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Update #4

Meet the Psycho Engine

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As another day of our Kickstarter campaign comes to a close, it is becoming evident that the momentum has dropped significantly. We are still hard at work trying to get press coverage that will help to attract more potential backers to the campaign, and with 27 days still to go, there is still every chance to reach our funding goal.

I also wanted to point out that we are reading all the comments here on Kickstarter, and where ever possible we answer right away. However, it is not possible for us to answer all questions and cover all areas of the game at the same time. I will discuss different parts and areas of the game in updates here on Kickstarter, but I will have to do so one at a time. I hope you understand. and having said that, let’s dive into today’s topic - the character interactions I have mentioned on various occasions before.

The Psycho Engine

Since character interaction is one of the key features in our game, I thought in today’s update I will tell you a little more about how this is going to work and what kind of effects you can expect. It is a bit tricky for me to do, because on the one hand I would love to divulge every bit of information on it - because it really is absolutely cool and fascinating - but at the same time I need to make sure we are maintaining a bit of competitive advantage by keeping things vague. In the old days, this was not a problem because you talked about things such as this very late in the development of a game, but in today’s climate, as soon as we announce features, people want to know details. The problem with that is that in the time from now until the time we publish, other projects can essentially pick up your idea and mimmic the feature, and take away a competitive advantage from you that way. I need to prevent this while also satisfying our backer’s curiosity. I’ll try to do my best.

At the core of all of the character behavior is our “Psycho Engine.” Aptly named, wouldn’t you say?

The character traits at a glance [Click to enlarge]
The character traits at a glance [Click to enlarge]

As you know, the game uses 34 traits for each character, but that’s really only half the story. These traits are the ones visible to the player. There are countless other stats running under the hood, constantly measuring and recording things. How many times did character one disagree with remarks made by character three, for example? It builds an internal frustration level that is invisible to the player. Naturally, when a certain threshold is reached, the frustration will result in a response. The character may tell the other guy to just shut up, for example.

Now take this example and apply it to all the things that go on in a role-playing game. As players, we tire of sword fodder in RPGs, meaning, after killing the umpteenth goblin, we would appreciate a different monster for a change. Why should the companions in your party feel any differently? So, let’s keep track of things such as the number and types of monsters slayed overall and within a certain recent window of time, and evaluate the information constantly. Once again, when a certain threshold is reached, it will force a response.

The list of things that can be done this way is endless and we actually apply various levels of importance to these responses. Naturally, these are vast masses of information that will have to be processed, but thanks to modern day computers this is more possible than ever. It is something we could never have done in games such as “Realms of Arkania” because the memory and storage requirements would have been too high, and the computing muscle to process all that information would have been too weak or slow. So when we say we keep the game traditional but will make use of modern technologies, it refers to something like this every bit as much as to the pretty graphics in the game.

At its core, the Psycho Engine is a kind of artificial intelligence that is highly specialized on the requirements of our game. It weighs and prioritizes things in the game, just like a human being would, and there are certain responses that are instinctive, reflexive or subconscious while others are more defined by a character’s actual personalities and the way the player has been defining these companions in his play.

While playing the game, this means situations will lead to other situations. When two characters argue a lot, the player has to pay attention to that in order to prevent bigger problems down the line. There will be various ways to deal with it, and each situation will probably be different. Sometimes a bit of diplomacy might help, sometimes authority may work and at other times, it may simply be the best to send away one of the characters to make sure peace returns to the group. Perhaps recruiting a different NPC, one that fits in better with the group dynamics, would be advisable. Since you will run into recruitable characters throughout the game, it may turn out to be a very interesting change in pace, as a matter of fact. The decision is up to the player.

This is just one example, but I think you get the idea and can see how something like this can very quickly result in a game that is much more challenging and involving, and resemble a classic tabletop game where the player has to take charge and really role play his characters.

Coincidentally, the same is true in combat, where running a sword through an opponent may not always be the best option. In “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore” we try to get players off the auto pilot and think about their actions. I will talk more about combat in a future update, because we have some very interesting options there as well that will hopefully please players.

The overall intention is to make sure that the game is not a simple Hack’n Slash game and that players won’t look at it as just another mindless “Blobber.”

Don’t forget our Message Boards

I think I should also point out at this time that we do have message boards on the official “Deathfire” website

It is the ideal place to discuss the game, especially if you have specific questions. It is much easier for us to answer questions and go into more detail there than it is in the comment section here on Kickstarter where the answer may be lost in the stream very quickly. In our forums, the answers and conversations will be more permanent and will be readily available for other players who may have the same questions.

So, please make sure to stop by there and join the discussion.

A Word to our German Fans

Many interested players from Germany mentioned to us that it is impossible for them to back this project because in order to do so a credit card is needed. Naturally, I see the problem, but sadly there is little we can about that because of the way Kickstarter works. It simply does not allow alternative payment options from the Amazon system they are using. So, in essence you do not really need a credit card. You need an Amazon.com account and a way to fund it. Sadly, gift cards issued on Amazon.de do not work on Amazon.com or else there would have been a smooth work-around.

We do not wish to offer Paypal payments at this time either, because unlike at Kickstarter where your pledge will be charged to your account only if the campaign reaches its goal and is successfully funded, Paypal will immediately withdraw the amount from your account. This means that if the campaign fails, we will have to manually refund every single backer. Since Paypal does not have an automated process for this, this would be an excessively laborious and tedious task. The Paypal pledges would also not count against the Kickstarter goal either, so we prefer to rather wait. Once we can foresee that “Deathfire” will be successfully funded, we will make Paypal available on the official website, of course, and we will offer the same FIRST DAY BACKER privileges available to those pledging with Paypal then.

Shout-Out To Our Friends

Today I would like to direct your attention to a game called “Graywalkers: Purgatory.” It is a post-apocalyptic strategy-RPG that you might find interesting, so stop over there and take a look.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dreamlordsdigital/graywalkers-purgatory

What does the press say?

Here is the latest list of links to press coverage for the project. Since it is the weekend, naturally the list is a whole lot shorter, but we have lined up some additional coverage for the days to come.

Marian Arnold, madGamer, and 18 more people like this update.

Comments

    1. Missing_small

      Creator Zank Crew on November 12

      damn i want to play this

    2. Missing_small

      Creator Overslept (deleted) on November 12

      The game has slapstick tone of just simulating emotional responses from each party member or does it have deeper characters with their own views and agendas like in Planescape: Torment? Is there any character development as seen in literature/films?

    3. Remilia.small

      Creator Velkaarn on November 11

      The Psycho Engine sounds both promising and interesting, the idea behind it really appeals to me.

    4. Missing_small

      Creator Manuel Pantolsky on November 11

      I wonder if you consider(ed) creating an "early stage" entry on Steam Greenlight in order to gain additional momentum and couverage with players, or if there is an obvious reason that I simply didn't consider.

      As for German users and their credit card problem, I'm German and I had that very trouble myself for a while, but nowadays it shouldn't be holding back any German. There are several German financial institutes offering "prepaid virtual credit cards" and the ones I tried work flawless with Amazon (in case you're too lazy to search, I'm with http://www.mywirecard.com/en/mastercard.html , which has very marginal fees, decent protection and never caused problems with Amazon so far). All you need is a cell phone that can receive an SMS and an email address, something most Germans obtain. Might be worth checking out, if that's really keeping people from their pledge, since it would be a shame if the project fails. I love(d) your Realms of Arcania work.

    5. Vaitheefutura.small

      Creator RoT Daysofdawn + Deathfire on November 11

      @kahuna kevin when you play Spirit of Adventure (one of the first or the first RPG by guido) there are some of the dungeons that feel changing with the time... some undiscoverd beams some Forced turns that you didn´t notice at first time...
      and of course a very hard drunken modus... this is what is possible through first person perspective...
      don´t konow if things like this will be implemented, but guido did stuff like that in 1990...

    6. Ks_avatar04.small

      Creator Kahuna Kevin on November 11

      It would be really interesting if this same technique could be applied to the dungeon itself. Instead of thinking about a dungeon as solid stone, think of it more as a living breathing entity out to get you, outsmart you, or trick you based on previous actions, or how quickly other puzzles were solved. It would be neat if the dungeon itself and inhabitants could "trick" you, play with your mind.

    7. 883659762.small

      Creator Zombra on November 10

      And don't be scared to tell us more about it. No one is going to swipe the idea right off your page and put up a competing kickstarter a week later that steals all your backers. That's not how KS works.

    8. 883659762.small

      Creator Zombra on November 10

      The Psycho Engine sounds really interesting. Something like that could really pull me into a game.

    9. Missing_small

      Creator Juhani Nurminen on November 10

      It's always very interesting to hear about character interaction between player-created characters, possibly the one thing I've always wanted to see properly implemented in a game. I've often thought about how it could be done myself. It'd be a terrible shame if the funding goal isn't reached.

    10. G3logo.small

      Creator G3 Studios on November 10

      Oh, but yes, there will be tooltips for each and every one of the traits. The entire user interface in the game is tool-tipped to make sure people will not get lost and don't know what things mean.

    11. G3logo.small

      Creator G3 Studios on November 10

      You are taking the screen way too literal. This is work in progress. It is easy to forget that we are trying to find the development of the game. By its very definition this means that we have not developed the game yet. What you are looking at are preliminary tests from our prototype and all of that is subject to change.

      All I can really do is to try to explain to people what is we are trying to do and then hope they give us the benefit of a doubt, also based on our past track record, that we know what we're doing and how to best do it.

    12. Tinydan.small

      Creator alcaray on November 10

      I like your trait/skill screen. I hope there are tool tips to expand on the one-word descriptions (and if so, a better example of the screen would be a screenprint with a cursor and a popping tool tip). I worry a little that the "disadvantages" do not seem to be very parallel to the skills. They are different catagories of qualities and it seems odd that to be a better tracker (for instance) you might choose to be more afraid of spiders or have a shorter temper (aren't people who spend a lot of quiet time in the woods supposed to be calmer?). It just feels kind of strange to me.

    13. Wraith.small

      Creator Corpselocker on November 10

      I upped my pledge $30 to try and help the team.

    14. Missing_small

      Creator Flump - the flying turtle on November 10

      I know you worked on black isle games a long time ago; any chance xile and obsidian/project eternity could endorse this kickstart (and do so soon before too much time passes) ? I'm not sure what current terms are but it might help with rapid publicity. Like wise if you could get Larian (divinity original sin) to endorse you.

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