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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Individualising Our Koopa NPCs For Great Victory

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - I know all about NPCs. Believe me. You'll want to hear me out.

I look around social media, and see that dissing Non-Playable Characters (NPCs) has become a fashionable thing to do. Before you do that again, maybe you should listen to my perspective. I'm Ludwig Von Koopa, a Prince of Koopa Kingdom. I rule over thousands and thousands of Koopas — some civilians, many Troopas. You might consider them to be “just” NPCs. I consider them to be patriots.

These social media mavens are making claims that NPCs do not have an inner monologue and can not think. They claim NPCs just say the same lines of dialogue over and over and can not handle anything different.

Well, those characterisations may describe a lot of NPCs out there, like Bethesda NPCs in Skyrim who, across the world, talk about the same story about how their knee was crippled by an arrow. But I am trying to make a lot of progress within Koopa Kingdom. We have the best nationals, and I see every NPC as an opportunity for greatness.

Readers haven't asked me this — maybe because it's self-evident, or maybe because our readers are NPCs (hope not) — but perhaps you have been wondering why a website that exists to promote the Koopa Kingdom monarchy has such a strong free speech and individualism bent to it.

To explain that, I'm going to point you to a pair of amazing, best-tier KoopaTV articles from 2015 that were written to go together:
  1.  Quantity vs. Quality — Good vs. Evil | This article was written to address the classic trade-off between quantity and quality. If your army is high in quantity, the average quality of each soldier tends to be lower.
  2.  Corporate America: A Minion's Training Ground | You can substitute out “America” for whatever capitalist country you're from. This article addressed the three traits of being a good minion:
    1. Competence
    2. Motivation
    3. Loyalty

Alright, now that we're out of numerical list hell, how do those articles explain this apparent contradiction?

...No, seriously, go read them. Don't be an NPC and expect to come here and not do some critical thinking.

...

Okay, thanks for educating yourself. And that's what it's all about. Koopa Troopas — a numerous, quantity-driven bunch — will upgrade from NPCs to impeccable minions. I want Koopa Kingdom to bend expectations by having quantity AND quality, and the best way to do that is to improve the competence, motivation, and loyalty of each individual Koopa. That means doing things like highlighting individual Koopas’ achievements, like in sports. (And putting much more emphasis on Koopa achievements in the individualistic sport of baseball compared to the collectivist soccer.)


Mario Tennis 64 Paratroopa trophy celebration
Tennis is great, too. Enjoy your trophy, Paratroopa!

That means celebrating the memory of individual Troopas like Devin, Claira, and Hamma's grandpappy.

Recognising individual achievement is the best way to raise motivation of a minion. Encouraging individual development fosters an environment where they can become smarter and more competent — not just for soldiers, but when your people are brilliant and do things like make breakthrough scientific discoveries, it helps the whole monarchy out. It's one of my roles as a monarch to create a positive feedback loop with my “NPC” subjects to help develop their identities, which will make them more competent, more motivated, and in the end... still loyal.

Yes, encouraging freedom of thought actually can INCREASE loyalty. It doesn't just lead to rebellion.

But don't just take my word for it. After all, you're an independent, critical thinker, or you should try to be. So, take a close look at this picture:

Fire Emblem Radiant Dawn Prison Break Aran Begnion soldiers chapter 1-3
Of the four Begnion soldiers in the middle of the picture,
which do you think has the most potential?

The correct answer is the one that isn't obviously an ordinary NPC: The south-most guy in the black armour. He's also the most individual of them. He has a name. It's Aran. The other guys don't have names. Aran has a backstory and speaks up. The other soldiers never talk. We know nothing about them, other than that they get killed. But Aran survived. Because of his individualism. He's better than the other three.

...Of course, he ends up betraying the Begnion NPCs he's with, but when he was in the Daein army, he still distinguished himself. And the Daein army is made up of quality people, specifically the individualists of the Dawn Brigade.

Back to Koopas. As I said, every NPC is an opportunity for a better kingdom. And I really am committed to achieve that. In my rewrite of my critically acclaimed fan-fiction from the Nintendo NSider Forums (over a decade ago), Events of Star World, I wrote in a Koopa Kingdom patriot named Guerro. He was a nameless, generic NPC... and then he got a name and suddenly became very competent. For the unfinished sequel, Events of Star World 2, he was promoted to become a general in Koopa Kingdom's army and set out to de-genericise every single member of the Koopa army by giving them a name and backstory.

...Well, the part where that happens was never published in public, and the results of that have never been written. That's not the point. The point is that I've been thinking about this sort of thing since 2010 and before.


With the power of individualism wiping out the curse of hive-minded idiot NPCs, Koopa Kingdom will destroy all of our enemies! Good-bye, Mario, Luigi, Cappy, the Labo... and many more foes, including legions of NPC Toads! With our Koopas as smart free-thinkers always choosing the right decisions, and our enemies making dumb choices due to not thinking at all, we'll be unstoppable. We aren't quite there yet, however. So the education will continue. That means KoopaTV will keep doing what we're doing. You'll support us, right?

By the way, someone needs to make an NPC meme of Marco Rubio based on him repeating the same line four times in that one Republican debate. We actually did make a minigame of that in our 2016 videogame, The Wonderful 1237. Marco Rubio is an NPC in it. You can read the strategy guide and play a demo of that over here.


If you wanted an article about NPCs from a game design/development perspective, you'll have to wait on that since this article clearly wasn't it. (That might never be written, unless you have something specific in mind. Then head over to KoopaTV's Requests page!) Do you agree with Ludwig's approach on making Koopa Kingdom's NPCs the best? What do you think of his progress? Also, any thoughts on the NPC meme in general? Do you even know what that is?


Ludwig tried very hard to make this article not contradict what he wrote a few weeks ago about not discussing fan-made memes.
The main point of the NPC meme is to dehumanise who it is talking about, sort of like how President Donald John Trump referred to MS-13 gang members (but not all immigrants) as animals.
After this was published, Piranha Plant became a playable character in the biggest crossover ever.

4 comments :

  1. Standing up for NPCs is definitely something I can get behind! Baseball being a better sport than soccer, or as I more properly call it, European football, however...I mean, come on it's so boring and it takes the most forever out of any sport except GOLF!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well if you wanted to debate about baseball you could've done so while that Splatfest is going on and make a difference! (Baseball won so it's legally better.)

      Anyway, it's not only my job to make NPCs better, but to stand up for them too.

      Delete
  2. It may not be exactly what you were looking for, but I tried my best.
    https://imgflip.com/i/2kgbgc

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll take it.

      Was thinking the grey NPC face overlaid on top of Rubio's but yeah.

      Delete

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