In many games, non-player characters are playersexual (they have no sexuality of their own): if you want your character to pursue a romantic relationship, a non-player character will respond favourably. While this has its own merits (gaining favour with NPCs can be fun), it gamifies relationships and conveys them as transactions.
In games where the characters are playersexual, the characters aren’t fully formed in that they require the player’s sexuality to complete them. This can put blinkers on representation, as the game world the player inhabits is built around their wants, rather than a more real-world realistic depiction of characters/people who have their own drives, backgrounds, personalities etc.
We believe having characters that are independent of the player equals more depth, and a more interesting and rounded world.
In ‘Cultivate: Before Time,’ we want to embrace real-world diversity: the villagers are diverse in ethnicity, gender and sexuality and their individual history is woven into the fabric of the storyworld. The non-player character needs to be compatible with the player in order for them to be interested in a romantic relationship.
‘Cultivate: Before Time’ starts by letting you build your own character. You choose their name, appearance, gender and sexuality.
Making friends in ‘Cultivate’ is based on interactions: time spent with NPCs and choices made by you. Actions lead to positive or negative points and the points level results in different events in the game.
For example, if the Player has a ‘good’ social score, when their vegetable patch gets stomped on by a roaming dinosaur, the villagers band together and help rebuild it. If the Player has a ‘bad’ social score, no-one helps at all. In this way, the Player’s interactions with the villagers directly impacts their experience in the game. Further, players who are more ‘community conscious’ in the game will experience events differently to those who choose a more solitary path.
There will be a wide range of characters within the game, allowing for friendships (or beyond!) to be formed with characters who mesh well with the Player’s own personality. (The Player personality is composed of choices made during the character creator, as well as actions in-game.)
We are designing ‘Cultivate: Before Time’ according to what we would like to see in a game. Namely, a more accurate portrayal of relationships. We’d love to hear what you would like to see in terms of characters in the game. Do you feel games represent you? What improvements would you like to see? Feel free to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you!