While flattery might get you somewhere in Mass Effect, Dragon Age and their ilk, the developer of Scarlet Hollow has warned that their characters will wise up.
Scarlet Hollow, which we described as “an engrossing supernatural outing”, is being released at the rate of a chapter or two a year, so it’ll be some time we’re able to experience the game in its entirety. But there’s enough content for you to forge relationships, platonic and otherwise, with various characters.
What’s particularly interesting, however, is the way the game handles these relationships. Tony Howard-Arias, half of Black Tabby Games, who also wrote about the benefits of re-launching their Steam Store page, posted a blog entry earlier this year explaining how they crafted a dynamic relationship system.
The full post, which you can find here, makes for fascinating reading whether you’re a games developer or not. Howard-Arias explains how he and co-developer/artist Abby Howard dabbled with a Dragon Age style relationship system but decided to go one better. Because, as much as we love Mass Effect and Dragon Age, forging a relationship with an NPC is, more often not, a case of completing a side-quest and making sure you don’t tell them to boil their head.
“A like/dislike system meant that some dialogue options would be read as “correct” and others as “incorrect,” which in turn would encourage players to metagame for an ideal outcome instead of roleplay a character,” states the developer, explaining why they abandoned a binary Dragon Age-style system.
But this decision, in turn, led them down a development rabbit-hole. Black Tabby had to consider whether it was worse to insult a character or to be caught lying to them. For example, one of the characters, Tabitha, lives in a run-down mansion. You can flatter her, and her home, but there’s a risk she’ll perceive you as insincere which risks damaging the relationship between the two of you.
You can read the full blog entry here, but it’s made us more excited for the next chapter of Scarlet Hollow, as well as slightly apprehensive that we may have laid it on a bit thick when talking to at least a couple of characters. It’s also left us hoping that the new Mass Effect takes a few cues from Black Tabby’s idea.