Chapter 2.11. Emotioneering Techniques Category #11: Player Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques
Getting emotionally entangled with someone made of polygons.
This chapter offers
ways to make the player feel chemistry with an NPC. That is, these techniques make the player feel close to an NPC, either romantically or non-romantically.
When you have chemistry with someone, you want to be friends with them.
In Chapter 2.7, we examined NPC to NPC Chemistry Techniques. This chapter is about creating NPCs with whom the player has Chemistry.
It would seem, at first, that techniques that make a player feel like he or she has Chemistry with an NPC would be the same as those that give an NPC Rooting Interest. After all, if we identify with a character (i.e., if they have Rooting Interest), wouldn't we therefore also have Chemistry with them?
The difference is subtle.
Because of an artful use of Rooting Interest Techniques, in a game you might end up identifying with an orphaned elf, or a brave and kind but hideous-looking alien, or a peasant who is genuine and self-sacrificing.
But, curiously, this doesn't mean you'd necessarily want to be friends with any of them. And Chemistry, by definition, means you'd like to be friends or lovers with a character.
To use some film analogies, you might emotionally identify with troubled and somewhat retarded Karl Childers (played by Billy Bob Thornton) in the film Sling Blade, or with Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) in the film of the same name, or with Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell), the boy from a British coal-mining town who wants to study ballet in Billy Elliot, or with a number of the troubled young teens in Stand By Me but this doesn't mean that you'd want to be friends with any of them.
It's a curious thing, but true techniques that make us identify with a character (NPC Rooting Interest Techniques) are, in large part, different than the techniques needed to make us feel like we'd want that character as a friend (Player Toward NPC Chemistry Techniques).
Following are a few techniques to make a player feel he or she has Chemistry with an NPC. We'll examine them in the context of a hypothetical game.