Down the Rabbit Hole

With Destiny’s Sword, we wanted to provide an incredibly immersive role-playing experience – every detail from story to art to gameplay is woven together to make a grand tapestry.

The key to the Destiny’s Sword experience is our proprietary Insight Engine.  The Insight Engine is responsible for the psychological simulation of all of our in-game characters.  It breathes live into each character, giving them a unique personality, backstory and life history.

A character’s personality will filter the way they perceive events, leading to unique reactions and motivations.  Some characters may live for adventure, while others will be meticulous planners.  Some may be chatterboxes who seek constant interaction, while others may want to engage in conversation only when necessary.  Getting to know what makes each character tick will help players manage them effectively.

The Insight Engine tracks the evolution of characters’ personality and emotions over time based on their gameplay experiences, player decisions & actions, and the meaningful events that happen in their daily lives.  Major traumatic events may even alter the underlying personality of a character.

Characters will grow and evolve with your guidance.

What a character thinks and how they feel will affects their in-game performance, and that character’s gameplay experiences will affect how they think and feel.  It’s a circular relationship that has the player’s fingerprints all over it.

The more a player gets to know their character, the easier it will be to spot the wide array of feedback and cues that will illustrate the impact that events or actions might be having on the characters.  It will be up to the player to recognize these cues ( ideally before they become serious problems) and help guide their character back to their proper balance.

Characters may lash out during gameplay, and players may notice performance issues, such as a character acting slowly or missing turns, being highly inaccurate, or not responding to commands. There may also be non verbal cues that the player can pick up on in dialogue, like bags under the eyes of a character who’s not sleeping, or a bruise on the cheek of a character who’s getting into fights. 

The primary method for engaging with characters and understanding their motivations and struggles will be talking to them – asking questions and simply observing their appearance and behavior.  Characters may request conversations with the player, and the player can initiate conversations with their characters whenever they are between missions.

How players interact with their characters will greatly affect their development and performance.

Players can help their characters manage their emotions by putting them in appropriate situations (if a character doesn’t like heights, don’t send them on a mission in the high mountains), they can dialogue with them to resolve perceived problems (if a character feels they’re being left out, they can reassure them). 

Sometimes just taking the time to talk to the characters and help them navigate daily situations will build a stronger relationship between player and character and help that character to become more resilient and more likely to come to the player when they have an issue. At other times dialogue will function more like a detective story – players may even have to question multiple sources to get to the bottom of what’s really going on behind the scenes.  

Relationship Webs

But our character life simulation goes much deeper than that.  In Destiny’s Sword,  characters will form webs of relationships with each other, and with the players as well. Relationships come in all sizes – acquaintances, friendships, family and romance, and on the other side of the coin, characters can also harbor resentment, jealousy and dislikes.

Relationships can form over countless hours of gameplay, struggling side by side and forged in the fires of combat; or they can form in a fleeting instant – perhaps pierced by cupid’s arrow during downtime at the bar, or in a simple misunderstanding that leads to a heated argument in the barracks.

Negative relationships will pull your characters down, diminishing performance and causing negative emotions like anger, resentment and jealousy to build. Positive relationships can bring out the best in your characters, helping them to over-achieve.

Well developed support networks can yield valuable benefits, helping to ground and stabilize characters, making them more resilient to trauma.  Yet these strong bonds can also become an Achilles heel – if they’re broken (if a friend is wounded, or a lover is killed), they can cause severe damage to those who are connected. 

In fact, both positive and negative emotions will flow throughout the web of relationships, with varying speeds and intensities, depending on the type and strength of the relationship bonds.  Events, player actions/inaction, combat experiences and more, will all affect the formation and dissolution of these relationships. 

Getting to know each of your characters’ networks and understanding who works well with whom (and who doesn’t), will help you shape your group of misfits into a well-oiled machine.

Rich Interaction

In Destiny’s Sword, not only do you lead and develop your own team of characters, but you also work collectively with other players in your guild to achieve your goals together.

Our orbital support ships provide meeting places for players to gather and communicate.  They are owned and developed cooperatively by guilds of up to 60 players, but non-guild players can be invited in to share in the space and participate in player-run events. 

In addition to being gateways for progression of skills, technology and special abilities, the support ships also allow for unprecedented interaction between players and characters.

The Guild Hall is one the core sections of the support.  Guilds can customize their guild halls, changing the decor, lighting and even the configuration of the room itself.  Players will be able to invite friends from other guilds to visit and show off their achievements, including their wall of honor, which will list the guild’s roster of legendary characters and pay tribute to those who have fallen.

But sections like the guild hall have more practical uses as well.  Players can use their social currency (which is the reward the game gives for interactions where players help each other) to put on special events in this space, including weddings, funerals and parties.

For example, if a player has lost a character in combat, then throwing a funeral will help their remaining characters gain closure and cope better with the loss.  Other players who attend the funeral will also gain benefit for being an active part of the community.

Players can also throw parties in their guild hall.  Parties are a great way for players to help their characters blow off steam.  

But events are also gateways that allow the characters of players who are in attendance to interact – sometimes in a very simple fashion, like becoming friends or having a scuffle, but other times becoming more complex story lines that drive player to player interaction.

For instance, one player’s character may reveal to them that they lost an item at a recent party.  That player will then have to ask other players who attended the party to check if any of their characters found the item.  In effect, the players become part of the story and must interact with each other to resolve the story line.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of potential player and character interactions that are made possible by our Insight Engine technology.

What a story!

Having a great depth of story and character development is important for us to be able to create an immersive experience and really take advantage of our Insight Engine technology.

Joining our team as lead writer is New York Times bestselling author M. D. Cooper! M. D. has written over 70 titles in the Aeon14 universe (www.aeon14.com), including the Rika novels – a future war series that features power armor and mechs. 

What caught our eye and first drew us to the Rika series, was the way M. D. doesn’t just focus on the frantic combat action, but also explores how the characters think and feel about their actions.

Check out a sample page from one of M. D. ‘s stories for Destiny’s Sword:

Global Narrative Events

The primary narrative arc is woven throughout every facet of Destiny’s Sword, and is predominantly revealed in the campaign game mode. 

The rich, dynamic story is augmented with global narrative events. These are special week-long story events that provide immersive experiences – think of them as a series of ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ or ‘Escape Room’ type events that overlay the core game narrative.

One scenario might begin with reports of a saboteur planning to attack one of the Lucidium hauling starships. (Lucidium is the fuel the ravenous jump drive consumes – it is our galactic equivalent to oil, and the source of our conflict in Destiny’s Sword)  

Participating players will have to work together to figure out which ship is the target and in which to apprehend the attacker (or at least foil the plot), within the duration of the event.

Players will use the same dialogue system they use to engage with their squad to interrogate the freighter crews, assembling the clues and tracking down the perpetrator.  As they identify the troublemakers, they’ll use the combat system to capture or eliminate them, fighting through unique themed environments. (in this example, within the decks and cavernous belly of a starship)

Players will earn unique themed rewards, including achievements, campaign ribbons, and badges as well as themed customization items. (such as new uniforms for the characters in their barracks, new combat skins, guild hall swag, etc.)

Players will have to work together and pool their knowledge to solve these events. The outcomes of these events can shape the game’s story arc and even be reflected in the physical world.

In Destiny’s Sword, you’re not just fighting battles and scoring points, you’re shaping the story and changing the course of history for all the other players!

Imagine if the ship explodes and crashes into the planet – one (or more) of the district maps you play in will feature wreckage of the crashed ship, a trail of destruction carving it’s way across the region.  

There will be other consequences too, such as increased radiation in some zones or increase salvage (rewards after battle) in others. These events can also affect the webs of relationships between characters, players and even the NPC populations.

All of these interactive features will provide rich, story-driven experiences, giving players an opportunity to role-play together and explore the in-game consequences of their actions.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of player interaction in Destiny’s Sword.  Dive in for an incredibly deep role-playing experience!

If you’re excited by what we’re doing, please back us on Kickstarter!

 

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