Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Fiddling with variables

A lot of the vital design stuff on my games is coming ton conclusions about cause and effect that are simple enough to work inside the context of a PC game.

Take alcohol. What are the effects of alcohol? Well they are many and varied, according to scientists and doctors, low levels of some alcohol can actually be beneficial as a prevention against heart attacks. High levels will ruin your health, and we probably agree that alcohol will give you a higher level of confidence, and relax you.

But… does it make you happy? This is a complex question. In my experience, alcohol exaggerates moods, so miserable people become more miserable, and happier people get more happy. The problem is, this is a bit of a personal opinion, and not easily explained in game terms. In the simplistic fashion of a sim game, alcohol makes you happy, albeit at the cost of reducing your concentration, and having potential health effects.

So I find myself wrestling with how to set the numbers in Kudos 2. Right now, you get a confidence and relaxation boost automatically from all alcohol, but only deliberately chosen alcohol in restaurants directly makes you happy. The happiness associated with alcohol from a bar or a wine and cheese evening is factored in with the other effects. If this seems slightly woolly, and not 100% accurate, it isn’t, but that’s game design. The problem is, you could add more and mroe complexity until the game took 20 years to make and a manual like a phone directory to play it. The trick is making the effects in the game seem just real enough to suspend disbelief, whilst still keeping it as just a game, and not an exercise in statistics.

Tis a fine balance…