I think it’s getting clear how challenging and complex creating these digital beings - Seedlings - is and how we’re going about it. In an earlier Production Update we looked at their Thoughts and how they communicate their needs and status to the player. Well, now would probably be a good time to take a look at those Needs. How have we thought about them in the past, and what are they now and how will they work in the game?
In the past we implemented Needs such as the need to sleep or to eat because this was a seemingly surefire way to create relatability and add verisimilitude to our simulation. However, what about gameplay? We then changed things up a bit so that Seedlings’ Needs became one of the main motivation factors when playing the game and interacting with the various system loops. This saw us create needs such as Recreation or Safety. A Seedling needs to chill out and do things they enjoy when not working or sleeping.
Gameplay wise, we feel there are advantages and disadvantages to the type of gameplay that arises by having a Needs system. Obviously it helps with relatability, and the notion of care and nurture that we looked at in the last post are driven in part by paying close attention to the Seedlings’ needs.
Above: A mockup of our Seedling need UI, showcasing some example needs and connected thoughts.
However, for nuance and believability we need (pun intended!) to be able to create challenges and conflicts for the players to solve. One way we will do this is to have a system whereby the Needs of Seedlings will evolve over time - they won’t just remain this static checklist of things that need to be attended to.
I for one need more coffee on a Monday morning, and I’m guessing my Seedlings will be pretty similar. But this need for a certain foodstuff, will have to be balanced by the settlements’ production activity and indeed other Needs of other Seedlings, and eventually with Character Traits and Emotional States.
Currently in our development build, Seedlings have a recreation Need, which makes them take a coffee break in the greenhouse in between working hard on producing goods. Everyone needs a coffee break!
We’d love to hear your thoughts: what are the Needs you see driving you? Come join us on Discord or comment below, we’d love to hear from you!