What’s important to a colonist’s quality of life on the Frontier? Why, clearly: Food, safety, work conditions, and having a good place to sleep. We’ve been using the memory system to convey the importance of these factors but the results have been somewhat unsteady, prone to being thrown off by extreme, random factors. To be fair, it’s pretty upsetting when Fishpeople eat your friends, but that’s a difficult emotion to balance against something as simple as getting a good meal every day.
How do we make fulfilling the basics AND memories of extreme events both remain important throughout? So glad you asked: The Quality Of Life System! This somewhat resembles the old stub for personal desires, but generalizes them for all people, with allowances for social class and traits. Let’s have a look:
Quality Wood loves the outdoors, as you can see by his “Pioneering Spirit” trait (just look past the morbidity and mushroom-love; the little tree there). Therefore if he is performing assignments outdoors, he’ll have increased happiness. He will also not become unhappy if forced to sleep outdoors – he’s a Pioneering Spirit, after all, and expects that some hardship is necessary. Other characters will be much less pleased to find themselves in such a situation.
Wolfram Tar was forced to sleep on the floor. Because he is of the lower class, this is acceptable and has no strong emotional effect on him. If you provide a cot, he’s going to be well satisfied by this.
I will note here that characters will still produce short-term memories for acts such as sleeping on the floor or working in a poor quality workshop. It’s just that now the emotional effects of these conditions will remain in effect regardless of whether they are recent memories or not, so the quality of life conditions are always important, even if your friends are eaten by Fishpeople.
Now the last condition which I have not yet named is somewhat more abstract: “Crowding”. This is a catch-all gamey mechanic that makes everyone a little less happy and a little more angry/despairing as your colony rises toward a higher population. This should give a subtle push toward increased Interesting Times as a colony becomes more successful.
These are new factors of course and are very much going to be hit with iterative balancing. But we think that even now that will make establishing basic necessities a much more clear-cut path to promoting colonial happiness, and when the system is fully operational the quality of life indicators will give clear feedback for how you can improve your colonists’ lot in life.
So let’s get out there to build some cots and boil some stew to make some colonists happy!