Jump to content
Double Fine Action Forums
Sign in to follow this  
majugi

MASSIVE CHALICE's incest problem

Recommended Posts

I've been thinking about the inheritance system recently and keep running into issues with genetic diversity. We know that battles will be small and involve only a handful of heroes. This includes both the male and female heroes, in roughly equal proportion. The issue is that with only four characters, your pairing options are severely limited. If the initial generation only has four heroes, all characters will be related by their grandparents by the fourth generation. Aside from being incestuous, this would lead to very few choices at the strategic bloodline level.

The natural conclusion to draw from this is that the vast majority of characters that can be used to produce children will never see battle, or at least not a battle that the player oversees. Alternatively, the player could be forced to use different sets of characters in different battles, but quite a few battles would be required for this to produce a large enough pool of candidates for, uh, strategic hero breeding.

We know that there will be roles for characters beyond combat, but even so the problem of having very few battle-hardened bloodlines remains. It seems like there needs to be some sort of strategic-level mechanism for leveling characters that aren't in the top four or five. This could be a bit tricky, because characters would still have to be exposed to permadeath at that level or else players could just store heroes in that system to earn experience while not risking their lives.

Any thoughts? Maybe Brad's prototype will shed some light on this... speaking of which, what am I doing here? I should go watch that stream that's on right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted some thoughts on the inheritance system here: Link. I think it is import to keep the breeding realistic. I mean the heroes are humans. It should be highly random and complemented with a training system. (gene + training = hero stats and traits)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love your posts Wuddel, and I agree with the comment above. My comment in the initial post is less about inheritance and more about how the small size of the tactical battles could impact the family tree.

If we assume that we have an amazing inheritance system, it's still difficult to draw a family tree that starts with a handful of initial heroes and spans 8+ generations without being extremely incestuous unless commoners constantly marry into the bloodlines or there's a steady stream of outside bloodlines.

I just watched today's live stream and it seems that in the first prototype, the idea that single heroes in keeps will marry commoners avoids some of these problems (as well as the fact that the interface is abstract and doesn't make it obvious that heroes are siblings/cousins).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think as long as heroes can be discovered through events and desirability of traits are fluid, there should be no problem genetic diversity wise. Discovering new talents would be a nice way to involve new weapon tech.

For example, suppose starting heroes in the world start off with spears being thrown as a distance weapon.

Some keep invents a bow. Now for a thrown spear, arm strength could be more important than accuracy. Maybe most of heroes that are alive today, have superior arm strength but inferior concentration and accuracy. This benefits current heroes. Some new child is born/or discovered to have superior accuracy and concentration but less arm strength. If only spears were around, the child wouldn't be the greatest range weapon user but now with the invention of the bow (which is a superior ranged weapon) the child is now the one who benefits while older heroes are less favorable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Wasuji, I think it's true that a lack of genetic diversity won't necessarily cause the population of heroes to become homogeneous in their traits, due to the reasons you give, but that doesn't really get around the issue that lineages will be very muddled after a few generations. It is of course possible to make a game in which inbreeding doesn't lead to any adverse biological effects, so perhaps incest in the game world isn't a big deal... but that may not be something that works too well when players interpret the game's story in the context of the real world. The trade-off is between introducing lots of new heroes over the course of the campaign (diminishing the importance of the starting heroes and possibly leading to a population explosion) or having a relatively small number of bloodlines throughout the game (forcing substantial inbreeding and mixing of the few available bloodlines).

The idea I'm currently leaning towards (after not a whole lot of thought) is to have a very large amount of characters available to manage at the strategic layer -- on the order of dozens -- while only a few of those characters ever see player-controlled tactical battles. There's then many more opportunities for strategic bloodline manipulations while the player can still maintain a few "main" bloodlines to take into key battles. Having a larger pool of bloodlines at the strategic level would also let the game take greater advantage of the thousands of backer houses, which would be cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If we assume that we have an amazing inheritance system, it's still difficult to draw a family tree that starts with a handful of initial heroes and spans 8+ generations without being extremely incestuous unless commoners constantly marry into the bloodlines or there's a steady stream of outside bloodlines.

Oh thats true, in "my" proposed system this is somewhat mitigated by the combination of mutation & recombination. But I think it is not only easier to to just add commoners, but also more true to life since populations need a certain size to ensure diversity. I propose marrying commoners as a way to reduce demonic influence.

I think it is super interesting to surface the underlying mechanics (through some magic device, think crystal ball) behind it to the player, but limiting him to the only decision we also have in the real world: having kids or not having kids.

I will flesh out the "molecular genetics of MC" more on the weekend or so. Just for the fun of it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly I think any sort of incest potentially gets pretty icky fast. Allowing it is, erm, disquieting. Having to avoid is just not a fun game mechanic. Just imagine setting up a pair of heroes in a keep only to get the "sorry, they're third cousins" message - again.

I think the best option is just to stomp even the potential for it out completely. Each keep produces one and exactly one heir (maybe more children, but they aren't heroes because they didn't inherit their parents' relics, or something), and the player must constantly supplement his hero pool with promising young commoners. Upshots are twofold: incest is completely removed from the picture, and players get to make interesting decisions on whether to concentrate the material wealth (relics) of your more established bloodlines to create amazingly-equipped heroes or to spread the wealth around.

Downside? Well, gear could get a bit bloated when your third-generation hero is sole heir to the relics of eight distinct heroic bloodlines. Maybe you solve that by having heroes fuse their bloodline relics when they marry to signify the joining of their houses. Or maybe they only do it when their relics would both go into the same slot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just gonna point out that incest is pretty much the default of royal families in our real world, so i see no issue there from that angle. Besides, since your allowing same sex pairings to produce children, its clear that the heir isn't ALWAYS of blood relation.

That said, having only so many lines to draw traits from IS a problem. However, we have no idea how many you'll be working with over the course of the game. I assume it'll be 3 or 4 to start, but as you explore and take land you'll end up with more keeps and need new Lords/Ladies to fill them, producing new lines. In addition, I imagine that you'll have plenty of back line forces doing research and such, so perhaps you'll be pulling heirs from there. Maybe you'll need to be breeding all sorts of families; combat and research, merchants and politicians. And don't forget, thair ARE gonna be other families, and perhaps rival clans. Maybe you'll need to form alliances obtain tech, weapons, or advanced training?

And lets not rule out breeding in captured demonic bloodlines... lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I will flesh out the "molecular genetics of MC" more on the weekend or so. Just for the fun of it.

This is why I love this forum. :)

I think the best option is just to stomp even the potential for it out completely. Each keep produces one and exactly one heir (maybe more children, but they aren't heroes because they didn't inherit their parents' relics, or something), and the player must constantly supplement his hero pool with promising young commoners. Upshots are twofold: incest is completely removed from the picture, and players get to make interesting decisions on whether to concentrate the material wealth (relics) of your more established bloodlines to create amazingly-equipped heroes or to spread the wealth around.

That seems a little extreme to me. Not being able to ever have siblings in battle would be disappointing, but I could see how it would make the union of bloodlines a more significant thing as you'd be losing a heroic bloodline for every strengthening merge. I don't like the idea of having a one child per couple policy in this game because it would make bloodlines a little too fragile: bloodlines could never grow but only shrink; also, a single dud kid and you're out of heirs for your awesome bloodline. That would probably lead to some "interesting, tough situations" but my gut feeling is that it would not be very fun. Still, it would avoid incest, and it could be worth trying out in prototyping if it's not too much work.

Personally, I think it's okay if it's technically possible to have incest (these are feudal dynasties we're talking about) as long as the game mechanics generally discourage it (for example, by having an inheritance system that includes recessive genetic defects). If someone really wants to recreate the Habsburger bloodline, I think they should be able to. What I don't want (and I don't think anyone would want) is the situation where players are forced to create inbred heroes because the population size is too small for anything else.

The most straightforward approach to dealing with all this is to make commoner marriages the norm, while still allowing multiple heroic children and intermarriage between bloodlines. If the icky factor is still significant, marriages between heroes with the same surname could be banned (although that's a little arbitrary). However, there are still some questions remaining with this approach. Where do commoner stats come from? Is inheritance split evenly between the hero and the commoner, or are children essentially clones of the hero with random mutation? Can commoners do anything besides breed?

My qualm with commoners is that an influx of new characters could wash out the importance of genetics because the bloodlines would be constantly diluted by matches with commoners who were spawned outside of the inheritance system. This is realistic to an extent -- in real life, you don't get a bonus for having a couple heroic ancestors -- but it'd be lame to have as little control over inheritance in the game as we have in real life. There's two options to avoid this that I can see right now: (1) commoners don't contribute much to inheritance and heroic children of commoners are slightly mutated clones of their heroic parent or (2) children always combine traits from two parents, each parent has well defined traits, and there are a sufficient number of individuals in the population eligible for pairing to sustain growth without incest. Note that in this latter case parents can still be commoners, but I think they should have well-defined traits and be subject to the same birth/death dynamics as heroes (in which case they'd be heroes in all but name and their status as non-combatants).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think the best option is just to stomp even the potential for it out completely...

That seems a little extreme to me. Not being able to ever have siblings in battle would be disappointing.

That's a good point. I missed that one, and I don't really have a good way to get the best of both worlds there. That's not really the sort of possibility I'd want to give up on easily, though we do already get to see familial bonds on the battlefield in parent/child form so it's not as if that opportunity is completely obviated. Maybe someone else can think up something, or maybe I just need to go to sleep instead of posting at 2AM.

Personally, I think it's okay if it's technically possible to have incest as long as the game mechanics generally discourage it...

Rolling the dice on the genetic effects of inbreeding as a game mechanic? That's a bit much for me. If you want inbreeding to be detrimental, then why allow it in the first place? This is ethically treacherous territory, and I doubt Massive Chalice wants to devote time to mapping it out when we could be fighting epic battles instead. Sure, it'll make it difficult for me to recreate Jaime Lannister, but I find that preferable to repeatedly pouring over ancestry trees for fear of incurring penalties by accidentally inbreeding third-cousins.

My qualm with commoners is that an influx of new characters could wash out the importance of genetics.

Is the problem that you don't want random non-heroes to be completely interchangeable with heroes for breeding purposes (thus undermining the very idea of having heroic bloodlines), or do you just really want genetics to be the overriding factor in how a character develops? If the former, I think there is another way.

Rather than genetics, I'd favor relics as the vector through which children really benefit from having heroic parents. Among other benefits, this avoids putting same-sex couples (who presumably must adopt) at a disadvantage. Let genetics decide things like physical appearance and what class a character is predisposed towards, but let the relics carry the stat bonuses and special powers. This even gives you more "control" over inheritance as you were hoping for, since you know more or less exactly what you'll get from the relics and the randomness is consigned mostly to physical appearance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Personally, I think it's okay if it's technically possible to have incest as long as the game mechanics generally discourage it...

Rolling the dice on the genetic effects of inbreeding as a game mechanic? That's a bit much for me. If you want inbreeding to be detrimental, then why allow it in the first place? This is ethically treacherous territory, and I doubt Massive Chalice wants to devote time to mapping it out when we could be fighting epic battles instead. Sure, it'll make it difficult for me to recreate Jaime Lannister, but I find that preferable to repeatedly pouring over ancestry trees for fear of incurring penalties by accidentally inbreeding third-cousins.

I don't know about you but that's one of the things that really caught my interest. Family trees are really just the human races' stock books. They let us know who comes from what. A good horse can tend to have a more accurate family tree than most people, since how else can you prove it's a pure breed.

As for the ethics.... well I'm the kind of guy who plays the evil version of any "moral choice" game and I really like Saints Row so I don't really like the idea of ethics polluting my game. Since if for ethics inbreeding will be disallowed how will I build the Webfoots my special squad of heroes bred for tackling swamp terrain?

Also how far are we going to go with it, anyone who's related by even the slightest margin can't breed? I think you'll find yourself out of options rather quickly. Also as far as I know it's legal (at least in half the the states in the USA not sure about other countries) for first cousins to marry, and this is for regular folks no special rich and powerful only thing. And if it's legal you know what that means, people do it. And if you personally are squeamish about the idea take extra care about it. Me I want the chance that I'll get a chinless wonder if I'm not good at managing my breeding program.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Personally, I think it's okay if it's technically possible to have incest as long as the game mechanics generally discourage it...

Rolling the dice on the genetic effects of inbreeding as a game mechanic? That's a bit much for me. If you want inbreeding to be detrimental, then why allow it in the first place? This is ethically treacherous territory, and I doubt Massive Chalice wants to devote time to mapping it out when we could be fighting epic battles instead. Sure, it'll make it difficult for me to recreate Jaime Lannister, but I find that preferable to repeatedly pouring over ancestry trees for fear of incurring penalties by accidentally inbreeding third-cousins.

I don't know about you but that's one of the things that really caught my interest. Family trees are really just the human races' stock books. They let us know who comes from what. A good horse can tend to have a more accurate family tree than most people, since how else can you prove it's a pure breed.

As for the ethics.... well I'm the kind of guy who plays the evil version of any "moral choice" game and I really like Saints Row so I don't really like the idea of ethics polluting my game. Since if for ethics inbreeding will be disallowed how will I build the Webfoots my special squad of heroes bred for tackling swamp terrain?

Also how far are we going to go with it, anyone who's related by even the slightest margin can't breed? I think you'll find yourself out of options rather quickly. Also as far as I know it's legal (at least in half the the states in the USA not sure about other countries) for first cousins to marry, and this is for regular folks no special rich and powerful only thing. And if it's legal you know what that means, people do it. And if you personally are squeamish about the idea take extra care about it. Me I want the chance that I'll get a chinless wonder if I'm not good at managing my breeding program.

You say that now, but I wonder how long you'll want to stick with the chinless wonder breeding program when the involved heroes are so bogged down with undesirable recessive genes that random commoners with pitchforks and tattered rags are more effective in combat. This isn't a genealogy simulation in a vacuum; you have to take the game world into consideration with it. Allowing the player to order their subjects to engage in incest only to slap them with penalties for doing so (as was suggested in the post I was responding to in that quote) has a veneer of realism to it, but I don't see anything in that which would make it a fun game mechanic. It would just be a potential trap for your bloodlines that you would have to plan around avoiding and I'd much rather be thinking of ways to make awesome heroes than optimizing a generational marriage scheme to minimize the loss of genetic diversity over time.

Alternatively, you could just make incest consequence-free while prohibiting the most egregious cases (parent/child, sibling/sibling). However, if incest has no mechanical impact then why would you want it to be a possibility?

As to how you'd get your webfoots without inbreeding, the obvious answer is demonic technology. From what I can tell, being able to give a bloodline some benefit like webbed feet at the cost of inflicting some genetic damage is pretty much exactly what that mechanic is intended to do. Better yet, you don't have to engage in a multi-generation breeding program to get to that point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You say that now, but I wonder how long you'll want to stick with the chinless wonder breeding program when the involved heroes are so bogged down with undesirable recessive genes that random commoners with pitchforks and tattered rags are more effective in combat. This isn't a genealogy simulation in a vacuum; you have to take the game world into consideration with it. Allowing the player to order their subjects to engage in incest only to slap them with penalties for doing so (as was suggested in the post I was responding to in that quote) has a veneer of realism to it, but I don't see anything in that which would make it a fun game mechanic. It would just be a potential trap for your bloodlines that you would have to plan around avoiding and I'd much rather be thinking of ways to make awesome heroes than optimizing a generational marriage scheme to minimize the loss of genetic diversity over time.

Alternatively, you could just make incest consequence-free while prohibiting the most egregious cases (parent/child, sibling/sibling). However, if incest has no mechanical impact then why would you want it to be a possibility?

Ok, I understand what you are talking about and I agree that being super realistic would not be a fun thing. But if people are silly enough to completely ignore what's going on in the family breeding section, they deserve a chinless wonder.

Example:

House Whack Has two heroes Gabriel(M) and Cleona(F)

House Frack Also has two heroes Jane(F) and Bob(M)

Jane is attached to Gabriel and have two children Hannibal(M) and Maria(F)

Cleona is attached to Bob and have two kids Neal(M) and Clarice(F)

These children would have no issues they're fine

Now either by design or lack of attention Hannibal and Clarice are attached and produce Keel(M) while Neal and Maria hook up to make Gladys(F)

These kids are ok maybe 10% chance of any issues

after that if someone puts Keel and Gladys together it's no ones fault but their own when they get stuck with a chinless wonder. :cheese:

As to how you'd get your webfoots without inbreeding, the obvious answer is demonic technology. From what I can tell, being able to give a bloodline some benefit like webbed feet at the cost of inflicting some genetic damage is pretty much exactly what that mechanic is intended to do. Better yet, you don't have to engage in a multi-generation breeding program to get to that point.

I like that Idea!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You say that now, but I wonder how long you'll want to stick with the chinless wonder breeding program when the involved heroes are so bogged down with undesirable recessive genes that random commoners with pitchforks and tattered rags are more effective in combat. This isn't a genealogy simulation in a vacuum; you have to take the game world into consideration with it. Allowing the player to order their subjects to engage in incest only to slap them with penalties for doing so (as was suggested in the post I was responding to in that quote) has a veneer of realism to it, but I don't see anything in that which would make it a fun game mechanic. It would just be a potential trap for your bloodlines that you would have to plan around avoiding and I'd much rather be thinking of ways to make awesome heroes than optimizing a generational marriage scheme to minimize the loss of genetic diversity over time.

Right, so I agree with most of this. I don't want to be thinking about degrees of familial separation and biodiversity or whatever when playing. The "incest penalty" would hopefully just prevent egregious incest from being the most viable option. It's sort of like having a penalty for sacrificing all your children for relics; like maybe you can do that, but no one ever would because it would be silly to kill all your heirs. I'd hope that incest would work similarly in that it would be something that would just naturally be a bad idea. Plus I don't think the game needs to send a moral message about incest, so long as it's not the default.

Alternatively, you could just make incest consequence-free while prohibiting the most egregious cases (parent/child, sibling/sibling). However, if incest has no mechanical impact then why would you want it to be a possibility?

I'd be okay with complete prohibition, but not to the point of losing the ability to have multiple children from a pair of heroes. The "no heroes being married can ever have a common ancestor" rule (which is a consequence of one-child-per-couple) is far too overreaching (there's a pretty good chance that if you go back 8 generations you'll find some common ancestors with your spouse, even if you're not royalty). I don't think incest is particularly interesting in and of itself, but it's a possibility in most systems which is why I think it's important to consider (and remember that the original point of this thread is to find ways to avoid it, not a defense of incest in the game).

Is the problem that you don’t want random non-heroes to be completely interchangeable with heroes for breeding purposes (thus undermining the very idea of having heroic bloodlines), or do you just really want genetics to be the overriding factor in how a character develops? If the former, I think there is another way.

Yup, the former. I also don't like the idea of having lots of characters that are little more than placeholders for baby making. I'd like the commoners to be able to do things on the strategic layer that make them seem a little bit more like full characters. This doesn't need to be at the individual level, just being able to say "okay, I want 10,000 commoners rebuilding this part of the anti-demon barricade" would make them seem more real to me. If this were done well, I think it could also help create the sense of having a larger war going on.

Rather than genetics, I’d favor relics as the vector through which children really benefit from having heroic parents.

Yeah, well relics will certainly be a big part of the game, but there's something to be said for the direct blood lineages. I like having the constraint of not being able to give any trait to any child through a relic because of the randomness and asymmetry from genetics. I'd also like lots of options for training up children through relics, mentoring, and so on, but I think having them start out as completely blank slates would take away from their individuality and the replay value of the game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have three thoughts on this thread.

First, I think that the idea of incorporating 'genetics' is way overboard. Yes, I want there to be a family tree, and yes, I want skills to be passed down through bloodlines. Yes, if it's doable I'd also like for there to be a mix of nature and nurture involved in how the little'uns acquire skills, too, as that would allow for, say, a homosexual couple adopting a child from another bloodline and imparting some skills on the child. But all that being said, I think that some guesswork needs to be involved. In my ideal scenario, if John the Mage and Jane the Warrior have a child, I'd want the child to have a mix of Mage and Warrior skills, but I wouldn't want to know ahead of time exactly what skills those would be, because life is more random than that. I want John and Jane to be able to have three kids, and each have a slightly different variation on the same theme. Maybe one inherited a different set of magical skills (If John has spells A, B, C, and D, one kid could get A and B, the other two A and C), or maybe one kid leans more to magic with a dash of warrior in there, while another is a warrior with a dash of magic. In other words, I want it to be predictable to a degree, but not preplanable.

Second, I think that there need to be a set list of pairings (say two generations off) where it is either prohibited or penalized, and then after that, we stop worrying about it. I don't want "oh, well great-grampa had nine children and one married into each other bloodline" to become a penalty-inducing, game breaking problem.

Finally, I think that if we address "incest" as an ethical problem in need of prohibition, we open up the door to other ethical problems that we might need to address. Most notably, if the adult range in the game is 15 to death (which I think in the teamstream sim was somewhere in the mid 50s) then, as it stands, you could have a 15 year old and a 50 year old having a child together. That's going to make a few people's stomachs churn. And then how do we solve that? Do we adopt the XKCD dating pools formula (http://xkcd.com/314/) or something to limit who can have children with who? That could, if timing is off, end up killing bloodlines. Do we up the minimum child-bearing age? Do we create a fertility ceiling after which heroes are still alive but can't produce children? Ultimately, if we get to bogged down in ethics, it's going to create messes that don't need to be made.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Right, so I agree with most of this. I don't want to be thinking about degrees of familial separation and biodiversity or whatever when playing. The "incest penalty" would hopefully just prevent egregious incest from being the most viable option. It's sort of like having a penalty for sacrificing all your children for relics; like maybe you can do that, but no one ever would because it would be silly to kill all your heirs. I'd hope that incest would work similarly in that it would be something that would just naturally be a bad idea. Plus I don't think the game needs to send a moral message about incest, so long as it's not the default.

I don't see this being about sending messages as it is avoiding taking the game into territory that will certainly make some players uncomfortable. Incest is one of the most common of cultural taboos. I'm not saying you can never go there, but Massive Chalice doesn't seem like the sort of game that wants to make players dwell on such things.

Moreover, I don't like the idea of an inbreeding "trap". Firstly because, again, I don't think avoiding it is a fun mechanic. Others seem to disagree, however, so let's move on to a second point for now. If I accidentally stumble into inbreeding penalties, how am I supposed to know? How can I tell the difference between that and long-term damage from that demonic relic the child's mother was carrying? Or just plain rolling poorly at the genetic craps table? Does the game unfurl a banner of shame over their head? Or am I preemptively being deluged with incest warnings whenever I try to match heroes together ("hey immortal king, these two are second cousins - are you still cool with them breeding")?

I'd be okay with complete prohibition, but not to the point of losing the ability to have multiple children from a pair of heroes. The "no heroes being married can ever have a common ancestor" rule (which is a consequence of one-child-per-couple) is far too overreaching (there's a pretty good chance that if you go back 8 generations you'll find some common ancestors with your spouse, even if you're not royalty). I don't think incest is particularly interesting in and of itself, but it's a possibility in most systems which is why I think it's important to consider (and remember that the original point of this thread is to find ways to avoid it, not a defense of incest in the game).

Sure, eight generations removed seems okay, but I think the tie-in question is how many generations we can expect a game of Massive Chalice to last. The number I've seen bouncing around is ~4, which means you'd basically spend almost the entirety of the game in the range of siblings/cousins/second-cousins and in that circumstance a total ban seems quite defensible. If the game goes significantly longer, then it obviously doesn't make as much sense.

I also totally understand the desire to have siblings in combat, as I said earlier. That's a known weak point of what I proposed. I've tried putting some thought into potential solutions, but so far they all seem unwieldy. I suppose the simplest is probably to just forbid "established" bloodlines (that is, bloodlines which have keeps) to marry into one another. Or, to put it more simply, if you were born in a keep, you can never be put in another keep. Feels a bit arbitrary, though. Or maybe it just needs some lore justification where the immortal king revitalizes a keep by binding a heroic bloodline to it or something.

Rather than genetics, I’d favor relics as the vector through which children really benefit from having heroic parents.

Yeah, well relics will certainly be a big part of the game, but there's something to be said for the direct blood lineages. I like having the constraint of not being able to give any trait to any child through a relic because of the randomness and asymmetry from genetics. I'd also like lots of options for training up children through relics, mentoring, and so on, but I think having them start out as completely blank slates would take away from their individuality and the replay value of the game.

Not completely blank. I was thinking that parents would influence the "skew" of a hero's initial stat allocation/potential. In other words, it would influence what sorts of classes they would be good at/qualify for. For instance, one generation I have an archer hero and a thief hero, so I set them up in a keep in hopes of getting an awesome sniper hero. If that (and relics) are what bloodlines are about then I'd be perfectly satisfied, though it does seem that quite a few people are hoping for something more akin to a full-on genetic simulation model.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think this is a problem. What if you want to have house Targaryen and "keep the bloodline pure".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With all the discussion of ethics, I decided to make a figure to illustrate my original concern more clearly. In yesterday's inaugural teamstream, Brad mentioned that the current thinking is to have heroes only marry other heroes. In that sort of system, we'd get family trees that looked something like this:

w9lQ0kr.png

There are no incestuous relationships in the image above, but there are also very few options for how heroes could have been matched. The first generation has four heroes, but there's only two ways they could have been paired up (ignoring the possibility of multiple marriages). In the second generation, there are more heroes, but the situation is actually worse as most of them could only be matched with a single other hero if we disallow sibling pairings and same-sex couples (I know that same-sex couples are going to be in MASSIVE CHALICE, but I think that the prevailing idea the last time I checked that thread was to have those couples able to adopt/nurture but not necessarily produce children). In the third generation everyone is related and the possible pairing options (even with no constraints) are still limited.

Adding a few more bloodlines to the initial generation actually helps a lot, since the number of possible pairs grows at an exponential rate. However, with more initial bloodlines players will be less likely to use heroes at the tactical level. Assuming 4-5 characters per battle and knowing that children need to be trained in battle, quite a few battles would need to be fought to allow players to rotate through all their heroes. Joining bloodlines together also doesn't get rid of intermarriage problems entirely as house mergers, fertility issues, and early deaths can still reduce the number of bloodlines rapidly.

It's not necessarily bad for heroes to be left out of tactical battles and commoners could always be used to sustain bloodlines on their own, but the trick will be to make pairings interesting while keeping the number of main characters down. Anyway, there are a lot of interesting ideas in this thread; I need to think about them some more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

According to The Matrix, you need 18 people (17 plus Neo) to repopulate a planet. I'm guessing that they chose this number based on stable genetics. That being said, I'm not sure if starting a new game with 18 heroes would make sense.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent diagram, but doesn't a lot of this discussion come down to the size of the starting pool of heroes and the general fertility of each hero? How many heroic families and/or heroes do people imagine starting a game of MC with? Looking at new XCOM for instance you start with a reasonably large pool of soldiers. I imagine the same is probably going to be the case with MC, you'll be given a large starting pool of different heroic families with different potential skills and traits they can hand down to their heirs.

If the initial possible combinations are sufficiently large, and heroic couples are on average having 2 or more children (which is generally the case with noble families) each generation, aren't you more likely to suffer from a combinatorial explosion than having to worry about incest? Certainly the player could choose to focus on a small group of heroes, but there are other game balance mechanisms that could be used to make that a less valuable, more risky proposition? Wouldn't it be self limiting anyway? Not to mention as it is a generational game, surely there's going to have to be a vanilla system for just keeping the generational 'heroic families' ticking over (the ones you are NOT focussing on currently)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

XCOM: EU starts you off with 12 soldiers, which I always immediately expand to 15 or 16, which is the number of soldiers I keep on roster at all times. That being said, these are going to be different games with different needs, so I'm weary of pulling a number from one game and saying "here, this will work in this other game". Ultimately, the starting number is going to be a result of pre-alpha playtesting results, I'm sure, rather than anything we say here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you have initally , non related , N available males and M avaliable females , the total nomber of possible combinations is N!*M!.

Now , if you have lets say L bloodlines , in wich every family member has say Nk and Mk ( k:1..L) siblings , then , the total number of combinations is (N-Nk,Mk)*(M-Mk,Nk) possilbe combinations , where (x,y) stands for the regular combinatorial number.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to The Matrix, you need 18 people (17 plus Neo) to repopulate a planet. I'm guessing that they chose this number based on stable genetics. That being said, I'm not sure if starting a new game with 18 heroes would make sense.

You just made my day. Screw Google, we have The Matrix.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I don't think this is a problem. What if you want to have house Targaryen and "keep the bloodline pure".

Nobody talks about Pharaoh house.

Yet everybody wants Pharaoh house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
According to The Matrix, you need 18 people (17 plus Neo) to repopulate a planet. I'm guessing that they chose this number based on stable genetics. That being said, I'm not sure if starting a new game with 18 heroes would make sense.

You just made my day. Screw Google, we have The Matrix.

You kids and your new movies.

Dr. Strangelove had it at a thousand with a 10:1 ratio of women to men, where monogamy would be forsaken, and animals shall be bred and slaughtered.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Honestly , I think having a simple ban on direct incest (parents/children and siblings) you should be fine. Cousins and anything past are perfectly legal in most parts of the world, and we ARE talking royalty, which doesn't follow the same rules anyway.

Besides, the idea of not allowing families with keeps to breed is dumb, as the BASIC PREMISE is getting heroic families to breed for the future. The only way I want a commoner to get in on this is if they are cool enough to earn a keep for themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This has bugged me a bit ever since Brad said in one of the videos that his optimum hero team size was about six characters. With numbers like those, you can go about three generations before the kids start popping out with extra parts. I've got a couple of possible solutions.

1. Multiple fronts.

Unlike X-com, you shouldn't be able to take a Skyranger with your best troops to the nearest demon infestation. In this system, you would have hero teams stationed at multiple fronts. Ideally, you would see a northern front, a southern front and a home front. These fronts would see different levels of action based on the demon war plan. The homefront would rarely be attacked, and could be staffed with older, aged characters and younger characters who aren't quite ready for front line combat. Additionally, you could have a sort of King's Errand team, a small group of heroes that seeks out strange reports of powerful artifacts and new heroes/bloodlines. These investigations would sometimes initiate combat, or sometimes create a short sort of choose your own adventure. Using this front system, you could field a good 20-24 heroes at a time, which should be enough to maintain reasonable genetic diversity.

2. Realistic Aging.

In modern sports, it's rare for athletes to maintain their effectiveness much past the age of 32. Limiting the age where heroes are maximally effective to 8-12 years would allow you to cycle more heroes through, again increasing genetic diversity. You could also set it up so that when heroes did "age gracefully", that they would maintain their skills and strength much longer than a modern athlete, so that some heroes could conceivably remain effective up through their 60's. In that way you could allow scenarios where heroes did get the chance to fight with their own grandparents. Rare, but more effective for that rarity.

3. Just Plain More Heroes

Going back to original X-com, the optimum team size was around 8-10. Much smaller than that, and losing more than a single guy could give you serious problems with completing the mission. Once you got larger sizes, you would end up with like 4 squaddies sitting around in the back of the plane, playing poker and getting mind-controlled.

One other thing:

This is kind of related but from a different direction: what happens if all the heroes of one gender die? I've definitely had a few Amazon squads in the new X-com, some of which stayed all-female for a very long time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps another way out of this would be to make marrying a commoner an opportunity to add diversity to a bloodline instead of just being a last resort. I could see a system where there is a choice of "suitors" to marry into the bloodline, each with traits that can add different characteristics (if not the battle skills reserved for heroic bloodlines exclusively) to a house. Maybe on top of this there could be a random chance of a new, heroic level attribute being added. The trade off could become more "depth vs. breadth" of skills... whether or not to produce well-rounded bloodlines or highly specialized ones.

Besides, this is supposed to be an egalitarian universe right? So why not treat the commoners like they have something to contribute as well? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps another way out of this would be to make marrying a commoner an opportunity to add diversity to a bloodline instead of just being a last resort. I could see a system where there is a choice of "suitors" to marry into the bloodline, each with traits that can add different characteristics (if not the battle skills reserved for heroic bloodlines exclusively) to a house. Maybe on top of this there could be a random chance of a new, heroic level attribute being added. The trade off could become more "depth vs. breadth" of skills... whether or not to produce well-rounded bloodlines or highly specialized ones.

Besides, this is supposed to be an egalitarian universe right? So why not treat the commoners like they have something to contribute as well? ;)

I would actually love to have Commoners in the game in a meaningful way. Suppose... well... that you suck at being an immortal ruler and commander and chief, and as a result you've lost a game-critical number of bloodlines and heroes. Wouldn't it be nice to trudge onto a battlefield and find some peasant girl going all Summer Glau on the demons with nothing but farm instruments as weapons? Wouldn't it then be nice to, at the conclusion of the battle, use your authority as immortal ruler to declare Summer Glau peasant girl a hero of the realm, at which point she would start a bloodline? I think it would be awesome.

Especially when you keep in mind that heroes' power comes from the bloodlines' longevity and the relics that go with that longevity, there would still be a penalty for losing your original bloodlines, but being able to 'discover' new ones when things get too dire (or at least the first time things get too dire) seems like a good balance between rewarding people for protecting their heroes and helping people avoid getting into an unwinnable state after just one or two botched battles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...