Category Archives: Game Design

Left 4 Deadrising: Case Source

Not much to this one.

Yeah, Chuck cleared the town of zombies already

The rest of the gallery is on my Steam Community Page, but this level started off inspired by the layout of Stillcreek from Dead Rising 2: Case zero. It’s currently zombieless and AI-less cos I didn’t do the nav system for my comp at home. There’s a Nav system as done by friend and teammate JJ, but that’s lounging somewhere else at the moment. Still, wandering zombies would have made it difficult for me to go Frank West on the town and snap screenshots for everyone’s perusal. Yeah, it’s dark, but it’s left 4 dead 2 and I haven’t thrown in much of the post-processing effects into this one just yet. It also helps obscure the breaks and level ends in some parts of the map.

It’s a small town, but I tried to include elements of Americana in it as much as I can. For instance…

where cars go to die.

A garage, much like the starting area of case zero. Lots were changed in the layout.

where appetites go to die

A quintessential American diner. Apart from the starting area, I pretty much diverged from Stillcreek’s layout once I had a handle on how I was going to layout my own town. So everything after the Sheriff’s office is pretty much me doing my own thing.

Sadly, there were no hamburger props.

This is pretty much my proudest bit of my map.

It's raining...

Based loosely on a pub I frequented back in Jersey and Brooklyn. Took parts from both.

Damn, the jukebox is broken again.

Left 4 Dead 2 makes things so much easier with an abundance of props, textures and pre-fabs to my hearts content.

Go on: It's safe. I promise you there are absolutely no muggers there.

A park, because every American town has one somewhere.

A gazebo!

And a gazebo!, because it’s fancy, and not every American town has one somewhere.

which serves bud, of course

JJ’s restaurant. I added bits to this, like a carpark on the left (not pictured) and a proper wine cellar. (also not pictured here.) Again, check out the larger gallery at my Steam Community Page.

The town is smaller than it looks

An overview. The main street where the Sheriff’s office and the Diner is behind those row of houses, alongside the backalley that got you there. Lots of bits of the town aren’t actually constructed, just fudged to give the town a bigger feel, since those areas aren’t playable anyway. This is possibly the biggest, most complicated map I’ve created that generally on a single plane. Only the restaurant and the Sheriff’s office play with any sort of vertical and level space. Else it’s just a straight run from the garage to the brewery, through a fairly decent sized American Town.

No Beer for you!

Originally, this level was to be set somewhere in Kentucky, partly because of the brewery concept, but mostly because of my abiding love for Justified. But the abundance of pine trees used to cover the skyline shifted the geographical location to somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. That kinda explains all the rain as well.

Anyway, I’m pretty happy with the map, though a lot more work can go into polishing bits and pieces here and there. But onwards to the next project.

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This is a triumph.

No… not really.

Portal requires a ton of lateral thinking in creating the levels and the puzzle. I gotta say it was incredibly challenging and fun to try and dream up one. Not only that, the established aesthetic style allows for a lot less thinking in terms of trying to give the place a decent look. But man, what started as somewhat cool and difficult puzzles get incredibly streamlined through play-testing.

I like my first room a lot better than my second room. It feels a lot more portal like in the use of the basic puzzles and some lateral thinking that might get some people on initial play throughs. It’s not entirely difficult just a little different. Interestingly, this room I manage to cobble together in about a night, sans all the polishing and decals. A couple more days for some changes to the playtest. For instance, that window in the center wasn’t there previously, but players didn’t know what the 2nd level button (not pictured) did. So I moved it around and showed that the button lowered a block on the ceiling. Added indicator lights to make the point. If anything, the window makes the room look nicer.

The room originally started with the idea of playing around with the physics of the boxes. This particular room is inspired by map that can be found on myaperturelabs, Boxytricky to be exact. It took some work to get the drop right. A note on playing with physics in source; it almost always doesn’t work out like you imagine it to be. Sometimes it does, and you get to fling boxes with a satisfying tinkle through glass.

Like this puzzle. But when the physics doesn’t work the way you want it, you get this.

It took me the better part of a week just to get the numbers of the pulley weight system right. No wait… scratch that. I never got it right. Had to jury-rigged a solution based on an excellent suggestion by Kian Boon. Man, if I know to do that earlier, I possibly could have spent more time working on making a bigger level, or coming up with more puzzles. But after messing around with the physics, I got seriously fatigued. Before this, I was also using spheres, because they had a smaller footprint. But those are incredibly unpredictable in their bounce and control. It was tedious, even after a whole mess of practice.

I’ll probably try to make more portal levels later, especially once Portal 2 comes out.


Game Design Philosophy Guidelines.

This isn’t so much a ruleset and several thoughts i’ve accumulated over the years as I consider the prospect of being a game designer.

This is more like the underlying fundamentals that I begin with as I think up game designs and begin to write more game design documents. Apart from the other stuff I’ve learnt such as the Mechanics / Dynamics / Aesthetic triptych, this is more an ongoing philosophy I’m building as I think about games. It’s mutable as I learn more, discuss more and get feedback, but I think it’s a good framework to consider when thinking of games and the stories I can tell with those games.

Onwards.

1> Games are a series of interesting decision. – Soren Johnson.

Games are a unique interactive medium. Making decisions is the method in which the game engages the player into its system. These decisions can range from anywhere between risk vs reward scenario, what to do next, where to go. The player is essentially trading time for a sense of reward in the game, and that sense of reward derives from making the right decisions at moments in the game. I don’t think this means that all decisions have to be big, hugely consequential decisions, just that those decisions are well defined within the context of the game and clear about the general outcome, if not the entire outcome.

We have to make decisions in games, that how we interact with them. If it’s just instinctual rote activity, the game becomes boring. WoW, for instance, has a fairly rote pattern of skill use after some time. Playing as such renders the game boring to all but the most masochist of players. But ask any wow fan, and they don’t cite the combat system as why they play. The decisions to be made in Wow is the efficient use of time to get the best gear, through whichever points are in vogue. The combat is just a method in which to get there. The skills are not the interesting decisions, it where to do with those skills that’s the interesting bit. Games without any interesting decisions are less interactive, because there’s little for the player to be engaged with.

These decisions also lead me to the second point; in the process of considering these decisions, players should be frustrated a little, because …

2> Games are the art of enjoyable frustration. – Andrew P. Mayer

Gamers want to be challenged. That’s not that controversial a statement when we realize the appetite for challenge differs among people. Some are content to be challenged with the concept of time, simply figuring the most efficient amounts of click to get to get  a sense of rewards, (i.e. Facebook games, Diablo). The frustration lies in the sense of time they’re fighting against. Others prefer a more mental challenge, or an uncompromising system that punishes minute mistakes, (i.e. Starcraft, Demon’s Soul) Games as enjoyable frustration demonstrate a safe environment in which we can conquer challenges and thus feel in control of our situations. It’s that rewarding feeling of beating a challenge that often more enjoyable than just a series of activities. The frustration comes in trying to beat the challenge.

Frustration isn’t about battling horrible UI, or poorly implemented design decisions, it’s about finding a careful balancing act between not giving players that easy a time such that they feel they’re wasting it, and enough of a leeway, and an idea on how to beat the challenge. This frustration is important, because it’s a key part of how players experience the game, and a key part of how they tell themselves they’ve conquered a particular game. That’s their personal narrative, which leads to…

3> The player’s narrative is more important than the game’s narrative

The stories we best remember are the ones that we can best relate to. In games, this often means the stories of what happened to us.

This doesn’t mean games can’t tell a story, it simply means that games are much better at making players feel as if it’s their story, not that they are watching someone else’s. Games can often provide the narrative tools in which players form their own stories. In civilization, it’s how your civilization rose up from the ancient age to conquer the world, in starcraft, it’s how you fended off the zerg rush and pounded your opponent with mass reapers. When we can insert our own imagination into the story, when the game supports our telling of tale, we can identify with the game better.

What’s difficult is getting the players to relate to that story. Supposing I want to tell a story that more epic, that touches of much greater ideals than good versus bad, or corporations are corrupt, and aliens are evil. It’s tougher to get an audience to relate to material they may not always be familiar with. Hegelian dialetics is more often than not going to fly over the heads of the average gamer, but yet seems to be one of the core tenets of Fallout: New Vegas. Similarly, Planescape explored the existential anguish of a man who has lived a thousand lives. Which of us gets a chance to do so.

What game can do is present it in the form of the player’s story, yet still introducing the player to these ideals, through whichever narrative tool a game has at its disposal.* Games are suited to this, we have an enraptured audience when the game is good. We can take the time to explore some concepts, because …

4> Games don’t need to say something, but they should be about something

This one is more a refutation of Richard’s Bartel’s original assertion that games must say something. I don’t games can say anything in particular. By the nature of their interactivity, they can say multiple things about a single subject. Games, unique to any other medium can react to the player’s input, and thus create branching paths, multiple outcomes, and various story threads. It isn’t limited to a linear narrative.

This is a semantic argument, as I’m not saying games can’t say anything, but that they can say multiple things on a single subject. Essentially, be about something, but be about the multiple perspective on a subject. Take for instance Brenda Brathwaite’s Train. The game itself doesn’t say anything. As a collection of mechanics, sans the knowledge of its reason, it’s a fairly simple game about transporting resources. The game doesn’t really say anything until it’s designer mentions what its about.

In other words, “art reflects the spectator, not the artist.”

Stray Thoughts

*- I should probably try and categorize some ways in which games can tell stories. Cutscenes are a perennial favourite, as is the level mise-en-scene. But I’m fairly certain that it’s worthwhile to sit down and think about some other ways in which games present a story from the designers point of view, and contrast it when it’s a more player owned story. Maybe that’s a series of posts I can begin.

– There’s always the case of a lot of this stuff sounded more awesome in my head than when I actually wrote them out. Maybe I really should be writing this late at night, when I’m not neurotic about my word choices.

– Interesting decisions tend to be a huge umbrella. Solving puzzles are composed of interesting decisions. What if I were to do this there, etc. The decisions are always what do I do, what can I do, and what tools do I have to do it.


I'm building a consensus.

It’s hard to be disappointed with Mass Effect 2. There are so many things it does well and so many concerns it addresses from its prequel that calling it an unabashed improvement of the first game, and an innovative entry into the science fiction is easy. Mass Effect 2 is an extraordinary game, that makes bold choices that often pay off.

So while everyone is giddily excited about what Mass Effect does right, and they have every reason to be, I thought I’d take a look at where Mass Effect 2 didn’t do so well.

LACK OF COMPELLING STORY STRUCTURE:

The main bulk of the game is spent flying across the galaxy and recruiting teammates for this suicide mission into the great unknown. At first, I though this was just the first act of the game, with the rest of the story and development opening up once you’ve established your team. This was not the case. It turned out to be the whole meat of the game, with the suicide mission as the climatic finale.

Personally, the recruit teammates and do their loyalty quests felt like a first act story development. That it was the whole game felt kinda disappointed as you’re left with the sense that you’re going through the game without half your allies.

Part of the fun of these party based RPGs is that your ragtag group grows together as a family, as a team as they make their way through difficult scenarios. The shared experiences will cement their loyalty and their teamwork. In ME2, you can complete the game right after you recruit everyone, so if you’re aren’t invested into your teammates, you don’t even need to get to know them before you complete the game. It’s almost as if they are slots to be filled up, ammo to be loaded so your big gun can be fired. This wouldn’t be such a disappointment if Bioware didn’t conceptualise these NPCs so well.

I like Tali. I like Garrus, and Legion,  and Samara and Mordin and Joker and the 2 engineers, and Dr Chakwas and EDI. I like them all.* I want to spend more time with all these people. I want to bring them on missions and listen to them banter. I want to come back from a mission, kick back and chat with these people about their feelings and thoughts on whatever the hell we’re doing. I want to build a sense of camaraderie with these people. It’s a shame that the structure of the game doesn’t really allow me to. It’s two major missions with these people, in which they don’t interact with the mission or you much and then BAM!, the end.

The game wants you to invest in these characters, it’s the only way to really make sure the suicide part of the mission will have any resonance. It why the loyalty missions are so well crafted into exploring a character’s motivation and position within the greater fiction of the mass effect universe. Yet, the loyalty missions are so distinct from the main mission that you really don’t have to play them. In fact, if you don’t, the characters are more likely to die in the final mission. It’s an odd catch 22. If I don’t care enough to invest game time into the loyalty mission, will I care enough when they bite it in the final mission?

I was hoping for an act 2, when the team has been pulled together, when you’re off investigating more collector’s perfidy and Reaper’s presence in the world. More opportunities for intra-team bickering or banter. One of my favourite parts of the game was when Garrus was asking Tali if she missed those conversations in the elevators. I don’t miss the loading times, but I do miss those conversations. Those really helped build a connection with your team, make them seem like real people outside of how they relate to Commander Shepard.

I suppose it’s a testament to the fiction and experience that my main gribe boils down to “I want more” and that it’s possible that they could have had all that act 2 team development planned but no time to actually produce it. Mass Effect 2 was made in 2 years after all, and for the current version we got, that’s an impressive feat.

*Ok, not all. Jacob and Jack can bite it, and Thane was interesting until his story devolved into some “I’m so lonely, I have no friends.” territory. He would have stayed interesting had they explored more of his morality versus his occupation and played his interest into Shepard as a sort of, “I see your will governs what you do. I appreciate that, even if it is not what Drell are meant to do. Will and body are seperate.” Shepard: “Does your will want what your body wants? With me?” Ok that might be a little too unsubtle, but Bioware’s romance options aren’t known for their subtlety.

Lack of Compelling Loot.

Honestly, this did not impact my overall enjoyment of the game by much, other than occasionally wishing that I would find more interesting weapons. As it stands, the weapon variety and effects were interesting, especially combined with the tech and biotic powers. It’s perhaps a holdover from my mindset that an RPGs needs a decent loot system to satisfying the loot whore in us all. ME2 streamlining of weapons and upgrade definitely made the game less of a management hassle than its predecessor and Dragon Age, but it also took away the joy of finding an awesome new weapon and the chance to see it in action. Except the M60 Cain of course. That was awesome, unless your first chance to fire it was in a small crowded room, than it’s slightly less awesome.

Minigames

The mining minigame is strangely compelling. It isn’t fun per se, and I can’t say I enjoyed moving my scanner slowly across the planet, looking for minor spikes in the visual display, but I was compelled to do it. It also doesn’t seem to fit within the fiction of the game. How is it Shepard has the time to run around and probe planets for materials. Can’t she** ask the Illusive man for help? The alliance? Anyone?  Either way, it was a strange edition that didn’t seem to fit the streamline effort of the rest of the game. I suppose it’s a vestigial bit of design from when the game was a more full-fledged RPG, (assuming it was one)

By contrast, the hacking minigames did quite a bit to involve me in the fiction. It isn’t much of a game, but it does look pretty cool and it isn’t tedious enough to mar the flow of the game play. I suppose there are other ways to deal with lock-picking and hacking, but for a game that relies on the forward momentum of the story and shooting, what Mass Effect 2 had was adequate. At the very least, all the minigames were much more interesting that its predecessor and less annoying that checking for a lockpick skill. It behooves me to mention that my favourite hacking/lockpicking minigames are done by Bethesda, though I might alone in that opinion.

**There’s an excellent destructoid article about how playing Mass Effect as a female is a much better experience than playing as a male. I have to agree as I’ve never made it more than 20 minutes playing as a male Shepard. Hale’s excellent voice acting and the quality of the gender neutral writing does it make it seem that it’s more natural that Shepard is female. I can’t imagine half the emotional conversation you have with Garrus, Grunt, or Mordin if you’re male Shep.

Conclusion

If Mass Effect 2 represents the new direction of where RPGs are going, then I hope they find a happy medium between the streamlined momentum of Mass Effect, the exploration of Fallout 3 and the party interaction of Dragon Age. I don’t need a stat heavy game to roleplay my character, nor an immense amount of loot to sift through as I venture into wild unknown missions but I do need the sense of discovery that bound in the fiction and more chances to interact with the world, whether it’s poking around an abandoned vault, or exploring the dialog options of an interesting NPC, or finding a legendary item that’ll lay waste to my enemies.

What I don’t want, is the streamlining of the story and game play and what’s left are just “big” choices and visceral combat.

P.S. Things I do love about Mass Effect 2

– Interesting Unique Sidequests
– The Codex
– Tali
– Joker and Edi’s relationship
– Legion and the reveal of the Geth’s story.
– Mordin singing and his role in the genophage.
– The fact that the Normandy SR2 has toilets.
– That conversation about Newton being the deadliest son of a bitch in the whole galaxy.


Swamp Things

1.5 The Liar, the Witch and the War God.

There really isn’t a War God in this section, but the phrasing was too good not to write down. Perhaps I’ll use it for another story idea somewhere in the future.

There is however, a witch, and she lives in the swamp. Original, I know, but sometimes you just run with the RPG conventions you have and don’t strain you brain coming up with something fantastically new. Either way, since the point of the game is not to go on a magical adventure of wonder and beauty, a dirty, mucky swamp is called for. Especially a swamp crawling with barely literate lizard men, swamp creatures and other fairly low level enemies for you to hack through. Also, flowers and other sundries that might help in side quests from the village. The witch on the other hand, does have a point.

Zzeribah was the tribal’s wisdom chief prior to the arrival of Father Tully, and she held that esteemed position until a major kerfuffle with the wandering missionary. I’d write kerfuffle, but in truth, it was a brutal battle of magical might. She has since retired to the swamps and is suspected of abducting tribals for use in her strange necromantic shamanistic magic. Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to venture forth and kill her. And it is a choice, because you can actually not kill her, because when you do run into her in the middle of the swamp. She’ll invite in for tea.

Zzeribah, as it turns out, denies any responsibilities for the missing tribals. She’s a witch, so she must be lying right. So you have a choice; Kill her, or join her for tea. Killing her is simple, just select the “Your evil must be stopped” Option from the dialogue and proceed to wail on her with your limited abilities as a low level character. She’ll put up a fight but if you’re good enough, you’ll manage to stab her to the happiness of Chief Hariman and Father Tully. Shyean will have a conversation where you’ll discuss why you did what you did* and then you can head back to the village for the next part in the story.

Join her for tea instead and she will tell you a story.

The story includes an abandoned tomb nearby, the tomb of a dead god. He could be a war god, but more accurately, he’s a forgotten god. She tells you that he is an evil power and he is possibly responsible for the missing tribals. Personally, she has no truck with dead gods, because as she thinks, you can’t trust them. They dead for reason, if people stopped believing in a dead god, there must be a reason they had to do so. But he could be responsible, she had heard rumblings of his power for sometime now. She then tell you that Father Tully is not to be trusted and that he’s the titular liar. Either way, she offers you no harm and directs you to investigate the ruins of the dead god if you wish to find out more about the missing tribals. She would join you, but her old bones are not made for spelunking. She also asks how Hariman is, and displays a fondness for the chief, saying that she did not wish to abandon her tribe when they need her most, but fear her life is in danger from Father Tully and his influence.

So after all this talk. You can still kill her*, of you can head down to the ruins and check it out.

*The Shyaen conversation will have you attempt to justify why you felt the need to kill her. Usually, these conversation would pop up at major dramatic moments of the story. Killing a witch in cold blood on the say so of a bunch of strangers is one such example. Examining the missing tribals situation further will spark a short dialogue, but ideally, you will only discuss the “ethics” of your actions to Shyaen when a major chapter has been closed in terms of the story.

So if you kill Zzeribah before going to the ruins, Shyaen will ask whether it was necessary and that she did not seem harmful. The response would include:

1> “Evil Doers are always liars and you cannot trust them simply on appearance. Do let them talk, less their serpentine tongue sway your righteous path”  This of course leads adds to Shyaen invisible morality counter the need for righteous might and Deontological ethics.

2> “Father Tully and Chief Hariman gave us permission and we need to do this to move forward. No sense wasting time here in listening to the ramblings of a crazy old witch.” Which leads to chaos and Utilitarian principals.

Either way. Heading back to the village to report the deed to Chief Hariman and Father Tully will move you forward in the storyline.

Next Up: Something Dead this way comes.


Lost

1.4 The Village of Lost things.

After the Kobolds have been dealt with,  Rroak will lead you to his village. It’s a tribal little thing made up of a couple of little huts. There aren’t any shops here, though one of the tribals will trade you for stuff he found on the beach. For gold no less, but this is one of the RPG conventions I don’t intend to muck about with. You need a shop, game design needs you to have a shop, you have a shop, and a flimsy story excuse on why it’s there. But he’s not the important guy in this story so let’s move on.

Rroak will introduce you to Chief Hariman, the tribal leader. The first thing you’ll realize is that Chief Hariman and his tribe are pretty civilized for primitives. They, like Rroak can converse roughly in your language, (a game convetion I did intend to highlight) and they’re pretty kindly towards strangers. Though, you helping them kill a bunch of Kobolds probably swung them into favour. The real reason for their civilized ways of course, is Father Admonton Tully.

Father Admonton Tully is a missionary for Llamos the Lost, a minor deity in this world.* Llamos is the god of lost things, or more appropiately, he’s the god of travel. His power, and thus Father’s Tully charge is derived from travelling to lost tribal villages and preaching about the existence (not really benevolence) of Llamos, as well as protecting travellers in the far flung reaches of civilization.

Father Tully himself seems like your typical cleric. A kindly man, of indeterminate age. He tells you his story. He arrived at the village around 3 years ago. Clerics under his order travel to villages such as these and educate them on civilization and culture in order to provide safe havens to travllers around the world. He himself, has served this capacity for over 15 years, converting and educating at least 4 villages world wide.

So perhaps it’s fortutious that you stumble onto him; he might be able to help you return to the mainland and Shyaen’s home.

Unfortunately, Father Tully can be of no help here. The boat that he came here on has been destroyed. Chief Hariman and Father Tully then tell you of the missing tribals and the witch Zzeribah. Apparently, apart of Kobolds, this little village has been suffering from a series of missing persons. Both Chief Hariman Father Tully suspects the witch, who holds a special grudge against him for usurping her position as village cleric and is known to dabble in more necromantic shamanistic magic. They suspects she’s been abducting the villages for some purpose unknown to them.

Father Tully promises you aid, since that is what his God does, if you agree to investigate the missing persons and kill the Witch.

There are several other side quests around the village if you choose to explore**, but the main one above is the one that will advance the story. You can ask around the village about the history of Father Tully and Zzeribah and you’ll learn that Zzeribah was once considered the village elder because of her magic. She left after a fight with Father Tully, the details of which, most people don’t remember. 

So the course of your next action is clear. Time to muck about a swamp. 

* I have little to no familiarity with whatever pantheon DnD has nor am I interested. This is set neither in Faerun, Eberron or whatever else worlds there could possibly be. I really am making this up as I go along, or made this up as I went along.

** I never really actually designed any side quests here but thought that it had potential for a couple. These include gathering herbs from the swamp, helping find some stuff from the beach, going back to acquire stuff from your shipwreck to givethe trader and maybe killing a bunch of wolves. They’re the stuff of standard sidequests, meant to flesh the tribal village out a little.


The good, the Bad, and the Uncertain.

1.3 – Shyaen and the Moral system.

A brief digression into the central game idea here.

The DnD ruleset has an alignment system. I’m not here to discuss the minutiae of how it actually works. There are more than enough nerds on the internet to do that, but I did think it would have been an interesting system to play with in terms of a game of influence and character growth. I wanna retroactively say that this idea was borne out of trying to figure out how to write a good character arc into a game with a decent game-play idea tied to it, but I forgot how exactly the idea came about. Either way, the idea is that we take a character who’s original alignment is Neutral, and we change that in the course of the story. Obviously, that character could not be the player character, since people want some form of choice in their RPGs and come with their own predisposed alignment already. So I had to write a second character.

That character is Shyaen.

After the Kobold quest, Shyaen will initiate a conversation with you in which she questions the result of the actions you have taken. Since the quests really only ends in one way, (you kill the Kobold Chief and almost all the Kobolds), the conversation becomes a discussion on why you did what you had to do. Depending on how you completed the quest, and whether you actually tried to help the Kobolds by stealing the Giant Ruby, the conversation can go in 4 different ways.

1> The kobolds had to be killed. They’re evil creatures and that’s the only way to deal with evil creatures. No mention of Rroak’s tribes or the necessity of action. (Leads to Lawful, self-righteous judgment, Deontological Ethics.)
2> We were helping Rroak who would in turn help us, also; the Kobolds were trying to kill us as well. There’s little need for moralizing when lives are at stake. (Leads to Chaotic, survival instincts, Utilitarian Philosophy)

If you had tried to reason with the Kobold Chief and even managed to retrieve the Giant Ruby from the Spider Cave.

3> We had tried reason, and we were betrayed. Sometimes, there are few courses of action as necessitates the slaughter of  Kobolds. (Leads to Lawful Evil, cynical resignation, consequentialism ethics.)
4> We had tried reason, and we were betrayed. The important thing is that we tried. We can’t let the evilness of other creatures affect that. (Leads to Good, establishment of principals, Virtue Ethics.)

Yeah, the game is a more fun version of an ethics class.

At this point, Shyaen essentially does not have a world view. Her backstory is also somewhat muddied for you as the player because she refuses to talk about it. You do know that she comes from a noble family in a large city, and that she has suffered a large amount of abuse and trauma before this point. Her character isn’t so much innocent as having have had her old world-view shattered before her. Your job, and thus the crux of the game, is to influence the formation the world view she will eventually have. This will, in theory, lead to a thrilling and emotional climax for her character arc. That’s was the story idea anyway. The rest of game is moving through a series of circumstances and events as you accompany Shyaen back to her city. These events will spark discussions with Shyaen about the nature of the world and will eventually help shape her world view and the final act of the game.

I’ll deal with each of these circumstances as it comes up, but for now, the Kobold village was a primer for this and as far as ethical conundrums go, is a relatively simple one.

Next Up: Voodoo Tribes and Lost Gods.