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August 18, 2019
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Mesmer DevBlog: Swaying others

by Peter Wingaard Meldahl on 02/11/19 11:52:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

There are those in life who are just way better than others at making people do what they want. But how to express this in games?  Today I will go through how we have done this in Mesmer.

Resources and influence are the core of Mesmer, so for us, this system is very central. I will go into the process of swaying individuals today. Swaying the masses is an entirely different animal that I will get back to some other day.

The characters that will matter for you are the keyholders of the city. By which I mean every individual that control something essential. It might be a police officer, a judge, a noble, a newspaper owner, a smuggler who controls all illegal imports, someone who holds sway over Mesmer’s dwindling food supply- the examples go on.

In Mesmer, every such person have 3 distinct favours that they have the power to grant– though that does not necessarily mean they will help the likes of you!

Every favor has an associated amount of Loyalty required before they will agree to assist you. Things are easier if they like you, though. The keyholders who know and like you generate a modest amount of loyalty towards you every day- so you can probably ask them for help now and then, so long as you don’t push it too far.

However, this *is* Revolution! Things would hardly change if you weren’t willing to break some social norms. So what can you do if a keyholder is just being uncooperative? Well…

Upon being rejected a favour, there are 4 options you can try to pursue:

Bribe: It is a pretty straightforward thing. A simple gift of food, valuables or other items might be the right motivator. Though no one has the funds to solve all their problems with money, and not everyone is for sale.

-Threat: Only ever works if it has some teeth. There are ways in Mesmer to subject those that have awoken your ire to some harsh punishment. When you do this, others will soon know that you are not to be trifled with, increasing your menace.

If you are threatening enough, others will be quick to do as you say, though you should not expect them to like you very much after that. On the flip side, idle threats weaken your image. Whenever you make a threat, your menace is decreased. At some point, someone will have to suffer to show everyone that you are still serious.

-Blackmail: It is a personal thing. Go to the right places, and good social connections or a coin in the right hand might give you just the rumour you need.

And if you learn something that you weren’t looking for?

That means someone new you may have leverage over, and a chance to squeeze something of value out of whomever that may be. Unless, of course, their enemies pay better…

If you have information on an individual that they would like to keep secret, you can use this to force a favour out of them. Playing dirty has its price, of course… They will remember this and it just might come back to bite you in the end.

-Return favor: Perhaps the best way to convince someone to do something for you is to promise to do something for them. The characters all have their own goals that they are working towards, and sometimes this means that they need something from you.

Whether they need something acquired, someone hurt, or perhaps just a love letter delivered to their lover in a part of the town barricaded by the police, you can get their favour against a promise to fix whatever they needed. Now, you’d better deliver on yiur word- tasks like these always have an expiration date, and if you fail the character will hardly want to deal with the likes of you anymore. It could be rough getting back into their good graces.

Nothing is truly free in this world, especially not a favor.

A quick note in the end: Of course some people react differently than others to any of the methods above, based on their mood and personality. Last time, I mentioned mental traits that affect character behavior. All characters in Mesmer have 3 such traits. Besides moods, that we talked about last time, these traits can affect what sways them as well. Perhaps blackmailing the spy queen was not your best move?

 

That will be all for this time. Again: if you would like to leave a comment, make a suggestion or just ask a question, then the Rain Twitter (@rain_games) and Facebook (facebook.com/RainGames) pages are both great arenas for that. We will also be posting all our devblog updates in our forum, the best place to discuss them and leave your feedback.

Additionally, we are getting close to the testing stage of Mesmer, so if any of you would like to volunteer for a bit of testing we can supply you with an early copy of the game. Any testers that send in anything useful will get a Steam Key for the proper game, as well as their name in the game credits. If that’s your cup of tea, then you can contact me on the aforementioned sites, on the email form on rain-games.com or on my personal Twitter, @rainypete.

In my next post, I will talk a little bit about the powers that be in the city of Mesmer- Why revolution might be needed, and what the high and mighty will bring to bear to ensure that upstarts don’t topple the carefully built social structure.

-Peter W. Meldahl


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