Guilded Developer Blog | Designing Quirks
As of this semester at Champlain College, I am pleased to announce that I have joined Adjective Noun, a team of fellow students, to help them finish their Capstone project, Guilded. Guilded is a game in which the player manages a guild of adventurers, each of whom has their own personality traits, quirks, and skills. Each adventurer is randomly generated, ensuring that players will receive different characters each time they start the game. The player can send their adventurers out on quests in groups of two to four. Depending on those adventurers' personalities and their relationships with one another, those quests may end in success or catastrophic failure. Success rewards the player with money, which they can use to hire more adventurers or (in the future) perform other actions.
Given my role as a Systems and Technical Designer, I was incredibly excited to join the team and to start working on this game. As such, I chose to spend the first week of development working on one of the project's major systems: quirks.
Quirks are passive effects that influence an adventurer's general stats or behavior. During our onboarding process, the team's Lead Designer, Zach Phillips, showed us a few examples of quirks that the team considered implementing last semester before they scrapped the idea due to time constraints. Most of them lacked specific details (such as only describing quirks as having "positive bonuses" or "negative bonuses"), and the list was not particularly organized, but it made an excellent base for the work I produced over the past week.
I originally started revamping the quirks by creating a new Google Sheets page on Zach's document. From there, I divided the sheet into five categories to improve organization and general readability. These categories are as follows:
Personality Buffs: Quirks that affect a character's three core personality traits (Empathy, Bravery, and Determination). Examples include "Warmhearted," which permanently increases a character's Empathy; and "Cautious," which permanently decreases a character's Bravery.
General Stat Buffs: Quirks that influence a character's skills. Currently, each of these quirks increase one skill at the cost of another. Examples include "Quiet," which increases a character's Hunting skill while lowering their Entertainment skill; and "Musclehead," which increases a character's Fighting skill while lowering their Magic skill.
Interpersonal: Quirks that affect the ways adventurers interact with one another. These effects are most obvious during quests, but a couple of them can occur even when characters are wandering around the player's guild. Examples include "Mischievous," which makes a character more likely to sabotage a person they dislike or consider a rival; and "Altruistic," which makes a character more likely to help any of their allies, even ones they dislike.
Conditional: Quirks that only trigger under certain conditions. These are generally the most complex quirks, and some of them rely on other characters having specific quirks of their own in order to generate effects. Examples include "Claustrophobe," which decreases a character's Bravery if the player sends them on a quest involving dungeon exploration; and "Leader," which increases a character's Commanding skill for each character with the "Follower" quirk in the party.
Guild-Centric: Quirks that only occur while a character is in the guild. Many of these quirks require the player to station the relevant character at a unique facility, during which time the player cannot send them on quests. Examples include "Conservative Chef," which reduces the cost of food while a character works in the mess hall; and "Professional Gardener," which causes the player to earn extra money while a character gardens in the guild.
After I created these five categories, I began filling them in with relevant quirks. My intention was to create a variety of different quirks, ranging from the simple to the complex. The Guild-Centric quirks are particularly complicated, since while the other four categories are very possible within Guilded as of now, the systems the Guild-Centric quirks rely on - such as assigning characters to specific positions in the guild - do not currently exist. As such, while our team (and Zach and I in particular) wants to see them in-game, we will prioritize the other four categories, first.
At the end of the week, I wrote up a list of 46 unique quirks, most of which are contained below:
Overall, my teammates seemed very receptive to the above quirks, especially some of the stranger ones like "Head Chef" and "Sous Chef" (which provide bonuses to two characters' Cooking skills when the player pairs them up). However, we will have to wait a short while before we can implement the quirks into Guilded. This is because we need to redo several aspects of the game in order to accommodate recent changes to the personality and inter-character relationship systems and to improve the incredibly information-dense UI. These include cutting the list of personality traits down from six aspects (Empathy, Bravery, Determination, Leadership, Loyalty, and Caution) to the current three.
That said, our Lead Programmer, Jimmy Griffiths, is currently looking into designer-friendly ways to implement quirks into the game. As such, once we have finished redoing these systems, we will hopefully be able to implement, test, and begin balancing our current quirks immediately. From there, we hope to continue developing new quirks throughout the semester, allowing Guilded's procedural generation to create a wide variety of strange and interesting characters that players can grow attached to throughout their adventures.