A brother's death

I was wondering how people would react if I decided to kill off the MC’s brother early on in the game (and I really mean early in the game) as a result to a choice the player can make. It is stated that the choices could have serious impacts, but it is not literally said that that could include the death of an NPC.

Depends on your game! I say give it a shot and see how well you think it works for your story.

In my opinion? Do it! If you stated that the choices will have serious impact then you should give an example and I mean a real example.

@DDrum75 lnclude it if you want to. Choices can result in death of important NPCs, and some games have such choices: In Choice of the Vampire the MC can kill their maker and in Guenevere an important NPC and future RO can die in part one. Most games don’t include it because the survival or death of an important NPC early in the game makes coding many later scenes more complicated.

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So far it seems like everybody thinks that I should include it and that was exactly what I was hoping for. And I totally agree with @Jjcb, I mean I’m planning on making it a dark fantasy game, so there will be death and I think it’s good to start with that early on in the game.

Nothing is sacred, you can kill any character, even the PC!

I actually like it when my choices can have such a big impact on things like that.

While I’m all for it, depending on how early his death is are any of us going to care? Are we going to get the time to emotionally invest or otherwise form a bond with this character?

Even if the story makes it out to be some big deal to our PC, if the player hasn’t spent enough time with him to form an opinion then it’s kind of a “meh” scenario, at least for me.

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It depends on the game. If it’s good so far, then yeah. If it’s nit, then no. If you’re planning the story to have some kind of plot twist then do it.

Wolfie does have a point there, you can put it in there, but it really won’t matter to the mc if they don’t get a chance to know em. No bond makes it just that, a meh situation. So if there is no bond seeing its early in the game are you later planning on having the mc feel guilty about it? Bringing up memories or such that has aided the mc or something similar?

There have been COGs with really close or important characters dying. There’s a risk that a death, whether by violence, suicide, a tragic accident, or whatever else, is going to remind someone of a traumatic moment and plunge them into a horrible mood, depression, a flashback, etc. But I don’t think that’s a reason never to write a game about it.

Ideally, you could warn people ahead of time, “Hey, if ____ bothers you, you might not want to play this game.” But then sometimes that ruins suspense or reveals a twist that would totally ruin the game. It’s a really difficult scenario.

Would I write a game where someone important died in a horrible way? (i.e. as opposed to dying of old age in a comfy bed surrounded by family.) Yes. Would these exact questions bother me as I wrote it? Absolutely.

I second @WolfieGrey 's caveat. If the player is not invested in the character, but the MC is (as the MC would be in the case of a brother), killing that character risks wrecking the immersion of the game.

I tried an HG once where a close relative of the MC died almost immediately (and not even as a result of a choice). This was a death of convenience for plot purposes. I did not get a chance to know the character, and the MC gave no indication that her death was emotionally troubling. I lost all desire to play further.

The early parts of a game are when you and the reader establish your expectations. If you introduce a choice that can kill this guy off too soon, you risk sending the message that, in your game, life is cheap. Better not get attached to anyone.

I wouldn’t worry about disturbing the reader (unless the circumstances of the death are particularly troubling). If this is dark fantasy, then readers should know that characters are probably going to die.


@DDrum75 I agree with @WolfieGrey but I think it’s possible to handle this cleverly. In many games the first scene or chapter is not the chronoligcaly first one, but is followed by much longer flashback to the character’s youth. These flashbacks could be used to intorduce the brother.
Depending on what you’re planning, you could even include the choice that will lead to the brother’s death or survival at the beginning but reveal the outcome in the scene after the flashback.

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I get @WolfieGrey 's point and I think I’ve done a good job of creating an emotional bond between the MC (and hopefully the player) and the brother. The only way to test it is to see the reactions of beta-testers once I post a playable demo, which won’t be for a while since my exams are coming up and I have to focus on those.

The only issue I see is if it’s possible for the brother to also not die, then you potentially face the combinatorial explosion of writing two versions of the story - one with brother alive, one with him dead.

Perhaps this isn’t what you intend, but if the brother would only show up peripherally when he lives it’s doable…Unless the whole story is a parallel universe thing that hinges on differences with and without the brother.

There’s strategy to keep choices meaningful whilst avoiding writing ridiculously separate branches!

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I think it’s a great idea…because it’s really cool to see your choices affect the game in big ways…however, you might want to make sure that the reader has some kind of attachment to the brother so that they feel the loss. it’s cruel but more interesting!