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Ketchaval

Relationships in games?

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One way of implementing relationships in games has struck me. Imagine a Zombie game where the focus is on survival rather than killing zombies. You have the main character, then you have several other characters. These NPCs have their own goals, and sometimes they will accompany you. You have choices at key stages, ie. do you risk your character's life to save someone who is trapped in a collapsing building? If so they will be grateful. If not they may die, or hold it against you if they survive the collapse and meet you later on. You will have different ways of interacting with the characters, ie. initiating conversations, and cheering them up if they get down - or not if you want to be mean. Much of your interaction with them will be in-game, that is it will be action based. Ie. Do you pull them up when they can't get up a ledge? Do you go out of your way to help them, do you give them medical supplies or share food with them? Do you shout "look out! run!" when a zombie creeps up on them! Depending on how you treat them they will become more positive towards you, indifferent to you, or actively dislike you. And they will try to help you out at times if you need it, ie. when you trip over they will run back to pull you upright again. They will also show their feelings through their words, ie. having more emotion in their voice when they say "be careful!" - or saying something less friendly if you annoy them, looking more worried when bad things start to happen to your character, throwing you a weapon if you are trapped without anything to defend yourself with. You wouldn't need them to complete the game, but the endings and scenes would change depending on how you treat them. You might become lifelong friends, etc. Depending on how you treat different people, various factions would form and some people would watch your back for you if another member of the party wanted to take over as the leader. (Think of those zombie movies, where a lot of the tension comes from inside the group - ie. the neurotic woman who just wants to give up, or the wannabe leader who insists on a different riskier plan. Sometimes violence breaks out within the group as someone makes a grab for a weapon.). Obviously this approach isn't just for Zombie games, but could work in a lot of other action-adventure-type games. Thoughts? [Edited by - Ketchaval on July 2, 2005 7:42:22 PM]

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I like it, and it sounds like a good premise to me.
It strikes me as the hardest parts being hiding the mechanics and making the AI respond intelligibly/believably. It seems like it would be doable and worth doing as well. I feel it could add a lot to a game; especially survival horror type as you describe.

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I think one of the main problems that establishing relationships with other characters presents in most games is that it uses a different type of interaction to what the main game is about.

Ie. In an RPG the communication between characters is handled by text menus, but the gameplay is about beating up monsters. So integrating interactions, shouted verbal warnings when others are being attacked and pulling stragglers along ICO style.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Why would you want to help NPCS? If they were mad at me Id just shoot them.

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Quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
Why would you want to help NPCS? If they were mad at me Id just shoot them.


What if they shot back? :D It could be a little like 28 Days, with you having to deal with not only the monsters but the enemies you've made.


One thing that could really cement this is to have multi-person environmental challenges, such as not being able to get across a chasm unless someone operates a nearby crane. You could even get into strategic sacrifice choices: Do you save the arrogant football player who wants to take over but has a strong back, or the wounded marine who slows you down but has knowledge of weapons, or skitish mall rat who has a high chance to panic but who can fit in tight spaces?

[smile] Overlayed over your traditional Resident Evil themed game, this could be very fun.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
One thing that could really cement this is to have multi-person environmental challenges, such as not being able to get across a chasm unless someone operates a nearby crane.


There must be a lot of things like this that could be done. Some simple examples could be, lowering a rope down to you from above (or you could do it for them). Or helping to move a heavy object, such as righting a car. Giving a bunk up.

A great example of this was in a cut-scene in SOS Final Escape, where you help a girl up onto a ledge you can't climb up because it is too high, but then you aren't sure if she has deserted you. Eventually she comes back with a rope.
In a dynamic relationship system, they could actually desert you and leave you down there after you help them up- if they don't like you AND feel they don't need you. ("See you later, sucker!").

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