Ideal number of statted NPCs


#1

Within the constraints of a CoG title, what’s the ideal number of NPCs who you can have variable relationship with? I’m talking about how many should be tracked using a 0-100 bar, where it’s possible to be their best friend or worst enemy in different playthroughs.

To take a selection: Eagle’s Heir has 9, Choice of Robots has 8, Hero Rise: HeroFall has 7 but Prodigy had 5.

Usually there’s only so many people that you have time to talk to as often these games are structured so that spending time with one person means forgoing a scene with another. In such a case, having a wider cast may be better as you have different main characters between playthroughs. However, possibly a smaller cast is better for developing each one. What do we think?


How many characters, is too many?
#2

It is dependent on both story and author ability.

An author with more experience can probably handle more individuals, both from a coding perspective and from a character building perspective.

Also, these are different then RO - so often including RO among those counted in this category will inflate the number you can handle.

In my opinion, when it comes to trackable NPCs depth is more warranted then breadth.

With many titles that have huge breadth (looking at both ZE:SH and Cataphrak’s Infinity series) the breadth is limited as the story goes on - so you may start out with 10 possible companions but ue to death or other plot devises, these get narrowed down

Of course those more breadth that come to my mind are actually Hosted games. Games like CCH and Daria series - most of the CoG titles concentrate on depth of a set band of companions.


#3

Yeah, personally, I would rather have a set number of NPCs whose relationships actually mean something or can noticeably develop (i.e. stat changes translate into at least subtle story differences, if not more) over what amounts to a huge cast list with arbitrary stat numbers that would be the same no matter how I played. That’s how I’ve tried to structure mine and I’ve definitely left characters off the list if they just have a cameo and don’t meet that criteria, though I have also been struggling with where to draw the line with my current WIP, as we have added more active, “full-time” companions that the reader will choose.

Really, I just want any person or anything listed in the stats to matter somehow. If having the reader see the stat for that character changes nothing for them or the story, then I guess why bother wasting the effort to code for it?


#4

Or to put it in short, major NPC that are greatly relevant to the plot should be tracked with stats. “Minor NPCs” or the major one that doesn’t directly relevant to the current plot don’t need to be tracked with.

Think about an RO and a… say, a blacksmith. Unless the blacksmith is a possible RO, of course.


#5

It’s one of those “how long is a piece of string” questions, I think. Tracking relationships is useful from an author perspective to avoid a ton of binaries representing how the NPC feels, but displaying too many on the stat screen can feel overwhelming for me. When I see a long list (Eagle’s Heir, for instance) of NPC relationships in the stat screen as a player, it’s a flag that there’s going to be a level of relationship management and time scarcity that I’m not always in the mood for (though at other times I may feel more up for that kind of brain teaser).

On the other hand, it’s useful as a guide for replaying - you know as a player that that particular NPC can be befriended, it’s just a case of working out how. And like you say, having a bigger cast can make different playthroughs feel more fresh. It’s a balancing act!


#6

Obviously the reasonable answer is ‘it depends’, but what I really want is someone to come and say that the perfect number is something like 7!

There is a limit to how many close friendships a person can sustain, averaging around four or five. However, in a story often those relationships will represent antagonists and acquaintances as well as friends, so an interactive story can definitely track more if it’s not expected that you’ll get on with them all.


#7

Haha, okay, if a golden sweet spot with an exact number is more what you’re after, then I’d have to agree that when I play a CoG/HG game that has a list of more than 7-8 people stats, it feels overwhelming and like those relationships will not be as significant as they could/should. So, funny enough, I actually agree that the perfect number might be 7! :sweat_smile: Hope that helps!