No game of this nature would be complete without a town full of people to interact with. While I don't exactly want to go into specifics I would like to talk about NPC's in general and what they mean for Verdant Village. In many games NPC's are fairly simple in what they do. I think a game like this needs interesting people with interesting stories that the player can get invested in to some extent. More than anything though I would like to convey flavor and world building through the NPC's of the game.
Not everyone is going to spend their time talking to these characters but I want their interactions with the player to have meaning. I want it to feel like these are real people living alongside you with problems and aspirations of their own. The more realized the characters the more immersive the game will be.
How do I plan on doing this? Well the easy way would be to make up a schedule for each NPC in the game and make it vary for each day of the week. Then add in some dialogue and maybe a couple of lines that only play in specific situations. This is the way that most games like Verdant Village go about their NPC's. It's a fine way to do things but I think there is still room for improvement. My plan involves a little more variance. Instead what I'd like to do is give each character interests and dislikes. These things will affect their mood, for instance if the player runs into someone performing an activity, they don't enjoy the NPC will be in a worse mood when you talk to them.
That alone will be hard to achieve as there are plenty of NPC's and a list of variables and events will need to be compiled to create that effect. However, I would also like to add something else to the game. Most games as I mentioned before have a set schedule for their NPC's. What I would like to accomplish is to have a schedule that the NPC's has to do, for instance run the store from 9:00 to 5:00. However, from 5:00 to 10:00 would be free time for that character. Depending on their interests and current mood they could do whatever they like instead of being bound to go to a particular place on a particular day. This would add some variety to a NPC's actions and maybe even give the player ques on what sort of mood the NPC is in based on what they are doing. Something I would love to add to this as well would be the ability for NPC's to meet up and talk. Those talks could potentially allow them to schedule activities together in their free time.
All of these things together I think would make the world feel more like a living, breathing place, and the people feel more like real people rather than characters in a game who are basically static. Most all interaction in the game would take place via dialogue interactions. Because the art is low res I wanted to give people a better idea of who they were actually talking to. I've been working with an artist recently to take the small sprites and make something a little friendlier to the eye for use in conversation. Below are two work in progress images for some of the NPC's in town. Excuse the slight blur, the website seems to be auto scaling things.