Jump to content

Latest meows

  • entries
  • comments
  • views

Do we realistically need Realistic Needs?



The way most of the needs mods work creates a chore that is meaningless most of the time, can result in unexpected gameover under very specific circumstances, and fails to contribute to the big picture.


This approach (copied from survival games where it made perfect sense) simply doesn’t belong in Skyrim. Not even in misery simulator play style. Nobody (well, this being LL it is not necessarily true) cares about bottles, baguettes and produce to make for an emotional hook like combat (or sex), and I don’t really see it as a potential minigame of its own merit (oh gosh, will the Dragonborn be able to successfully digest this last piece?)


It was never about Dragonborn’s calories intake. Is there any scenario when “PC’s stomach is 67.3% full” would be a relevant piece of data? Most of the time we want entirely different questions answered: is Dragonborn living decadent life in a palace or starving away in a gutter? Is she too tired to say “no” to her devious follower?  Was her life lately so harsh that another whipping doesn’t scare her anymore?


So, why don’t we just ask exactly that?


We start with four main stats – Allure, Inhibition, Wear and Self Esteem. Also we have secondary stat – Arousal.


- Allure measures high-ranked NPC (jarls, generals and of course Nazeem) disposition towards you. If your Allure is low no jarl will talk to you, not even about that dragon business. In fact, you’ll be kicked out of palaces unless you are some sort of maid there. It also governs your eligibility for high paying customers. If you decide to sell your body low Allure means you’re stuck in some peasant brothel, sucking dicks for dime per dozen.


Allure is long term measure of your lifestyle: the bed you sleep in, the food and drinks you take, being pampered via YPS mod and such. You lose it by enduring hardships: low quality lifestyle, taking a beating, etc. It is somewhat unique in the sense that it is very hard to raise and very easy to lose (one black eye from your pimp will suffice). It is easier to raise Allure if your Self Esteem is high. Also, whenever you gain Allure, you also gain small amount of Self Esteem. Note that eating and sleeping are not mandatory, but Allure’s natural bias over time is towards 0. So if you want it high you’d better do your homework.


But you don’t necessarily want it high, because it also governs how much Wear you take from challenges, such as sex or beating. Low Allure means that your life so far was harsh and you can endure a lot, whereas a pampered princess would be destroyed by a single slap to her ass cheeks.


In short: high Allure is beneficial for princesses and royal escorts, low Allure is beneficial for slaves and beggars.


- Inhibition measures your own attitude towards sex and related depravities. High Inhibition works as some kind of “nun pheromone”. NPCs respect you, and even rapey bandits will let you go unharmed (they will still take your money, of course). Low Inhibition is a “slut pheromone”: female NPCs lose respect towards you, men expect sex from you. (As to whether how they act on that expectation depends on other stats.) Of course, if your Inhibition is high, you won’t be able to prostitute yourself or otherwise willingly participate in depravities. Romance and marital sex is OK.


You lose Inhibition via sex (of any kind) and depravities, and gain it from religious practices and long term chastity. Also booze and drugs lower Inhibition temporarily. Natural over time bias is towards medium.


In short: high Inhibition makes your life as a free woman significantly easier. However it hinders your hooker career and is hardly a boon for a slave.


- Wear is integral measure of physical abuse you’ve suffered. You gain it from being beaten, from hard labor (think of ponygirls), from sex, from substance abuse and long term lack of sleep. We do not trace its origin, let alone calculate meticulously anal wear versus oral wear – it makes zero difference. You lose Wear by taking a nap (proportional to the bed quality), by eating food, by taking meds. Natural over time bias is towards 0. Booze and drugs do not cure Wear (they cause it if anything), but they temporarily offset its effects.


In general Wear negatively affects your performance in all areas. On the other hands, high Wear reduces you Self Esteem loss from non-compliant depravities - as in “I never surrendered, I was betrayed by my own body”. At the same time low Self Esteem increases your regeneration speed.


In short: Wear an excuse for a PC with high Self Esteem, but at the same time it hinders Self Esteem regeneration when it is already low.


- Self Esteem is self-explanatory. We classify all actions in the game as defiant (starting fights, picking pockets, using Intimidation and Persuasion options in dialogues) or compliant (selling your body or otherwise willingly participating/cooperating in depravities).


Self Esteem is somewhat unique in that is has a slippery slope feedback loop. You gain Self Esteem by taking defiant actions and winning, but you need sufficient base value to even try such action. You also gain Self Esteem by completing quests, earning gold, having a house and anything else that would qualify as achievement. Including orgasms from voluntary non-hooker sex. You get temporary Self Esteem boost from booze and drugs.


If your Self Esteem is low you emit “victim pheromone”: men will demand sex (and at some point you don’t get to say no), vendors will shamelessly scam on you in broad daylight (and at some point you don’t get to say no)… you get the idea. Note, however, that if your Inhibition is high you still get to say “no” to sex demands even with very low Self Esteem. You lose Self Esteem if you take a defiant action and fail or if you take a compliant action. The difference is that in the first case you lose some fixed amount, where as in the second case your loss is proportional to your current Inhibition score. It goes without saying that defiance in most cases will result in some kind of punishment and increased Wear. Loss of Self Esteem from being naked is proportional to Inhibition score. You lose even more Self Esteem by wearing devious devices specifically designed to ridicule, such as Yoke of Shame.


Natural overtime bias is upward, it is negatively affected by Wear and positively by Allure.


In short: low Self Esteem helps you survive in dire situations but severely reduces your options elsewhere.


Finally, Arousal is inhibited by Inhibition (duh!) and Wear. Sex at low Arousal, even technically voluntary, is considered compliant action, and also inflicts increased Wear. Note that high Arousal leads to “slut pheromone” emission, even at high Inhibition score.


Okay, how is this model an improvement over existing needs models?


Food is completely optional. You only need to care about it if you want to play princess (in which case you need quality food) or to heal some damage (go for quantity).


Sleeping is semi-optional. We don’t want to lose it completely (because of all the fun stuff that happens to poor Dragonborn when she tries to take some zzzzs), but realistically you only need to care about a bed when you want to play princess or something really bad happens.


More importantly, you now have a reason to actually take booze and drugs (with all the consequences). Intoxication allows you to get unscathed through stuff that would otherwise lead to mental breakdown. Of course you need to take it in advance rather than as an afterthought.


All in all, it is much better suited for survival/slave breaking gameplay than current “oops, there’s no food around, you’re dead” approach.


Recommended Comments

I agree with you on needs mods - they quickly become just busy work. I feel the same about bathing mods. The only thing useful is needing sleep, and that's only useful to help slow down time a bit.


I like this framework. Are you going to make a mod to do all this?

Link to comment

Speak for yourself. Some people enjoy the extra immersion it creates, even if it's meaningless for the story and quests. Getting hungry, thirsty or dirty makes the game feel more alive and gives you more things to worry about than just which dungeon you're going to assault next. Do you even know what an RPG is?

Link to comment
9 hours ago, jfraser said:

I like this framework. Are you going to make a mod to do all this?


Well. First I intend to sleep on it for a while. The model is very raw at this point and will probably need some changes. For example, there is a strong argument that we need to track Vigor in addition to Allure. They both are some integral measure of the quality of your lifestyle so far, but one is about combat prowess and regen rate whereas the other has more bedroom application. It is easy to see how a given PC might score high in only one of those.


In the meanwhile some of these effects can already be achieved via existing mods. I am currently taking a survey of those in order to not to reinvent the wheel.


After that I plan to have two small mods: one that tracks these values, and the other - for playtesting - about random encounters. It is supposed to modify behavior of all the people you meet on Skyrim roads: bandits, revelers, guards and whatnot. The idea is that they won't attack you outright but will forcegreet you to decide what to do with you. Revelers initially mean no harm, whereas bandits to go plan is rob - rape - let go.  However, your answers may lead to different outcomes: revelers decide to have some fun with you, or bandits realize you are above their paygrade... or maybe they see that you are good slave material and they should keep you (Simple Slavery hook).


Anyway, the long term goal is to have a model that would provide for interactive "gradual surrender" scenarios where you actually get to resist and sabotage NPCs attempts to condition you for degradation/slavery, be it via social manipulation (lady to maid fiction), direct violence (all sorts of breaking the cutie) or hard labor and food deprivation (many reluctant ponygirl scenarios). This leads to various outcomes, e.g.:

- you fail and actually become a meek brainwashed slave, but with some options for regaining control in the future

- you trick the NPC into believing you are conditioned (escape opportunity)

- you win, NPC gives up and lets you go

- you win to the extent that you get to turn tables on your hapless master.


If I manage to make it work - many mods would benefit from such uniform mechanics.


Link to comment

An interesting analysis and an interesting conclusion. I'll definitely keep an eye on any mods that uses the framework you proposed.


I'm using both RNG and a bathing mod in my current playthrough, and yeah especially the bathing is falling a bit by the wayside as I adjust MCM settings to adjust to evolving preferences.


I'm not sure I'm ready to conclude that eating/ drinking/ bathing is no longer necessary for me. There is definitely a time during gameplay where scrounging for food in a survival mode context is interesting. I think the main challenge there is the economy (food is relatively cheap compared to income, and it's easy to pick up food in various spots).


The underlying idea of "what do I have to do to eat today" has, IMO, plenty of meat to it (ahem) for the type of gameplay that we're considering. There are plenty of potentially interesting scenarios where a master controls your food, where third parties demand you do things for food, or where you have to make hard choices about whether to eat or do something else or what risks to take to eat. All stuff that can be pretty compelling, but is also undermined by how easy it is to get food.


Bathing is less inherently interesting (other than as a reason to strip naked, of course). It quickly becomes a fairly routine maintenance thing, which is not that exciting, IMO. I can see some potential interesting gameplay around people demanding standards of cleanliness combined with more sources of becoming dirty, and conversely about NPCs imposing/ demanding dirtiness as a means of humiliating the PC.

Just my thoughts anyhow. I'll watch any development you do with interest in either case :)

Link to comment
25 minutes ago, Anunya said:

I'm not sure I'm ready to conclude that eating/ drinking/ bathing is no longer necessary for me. There is definitely a time during gameplay where scrounging for food in a survival mode context is interesting.


Oh, I never said food was unnecessary. Indeed, physiological needs are extremely good way to create this feeling of being under pressure and to give NPCs some sort of leverage against the PC. My problem with existing needs mods is that they force you to care about food both when it would be narratively appropriate (when you are in trouble, basically) as well as when you are well off - thus creating a meaningless chore.


What I am trying to concoct is a mechanics where food is helpful, but optional. Meaning that you can safely ignore it most of the time, but you'll have to scrounge for it when things turn to the worse and you need all the help you can get. Or when you are after the top prize and need to walk an extra mile. In other words, you should only care about survival stuff when stakes are high.



I can see some potential interesting gameplay around people demanding standards of cleanliness combined with more sources of becoming dirty, and conversely about NPCs imposing/ demanding dirtiness as a means of humiliating the PC.


I believe the easiest way to achieve this would be to make cleanliness some sort of job requirement. I wrote a little bit about it here


I am also sitting on an idea of a mod that revolves around being a maid in the Solitude palace. It is entirely conceivable that Royal HR Department would have regular hands and underwear inspections for the service staff.

Link to comment

Well elaborated but I think the base premise of your argument is flawed.


Namely, I think you've misunderstood the point of needs mods. The point of these mods isn't to create meaningful choices... it's for flavor, so you feel like a real person inhabiting this real place instead of a demigod traipsing around in a Westworld-esque theme park. If you don't care about that, then of course mechanics designed to encourage roleplaying and immersion seem like pointless busywork.

Link to comment

You know what would encourage roleplaying and immersion? If NPCs reacted to what you are wearing in more ways than "she is bound? do her!" If Skyrim had at least semifunctional social structure which would allow some intrigue and social climbing. Hell, it would help a lot if PC's facial expression made sense at least half of the time.


Repetitive actions of no meaning or consequence? Thank you, pass.

Link to comment
  • Create New...