Character Traits

Hey Folks! Took a bit of a deep dive into character traits today, and I'm making pretty good progress.

Initially, I was trying to tackle the question of social strata, and how to frame the choice between those as a player. I decided to just "go for it" and start listing the strata options for each place, falling back on boring citizen/permanent resident/illegal trio for places I couldn't do more creatively. And despite that, the outcome was pretty good. A few places have some interesting variants, but all seem to make sense.

Then, the question of how this gets chosen.

Social strata seems like it could be a very powerful differentiator in this world. It can get you into places, useful contacts and allies, and even control your access to healthcare and quality of life. So how is that handled in a balanced way? Why would someone ever choose to be low born when they could be a corporate oligarch or senator's son?

I asked this on twitter, and got some really good feedback. Things like social skills, personality flaws, lack of privacy/anonymity, resentment from the masses, lack of exposure to practical skills, and even lack of true friends. Excellent examples of how the rich and powerful sometimes have drawbacks we don't see or consider. They get fancy apartments and nice healthcare, but maybe at the lack of ever having trust or satisfaction.

Anyway, that kick started a bout of creativity that fueled the list you partially see above. An expanded list of character traits from NEO Scavenger that might affect crew relations and their dealings in a capitalistic interplanetary dystopia.

One thing to note here is that none of these have any in-game effect yet. (Technically, they're not even in the game.) This is more wishful thinking than anything. I had a seriously hard time in NEO Scavenger making each skill and trait count. In the end, I had to assign values to each to compensate for their inequality.

In this game, I'm going to try a different approach. Rather than trying to add traits one-by-one, and filling-up their usefulness before the next one, I'm going to just dump the whole list in there right from the start. Then I'll start using them where I can, and see what sticks vs. what doesn't. And I'll probably end up having to score these like I did in NS, to balance them.

Or else, maybe don't balance them? Maybe that becomes the easy/hard mode for the player to choose? Be anything you want, and fail/succeed based on that?

Or maybe I'll get devious and make everyone hate you for being too perfect if you "cheat" and choose only good traits :)

Tags: Ostranauts


spacecowboy's picture

‪Adding onto the tweet about problems with social strata, being from a rich and influential strata, it’s like university at times IMO. You might be wealthy enough to get an education, but will you be able to practically apply it? In this case, a person might be rich but can they survive on a clunky ship (without dying)?‬

spacecowboy's picture

Also, I don’t think that’s such a bad idea with making a “perfect” character have massive drawbacks (lots of enemies, super massive debuffs, ect.,)

dcfedor's picture

Yeah. A classic problem of theory vs. practice. Both have their uses, but the latter is where "the rubber meets the road."

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games