Social Networks

As a result of socialization in OC, NPCs form various sorts of relationships with one another. These relationships are classified as various types. NPCs can be friends, acquaintances, enemies, rivals, and more. Social relationships can also be defined in terms of unchanging familial bonds, like cousins, siblings, and parent-child links. An NPC’s social network influences its behavior and experiences, as important things that happen to close relations can tremendously affect those NPCs in its social network.

A visualization of a small expedition’s social network.

Social_Network_Readout

A read out of Nikel Pentun’s social network, typical for late in an expedition’s first planetary year.

Summary

  • A social network in Outer Colony describes an interconnected web of individuals, linked to each other by relationship types.
  • The links in the network, the relationships, form as a result of socialization or birth.
  • Some relationship types last for the life of an NPC. Two brothers can never stop being brothers, regardless of the positivity or negativity of the relationship.
  • Some relationships can change based on the ebb and flow of social interactions. Acquaintance status can fluctuate to and from friend or enemy status pretty easily in some cases, depending on the personalities and circumstances involved.
  • Many relationships in an NPC’s social network drive behavior directly. NPCs naturally prefer to socialize with family members, friends, and romantic partners. Behavioral cliques within each expedition are the natural consequence of this preference.
  • Relationships also indirectly affect behavior by sharing experiences. When something important happens to an NPC, that information is shared through its social network.
    • The effects of experiences on an NPC’s social network depend on the type of experience, the type of relationship, and the personalities involved.
    • If an NPC’s father eats a bad sandwich, it’s not going to affect his children.
    • If an NPC’s father dies in battle, it can create a memory that might result in lifelong hatred of an enemy in his children. This memory can go on to drive goal selection and ultimately behavior of the affected parties. Some of these far reaching effects are difficult to control, once they’ve occurred, and can have a profound effect on an expedition.

Examining an Example Social Network

To understand social networks, let’s take a look at a simple one and understand how it came to be and how it’s affecting people in an expedition. We’ll focus on a very simple expedition that’s only existed for a couple seasons worth of game time. No new people have been born into it, and no new settlers have arrived, so the expedition consists of only its starting members. They’ve had enough food, water, and sleep to survive, and I’ve made their leisure shifts extremely long to encourage lots of socialization.

It would be a bit too time consuming to go through all 8 members and break down the social bonds they’ve formed, so I’ll focus on one of them. First, we’ll look at various sorts of data relating to this person to get a feel for what sort of character she is, as her own data is very important to how her social network forms. Let’s look examine Culvert Anganis, a female Core Worlder in our expedition.

If we take a look at her physical properties, she’s a gray eyed redhead of roughly average height, with generally above average physical properties. She’s a full standard deviation above average in physical attractiveness and has tremendous dexterity – might make a great pilot, but you can close your eyes and imagine how she looks.

Culvert_Physical

Culvert’s physical properties.

Next, let’s examine her personality narrative:

Culvert_Personality

Culvert’s personality.

She’s a loyal person, outgoing and friendly, she’s generally levelheaded, and very compassionate! Excellent! This is quite an agreeable personality. The sort of person you wouldn’t mind hanging out with and having as a friend. Now that we’ve got a mental model of what Culvert is like, let’s check out her social network:

Culvert_SD

Culvert’s social network data.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the social network is presented as a list of known people and the type of relationship this person perceives as having with them. The social network data is given from the perspective of the person being inspected, so this shows everything from Culvert’s perspective. As shown above, she’s got 5 expedition members that she considers acquaintances and 2 she considers friends. This general positivity is absolute what I’d expect from someone with a personality like this. Outgoing, friendly, compassionate, nice people – they socialize well and make friends!

Let’s take a look at her friends and see if we can determine why they’re well liked. We’ll examine the personality of Ermantiom Nadum, a friend of Culvert:

Erm_Personality

Erm’s personality.

Erm_Physical

Erm’s physical properties.

Erm is considerably intelligent, but a conformist who likes to stick to what she knows. Pretty average height and weight, green eyes, black hair. Nothing too remarkable, but a fairly normal sort of person with whom Culvert can get along. Is the friendship relationship bidirectional? Does Erm consider Culvert a friend, too?

Erm_SD

Erm’s social network data. Erm and Culvert both consider each other friends!

If we look at her social data, we can see that she does. And if we look at memory data for the two women, we can see that the experiences provide the basis for the friendship:

Erm_Memory

Erm socializing well with Culvert.

Culvert_Memory

Culvert really enjoying Erm’s company.

They’ve both interacted with each other, they’ve got compatible personalities, and so they’ve become friends. It’s all pretty intuitive and straightforward. Next, let’s take a look at how an NPC’s social network can really affect them.

Let’s examine the personality of another person in this expedition, Nikel Pentun:

Nikel_Personality

Nikel’s personality.

Nikel is a creative, casual sort of person, probably not the most reliable character in the world. A bit of an artsy type, kinda’ weak of character. She’s a bit on the neurotic side, too. Still, she gets along alright with Culvert. If you look two screenshots up, you can see that the two have interacted in a way that Culvert deemed positive. Remembering that Culvert is very compassionate, she can put up with some social deficiencies, like Nikel’s, and still get along with them well. Let’s look at Nikel’s social network:

Nikel_SD

Nikel’s social network.

Here we can see that Nikel considers 3 people to be friends, including Culvert, considers 3 people to be acquaintances, and she has a marked dislike for Mal Fantaluns. It’s a little bit funny that Nikel considers Culvert a friend while Culvert still regards Nikel as an acquaintance, but it fits with the personalities. Nikel is a bit like a somewhat clingy sort, eager to be friends with Culvert. While Culvert tolerates and even likes Nikel a little bit, she’s not really regarded as a friend at this point. This is an example of the potentially unidirectional nature of relationships under some circumstances.

Something has just happened to Nikel, though, that we can see in her state data:

Nikel_States

Nikel’s state data. Note the special depression state, a result of her mild neuroses and social withdrawl.

When we look at her state data, we can see that Nikel has entered a depressed state and is in a sad mood. This is almost certainly the result of her somewhat lonely state. Why is Nikel lonely? Well, she does have some recent socialization memories, but she has not socialized very much in the last day. This is just something that neurotic NPCs do – they’ll sometimes just decide to stop socializing for a while and can become withdrawn. There’s really not much that can be done to control it, and it’s happened here.

Depression is a special state that certain NPCs can enter, and it has a variety of effects. One effect is that certain types of NPCs, when depressed, will alert friendly relations in their social network to this fact. Since Nikel considers Culvert a friend, this information was conveyed to her. Let’s check Culvert’s memory data:

Culvert_Depression_News

Culvert has been affected by Nikel’s depression, as a result of the expedition’s social network.

Since Culvert is considered a friend by Nikel, Nikel indicated to Culvert that she’s depressed. The news is deemed unfortunate, as Culvert sorta’ likes Nikel. This will have a negative effect on Culvert’s mood. This is a bit like reading a sad Facebook post from someone you know. It’s a bummer, isn’t it? The same sort of thing is going on here.

People who aren’t regarded as friends by Culvert aren’t exposed to this information, but her friends (or who she thinks are her friends) are. Her friends all have to deal with the effects of her depression, and their moods will be affected as a secondary result of her condition. This is just one example of how important social networks are to the functioning of an expedition, and social networks have many more effects.

Viewing Social Network Graphs

In addition to the text readouts described above, an expedition’s social network can also be viewed as a graph. This can give a quick idea of how many people socially relate to one another within your expedition, and it can be useful for identifying key personnel who exert the most social influence.

To view an expedition’s social network graph, select Information -> Expedition Social Network Visualization from the top menus, as shown in this screenshot:

SN_Selection

This will load a social network graph, as seen in the video below:

Posted in NPCs