CYOA Career History, and Bashing for Fun and Profit

Hey Folks! Hope everyone had a good weekend. I was actually at work yesterday, but basically on voice chat with devs most of the day. Hence no news post. (And not much visible stuff to show anyway.)

Today, however, we have a bit more to talk about.

In our current sprint, we're trying to make the crew management aspects as compelling as the salvage loop. And after a bit of work towards that goal, we realized we'd end up with a social loop that was maybe fun, but kind of irrelevant to the rest of the game. Like it existed on some island detached from the rest.

We needed to care about our crew, and their relationships to us (as captain). And in order for that to happen, we also have to care about our captain.

So we're going to revise the character creation process a bit to make it more role-playing-like. We're still in the career kiosk, choosing the career path of our history. But instead of seeing a wall of skills to choose from, absent of any context, we're going to try focusing more on events that happen to you during, and the skills, traits, and other rewards that resulted from them.

Today's screenshot shows a template we quickly setup to test this out. Bernardo is beginning their shipbreaker career, and instead of choosing skills in a sterile menu, we see this "Event Intro" with some possible outcomes. Let's say it's an accident on the job or something, and Bernardo is choosing from several, (ideally three or more), equally interesting outcomes.

Maybe he risks himself to save someone, and gets a "brave" trait and "athletic." Or maybe he thinks quickly, letting him have a fire extinguisher to propel himself to safety. And is rewarded with "genius" or "skill: zero g."

Whatever the case, we start to build this story, and our character choices have context. And hopefully, we care more about our character as a result.

We're also going to start making salvage actions require more skills and abilities, to make this less than 100% focused on tools and loot. If you can only do a few things due to skill, hiring crew becomes more compelling. And what's more, we could make things take more realistic amounts of time.

Instead of cutting down a wall in 5 seconds, maybe it takes 15 minutes. That's serious time if your O2 tanks are running out, or you want to get through a whole ship before nighttime. Having crew to help boosts the rate at which you can get stuff done.

And if we're doing that, we need the actions to be able to resume if interrupted. We spent a bunch of time looking into that today, and as it turns out, we might already have some code to do this. The way we currently handle destructable objects actually works pretty well in terms of tracking damage done (progress made) before triggering a destroy action (or convert to a new version). So we could have some arbitrary "install progress" stat that ticks up over time, have that remain on the object if the NPC walks away, and when the player returns, they resume ticking up that stat without lost time.

Finally, we'll need a way to hire and fire crew. Fortunately, we already had the former. The latter was trivial to add. And probably the only thing left here is to add the ability for disgruntled crew to say "I quit!" Which is an important part of the social loop: we want our crew satisfied so they don't mutiny!

There's a lot going on here, and potentially some big wins if we can get this all running as planned!

Tags: Ostranauts


Cryolite's picture

Thanks for the interesting news. The news section is always very interesting to read.
I wanted to write that character creation is always interesting. But not a direct choice may have some inconvenience for the player (if player want re-roll \ min-max attributes for better start)
When i played in past Jagged Alliance 2 I always had a note with "answers in the psychological test" (character creation with fixed choices). On the other hand, with a large number of such events this can be very interesting. Especially if the player’s (and NPC) traits can change through random events in the middle of the game.

dcfedor's picture

I agree that min/maxing might be one situation where this style of character creation fails. And I'm interested in testing this out a bit to see if that's okay or not.

The goal is for character creation to make you feel like your avatar is important to you. To feel a bit like the game has already started, and that you are role-playing your character already.

I think it will be possible to let players build what they want this way. But it will require some careful crafting of the choices we get in chargen.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Underhill's picture

As someone who enjoys creating RPG characters for the fun of it, have you considered a combination of the two? Perhaps start with your basic stat/trait/skill selection and then based on starting age provide a certain number of actions. The player may choose (not forced) from standard list like "Go to university" or a fate/mystery option. All of the actions would then present storied choices. The results can then alter the character, provide a backstory, and maybe a trait not otherwise available at the start or small bonus (nothing so crazy that min/max folks will complain about). The other option would be the opposite, make the story choices first and then have final edit at the end.

dcfedor's picture

I think a lot will depend on playtesting. It's too early to tell, but this approach might feel more like storytelling right from the start.

The broad list from which to choose will satisfy min-maxers more, I'm pretty sure. But if that method exists, it might cause doubt in those willing to do the story method. They might wonder if they're limiting themselves, and fall back on the list-method instead, out of fear.

Whatever the case, however, I think the goal will be the same: the version that exists in the game must feel satisfying and engaging!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games