Monday, 4 April 2011

Development Blog: The Magic of Innocence - Managing the player's character's journal

Most crpgs have a journal as a place where quest information and various notes are stored. Dragon Age is not different with regard to that. 

But I have always asked myself who managed that journal, who wrote all the different notes down and sometimes copied whole books into it. Some games use the first person for entries so that the player feels like his character takes the notes himself. Some games use the second person for the entries as if someone were talking directly to the player through his entries. In DAO it is the second person and I sometimes wondered who was managing it.

In "The Magic of Innocence" I wanted to be clear about who makes the entries and who "talks" to the player. It is the mage apprentice Ben who created the pc in a ritual and is the first and a permanent companion in my module.

Another aspect is the fact that the journal is just a concept and has no "physical" representation in most crpgs. That is something I dislike and therefore want my mod to be different. Fortunately, there is a item category in the game that is visible and does not count against the item limit: plot items. So the first plot item the character will get is in fact the journal where Ben writes down all the important information the player needs to stay atop of in the game. Most entries will be mostly neutral, but in order for the reader to know that it is Ben, who writes them, some of these entries will include his opinion, so it can be quite interesting to have an entry about something and then the player finds out that the information is not as accurate as he believed it to be. This approach is interesting but could potentially be devastating to the point that the player doesn't trust the journal any more so entries that are not based on facts have to be marked as such. I am thinking about adding a new category to the codex entries labels something like "ideas" or "rumours". In that category all entries floating around as hearsay and Ben's musings will be separated from the "facts", like the entries used by the original campaign or quest notes which only record past deeds.

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