12 September

Design Journal #5 – Families & Family Selection

By Caspian

Families in Chronicles of Elyria serve many of the same purposes as guilds in other MMOs. They provide a small, supportive social structure with a sense of identity, as players recognize themselves as being part of a family, a noble house, or a dynasty. They tie into the game's progress system by allowing you to pass resources you've gathered over a lifetime onto your heirs. And finally, they provide starting resources, a residence, and a source of learning in the early part of the game.

In this week's design journal we're going to take a look at the next two views in character creation: Family Path and Family Selection to see how you go about choosing (or not) the family that's right for you. To get started, let's make sure you have an understanding of the impact your choice of family has on your experience.

Figure 1 - Early in-game view of the Family Selection Screen

What effect does my family choice have in-game?

Families are vital to the land and kingdom management systems as it is more often than not families that build up their land, form towns, and establish growing dynasties. Families that get powerful enough may become nobles and play the Dance of Dynasties - the process of arranged marriages, intrigue, assassinations, lies and manipulations necessary to work their way up in the governing system to become kings and queens.

That being said, the family you select has a huge impact on your social experience, and not just when interacting with other family members. Your choice of family (and their social class) impacts how other NPCs, OPCs, and players interact with you. The family you select will also determine things like what type and how big your starting house is, and how much land your family has for farming, mining, breeding, and other land-based activities. Finally, there's a set of game mechanics tied directly to the family system.

These are, in no particular order:

  • Family members on the same continent can send private messages to one another
  • Members can always sense that a family member has been slain and is Spirit Walking.
  • Members can find their way to a family members' body
  • Family members help increase each other life span by creating a reason to live
  • Line of succession as well as items naturally pass on to heirs when someone passes away
  • Family members automatically get keys to shared household resources and can access and process the land without breaking laws.
  • Family members can always see through disguises
  • Family impacts fame, which effects how much spirit you lose when Spirit Walking

Families & Character Creation

Your family selection, through a combination of nature and nurture, dictates many of your character's starting attributes such as your starting ability scores, starting skills, and the possible set of physical attributes your character can have. Of course, you have the ability to change and develop these things as you play, but it is your family that dictates your starting scores.

How does family selection work?

Family selection in CoE works on a filter system. By default, the Soulborn Engine offers a set of families for you to choose from based on the age you've selected for your character. However, if the engine feels there's too many people clustered in one region (no starter towns in CoE) it may withhold families in that area seeking children and instead suggest another area of the map.

While it's great to have a large selection of families, you may have specific requirements for the family you want to join - and they may have requirements/expectations for you! To help with the matchmaking process the Family Selection Screen includes a set of filters which allow you to narrow in on a small set of families which you think will be a good fit for you. As you can see in Figure 1, family selection is currently divided up into five categories. These include:

  • General Info
  • Wealth, Power & Standing
  • Occupations
  • Disposition
  • Physical Traits

General Info

The first filter category for family selection is general info. This section is dedicated to making sure you find a family with the same play style as you. It includes things like whether the family is made up of PCs, NPCs, or a mix, what time zone you're looking to play in, how many hours per week you want to put in, and finally what kind of a player you are. This final criteria is divided up into how experienced you are in CoE, as well as what you plan your main pass-times to be. This allows more hardcore families to filter out players new to CoE who may require a bit more hand-holding and also allows a family new to the game to find others to share in the learning experience.

Depending on what information you provide here, it will change the families that are displayed to you. So you could, for example, just specify the time zone you want to play in and get back a list of families who are either in your time zone, or active at the same time as you.

Wealth, Power, & Standing

The second filter category contains all the important information about the family and its place in the world. This category includes things like the number of families in the dynasty, the number of characters in the family, the wealth of the family, and it's social class. Only interested in joining one of the top 5 most powerful houses? Only want to be the child of a Lord or King? Don't want to risk permadeath by being 'Heir to the Throne of Gondor' (not a real kingdom), this would be the category you'd be interested in.

Occupations

Characters begin with a set of skills based on their family. Intuitively, we all know we pick up the skills, knowledge, and habits of our parents. So if you want to create a Blacksmith with this character, it might be a good idea to go here and select 'Blacksmith' as one of the occupations. This ensures one or both of your parents have a significant investment in the skills generally associated with blacksmiths. Add more skills to the filter and you can be more specific about the type of character you’re creating.

Disposition

In addition to the skills we pick up from our parents, nature plays a role as well. Our disposition, that is, our tendencies toward physical, mental, and social development also comes from our parents. So if you know you want to create a strong or willful character, come here to select those predisposition. This again will limit the families to only those available which would offer you such an outcome.

Physical Traits

Here is where you can filter for specific characteristics such as the gender, height, and hair, eye, or skin colors you want. Note that these, like most of the previous choices, are multiple select. So if you want to create a character with blue or green eyes, give those two a click. Now you'll limit your search to only those families which have children that could inherit green or blue eyes.

Figure 2 - Early in-game view of Path Selection

What if I don't want to be part of a family?

If you don't want to be part of a family, and there are a couple good reasons not to, you have some other options. First, as seen in Figure 2, you have the choice to be a Ward of The State. A Ward sacrifices the financial and social support system which comes with a family, in exchange for additional character customization and more flexibility. Wards are able to select any Gender and have a point distribution system they can use to set their starting skill values and character attributes. Beyond that, Wards begin at age 12 rather than age 15 and so have an additional twelve days of adolescence in which they can further customize their character's skills and abilities.

In exchange for the increased flexibility they lose more than just the social and financial support of their families. Wards have no right of inheritance, no ties to help bind them to the world if they Spirit Walk, and lack any close, telepathic bonds that would allow them to communicate with a family member remotely. In truth, Wards lead a lonelier and more isolated life in the beginning. Of course, they can always earn fame, recognition, and noble titles for themselves and begin their own dynasty!

Non-traditional Characters

The choice of Ward isn't for everyone and fortunately it isn’t the only way to avoid starting the game as a fifteen year old. We have a little saying, 'every NPC has the potential to become a player'. If you select a starting age over 18 years old on the Birth Date selection screen you have the opportunity to start the game as a 'non-traditional character'. Think of these as the opposite of Wards. You have significantly less control over your character, as their look, name, skills, and abilities are all pre-determined based on the life the NPC has lived up until then, however you can begin the game with an established business, as a reputable adventurer, or even as an existing nobleman. Note that you can change your name through legal means once you enter the game.

Can anyone join any family?

While we'll get into the requirements for creating children in a later design journal I did want to spend a brief moment talking about what players can do with the children they create. When you create a child you're given three options of what to do with the new NPC. The options are:

  1. Close it off. It will manifest as an NPC child in the world after about a month, and only you can possess its body at a later date. If you decide later to open it up or share its Child Code you can.

  2. Open it up to the public. If you're looking to grow your family quickly and don't have enough people to do so this may be the best option. After the child reaches age 15 other players will be able to find your child in the Family Selection Screen. Due to the way inheritance works, this option will likely be more commonly used for 2nd and 3rd children. And remember, they’ll only find your child if their search query matches the constraints you've placed on players you want in your family.

  3. Share your Child Code. Every NPC in the game, children included, have a character code. If you share your child’s code with a friend, then after the child reaches age 15 they’ll be able to join your family as your child. This system also breaks an important barrier to entry on a server. Players can always join your server as your child if you share your child code with them, even if the server is closed for new players. This guarantees your friends will always be able to join your server with you if you've got room in your family for them.

What’s next

Next week’s Design Journal will complete our coverage on character creation and will explore “Character Customization, Names, and Regional Traits. “ At that point we’ll have exhausted our coverage on pre-game mechanics and future design journals will focus on what happens after your character enters the world.

Discuss

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mightyfish - 2 years ago

I think my biggest fear for this is if you opened up a child and you end up with a habitual griefer playing your child. Someone who has no problem stealing and/or breaking your stuff or burning down the house, and then just running away. I understand he would just be hurting his own prospects for a group, but for grief players, that's not always a concern. I'd want to figure a viable way to get them out of my family.

Chronic - 1 year ago
@mightyfish:

Then you put a bounty on them. :) They die... end of story.

DarioZ - 2 years ago

Hope only that we will not see people just making children when they are 80, self provoking death to hold the control through their heirs.

Wolfguarde - 2 years ago
@DarioZ:

Given you'd first have to survive to 80, I'd say that's a dubious prospect in a lot of cases at best; and the option to hold control of one's inheritance is in the closing off of the child's code, so that's already there. Not necessarily a problem in my opinion, as there will be many ways to play the game, and a master blacksmith/trader/fighter might want to continue their legacy through their bloodline as their soul matures.

That being said, it does make me wonder if there'll be a maximum age at which conception is possible between parents...

TimeWaster - 2 years ago

@Sonie I think if you select a certain gender that you would like to play as, it will only show you families that have that gender available.

Casus - 2 years ago

What would happen if a family member decides to murder every other member of his or her family to usurp the throne, or staging the assassinations of several family members that all have equal shares in a trading guild so they can amass more wealth? With all these bonuses and anti-disguise bonuses other family members have how would a backstabbing dynamic work if a player isn't strong with their family even if the character they're playing is?

DarioZ - 2 years ago
@Casus:

Well if I understood well, it's a perfectly viable thing. Anyway there are two ways:

1) You amass all family members in a room and slaughter them (quite hard, because they are many and maybe with guards)

2) You kill them one by one. Hard too, because with sharing family members can find out that you killed them/did not help them to come back to the body, for example. Also investigations on death can happen if you hired someone to kill them.

Being still viable is not so easy to kill all the family for your interest. And would make you alone, with tons of drawbacks, first of all that you can be easily killed by someone outside family that will take all your wealth, given that you saved him lot of the work of killing all family members to amass it.

Sonie - 2 years ago

Wait.. If I choose to start my gameplay by joining a family, I won't be able to pick my gender?

Kartysan - 2 years ago

Hm.. Sounds interesting - though I can't really see myself marrying another to make an in game family, though.

Maybe if I pester one of my siblings? Hah, that would be both hilarious and weird. But at least there's benefits xD

On another note, I'm interested to see how people would react to all these new features. Actually, this kind of reminds me of Mabinogi, but much more detailed and fun-sounding!~

And perhaps there could be some sort of in-game journal thing? Since reincarnation seems to be possible, it would be truly awesome to find a possession of one of your previous characters in a later playthrough.

DarioZ - 2 years ago
@Kartysan:

You can also adopt children. Though a king adopting a child and designing him heir, when it has a son in his 40ies maybe can create some kind of.... conflict. As already seen in history!

Wazapets - 2 years ago
@Kartysan:

You can marry NPCs.

AkechiClan - 2 years ago

This looks so crazy and fab

Jbas911 - 2 years ago

What I'm wondering slightly is whether or not you will be joining player families all the time or if you could end up with NPC families as well?

Candacis - 2 years ago

You know what those childcodes reminds me off? Medieval times where you could be betrothed to a 4 year old and are just waiting for them to come off suitable marriage age. Good times :D

sonix12 - 2 years ago

will you be able to have same-sex marriages in this game? (if so, how would the offspring-system work?) :p

gandalfalfa - 1 year ago
@sonix12:

yes, you find someone of the other sex and you enter a child contract with them or something.

Chunky Skylord - 2 years ago

I hope to one day play this with a group of 5-8 close friends what do you guys think would be the best options for us?

Lazero360 - 2 years ago
@Chunky Skylord:

Marry someone then go on a humping frenzy and make a lot of children to give your friends the children code's so they can join your family =D

Mizublade - 2 years ago

With regards to closing off a child you create and intend to possess its body at a later date. If you character forms a family in its 20s-50s range. Then you survive into the 90s your child should be in its 40s-80s. As a result will you no longer be able to "possess" your child or will you have to wait for grandchildren. Which given the time of death may or may not be present. In addition I believe affinity should play a slight role in character selection if children will be open to the public. In order to prevent either a credible family name being tarnished by a random player or inversely a family crime ring being dismantled.

Wazapets - 2 years ago
@Mizublade:

I think you have to accept that risk if you open it up to the public.

KntryVonHaunt - 2 years ago
@Mizublade:

Agreed

Morphime - 2 years ago

And what if i wanna start a new family? Do you have to start as a Ward, find someone to marry? How does it work exactly?

Maygus - 2 years ago

If you invite someone into your family and they then go crazy and start causing harm to your reputation. IE: player you meet in your travel's while in-game, you befriend and allow them to join after a while to share in your wealth.

How and what happens when you kick them from your family?

Caspian - 2 years ago
@Maygus:

Families aren't something you can just join in your travels. Unless you marry them, or they're your offspring, they're not part of your family.

Gant - 1 year ago
@Caspian:

so what if you let random people reincarnate your kids, how would you deal with griefers???

If there is no way to prevent griefer's joing in, than i fear that no one will open there families..

Malais - 1 year ago
@Gant:

Posted By Gant at 04:14 AM - Thu Feb 02 2017

so what if you let random people reincarnate your kids, how would you deal with griefers???

If there is no way to prevent griefer's joing in, than i fear that no one will open there families..

A few things have changed since this was written. Check out the updates.

The chances of someone popping into a sibling to "grief" you is extremely small. And even if they do there are historical accounts of great families falling apart due to infighting. So not really seeing the problem.