Lies and Seductions

Petri Lankoski¹ and Tommi Horttana²
1 University of Art and Design Helsinki
2 Helsinki University of Technology

This is author’s version of the paper. Authoritative version is published in: U. Spierling and N. Szilas (Eds.): ICIDS 2008, LNCS 5334, pp. 44–47, 2008, URL=http://www.springerlink.com/content/b2456706667u646v
© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008. 

Abstract. Lies and Seductions is a computer game in which a player controls
Abby, a character on a wager to seduce a rock star who has promised to stay a
virgin until marriage. The game is loosely based on the story of Les Liaisons
dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons). The game is a design experiment exploring
how to use social relations, seduction, and tragedy as meaningful gameplay
content.
Keywords: Computer game, social interaction, seduction.

(EDIT 7.7.2009. The Lies and Seductions game is available for free at www.liesandseductions.com.)

1   Introduction

Lies and Seductions[5] is a 3D computer game about seduction, lies, betrayal, and
tragedy. The game is built using Unity3d[6] game development tool. The gameplay
focuses on social interaction with non-player characters (NPCs). Information and
dirty little secrets are gathered through discussion, gossip and eavesdropping to be
able to navigate a social network to the heart of a rock star. The game draws from the
novel Les Liaisons dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
(first published in 1782) and its film adaptations Dangerous Liaisons, Cruel Intentions, and Untold Scandal.

With some liberties, we took the main characters and their relations, as a starting
point for our game. The main challenge in the game design has been to turn the char-
acters, their relations, and, especially, the main conflict into gameplay.
The main conflict we used in the Lies and Seduction is adapted from Dangerous
Liaisons. Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont are decadent nobles and ex-
lovers. De Valmont is a skilled womanizer who has set his eyes on the beautiful, mar-
ried, and chaste Madame de Tourvel. The marquise makes a promise to have sex with
de Valmont if he succeeds to seduce de Tourvel. The story of Dangerous Liaisons
contains another seduction assignment for de Valmont, but we did not use it in the
game.

Lies and Seductions game is a design experiment on character-driven game design.
Gameplay design patterns “are semiformal interdependent descriptions of commonly
reoccurring parts of the design of a game that concerns gameplay.”[1] In the design of
NPCs, the social networks and conflicts we have used are found in several patterns described by Lankoski and Björk.[3], [4]

2   Characters and Gameplay in Lies and Seductions

The player character (PC) in Lies and Seductions is Abby (the character’s counterpart
in the Dangerous Liaisons is de Valmont). Abby and Becca (de Merteuil) are on a
cruise. They make a bet: if before the cruise ends, Abby gets to seduce Chris (de Tourvel), the singer of a rock band, Becca sleeps with Abby. Otherwise, Abby lets
Becca humiliate her publicly. The challenge is that Chris has publicly promised to
stay virgin until marriage and has, so far, kept his word. We use a cut-scene to intro-
duce the bet. Chris is traveling with his two friends, Emma and Ed. Ed is the bass
player and songwriter in Chris’s band. Another noteworthy character is rich aristocrat
Lord James who wants to have sex with Abby. These characters serve as a starting
point of the gameplay design.

The main goal in the game is to seduce Chris before the deadline. To complicate
things, this is not possible directly, as Chris initially refuses to engage in longer con-
versations with Abby. A Player needs to convince one of Chris’s friends to help. In
this way there are two goals that regulate advancement (on regulating goals, c.f.,
Lankoski [2]); one of these goals needs to be accomplished before one can successfully
reach the main goal of the game.

Fig. 1. Dance minigame

The above goal structure, as such, would create a rather static game structure. To
make things more dynamic, we use a gameplay design patterned after Actions Have
Social Consequences (c.f., Lankoski and Björk [4]). This means that Abby’s actions
will shape how a non-player character feels about Abby. For example, if the player
guides Abby to kiss some other character, and Chris witnesses this, Chris will have a
negative impression on Abby. This, consequently, will make seducing Chris more
difficult. The player’s performance in the minigame, for example in a dance mini
game (Fig. 1), can also change the impressions of NPCs.

Design-wise, this is implemented using an impression system, in which certain ac-
tions set an impression in an NPC’s memory. In the above example, the impression
“Slutty” is adjusted in Chris’s memory. This, along with other impressions, affects
Chris’s overall attitude to Abby (meaning, in the context of the game, his willingness
to have sex with her). How each impression affects each NPC’s attitude depends on
their personality. For example, while Chris dislikes sluttiness, some other characters
find that enticing. Using the impression system, it is also possible to add some level of
Memory of Important Events (c.f., Lankoski and Björk [4]) for NPCs. Impressions can
also be used to trigger Emotional Attachment (c.f., Lankoski and Björk [3]), which
means that an NPC has and shows emotional reactions to certain events in the game.
Storing the impressions separately, instead of simply adjusting a single attitude stat
for each NPC, allows the NPCs to act on individual impressions (for example, men-
tion them in dialogue). More interestingly perhaps, it also allows them to share their
impressions about Abby through gossip. This gossiping is Information Passing (c.f.,
Lankoski and Björk [4]) between NPCs, and this gossiping influences gameplay.

Fig. 2. A gameplay screen with dialogue

Conversations with NPCs have an important role in the game. We use prewritten
dialogue trees, in which the availability of branches are based on the current impres-
sions of an NPC. Impressions are used to create Contextualized Conversational Re-
sponses (c.f., Lankoski and Björk [3]). In addition, choices made by players during a
conversation can change impressions. The discussion with an NPC is shown in
figure 2 above. For writing the dialogue, we have built an editor that can also be used
to simulate dialogues with impressions (see figure 3).

In conclusion, Lies and Seductions is a game in which we explore ways to bring
some structures of drama, tragedy, and social interaction to the game. Design-wise,
we have been interested in testing various ways of integrating scriptwriting and
gameplay design seamlessly.

Fig. 3. Our dialogue editor and simulator

Acknowledgements. Lies and Seductions is a game developed by Petri Lankoski,
Tommi Horttana, Niklas Gustaffson, Kimmo Karvinen, Reeta-kaisa Neittaanmäki,
Linda Kronman, Anne Parkkali, Raisa Omaheimo, Mike Pohjola, and Jari Suominen.

References

  1. Björk, S., Holopainen, J.: Patterns in Game Design. Charles River Media, Hingham (2005)
  2. Lankoski, P.: Goals, Affects, and Empathy in Games. In: Philosophy of Computer Games. Reggio Emilia, Italy (2007)
  3. Lankoski, P., Björk, S.: Gameplay Design Patterns for Believable Non-Player Characters. In: Situated Play. Digra Japan, Tokyo (2007)
  4. Lankoski, P., Björk, S.: Gameplay Design Patterns for Social Networks and Conflicts. In: GDTW 2007. John Moores University, Liverpool (2007)
  5. Lankoski, P., Horttana, T., Gustaffson, N., et al.: Lies and Seductions (2008)
  6. Unity Technologies: UNITY: Game Development Tool, http://www.unity3d.com
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