"Social Combat" and More Admin Work

Hey Folks! Hope everyone had a good weekend. Beautiful weather here, and visiting friends pretty much all weekend. So a nice change of pace! I welcome the summer.

Unfortunately, a lot more administrivia for me to do today, as I answered emails, did more project planning, and generally try to course correct for the long term. However, Michael saves the day with a last-minute check-in of his recent work on "social combat!"

"Social combat" is sort of a phrase we've been using to describe the negotiations player has with AIs during certain situations. It stemmed from a conversation where we talked about NEO Scavenger's battle system as a fairly interesting tool for conflict resolution. And over time, has evolved to encompass some situations unique to Ostranauts, with the crew management system.

Basically, we envision certain situations where the player and the AI have incompatible goals, and need to resolve that difference. Could be with words, threats, actions, or tools. And in many ways, this feels a lot like the NS encounter screen mixed with the NS battle screen. We have skills (e.g. persuasion), contextual limitations (e.g. range, rank/authority, danger), tools (e.g. promotions, money), and other levers we can pull to steer the negotiation.

Verbal parrying, dodging, and attacks? Could be!

Anyway, today's screenshot is Michael's first step towards setting this up. An even happens (in this case, crew collapses on the floor), and the camera focuses on it, clears the UI, and adds letterbox to the screen. What happens next is still being determined, but it seems like this is where a local event gets sorted out. Possibly via a "social battle" UI.

We may also need to pause action on the ship so this doesn't annoyingly interrupt important stuff elsewhere. And allow diving out and back into this as it proceeds.

I think there's some potential for cool interactions and gameplay using a tool like this, so I'm excited to see where this goes!


Malacodor's picture

Verbal combat sounds cool! I guess people with experience as rappers will have a big advantage there. ;-)

Ran around with a clown mask before it was cool

dcfedor's picture

Mic drops don't have the same impact in zero g :)

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

Josh_A_Culler's picture

perhaps more gamification could be implemented with elements of gathering info, as in background dossiers and other readouts and so forth which help the player choose correct responses ...

the theory here is that putting in extra effort on learning about crew members and/or monitoring them has payoff in such situations, and feels less random and “samey”, kinda like “papers please” or similar mystery games...

im thinking about simple tricks here, like obscuring or strategically placing information you might otherwise just reveal to an “omniscient” player in the encounter UI... which isnt realistic anyway.. (ideally its just arranging/hiding data with purpose, rather than creating new systems and adding more work for yourself)


dcfedor's picture

I think this is a good idea, too. I pictured something like this being the case for hiring crew, but it might be worth trying in other contexts!

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games