A Tale Well-Calculated to Keep You in…

So, you may or may not know, but there’s a system in Alcarys Complex called the banter system. It allows any NPC or character to talk, in real time, without restricting the movement of the party like a cutscene would. If a banter box is interrupted for some reason – going into a menu, moving from map-to-map – it regenerates after the interruption so that the player can read it. The overall design goal of this system is to allow the story and narrative to pervade the entire game, rather than just set cutscenes.

The banter system was designed to communicate passive information, and one of the best forms of passive information is the radio. Since NPCs can spit banter, you can extend a Radio object from an NPC and it’ll spit banter too.

Naturally, when you have radio, you need radio content, so I started listening to radio serials and dramas in order to get an inspiration.

When I started doing this, I knew next to nothing about shows like Suspense, X Minus One, and This is Your F.B.I. As I got a feel for the shows I liked and the ones I didn’t, I started to notice some things.

I’d had a few template titles and rough concepts in mind for the kind of radio content I wanted. Talk radio was a given. I knew I wanted some kind of propaganda broadcast by Xirdalan State Radio, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I knew I wanted science fiction, so I made up Star Willows: Galactic Adventurer, and I threw in an idea that was too hilarious to pass up, The Intrepid Dr. Cuckold, about a master doctor who works way too much for his own good.

The funny thing is, I’d assumed that central characters were the norm, because I grew up watching television, and more often than not, the same characters show up again and again. I was really surprised to find out that drama serials with a strong central character are actually in the minority, outnumbered by self-contained plays often adapted from short stories (in fact, a lot of Bradbury, Heinlein, and Asimov’s stories were adapted for the various science fiction programs). There are quite a few dramas that rely on characters, like Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, and Dragnet, but there are about as many that are completely self-contained.

Anyway, I’d written in some base advertising as well, but I generally had no idea what I was going to do with that aspect of the radio. So I listened. And I heard the sponsors: Roma Wine, Signal Gasoline, Auto-Lite Batteries, and so on. Old radio dramas weren’t shy about inviting the guest actors to sit in a comfy chair and sip some of the sponsor’s wine while telling everyone how good it was.

It’s not much, but I think it adds to the game, if only in a small capacity.

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