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Analysis / Non-Player Companion

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Sliding Scale of Player Control over NPC Companions
From the most player control to the least control:

  1. No Companion AI. Non-player companions have no behavior-controlling systems attached to them, so the player must manually direct everything they do during combat and exploration (or, at most, repeat the same action the player last made them do indefinitely).
  2. Gameplay Automation. Companions now have a behavior-controlling AI, but it is entirely defined by the player (although such games typically ship with a handful of behavior presets).
  3. Squad Controls. Companions' behaviors are entirely defined by the designer, but the player has the option of issuing simple orders, which the companions is wired to obey as good as they can. These orders range from executing specific actions to switching between behaviors.
  4. Manual Leader, A.I. Party. In its purest form, this trope refers to companions who behave completely on their own. However, in practice, it tends to be mixed with tropes listed above. Another common variation allows the player to dynamically choose the leader character to control manually.


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