One of the many things we’re working on this month is improving the fidelity of character personalities. Clockwork Empires runs a pretty cool algorithm for the characters wherein they attempt to better their lives when they find free time. If they’re angry, afraid, sad, or just bored they have a number of ways to resolve these cases, but until the present the majority of the options for making themselves feel better were solitary actions. For example they would look at paintings, stomp on the ground, drink an entire bottle of whiskey, and so on, with preferences for these actions based on the traits the character possesses (“Brutish” characters, for instance, are more inclined to solve their problems with violence).
But there are really only so many ways a person can make themselves feel better on their own, and besides, this wasn’t taking proper advantage of the fact that there are many characters around just begging for interactions, particularly a character’s set of friends, which can lead to interesting stories. So one things we needed in order to really get this clicking into place was a robust system for paired character interactions. We’ve had them doing this in one case, “gossiping”, for some time with the characters discussing a bunch of topics that they like or dislike, but we finally had time to make this system more robust, and now we can take advantage of a bunch of animations that Chris put together for when we got around to it.
Characters are starting to learn how to hug, make out, whisper to each other, slap each other, and a few other fun things, which might not sound like much, but vastly improves the variety of ways for characters to solve their emotional problems, and the number of possible paths to happiness.
If you follow around a character in the current version of the game who is angry for example, they can visit a church (which is unlikely unless they’re “spiritually inclined”), stomp on the ground, break something, or drink a beverage (if they have the “drunkard” trait). But the baseline case is really mundane and uninteresting: they just stomp on the ground.
The addition of paired interactions allows for a character’s friend to console them, for them to slap someone they dislike, to whisper bad things about people they dislike to others so they feel better about themselves, and more. Since characters do form relationships fairly frequently, the likelihood of them having a number of interesting things they can do increases dramatically and the fidelity of the simulation benefits hugely as a result.
Characters stomping around, suddenly becoming happy and moving on with their day looks a bit like a glitch and isn’t particularly interesting. Characters scheming about their enemies, slapping them, then getting a hug from a friend and becoming happy feels significantly more compelling.
We hope to get a few of these in with the next experimental update, which will also have the prototype for object collections. Expect lots of balancing changes based on how these things go!