Previous blog here: Juxtaterrestrial's Total Belly Conversion Mod Devblog (v1-1-0 and earlier)
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Now that I’m done with some initial systems, i figured it would be nice to revisit my goals and lay them out for everyone. v1-2-0 and later are meant to address an important problem. Oh boy it’s a long one so buckle up for some details.
- How do I make a mod with the Fetishmaster engine that is compelling to play and replay
On a sort of fundamental level creating compelling game play is about balancing rewards with the effort require to attain them. Many games do this with combat systems. Shooting things. Hitting thing. Killing things. You put enemies in the way, and killing them gives you access to the macguffin.
Unfortunately Fetishmaster doesn’t really have an easy or satisfying way to implement an interesting combat system. The one that existed before that i made was super convoluted, difficult to add new enemies, and the game didn’t really offer any kind of progression to make it worthwhile. No loot. No content.
v1-2-0 and beyond are may ways to try and start making the game interesting to play and replay.
Instead of combat I want to lean on character progression, varied simulated personality, and story.
The player does a thing > gets better at the thing > uses the better thing to access new content. That is the fundamental drive I’m going for.
Disco Elysium is the mold I’m using. Go play it. Seriously. Disco Elysium - The Final Cut on Steam It’s on sale currently as of the end of march 2021.
I’ll summarize what makes the game interesting in the context of my plans. DE is buddy cop murder mystery RPG with an interesting take on how you make police work interesting. or perhaps more accurately, how do you make internal monologue interesting in a video game. DE does this with it’s skills. They don’t just represent what you can do, they represent a piece of your character’s personality. Each skill has opinions. Likes. Dislikes. Flaws. And they will chime in during conversations, offering valuable feedback. The more points you put in the skill, the more they’ll chime in. You can’t max every skill and so each play through means you may get entirely different dialogue flows. Its entrancing to sort through the main character’s inner thoughts to solve the problems of the story.
DE has another interesting and relevant system. And inventory of thoughts. The thought cabinet collects those lingering intrusive thoughts. You collect these thoughts, think about them for a time and then it unlocks bonuses and penalties and other content.
And thirdly the way the game handles success and failure with its dice rolls is interesting. failing most checks locks the check. But if you spend a point to upgrade that skill, you get another chance to make the previously failed checks. Its turned out to be a very interesting way to get the player to accept failure. You can (almost)always come back and try again.
It’s these three things that i want to port to Fetishmaster. Things will be rearranged a bit but i think the spirit will remain. Here is how I’d like the gameplay loop to play out:
- Find content. This will require your proxy’s skills to mention something or for you to otherwise. For example Perception saying that they noticed something weird that you then investigate.
- Content provide experiences. Back at home you choose an experience for the proxy to think about.
- After a certain criteria are met, the experience is integrated into the proxy’s personality. This requires time to pass and the player to take related actions (so a stuffing experience requires you to eat to advance the experience)
- Completing ‘researching’ an experience may give a variety of benefits. This is how you get skill points(it may grant free skill points, or just directly improve a skill). But it also may unlock skills. This system is how i envision a non fetish oriented proxy getting a fetish. They witness a stuffing contest and it triggers a latent thought. You have them think about it, and experience similar things and eventually it triggers that fetishistic voice in the back of their heads. These integrated experiences also act as modifiers. One of the things I’ve spent months trying to figure out is how to handle the split between self oriented fetishes vs other person oriented fetishes. Wanting to eat vs wanting to watch people eat. this is a perfect solution. You only want to get fat if you have the self feederism experience integrated. You only want to feed other people if you have the feeding other people experience added. It makes it an easy, in game way, lore friendly way for players to chose the content they want to have in the game.
- You use the experience gained skill points to level up your skills. This makes them more likely to pipe into conversations and unlock new content. Go back to 1
And i think my favorite part is that i have a solid way to incorporate this into the lore of my mod.
The player is a digitized mind that is allowed to be downloaded into the brains of proxies. My lore justification is that the hardware that allows this has to somehow interpret brain activity, right? So my thinking is that the reason these skills will have dialogue, is because it’s the computer trying to make sense of the brainwaves and express them to you in a useful way. The proxy is just feeling urges, while you, the passenger, is getting a more solid interpretation of what that urge means and represents. The skills rolls that determine if a skill says something is representative of the chaotic nature of the brain. the brain doesn’t always fire in the same way.
And when you level up a skill, its the player taking that thought and urge and amplifying it until the connections in the brain are strengthened. Integration experiences is the same way. You’re taking a nagging thought and having the proxy keep thinking about it.
I love the way this ties things together. It works with the framing device perfectly. And it also represents some real world phenomenon decently well. It represents someone having a weak version of a fetish. it represents people gaining them due to very specific experience like cartoons or meaningful encounters. It allows for a meaningful internal dialog as well that doesn’t rely on endless iteration to account for subtle textual variations.
Anyway, onto the plans for the actual content.
How do I want to structure the content? I want to avoid simplistic quests with walls of text that are essentially meaningless. What i have in mind is a wide net of small events that lead to bigger and bigger things.
Threads > Hooks > Quests > Arcs.
A thread is i guess a very minor quest. Oh your perceptions skill noticed a weird flier on the wall of the alley? I wonder where it leads? They are flavor event to make the word feel alive and to reward player builds. Threads should be numerous but skill gated. You shouldn’t have access to strength based threads unless you’re very lucky or have invested in strength. In some cases you should need multiple completed threads to access the relevant hooks. And the threads should be pretty widely spread. To access a secret belly club maybe you need to overhear a belly stripper talk about her job. but then you also need to learn the secret code words by sweet talking a barista or something. This should, I hope, make the players interested in exploring the world. It also incentivizes players to have multiple hired proxies. A charismatic proxy. A fat one. A strong one.
A hook is a bigger event or a location that makes the player want to investigate further. They should require multiple threads to unlock and have a reward of some kind. Either they unlock an experience, or unlock an interesting location (like the ability to get money for putting on a fat strip tease). Each hook should link to at least one quest line. Hooks should introduce interesting character and locations.
A quest should be where major conversations happen. They should advance the world plot and reveal hidden truths. This shouldn’t be a “fetch the macguffin” things. they should be real quests. Additionally they should require multiple hooks to complete. Even beyond that, completing some hooks should allow the ability for different outcomes to quests.
An Arc should be the culmination of a number of quests. These wont be coming for a long time i imagine. But they should unlock large new areas with new threads and hooks and quests.
That handles story, now onto my plans for the simulated personality I mentioned above.
This hits heavily on the content I was making for my previous mod project. My goal is to have wandering npcs with personalities for you to talk to, seduce, fatten, and or recruit. it was the textual burden of differentiating the personalities that really hindered my ability to deliver. I have a lot of the systems done, but i couldn’t get all the writing done.
So I’ll be taking what worked, and throwing away what didn’t. Rather than trying to a bunch of opinions requiring deep trees of variability for the text, I’m going to start with a max of like 3 personalities. Something like Sweet, Seductive, And Normal. Then I’ll add more in subsequent updates. I wont be rewriting the dialog a million times for each and every response.
But the skills system simplifies the conversation system. My goal is to make it more than just a list of dialogue options. Maybe you have a list of basic topics, but during conversation I will be having the skills pipe in. and based on the skills you have, you may get new conversations options. Subsequently the npc will also have these skills, and that will affect what things they add to conversation.
That’s the plan anyway. NPCs is not a goal for specifically v1-2-0. It requires more build up.
So when can you expect any of this. I want to keep to shorter bite sized updates like I have so far. But before I lay out individual update goals, i should give something of a more concrete picture.
There will be 4 categories of skills. Sexual skills, Hobby skills, Ability skills, and Job skills.
Each skill represents how good the character is at a thing, but also has a personality related to the skill. A hacking skill should be really nerdy and comment about like network protocols and things. A perception skill will probably be a lot like curiosity core from portal 2.
I don’t have a fully fleshed out set of skills yet but here is some guiding ideas.
Sexual skills includes things like seduction, but also encompasses fetishes. I plan to include feederism(gaining weight), Ventriphilia(belly fetish), Stuffing (eating), Lactation and maybe more in the long run. Sexual skills are unique in that they should start at 0 instead of 1. You should have to unlock them with experiences. Sexual skills are also sort of more of a reward skill as there wont be a lot of opportunities for the belly fetish personality to unlock plot threads lol.
Hobby skills, should be sort of secondary skills around to give flavor to the proxies. This is things like cooking, drinking, or trivia. Hobby skills should be largely about personality. But they should also have solid threads connected to them. Why not untangle a conspiracy because that guy at trivia night knows too much.
Ability skills, represent nonphysically representable aspects of the character. They’re sort of a fundamental part of who the character is. Strength will get no skill because I’m handling that with math. But Endurance will because it will be difficult to find a mathematical way to handle endurance. This will include endurance, perception, Empathy, Composure and probably other things. These should be heavily relied upon to advance threads and hooks. You need to notice things after all.
Job skills, are the things you train to do. So this is criminality (sleight of hand and lock picking and stuff), hacking, Drama (ability to tell and detect lies). Its things like that. Like ability skills these should be workhorse skills
Update schedule for real this time.
For v1-2-0 i want to have mostly systems and example stuff up. So you need to be able to unlock a few experiences, level up a few skills, and have a few skill checks in place that lead to content. My goal is to have Perception, seduction, stuffing and maybe ventriphilia in for the next release. Then i want to have a few threads, leading to the first of the hooks. I will probably have a few sort of barebones experiences just so players can level up a bit.
v1-3-0 will build on the previous update and add more skills , experiences, and hooks. This might include endurance and see be integrating that with v1-1-0’s fitness stuff.
Once I have a decent range of skills later on, v1-?-0 will add the basics of npcs and personalities. I don;'t want to put this off too late. Id rather have too few skills to make interesting npc conversation than be faced with the task of doing all of them at once. But still, I don’t know which update this one will be, so i wont specify.
I want to keep with relatively rapid updates but i can’t guarantee v1-2-0 will be out in the same timeframe as the previous one. I hope i can manage that. But no promises.
Read the story series about the world where the mod takes place in here: Kelri's Gain Part 1: Get Stuffed by Juxtaterrestrial on DeviantArt
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