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Character Development

The two major ways to write a good story are character-driven and plot-driven. Plot-driven stories work through a sequence of goals. This is difficult to enforce in a world as open and dynamic as LT's promises to be. However, character-driven stories start with characters and let the story write itself. In this way, LT's model seems perfectly suited to a character-driven story: the system starts in an initial condition and events play out from it. LT also already has (or plans to have) characters making decisions based on character traits.
But the main thing that makes character-driven stories work is still missing: character development. As far as I know, characters get their traits from their parent colony at "birth." The traits are then immutable. However, as many writers know, "flat" characters like this are best used sparingly, especially when they're the foci of the story. Dynamic characters are generally preferred. The faction and relationship systems present in LT help with this, but they're not enough to support a decent character-driven story on their own. For this, we need the character traits themselves to be mutable.
Since the goal is generally to create characters which are believable and realistic, we may find useful insight by looking at the things which make real people change. Large personality changes come from large events—traumas and epiphanies—while small changes over long periods of time can come about from occupations or company. Idealistic characters might be worn down by their nine-to-five job. A military leader might watch his homeworld burn and become pacifistic. Events would be woven into the world and, more importantly, its people.

Re: Character Development

Flatfingers wrote:
Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:49 pm
But this thread is extremely interesting to me, and I'll be watching it with great interest until I can add something obvious and wrong to it.
:lol: I don't recall you making a habit of that, Flat. If anyone can come up with some extra meat for this thread it's likely to be you. Just don't take any sniping from others to heart. ;) :)

I can think of a few members here who are great at deconstructing the ideas of others. :angel:

Re: Character Development

If we're going to talk about character -- as in, a person's character -- in the context of a computer game, we need to understand the rules by which "character" is defined.

Back in 2014 :shock: I necro'd :o a thread talking about AI Morality. In that thread I mentioned the latest version of AI personality that Josh had described in Development Video Update #20:
Spoiler:      SHOW


While I'd rather a more orthogonal system, I wanted to work with the aspects Josh used. So I suggested that an improvement might be to treat each of these as a spectrum with two endpoints, each of which corresponds to a totalized but positive aspect of personality. I think that creates more possibilities for NPC behaviors that feel plausible, rather than a mustachio-twirling Greedy Lawless villain. I also think that's a better fit for interesting storytelling.

Since then, I've had another bit of a think (taking on board some comments from Hyperion), and here's the basis of character I'd like to suggest now:

Creative <---|---> Conserving
Aggressive <---|---> Cautious
Focused <---|---> Explorative
Practical <---|---> Intellectual
Acquisitive <---|---> Charitable
Rebellious <---|---> Dutiful
Sociable <---|---> Independent

1. Would this work to support character behaviors for storytelling? For example, would a character arc causing an NPC to drift from Charitable to Acquisitive be interesting as part of a story?

2. If this structure doesn't seem like a good fit for storytelling, what's a better structure for supporting this that would also continue to satisfy Josh's needs for useful behavioral systems that fit the kinds of gameplay verbs he's building?

Re: Character Development

I think the difficulty for telling the story of character development won't quite be so much in causing character drift or sudden change via major event, but in the presentation and explanation of the change, it will be "in the prose, not the plot."

And for that particular issue, I don't really have a good solution :?

Also of importance for telling a story of character development is a memory of the way one used to be, You could have a complete and dramatic change, but if you don't remember who you used to be, is it really much of a development?

However, I do think Flat offers a pretty good selection of trait spectrums in terms of characterization.
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