Character Generation, Party Building and a new Pledge Reward
Just as I promised yesterday, today I will talk to you a little about Party Building in Thorvalla. As I pointed out on numerous occasions, you will recruit additional characters to your party as opposed to creating them at the beginning.
Many hard core players loved the character generation in the Realms of Arkania series and they would roll and re-roll their characters until they were perfectly happy with each fellow they added to their party. Considering how elaborate the Realms games were, this could take a long time. I’ve heard people telling me they spent days on this and grew long beards.
While this is awe-inspiring, it is also very intimidating. Not everyone is comfortable with micro-managing sixty character attributes, and while we are trying to build a pretty hard core game here, I do not think the majority of players are truly so hardcore that character generation is the thing they want to spend the first few days of the game in. I am sure to many an excessively elaborate character generation is every bit the turn-off that a 25-minute cinematic intro that can’t be skipped is to me. (I will go on record here that I have never played Assassin’s Creed 2 because I simply had no patience to sit through the introduction. It grated on my nerves so badly that I quit the program and never started it up again.)
The other alternative, traditionally, is to start with a single character and recruit others as you make your way through the story. It is the approach we settled upon for Planescape: Torment. It allows the designers to ease the player into the game without a whole lot of “foreplay” but it definitely lacks variety because the number of recruitable NPCs is by nature limited, and their characteristics are immutable.
There is, however, one very important aspect to recruitable characters. They can be used very effectively for dramatic purposes. Since the designers know who these characters are, entire story arcs can be built around them, dilemmas that cater to their unique characteristics can be created in the game, encounters can be conjured up that create a variety of very specialized problems. Anyone who’s ever played Planescape: Torment knows how powerful this can be as a tool. We even had characters in the party that couldn’t stand each other and would get into arguments all the time.
While this is fun and entertaining, for a player, the lack of control inherent in that approach can be frustrating. The desire to mold your own unique party for your very own playing style is strong in many gamers.
What if we could combine these two general approaches? Well, perhaps we can. In Thorvalla we will create a hybrid of these two systems. Let me elaborate, step by step.
As the game begins you will create your own hero character. The opening storyline will be ambivalent enough to make sure players can pick male or female characters and then go through the whole spiel of determining the character’s class attributes. Feel free to take a gander at yesterday’s update An Overview for more details about character attributes, skills and traits.
The game then starts with this one character and very soon, our hero(ine) will meet an NPC who is willing to join the party. What happens next is putting the control back into your hands.
While the NPC willing to join you might be a centaur and you may not have an option to change that particular fact, you will now get back into a character generation screen that will allow you to make modifications to that centaur character. You will roll the attributes, but more importantly, you will be able to determine the class of the character as well, along with his traits. It’s not just a question whether he’ll be strong or weak. We are talking the entire gamut here. It means that the centaur who just joined you can be a Warrior for one player, but a Sorcerer for another player. The choice is entirely up to you, and it is my way of giving control back to the player, even though he is dealing with a recruitable character.
To me it combines the best of both worlds. The player is mostly free to shape the characters he is playing with and from a dramatic standpoint, we can use these NPCs to great effect in the storytelling. It is additional work, of course, to accommodate actions, reactions and behaviors for the different classes within the story, but ultimately I think it will pay huge dividends. It will increase replayability of the game dramatically and it will allow us to throw in some wicked plot twists in the story, directly surrounding and affecting these characters. It will even allow us to unlock entire new branches in the story, because to us, as designers, they are not an unknown quantity any longer. They are still planted NPCs, but with so much flexibility that we begin to blur the lines.
I hope this is something you can get as excited about as we are because it is a key component in the game.
In addition to this exploration of the game mechanics, we also have another great announcement for you, the inclusion of a new tier reward!
The new $30 DUNGEON CRAWLER REWARD will give fans access to an EXCLUSIVE BONUS DUNGEON in the game, the “Temple of the Founders.” This additional dungeon will give adventurers the chance to test their mettle against some truly dark creatures - undead mostly - in an attempt to raise a curse. Collect additional gold, experience and special reputation points for your characters in this dungeon!
Note that this reward is automatically included in all reward levels of $30 or more, and you do not want to miss this!
Thank you all for all the positive feedback we received regarding yesterday’s update, An Overview. We are all very happy that it has helped inspire new confidence in the project and gave you a better understanding of the kind of game we are trying to build. Let’s keep at it, so please spread the word. Support us by letting people about the game, tell your friends you pledged, use the Backer buttons to shout it out to the world.
Thank you. We will be back with more updates soon.
A look at the exterior of the Temple of the Founders as envisioned by concept artist Shawn Sharp