The Drama Room 2.0

Hey Folks! Once again, sorry for the lapse in news yesterday. My conference calls with the contract devs in the other hemisphere basically means my afternoons sometimes run late.

However, we're having some really productive discussions!

Our first attempt at the drama room experiment started strong, but we quickly realized it was a dead end. It was fun watching the crew respond to our input, but there weren't many options for strategy or gameplay.

So we chatted a bit more, and started to circle around this idea of making social combat a bit more like a trading card game. And by that, I mean introducing scarcity to the social interactions available to the captain. Some interactions only show up in certain situations, instead of all the time. And some of those interactions are "consumed" when used, meaning you can only use them once. So if you tell Jayne a dark joke, you can't tell that joke a second time since it's been used.

By treating certain interactions more like items that can be consumed, we can also introduce methods for gaining them. Maybe you hear a really good dirty joke while in a bar on K-Leg. You gain a dirty joke to be used in future conversations, perhaps to lighten the mood when things turn serious.

Basically, this is like NEO Scavenger's battle system, except some moves are bound to intangible items that are consumed when you use them. Stuff like a "speech about teamwork" or "promise of riches ahead." Things you can't just spam on a person and expect to work more than once.

Also like NEO Scavenger, we're going to try re-introducing the "preview" aspect of each move. You may not know exactly the outcome of a given move, but you can at least see a preview of a potential outcome. Today's screenshot shows an example at the top. The order can be rejected, and hinges on there being an EVA suit. But if it succeeds, we make them feel more a part of the team, and safer.

Our prototype also grants the speaker loot if this Order: Suit Up succeeds: a "Reassure" social action that can be used later to bolster someone's feeling of low security.

The hope here is that we can start to have a system that allows for a bit more player agency and strategy. We have 3 people and 2 EVA suits. If we hog one suit to our self, they may mutiny or attack us.

But if we tell Jayne to don a suit, he won't care so much if we do later. That leaves Zoe, who might be convinced to let us don an EVA suit if we convince her this is for the team. Fortunately, we have a "Reassure" social move we gained by getting Jayne into a suit, and we can use that to reassure Zoe long enough to get suited-up, walk out there to get her a suit, and come back.

It's a fairly simple situation. And the model here has lots of holes yet. But it's already feeling a lot more game-like and fun, so that's encouraging!

Tags: Ostranauts


angrylolrus's picture

Maybe there ought to be an ammo system with diminishing returns on multiple uses? Maybe you know a dozen dirty jokes from the bar on K-Leg, but if you tell them all at once, they won't land as well as if you tell them occasionally.


dcfedor's picture

I think there is definitely something important about scarcity. We want to discourage the player from just spamming the "joke" button to boost an AI's "happiness," for example.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Braderunna's picture

Hey, nice work.

Some things like jokes, i think you should be able to tell them to anyone who havent heard you tell it.

eg. if youre having a private conversation, tell the joke, and no one else hears it, i think you should be able to tell it to someone else. But; if the person you talked with in private hears you tell this joke to another person, he might dislike you secretly, for using the same jokes all the time.

So another example could be if you told some one a joke, and a "person 2" overheard it, if you then use the joke again, while having a conversation with said "person 2", not knowing they already heard it, it might not have the desired effect.

just a thought, hope it makes any sense.

EDIT: might get a bit too complicated though, keeping track of who heard it and who didnt, and which jokes you got left for who xD


dcfedor's picture

I think that's a realistic approach, and there's probably a mechanism to make it work like that. E.g. a flag "heard joke #1" that we can place on recipients, so you can't use it again on them.

There are potential risks, though. One is that we'd need to either decide in advance how many jokes there are in the universe, and make that many flags. Or we'd need to build a system for dynamically generating new jokes and their flags.

Still, this sort of "one-use-per-person" rule might come up with other, non-joke interactions. So it's worth thinking about!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games