One of the key things we aim to achieve with Tears of Avia is a story system that would never be quite the same each time you play the game. We also wanted to drive much of the content that you experience from the story you encounter.
We are working with Sound Cadence Studios for the English voice acting, who have been absolutely wonderful to work with, given that this story system isn't quite as straightforward or clean-cut as following a linear script and dialogue.
In Tears of Avia the story revolves around the disposition of characters to one another. Some characters are the best of friends but others are seething with distrust and jealousy of one another. Depending on your party load out, you'll get a totally different dynamic and feel to the conversations you receive.
For our demo we've implemented four of the sixteen characters you can play with in the game. This party combination mostly get along quite well, even though the mage is a bit of a self obsessed brat.
So already, just by changing who you play with in your party can change the dynamic of the story but we decided to go deeper. What if the story was different each time, even if you used the same characters?
Obviously, this sounds like a chaotic thing - how can you make a story different every time yet still have it make sense? Check out the following video.
The above example shows a party of four characters discussing the tear they've come across after a boss fight. Of course, this conversation could be different with just these four characters. If you replayed the encounter, there's a good chance that you'll have the same scenario, just delivered slightly differently.
So let's see what happens if we use the exact same party but if we leave just one person back at home.
As above demonstrates, our characters tell the same story segment but the delivery is slightly different given that we're down a character. So what happens if we almost wipe? Just one character makes it through?
In the above conversation we instead receive a monologue. Here, our priest is the sole survivor of the encounter and comes across the tear.
With the demo alone and this single encounter there are 496 possible outcomes you could see from the same story segment (this will be way more after we've implemented 16 characters). It's fundamentally the same story, just slightly retold in a different way.
It sounds like a gigantic undertaking for just 4 panels of dialogue, but rest assured we didn't record 496 takes. The story system has a table of flow for each story segment, delivering conversation segments that make sense given the sequence of events.
It is more work than if we delivered a straight up linear story but the end result is a story that is never quite the same for each time you play, the way we've approached it allows for such a diverse range of possibilities in a highly manageable way. Just imagine how this story would turn out if you had a black sheep in the party.