Hello everyone, Lee Barnett here, from the writing team!
Today I’m going to talk to you all about one of my key projects this past week, figuring out a way to take our numerous characters in the mine, and turn their complex personalities and preferences into a simple slate of numbers that the engineers can work with. In order to do this, the lead designer, lead writer, and myself got together and created what we call the, “Personality Axis”. This axis is a 2 dimensional graph, from -1 to 1 on both the x and y scales, that we are using to determine how each miner would react to the player’s choices in dialogue. The two axes are “Rationality” and “Selfishness”, where rationality is used to determine how much a miner uses logic and facts to make their choices, and where selfishness measures how self-centered a miner is.
To keep things simple, I’ll tell you how I read the graph and set the scales. A positive value in “Rationality” is a very rational and factually driven person, while a negative value in “Rationality” is an emotional person who is impulsive and acts on feelings. Similarly for the “Selfishness” scale, a positive value means that the miner in question is self-centered and wants to help themselves, more than they help other people, while a negative value means the miner is willing to sacrifice himself to aid others. Neither of these values is really better or worse for the player, they just determine what each miner wants, how they will react to dialogue, and ultimately how the player will need to speak with each of these miners to get the most out of each of them.
For a quick example on how each of these work and what I’ve been doing to populate this graph, Wayne O’ Grady is a former boxer who has washed up and is now stuck living in the past. He’s also known to occasionally try and start some sparring matches with the other miners. Since Wayne is stuck in the past and always dreaming about the good old days, he is clearly quite emotional, giving him a “Rationality” score of -0.6. And since he is so self-centered (as indicated by his dreaming of his past and attempting to relive the past by sparring with his partners) he gets a “Selfishness” score of 0.7. So his ultimate personality becomes a coordinate (-0.6, 0.7) that engineering can now use to implement the character fully, but while keeping everything modular and easy to modify as we move forward in development.
As odd as it may sound, attempting to take complex characters and turn them into a simple set of stats is quite entertaining. It’s like a puzzle of how to capture the most out of each character, while keeping the jar of engineering’s tears as empty as possible.
But that’s going to have to be all for today, thank you all for reading, and be sure to keep following us for more updates from the writing team and beyond!