Welcome back to Nine’s Dev Diary, where I talk a lot about how I’m making the game and hope that a few of you may care about it!
Last time, I touched on how I plotted the flow of scenes, and how Chapters One, Two, and Three would be deviations from one another. That’s an example of a design choice I consciously made; as the main character (and by extension, the player) learned more about the world, enabling them to make more informed choices. Other than changing exactly how those investigative scenes will go (this is why I had that scene re-write last week), the structure is still largely the same.
This diary is going to focus on the actual changing of something that I’d started the game with. To the casual player, this isn’t going to change anything from your perspective. You can go about playing Mythos without ever knowing that something “under the hood” is changing. However, I know many of you like to poke around in the code, or perhaps use (or create) mods so that the consequences of character choice is more blatantly laid out.
Anybody who’s played a visual novel or dating sim will likely be familiar with the concept of “love points”. It could go by other names — “affection rating,” “desire,” etc. — but the function is the same: This is how much a character likes you. At the inception, Mythos was no different. Every NPC had a “love” rating based on actions you made… even the Cat! If you didn’t cave in to B’s demand to buy her lunch, she liked you more. If you vocally hated Tara’s music, her love for you increased.
(Dev Note: A lot of people seemed confused about Tara’s affection going up when you ragged on her musical tastes. Some even thought it was a mistake in the code. I assure you, it’s intentional — Tara likes to fight, so you giving her a chance to snap at you means she finds you more compatible.)
However, as I went through making Chapter Two, things got a little weird as far as “love points” and the decisions you made. For example, if you had decided Tara was your girlfriend, then broke up with her, then chose her as the date to the Gala, how would that affect her feelings? If you go by points, those nuances couldn’t be reflected properly — she could have similar point ratings based on different decisions. So naturally, these topics are handled with “flags” — variables that let the game know specific things you did. Many other games have these as well, this is nothing new.
A unique problem with Mythos is that the “relationship side” and the “investigative side” are things I’m trying my best to keep seperate. I don’t want the romance/sex side to be the main focus of the game, nor do I want it affecting the parts that are the main focus. How would Tara feel if you made her your girlfriend because you like her, then chose Rain as your Gala date because you believed she’d be the best one from a strategic or investigative standpoint? Sure, I could have these kinds of things stir up a lot of relationship drama, which could create a ton of great romantic tension.
But as I’ve said continually — Mythos is, first and foremost, a murder mystery. The romantic entanglements have to be done in such a way that they can’t affect the mystery aspects. I had a system in place that used “love points” as well as flags to govern what was done in the past. This made things a big ol’ headache for me, as I had to try to keep track of how many potential love points you could have with a character at any given moment, as well as take into account the decisions made (the flags). “Game balance” isn’t a thing that I understand or am good at — I’m just a mediocre writer, I don’t want to get into the weeds about coding point-based systems.
So starting with Chapter Three, the points are just kinda going away. I’m not recoding the whole game, so this won’t cause any delay (and, perhaps more importantly, won’t destroy your current save files). The first two chapters play as before, with the points changing and causing various things to happen. But at the start of Chapter Three, I’ll be converting the points into flags, and those flags will be how everything is being handled going forward.
This may seem like a more complicated solution — after all, instead of a tidy set of numbers, I’ll have a ton of different variables to keep track of. But I had to keep track of those variables anyway, so this is making things less of a burden. Also, I’m not a “numbers” person; keeping track of flags feels more organic to me than trying to crunch numbers.
Sadly, for the code-peekers, this means you won’t necessarily be able to predict what your choices may mean in later Chapters or games. Seeing “Rain Love + 2” made it pretty straightfoward, but seeing “Rain Coffee” as a true/false flag will make things way less clear. My intention isn’t to screw with y’all — it’s just making things easier to manage on my end in the long run.
That’s why I took a whole Dev Diary to go through my thought processes on this; I’m not trying to make the game “anti-cheat”. Probably because it’s impossible to cheat; check the Ask the Dev(s) post for reasons why I don’t think a walkthrough for Book One makes any sense.
This is probably all pretty rambly, so I’ll just summarize! No more points, because Nine is bad at numbers.
Keep the (non-numeric) Legends Alive!