The Agelessness of NPCs

I recently saw a chart on Disney's princesses aged according to how long ago their films were released. Snow White, the eldest, is depicted at age 75, while Tiana (from "The Princess and the Frog" if you haven't been keeping up with Disney's princess pantheon), is shown as a toddler.

The agelessness of movie characters doesn't much trouble us, because their environs are likewise fixed in time, but the situation in Iron Realms MUDs are more complicated: as living worlds, the big things may change, but the small things tend to stay the same. Locations that are in a state of ruin or disrepair stay in just that state for in-game centuries; an abandoned farmhouse in Pash Valley has gone ages without finally falling down.  And for the entire 11 years that I've played Achaea, the NPC named "Lotash" has stood on a dusty junction of the Southern Road, asking passers-by to help rescue his daughter Kasha from the clutches of the Beast Cultists. Cities and guilds (later Houses) have risen, the Church has been destroyed, and still Lotash acts out his drama for each player that comes along. 

Everyone overlooks the repetitiveness of non-player characters: why draw attention to the limits of an artificial environment? Gods mitigate the issue by animating NPCs now and then. And the deathlessness and agelessness of NPCs is explained in the same way as the deathlessness and agelessness of player characters: with each death we go to Maya's Halls and plead for a return to life. Maya grants the request, until Thoth, the God of Death, claims us permanently and transports us to the Soul Realm. 

I can think of a few player characters and a few NPCs that have been subject to this permanent death--Ekary Lucoster, the Sinistar, is one player example; his mausoleum is adjacent to North of Thera. In Shallam, a baker and the guild tutor of the Paladins have both permanently fallen prey to the enemies of Light. Even gods--Aurora, Khalas, Caspian--may be subject to permanent death. 

I think Iron Realms games do an uncommonly good job of accommodating these issues of change and changelessness: demand too much change and the mechanisms that make the games work cannot be maintained--you end up with something chaotic, like Second Life. Too little, and we feel ourselves to be playing in a tableau rather than a living world. Though I enjoy playing games like Mario that are basically static in their environments, I always look forward to my return to Achaea, where things seem, satisfyingly, a bit more mutable.

Do you think IRE games attempt to be too changeable? Not changeable enough? Share in the comments.

Author: Azor

Comments

Leron's picture
05/17/2012
11:51 AM

I wouldn't mind a little more change regarding aging and death of npcs. Especially people like the ratmen and other notable city figures, it would be a great task for culture aides to take care of!

Eschilde's picture
05/17/2012
3:14 PM

Depends on your take on how death affects non-named NPC's. Some people think they just walk back through Maya's halls like everyone else. Some people think certain villages just have a fast breeding/growing up process.

Cesarina's picture
05/18/2012
2:40 AM

honestly with not having been here for long i cannot thoroughly comment, but it wouldn't make sense for quest givers to die. Else us new folk like me miss interesting qualities of the game.

Esgar's picture
05/19/2012
2:22 AM

I still think of those poor NPC's that have died a million of times. That's gotta be annoying.

All reality shudders as the voice of Sarapis, the Logos thunders across the land, "What. The. F***."

All reality shudders as the voice of Sarapis, the Logos thunders across the land, "Sarapis wins! Fatality!"

Kybrae's picture
05/19/2012
3:31 PM

In retrospect, they amount they've died must why they never do change because they pray so much for return of life.

Love, Life, Lies.

To live, is to be deceived.

Ekil's picture
05/20/2012
3:27 AM

As William Shakespeare once said: "All the world's a stage; the men and women merely players."

Indeed, my friends are very good at filling in the month-to-month living, so I can certainly overlook this agelessness and deathlessness. The developers are doing a great job with focusing on content and updates, using the occasional event to keep the world from feeling stagnant.

Aliath's picture
05/20/2012
8:31 AM

Fairly sure Khalas isn'r permadead, unless I have missed something, He is still imprisoned in a statue.

Masaryk's picture
05/20/2012
2:46 PM

I feel that IRE does a good job of tackling a tricky subject like this. You could hardly call the realm static.

Silvalum's picture
05/21/2012
5:57 PM

IRE certainly does a much better job at keeping the world feeling much less static than it actually is than any other world I have come across. I think they might even be able to go a step further in that direction by creating dual-sided quests. Going back to Lotash and Kasha, what if when she was rescued, they left back to their house. Then a new quest (the other side of the quest) opened where you would talk to the beast lord to kidnap Kasha for the ritual. This would keep the quest from feeling like it was "spawning" and give reason as to how she is imprisoned in the first place.  It could even be made more generic in a sense that it could be done to any number of villagers from any number of towns. Just an idea.

Natasa's picture
05/21/2012
7:50 PM

I agree

Loem's picture
05/28/2012
7:01 PM

I agree with Masaryk and Silvalum, IRE has done an excellent job at keeping the realm feeling dynamic. The fact that the Denziens can be killed at all puts it above a fair amount of games. Their methods also present many plausibilities for players to utilize of their own accord. It does not feel static at all IMO.

Madness takes its toll...please use exact change.

Oceana's picture
06/1/2012
12:32 PM

Some of the denizens are so familiar that I would be sad to see them go forever. For the adults, I imagine they just grow older as I do. For the children, one notices more easily that they never reach adulthood. I don't really mind this though.

Ido's picture
03/4/2014
10:42 PM

I second that.

 

Blackharp's picture
06/2/2012
8:48 PM

Have to agree with Oceana...I'd hate to see some of the Denizens I know go away...

Azrial's picture
06/6/2012
1:15 AM

I agree that IRE keeps the realms pretty new and exciting and I agree with those that say there are some denizens that need to stay but it would be neat if, for example, maybe a child of the original questgiver came to take over their spot or something like this to maybe change it up a little more.

Aisling's picture
06/12/2012
4:59 PM

Interesting, especially how there are some npcs that are old and others that are children, can be confusing with ageless npcs plus how the years go by

Mekare's picture
06/13/2012
10:54 PM

I would hate to see some of our known Denizens leave, they have been there for such a long time

Tenebrae's picture
06/16/2012
1:00 AM

I'm on the fence regarding this matter. I am nostalgic, yet I accept all of the new changes with open arms. 

Goggo's picture
06/28/2012
5:53 PM

i love this changes..

Greys's picture
06/28/2012
7:30 PM

There is always potential to shake up old quests instead and see who notices.

Kass's picture
07/18/2012
12:55 PM

I would love to see the face of someone trying to help Maim to ressurect her son... again... and sends the person to do something different then what has been done for so long.

Kass's picture
07/18/2012
12:55 PM

I would love to see the face of someone trying to help Maim to ressurect her son... again... and sends the person to do something different then what has been done for so long.

Akaya's picture
07/3/2012
12:20 AM

Old Man Zaphar. Was he ever Little Boy Zaphar?

Goggo's picture
07/3/2012
9:18 PM

mmm?

Hhaos's picture
07/16/2012
9:24 AM

it would be really nice to see certain denizens move on and have children, change location, or have a change of heart more often. Could you imagine if say the Orc outpost took over the Dwarven Camp in the Sirrocians? Would be interesting and there needs to be more events like that to help keep interest for the on again/off again players that a lot of us have come across

Invictus's picture
07/24/2012
10:36 AM

I think ageing npc's would make the world more rp-ish. However you will run into the problem with npc's dieing and not the characters themselves.

Aliath's picture
07/27/2012
6:59 AM

Is why you should measure age in decades, as for changing denizens, you can always have their kids take over or something like that.

Amanu's picture
07/31/2012
7:20 PM

Would be interesting to see some kids grow up.

Azor's picture
08/2/2012
4:29 AM

Oh, didn't realize these were still up. Smile

Nadiel's picture
08/5/2012
4:51 PM

My two cents - the agelessness of NPCs doesn't bother me. Even for the older ones, they perhaps could have lived a long time before dying and pleading for Maya's blessing of life. The quests mentioned, like Lotash, however, do tend to force a bit of a struggle with immersion. I like Silvalum's idea of the dual-sided quest.

 

All in all, though, I am happy to have IRE focus on big picture change with area events every once in a while.

Jinoki's picture
08/5/2012
11:03 PM

I haven't been around long enough to notice this but so far I am alright with how everything is though I do agree bigger events should affect more of the game though I understand how this could be tough on the coders.

Kando's picture
08/20/2012
9:28 AM

Well the NPCs shouldn't age but perhaps their quests and responses should evolve in time with...the times

Masaryk's picture
08/27/2012
10:39 PM

That would be a good idea!

Alyana's picture
09/1/2012
11:59 PM

does anyone even post articles anymore?

Masaryk's picture
09/13/2012
2:05 PM

I was somewhat curious about this too. I enjoyed reading the articles on here. Sad if they stopped putting them out...

Kestyn's picture
09/16/2012
9:33 PM

It would certainly add an interesting twist to the game. But I think change is at about the right pace - especially for a casual and on-off player like me, it would be impossible to keep up if NPCs acted and aged in "real time"!

Odella's picture
09/29/2012
11:27 AM

Yeah I like it how it is now. 

Vyretre's picture
10/13/2012
11:56 PM

one has to wonder why the population doesn't explode if everyone can get resurrected

Nieelensars's picture
10/18/2012
3:57 AM

I agree, the aging of the NPC 's would be neat! Because lets face it, NPC's should live FOREVER.

Kenway's picture
11/7/2012
9:12 AM

...

Athorem's picture
11/26/2012
7:26 AM

It would be horrifying if one returns after a long time and all the NPCs they knew are dead...

Daslin's picture
12/9/2012
5:19 PM

Why don't they age. I sad.

Zincor's picture
12/26/2012
4:23 PM

This is their birthday song.  It isnt very long.  Hey!

Andraste's picture
09/28/2013
9:45 PM

Tried to have an update to Master Tauris when the Warlock House Estate got redone but it was one of the very few things that never made it in!