A journey of discovery…

Developer Diary 2 – Evolutionary Options

Well, it looks like the Evolutionary Options is the winning choice for the Developer Diary this time around. 🙂

I have tried to ensure that the theme of “Dawn” is not just pasted on, but instead carefully integrated into the mechanics and ideas of the game. I think in this respect, I have achieved this goal. Most actions are resolved around a “Natural Selection Deck” which we will go into in another Developer Diary and tribes will have both “Innate” and “Learned” traits or abilities.

“Innate” traits and abilities are ones that the Occulite are born with and will often be needed for them to survive through the first parts of their life. For example, in our own world, “a salamander raised away from water until long after its siblings begin swimming successfully will swim every bit as well as they the very first time it is placed in the water.” (http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/I/InnateBehavior.html)

“Learned” traits and abilities are ones that the Occulite’s will pick up through life experiences or through their environment. For example, in our world, we learn to drive a car or we learn to play a sport.

In “Dawn”, all Occulites in your tribe will start their lives with an “innate” trait. Nothing can change this or take it away. These are, like most “innate” behaviours in real life, determined by a mixture of their genetics and their environment and are hard-wired into their nervous system. All of these observations have been recorded by Darwin throughout the years and have been very important in cataloguing and understanding the species as a whole.

For example, a member of the Palaudis tribe (pictured below) will start its life with an innate trait called “Traverse Swamp”. This basically means that it suffers no penalties when moving through swamps as it has been genetically conditioned to be able to do so without trouble. As well as innate abilities, each tribe’s genetic code determines what variations in appearance each Occulite has. All Occulites are of the same species, but each tribe variation is a sub-species. The Palaudis Occulite has a greeny brown skin, much like a frog’s, webbed feet and a shaggy, fur covered body. This fur has two benefits, providing some rudimentary hiding ability and holding water, thus cooling down the Occulite or keeping it warm, depending on the weather.

The Hydris tribe (pictured below) has some variation on its appearance. Its skin is also smooth, but is a bluish green and much more streamlined. Their pupils are often larger to take in more light when underwater. They have a dorsal fin to help stabilise their body in the water and fin-like feet which aides their graceful movement through the water. Their innate ability is called “Swim”. It allows them to move freely through bodies of water. It also helps them to cross fast flowing streams and rivers without getting swept away.

So far, there are three other tribes or Occulite sub-species documented by Darwin. The Floris, Nimbus and Ignis tribes. They all have variations of these innate abilities, all having something to do with the type of terrain they are born into.

The actual genetic blueprint of each of these different tribes will be discussed in a future Developer Diary, but it is interesting to note that each tribe will be able to make “Evolutionary Adjustments” to their members when creating a tribe.

“Learned” abilities can be gained by members of your tribe by interacting with their environment and rival tribes. By completing different tasks and different goals within scenarios, your Occulites will start to learn ways to cope with their enemies and their environment.

All Occulites have a bank of “learned” abilities to draw from, but in addition to this, each different type of tribe has their own set of “learned” abilities that are available to them. So choosing to play a Palaudis tribe will require a different play style than say a Floris tribe.

One of the best pieces of advice you can ever be given is “Practise makes perfect”. In our world, you can’t just hop into a car for the first time and expect to be able to drive manual straight away. It takes practise. The same goes for “Dawn”, and this is where I feel it is different from any other game I have played.

Once you have made an Evolutionary Choice, by choosing a “learned” ability for an Occulite, it is added to their profile card. Each “learned” ability has certain requirements for it to become a permanently “learned” ability. For example, lets take the “Eye Beam” learned ability. On the card it has three requirements. The first is that the Occulite is holding a Sungem. The second is to discard three “Boost” cards. The third is to perform a successful Awareness Test. Once those three requirements have been completed, the Occulite is able to permanently use that ability. If an Occulite is killed before it “learns” the ability, it is lost and removed from the profile card (but may be selected again at a later time when learning a new ability).

If an Occulite is killed after is has successfully “learnt” the ability, then when it is reborn in its cave (discussed in a later Developer Diary), it will still have the ability.

This has been a look at some of the Evolutionary Options available to your Occulites in “Dawn”. I hope you have enjoyed it and that you’ll continue following “The Rise of the Occulites”.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to add them below. 🙂


3 responses

  1. Michael Greenhill

    That is pretty cool. I like the situational learning and also the mechanics so far. You actually have to do something to learn something.

    February 5, 2011 at 6:06 am

  2. caradoc

    Great stuff Ben, as a person with some interest in evolutionary science – it sounds like a fun adaption of the idea. Looking forward to seeing what comes next – the art is fun too!



    February 22, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    • boromirandkermit

      Thanks Giles!
      Its something I’ve really enjoyed putting together. I’ll be posting some more background story and another developer diary over the next week.


      February 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

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