Seedlings can now get happy, angry and sad. This is a big deal! Why? Because it affects their behaviour and this is one the earliest ways into the emergent stories that we aim to get from gameplay: a beautiful butterfly effect rippling through Avesta. What is an emergent story I hear you ask? It is - dare I say it? - a unique story, one that you and your Seedlings come up with: in a linear narrative game the stories are authored whereas in SEED emergence comes about from the unique series of events that arise through the interplay of the various systems in our game.
We are all emotional beings and navigating other people’s emotions (especially when they are people you care about) is a cornerstone of this life we lead. The challenge we face with Seedlings is creating people whose emotional life is rich and complex enough that we relate to it, but also that we know how to navigate it.
So how does it work? We went about this through the Thoughts system, by way of the Activities system (which we will get into in another blogpost soon): if a few events in a row happen that trigger angry thoughts, well you guessed it, the Seedling will get angry.
This in turn will change the way a Seedling behaves: an angry Seedling will walk differently than a happy one. The player will be reading the emotional state of their Seedlings based on how they emote or the content of their thoughts.
(On the simulation side: different emotional states can trigger different activities, when our Seedling Susi is feeling emotion x, they do activity y. As a proof of concept, three activities were implemented: A happy Susi might water a plant, a sad Susi might write in their journal, and an angry Susi might headbang at the jukebox.)
Now we have an emergent story: my Seedling Susi is angered after being insulted by her work colleague. When she goes home after work, she turns on some electro-punk music to which to headbang. This wakes her fellow seedling Patri up, due to the noise, and in turn Patri is now pissed off and angry.