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The Problem With NPC Happiness

Would you get rid of happiness-based price increases?


  • Total voters
    75

Flubman

Terrarian
Many aspects of NPC happiness are good. The new pylons are a godsend, particularly for large worlds. There's also a cool puzzle-solving aspect to it that's unlike anything else in Terraria. Lastly, it gives the NPCs some welcome characterization.

However, the fact that not building a certain way can drastically increase prices is a problem, especially since they nerfed certain kinds of (admittedly overpowered) money farms. Terraria has always had sandbox building elements which have been improved with every content update. To punish players for utilizing these elements in ways the game doesn't like is unfair and mars a lot of the game's appeal. Furthermore, it makes the game grindier for people who don't want to build a certain way, which flies in the face of what's supposed to be a QoL-improving update.

I can think of three good solutions to this:
  1. Increase the threshold of the number of nearby NPCs that lowers happiness to at least four. I know that people say three's a crowd, but making an NPC unhappy just because they have more than two other NPCs near them is a bit ridiculous.
  2. Lower the cap on the maximum, happiness-related price increase. Even lowering the maximum price modifier to something as high as 125% would be well-appreciated.
  3. The best solution would be to remove happiness-based price increases altogether. This way, players would be incentivized to build the way the game wants through pylons and lowered prices while still allowing for other building methods without punishing the player. With this solution, the happiness system would basically be perfect.

Here's a link to my post on Reddit.

Edit: added a poll and changed the link to a hyperlink

Edit 2: 1.4.0.4 fixed the Skeleton Merchant and the Traveling Merchant being affected by happiness.
 
Last edited:

Flubman

Terrarian
Here's an even better idea: remove NPC happiness altogether.

NPCs have a preferred biome which, if they are placed within it, they will sell that biome's Pylon. A Pylon requires two nearby NPCs to activate.

The end.
Eh, I wouldn't go that far. I still like the puzzle-solving aspect of NPC placement and the characterization it gives each NPC. Just get rid of the price increases, and we're golden.
 

Sordid

Terrarian
Eh, I wouldn't go that far. I still like the puzzle-solving aspect of NPC placement and the characterization it gives each NPC. Just get rid of the price increases, and we're golden.
I mean, the dialogue could stay, just without any mechanical effect. I don't find shuffling NPCs from one town to another very appealing, especially since you can't directly swap them and they sometimes take a while to actually move. It's like a really crappy and slow version of Tower of Hanoi.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
I mean, the dialogue could stay, just without any mechanical effect. I don't find shuffling NPCs from one town to another very appealing, especially since you can't directly swap them and they sometimes take a while to actually move. It's like a really crappy and slow version of Tower of Hanoi.
Yeah, but without positive happiness, you wouldn't get discounts.
 

Nicol Bolas

Terrarian
Yeah, but without positive happiness, you wouldn't get discounts.
And those discounts are the incentives for shuffling NPCs around. Get rid of the incentives, and there's no reason not to select NPCs for Pylon outputs based on how frequently you use them, not how an arbitrary mechanic.

Yeah, I like being able to buy more stuff, but I'd give that up if it meant not having a desire to find the optimal arrangement for NPCs.
 

Heroman3003

Retinazer
NPCs do not affect your building, unless your only reason to build ever was NPCs in the first place. This disincentivizes having all NPCs in same location, nothing more and nothing less. You can still build cities and castles, just put your NPCs elsewhere. The "you force me not to build same way" factor seems like one of silliest complaints, since it only affects people who build just the NPC housing and nothing else (in regards to building), and in that case, the incentive to adapt to other biomes stylistically is only improvement in my book.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
NPCs do not affect your building, unless your only reason to build ever was NPCs in the first place. This disincentivizes having all NPCs in same location, nothing more and nothing less. You can still build cities and castles, just put your NPCs elsewhere. The "you force me not to build same way" factor seems like one of silliest complaints, since it only affects people who build just the NPC housing and nothing else (in regards to building), and in that case, the incentive to adapt to other biomes stylistically is only improvement in my book.
But a lot of people like having all their NPCs in one place.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
I also think negative reinforcement (punishing someone until they do something you want them to do) is generally a bad thing when it comes to game design. This case included. It limits player freedom in a way that goes against one of the game's central design philosophies (i.e. its sandbox element).
 

Nicol Bolas

Terrarian
The "you force me not to build same way" factor seems like one of silliest complaints
Nobody is making that complaint. That is a strawman restatement of the actual complaint, which is that we're not being allowed to build what we want without accepting an arbitrary penalty.

since it only affects people who build just the NPC housing and nothing else (in regards to building),
That's quite a lot of people. And it also includes people who may want to build something intricate, but maybe not right now. Maybe later; right now, they want to get on with game progression, and this arbitrary mechanic is making that needlessly annoying.
 

Heroman3003

Retinazer
I think NPCs needed a mechanic to be something more than just walking vending machines for a while now. And this is good thing. Honestly, only bad aspect of it I think is that overcrowding 'limits' are somewhat too small and global for all NPCs, while they probably should be more tailored per-NPC and overall be laxer (but not entirely gone)
 

Nicol Bolas

Terrarian
I think NPCs needed a mechanic to be something more than just walking vending machines for a while now. And this is good thing.
But they're still just walking vending machines. The only difference is that they cost more if you put them right next to each other, and they cost less if you spend a bunch of time putting them in just the right place for some reason.

The happiness mechanic doesn't make them feel like people, because my primary interaction with them is still just buying and selling. Satisfying their happiness requirements doesn't require me to understand the character of the NPC; it means I have to look up a chart and do what it says.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
But they're still just walking vending machines. The only difference is that they cost more if you put them right next to each other, and they cost less if you spend a bunch of time putting them in just the right place for some reason.

The happiness mechanic doesn't make them feel like people, because my primary interaction with them is still just buying and selling. Satisfying their happiness requirements doesn't require me to understand the character of the NPC; it means I have to look up a chart and do what it says.
I'm fine with looking up charts to find the optimal solution, but I don't like how you're outright punished for not building in a certain way.
 

Mihn

Steampunker
I will repeat what I said in the pylon reveal thread:
- Pylons should be kept as it is, rewarding smaller, spread out bases.
- Price reduction should apply to big central bases. Remove them from building small town bonuses.

Rewards 2 different playstyles.
Think about it, why should having a big-:red: city filled with people make NPCs unhappy, as most of them are nigh defenseless, be left to die in some chasms, etc, and leaving them alone in this deadly world with another 2 people is supposed to make them happy? And the Party Girl is sure having fun partying with 1-2 people.

I always liked the idea of having a central base that slowly gets more lively as the game progress. It's nice to see Dirtmouth in Hollow Knight went from just the Elder Bug to a bunch of other bugs, some open up shops, some blabber non-stop,... They all give the place a cozy atmosphere even though it's not the perfect place. Same with Terraria, despite me being a total :red: builder but I like seeing the game going from 1 wooden box to... a bigger, more intricate box with random decorations, banners everywhere.

As of right now I barely expand on my towns. Just stack boxes to satisfy needs, place a pylon and done, and just go back to expand the spawn base, except it's more boring because instead of a whole bunch of people walking around, it's just 3 or 4. This is rather counter intuitive as the pylon system was made to make the world more lively.

At the very least, ditch the price modifier increase because that's dumb and punishes player for no reason. Even if the penalty is negligent, the psychology of "being punished for not playing how the game wants" is still there and makes the experience worse.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
I also think moving NPCs could be faster, and removing restrictions on when you can move NPCs would also be useful.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
I will repeat what I said in the pylon reveal thread:
- Pylons should be kept as it is, rewarding smaller, spread out bases.
- Price reduction should apply to big central bases. Remove them from building small town bonuses.

Rewards 2 different playstyles.
Think about it, why should having a big-:red: city filled with people make NPCs unhappy, as most of them are nigh defenseless, be left to die in some chasms, etc, and leaving them alone in this deadly world with another 2 people is supposed to make them happy? And the Party Girl is sure having fun partying with 1-2 people.

I always liked the idea of having a central base that slowly gets more lively as the game progress. It's nice to see Dirtmouth in Hollow Knight went from just the Elder Bug to a bunch of other bugs, some open up shops, some blabber non-stop,... They all give the place a cozy atmosphere even though it's not the perfect place. Same with Terraria, despite me being a total :red: builder but I like seeing the game going from 1 wooden box to... a bigger, more intricate box with random decorations, banners everywhere.

As of right now I barely expand on my towns. Just stack boxes to satisfy needs, place a pylon and done, and just go back to expand the spawn base, except it's more boring because instead of a whole bunch of people walking around, it's just 3 or 4. This is rather counter intuitive as the pylon system was made to make the world more lively.

At the very least, ditch the price modifier increase because that's dumb and punishes player for no reason. Even if the penalty is negligent, the psychology of "being punished for not playing how the game wants" is still there and makes the experience worse.
I think pylons favoring small towns and your idea of rewarding large towns with decreased prices are at odds with each other unless you want players to choose between decreased prices and pylons (In which case, I think most players would choose pylons). I do agree with you saying that NPCs not tolerating being near a lot of other people is silly. I also agree that the negative reinforcement is bad in this case.
 

Banmei

Terrarian
Not so sure I understand the problem. It seems as though people like the Pylons, as do I. Well, if you want to use the Pylons you need to have a minimum of 2 per Pylon. Personally, I plan on utilizing all Pylons. It's really easy, even early on, to match 2 separate pairs of NPCs that will actually give you a price bonus, not penalty, and sell you a Pylon. So you get Pylons plus get insta-teleporting to shopkeeper sellers as if you had the discount card acc early on.

I too like to keep them bundled up in one location usually underground because it's safest for them. I don't mind giving up a few but in return save myself a ton of trekking back and forth to some long, long journeys. I could see if you don't like Pylons and want to keep them all in one spot. That would be a disadvantage. But if you're going to use Pylons you're going to have to separate some anyways so I don't get ?

Do you mean you get into RP and prefer specific NPCs in specific spots?

I can't think of many NPCs, other than maybe the Tinkerer, Wizard, or Mechanic where I find myself a repeat customer buying from them. With the price benefits I think you come out ahead in the long run even with some having penalties.
 

Flubman

Terrarian
Not so sure I understand the problem. It seems as though people like the Pylons, as do I. Well, if you want to use the Pylons you need to have a minimum of 2 per Pylon. Personally, I plan on utilizing all Pylons. It's really easy, even early on, to match 2 separate pairs of NPCs that will actually give you a price bonus, not penalty, and sell you a Pylon. So you get Pylons plus get insta-teleporting to shopkeeper sellers as if you had the discount card acc early on.

I too like to keep them bundled up in one location usually underground because it's safest for them. I don't mind giving up a few but in return save myself a ton of trekking back and forth to some long, long journeys. I could see if you don't like Pylons and want to keep them all in one spot. That would be a disadvantage. But if you're going to use Pylons you're going to have to separate some anyways so I don't get ?

Do you mean you get into RP and prefer specific NPCs in specific spots?

I can't think of many NPCs, other than maybe the Tinkerer, Wizard, or Mechanic where I find myself a repeat customer buying from them. With the price benefits I think you come out ahead in the long run even with some having penalties.
I didn't even know Terraria RP was a thing until very recently, and I never plan to get into it myself.

I just hate the idea of using negative reinforcement to encourage people to play a certain way in a sandbox game. Positive reinforcement is fine, though, because it doesn't actually hurt you. I can't think of a single upside to keeping happiness-based price increases.
 
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