Why is the NPC going slower than you? (Topic)

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Why is the NPC going slower than you?


You've probably had situations like this when you follow an NPC on a quest and he never goes along with you. Because of this, you either constantly need to stop and wait for him to catch up with you, or even come back for him, since he is stuck somewhere. NPCs are slower than the player and this is infuriating.

Stand by me

In fact, it is more correct to say that the NPC is not slow, but never moves at the same speed as the player. On the contrary, sometimes it can move in front of you, and even if you run, it will increase its speed so that you will still find yourself in the tail. Or, you constantly have to adjust to it, including the "step" mode or manipulate the control keys or stick. It's hard to explain, but for many players it is very important to walk with the NPC at the same speed and be close.

Perhaps this is due to the fact that in life we are used to: if we go with a person and talk, then we stick to each other, because this is logical. And when games, with all the depth of development, and even with a swing to realism, allow such a thing as a slow NPC, it infuriates.


It's funny, but there are no development studios that would not solve this problem. So what is it then?

Make a memory for me

The gameplay in each project is always different. In big RPGs or action games, story-driven companies, there are always characters that cannot be controlled. Within the game, you interact with them in different ways. Accompany, protect, or they follow you. But what should an NPC do to follow or lead you?


Since we do not control the NPC, then it acts as an enemy - it is controlled by artificial intelligence and uses the resources of your system. A certain amount of RAM is allocated to it so that it does what it is programmed to do: hide, shoot, walk and react to in-game situations.

However, in order for the AI to act as best as possible and the satellite to appear as alive as possible, the processor has to process as much information as possible. A heavy load causes the entire system to slow down. It seems that this is somehow too much. Can one NPC load the system that much? Yes, just imagine - this is a completely different character who must make decisions, move, and even so that it all looks logical, interact with other characters and physics - to simulate life in other words.


The developers understand this, so in order not to overload the system for you, they simplify the duties of such a character so that he does not have to think over his every step. After all, there is no AI that would not go astray.

Developers simply animate its movements in advance and set the entire path. When he starts walking, he moves from point A to point B. These characters are simply animated and do not consume much RAM, without loading the processor at all. But as a result, they have a fixed speed and set it as the developer sees fit.


In escort missions - a priori, the character cannot move faster than you, because then you cannot protect him. Now many will have scary "Vietnamese flashbacks", but remember Ashley from Resident Evil 4, not only is she already useless and pisses us off the whole game that she needs to be protected. Imagine if she was still running around the location like mad, and not standing behind you.


But for the most part, all this is done only for the sake of one thing - not to trust the AI, which will dull and eat up resources, and to make everything easier.

Big money - realistic steps

Of course, in order to satisfy the player's requirements for NPCs that will not be scripted, you can create a dynamic movement system for them and shout about it at game presentations. Characters such as Elizabeth from Bioshock, or heroes in The Witcher 3 Wild Hunt and GTA 5 move without a script and on their own, adjusting to you. But let's not forget that the same GTA 5 had a budget of 364 million, and the Witcher had 80 million dollars, hundreds of employees from the main offices, and even a bunch of freelancers. They could be assigned to deal with one NPC for several years, and all so that he walked next to you.


But this is not always the right economic step. If a developer makes a middle-class game, he will not be able to do something like that, since he simply does not have the resources for this.


But that doesn't mean they aren't trying. Some people decide, instead of adjusting the NPC to you, they adjust the player. So, for example, in Assassin's Creed 2 and Yakuza Kiwami it is possible to stand next to a non-player character, and your hero will follow him, and you will wait. Yes, it may still be slow, but you don't need to adjust the speed yourself.


Fallow me

As a result, it is not always justified to financially use the dynamic movement of the NPC. Especially if it's a middle-class game, and there's nothing wrong with the developers using the old-fashioned way of making the NPC go where it needs to go. In addition, if it is done correctly, it is unlikely to infuriate.


Some automatic things like a slow character are not always bad, even if they annoy you. So the next time you spot a slow NPC, think not about how infuriating it is, but that it is so slow that your computer doesn't explode from the load.

The Topic of Article: Why is the NPC going slower than you?.
Author: Jake Pinkman