Today, I’m going to talk about something I’ve been thinking about for a while regarding race in Windforge. Basically, we need to decide how we are going to populate the world with people, and how we are going to select the races of these people. Ideally, I would like to do this in a way that will not insert any designer bias that we may or may not have, and we would also like to avoid alienating the main target demographics of our game if we can.
How is race represented in Windforge?
Race is a purely aesthetic feature in Windforge. It serves to give players more character customization options, and to provide more variety to people in the world. We don’t have any plans to make it affect the gameplay, or play a role in the story. This simplifies a lot of things for us, and is also a really easy way to avoid designer bias. Currently skin color is the only feature that distinguishes race in Windforge, although other features would be fun to explore.
Approaches for Generating Race
Since race doesn’t affect the gameplay in Windforge we are free from a lot of balancing concerns when selecting them. Race also doesn’t play a role in the story, but it is a concern of mine when considering the history of the world. According to the history of Cordeus, all of the people on the planet are descendent from a relatively small number of people. This would imply to me that the genetic diversity of the population should be fairly low, and so the variety of races should also be fairly low.
From a design perspective, we are also in a rare position since most of the world will be procedurally generated. This means that we will need to come up with a procedural approach to selecting races for people when we place them. I am going to discuss a few of the approaches that I considered below:
Approach 1: Just Select One Race
I’m not actually considering doing this, but I guess it would be the easiest way to go. In my opinion, this would be boring, biased, and other approaches are almost just as easy.
Approach 2: Randomly Generate Races With A Uniform Distribution
This is the approach that I just assumed we would do before I started considering things more closely. This would be really easy to do, unbiased, and will provide a lot of variety throughout the world. However, in some ways it is also a boring approach, and it doesn’t do much to support the history of the world or the character of its various regions.
Approach 3: Randomly Selected Using a Designer Chosen Bias
This would also be really easy to do and it would give us more authorial control. Unfortunately, it’s control I don’t really want to have. By choosing one race to bias I would be inserting any biases that I have, and it also removes variety from the world each time you replay.
Approach 4: Randomly Selected Race Using A Regional Bias
This is an approach I find interesting because it could be used to add extra flare to each region. Also, I could randomly select the races to bias for each region, which would establish a random hierarchy of selection while also avoiding designer bias.
Approach 5: Randomly Selected Race Using Bias Based on the Player’s Race
This approach has some pretty interesting repercussions in my opinion. It is an easy way to support the history of Cordeus, and it also gives us more control over the experience in the game. With this approach I could basically ensure that no matter how the player customizes their avatar, they will always be part of the majority race or part of the minority race. Either way, it has the potential to change the way the game feels. I’m still trying to decide if this is a good idea or not, but it’s definitely an idea worth thinking about.
I feel like I’m being very picky for a detail that doesn’t affect the gameplay or story, and that people might not even notice. That said, I believe that it has the potential to change the feel of the world, so it is definitely still an important thing to consider. It is also another way for us to play on the strengths that procedural worlds provide.
I’m still deciding what approach to take, but I think I know the direction that I’m leaning towards. All of the approaches will be pretty easy to do, so this should purely be a design decision. I would love to hear what other people think, and if anyone has any preferences that they would like to see.
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