Game devs talk with pleasure about “believable” this-and-that, characters, worlds, underwear. So how to create believable characters without a big budget? I often thought of the Proven Lands character system as somehow procedural, maybe because it was originally meant to be a roguelike. By procedural I don’t mean the graphics, the models, the textures but the character stats, traits, stories, history, in good ‘ol roguelike fashion.
A typical (old school) roguelike base on traits. By “traits” I mean traits like “hungry”, “sleeping” or “toxicated”, but also “friendly” or “experienced in laser pew pew”. The Sims base on traits too, btw.
When you create a new character, what we like to do is to let you choose between “constant character traits” such as “human”, “firefighter” or “cosplayer”. All constant traits give you certain bonus or malus. We could call it “classes” sometimes, but not always.
The second category of traits are “dynamic traits” or “moods”. These are traits such as “fever”, “lunatic” or “pregnant”, or “wounded”. You can stack some of them up to five. For instance, a wound has a chance to grow to fever, but five wounds will certainly cause death soon. When you fight an enemy, if he hits you, you loose health points, but you might also get a “wounded” trait, if it was a critical hit. A “wounded” trait is like an open wound, and you need to figure out what to do next. Combat buffs are such dynamic traits as well. Even if you die, you don’t die just like that -- there’s a “dead” trait that can be caused by many other traits by a probability of x %.
The last category of traits are the so called “diplomacy traits”. Technically speaking, these are character traits, but they appear a bit different in the game, even though they act like character traits in relation to other characters.
The diplomacy system of Proven Lands base on a value range between “ally” and “hostile”. You have a diplomacy rating to everyone and everything intelligent in the world. This makes modding so awesome. For instance, predator animals are hostile to you while cute birds are friendly. The sheep likes the wolf, while the wolf hates the sheep, because sheep doesn’t hate anyone *period*. If the wolf hates the sheep, the sheep will run away if it’s too weak to defend itself, where the wolf will attack the sheep on sight. If the wolf is hungry, its diplomacy rating gets a big malus so it attacks more frequent. And so on. I believe it is a simple, but powerful and dynamic system.
Proven Lands is by far not as complex as Dwarf Fortress, but I hope you like how we try to add some depth to your character, maybe in a more procedural or dynamic way than many other games. The idea was to give depth to the world and characters with a tiny team, by being smart, creative, systemic. So is the diplomacy mechanics a system of its own. But once you get how the system “cascades” between you, regions, villages and individuals, it is hopefully more interesting than the usual enemy spawning or scripting.
Alrighty. I hope you enjoyed this tiny mechanics introduction. So what did we do in the meantime? A lot of background work, actually. Jeffrey added more variation to the space suits and alien concepts. We will show more of then when we are done with. We had some fun with the new insect animations. And… Anastasia works on more of these fantastic trees. Do you remember those old blue trees in our game? We finally found time to add more of them. I’d love to work on the new ground textures as well. And I hope to find some time to show some of those new effects next week.