Consumable Dialogue Options

Hey Folks! Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend. And my apologies for the missed news yesterday. I actually had most of a normal work day until mid-afternoon, when Rochelle started feeling ill. So I quit early to help out.

Back at the office, progress continues on drama room prototyping. We reached a point where the drama room roughly felt interactive and responsive, and had a long chat about whether to continue adding options, or if it revealed enough about our next steps to return to the main branch.

By that point, you'd spawn as Mal in a room with Zoe and Jayne. A leak in the wall was rapidly depressurizing the room. There were two EVA suits and helmets in the room. There was a locked airlock, and on the other side, another EVA, but also hard vacuum.

Jayne, ever the mercenary, spawns with both family (loyalty/team) and security (asphyxiation) fears. Zoe, feeling more trust in Mal, just has security fears.

If Mal takes the suit first, Zoe chastises him, and Jayne bashes Mal's skull in. So that doesn't work.

If Mal orders Jayne to wear an EVA suit, he will. So will Zoe. And ordering either of them will remove their security and family fears. But then, no suits left for Mal! (And we're assuming the player doesn't want to risk dying in this case. Maybe they're the only competent pilot.)

However, as an experiment, we made a "reassure" action which can remove security fears from the target. This action disappears when used, and only appears when you've ordered someone to wear an EVA suit. Sort of like a special, one-use dialogue loot.

This way, we can prevent Jayne from freaking out by ordering him to get a suit. That grants us an ability we can use on Zoe to allay her fears, so we can then take an EVA for our self without them losing trust in us. Then...Zoe falls unconscious from hypoxia, and Jayne and Mal work quickly to breach the airlock and get Zoe into an EVA?

Anyway, it's a prototype. Meant to try out some ideas, and help us figure out what is next. So what is next?

Looking back at the prototype, we identified what seemed most promising and fun about it. And importantly, what it did differently than the existing game. What did we do to make it better, and can we do that to the main branch to make the overall game better?

So far, it seems the answer is "yes." The things the main branch lacks, which we found enjoyable, are:

  • The dialogue options are scarce and consumable.
  • We have to take care when using them, to be strategic.
  • New consumable interactions are generated by interacting with people.
  • Targets visibly respond to our interactions, and sometimes in unpredictable ways.

It turns out a lot of the stuff the prototype did is already in master, except for scarcity and visibility.

In master, you have all dialogue options, all the time. And you can use them endless times. Plus, using them has a fairly minor, sometimes invisible effect. Low feedback. Low strategy. Low fun.

Our next step is going to be seeing if we can shore-up those deficiencies. Make existing interactions less available. Make some of them depend on having items. Others only appear after you do certain actions. Still others only work on certain targets.

We're also going to ramp-up the effects of our existing interactions. Make them way more visible, so we can see the effects and start understanding how they work.

Basically, do for dialogue what we did for salvage: add scarcity and strategy, and more visible results from using tools.

Will it make things more fun? It certainly seems like it could help. We shall see!

Tags: Ostranauts