When the sci-fi MMO Destiny’s Sword was announced earlier this month, developer 2Dog Games highlighted the game’s most unique feature — a focus on the mental health of the player’s characters. Since then, the developer has received many questions about how this feature will be implemented in-game — as well as why they are even bothering with it. So, the 2Dogs Games team has decided to put together a post answering some of these questions.
Interestingly, the decision to create a game with mental health as a focus was inspired by the work the game’s creative director — Ken Hall — did on the historical flight sim, B-17 Flying Fortress: The Mighty 8th. During his time working on that project, Ken worked with veterans to learn about their experiences. This caused him to want to explore past the run & gun aspects of missions to the aftermath where the soldiers (or in the case of Destiny’s Sword, player characters) have to deal with what they’ve been through or done.
As far as the gameplay itself goes in Destiny’s Sword, a character’s emotional state affects how they perform in the field. At the same time, what the character experiences in the field (or other aspects of their life) affects their emotional and mental state. This system requires players to try to keep their character’s mental health in mind and take appropriate actions to assure it doesn’t impact them negatively. (For instance, it’s probably not the best idea to send them out into combat repeatedly with no breaks in between.)
Players will also need to take into account character personalities. Some may actually be happy running into fight after fight, while others aren’t.
To help players manage all of this, the developers have created an emotional state matrix. This is the graphical representation of what’s going on with a particular character. The system monitors eight basic emotions that are combined into more complex ones.
These emotions affect more than just the character’s abilities in combat, but also how they interact with each other. This is important for fans of story-based gaming.
Of course, one thing players may wonder about is how dealing with all of this could possibly be fun. The developers have considered this and have created a system that rewards players for positive interactions with each other and their characters instead of punishing them for mistakes.
They’ve also gone out of their way to avoid some of the tropes that people may associate with mental health issues. Characters won’t be having constant breakdowns or instantly become violent or a threat to others. The game will try to include the nuances of issues related to mental health instead.