I am converting one of my web novels into a playable hosted game, and so far I’ve switched the MC over to a customizale character which you can follow in first second person.
But here’s the thing. I have a lot of other scenes and chapters reserved for other characters apart from the MC. Would it be okay to include the other side characters POVs in certain parts as pure fiction? Like maybe as a choice if you want to see John Doe’s backstory.
I’d say either keep the POV scenes short (no more than a couple of screens long each, with plenty of interval between them) or make them accessible via the stats screen instead and just say “X scene unlocked in the stats screen” during the game.
Some authors do point of view switches as part of the narrative and some players really like it; and other players don’t. I would suggest considering the purpose of the scenes carefully to help determine how it enhances the narrative, as what works well in a linear story with an ensemble cast might take someone out of the flow in a non linear one where someone is playing a single character.
There are also certainly some games which include side stories which are completely separate to the main game. Some of the Hearts Choice titles do it, and Zombies Exodus: Safe Haven I believe.
As a reader and not an author, I personally do not enjoy constant pov switches. It’s fine in small doses but when we’re seeing massive set pieces from another character’s pov with no input from ourselves (looking at you K&E) it is not enjoyable as at that point it’s just a novel and not IF. If you want to have short pov switches to give greater context or to add intrigue (the way ITFO does it) I think that works great, I would prefer long form pov switches to be optional viewings and not something you’re forced to sit and read through, if they’re important to the plot, maybe split them apart so the gameplay isn’t just a wall of text with “next page” at the bottom.
But again, I’ve never written anything so this is just an opinion from a consumer.
It depends on how it’s used but I’d say yes.
It can be helpful to give the player an insight into another character especially if that character is important to the story. Like you mentioned seeing John Doe’s backstory. Which lets us understand why John Doe made a choice and how they got to where they are in the story. But flashbacks/scenes for everyone can drop story immersion really quickly. Especially if it’s a long one and the player cannot control what is happening.
Honestly, I’d say write a few test chapters in IF format and see what the opinion of some readers are.
The problem is, the flashbacks for two of the main characters are 1500 -2500 words long, and I don’t see how I’d be able to make it an IF for the MC when he/she was already established to be in another place during the event.
What I was hoping to do was have the backstory chapters in the character’s bio/codex for players to read if they want to get to know the character a little more.
For example, in chapter 7 a big thing happens to one of the other main characters in which the MC was not present at the time. So those probably 500 words would just be prose and no IF until the MC learns of what happened. What I might have to do is leave out those scenes completely, but then the impact of that arc will be missing.
In that case, have it be relayed as a story back to the MC when they find out what happened so that you would be able to give player’s reactions to the story that could affect rel stats.
Or, you could also make it a mini interactive zone, like, for instance if it’s a fight sequence between other characters that aren’t the MC then let the player pick between going up close and personal and punching them or using a longer ranged weapon, and if you had set it up that this character was amazing at using a bow for example but not great at cqc and the player picked to throw hands then maybe throw in some fluff that the character has a few more bruises/cuts from the fight. Things like that can really maintain interest.
Personally, I love them. I love multiple POVs because whether they are reliable, unreliable, indifferent etc., it broadens the story for me. Especially when the different povs change based on relationships. This, for me, is replayability.
My personal take on it, if the scenes are spread apart and are 1500-2500 words, I say go for it. I do it in my own WiP and, while I have gotten feedback of people not vibing with it, I’ve had other people say they really enjoy the scenes. Personally, I have those specific ones in there because I view them as mandatory for the overall story. I put every other side scene such as character backstories into an extra story option in the stats screen.
I say, stay true to whatever you envision to story being, within reason, of course.
I found this very helpful. Thanks much for replying to me on this. Your exact words were what I was thinking initially and it rocks to know some else understands.
Its hard for me to leave them out because they are built as foundations for the story and if its removed then it feels like it has no grounding or what now.
I’ve decided to just take the risk and keep them despite some might not like it, but I’ll do my best to cut out the bits that aren’t important so it isn’t too hard for those folks to stomach. The game will still be based on you and your choices.
This would be my vote. Break it up with choices; these obviously won’t affect the primary protagonist’s stats, but you could at least have them affect little callbacks in the main game.
Witcher 3 had its playable flashback interludes as Ciri. I doubt they were anyone’s favorite part of the game, but they added to it, and the fact that they were playable made them significantly better. If they’d just been long cutscene video clips, they’d have been intolerable to a lot of players.
I think the same will apply to long text interludes in a Choicescript game. And I agree that tossing them into a lore codex will mean most readers won’t really engage with them. If you’re sure the material there is too good to be left out, make it interactive.
I’ve included POV switches in my games. Strategies I’ve used:
- Change in writing style
- Explicitly indicating the new POV
- Referring to the usual MC in third person instead of second
- Chapter breaks with the button calling out a change in perspective
- Header images
- The new POV referring to themselves
- Working the switch in POV into the narrative itself
- A complete change in scenery and context
None of this works; people still get confused lol.
The Midnight Saga: The Monster also does POV switches.
When you get to certain points, the game asks “Do you want to see (NPC)'s point of view here?”
And then the player can opt-in to the POV switch which generally lasts a couple pages but has no choices for the player to make, then it switches back to the main character’s POV.
The player can also choose to opt out, and it just skips over that POV switch and goes right to the part where you play the MC again.
I liked it! I generally have no issues with POV switches, I appreciate having multiple perspectives of the world and events and don’t have any issue understanding when the perspective switch is occurring and I don’t understand why it is ever difficult for other people. I would be fine with playing a CoG or Hosted game with multiple interactive POV’s.
Unfortunately not everyone enjoys POV switches for lots of reasons. Maybe because it’s disruptive, or confusing, or they don’t like the other perspectives, or they like the other perspectives MORE than the MC and they end up pining for more of those while losing investment in the MC. This happens in all kinds of fiction. A friend of mine only read the Animorphs books that were from Marco’s perspective because he only liked that character’s writing style or whatever. Same friend skipped through chapters of Song of Ice and Fire when characters he didn’t like popped up as POV chapters. I can’t say it’s what I would ever do, but it is a thing.
I’ve read a few IFs that had POV shifts to minor characters. I didn’t enjoy them. The scenes felt self-indulgent and non-essential. Like a story that was supposed to be a novel, not a game.
Then again, obviously, other people feel differently. It takes all kinds, etc.
Just smash cut to a new POV in the middle of a paragraph
That’s how the pros do it
I generally tend to enjoy seeing how the other characters interpret events (or they can also be used to give the reader information that the MC wouldn’t have as well) or react to things happening.
As for advice, since this is an interactive medium you can also split up the POV a bit and give the player choices in the chosen character’s POV. Since most of the problems people have with POV switches tend to be due to the removal of player agency even if it’s just for a brief period of time.
Obviously you have a right to have your opinion on this, which is totally fine. I just personally never understood this argument when it came to stuff like this. It’s like saying videogames shouldn’t have cutscenes, because it’s a game “not a movie”.
Also there’s the fact that, let’s say for example an 800k IF has 15k worth of flashbacks. That’s less than 2% of the experience where you’re not determining what happens in the book. I wouldn’t say that less than 2% makes an IF any less of an IF. I may be biased for obvious reasons, that’s for other people to decide I think, but I will say if an author puts something in their work, most of the time they always view it as essential.
But that’s just my take on that particular argument. Like you said, to each their own, and it’s totally okay for people not to like it at the end of the day!
I 100% agree with you @ViIsBae
I don’t mean to offend anyone, but if you are a true lover/consumer of fiction then the 15k worth of flashbacks shouldn’t be a problem since the whole book is playable. It’s just like food where everyone has different tastes, so it’s not wrong to not like it. I’ve simply decided to leave it as a choice where if you want you can read the backstory, if not, you can continue without it, everybody wins.
Happy Tuesday everyone! Or erm, Monday or Wednesday depending on where you are.
The POV of the side characters can be the icing on the cake, especially if you go into the backstory. What matters is that the cake tastes nice and it gels well with the icing.