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"Volunteering" to be an NPC

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WarBird
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"Volunteering" to be an NPC

This idea was inspired by the "Super Villains in Door Missions" thread.

I suggested there that a "Villain Generator" might be possible to give us named opponents for our adventures. But something else occurred to me:

What if, say at the end of Character Creation process, you could check a box that essentially said "You have my permission to use this Character as an NPC for random mission generation."

So, it's definitely an "opt in" type situation. Worried about what mischief your character might get up to? Simply don't check the box.

You could have it match up with players by alignment, level, even theme. I would expect, though, that it wouldn't take the whole build, just the base costume and un-enhanced powerset.

This would save having to build the afore-mentioned generator. Instead the program just sifts through the list of "volunteers", sorts by some criteria and picks someone appropriate. Oh, and I assume it would look for Player Characters who were not logged on. This way, you could potentially even come up against one of your own characters!

Maybe you could get a little perk when you logged in if your character had been previously selected?

I think it would be fantastic to meet a player whose character I had met in a mission. Could lead to some awesome RP and excuses for mini PVP stuff, too.

WarBird
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Oh, and just for thoroughness

Oh, and just for thoroughness' sake, however the mechanism is presented, I would also suggest that this is something you could check and un-check at any time.

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kinda cool...I likey!

kinda cool...I likey!

would definitely want the option though...

TheMightyPaladin
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Are the toons we make meant

Are the toons we make meant to be used primarily against us or against anyone at all?
If they're primarily for us, then can we pin them to some of our characters and let the others not have to worry about them?
If they're for the whole world, I can see the number of bad guys getting big really fast.
A lot of people love to play around with the character creator.

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If I could make one of my

If I could make one of my toons an NPC that gives out a TF or trial or raid or something, I'd pay more Kickstarter monies to get that, just FYI.

"The Radiac Task Force" I just love the sound of that already.

You'd have to pay Stars to do it, like $1 worth per run. At the end, after defeating the end boss, me (were you really surprised?), you'd get awarded random drops of "Radiac Origin Augments and Refinements" that degrade with use and have to be repaired or refreshed by spending IGC. It would be awesome. :)

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Yeah limiting the number, and

Yeah limiting the number, and charging to go over that number would fix it.

whiteperegrine
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TheMightyPaladin wrote:
TheMightyPaladin wrote:

Are the toons we make meant to be used primarily against us or against anyone at all?

given the original post...they would be available to be selected by the system for anyone.

Quote:

If they're primarily for us, then can we pin them to some of our characters and let the others not have to worry about them?

see previous. although this might be an interesting option...
World Use / Personal Use / Do Not Use

this would allow for people to make toons specifically that they could run up against IF it was dropped into a mission, depending on the criteria for a superhero/villain to be used in any given mission.

Quote:

If they're for the whole world, I can see the number of bad guys getting big really fast.

not sure what ya mean here...perhaps I am missing something.... getting "big" as in popular or "big" as in people making toons mini-giants (maximum height allowed in the CC)?

Quote:

A lot of people love to play around with the character creator.

this is a true statement. heh

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This is a pretty neat idea! I

This is a pretty neat idea! I'd only add that players should be notified of...

  • Each time one of their characters was featured in a mission
  • Whether or not their character was defeated
  • Which players were present in the mission
  • Whether or not the mission was completed
  • Any story text that describes the mission

Make it something that players can always keep for future reference so they can study the past that their characters experienced without them.

I might also add that missions featuring your characters should never affect their alignment.

...

All that aside, this is a very unique idea. It could give players the opportunity to create a character concept then let the game write the character into the game's lore, more or less. This would have been neat in CoH, for instance, to create a Longbow character who could gain a better sense of belonging and identity by being featured in various missions as such.

I seriously like this idea, WarBird!

whiteperegrine
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I kinda like the first two..

I kinda like the first two...bragging rights I suppose. the rest I am not a fan of cause that info really isn't needed (imo)(especially the players involved), besides the fact that it would be a pain have that kinda info coded into the system....the first two are a simple +1/+0 to a column...the rest are details that have to be displayed in a coherent and well thought out style.

agreed on the alignment portion...but assuming the system only pulled the "appropriately" aligned characters for the mission...this shouldn't be an issue. the safe way to go though would be to have it so that any PC pulled for a mission is "alignment" exempt.

in many ways...this is the Nemesis System in CO...but on a grander scale.

Kiyori Anoyui
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Another idea, Remember in CoH

Another idea, Remember in CoH when you had to save a hero and they would fight along side you? The hero could be actual PC's(in their NPC form)

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TheMightyPaladin
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I like this better than the

I like this better than the nemesis idea.
It goes beyond it so far that the personal nemesis is almost obsolete
(but not quite)

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Kiyori Anoyui wrote:
Kiyori Anoyui wrote:

Another idea, Remember in CoH when you had to save a hero and they would fight along side you? The hero could be actual PC's(in their NPC form)

Why not have both? Characters who roughly match your alignment could appear as allies and those that do not match would be enemies. Some that are in between could be reluctant allies, that need to be persuaded in some way.

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This sounds pretty damn fun.

This all sounds pretty damn fun.

Still want Nemesis too, though.

FIGHT EVIL! (or go cause trouble so the Heroes have something to do.)

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Obvious correlary condition:

Obvious correlary condition: characters can only feature as NPC's if the character is not currently in use by the player.

Meaning the player cannot be logged in as that character in order for it to be picked.

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Voldine wrote:
Voldine wrote:

Obvious correlary condition: characters can only feature as NPC's if the character is not currently in use by the player.
Meaning the player cannot be logged in as that character in order for it to be picked.

How would you handle it if they happened to log in mid mission?

Felix

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Felix wrote:
Felix wrote:

How would you handle it if they happened to log in mid mission?

Shrug and move on.

So long as you set things up that the Custom Foe is only selected at the time of creating the instance, so long as the corresponding PC is logged out at that time they are eligible to be chosen. This would mean that it is theoretically possible for a pair of friends to "game" the system such that PC 1 logs out, PC 2 enters an instance with a Custom Foe drawn from the (N)PC Rogue's Gallery, the Custom Foe chosen for the instance just so happens to be PC 1, and then PC 1 logs back in, teams up with PC 2 and encounters an NPC version of PC 1 inside the instance.

Possible? Sure ... but with a large enough pool of participating PCs available to meet as NPC versions, increasingly unlikely.

So essentially just sidestep the question by doing a sanity check at a singular point in time (spawning the instance) and then just handwave away any continuity problems that might crop up afterwards. I mean, seriously ... if there's 10,000 PCs participating in this sort of thing, the odds of pulling off the log out/log in/meet yourself as an NPC edge case just becomes a vanishingly small probability that can for all intents and purposes be safely ignored.


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Kiyori Anoyui
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I agree with Red, make the

I agree with Red, make the condition that it be set up and checked only at the start of the mission and then would become unavailable there after as long as the PC stays logged in

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Personally I'd rather just

Personally I'd rather just have a permanent, motionless copy of Radiac standing near my Mogul building, or inside it, like Statesman on that boat, or Posi under the statue that you click on to get the TF and/or talk, and/or do vendor stuff. Then I could log in, go there, and talk to myself. I would be totally fine with that.

As for having Radiac show up in a mission like Doc Quantum, that would be cool too, I'd be fine with that in addition to the TF bot.. I have no problem with just letting it happen while I'm logged in too though. I see no huge problem with having the real me, the fake me that gives the TF, and the fake me in a mission all at the same time.

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/em lightbulb

/em lightbulb

Wouldn't it be interesting if the Mogul Locations were the places where Task Force Contacts got placed ... and that the Contact for each Task Force "rotated" through the (N)PC Rogue's Gallery of options on a semi-regular basis (I'm thinking server maintenance downtimes)? Simply write a script that will automatically select a new (N)PC to be the Contact for the Task Force when the server(s) go up to rotate them around. Then, rather than remembering the Task Forces by WHO gives them out, the "marker" for which Task Force is which will either be WHERE the Task Force Contact is, or WHAT the Task Force is about (ie. the story). I suspect the "where" location would get the nod for identifying things, simply because it would help orient people on where to go to gather up to start. Thus we'd have the Mischief's Ascent Task Force instead of the Anthem Task Force, for example.

Quick ... somebody tell me this is a TERRIBLE IDEA™ and that if it gets implemented they'd never want to play City of Titans ...


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Radiac
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There are 97 moguls. How

There are 97 moguls. How many TFs are there going to be?

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As many Task Forces as the

As many Task Forces as the content team can turn out. All I'm saying is place the Contact NPC for the Task Force inside the Mogul Buildings somewhere. I'm not saying that MWM is "obligated" somehow to put a Task Force Contact into every Mogul Building.


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But I want MY mogul building

But I want MY mogul building to be one of the ones they use! :) Can I pay more money to make that happen? Otherwise how are they going to decide who get's a TF in their building? I do not, for second, believe anyone if they tell me it was "random". I don't care if they pull names out of a hat or roll dice or draw cards, all of that stuff can be fixed.

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I suspect that the method of

I suspect that the method of choosing would involve pulling beard hairs ... and surviving the attempt ...


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War Bird is a genius! I love

War Bird is a genius! I love this idea.
The players do the work and the server just picks an available PC for the mission.

I have to ask a programer though, whats takes more work/money from COT?
making 20 to 30 villains to use in door missions
or
Writing a program to randomly pick a PC for a villain

Lin Chiao Feng
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Cyclops wrote:
Cyclops wrote:

War Bird is a genius! I love this idea.
The players do the work and the server just picks an available PC for the mission.
I have to ask a programer though, whats takes more work/money from COT?
making 20 to 30 villains to use in door missions
or
Writing a program to randomly pick a PC for a villain

I'm betting the answer is: Neither. Adding characters is an art and writing department job; as far as programming is concerned, all NPCs are the same no matter the model source.

That said, from a game design point of view, relying on PC models to fill in for any significant amount of NPCs is quite problematic. You're turning over a chunk of your game's "image" to people you have little control over. And it's just silly for the players to slog their way through a building full of neo-Nazis to find some random Rabbi at the end, talking about bringing back the Reich or something. Bosses should be memorable, and if everyone sees a different one, or several different ones if they play the mission several times, there's nothing really memorable that you can share with other players.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

WarBird
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Cyclops wrote:
Cyclops wrote:

War Bird is a genius! I love this idea.
The players do the work and the server just picks an available PC for the mission.
I have to ask a programer though, whats takes more work/money from COT?
making 20 to 30 villains to use in door missions
or
Writing a program to randomly pick a PC for a villain

One advantage to "Player stand-in" NPCs is that it would not be a static number. Devs could spend time on 20-30 but that would be it unless they spent MORE time. The player base would (hopefully) keep growing and adding to the pool of potential NPCs

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You're also assuming that

You're also assuming that there can't be some sort of "filtering" process at work either. Just because a Player makes a model of their PC available wouldn't necessarily mean that that PC would be entered into the (N)PC Rogues Gallery by default. Put a review process in between and you'd be able to get started. Yes, I know ... any review process is going to consume Developer resources ...

To avoid the mismatch potential, perhaps Tags could be devised organizing the thematic elements of PCs for use as NPCs so as to help sort them better for story matching purposes.


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One idea I just had was have

One idea I just had was have Official Costume Contests and put the winners of that in a pool and then have it go on to either a random selection or story contest to choose a Champ that would be entered into the gallery for use in missions

This would add a whole other level to the costume contests and could be a weekly or monthly thing

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Redlynne
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Uh ... you might want to

Uh ... you might want to rethink that idea. I've seen some pretty major Fashion Disasters win costume contests ...

/em shudders


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That's why I said "Official",

That's why I said "Official", Meaning a Dev runs it, as to make it not a disaster

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Lin Chiao Feng wrote:
Lin Chiao Feng wrote:

Cyclops wrote:
War Bird is a genius! I love this idea.
The players do the work and the server just picks an available PC for the mission.
I have to ask a programer though, whats takes more work/money from COT?
making 20 to 30 villains to use in door missions
or
Writing a program to randomly pick a PC for a villain

I'm betting the answer is: Neither. Adding characters is an art and writing department job; as far as programming is concerned, all NPCs are the same no matter the model source.
That said, from a game design point of view, relying on PC models to fill in for any significant amount of NPCs is quite problematic. You're turning over a chunk of your game's "image" to people you have little control over. And it's just silly for the players to slog their way through a building full of neo-Nazis to find some random Rabbi at the end, talking about bringing back the Reich or something. Bosses should be memorable, and if everyone sees a different one, or several different ones if they play the mission several times, there's nothing really memorable that you can share with other players.

I can see this point, too. I thought about that myself after I posted. I guess I assumed that there would be a few sort of generic minion types for this purpose. If they aren't part of the general lore, your gang doesn't have to be drawn from one of the major villain groups. Still, I agree that ideally you wouldn't want huge thematic incongruities between minions and boss.

Again, I wouldn't expect these type of missions to crop up all the time. We still want to be playing the majority of the game "within the lore." Maybe if there were a half-dozen or so "generic" minion types that you could select from and tag as "appropriate" for your character. You know, like ninjas, mobsters, street thugs, paramilitary, etc. like we've talked about in other threads regarding pets or peopling our bases with random functionaries.

It would be a bit more complicated, but I could see using a pared down version of the interface we'll get in the mission creator that has a variety of checkboxes delineating a general style of mission. I have to think the program would be making selections like this whenever it creates a mission. Not being a programmer, I'm not sure how difficult it would be to have the program consult some presets instead of just random generation. But as a writer, while it might be a little challenging, it is eminently do-able to write a handful of adaptable scripts that fill this need. IN fact, I'd assume that it's already being done for the random generator we've been told about. This is beyond the scope of what I'd originally envisioned, but could act as a kind of teaser for when the mission creator actually becomes available.

Something I'd like to point out; I don't know of any other MMO that does anything even remotely like this. If we want the game to attract people, getting a buzz going through innovations like this is the way to do it. Might be worth the effort if that effort isn't Herculean.

(Editted to add) Yeah, Like Redlynne says!

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Redlynne wrote:
Redlynne wrote:

You're also assuming that there can't be some sort of "filtering" process at work either. Just because a Player makes a model of their PC available wouldn't necessarily mean that that PC would be entered into the (N)PC Rogues Gallery by default. Put a review process in between and you'd be able to get started. Yes, I know ... any review process is going to consume Developer resources ...
To avoid the mismatch potential, perhaps Tags could be devised organizing the thematic elements of PCs for use as NPCs so as to help sort them better for story matching purposes.

Yesss... I had a feeling that would be a necessity. Perhaps categorizing the character if allowed to serve as a NPC would allow for any significant contrasts to be eliminated. For instance, selecting an alignment from the 3-dimensional axis would mean that the toon will only be featured working with NPCs of an adjacent or equivalent alignment. Perhaps we could select genres, or decide what individual factions from the filtered list we'd allow them to be present in. That way, if you have an ex-military bounty hunter who hates scum but doesn't stay within the cops' good graces, you won't find 'em partnering up with a gang of Hellions- even if the bounty hunter is also a violent, dishonorable crook who fits into a modern urban genre.

I'd imagine a lot of these character-affiliation modules would be imported from the mission creator, all things considered.

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Another factor that's been

Another factor that's been bugging me... sure, the game can grab some PC's character model and all... but for the scenario to have any kind of balance, the game cannot also grab that PC's powers, because there's no way to reliably test that. You'd have to have some kind of "scoring" system to reduce a PC's powers to a number to make sure it's "in range" for the mission, and that algorithm will be both complex and full of bugs. So since you can't copy the powers, you'll just be seeing absurdity after absurdity. The Amazing FlameBait, master of aggro generation and fire manipulation... standing there with a Saturday Night Special, a knife, and a stupid look on his face. General Headshot, sniper extraordinaire... summoning skeletons and running around in the open, carefree.

All that said, you just have to take a step back and say hey wait a second... why not just let the players make characters, via the mission creator UI... and then submit them for possible use. Don't restrict it to the PCs themselves; let them create mooks just for submission. Then the submissions go to the mission/balance guys, who can look at the design and either reject them (better luck next time) or add them to "pools" from which missions can draw. This way you've got a human with a clue (as opposed to an algorithm without) keeping things balanced.

Further, you could have contests, where the player base votes for their favorites, and the top four or eight or whatever become the finalists that the devs pick from. Crowdsource the filtering!

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

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Again, I'd be happy just

Again, I'd be happy just having a copy of Radiac standing inside or nearby my Mogul building handing out a TF. Of course, I would want the TF to be "Radaic themed" too though, and that might be bordering on asking too much, I realize. I did say I was willing to pay more Kickstart-type money for that though.

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Kiyori Anoyui
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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

Again, I'd be happy just having a copy of Radiac standing inside or nearby my Mogul building handing out a TF. Of course, I would want the TF to be "Radaic themed" too though, and that might be bordering on asking too much, I realize. I did say I was willing to pay more Kickstart-type money for that though.

Well I wouldn't say it's asking to much, because:

I Know A Guy - Help name and design a mission NPC in the game with our talented writers and artists + All previous rewards.

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Yeah, I know. But one

Yeah, I know. But one mission is not a Task Force though. And what is a mission NPC? Is that an NPC that gives out one mission and only one? Or an NPC that gives out missions in general? Or an NPC that shows up inside a mission map to fight with you?

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Kiyori Anoyui
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........ That's a really good

........ That's a really good question xD

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Lin Chiao Feng wrote:
Lin Chiao Feng wrote:

Another factor that's been bugging me... sure, the game can grab some PC's character model and all... but for the scenario to have any kind of balance, the game cannot also grab that PC's powers, because there's no way to reliably test that. You'd have to have some kind of "scoring" system to reduce a PC's powers to a number to make sure it's "in range" for the mission, and that algorithm will be both complex and full of bugs. So since you can't copy the powers, you'll just be seeing absurdity after absurdity. The Amazing FlameBait, master of aggro generation and fire manipulation... standing there with a Saturday Night Special, a knife, and a stupid look on his face. General Headshot, sniper extraordinaire... summoning skeletons and running around in the open, carefree.
All that said, you just have to take a step back and say hey wait a second... why not just let the players make characters, via the mission creator UI... and then submit them for possible use. Don't restrict it to the PCs themselves; let them create mooks just for submission. Then the submissions go to the mission/balance guys, who can look at the design and either reject them (better luck next time) or add them to "pools" from which missions can draw. This way you've got a human with a clue (as opposed to an algorithm without) keeping things balanced.
Further, you could have contests, where the player base votes for their favorites, and the top four or eight or whatever become the finalists that the devs pick from. Crowdsource the filtering!

I don't see it following that you can't use the PC powerset at all. You would get their POWERS, not necessarily their BUILD. I'd rather just have the program plug in a set of generic enhancements and maybe (for challenge sake) give the created NPC slightly faster cooldowns, or something. Balance doesn't have to be perfect. It's okay to run up against a villain once in a while that "has your number". So you adapt, maybe call in a friend with a complimentary power set. To me, this would add a bit more excitement.

I suggested in another thread somewhere that there be some avenue for players to submit costume designs to the devs for review and inclusion. A great cry was raised against the necessary man-hours this would take. And I understood that. I'd be delighted to just sit down for hours cranking out potential NPCs that I can dump into some queue. Especially if it didn't take up my character slots. I suspect lots of folks would and the tide would be enormous, IMO. I thought to limit that by at least making it a character that you've thought about enough to actually play and devote a slot to.

And I absolutely despise the crowd vote for "best" without some authoritative criteria and objective judging. My experience is that it leads, for the most part, to "Most Generic", "Most Puerile" or "Best Rip-Off of a Current Meme."

McNum
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Dragonball Xenoverse does

Dragonball Xenoverse does this, actually. It works pretty well there.

In DBX you create your own Time Patroller character to go out and save time itself from a generically evil villain. (Seriously, anyone self-titled "Demon God" needs to be Kamehameha'd to the face, no exceptions!) But the important bit here is that in some sidequests, you can encounter other Time Patrollers out doing the same thing. And of course, this being Dragonball Z, the next line in the script is "And then they fight!" These NPC patrollers are all characters other players have made. It has their look, their level, their skills. And I have met some real fashion disasters there. But it's fun nonetheless. Even if they're nerfed a bit compared to the player character version. I've fought one or two that weren't complete pushovers. Mostly because I got matched with a level 80 NPC at level 20-ish.

I don't know if any of my Time Patrollers have spawned in other missions, though. Probably, but it'd be nice to know.

So, yeah, I'm all for this. I've seen it in action and it's a nice change of pace after knocking out Freeza for the 20th time. In a row.

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Dang, so not as innovative as

Dang, so not as innovative as I originally thought. Still, thanks for the update McNum. Precedent means possible!

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Exactly. To see it in action,

Exactly. To see it in action, check here. The "Katy" character this player runs into is a player character fetched from the server. At least, it could be, there is also an offline pool of characters that it'll draw from as a fallback, but the point is that this character could technically be my character he would be fighting.

So yeah, it can be done. And it's pretty fun when it works. Of course, you may just get another "Gokuu" looking exactly like Goku, which could be a problem if someone... I mean when someone makes the classic "VVolverine" claw/regen melee type. But that's another kettle of fish.

Lin Chiao Feng
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WarBird wrote:
WarBird wrote:

I don't see it following that you can't use the PC powerset at all. You would get their POWERS, not necessarily their BUILD. I'd rather just have the program plug in a set of generic enhancements and maybe (for challenge sake) give the created NPC slightly faster cooldowns, or something. Balance doesn't have to be perfect. It's okay to run up against a villain once in a while that "has your number". So you adapt, maybe call in a friend with a complimentary power set. To me, this would add a bit more excitement.

Actually, there was a mission in CoH where you had to face off with some black-silhouette doppelgangers of the team, and they had the characters' various power sets but not their build, in exactly the manner you describe. They were quite squishable, because the build synergies weren't there at all. It was kind of a letdown.

Has anyone seen my mind? It was right here...

WarBird
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Lin Chiao Feng wrote:
Lin Chiao Feng wrote:

WarBird wrote:
I don't see it following that you can't use the PC powerset at all. You would get their POWERS, not necessarily their BUILD. I'd rather just have the program plug in a set of generic enhancements and maybe (for challenge sake) give the created NPC slightly faster cooldowns, or something. Balance doesn't have to be perfect. It's okay to run up against a villain once in a while that "has your number". So you adapt, maybe call in a friend with a complimentary power set. To me, this would add a bit more excitement.

Actually, there was a mission in CoH where you had to face off with some black-silhouette doppelgangers of the team, and they had the characters' various power sets but not their build, in exactly the manner you describe. They were quite squishable, because the build synergies weren't there at all. It was kind of a letdown.

So, a little thought has to be put into the system. No denying that. And history shows that CoX didn't always put the thought where it was most needed. However, I don't expect fantastic challenges from random door missions, either. This still seems pretty surmountable.

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I think this is a great idea!

I think this is a great idea!! It's simple, but gives a great feeling of being part of another world. Pshh, I'd even go a step further, and suggest maybe seeing our toons alter-egos walking around as NPCs in the community lol.

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Radiac wrote:
Radiac wrote:

Yeah, I know. But one mission is not a Task Force though. And what is a mission NPC? Is that an NPC that gives out one mission and only one? Or an NPC that gives out missions in general? Or an NPC that shows up inside a mission map to fight with you?

If the "I Know a guy" ends up being a case of showing up inside a mission map to fight with you than that would be halfway to solving this request. It would be nice to get some further clarification as to what all "I know a Guy" entails as far as missions go, but I'm sure we are still a ways from implementing this.

Back to the original request though. I believe the Character Creator might be using values that can be saved as string. So if this is the case, the dev's can just take a group of PC skins, and just have it apply randomly to a certain mission or maybe it could be in a specific TF that deals with other PC's(that are actually NPC's) helping you out. And at the beginning of the mission do a check that if playerSkin == playerSkinRandomizer than clear result and get another playerSkin.

Mainly I am just saying I still think this is a cool idea and should be considered in one form or another. Whether it is post launch or way past post launch is irrelevant.

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