One of the things many people find disturbing about some video games is the amount of violence and how it is represented. Nia’s Journey takes place in world where violence is an every day fact of life. Nearly everyone carries a weapon of some kind and knows how to use it. Nonetheless, I’d like Nia’s Journey to handle violence a differently than is the norm in videogames.
I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on the random encounters question, and based on those suggestions I’ve decided to use visible encounters instead. As a result, I’ve been thinking about how to represent violence, and the after-effects of violence. One of the things I’ve found problematic in many games is the way that human enemies are treated merely as fungible obstacles to be killed by the protagonist without a second thought.
As with other NPCs, I would like to humanize sentient enemies as much as possible. One way of doing that is by including unique dialogue and behavior for human enemies, just as I would for friendly NPCs in town. When threatened, they will do their best to preserve their lives whether by escape, negotiation, or a shift in combat tactics.
The second difference is how Nia’s Journey handles death. In many games, enemies who are killed will reappear after a set of amount of time only to be killed again. The implication is that their deaths are meaningless. In Nia’s Journey, human enemies (unlike animals and non-sentient creatures) will remain dead if they are killed.
Lastly, I want acts of violence to have a long-term effect on Nia and her friends. Nia may spend a lot of time in places with little or no law enforcement, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences. Each party member will react to violence (and non-violence) differently, both in the short and long term. I’m still thinking about the implementation, but my goal is to allow the consequences of violence to be felt.