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An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one.  Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
An RPG, RTS, and sandbox space exploration game all-in-one. Explore, trade, build, and fight in a beautiful, procedural universe.
5,449 backers pledged $187,865 to help bring this project to life.

Next Stretch Goal and the NPC Contact System

Posted by Josh Parnell (Creator)
1 like

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!

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!

Proposal Details

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.


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    1. Missing avatar

      Jan Martin Mathiassen on

      This is a bit outside the box of most requests (I think), but would there be any chance of getting a server/client architecture into the game, so f.ex me and a friend could setup our own universe on a server and connect to it when we feel like it?

    2. Missing avatar

      deleted on

      This user's account has been deleted.

    3. Missing avatar

      John Odom on

      Please reach your goal, I know a lot of us would want planetary ownership and faction creation (I would really want planetary ownership at least).

    4. Kevin Dietz on

      I have thought up another question. This may be something that hasn't even come into the design yet but I was just wondering. When it comes to leaving the game are we going to be able to stop where ever we happen to be and come back at the same place or are we going to have to be at a space station or planet or something?

    5. Kevin Dietz on

      "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."

      Not every game that is ever made needs to be multiplayer! Your design of the NPC's sounds awesome! I absolutely can't wait for this game to come out!

    6. CatInSpace on

      Those are some excellent gameplay features. I continue to be amazed regarding what cool things you manage to surprise us with. The game world really seems to come alive with the possibilities you described, and I am very much looking forward to dive into it. :)

    7. Nick Hanson

      I would also really like to be able to edit my comments here. In the below post too = to and pole = poll, probably more typos but those where the big one... ugh.

    8. Nick Hanson

      I'd REALLY like to see the docking bays/carriers but with the 33k increments the stretch goals have gone too that would put the next one (assuming that one wins the current pole) all the way up at 200k which looks unlikely. With the new stretch goals added is there any way we can talk you back down to the 25k increments you used before? i.e. 125k for planetary ownership, 150k for Faction creation/ownership, 175k for Docking bays/carriers??? 200k for next pole winner. It does match your $75-100k increment after all...

    9. Brian Marino on

      Doubled my goal because man I really really want those two stretch goals!

    10. Missing avatar

      Nice Save on

      This sounds awesome.

      Will each individual NPC have access to all the different aspects of the game? i.e. a miner could go on an escort mission once in a while, while a freelancer could mine if he feels like it.

      At the other end, will NPCs have preferences for what they do? A miner usually prefers to go mining, and only occsionally chooses to trade or fight.

      Will they be able to recognise opportunities (outside of the proposal system)? For instance large price differentials for trading runs, and low-risk high-reward combat missions that might convince NPCs with other preferences to leave their comfort zones.

    11. Willem on

      The NPC interactions sound damn awesome! I especially like the contact book/list. Good feature Josh. Really looking forward to the faction owning/management stretch goal too!

    12. Josh Parnell Creator on

      @Richard - I imagine the specs aren't going to be too high. You'd be surprised, I don't think that simulation is as expensive as you might expect. The thing to remember is that, how often do you really have to make a high-level, complex decision? Not very often. Most of the time an NPC will be executing an action that they've already planned out, rather than actively doing deep thinking. So it shouldn't be that much computation, unless all NPCs decide they need to re-plan their lives at the same moment..

      @Styggron - Nice, glad you approve!

      @Nick - Yes, literally every single character in the game. See above comment for why it is not that expensive to do this simulation.

      @H.E.S. - Probably so, I can't imagine stopping anytime soon ;)

    13. Missing avatar

      RW on

      Really sounds awesome, if it all works out that way I can see myself losing many an hour in this game, I just hope my computer will be able to handle it, it sounds like it will take some serious hardware to run that kind of simulation

    14. Styggron on

      WOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is just BRILLIANT Josh BRILLIANT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    15. charnode on

      I voted for "Cockpits" on the stretch goals and only listened to your procedural music afterwards. After hearing that, I wish I could alter my choice, that algorithm creates beautiful music and the idea of having a unique soundtrack to *my* universe that no one else has previously heard is mindblowing to me.

      If procedural music makes it into the game, *please, pretty please* offer a possibility to extract the soundtrack of a given universe.

    16. Christopher

      The NPC and contact system sounds awesome! Really making it hard to wait wait patiently for LT!!!

    17. Missing avatar

      Cameron Holly on

      Wow, that's pretty ambitious! I can't wait to play it. If you can accomplish NPC interaction that complex, then my pledge will certainly be money well spent!

    18. Nick Hanson

      By NPC do you literally mean every single character in the game other than the player is simulated to this level or are the NPCs you refer to in the post a set of "personality characters" that are created to add flavor. It blows my mind that all characters could be simulated at this level unless there is only a few in each system which would make each system rather empty if NPC means everyone.

    19. Alex Lerner on

      Can't. Breathe. Too... Much... Awesome!!

    20. H.E.S on

      Do you have plans to implement stretch goals which aren't voted for in the polls in content after the game is released?

    21. Adam Mellor on

      this game sounds like it is going to be huge,
      The limited edition boxes will certainly be a collectors item

    22. Greg "Scorpio" Myers

      Really loving the sound of the interaction with NPC's in this game. Good single player experiences are so rare to find in games nowadays. It's refreshing to hear that this one sounds like it's going to be fantastic. Thanks for the exciting update Josh!

    23. charnode on

      At this point I'm marvelled at how one person can do all this, amazing. Well maybe you will be looking for some help after this Kickstarter finishes. Anyways if all of that is delivered as good as it sounds, this is going to be what Games like Spore should have been, from the procedural approach.

    24. Trey on

      So. Much. Love!

    25. OnePercent on

      this....blew me away in AWW

    26. Missing avatar

      Victor Tombs on

      This is a seriously impressive update Josh. I had no idea that you were building such complex interactions between the player and NPC's. It will add significantly to the realism of the game. Thanks!

    27. ErekoseDM on

      love the NPC recruitment update utilizing the proposal system and contact system.

      great update josh!

      cant wait to get ahold of this game and start blasting.

    28. Missing avatar

      Lamson Nguyen on

      My computer crashed about a dozen times from all of the hype! D:

    29. JHewett

      Buddy Jesus and I approve of this update :)
      Seriously - This is some great stuff Josh. Really looking forward to what is coming up and totally approve of the post-release stretch goals. Should ensure you can focus on what is important, each aspect, and in the right time-frame for your goals. (does that even make sense?!?).