The July deadline for the playable is getting closer and closer and it is forcing me to make a lot more of the game concrete. The past week resulted in a lot of work on the people and the structure of the story.
The people as paramed were incredibly placeholder. All they really had was a name, and even that was really a number. They still haven't been named, but they do have more detail now. I've been working at making them more like the player character.
I prefer having the player character and the NPCs to follow similar rules. I do not like giving the protagonist special rules unless the game is asymmetric enough to make it necessary. Firstly, this reduces complexity and the feeling of the game cheating when other people are forced to act in the same way as the player. Secondly, I dislike reinforcing the idea that the protagonist is special, that's a belief very alien to my values and so has no place in my games.
Other people already had to use the same traits available to the player, so I just used those traits to determine what activities those people would be able to do and now you can invite them to do any of those activities with yourself. This is still not quite the fidelity that I would desire from this, but is enough of the way there that I'm not unhappy. I want to actually give the NPCs towers as well, but that is a pretty low priority and I don't expect to see it for a while.
I'm messing with the towers as well right now. As of this moment, you have to place them directly on a trait instead of anywhere next to a path. The benefits of this seem to be:
- The way the towers are capped based on the number of traits is extremely clear.
- This way the towers are better associated with other related towers. This should make the visual composition of the game better.
- The towers are better associated with the traits. Earlier, they would end up quite far from their sources.
The biggest problem is the degree to which it hurts the tower defense parts of the game. As it is currently implemented, the game doesn't really support building paths and towers in interesting shapes so as to maximize the efficiency of the towers. This is a very fixable problem though.
The other change from this is in the creation of traits. Now, a build-up of emotion can result in a trait associated with that emotion being formed. So, letting your sadness build up can end up giving you the resilience trait, which constantly boosts your will, or the lethargy one which comes with a hit to your total will. Additionally, memories have a chance of building one of these traits when they flare. This is a feature that helps me put down some things in my head, but is not fleshed out enough for me to fully understand.
Note that I don't actually think it was sensible for me to build this feature. It isn't necessary, and I need to focus on getting the playable out. The only thing this feature actually achieves is to scratch an itch in the back of my head. It didn't take long to do and I do believe that it can have upside, but building this feature does speak of a lack of discipline on my part.
The first five chapters have now been implemented and it ends on something of a cliffhanger, so I'm okay with cutting the story off right here for the July playtest. It needs work however. I'm going to use the same high level goals for the story as I do for the game, but I need to split out the story into its composite threads to do this analysis.
Despite spending most of my time on high variance features instead of just pushing this game to completion, I still feel ahead of schedule for getting a playable ready by July. I'm really excited about getting real people to try this game out.