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Designer Talk: Affinity

Affinity in games is a strange concept. It generally refers to the in-game ability for characters to develop love and affection for each other, in ways that will statistically effect them for the remainder of the game experience. Some games, such as Tomodachi Life and The Sims use it as the core mechanic, but numerous other games use it for enhancing their experience.

Even a game like Grand Theft Auto operates on somewhat of an affinity system, with missions becoming available as you impress certain people in the area. That’s essentially the idea of using it as a background mechanic, and with this, the world around you in a game centered around exploration begins to feel more alive.

sfasfThen you have games like Animal Crossing, in which affinity is arguably the most crucial aspect of the game. Interaction with the other animals is the way you progress in terms of story, income, and so on.

The quality of this mechanic is entirely dependent on the quality of characters in the surrounding space. Grand Theft Auto tends to have some very controversial characters, and as such, they tend to be difficult to enjoy. Yet, other games such as Samurai Warriors: Chronicles make you want to continue pursuing affinity because the characters have an interesting story to tell.

If a character feels real, you want to know why they do. If something about a character grabs your interest, it’s likely because of something relating to what appeals to you in a person in real life.

Since you all know it’s still fresh in my mind, let’s take a look at Undertale. It’s a game in which navigating the pool of affinity is key to literally every aspect of the game. Be it shopping, talking, exploring, fighting, progressing, every single aspect of the game is linked to how you as the protagonist interact with the characters around you.

This ties in very heavily to my previous talk about morality.

Written by Mustapha R. Price

Mustapha is a young yet spirited university student majoring in Game Art and Development. While he’s but a senior in college, he has an extensive history with the art of gaming journalism. Managing his own game review blog for several years, as well as attending events such as Boston FIG and PAX East has given him extensive experience in covering game news. His knowledge of game design also serves as a tool to develop finite understanding of what makes games work.

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