Hello everyone, it's time for another update!
I got a couple questions recently that involve roleplay mode, and since I haven't really shared much on how that's going to work in the blog, I thought I'd go ahead and make a post on it. So without further ado, let's dive right in!
What is Roleplay Mode?
Basically, it's one of the approaches I've come up with to help vary the AW experience and increase replayability. Long ago I noticed that a lot of the fun I've had with life-simulation games--and erotic games in general--is what I call the roleplay element. You're playing a character, much like you would in a traditional RPG like Dungeons and Dragons, and essentially having fun creating their story. Of course, in an erotic game, you're also injecting your own kinks and creating scenarios and situations that you find sexy.
I believe that AW gives you a lot of freedom to do that for yourself, creating your own character both in body and personality, and placing them in different situations. That said, the freedom available can make it more difficult to play more constrained scenarios, or even challenge yourself. (Who here has tried a virgin run?)
This is where roleplay mode comes in. It gives you some new objectives and/or constraints that allow for a different play experience within the same AW universe. We've even got plans for how new roleplay modes could be created by players themselves, really expanding things (see the next technical section on how that's possible). I think it's worth noting here that I've decided to combine what you might call 'challenge' or 'hard' modes into the same system as the more roleplay oriented ones. We'll probably use a simple number system to indicate if a particular roleplay mode makes the game more or less challenging.
Roleplay mode will use what I'm calling the Switchboard System to control several aspects of the game's mechanics, and also inject some additional brief story segments and make special 'bad' ends available. It also has the option of constraining character creation to some very basic choices such as hair, eye, and skin color, while choosing the rest for you. This all comes together to allow a lot of different possibilities in terms of special scenarios!
Here are a few examples of what I mean when I'm talking about roleplay modes:
- Being required to stay a virgin until some biological defect in your new body is cured at the end of the game.
- Having to avoid pregnancy unless you want to be stuck as a woman forever.
- Having to avoid pregnancy while having your fertility set to overdrive.
- Starting as an unattractive woman but also having a high libido and Lilith's Porphyria.
- Beginning the game with strong drug addiction.
- Even just something as simple as increasing difficulty.
What is the Switchboard System?
Before explaining what it is, let me first summarize the problems it's intended to overcome. Having tons of different checks related to different roleplay modes would quickly become an unmanageable mess. It would also be time-consuming to add new modes and scenarios that each require a whole new set of checks and adjustments. Finally, it would be very difficult to create a mod interface that would allow players to create their own roleplay modes. As a side note, adjusting the balance of the main game itself would also be time-consuming and bug-prone without a centralized way to do so.
Enter the Switchboard System. The basic idea is to insert a series of 'switches' into all the game's mechanics code. I call them switches, but they really are a couple different types of checks, triggers, and modifiers. I use the term 'switches' to differentiate them from all the same things that are part of the basic system. (Something like arousal, for example, has checks for different personality traits with modifiers, as well as a probability section and triggers at key levels.) Switches also can be small bits of executable code, which allow unique things to occur when a trigger goes off (for example: perform X if the PC becomes pregnant).
These universal switches are controlled from a central location, the 'board' portion of the switchboard. It's actually just an organized data object that you could liken to a bunch of game settings. To create a new roleplay mode, we just have to configure the switches to match what we are trying to create. We do this using a 'modifier template' to change the status of the switches away from default. This is important because we want whatever basic balance changes we make to the default to be maintained in all the roleplay modes without any extra work.
As far as the switches themselves go, there will end up being quite a few. Just for arousal as an example: we'd have a modifier for the rate it is gained, a modifier for the rate it is lost, a trigger with a variable threshold, an on-off for that trigger, and an executable segment for that trigger. Universally we can use the rate modifiers for balance purposes and to change difficulty, but the trigger setup allows a modder (or ourselves) to easily make something happen if a certain threshold is passed. Like a switchboard, the whole thing will be a rather complex set of controls, possibly even intimidating at first. But it will be infinitely easier to work with these from a central, standardized location, than having to add things to various places in the tens of thousands of lines of code making up AW!
This seems like a giant-enough blog entry, so I'll leave it at that. :D
As always, thanks for your support!