Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Should Mobs / NPCs Act Smarter?

By asking if mobs / NPCs should be smarter I am asking a few questions all at once.  Asking for mobs to be smarter is not just one simple thing.  We could ask them to be smarter when interacting with them, passing by them, in battle with them.  There is a lot that can be done to make the mobs / NPCs around us better, in my opinion.


Anyone that has a storehouse this expansion has experienced this if they had not before in other places.  I remember the repair vendor in hellfire peninsula, he is the first one I can recall that really started to infuriate me with his actions.  If you do not know what I am talking about it is really simple.  I call it WMS or wandering merchant syndrome.

There is nothing more annoying then getting back to town after a long day of adventuring and gathering useless crap off the mobs you have slaughtered in the glorious name of truth, justice and the azerothian way to start vendoring off all those wonderful useless goodies and the merchant start to wander off closing the window.  "Dude, I was in the middle of doing business with you, get your butt back here."

There are a few vendors, such as the one I mentioned in hellfire, that are very energetic.  It seems he starts to move almost instantly after you click him.  Then when you scurry to the other side of the room to get to him as soon as you click on him again he moves once more.  Where is my crazy glue because I am going to glue this guy to one spot.

I must admit I get quite a giggle when I read all those people using the transmog vendor in their storehouse and as they are working on picking all the right pieces he starts to walk away and you lose all the work you had done trying to choose which pieces you want to wear.  I am not laughing at you however, I am laughing with you because I feel your pain.

Either way, I am sure that every single one of us at one point or another has been the victim of an NPC that suffers from WMS.  Sure, you can buy the transmog mount and settle your mogging and vendor issues all in one, but why should we need to.  When we are conducting business with someone that someone should stand put until our business has concluded.

Being in warcraft mobs, NPCs and players are not solid objects there would be no downfall to an NPC standing in that one place as long as someone has a window with them open.  I could understand why they would continue to move if them stopping could interfere with the game play of others but as they are not solid objects it should not matter.  Even if someone were to open a window with them and leave it open and go AFK what would it hurt anyone for the mob to stay in one place?

So I would love to see blizzard remove WMS from the game.  Make those merchants stand still or I will be forced to bust out the nail gun and do it myself and that will get really messy really fast.


I am sure every single one of us, more so this expansion than in recent years, has had to stop and fight some low level mob we can kill in 2 seconds because he dismounted us or slowed us, or otherwise forced us into battle when we did not want to fight and the mob was of no real threat to us.

I'd like for the games mobs to look at us as we look at them.  Any mob over 10 levels lower than us should never attack us unless we pass directly through it.  Lets face it, even a healer can most likely one shot a mob over 10 levels lower than it.  Does blizzard really this getting attacked by a level 89 on your 100 is fun?  It is just an inconvenience.  Admittedly an inconvenience that only takes one or two seconds out of our lives, but an inconvenience none the less.

It would be nice if those mobs did not aggro on us unless provoked, and at that difference in level passing directly through it should be the only way to actually provoke it.  Perhaps go even further, mobs that we are 20 levels higher than us never attack us, even if we move right through it.  They should fear us, they should not be attacking us.  A level 17 goblin should not really be picking a fight with a level 100 should he?  No, he should be cowering in fear hoping we do not attack him.

For those mobs within our 10 level wheelhouse I believe some adjustments need to be made.  A level 90 is not really all that different from a level 89, but we can not treat it as we do an 89 because it is a current level block mob.  Still, at lower levels of our current level block they should still know their place in the pecking order. 

Mobs 5 or more levels lower than us should not be capable of dismounting us.  Plain and simple.  On the ground they would follow all current aggro rules but while mounted no one likes to be dismounted to kill a useless mob and waste their time.  This is probably the number one reason people like flight.  Not to avoid mobs but to avoid the annoyance of them.

It would be nice if mobs interacted with us as they should.  The mobs that know we can kill them easily would pick and choose their fights and only when we are directly on them and the mobs we greatly out level would cower as they should.  It would be nice for them to act smarter because a level 17 attacking a level 100 is just stupid and should never happen.


You can call this nitpicking and it probably is but that dwarf chick in my dwarven bunker that says "Nice ta meet ya" every day is starting to get on my nerves.  She has worked for me for months, I talk to her every single day, I am the commander in chief of all forces on Draenor, she is here specially for me.  Does she have short term memory loss and can not remember from day to day?  Because the next time she says "nice ta meet ya" I am going to slap her straight to next Tuesday.

I understand there are only a limited number of responses in the game and I understand the need to randomize them but there are some responses that should just never happen for certain characters.  I can see the dwarf vendor in ironforge saying "nice ta meet ya" even if I talk to her often because it is a major city and she must see millions of people and I am just another nobody to her, but the one that works for me and has worked for me for months should not talk to me as if she did not know who I was.  Who do you think signs your paycheck short stuff?

I guess it would cost blizzard money to get a few more lines said from some actors and I do not expect that to ever happen, but hearing a few more things added to the random comments NPCs make would be nice.  More importantly, fix some of the comments that just do not make sense.  I guess the blood elf saying "remember the sunwell" to me on the isle of thunder could make some sense, but for someone that works with me to be happy to meet me every single day doesn't.

Honestly, how much do you think it would cost blizzard to hire a bunch of people to record some lines and add them to the rotation?  Not much I would guess. 

How about blizzard does some sort of promotion or contest and the winner / (s) get to record some lines in the voice of their choosing that are added to the rotation.  They would not even need to pay anyone to record them, they can get them recorded for free and have some fun building a community event at the same time.

I would gladly do some lines for them to use for the generic grumpy elf that they can use and I would do it for free.  I think I have some experience with being a grumpy elf.   I am sure there are hundreds if not thousands of players out there that would offer their voices up for free and not even care if they were credited for it.

This would be a great way to add more flavor to the NPCs that speak to us, mix up what they say a great deal, and get some awesome publicity at the same time.  You know it is a great idea blizzard, admit it.

Personally I like the idea of having some smarter NPCs.  Ones that realize they are in the middle of a transaction and do not walk away from you, mobs that realize they are 90 levels below you and you can squish them like a bug and NPCs that work for you and aren't meeting you for the first time every single day.  What do you think?


  1. Quite a lot of the things you would like to see do happen in other MMOs and have done for a long time. Even to actual cowering. Given Blizzard's willingness to take any ideas from anywhere that they think are worthwhile and add them to WoW it would seem they don't think these are ideas worth copying.

    On the NPC speech, I have long wanted MMOs to use something like Baldur's Gate, which allowed you to replace NPC and PC voice files on the client side. I played the whole of Baldur's Gate with a character who used speech samples from the animated sitcom Daria.

    I'd love to record my own lines for some of the NPCs I meet regularly in the MMOs I play.

    1. Baldur's Gate with Daria?!?

      :D <---I want to leave more than that, but honestly, that really does sum it up.

    2. One thing blizzard does very well is take ideas from other games and make them better most of the time. I am surprised they did not run with these ideas.

      I am sure some people would have "too much" fun if they could replace the sound files. I sense some adult content only wow clips coming soon to a your tube channel near you. lol

  2. Yes, wandering merchants can be the bane of my existence. And what's weird is it seems like it shouldn't be that hard. I'm not a coder so I could be wrong, but shouldn't a simple "if trade window is open, stop moving" line take care of it?

    While I overall agree with your aggro part, I can't ever see that happening. Not to reopen this so soon - but I have a feeling that would go against their idea of immersion. And to be fair, I can kind of see why they might want to avoid it from a game play perspective. Perhaps a modifier - the low levels NPCs gang up on you. Just like when PCs do a lvl 1 Hogger raid, the NPCs think, "there are 30 of us, we can take her!" It might give the occasional risk for players but more, it might just be fun.

    I really can't think of much more to add about the responses from NPCs. I pretty much agree.

    (at this point it is time to work on a name...)

    1. Actually yes, that is how easy it is to code. A simple if - then line.

      I think it would be a hell of a lot more immersive if I, as level 100, am running through a level 40 zone, for those mobs to run from me and not at me. That... is real immersion.

      But immersion is in the eye of the beholder so to speak. I've always found flying to be amazingly immersive, some people don't.

  3. That Dwarf woman was so distracting I had to make up a story for me. I decided she received a terrible blow to the head and has never quite recovered so they gave her the cushy job in the garrison where she'd be safe.

    I had to do something, she was driving me nuts, lol.

    1. Good background and I think I know how she got the terrible blow to her head. It was probably from the person she previously worked for that got fed up with her saying "nice ta meet ya" every day. ;)

    2. This is the secret of how BootyBay has a thriving service economy, while the rest of Azeroth is mired in a post garrison recession. Given severe enough head trauma, even the most menial of tasks never become repetitive!!!!

    3. Ah, so I guess we are all brain damaged now? Makes sense.

      Have to go do my garrison now. :P

  4. More bothersome for me has been the random and absurd cameo's. Oh look the Proud High King of the Dwarves is slumming it in my garrison. Oh, I know if you ignore the laws of time and space Brackenspore totally threatens modern day IronForge. But I just think there is a better use of the guys time.

    Or the Ogers ruins of Ashran... which has no harbor.... That leads me to one single conclusion, the power hidden away there is strong-enough to let Ogers fly... on Draenor. Regardless, of what is locked away in the halls of Hellfire Citiadel the true power on Draenor it the fury of old one locked beneath that isle....

    1. They do seem to have a few odd visitors, even more so when you think this was supposed to be a trip in which we believed we would never return.

      I read some theories that there are old gods on Draenor. I don't think I have seen anything in game as confirmation but it does seem entirely possible.

  5. Maybe Blizz should hire some Apple script writers. Seems like they (rightly) anticipated a great deal of customer frustration with Siri. I have several times said "Siri, you suck!" and have never gotten the same response twice. The last two I remember were, "I'm just trying to help," and "I'm still here for you, though."

    1. I don't think they need to go that far, but that is kind of wild that it say so many different things that you do not hear the same thing twice.

  6. Sure I can one shot most of the mobs individually in Outlands, but having the option to round up a large group of npcs to cast a single rain of fire is very handy. One cast, one loot. It made the process of netherwing rep go faster having the alien-thingy monsters all chase me down in the mine..

    On the other hand, I've also wondered about the fight mechanism of 10+ level mobs. Most of the time, it feels like I am simply invisible to them and don't even recognize I'm in their fight radius. How about instead of fighting me, they stand their in fear? There was a quest chain in Panda where once you beat them once, they would cower in fear each time you rode by them. That was respect..

    Lastly, I agree totally with you in the Garrison.. 1) I am working on Sha'tari Skyguard rep. There the guards fawn all over you "Elkagorasa our saviour. Only he can save us!" The guards in my garrison sometimes give a curt salute, but don't say a darn thing except to irritate me. "Hey Boss, I've mapped out all the (apexis crystal) threats!". "Hey Boss, come back here and look at my handy little map I worked so hard on." "hey boss, don't you want to see all the things you can go kill." "hey boss..." GO AWAY!

    1. For grinding have those low levels chase you so you can round them up and mow them down does have its advantages. This would make us lose that of course. But on the other hand having to fight something for no reason is rather annoying.

      What you are noticing is the regular aggro ranges built in game. The higher you are over them the closer your need to be to them to aggro them. My idea really just makes that range even shorter. It works both ways too. Ever take a low level on a two man flying mount past an area with higher mobs?

      I've done that so many times and sometimes it is funny. A mob on the ground, way down on the ground, will fire ranged attacks at the low level on your mount. Kind of funny when they kill them. Call me mean but I get quite a laugh out of someone dying on the back of my two person mount. Not that I am trying to kill them of course, but it is funny when it happens.

      It does seem like the faction in BC really do make a personal recognition of you but your own garrison works don't. I always liked that little touch once you get your reputation up with the sha'tari or shatter sun that they recognize you, as they should, even more so if you are exalted with them.

  7. I don't want vendors to move once I speak with them until I close the window... ever.

    Aggro in the wild should be handled like EQ2. Mobs cower if they are X number of levels lower than you regardless of proximity. You can dance on top of them and they are afraid of your moves. Ten levels is fine. This is how I want my world.

    1. They need to make a pill to cure them of the WMS. I agree.

      Someone mentioned something earlier I had not thought of myself. What if you want to aggro those mobs and you can round up a bunch of them and AoE them down. I did not consider that. I guess all ideas have a good side and a bad side it seems.

    2. That is an honest concern. Perhaps it is not just proximity, but time. Run over a mob X levels lower and it cowers. Remain on it for three/five/ten seconds and it will aggro. Once one is aggroed, other will auto aggro as they will now.

      Not elegant, but it might work.

    3. That could be a suitable solution. There will always be people that want to grind. For reputation, for a particular item drop, for cloth, for greens to sell for transmog or disenchant, for various reasons. A solution would need to be found or a segment of the player base would really be upset.

      Maybe have an on off switch in your portrait to active "realistic" mobs or standard ones. The realistic ones would be the ones that cower. On / off switches usually work well. As long as people know they are there.

    4. Your solution is better! Hell, there are about 1,000 things in the game I'd love to toggle. LOL

    5. Toggles really can fix a hell of a lot in game. Not sure why they are so afraid to use them. They have them for PvP on PvE servers and that is about it I think.