The "Connection" System: How it Works (aka sidequests)

Hey guys! Happy belated new year! I hope it’s been treating y’all well so far, and if not… well, at least there’s another 10 months of the year. I’ve been mostly alright; development on the game has been progressing well and there’s some upcoming events and news that I can’t wait to share with you!

But first, today I wanted to talk a little bit about how sidequests are gonna work in the game. I find that in a lot of games, sidequests usually revolve around “go fetch [X] bear asses”, “fight a wave of enemies for five minutes”, etc. – it tends to be very dull and uninspired, which is something I’m trying to avoid at all costs.

One of my main goals with the game was to make each area and objective unique, varied, and constantly surprising in terms of mechanics, story, presentation, etc. – and the sidequests are no exception to that. In fact, they actually allow me to go further with that variety and dive into the even more surreal, weirder elements of Thalia’s psyche. I’m also going to be focusing on quality over quantity, meaning that the final sidequest count is going to be around 10-12 maximum. Not only that, but most of them will center around your very own friends! Er, Thalia’s friends, I should say.

These are known as “Connections”. It’s like a mix of Persona’s “Social Links” and Mass Effect’s “Loyalty Missions”. Each one will have you hanging out with one of your friends and going on a mini-adventure with them. In these, Thalia will play a variety of character roles, with some having her as a co-lead, part of a larger ensemble, or in a decreased, supporting role as opposed to her being the central focus like she is in the main story. Connections will appear after certain story beats and are accessible via The Mirage (the game’s hub area) at the player’s leisure. Connections usually range from 30min. to an hour in regards to length, and all take place in unique locations separate from the main story.

Though they will all have their own rewards and bonuses for completing them, I really want the Connections to be more of a “journey, not the destination” type of experience, so that element will be a bit de-emphasized compared to other games. And as the game only has one ending, Connection completion (or lack thereof) will not affect it… for the most part, anyway.

Meaningful relationships, especially between friends, are not only a core aspect of the game, but also an essential aspect for my own life as well. I want players to feel a genuine connection (heh) for these characters, and that starts by giving them deep, rich personalities, backstories, and dynamics.

One of the things I initially struggled with was giving character arcs to characters who don’t actually exist, as the entire game takes place within Thalia’s mind. The end solution was basing the level design on their own insecurities and emotional issues which Thalia, and by extension, many of us IRL, also share. I think understanding other people is key to understanding ourselves, and vice versa, so I hope players will take the time to experience their stories and find something relatable within them.

Connections will make up the bulk of the side content, but there’s also separate, one-off sidequests the player can discover on their own., often much shorter in length than the normal Connections (but also equally varied). I won’t spoil what those will be like, but I’m positive you’ll be surprised and entertained regardless… if you’re willing to do some exploring, that is.

An example of one of the Connections, with this one taking the form of a 80s slasher flick.

So that’s the gist of how side content is gonna work. What else is new? Well, there’s some very exciting news coming within the next week or so! Not only that, but you’ll be seeing a very special new video coming up, too… I’ll of course post it here, but if you wanna be the very first to know as soon as its uploaded, feel free to give the YouTube channel a follow, yeah?

In any case, that’s all for this week’s blog. As we get closer to the eventual launch, I’ll go more in-depth into the actual level design process, but I’d figured it’d be best to start with a general overview first. What do you guys think? Are you excited to play through the Connections? Got any ideas, questions or extra thoughts? Lemme know! I always love hearing from you guys. With that being said, I’m off to watch more Game of Thrones. I just started it earlier this week and I’m a little over halfway through the first season… I don’t know what took me so long to start, but I am LOVING it so far! (If any one of you spoil it for me, I swear to god imma cut ya throat off)

Oh, and one last thing – if you haven’t already, go give Russian Doll a watch over on Netflix. It’s super trippy, emotional, and engaging from start to finish (I watched it in a night, then rewatched it the following day; it’s THAT good. Plus, one of my friends and filmmaking mentors, Jamie Babbit, marvelously directed a few episodes. And you can’t go wrong with Natasha Lyonne, who should just be in more everything. Definitely give it a watch if you’re into surreal, mindbending shows.

…I really oughta do less TV binging and more game dev. Will I, though? nahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

See y’all next time!

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