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(process) Emergent Characters

Started by droqen, December 11, 2021, 06:16:29 PM

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droqen

Quote from: i asked on twitteri'm thinking about games with 'replaceable' characters with no unique authored content that you still can get attached to over the course of a game. some games on my mind:

- X-COM
- Etrian Odyssey
- Animal Crossing (villagers)
- Pokémon
- Dwarf Fortress

got any other good examples for me?
my tweet

droqen

December 11, 2021, 06:18:18 PM #1 Last Edit: December 11, 2021, 11:40:18 PM by droqen
- Tamagotchi
- Rogue Legacy
- Gain Ground Characters don't meet the requirement
- State of Decay
- Shadow of Mordor (Nemesis System)
- Heat Signature

droqen

December 11, 2021, 07:15:34 PM #2 Last Edit: December 11, 2021, 11:39:57 PM by droqen
- Into the Breach
- Worms
- Geneforge (creations)
- Final Fantasy Tactics
- Disgaea

droqen

- Worms
- Theme Hospital
- Terra Nova
- Duskers
- Diablo 2 (hired mercenaries)
- FTL


droqen

- The Sims
- Crusader Kings
- Battle for Wesnoth
- Massive Chalice ?
- Battle Brothers Wildermyth
- the Last Spell
- Football Manager
- Halo (random marines?)

droqen

December 12, 2021, 11:20:30 AM #6 Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 11:35:09 AM by droqen
- Dragon's Dogma (pawns)
- Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (Innocent Devils)
- Othercide (daughters)
- Invisible, Inc.

droqen


droqen

December 12, 2021, 01:08:57 PM #8 Last Edit: December 12, 2021, 01:21:16 PM by droqen
- Blaseball - I haven't really engaged with it but I am familiar with it. Might exclude it on the basis of it being fundamentally, deeply multiplayer.
- King of Dragon Pass (the council)

droqen

10 games chosen based on relevance, personal familiarity, and finally diversity of design/genre.

- Tamagotchi
- X-COM
- Etrian Odyssey
- Animal Crossing (villagers)
- Shadow of Mordor (nemesis)
- Pokémon (the Pokémon)
- Dwarf Fortress
- Disgaea
- Heat Signature
- The Sims

droqen

I guess the core here is the emotional experience of "caring about what happens to a character (without authored narrative)".

So, how do these 10 games create this effect?

droqen

I've shuffled the list. Another side question is "what happens to the character that you care about?"

- Heat Signature
- The Sims
- X-COM
- Pokémon (the Pokémon)
- Tamagotchi
- Animal Crossing (villagers)
- Shadow of Mordor (nemesis)
- Disgaea
- Dwarf Fortress
- Etrian Odyssey

droqen

December 13, 2021, 12:12:23 PM #12 Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 12:15:26 PM by droqen
- Caring about what happens to a character (without authored narrative)
- What happens to the character that you care about?

Heat Signature

Your character has a mini storyline with a goal, which you care about completing. If you die, you can never complete that character's goal.

The game is quite lethal, so you might die at any time.

Your character builds up an inventory of items but this doesn't make you care about the character.

The player has direct control over the character. The game is quite lethal. If the player messes up their planning, their character's death feels like their fault.

droqen

December 13, 2021, 12:19:22 PM #13 Last Edit: December 13, 2021, 12:38:04 PM by droqen
- Caring about what happens to a character (without authored narrative)
- What happens to the character that you care about?

The Sims

Sims have relatable needs like "Hunger" and "Social" and when those needs go unsatisfied for a long time they throw little tantrums which indicate that they are not just upset, but really suffering because of those unmet needs.

The sims will act on their own but the player can directly control what individual sims do, if they want. A player spends their time decorating a sim's house, spending their money for them, directing them. The player has a lot of control over what happens to the sim.

What can happen to them? Emotional suffering, as above. But the sim can also lose money (which is used by the player to purchase things), they can also get old and die.

Most bad things that happen to a sim cause the player to lose agency. If the sim is emotionally suffering, they may act against the player's wishes to resolve their need. If the sim loses money, the player cannot buy as many things. If the sim dies, the player can no longer control them. -- The player cares about the sim's well being and the better off the sim is, the more ability the player has to influence that.

droqen

- Caring about what happens to a character (without authored narrative)
- What happens to the character that you care about?

X-COM

Your soldiers (idk if they're called soldiers by the game - I will call them soldiers here) level up over the course of the game from unspecialized rookies to entry-level specialists to experts. As the game gets harder, their improved stats and special abilities increase your ability to succeed.

[WELL-OFF CHARACTER = SUCCESS]

If a soldier dies, your chance of success on the current level falls, since you're down one person. Your chance of success for the rest of the game may fall as well; a downed soldier may die or at least be out of commission for a while, and you may have to use a lower-levelled soldier.

[SUFFERING CHARACTER = FAILURE]

The player controls these soldiers directly and wrong decisions will lead to quick deaths, but there is a lot of randomness too.

[CONTROL OVER FATE]
[SEMI-CHAOTIC, UNKNOWN FATE]