Survivors in your group, Building a Safe Haven, Character customizations

Hello everyone! This week I chose a few questions from social media to answer. Instead of giving short responses, I will cover these larger topics in greater detail.

Questions from Social Media

Here are answers to questions from Facebook and Twitter for this week.

Will there be more survivors that can join your group? Asked by Jeremy Nadeau on Facebook

The number of non-player characters (NPC) is already fairly large, but this is a zombie apocalypse. People will be joining your group, leaving your group, and dying. Part 2 has numerous new NPCs who cross your path. They fall into three categories.

  1. Some will join due to the plot. These NPCs will always join—there is no choice.
  2. Other NPCs are optional new members of your group. For some, you decide whether they join or not. For others, they may only be available to join if alive or if they like your group. These are the hardest NPCs to code (more on that later).
  3. Some NPCs are part of a much larger feature of the game in which the story introduces you to other settlements of survivors. Not all will be an option to join your group, but they will be available for interaction.

Adding new characters adds to the complexity of the game in all aspects: writing, coding, and texting. When that character is also optional (like Dante or Jillian), the complexity increases dramatically. I have to check their presence in scenes and have to check interactions between them. They eat food and use resources. They may impact major parts of the game like fight scenes with the infected or add conflicts with other survivors. They change the story in many ways. If an NPC is optional, some readers may not even experience all of the content from that character.

Obviously, I have to be careful with adding too many new characters, but there is a risk of adding too few or making the character roster stagnant. Readers like to replay my games to try different paths, try out different main characters, and meet all of the NPCs. Readers want options. As the game developer, I need to give them what they want.

Will it be possible to upgrade your shelter as the story progresses? Asked by Eugene Sergueev on Facebook and Will the base building really come into effect in part two? @SoullessZealot

This is tough to answer without giving away major spoilers, but building up a safe haven is a major part of the game. Of course, your group has to find one first. At the end of Part 1, you left your burning home and escaped Nightfall. Where you go is unknown, and some of Part 2 involves finding a new place to shelter at least a dozen people (more with optional NPCs).

All I can say is that you will find a safe haven and will be able to upgrade it.

Are you still going to implement trans/non-binary player characters? Asked by @ElectricHelix

I will be implementing non-binary player characters when Part 2 releases. This will update Part 1 as well, so you have the option to replay the game with a non-binary character or skip to Part 2 and create a new non-binary character. Coding this option was not as difficult as some may think, so it was an easy decision to add the option to be more inclusive.

Adding a specific trans option is actually a lot more effort, and something which I should have added at the game’s start. At this stage, I will not be adding the option, though a trans NPC may be developed for a future part.

When I create games, I want to be as inclusive as possible. Everyone should have the ability to build a character who matches their vision. This goes for nationality, ethnicity, profession, age, and gender. If a reader requests a new option, I weigh out the amount of effort it will take to add versus the value of adding it. Sometimes, the additional is doable, like adding a non-binary gender option, custom martial arts styles, or a new assault rifle brand. I do what I can to allow customization within reason while not jeopardizing my ability to produce a bug-free game on a reasonable timeline.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading!

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