Designing Systems: Comfort Zone and Personal Space.

well… Let’s just start with these words, it’s half six in the morning and i can not sleep, so I decided to write one of these again. This time we are back to social interaction and how we actually do it in our everyday activity and how it can be applied to games.

To start off most of us got what is called a comfort zone, an area where we feel comfortable aslong as no one else doesn’t enter it without our consent. This comfort zone greatly varies in size depending on our mood and personality. Looking at how people acted during work, we could identify how one of these zones worked. Both at work and privately. A person who is working generally have a zone of comfort that people may enter to help him/her with what they are currently doing. (chopping a tree, cooking food or doing paperwork) While a person who weren’t working tend to have a larger one.

Let’s look at what happens when two people start working together, their comfort zones blend and create a unified zone, that we currently will call for an acceptence zone. This is a zone where both of them can work but still be inside of each others comfort zones. This isn’t only handy to understands humans better but can be used to build better AIs that could atleast feel more sentient then those seen in Two worlds II and maybe get NPCs to act reactively to you walking into them, touching them or talking to them.


From TW2 to Kara is a long way to go. But maybe this is the big problem with NPCs today, they don’t react to you in any kind of meaningful way except when you talk to them, are npcs supposed to act more human? Atleast in a game about social interaction, making what you are playing “against” feel more living will never be a bad thing.


So now we know the what and the why but how do we actually make this happen? In all games we can add invisible objects, this is the first thing to do, all the NPCs in the entire game need one of these little circles around them, that will grow and shrink depending on their personalities (Let’s refer to MOO for the time being even though it will need to be fixed a little, that means MOO update next!

These zones will then based on experiences, what the player is doing (walking uncomfortably close, trying to hit the person or just plainly walking up to them and saying hi) can then help decide when the NPC starts feeling uncomfortable or trying to shove the player away from it, either in words or physically.

But what if the NPC wants to get hugged? (through emotions and personality combinations) This is where acceptence zones become even handier. If we apply another of these invisible circles to our NPCS that grows according to a NPCs feelings towards the players (I need to expand my emotion system more) we get an acceptence zone, The acceptence zone will trigger things such as how the NPC greet the player, what their attitude towards them are (Such as love, hate and so on) and finally let the player not only be a creepy person.

To wrap it up I just want to say that this will most likely be used in Misery Mistreated, because I’ve been fiddling with it and have been feeling the need to expand the systems as it is impossible to build gameplay around it that makes sense to the player, at all.

So for now have a good one and sleep tight!


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