Creating too much work for myself? Feedback desired


#1

Hello,

I have been plotting away at a WIP for awhile and want to include a few specific story threads based on which race the player starts as in my fantasy game. The problem with this is, I do not know if I’m taking to much freedom away with theses choices. The player choice dose not just decide their race, but also that specific persons history by default.

For an example if they decide to pick human, they are the child of a pair of renowned adventurers who have long since gone missing and they were raised by their grandparents to age. But if they pick elf, they are are a war orphan from a distant land who had been taken in by the grandparents. (the central start point is being raised by this pair).

In addition many of the storyline’s also feel gender specific. Such as the human should always be a young male, the elf a young female. But again this takes to much freedom away. Am I simply over complicating the situation by sticking to theses predefined history’s? They are very key to my game… as I wanted each racial pick to have a specific and personal quest unique linked to them in the world.

Any thoughts on this would be great. I wan’t to decide a course of action before I get to invested in my current course.


#2

well yeah…you are gender locking the origin . May wanna look at DAO for exemple , all the origins have their own ‘theme’ , but the gender is up to the player .

the knot here , is the specific quest you wanna tie to the origin .

I say work more on the origin and not worry about the personal quest , especially if it come way way later .

A quest can be unique in many way , doesn’t have to be unique cose of gender . You can use their elven history , or humans side , or the land or adventure said parents had , or ennemies or trophies they collected…etc .


#3

While racial origins are always interesting and fun to play, I do think it can be easy to overwhelm yourself with the work, especially since each racial origin seems to have a completely different story/text. Until you find the ‘common point’ in the plot where all origin stories merge into the same game, I would just caution you from making things so different from each other that you end up having to write two or three or four different games branching off from each origin.

That being said, I do think that genderlocking the origins does take away too much freedom of choice. While the story of an Elven orphan or adventurer is specific and different, I’m not sure you’ve presented a compelling reason for why they have to be male or female. Is there a reason why you would want the human to always be male or the Elf to always be female? At that point it seems counter-intuitive, as you are not offering players a true ‘choice’ in picking their race: it’s sort of like, I can’t play as a human if I want to play as a female, so why give me the choice at all?


#4

Race origins could be fine. Matter of fact, it’s not dissimilar to the school system in my own WIP. Nobody will ever complain to you that their choices actually mean something in a game.

Now, I haven’t seen what your working on exactly, myself. So, you will understand the finer details a lot better than I could. I don’t doubt that it will be great when it’s ready for people to see. So, these are just my thoughts and I could be wrong about the way you want to go about things.

Obviously, having people enjoy the story is important. We can agree that players need to enjoy what they read. That happens by people having choices with content. Which is what you want. That’s great. It means more than just text on a character sheet. It has impact to the story. Nobody will ever complain about that.

But here’s where the inner issue lies. If the only way to be an elf would be say a female orphaned one or a human warrior male, then that isn’t so much a choice or character creation on my part. It’s a character template of a pre-existing character.

People will take the impression that that everything is set in a linear path and already decided for them. There will be a number of people who don’t really feel like it’s “Their character.” They are just using a character who already has everything decided for them. There’s no choice in it.

So, if you are going to intend specific settings of a character’s background? That’s fine. But if it is going to be so highly specific to the point where just about everything is already pre-determined for their player, including their own gender? The reception to that will be icy at best.

Don’t fear having choices mean anything, but if it is going to make an impact where players can’t feel like themselves when playing, it is going to give some pause and have others refuse to play without really giving it a fair try. Which is something, I don’t think you deserve.

So that’s my long winded and roundabout way of saying that if you want to do origins where players have free range in gender and sexuality and the like, it won’t be complained about. Just be careful of doing templates where those kind of options are removed.


#5

I think gender locking origins could be fine with a sufficient in-universe explanation, and as long as content locked behind each origin is of a similar value. If the male only order of large rods gets some interesting flavour text whereas the female only princess origin gets one million gold, I have no reason to ever pick the order of large rods, and it might lead to players feeling punished for picking male. While I think not all origins should be treated equally, sort of defeats the purpose, any locked content should be of an equivalent value

In Dragon Age Origins as a human male you can marry Anora and become King, if you’re female you can marry Alistair and become queen, so while gender choice has an impact on the story and the choices you make, the content/outcome you get out of it is, on paper, equivalent, yet varies enough to encourage another playthrough


#6

Yeah, I wouldn’t gendelock.

Maybe have plot elements for race and gender that can be mix and matched instead of writing specifically for every combination.


#7

The example of Dragon Age Origins came up, which I immediately thought of after reading your post.

Having specific origins for each your race could work just fine. Depends how far you’re going with it and how many races you have.

Only 3 races? A half (or full) chapter for each is doable if you put in the work.

12 races? Do a Life of a Wizard and have maybe one scene at an appropriate point in story where PC meets with a community of their race, and can choose to get stat bonuses that reinforce the race archetype, or rebel against it and get altered bonuses.

Obviously not the only way to do it, but a lot of it comes down to:

A) How many races could the PC be?

B) How long do you want the race specific content to be?

If you give us answers to those we can be more help to you. :slight_smile:


#8

Thanks for all the feedback so far, I think on reflection I can remove the gender locking. It wont alter the story as much as I thought (or more accurately I can alter the story enough that it should not matter). As for other questions, It’s a little early for me to go into great detail about my WIP simply because I’m still stumbling over a lot questions on how deep I want the game to get.

As for races, their very in-depth alterations to the game, but let me explains first how the game is going to progress. No matter the race you pick, there is a general ‘world’ story and progress every character follows and experiences. But their race pick opens or closes opportunists for them along the way. Some of theses are major branches. Playing a human will have a ‘very’ different experience then playing an elf even if they go through the same events. Though thats probably not the best approach as it creates a lot more work for me :stuck_out_tongue:

Race wise, I am only considering the two races at the moment. Humans are everywhere and the most dominant, Elf’s are reclusive and enemy of man. So if your a human you fit in, if your an elf you must deal with the stigma of being in human lands. On top of this humans and elf’s have very different strengths. Humans are adaptable, can wield magic, Elfs can achieve super human physical feats, but are cut off from magic. (seems contradictory, but that’s the dynamic of this world.)


#9

Just two races is still a LOT of work. Choice of Rebels has reasonably different storylines from the beginning for noble and helot characters, and that added significantly to my writing time. It’s doable but I’d encourage you to keep it at 2.


#10

I will be brutally honest with you, To trying to help you not for trolling.
I am a role-player So your story seems to me great pleasure to me as it reminds me a d&d or Dragon Age origins. However, I will run from it in the moment I see FIXED CHARACTER FIXED GENDER.

So what is the point of have so many rich possibilities and races If I am tied and jailed to not make my own character. It is a pity, really. So I am a girl why that has to force me to be an War orphan. Why a young adventurer has to be male? It is by sexist reasons?

I mean maybe you want to write a more linear story and that’s okay. But a cog shouldn’t be so limited. Like where is point if I am constrained in a fixed gender fixed story fixed name fixed personality…
I am reading a book not playing a gamebook.

I think Let character chooses gender identity. Then choose race Then choose if is a war orphan or an adventurer.

I mean why not could be the war orphan a human that some elves save It could make a great storyline. etc and without having to change so much your plan. I would love playing that.

Also to races are enough, that way you could make them different and still manage them. Is better less races but more content different for them


#11

@Havenstone is absolutely right. If you are trying to lessen the writing/coding load, limiting your origins is the way to go. In my own WIP I have three distinct origin branches with 10 sub-origins, and I am almost up to 300,000 words, and barely a third of the way through.


#12

Do these choices raise the stakes and lead to interesting conflict? If the answer to both questions is yes then go whole hog and develop this bigly. If the answer is no then it’s backstory, important but counterproductive if you spend too much time and effort on it.


#13

Big question: if you did allow multiple genders, how much would you have to change the flow to make it impossible for a reader to tell which version you wrote first? That’s my definition of properly supporting a gender option, and it hugely varies based on story and setting. Best-case, your setting is either gender-neutral or works like Choice Of Broadsides and you just use variables to set pronouns. Worst-case, it’s highly stratified in a consistent way and you need to account for its gender norms everywhere; you absolutely don’t have to make the player character obey them (indeed, often you specifically want to let the player character violate them) but other characters need to react in some way. It doesn’t have to be a big way; even a couple lines here and there goes a long way to make it feel like the character is breaking a norm rather than just coincidentally being the only person of that gender doing this sort of thing on-camera at this particular moment.

Once you’ve figured that out you know how hard adding an option will be. Then, well, it’s your call but my expectation with choicescript games is full support for male/female and straight/gay at a minimum, and in most cases at least partial support for nonbinary and bi/ace. And I would not consider them fully supported unless they’re avaliable for all other general backgrounds, so I’d cut a background entirely over cutting a gender choice for that background.

Also yes, this will be very hard to code. I love hugely complex branching narratives, but things get out of hand very quickly. Two dissimilar but overlapping paths is harder than two separate paths, and three is easily twice as hard as two.


#14

Workload = (length of plot or story * major branching) ^ origins or backstory + achievements or hidden secrets


#15

x 1.25 for each additional point of significant customization :sweat_smile:


#16

Don’t make gender choice complicated. It’s not a choice that should create conflict or raise the stakes so it’s not a good investment of your finite time.


#17

I would say that is usually the correct answer, but if gender barriers are a big thing in your story then the player needs to interact with them at least slightly.

So if you don’t want to invest a lot of your development resources in gender choice, write a story where there are no relevant gender barriers. Then implementing gender choice is trivial. It’s a very common decision and there’s nothing wrong with it.

As an example of where it should matter, if there were a game set in Alethkar in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive, gender choice would most likely matter a hell of a lot, and so would eye color; men and women and darkeyes and lighteyes have basically no overlap in life experience or career, except for the Ardent priesthood and the very newly reconstituted Knights Radiant, who are basically exempt from both rules. Also the Knights Radiants’ eyes change color and become lighter when activating their powers, which is probably the historical reason for why eye color matters (it did not when the original organization was still extant). Aside from those exceptions, soldiers are all male, writers, painters, and engineers are all female (Alethi men do not read or write beyond a very simple pictographic system, and using this for more than heraldry or short messages is viewed as borderline heresy) farmers all have dark eyes, and nobles all have bright eyes. Not all Alethi believe in this system, but the fact that others do constrains them very heavily. Less so now that several of said characters style themselves “Lady Radiant”, but as of the latest book that’s hardly a finished process.


#18

It’s also very easy to get caught off guard by how quickly branching potentially adds up when you’re thinking of variables. Let’s assume you have three variables with three states each. Branch on one, three possible combinations of values. Branch on two, nine possible combinations of values. Branch on all three, twenty-seven combinations of values. So conditioning things on combinations of variables gets out of hand very fast. You don’t need twenty-seven separate branches for the three-variable case, but you do need to make sure that all twenty-seven follow the appropriate branch for that case. So having a large number of factors that each substantially shape the story in a way that interacts is generally a really bad idea.

However, if you separate out the conditions and consider them completely in order, for instance by having one paragraph for each, that’s three states for each paragraph. Much easier to code.