, they struggle to make a living, fall prey to pirate attacks and factional conflicts, use jump gates and acceleration lanes to get to destinations, and try to stay afloat in a universe that’s constantly in motion.
As a player, you’ll undoubtedly cross paths with many such NPCs. You’ll meet them while travelling in space, perusing the markets on planets and stations, and engaging in large-party missions.
The Contact System
Keeping up with friends in an infinite universe sounds like it could be a full-time job. Luckily, the contact system in LT is designed to make keeping track of your contacts as intuitive and painless as possible. When you meet an NPC that you’re interested in keeping up with, you can choose to add him/her to your contact book. From then on, upon pulling up your contact interface, you’ll see the NPC’s name, profession, and a few other details listed. Now comes the fun part: you can attempt to communicate with the NPC. Communication with NPCs in LT is mostly about business deals, of which there are two distinct types: doing something for someone, and having someone do something for you.
“Favors” – Gaining the Approval of NPCs
When it comes to making friends, you don’t usually get something for nothing – and LT is no different. To become good friends with an NPC, you’ll need to prove your worth. Admittedly, there are several ways of doing so, but the most straightforward is to simply offer your assistance. Through the contact system, you can ask an NPC whether they have any jobs that need to be done. In doing so, you make it known to the NPC that you’re willing to consider “mission” opportunities directly (i.e., the NPC can simply ask you to do something, rather than having to post a notice at a local planet or station). Having made note of your offer, the NPC may respond with a request in the event that they need to accomplish something that could be expedited with your help.
Now, offering to do missions for NPCs isn’t all about being a benevolent saint. When an NPC creates and proposes a mission to you, it almost always involves some form of reward. Depending on your relationship with the NPC, however, that reward may be less that you might expect for the type of mission. The benefit of accepting such missions, however, as opposed to taking a job from a station, is that you gain favor with the character in question. Favor can be of immense value in a universe of surprises!
“Proposals” – Negotiating with NPCs
Perhaps the most important use of the contact system, and of keeping up with NPCs in general, is to allow the creation of proposals. A proposal is, more or less, a mission that the player constructs and offers to an NPC. Taking into account factors such as estimated completion time, reward, risk, and so on, the NPC can then accept or reject the proposal. In the event of acceptance, the proposal becomes a formal mission contract between you and the other character. NPCs with whom you are in good standing are always more likely to accept work from you, even if the reward isn’t quite up to market standards. That’s when your friends come in handy!
A proposal consists of some number of conditions and some number of rewards. A condition simply stipulates something that must be achieved in order for the proposal to be considered complete. For example, a condition might be to destroy a certain target, acquire a certain quantity of a certain good, report scanner details on a certain location, or defend a target for some amount of time. Rewards indicate what happens in the event of the fulfillment of a proposal. Of course, the most common reward is a transfer of credits. Other rewards, however, can include transferal of cargo, information, or even property such as ships, stations, or planetary buildings. When the conditions of a proposal become fulfilled, the rewards are automatically transferred.
An Example of the Proposal System
Suppose you’re hauling some valuable goods through a system with which you’re rather unfamiliar. You’ve just come from a station where you met a few freelancers and, for whatever reason, decided to add them to your contact list. While traversing this unfamiliar system, you come under attack by a small squadron of pirates. Unfortunately, your ship isn’t adequately equipped to deal with them, and the pirates quickly take out your weapons and main engines. In the meantime, however, you’re able to pull up the contact interface and shoot off a message to the freelancers that you met on the station. You offer a hefty lump of credits in return for them escorting your ship for some duration. Shortly thereafter, you receive confirmation that they've accepted and are headed to your coordinates.
The pirate leader hails you and, not surprisingly, demands a cargo drop. You’re in no position to refuse, so you open your inventory and start releasing cargo. Naturally, you take your sweet time doing so. The pirates start tractoring the goods. Just as they’re finishing up, however, the freelancers pop out of a nearby acceleration lane. Just in the nick of time!!! They immediately identify the pirates as hostile, and the fight begins. The seasoned professionals have no problem converting the pirate ships into large plumes of debris. In the end, you lost some of your cargo in the explosions…but you made it out with your life, and many of the goods were salvageable. Perhaps more importantly, you made some new friends!
That’s just one of the innumerable possible situations in which the contact system could, quite literally, save your skin. If you had good friends nearby, it would be even easier, as you probably wouldn't have to pay them a whole lot to get them to come save you. Naturally, the problem could easily be solved by buying more ships and building your own escorts. But for the fledgling pilot with few credits, leveraging the numerous characters around you could mean the difference between life and death!
Limit Theory is single-player. True. But make no mistake - should you learn to gracefully and skillfully handle relationships with the other lifeforms, you'll find yourself far from alone in this infinite universe.