Happy new year, folks! Hope everyone had a good holiday season. We stayed in town, but we still visited a lot of friends, and had a generally merry time. I also resisted the urge to tinker over the break, hoping the time away would recharge the creative batteries.
And I think it worked! I was definitely excited to get started again, and I feel the extra time thinking before acting again was important.
Now that we're back, we're looking at setting up a new test area that mixes both physical and social obstacles for the player to overcome. Probably in a salvage context, like last time. Except now, we have people to manage in addition to tools and skills.
For that to work, however, we need social tactics to feel both useful and engaging. The player needs to realize there are social obstacles, feel like social tactics are tools they can use to overcome them, and enjoy the process. It should be a fun part of the game, and a way to bond with the NPCs. Not a boring barrier to fun.
We've got the social tactics loaded up with a lot of new content from the end of last year, and it's starting to feel "interesting" in Chris's words :) Not quite useful yet, or fun. But there's clearly something going on, and potential for fun.
As we figure out how to fix that particular problem, I've been working on some other tweaks and fixes to keep things moving. Removing social nonsequiturs, fixing missing data, null reference bugs, a breathing bug that killed NPCs, etc.
I also added the ability for NPCs to take control and steer conversations occasionally. Previously, they just responded all the time, and waited for you to move. But now, they sometimes take the reins.
Face portraits got an overhaul this morning so they look more like the names and genders of the underlying character. We were getting Amazonian goddess portraits with the name "Timothy," or pasty white frat bros named "Rachel." Sure these things could happen (and there are ways to get such results). But the average NPC having a totally random face structure and hair was making it hard to remember who is whom. This should hopefully make things feel more intuitive.
And what's more, it's all in the data files now. So modders can tweak it to their heart's content!
Finally, I started doing a bit of updating to the inventory system. Since we took a few major steps towards a NEO Scavenger-like UI, I decided to continue adding those features. And today, I added slottable containers, and nested containers.
I also added a specialized "Social Moves" container, which will purely be used to hold consumable social moves. When you get a "dark joke" you can spend in conversation, it goes into this container, so it doesn't muddle-up your physical items.
Still plenty to do, but it's good to be back!