There's a few single player games that mess around with the player being a shop keeper.
It would have to be fun.
You could give shopkeepers certain defense measures.
Give non shop keepers reputation ratings that shopkeepers can see.
Give players incentive to play shopkeepers. Maybe money earned could be used on your "Hero character" that you play a percentage of time?
It's definitely a complicated issue to solve but we're definitely headed in that direction.
I mean both Watch Dogs and Watch Dogs 2 did the same thing with everyone having names and jobs and shit. The only difference is in Legion you can recruit them but even if you kill someone you're not losing out on anything because their skillet is not unique and generally they're very minor as I said before. And all this stuff makes the main story disjointed as a result, with all recruits feeling like shells of peole. This game felt like it was designed by an AI to me. But that's just me. I'm glad you enjoyed it though.
It really wasn't at the same level in Watch Dogs 1 and 2 but those were good as well. They only had name and a tidbit of info whereas in Legion they had adversaries, histories, friends, colleagues, and schedules on top of their jobs/skills and being recruitable. They go to their jobs and do them, have hobbies, hang out with their friends, etc. Police violence and muggings, trespassing etc are also new for Legion NPCs.
Here's my problem of open world games if there isn't a good simulation as I see it.
If I'm not running around the world shooting things up and blowing up objectives in the name of peace, most of the locations in open worlds are actually kind of peaceful. The villain as ordained by the story is chilling out in his bunker fortress, civilians are literally walking around or sitting around doing nothing of note.
The Giant death robot standing at the corner of the street in an open world is just looking menacing but not actually interacting with anything or anyone, while the citizen AI just wander around ignoring it.
The cutscenes and story may say the enemies are the worst thing ever, but in game whether it's because the map is too big or the devs didn't have enough time to implement something more interesting they're usually just minding their own business. While in cutscenes the bosses are doing some terrible things in game I'm the one that has to do all the terrible things.
The robots on patrol are mostly flying around doing their own thing, enemy patrols just walk around peacefully. Nothing of note happens to the world in general unless I cause it.
I as a player "conquer" an area driving out the baddies and declaring freedom for the poor villagers. That area never gets taken over again by said baddie or overun by something else. It's 100% safe from enemies thus indirectly remove itself out of the open world map due to the lack of relevance to the rest of the game once it's safe.
It's generally missing an opportunity to do something more dynamic as a result of my actions.
Open World game are somewhat extremely linear as well - due to the players gravitating towards the need to find the most optimal way to solve quests, most of the time that means traversal from A to B is literally following a line to the objective. And this is not even getting to the use of Fast Travel to get to point B from point A faster to end the quest quicker.
Huh? Only RPGs had such goals really, not GTA or any other bombastic action open world game (even when GTA was 2D) and you guys obviously didn't buy the early Gothic games (or Majora's Mask) enough to make that the standard by now. Hopefully TES VI goes back to Morrowind style too.