Stations Fixed & Character Generation

Hey Folks! I managed to wrap-up most of the outstanding bugs on stations and transit today, and decided to start work on character gen!

The station wrap-up marks the end of my list of observations from when I was last testing the main game loop. The last remaining piece was getting the ledger working, to track player fees, debts, and expenditures when using station facilities. It's the "sink" in game design parlance. The thing you're running out of, and have to play the game more to replenish.

You're technically losing O2, water, food, fuel, and other physical resources, of course. And dealing with psychological needs, and (eventually) rivals and friends. However, a lot of this is replenished by paying someone to restock your ship. And the simplest way to do that is to pay them to do it.

Of course, getting money isn't always simple, nor easy. Money might come from people who owe you for services rendered, or for items you've obtained and sold at a profit. Or maybe just plain old piracy. But in order to navigate that social web, we need to know a bit more about the player and their relationship to the world. And that's where our next feature comes in: character creation.

I'm really keen to try a more involved character creation in this space prototype. NEO Scavenger was a decent starting point, with some really useful ways of handling stats and other attributes. So I think I'll be using a similar manner of describing things like "strong" or "fragile." However, I might flesh it out a bit. Whether that be through additional stats, more granularity, or whatever.

And as I allude to above, I'd like for this to also define some backstory for our protagonist. Where were they born? Where did they grow up? Was it a low-g environment? Are they physically weak as a result? Are their parents researchers at Voltaire University on Deimos? Or illegal immigrants on the relative paradise of Hangzhou Orbital? Maybe they grew up working the scrapyards of K-Leg for laborers?

All of these questions can tell us a lot about a person. Their physical and mental strengths and handicaps, but also their relationships, legal status, relative wealth and social position. And with that information, there should start to form some ideas of what the protagonist's goals are. Who they're hiding from, who they owe, who might bail them out.

This character generation piece will create the social web and context for our character. And I think what will shortly follow that is some sort of encounter system to let the player experience that web in real time. A way to have an event and respond to it, and for that to change the web and current status.

I'm pretty excited to be tackling this aspect! I think it's one of the last major pieces to the puzzle in making an engaging core game loop.

And, as usual, I'm also a bit nervous. It's a cool idea in theory, but heck knows if I can realize it :)


spacemedic's picture

It might be interesting to see how strong or weak a person might be from being born on Earth or born off world on a place like Mars, Europa, or Ceres. Heck, I don’t know if you’d wanna do this but asteroids might be a neat idea also since they have the lowest amounts of gravity but plenty of raw minerals. Not to mention being hollowed out for a big habitat inside.

Speaking of handicaps and social status, are they all blue collar? A mix of blue and white? Grey area criminals? All of the above? What do you think about barriers, such as language or culture barriers? Say, someone refuses to work in a ship unless there are no females or males for personal reasons? Or difficulty with someone who only speaks Chinese and minimal English? Or will handicaps be more physical, like chronic medical conditions that need attention (ex., Type I Diabetes)?

I think that Rimworld, which you’ve mentioned, might also have some influence for Character Creation, if it’s all going to be semi random? Unless you wanna go for procedural gen characters?

dcfedor's picture

Yeah, that's the first thing that came to my mind, too. Low-g and zero-g childhoods are going to have a big effect on physical builds. Not to mention radiation exposure, growth defects, and other issues.

As for social strata, I'm currently thinking it could be anything. From rich to poor, healthy to unhealthy. Ideally, the benefits would be balanced by drawbacks, just like in NS.

And chargen would probably be a guided process for the player, plus randomized backgrounds and training for NPCs.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games

ra1's picture

Is the protagonist one of the ship's crew? All of them? An omnicient god that clicks everything?

What if the captain dies? If we hate our cook, can we push them out an airlock? Will the other crew mutiny?

dcfedor's picture

A lot of this will be determined by playtesting. So if playtesting shows omniscience is more fun, I'll go with that.

The current plan, however, is for the player to be the captain, and have indirect control over other crew members. Probably like the distinction between your sim vs. neighbor sims in The Sims: all sims address needs as they see fit, but you can directly control your own sim's actions, dialogue, etc.

This could get tricky in critical situations like combat, docking, etc. So I'll have to see how that plays out. Might need to override certain NPCs when doing certain things (like Rimworld's combat).

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games