So, in the last blog post I talked about the happiness system, and some of you seem to have some reservations about the system. As such I’d like to take a moment and open the floor to some discussion about the matter, here I’ll be very open and express my full sentiments on the matter.
So let’s start with one of the concerns I’ve been getting, which is about gifting. Gifting will NOT be going away, it will stay very much a part of HC. The new system is honestly meant in many ways to improve upon and allow for alternatives to gifting. I don’t know about all of you, but I’ve had many days in HC where I forgot to give Randi some pearls, or decided that Renfeld was just too out of the way to give a monster fang to and I didn’t really NEED to raise her affection to the max, so there would be some in-game days that I simply wouldn’t give out all the gifts to people. When this was coupled with some complaints that we’d get from people who seemed to think of gifting as a chore more than anything, NoMoshing came to the conclusion that the gifting system just wasn’t doing what he wanted. The initial design for gifting was inspired by Dragon Age: Origins, where you’d enjoy giving your characters gifts rather than feel like you had to slog through 30 minutes of chores before you could get to the ‘real’ game. That said, we didn’t want to outright remove gifting because that’s a big part of the game. Instead, we changed it so that instead of gifts giving affection directly, they instead earn you some ‘affection per day’ for a few days. This serves to make it so that you can get the max ‘gifting affection’ by only hopping over to Eastfort say once every 3 days instead of every day so those who forget to give gifts or just want to get to the rest of the game sooner aren’t as hard pressed to do it. That said, gifting is still a major part of the affection system and if you don’t mind the daily grind, you can continue to run around playing Santa and should be just fine. The point of these changes is so that later in the game, as you have more furniture, as you’ve made more choices, as you have more girls than you can count on your fingers and toes, that you have more options than, “Gifting’ or “Nothing”.
This does however bring me to another point about the gifting system that I know won’t be popular with a lot of you. Maximum ‘gift’ affection per day has been reduced. Gifts were always intended to only give +2 affection per day instead of +3, however with how few days were in the game originally this would have made it impossible to get the freedom to actually get to new relationship bonuses for a lot of the girls, let alone their love quests. That said, the game has come a long way since then, so when the affection system was already looking to be changed, now seemed an appropriate time to go ahead an reduce that. I thought that just having a max of +2 per day didn’t really fit in with one of the ideas that the game has a lot of depth for min-maxers while still being pretty simple and easy to play through for more casual players intentionally, which is why I put together a complicated system that’s meant to take place behind the scenes that allows players who work for it to be able to achieve up to +4 affection per day with any given girl. The idea though is that in practice the average character will only be getting +2~+3, but if you really want to spoil your absolute favorite girl, the intention is for you to be able to do just that. If you guys don’t feel that this is an acceptable trade off, feel free to share your opinions on the matter.
Now, this is a part that I glossed over before, but there will also be possible to lose affection per day, this was brought on due to several requests for it. Originally the only way to lose affection was during the Manor Assault if you praised someone who didn’t fight then everyone else there would lose one affection point (though you weren’t when/if this happened), now just as you can get up to +4 affection per day, you can also go as low as -4 affection per day. The addition of this consequence is something that can help make your choices feel more impactful as if the ‘worst’ that you can do is no change that can cheapen your actions. That said, I still wanted to make sure that the game didn’t punish you for not understanding it’s systems right away, so I’ll be upfront in saying that while you can go into the negatives for happiness and affection per day, the system is very generous. For example, the best gifts will give you +4 happiness while the worst gifts will give -2 happiness, this is reflected in just about every aspect of happiness. Something else to help is that you can never go below the ‘minimum’ for any given relationship stage. If you got Larelle out of the dungeon but hate her and have her at -4 affection per day she’ll never go below 21 affection and end up ‘back’ in the dungeon. Perhaps this fails to deal with the problem of having ‘cheap’ choices if the system is biased to head positive, but I at least thought it’d be a good way to add some consequence to the system without making it so that players can get stuck at -1 affection per day their entire playthrough on their waifu just because they made some mistakes.
Another thing that we did get some complaints about is the new visual display. We now have a rather Harvest Moon-esque heart meter instead of flat out telling you the affection values. If I’m being frank, while I do enjoy the look of it, the min-maxer in me doesn’t like that we’re taking away some direct numerical feedback to the players. This has been a point of disagreement a few times between me and NoMoshing where he doesn’t really like giving you guys direct numbers (after all, when you open an animal guide or something in real life it doesn’t tell you that bears have an attack stat of 54 or whatever) and instead prefers more visual or abstract feedback, whereas I’m usually pushing for more and more detailed information getting back to the player which can cause information overload for many. An instance of what I mean by abstract feedback can be seen with the ‘mood’ indicator that tells you if a character is ‘Very Happy’, ‘Happy’, ‘Unhappy’, or ‘Very Unhappy’, see this is how the game gives you feedback of the affection per day that you’re getting, there was some back and forth between me and NoMoshing on what was the best way to do this, and we eventually agreed that this was acceptable as while you can’t really tell if you’re getting +4 or +3 per day from this alone, you do know the difference between +3 and +1. For the most part this happiness indicator serves to give you a general idea as to where you stand and does have enough nuance that you can notice some significant changes to it, but it’s also abstract enough that it’s not full on immersion breaking.
Sorry for the massive wall of text, but I wanted to make sure that I explained things as clearly and thoroughly as it looks like this will need to be. If you have any comments, concerns, or criticisms please feel free to share them.