Beyond Bildungsroman: Different Kinds of Stories in Choice Of Games


#1

As noted elsewhere, Choice of Games are well suited to the bildungsroman, the origin story, stories about the development of a character and the accumulation of wealth and prestige. Where it’s one person’s personal journey, there’s great scope for variation. Further, the second person perspective tends to put the focus on the player character and their growth.

What other story structures are there that would still fit into the Choice of Games house format?

Here’s some ideas I had:

  • Story with multiple perspectives: you could play through alternating chapters as two different people with different sets of stats, goals, relationships etc. Part of playing would involve balancing the competing interests of the two protagonists.
  • Managed Decline: You’d start out high in all your skill stats and with strongly established personality stats, high resources, and then the core choices would be about what you’re prepared to sacrifice.
  • Team Building: A game not so much about the player and their stats (though that would be one part of it) but more about supporting and building up a team: a sports team, an adventuring party, a class of students.

What do people thing? Any other unconventional story structure ideas?


#2

Managed decline sounds like an interesting concept - do you have any specific examples of what that would entail? Would it encompass, say, stories where you start off with a certain amount of soldiers under command (and a black-and-white morality) and have to fight a war, managing both the resources and having your morality stats change? Or maybe playing as a character suffering a neurodegenerative disorder, e.g. Huntington’s, and then deciding what to do as your motor skills stats etc. decline? Anyway, it’s an exciting idea :slight_smile:

A story where you play from different perspectives would probably be difficult to pull off. It cuts off an avenue of suspense and unpredictability in a story, would probably be confusing, and might be a bit like playing chess with oneself, I think, though it’s again an interesting concept that could probably be worked into an innovative story by the right creative mind.

This isn’t a story structure per se, but I’ve been thinking for a while that CS games do have the potential to address moral dilemmas that involve attitudes that aren’t exactly- well, met with much warmth, especially when it pits logic against emotion. For example (and I apologise if what I say is confronting to anyone), the issue about whether or not life support should be cut off after a certain period of brain death. Some would argue that it’s a ‘waste of resources’ to keep it on, and they would be immediately attacked for being cold and heartless. In a story you could have a scenario where the MC has limited resources and has to make such a choice. Stories probably exist where you have to make difficult decisions, but I’m referring to this in the context of a realist story that is meant to model current ethical issues and be confrontational to a certain degree. In non-interactive fiction such views that are expressed are interpreted by some readers as a reflection upon the author, who is then accused of said coldness and heartlessness. CS stories are designed to be accommodating of different readers, so it would allow any writer wishing to explore such issues a degree of protection.

Sorry for the length of that, and I apologise if it didn’t make much sense (was about to go to sleep but this got me excited).


#3

There’s certainly a lot of dramatic possibility in moral choices in a realist setting, like playing as the ethics board at hospital.

For the managed decline, it could be a story of get out of enemy lines like you suggest. I had an idea for an 18th century ship game, where you start with a flotilla circumnavigating the world, and your crew, health and fortunes would tend to decline. Or a game where you’re managing a vast resource (a fortune, land, political favours) and the main tension is how much you save vs spend to achieve your goals.

Having more than one protagonist might work better if they’re in different places and their effects on one another are very indirect. That way there’s less a conflict of interest but you could still have to choose whose outcome to favour at various points.


#4

Hmm one of my early ideas was (and still is) to make soccer game (similar to Shaolin Soccer way…with super powers!) Where player is more like manager ^^


#5

I recall there was a wip where you were a teenaged soldier that was rescued and trying to rejoin society. Learning how to communicate with others properly again and sulking your combat skills in the process, but also people from your past were trying to hunt you down so you couldn’t forget all your combat skills without consequences.


#6

I think multiple perspectives would be hard to do well because you have to clearly signal to the reader the perspective switch and make them care about the characters in an interactive way (I wouldn’t pick out of character choices for a defined MC, and that could potentially limit interactivity).

The good/bad thing is that COG is a story-game hybrid. I am OK with reading a story or watching a movie that is not interactive. I am also OK with visual novel type games like tell tale that have few choices compared to the narrative length. COG is mostly text and having “fake” how do you feel about that type questions helps break up narrative and define the character. Too many pointless choices is also bad because it makes it seem like a quiz while having the same amount of characterization choices in the Sims or Dragon Age or some other visual game is not bad because graphics break up the choices.

Certain stories like a gender-locked and we’ll defined MC could be told, but it’s so easy to define certain characteristics (compared to a visual game) that it takes away the uniqueness of COG and could be disapproved of. RPG style spam the attack button battles are also not good because it’s too repetitive.

The team zero seems like it could be a managed decline story. Team building could be good, but that means that the NPCs have to be likeable.

An Alter Ego personal growth story would be great. It could show how the MC grows and changes over a lifetime.

I agree with @Retrovirus that moral delima games would be good, but they would have to be well written to not trivialize the issues and not to just support one side of the issue, but show pros and cons of each side.


#7

[quote=“Kefs, post:4, topic:28826”]
Hmm one of my early ideas was (and still is) to make soccer game (similar to Shaolin Soccer way…with super powers!) Where player is more like manager
[/quote]Ah that could be good fun. There’s two directions you can take a sports team game so far as character development is concerned: have a fixed team of maybe 5-11 players who are all distinct characters who have their own personalities, needs, goals. Or you could have generic player positions (like in any AAA title) which can be filled with players with different stats but who would be embodied in different personalities (so you’d have conversation lines for ‘the striker’ which would fire regardless of who that actually was. I think the former could be more characterful, but the latter would open up new mechanical possibilities.

[quote=“NeoHeartless, post:5, topic:28826”]
I recall there was a wip where you were a teenaged soldier that was rescued and trying to rejoin society.
[/quote]It’s a neat idea!

[quote=“Sovereign2Lilith, post:6, topic:28826”]
I think multiple perspectives would be hard to do well because you have to clearly signal to the reader the perspective switch and make them care about the characters in an interactive way (I wouldn’t pick out of character choices for a defined MC, and that could potentially limit interactivity).
[/quote]Yes, the character name would be in the chapter headings, and you could signal it strongly in the text. It would have to be written so that all the choices make sense for each kind of character’s possible motivations (allowing for variation of playstyle etc.).

It strikes me that this sort of game could be a way of having a two-player CoG: the expected (but not required) way of playing would be to swap the game back and forth between chapters.


#8

There is one Hosted Game that has multiple perspectives (but it doesn’t fit the house style at all) - The 3Games. It’s basically a team-based Battle Royale-type story where the focus is on building the group’s unity rather than on building personal stats. The characters have distinct personalities and interests that might not coincide, and there are opportunities for betrayal and sacrifice. Among choicescript games it’s rather unique and I liked the writing, although everyone died on my playthrough and I haven’t tried it again.