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Wavinator

The "Will to Live" / Lifeforce Stat

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I'm thrashing out the possibility of situationally dependent hit points to cover a wider variety of situations than straightforward combat. For the abstract RPG portion of the game I'm working on I've been once again thinking about how to bind you to the game world. In general I'm wanting to abstractly capture the concept of the "will to live" that, in adventurous stories, grants the hero bonuses or (in darker stories) creates something they have to wrestle with when lost. The character portion is stats heavy and I've been thinking of either events modifying these stats or you strategically spending them to accomplish your goals. For example, charming someone you hate might cost something like Patience, a stat that drifts back to a set point over time; seducing them to gain valuable information might cost Dignity, a stat which requires actions to be performed in order to be recovered. I've been wanting to infuse this part of the game with a more (for lack of a better word) "ethereal" stat that also acts as a game governing mechanism. For lack of a better word 'Lifeforce' might work, and I was thinking it could work similar to hit points in terms of growing, shrinking and ending the game when it reaches a certain level. Depending on the character type you decided to play different "objects" in the game world would generate positive or negative 'Lifeforce.' Having tons of money if you're Scrooge, or a family, or a prosperous homeland would generate positive Lifeforce, which in turn would trickle into every other stat. Optionally losing these things would stop the flow of positive resources, at least until some situationally dependent action. Getting revenge on those that killed your family, or fighting to liberate your homeland might be examples. I'm also thinking about an idea someone gave in another similar thread of mine where turning points actually upset the routine: If you're Scrooge, for instance, events might happen that make the money stop supplying (or even drain?) 'Lifeforce.' For a game with no real story but rather a collection of stat dependent events, what do you think of the idea in general and it's possible power to motivate you to care about your "supply points" in the game world?

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It is dawn and Blood is slightly tired. The Ice Fear is very mild. Blood is utterly bold.

Always loved the pathos the very simple rules governing Fear in Lords of Midnight evoked. It was just a matter of proximity to Doomdark's Ice Crown and his fear magic target and various player controlled Free characters and places and the amount of courage characters started with but it humanized them and their struggle, and also gave a sense of intelligent malice to the AI controlled Dark Lord.

This is important stuff I feel. Story lines in games are even more irrelevant than in film - if I wanted a story i'd be reading one - but this is story telling through gameplay. It matters profoundly just as visual vocabulary matters in film.

In fact, actual stories use "gameplay story telling" - tragedy in Tolkien's saga is almost algorithmic - the world functions according to rules one can follow. Feanor is bound to his Silmarils (as become Thingol and the Dwarves and Morgoth too), his sons to his oath, Turin to his own scattered people (his "lifeforce" source under thrall he takes the wrong, fey turn without fail), Beren and Luthien to each other, Morgoth to his lust, Gollum to the Ring and everyone to Honor. Nothing can be helped, characters are compelled to act as they do, therefore, tragedy, mathematically.

I don't object to "ethereal" attributes as lifeforce, love, honor, hope, happiness courage acting as resources, but I'll note that there is great opportunity for gameplay driven story telling. If the game knows if a character is +3 attack / -3 defense out of desperation for losing his home/family/... that can be related to the player in a simple yet touching way. Also, I'd prefer if the effects of the hidden attributes would be enhanced odds of triggering some special events rather than quietly modifying stats.

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Spending Stats and skill points to perform actions is an usual idea but I could see it working. Actions would have a cost associated with them adjust by environmental conditions. It takes more points to unlock a door when the room is filling with water or a guard is coming round the corner then when you are on your own.

The good thing about this idea is that you could tie it into all sorts of things. So if I had 10 athletic and am being chased by an Agent I spend 4 jumping to another roof , 5 to jump through a window of a building on the other side of alley but now I don’t have enough points to run down the stairs.

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I think "ethereal" is the key idea here. If it's a stat represented by an integer that the player can see, then it's just one more ability to micromanage. I need to grind up my family to max out my "something to live for" value in order to unlock the "force of will" maneuver that'll be my ace in the hole for feats of strength, resistance to disease or the ability to win karate tournaments.

The problem with ethereal stats is that they can go one of two ways, it seems: Either someone decodes it and posts it on GameFAQs, whereupon everyone knows the secret and it's just an annoying metagame to calculate the stat yourself, or it's too unintuitive and players treat it as a random occurrence, something to be hoped for rather than worked toward.

I do love the idea, and I think it's a great dramatic device, although getting it into gameplay will be tricky. Would it be depleted after use, so Scrooge's fortune will buoy him up through lonely nights and let him withstand the scorn of his neighbors, but only if he gets a chance to sit and count his gold every so often and remind himself what's important?

Thinking about it, I think it would almost seem more fitting for really big examples of the effect to be a shift in the character's priorities, something that remaps your value weights when it happens. If you have a baby daughter back home and you use your devotion to her to stabilize yourself and survive a mortal wound, then that feels a little bit like the end of a story, like the event should "break" your character so he can't be charging into machinegun fire anymore, and if he gets a letter from home saying she died of typhoid, he loses all his bonuses and is wrecked forever, volunteering for every hazardous duty and praying for death. The catalyst for the miracle would become like your new religion, and everything you do from then on would have to be informed by the fact that there's one clear reason you're still around. It's like a deal with the devil: You get a wish, but then you belong to whatever granted it.

Maybe there could be more than one "class" of lifeforce, with different features. Scrooge can go through life without camaraderie or the satisfaction of a job well done as long as his business is in the black and he's richer than his competitors, whereas Inigo Montoya can only cash in his "You Killed My Father" chip once, to miraculously withstand a series of stab wounds from his nemesis. After that, he's at loose ends and needs to find a new motivation. Commissioner Gordon, of course, can simply think of Sarah at any given time, and the rest is easy.

I think this sort of thing could add a lot of weight to the "gameplay fluff", like getting married or choosing a background profession or holding a public office, that's so often tacked on in games like Fable.

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I may be falling a bit adrift with this comment, but I see your idea as an exploration of emotions and how we respond to them. However, due to the nature of a video game this idea will inevitably have flaws due to a program's inability to emulate human emotion and the ways our brains process things. If such an idea is not treated properly I think it is highly likely that "Either someone decodes it and posts it on GameFAQs, whereupon everyone knows the secret and it's just an annoying metagame to calculate the stat yourself, or it's too unintuitive and players treat it as a random occurrence, something to be hoped for rather than worked toward" as Iron Chef stated.

I think a good work-around to this would be to leave the impact of "ethereal stats" out of the core gameplay. The product of these stats could then be put in an abstract scenario with no clear product of each ethereal stat. The idea here is that the abstract scenario presents the result of the ethereal stats in a seemingly non-formulaic fashion to shroud the fact that the emotions portrayed are formulaic. The value of the ethereal stats would then lie in perception.

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