Set Autonomy GoalsFebruary 8, 2020 at 2:20 am
Autonomy. It’s an incredibly useful tool for people who don’t necessarily want to micromanage everything their characters do. It can help keep a large household alive and lead to fascinating or hilarious scenes that the player didn’t plan. In the sims, though, when you leave them on free will, they might take care of their needs and make friends or enemies, but regardless of their traits they act totally aimless, more just surviving than living. To be fair, there is a reason for this: players could reasonably be annoyed if their sims took the initiative and made big life changes the player doesn’t like or want. I think there’s a way Paralives could do better, though, while still allowing players that want more control over their parafolk to have that.
I’m thinking of a goals system for playable parafolk. By default, a para starts with no goals and will not get any unless the player gives them one. Goals give your para something to strive for autonomously. When they’re on free will and their needs aren’t too low (they will prioritize that), they will make autonomous steps towards whatever the goal is. If a goal has multiple means of being accomplished, they might take different routes (and some might prefer routes based on personality).
Say for example you give your para a goal to make a new friend. There are many ways to do that: get in touch with acquaintances, go to a party and socialize there, chat it up with classmates/coworkers, meet people online, ask friends/family to introduce you to their friends, etc. So even if you have two parafolk with the exact same goal, they might take different routes.
Goals can have a single step (say, reach level 3 fishing) or multi-step (get married and have a baby for a para that doesn’t even have any romantic interests yet).
Step 1: Find a date (multiple ways to approach this)
Step 2: Increase relationship with date until a proposal is possible (multiple approaches)
Step 3: Proposal
Step 4: Marriage
Step 5: Try for a baby/adoption/surrogacy/sperm donor
Goals can be specific or general. For example, you could make it a goal for your para to marry a certain para in town, or you could set a goal for them to just get married.
Hopefully, when giving a para a goal, the player would have an option to randomize it with possibilities carrying different weights depending on personality. A para that dislikes children is unlikely to roll a goal to have children, for example.
I imagine goals mostly being medium and long-term things, since going in and replacing short term goals sounds annoying. One exception might be getting jobs and/or choosing college majors. While that might be a really quick process, I would love to be able to just let a para pick their own career or major rather than having to decide that myself.
There is no extra reward if a para reaches their goal. If whatever the para accomplished would normally have a reward (say, a happy moodlet for getting married) the para would still get that, but nothing on top of that. I think that’s fair because the player doesn’t have to work to make their parafolk reach goals.
If you don’t like an action a para is taking to reach a goal, you can cancel it out. You’re also never locked into a goal: you can change it to something else or remove it entirely at any time. Because there’s no extra reward when a para reaches a goal, you’re not missing out on anything if you do that.
So now that I’ve talked about the default, here’s an idea for an optional setting. Instead of the player having to give parafolk goals every time, it gives them random (still affected by personality) goals automatically. As soon as one goal finishes, a new one is automatically generated. Parafolk on free will will always be striving for something or other when this setting is on.
Now, players can still control playable parafolk with this setting on and goal-related actions should only generate when the player isn’t issuing them commands. The player should still be able to cancel autonomous actions they don’t want, and get rid of a goal if they don’t want it. I think removing it should allow them to add in their own goal to replace it if they wish.
I’d love it if mod support was built in, so modders could add custom goals, especially related to content they’ve added to the game.
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