Saturday, December 7, 2013

Beat me to death

Carioca is a first person RPG which simulates a dangerous Brazilian favela where players can choose the course of actions which suits their self-imposed goals. The game tries to generate an emergent narrative by embedding narrative cues in the environment as well as presenting a tactile gameworld. Via their interaction with the game and its characters, the players can change the meaning of life in the favela - for better or worse.

These actions [beat, mug, kill, buy/sell drugs, have legitimate jobs or scavenge among garbage] can be categorized into legal actions (i.e. working in legal places), violent actions (i.e. beatings, killings) or drug related actions (i.e. drug trafficking). The player himself has the possibility to perform any of these actions. These categories are used in order to formulate a visual feedback schema for the game environment. If violent events or drug related acts take place in the game then the environment changes and portrays which category’s actions are performed. If the game world is prosperous (earnings from legal spaces) and the violence/drug-dealing events are at low levels then the environment remains intact and nice looking.

An important element of the game is that NPCs rate their relationships with every other character in the game - including the player. Having good relationships with NPCs can unlock dialogue options and features for the player, while having a bad relationship can result in them not talking to the player at all. Players interact with NPCs through a dialogue system, that has consequences on the player’s and NPC’s stats. For example, the player can talk to a gangster and choose to threaten him, steal money and beat him (repeatedly till death) - all through the dialogue system. The dialogue data is retrieved from a SQLite database depending on the bot type and player stats.

The game simulation is setup in such a way that the gameworld will start spiralling into a violent state. It is left up to the player to choose whether he wants to accelerate that process by taking part in the violence and make money, or try to help the situation and save civilians by donating money to the church. The game however, does not compel the player to do either; he can decide to simply stand around and look at the favela go up in flames (metaphorically speaking).

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