Author Choice versus Player Choice

Since I will (hopefully) be starting on a choice game of my own soon, I thought I would pose yet another question. As someone who used to enjoy role playing, or rather still does but lacks the time, I’m very picky about actions being imposed on my character without consent of some kind.

So, now, I was wondering what others would think about allowing only choices that result in the player acting or reacting to a situation. Such as instead of someone grabbing you, they reach for you and thus allows you to properly react. This is what I would consider an author choice. A player choice would be allowing you to input your own dialogue but with a predetermined tone from a select number of choices. If that makes sense. Perhaps I will have to explain it better but lack the words to express them currently.

Would this be an advisable way of creating a choice game in ChoiceScript?


Here’s how one can go about it; it depends on how big the game is and how often you are willing to provide those choices. I am not Choice Game expert but to offer player choices for everything becomes too tedious and interrupts the narrative too often. Then again, it allows the player to feel free about exploring choices abundantly.

On the other hand, using broad choice allows you to provide the player with a general idea of how he/she will be reacting to a situation. In your prescribed example, let’s say the that I had the choice of:

a) Having a conversation with the said someone or,
b) Inciting conflict with the person

Say I chose option “b”. I am guessing that the resulting scenario won’t play out well for me. Hence, my player getting grabbed is something I would expect. I hope I was clear and you got the gist of what I was saying.

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Choice is a touchy subject among our community and of fans of these types of story/games, and as such the way you frame and present the choice is more important than the choice itself.

If you frame the choice as something incidental to the story and inconsequential to the MC being played by the reader/gamer then you will encounter much more resistance and even resentment from your audience. Whether the choice is the vehicle towards which a rail-roaded outcome is being portrayed or if it is a vehicle for an open world outcome being achieved is secondary and not as weighty in the community’s collective.

There are both very open-ended offerings and railroaded narrow offering in both the CoG library and in the Hosted library. Both types of stories can be popular but what often determines their success is how their choices in relation to the MC is presented. The more the MC is defined by and shaped by the reader/gamer the more popular the overal project seems to be.

If people wanted to read the author’s vision of the MC and the author’s defining MC, most of the community would rather pick up and read a traditional novel or story. The definition and the details of the MC usually will determine the acceptance of a project.


Interesting. I would like to present a player with meaningful choices without having too many or too few at any one time. I would also like to limited the amount of forced actions against the player while also allowing flexibility. Such as being allowed to input your own dialogue but with an attached tone such as friendly, sarcastic, etc. Since in real life you could say the same sentence but your tone can completely change how it is meant to be taken.

It will most likely be impossible or at least prove difficult to eliminate all forced actions but it may not be able to be avoided completely.

I don’t want to attempt to have every choice be flexible or custom tailored but at least present it in a way where the player isn’t told or lead to believe that their character is doing or saying something that they wouldn’t want. Such as having a predefined dialogue choice or being told what you think or feel.

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I like logical stories. No COG games are sandboxes, so they all have railroading and author choice. In order to finish writing a game and avoid writing multiple stories in one game, branching needs to be limited.

Author Choice can be used to drive the narative forward in a logical way. A person can’t completely control all of the events in their real life, so that adds a bit of realism. If you wanted to write a story about the player trying to survive in a haunted house, a player might not want to go in the haunted house in the first place and it would be illogical to write that the player wanted to go in the house and giving the player a choice would result in a quick end or two different stories in one game. It might be better for the author to write that the player was kidnapped or chased there or something.

Players should be able to choose how they feel about force actions in order to give the player some character defining and illusion of Choice while limiting branching. For example, a player that is forced into an arranged marriage can be angry, hopeful for true love or dutiful like in Guenivive.

Players should also have logical choices. In one game (not CoG) I played, the MC was freaking out about their human neighbor finding out that MC was a witch. MC also had a witch friend with mind control powers that could have just made the neighbor forget they knew anything. But, the MC never had a choice to ask their witch friend for help and I found that illogical.

I don’t like inputting text , except for names, because it is impossible for the game to know what each response says. I would like to choose a general tone and the author can either make up dialogue or just show the NPC’s reaction.However, I never curse so it’s always off putting for the MC to curse, especially if the MC is suppose to be a child.


Yes, I can understand those points. I know that technically ChoiceScript can display what a player inputs, basically just displaying it inside text much like custom names. I am not suggesting for the game to recognise the words intelligently but the tone.

So player would have an attitude/tone choice to select followed by inputting their own dialogue. The npc would then react based on the tone choice and not so much the words. If that makes sense. Of course the player could forgo such a option and just think up a response in their head. Maybe even have default predefined dialogue choices as well.

Of course as far as actions go, logic would dictate choices presented though also possibly include a illogical choice. I mean, not everyone thinks the same or even logically in different scenarios.

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As long as there are predefined dialogue choices then having a choice of dialogue would be OK. It’s just kind of clunky when I’m trying to quickly replay a game to get to a certain part (:cry: why aren’t save systems popular?) and I run into an input text.

It also wouldn’t be that hard to code an input dialogue because you would only need one variable and could overwrite (set) that variable each time it was needed.

The whole words vs. tone thing reminds me of the comedy show Everybody Loves Raymond where Raymond thinks he can call his wife any pet name as long as he uses the right tone : . Anyways, dialogue choices would be a good way to set up a COG game and would actually be similar to how other COG games use dialogue and personality except your way uses more input text and choices, and less stat checks and *if.

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I think I tend to go for the premise that the player can’t (directly) control the actions of NPCs, but should have choice over how to react. So I’d be ok with the MC getting automatically grabbed, as long as I’m not forced to respond one way to being grabbed.


I agree with @Scribblesome.

For me I understand that a story can’t quite go on unless the author makes some decisions, but I’d rather the author not make the big decisions or decisions that will undermine my personality “if I say I don’t wanna go outside, don’t tell me on the next page that I went outside and enjoyed the sun”. So I’m alright with the author having others grab me and making me go places and sometimes saying things, it’s when they obviously shape me views and later decisions that I raise a brow.

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So, in instances of forced actions against the player in order to move along the plot, would fake choices suffice since ultimately the end result would none the same? Though I suppose one could offer choices that branch into different scenes much like a chase event.

One thing I’ve done in my WIP is to tell the player what the character does, but to let them choose the reason why. For example, if the player hears a scream (and must investigate, for the plot to continue), you could give them the choice of going to save the day (because it’s the right thing to do), going in hoping for a reward, going to investigate purely out of curiosity, or even going to try to get a cut of the spoils.