Journal Discussed – Families and Family Selection

In Chronicles of Elyria blood is thicker than water. Families matter. They are your social support structure. They are the ones that give you that first helping hand in the game. They give you a group to belong to, food to eat, and a roof over your head. They are also an incredibly interesting game mechanic. If you have not read the Journal Abridged yet, you should. The contents of this journal are going to affect how you start your character, how you play the game and how you progress you lineage.

As one can expect when talking about such a key aspect to the game there has been a lot of chatter. Some discussions focus on wide topics, while others look at the details. This Journal Discussed turns the spotlight on some of the hot topics and the developer’s response to them.

Let’s start by diving into one of the details that people have been discussing over on the new forums at MMORPG.com; child custody. When your character has a child they start as an NPC, when they get over the age of 15 (or two months of real time) they can be taken over by a player. Either by yourself, a friend you have given your child code to, or open it up to the public to come and join your family. However, FvonS correctly pointed out it takes two to tango so who decides the child’s fate? The mother or the father? Well Jeromy ‘Caspian’ Walsh isn’t just on the official forums, oh no, he goes where ever there are questions! Here is part of his response:

As to who owns the code, that’s determined ahead of time via a contract. It’s possible for both to receive the code, in which case the first to use it consumes it, or it can be determined that only one gets the code. Once you create a child a message is sent to one or both accounts with the code.

Player choice is always great, and should hopefully remove a lot of the potential custody battles. Though the fact you can leave it open to both parents to squabble over does mean that you are leaving things a bit more open, you do not have to tie down everything at the moment of birth. Flexibility can be so useful in mechanics like this – so personally that is the option I think I will aim for with my future children. In game, of course.

One of the other features that got people talking was choosing which sex your character is. It was a topic that started quite few different threads over on the official forums, including one where Falendor asked for some clarification. When joining a family could we choose our characters sex, or only filter families for one with an available child of the sex we wanted? Caspian was on hand again:

The latter. You select your gender by filtering which family you want to join.

This means that you have to decide which is the most important to you, do you join your friends family now when they only have a son or do you join a different family because they have a daughter? This can be a tough choice, people really identify with their avatar in games and some people only feel comfortable being represented by one particular sex. This could make them feel more limited than they would in another game with more open character creation. It does make a lot of sense here when you consider that you are taking over a child that already exists. I do think it will be one of those things that for many seems small but that other players see as a big issue. Of course you can always go as a Ward where you do get to choose out right. It also looks like if you choose to start as a non-traditional character you will be able to filter in the same way as for families.

Talking about non-traditional characters, they were the big hit for me. A way to get into the world with a place already established seems like a real boon. Such an advantage in fact I was actually concerned with how it would be balanced. To me I couldn’t see any reason to start with a ‘lesser’ child character. However, Caspian pointed out there is more than one way to approach the game:

As for the value in starting with an older NPC, it just depends on whether you want to spend the time training up a character to the point you want them to be, or get a head start. Some prefer the ability to roleplay their younger characters or fine-tune their skills; others care less about customization and really want to get a jump on their in-game careers. Both play-styles are valid.

It seems like there might be room in the boat for both approaches, though I still can’t help feel that those that go down the non-traditional character route will be better placed early on. What we do not know is how exactly we get the chance to make a non-traditional character. It does not seem tied down yet, is it open to everyone, bought with influence earnt before the game launches or cash might need to change hands. Having some limit would prevent too many people jumping ahead, but then does that run the risk of being ‘unfair’. Though in a world of limited talents and noble titles, perhaps words like that no longer fit. Elyria is a living world, and we know not everything is fair when it comes to life.

The family developers journal was one I was looking forward to. It is one of those mechanics we are going to get to know intimately, it is going to drive so many other aspects of the game. The detail in it as always has been thought out, but has some interesting spins. Looking forward to hearing more about character customisation in just a few days, roll on Monday!

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