"more major" minor characters?

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daviepoo
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Joined: Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:31 pm

"more major" minor characters?

#1 Post by daviepoo » Sat Aug 01, 2015 8:39 pm

One of the things I thought was neat about Black Closet is the way minor characters show up in the common room, where you are researching about the steam tunnels. Some (all?) of the characters that were randomly generated in the fall semester show up with lines of dialog related to your interaction with them.

I read through the ren'py doc and I didn't really see any way to do that. Is each minor character a python variable, that is all the dialog lines are hardcoded?

It would be interesting to have these minor characters become more major. Even if they didn't have individually written plotlines like the minions, maybe they could show up later and do something. Like, a set of "second act" cases, based on the way that you handled a "first act" case. Is that possible in the engine? Maybe there is no way to add characters.

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hanako
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Re: "more major" minor characters?

#2 Post by hanako » Sat Aug 01, 2015 11:30 pm

It's not about the engine, it's about the plot. It's not possible to do meaningful development with all of these completely random characters, or even minor developments that would make any sense. It's a combinatorial explosion problem.

The gossip lines are handled from a big database of character types. So if there was a girl named 'Andrea' in the first semester, and she was part of a Vandalism case, and it was an Arson case, and she was the girl who was not the arsonist, and you failed to stop the arsonist... then it pulls out the line of dialog I've pre-written for that situation.

As you can probably imagine, that's a heck of a lot of different lines I've had to write just for this one case.

Imagine that there are fifty possible character types (which is not the right number, I'm just making that up). To do a single act-2 case in which a single person from act-1 shows up and says something, there would have to be fifty variations of everything. To do an act-2 case in which two different characters from act-1 have different interactions with each other based on their character types, that would be 50x50 variations... THOUSANDS of variations. For a SINGLE CASE.

Now yes there are ways you can fake that a bit, especially depending on how generic you make all the interactions. Or instead of having all characters recur, there could be only certain special plotline cases that link in multiple acts. But overall, it's just not worthwhile in terms of how much effort would go in for how much content would come out the other end, and the game design calls for almost-completely-disconnected cases in order to manage the difficulty level evenly throughout.

I hope that made sense, I'm not completely sure I'm answering the same question that you're asking.

daviepoo
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Re: "more major" minor characters?

#3 Post by daviepoo » Sun Aug 02, 2015 3:27 am

Thanks! I don't think it would be exponential. Suppose there is any character who was in a case, and did something memorable in the fall semester. For example, the reformed leader of a gambling ring. We know a little about her; her name, maybe her roommate's name. A character with that name and roommate could show up in a case in the spring semester.

I think of this the same way that a minor character may be introduced on a TV show in one episode. Then later, the writers need a character to do something, and one of the writers says, "Hey, how about that minor character from episode X?" They bring back the actress and she does something more. I can think of several shows where a minor character like that has become a major one.

You could have several cases sitting around, which could trigger if a minor character qualifies. Like, a followup plot for a gambling ring leader. If there weren't any matching characters, then they wouldn't trigger.

I have been working on some game concepts where there aren't any predefined characters. All characters start as minor ones; if they appear in several "cases" then they may become major ones. Granted, this doesn't allow long custom plotlines for these characters. But it may be appropriate for something that is less of a character driven VN and more of a strategy game.

daviepoo
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Re: "more major" minor characters?

#4 Post by daviepoo » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:58 pm

I described a little more about this on the floor at gdc yesterday. Bumping this and adding the keyword "emergent characters" for search.

KitCat
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Re: "more major" minor characters?

#5 Post by KitCat » Sun Oct 02, 2016 7:09 pm

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