In part one of Cliqist’s series on upcoming MMORPG Chronicles of Elyria, I pondered mandatory microphones, in-game death, body dynamics, and other virtual shenanigans. Several design journals previously released on the Chronicles of Elyria website provide a wealth of information detailing aspects which tie-in directly to the features I’ve previously covered, and I’ll be taking some time to further explore them today. In the second part of this series, I’ll be covering identity, reputation, introductions, disguises and more in the vast world of Chronicles of Elyria. The intricate body dynamics in Chronicles of Elyria don’t just affect your character cosmetically, but also how you perceive the world and how the world perceives you. There’s the example given by developer Soulbound Studios of the heavy-set baker woman (bakeress?) and the burly man with two swords swinging on his back; if you’re approached by the two along a deserted road, who are you more likely to trust, and who are you more likely to draw your sword on?
Luckily you’ll have a little more information to go on than looks alone, with Chronicles of Elyria’s “introduction” mechanics. When you come across a lone ranger strolling by the countryside, you’ll be able to ask him/her for some basic personal information, much like you might do so in real life. If they accept your invitation to reveal something about themselves, they will temporarily disclose certain facts of their choosing—first name, full name, title, guild, etc. I’m presuming you’ll also be able to chat, via text that is. No word on whether mics will be incorporated yet. Of course, if you’re more the antisocial type, you don’t have to respond to people’s invitations for a friendly or not-so-friendly chit-chat. If you decide to decline one’s advances, you’ll simply appear as a “nameless stranger” on their screen, which will be subject to interpretation and you’ll presumably be regarded with suspicion, disdain or pure apathy. The anonymity does not end there. You may even choose to don a “hooded cloak” which will effectively conceal your identity from those who know you—friends and acquaintances. Soulbound Studios put up a hilarious example of a classic employer/employee dynamic. “Maybe your boss plays [Chronicles of Elyria] too and you called in sick and want to get through the guild hall without being caught.” Of course, you’ll also probably want to hide behind a veil of anonymity when committing “deviant” acts—or maybe not. The choice, and the consequences, are in your hands.
Just like in the mob, you’ll have to build up rep in Chronicles of Elyria. Make a name for yourself, like Vito Scaletta in Mafia II. You’ll have to establish your identity and make yourself known amongst the people of the land—through reputation and fame. Reputation is measured by the public’s perception and information known about your character, while fame is measure by how well-known you are. The two can change for better or for worse, depending on your deeds, “completing achievements, finishing tasks, and even just crafting items which you sell to others can all have an impact on your fame.” The people you associate yourself with, from family members to guild members, also have a lasting effect on your reputation and fame.Word of your deeds and misdeeds can spread like wildfire through “gossip” (quotations mark present because Soulbound Studios actually labels it as a subcategory). NPCs and other players can share info about crimes you’ve perpetrated or prevented, which in turn will have a ripple effect on your reputation and fame. Soulbound Studios also ominously notes that you can “silence people” before bad news (well, any news really) has the chance to spread. I, for one, might just take them up on that offer.
But what if you want to commit identity theft or other such mischievous deeds? Don’t worry, Chronicles of Elyria has got you covered in that shady department as well. You’ll have the ability in-game to select your active identity from a drop-down menu, but first, you must acquire additional identities. These can be accomplished via the Forgery Skill and the Disguise skill, which are both obviously illegal to employ; if you’re caught with forged papers and the like, you may be facing some serious time in the slammer.
A comment by ExArchAngel on the Chronicles of Elyria website got me thinking about how much of the population should be able to perform this skill—it being so powerful and all that. The comment reads, “I think it should be made quite difficult to fully impersonate another person, with only masters or grandmasters of the skill being able to do it.” I wholly agree; otherwise such a nefarious skill will be used and abused to no end, even with its potential ramifications. Other than the pure satisfaction (at least for me) of stealing someone’s name and all the candy and loot that goes with it, Soulbound Studios has noted that you may find pleasure in committing “corporate espionage” or “[stealing] trade secrets from a reputable guild.” Or perhaps you’re a “famous assassin, bouncing between identities like tennis balls on a tennis court.” And I must add—that’s one hell of a simile.Intangible theft in Chronicles of Elyria takes shape in more ways than one; crafted disguises can be used in conjunction with false identities. Soulbound Studios explains that there are two methods to crafting a disguise: either make your own, or base it off of an existing “model.” The first is simple enough, all you’ll need to do is play a little dress up—don a blond pompadour style wig, shed that rugged jacket for a grandiose cape, and maybe top it off with some sleek Raybans. Okay, maybe not the Raybans, but you get my drift.
The second, more complex method of crafting a disguise is by “using a model”, aka, studying, stalking and subsequently stealing one “wearable item” from a victim of your choosing. This item can then be brought over to a high-level forger, and, if you have the victim’s virtual signature, the two can be merged to form a disguise. It seems complicated at first, and it probably will be, but I’m presuming that Soulbound Studios will be able to flesh this system out and explain it in more detail as they progress further down the path of the game’s development.
But even after you’ve acquired a wealth of false identities, cloaks and disguises to hide behind, it’s possible that people you know will be able to see the real you. The concept is simple and based on a percentage: the more times you’ve interacted with someone, the higher the percentage chance they’ll be able to see through your lie. Members of your family will always be able to see through any disguise/fake ID, which makes complete sense. Wearing a disguise while utilizing a false identity lowers the risk of being discovered, but even then, there’s a chance that your dastardly ruse may not go so well. It may not go over so well, either.
A debatable feature is also brought up by Soulbound Studios: if you ever encounter the victim of a false identity you’re currently using, your false identity is immediately null and void (at least while you are in the vicinity of the victim). Personally, I don’t see how this makes sense. It would be much more realistic if the victim could see that you are impersonating him/her, and act accordingly (attack, punish, call the law on you etc.)
A sensible solution has been proposed by Eros Nightleaf on the Chronicles of Elyria website, “your character should just be outlined in red on the other person’s screen, so they know it’s a disguise, but no one else does. This can cause interesting events where both claim to be the specific person, and the person with the most proof is thought of as the true person, even if it isn’t actually the person.” I don’t doubt that Soulbound Studios will address this in further detail in the future, and perhaps even add some videos demonstrating all the mechanics I’ve listed today, in addition to all the fabulous screenshots they’ve posted in their design journals.
Stay tuned for further coverage of Chronicles of Elyria. You can track its progress in our Campaign Calendar.