About the mood, trait and ambition system, and multiplayer
Let’s talk about the mood, trait and ambition system, and our multiplayer plans which make Proven Lands probably quite unique.
But first of all I want to say thank you for all the questions! Also: Feel free to chat within our comments or just write me a personal message and I’ll try to answer it as soon as possible. Don’t worry, I read all of them. Furthermore I’d like to tell you about two friends here, two very cool sci-fi Kickstarter campaigns which will end very soon!
A mood and trait system
The idea behind the mood system - which is influenced by old Rogue-Likes and more known games such as The Sims, Project Zomboid and Crusader Kings - is to make your main character less predictable. I think these type of details are much more important for a survival game like ours than a Metroid, Zelda or Titanfall. So basically an AI is constantly managing your moods and traits in the background – like “sick”, “tired”, “thirsty” or “very thirsty”. Give the pre alpha tech demo a try to check this out. Instead of just showing bars with a “strength of 5” I’d like to display your mood and traits with icons and warnings. Tom already did a couple first spacesuit sound alerts for this (see below). Like in real-life you do not see your current health at 90% or hunger at 55%. Instead you notice yourself being “injured”, “sick” or “hungry”, sometimes as a placebo effect. Zomboid for instance did great at placebo effects, where you sometimes don’t even know if you’re sick because of a cold or the zombie virus (big plus to the devs, imo). This is where we are heading: We already have advanced moods/traits in the system. However, some moods/traits make no sense without proper 3D assets and subsystems. I’d like to make this system as dynamic and pragmatic as possible (with modding in mind) because it’s fun when your character doesn’t behave exactly the same way you do.
An ambition system
The ambition system on the other side, as of yet, isn't a part of the demo due to the quest subsystem. However if you know Crusader Kings 2 you probably get the idea behind it. Your character will have one ambition at the same time – sort of a major quest. For instance: “I need a new spacesuit”, “I’d like to be alone” (for 3 days?) or “I hate those guys over there. Let’s kill them all”. If you do not pick an ambition manually, the AI will assign a random ambition to your character - which could interfere your plans. All ambitions have a deadline, a negative effect (if failed) and a positive effect (if achieved). For example: “depressed” or “happy like a butterfly”. The Sims uses something quite similar. Proven Lands is not The Sims, obviously, but you probably get an idea of such a system. You might be wondering: Why ambitions? The goal is to have some sort of a very basic Black & White behaviour instead of a linear and predictable Metroid (great game though, really. Just a different gameplay). So, in fact you do control and manage your character in Proven Lands, but from time to time he/she will do something unpredictable that might upset you.
First notes on modding and "state machines"
Both systems - the mood/trait and ambition system - share the same “state machine” of your character (computer science term – see figure above). For the character state machine those moods and traits are just part of a different category, which makes extensions, management and handling quite easy - technically speaking. What does it mean? Well, it means, in short, that for the Proven Lands engine there is no major difference between “traits”, “moods”, “ambitions”, “quests”, “laser guns”, “trees” (except for rendering), “space bread”, “cucurbit farm” and “vehicle x”, even knowledge of an item x or y. One may combine anything with everything that comes into one's head, and it already works with our first "categories" such as moods, traits, crafting, spawning of plants and creatures etc. etc. See demo.
I think this is something which modders will go crazy about as soon we have first mod tools because it is an extremely powerful concept. It is probably the reason why we made such a good progress in just 6 months, I think, I hope, not counting the terrain engine and own shaders. :P
I’d like to be careful about multiplayer. I have years of experience with servers, however, multiplayer is an own dev step. But: We will have a multiplayer for sure, one way or another, don’t worry. A higher funding (see stretch goal) just speeds it up a bit - thanks to an additional coder for less complex issues and tasks. We’ll start with basic co-op and then we’ll see how it feels to all of us. I definitely think that Proven Lands needs a multiplayer, perhaps with the beta or release, as soon as we have all subsystems, a better terrain engine and a few other important improvements – “even if it’s friend-friend co-op without the bells and whistles of a true MP server environment”, as Mochnant mentioned. ;)
Shout Out Time
Alright! Make sure to check out these great Kickstarter campaigns! Both will end soon. They are sci-fi as well (!) and are great guys.
Star Crawlers (13h to go!!!) -- Lead a crew of freelance adventurers & navigate corporate intrigue on the fringes of space in a classic sci-fi dungeon crawl
After Reset: The Fall of Gyes (8 days to go!) -- A sci-fi graphic novel with stunning cinematic quality and an intriguing story inspired by classic sci-fi horror films of Ridley Scott.