This update we decided to dedicate to a few interesting questions we received. Read through to get to know more about our expanded HEXACO, clinical precision of data, release date witholdings, size of the game world….
john walker said:
Complex moral and ethical interdependencies and "economies" sound great. Hope they provide a diverse spektrum outcomes. Nice that you're updating us regularly. Of course a release date would be nicer. Hope that's not too far off. By the way, is the project still a three parter? Will you be releasing all parts simultaneously?
One of the reasons the game development time balooned up so much is that we actually developed the first game to cover the entire three chapters, with cliffhangers in the end that allow for future chapters to be added as attention grows. We finally have consolidated all the chapters into a single file so we can measure the size of the text and do other analysis and it turns out you will have 1100 pages worth of material to read through if you play out every single choice.
The initial idea was the game to be much smaller but it turned out it wasn't very immersive and the entire playthrough would've taken a relatively short amount of time. We didn't like this at all, so we migrated the goal post into another city entirely and now we have this gigantic textual world for you to explore.
We've been running this game since we ran out of money, purely fueled by passion for the project and our own curiosity to play through. With a procedural world like this, even the developers can have fun playing through the game since it can surprise you over and over again. This aspect insures that our love for the game is not strictly limited to "our love to publish the game" but it spreads out to us loving to play the game as well and consequently the game becomes a higher quality product.
Release date is close, but we're firmly decided on not budging on it so we will have to be absolutely certain that it is feasible. Luckily once we announce the release date, you will be able to play the game soon after since the most major aspects of the game are completely finished and we have all that we need to develop the rest.
Xamuel Jones said:
After reading this post, I'm finding myself extremely intrigued by the HEXACO system itself. Will it be possible to play around with it and to learn what sort of character analysis it would have generated for varying game plays? Obviously, one could just play through the game, but it would be too long to do a separate play through for every analysis. Maybe allow players to see the range of possible analyses? Kinda like showing what all 32 endings were without needing to play the game 32 times. I'm curious, will the players' data be used (with permission) in any sort of scientific study/analysis in psychology?
We want you to explore all the radically varying outcomes of the game and try out extremely different character playthroughs. This offers an entirely new experience and is totally worth it in every regard. So the only way to test out a playthrough statistic is to live through it within the game. By the way it's a HEXACO +++ system, our own spin on the HEXACO system, gamified.
We have no plans to use the data of the players, it's purely for your own enjoyment and our own enjoyment if you share the final game printscreen with us. The game is completely offline and has no direct way to share data with us. Your privacy is guaranteed. We also don't want to know what kind of depravity you will engage in this horrible post-apocalyptic world, mostly since we've already gone through all the depravity possible while testing. :]
Hi Misery Dev. team,
The game is sounding ever more fascinating and your OCD attention to detail well worth the wait. It sounds like the game play through will actually challenge what it means to not only survive, but with what degree of humanity. Even more interesting the challenge to be realistic in your choices which will undoubtedly require true immersion in your game strategy to make morally ambiguous decisions that would seem unconscionable outside the context of the scenario created to progress in the game world. The average cumulative results of the game play through statistics should make a great behavioral psychology study into what remains of basic humanity when the veneer of civilization is shattered with no immediate belief that it can be restored.
What we're really trying to do with the HEXACO+++ system is to be precise. Before starting through the weeks long process of awarding separate points (And negative points) to each and every choice among the thousands of choices and within each category of the expanded HEXACO system, we made an average and extremes example map. This way we would be synchronised with the amount that we award for specific tasks and the values won't be without a reference point. This causes a firm consistency throughout the entire game even though context of the decisions is always taken into account. Every choice is context sensitive and the amounts awarded or taken adjust according to those considerations.
While the game certainly shouldn't be used as an actual clinical psychology test, we want to have the precision and methodology of clinical tests, but with the immersion and fun of a game. In fact, imagine what kind of an experience would give more precise results, one where you answer bland questions on a piece of paper, or one where you actually interact with the world, you feel you are a part of it, and answer honestly? One day in the future, actual clinical evaluations could be done in terms of the decisions and performance within morally complex video game worlds. While The Seed is most likely not there, it is a firm step in that direction.
Hi. I'm Damjan and I'm the developer behind the beast that is The Seed. Something being a beast is good right? Anyway...
This time we'll go a bit more in depth around the HEXACO choice analysis system we developed uniquely for this game.
As you may already know, the HEXACO system we introduced into the game follows your every choice, no matter how trivial looking, and awards an array of points (or takes away) depending on choice, situation, circumstances. In the end of the game, a procedurally generated description of your character and you experience will make a broad psychological profile of you or rather your decisions within the game world.
So imagine that every single decision you make, has a context sensitive amount of points it awards within the HEXACO range. Say you kill a dog because you were nearly starving, yes that's a -20 on Sensitivity.
But imagine that same dog, is actually your own dog that saved your life and you were hanging out a lot with. Well, then it's a different story, it's not -20, it's -55 Sensitivity if you decide to kill it.
This is actually a simplified example since almost every single decision influences a range of variables within the HEXACO range. Some a lot, some very subtly. But if you consistently chose those subtle variables and made a one-off major hit on say Sensitivity, overall you'd still be pretty sensitive.
The game looks at the overall experience and awards smart context points.
Testing the personality engine
This was about the broad concept of the HEXACO system applied within a single choice, but what about how the final analysis takes into account your unique playthrough experience?
Well it does that too. We don't get to deserve the adjective "Beast" easily.
What I did was I made an autoplayer that selects through choices and plays the game superfast, and many times while generating a detailed file of the playthrough. The autoplayer sacrificed his time and effort to play the game some 1,000 times. We also use the autoplayer to test for bugs but that's another story.
The data from those hundreds of playthroughs is run through an excel file and we analyze the data of specific ending experiences. So when the HEXACO system says in the end that the character has had a grueling experience but has surpassed the challenges and crushed them beneath his feet, it certainly wouldn't say that if you happened to have a fairly peaceful, danger avoiding experience right?
By analyzing this, we can know that the specific ending of when you... wait. I can't tell you the ending. Let's invent a bad example then.
If you decided to always face danger head first, but your unique playthrough was filled with safe situations, you can't really test your fearlessness too much right? So the maximum of fearlessness wouldn't be that high.
But if you went through the most excruciating situations and came up on top, well... You deserve to be called "The beast" and have a shit ton of fearlessness points.
That's a bit of preview of how context sensitivity works for specific branch experiences. We want to do this right, so OCD like attention to detail is a necessity.
Hope you enjoy this aspect of the game and try the different directions this game could go before you consider it finished.
Kind regards Damjan Cvetkov-Dimitrov Developer, Misery Development Ltd.
It’s been way too long since our last update, and we are sorry for that.
It is our goal to remain informative and transparent during development, and it is due time for us to bring you some more news and insight.
These past couple of months have been very hectic for everyone actively engaged in the project development. But we are past that now, and making solid progress at a good pace, here in the new year.
We are still working on the game with an exhausted budget, so everything from this point is still done as an investment into the game completion, and because we want to see it come to fruition and completion as much as you do.
WHATS GOING ON NOW
Now, we are merging all the assets, while optimising the methods to do so.
Our programmer Damjan has, yet again, built a faster, more flexible and manageable data core, that undoubtedly will reduce the risk of errors, typos, etc. And when it comes to data insertion for the game engine, it runs smoother than ever before. Refactoring, bug fixes, simplifications make future work much easier than before. So we got that.
HEXACO parameters are now being defined for every choice in the game (counting more than 1,000 different choice actions for the whole game). This task is as fun as it is time consuming, but the result of this is going to very interesting, and we can’t wait to see what we are going to be portrayed like ourselves, once we get to play the game.
All choices in the game will ultimately help to define your character and personality, but many choices have an impact on the story itself, and all the choices that are generated on that specific path.
There are 32 possible endings, story-wise, but your end game Character Analysis can potentially be very different from someone else who got the very same ending.
The ingame GPS feature has been expanded with a new, extra effect that comes into play as you progress in the game. It is a functionality glitch of multiple levels and progressively worsening stages. Here’s a short screen recording just to give you an idea of what it looks like now, at a severely critical level:'
It feels like we are building much comfort to start looking at potential release dates soon.
For now it is still too risky to announce anything concrete, but we see it highly likely that the near future will bring some solid ground for these matters.
So, we are a small team here, passionately devoted to the completion of our first standalone video game. Is there any particular aspect or topic that you would like to see more of?
We would be happy to form an update on that, and elaborate with more insight.
Again, we want to express our gratitude for the patience and understanding for this project.
We will post another update soon.
Editing is done! 126 chapters fully edited by Glen and Gary Johnson to uniform the style and synchronize the narrative, which is a cooperative work by a handful of authors as you know.
To give you an idea of the quantity of text that we’ve processed we made this insight of just one chapter:
That’s just one chapter and we have 126 of those.
This is a huge task completed and another great step on the way towards completion.
Our next big task is to merge all the assets of SFX, GFX, player choices and scenes properly with the text. This will be done mainly by our programmer Damjan Cvetkov-Dimitrov, who’s skills and experience with programming have only grown during the months that we’ve worked on the game.
Another Update will be composed when we have more to show and tell about the completion of the game.
Thank you for sticking with us, and encouraging us to keep on going!
We couldn’t have done it without your support!
The text editing is full steam ahead and we have now covered two thirds of everything.
That’s more than 700 pages of text that we can cross off our list.
Less than 300 pages more to go…
For the editing phase we are not just correcting commas and spelling errors. We are looking at every phrase and line and rewriting some of them, polishing others, while making sure that lore and branching is well aligned overall. This is a job that requires focus, determination and patience. The Johnson brothers are doing an awesome job on this!
A large majority of chapters are also trimmed down in this phase. Trimmed down significantly.
We have established a technical guideline that will ensure that the reader will never face more than 1.000 words of text before some sort of fiction interaction is required. Based on feedback and tests we have found that this rule will maintain a good balance between the novel format and choice based interaction while playing.
VISUAL CONTENT BOOST
In other news we have a huge load of quality urbex (abandoned urban exploration) photography donated to the game from Marcin Trojanowski through his Urbi et urbex project. He is devoting time and passion to capture some truly magnificent abandoned locations that fit well into our game and vision. Just recently Marcin has sent us the first batch of HQ photography and we will be diving into the drive and explore the data in the coming weeks.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the urban exploration documentation by Marcin Trojanowski. While these images cannot be considered spoilers for the game, they definitely serve to give you some insight of some the visuals that you can expect from the final product. Looks attractive, doesn't it?