Death options in COG


I just wanted to know everyone’s opinion on dying in a choice of game. I personally don’t enjoy “losing” because it feels pointless and I absolutely hate starting over.

An example would be you getting shot only because you didn’t choose a weapon that the author wanted you to pick.

I’m in the middle of creating a game and I’m just curious about whether I should make it obvious or not which option will cause the player to lose.


Do you have checkpoints or saves? I don’t really mind it if I don’t have to start all over.


While I think that instadeath “oops you picked the wrong option ten choices ago!” Options are really stupid, there is a place for dying in these games. Games like Marine Raider or the infinity series would be kind of dumb without being able to die. The infinity series (and most other games here) does it pretty well in that as long as you play to your character’s strengths you can usually come out on top. Just don’t make it feel arbitrary, and for the Gods’ sake don’t use an RNG.


What if it was a group and if you die as groupvleader you come back as one of the team members to take up the role of leader? :sweat_smile: Just curious.


I think yeah, if you can go back to the last chapter/checkpoint it’s ok. And if nothing else, maybe have the PC just die for picking stupid options, my favourite example is using a tazer on a zombie in safe haven :stuck_out_tongue: .


I hate dying in games and I hate failure.

Still Slammed! had a few extremely epic fail endings that I didn’t mind because they were fun. And Curse of the Black Cat had death by harbour seal, which was funny.

I believe deaths are strongly discouraged in the official Choice of Games, particularly in that method of them just turning up because you picked a wrong option, that didn’t seem wrong at the time.

Have a read over the[ design document.] I’ve quoted a few bits below.


Different endings can come at different times, but no ending should come earlier than 75% of the way through the game.
Make sure that the ending doesn’t come immediately after a *choice. Doing so can feel abrupt; make sure that there’s at least another page after the *choice before the ending.
Make sure to have sufficient wrap-up at the end so that the player feels satisfied.

Every ending should be awesome, even if it’s a failure or a tragedy. There should be something dramatic and satisfying about every ending.

In Choice of the Dragon, the PC can get killed early…by getting struck down as divine retribution for setting themselves up as a false deity.

Finally, the player should understand why they got the ending they did. There should be enough clues in the text to show how the story led to that destination: references to past events, allusions to stats, etc.

Okay on to your question

Why are you allowing players to lose at all? Why are you allowing them to die? Why is the option even there? What does it bring to the game?


If it makes sense, to die, within the story, I am o.k. with it on a philosophical but in a gut, game-playing reality, unless the story is done extremely well (ie @Lucid Lost Heir series) it turns me off in CoG games.

Even such classics like Zombie Exodus take the ultimate decision to kill the MC and quashes it.

I’d take an educated guess and say the vast majority of the CoG community doesn’t like it.


I guess it depends on the game for me.

But it also depends on how you do it, and how much of it is needed in the first place. I mean, one can argue that dying is almost useless in Hollywood Visionary, you’re not a soldier or anything like that. But dying is still possible, and the interesting way is how you tie it to a mechanic (stress) that players can see all the time.


When death is used properly, it can be a highly effective storytelling mechanic. The example I’d use is the Forlorn Hope in Guns of Infinity: not only is it a high risk, high reward scenario, but the fact that it is a segment which is extraordinarily difficult to survive serves narrative purposes as well.

However, that requires you to use death “properly” in the context of a game where survival is preferable to death, which means it needs to be a “fair” death.

What do I mean by “fair death”? It means that at the very least, the game has to do three things: tell the player why they died, give the player a fair opportunity to avoid death when they’re playing “blind” (as in, without foreknowledge of the plot) and “in good faith” (that’s to say, when they are playing a plausible character within the internal logic of the setting), and to serve a higher purpose within the narrative, even if that purpose be to hammer home how meaningless and ignominious a single person’s death might be.

However, there are exceptions: a game centred around arbitrary or seemingly pointless deaths as a theme is one. A story which intentionally throws you into a doomed situation, where the narrative centres around not survival, but doing something meaningful before death is another.

Death is a mechanic just like any other: it can be done well, it can be done poorly. It can enhance a story, or entirely ruin one. If a certain death mechanic fits, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t.


I came from a role playing table rpg background so for me dying is a key part of it. Dying it’s not loosing is just part of the story of a character could be fun or not could be sad. It is a way to make your decisions matter. You are a level 1 magician launching yourself. With no spells against a level 100 dragon like a kamikaze. Sorry you has to die dont be so fool last time.
Games shouldn’t. Abuse death but if you make clearly silly options like put a hand inside a electricity. System you have to suffer the consequences. But I don’t. She stories like a videogame it’s. Not about lose or win is about a story enjoy other life.And death is part of life

The Sea Maiden (WIP) Last update 14th of Feb

Well, should you be able to die? Absolutely, within the boundaries of reason. If you have a thousand options but only one is the correct one, then why bother? If you can die, it makes the game realistic, as long as the death makes sense. You had a wooden stick and attacked a guy with a machine gun? You should totally die. You pissed off a character and they stabbed you in the jugular? COME ON. You gotta make the death believable, acceptable, understandable.


I think that part of the problem is that these games aren’t like ordinary video games, which are more about winning and losing (and it’s usually very easy to save and reload), but are rather closer to ordinary stories, which can feel very unfulfilling if they end a quarter of the way through the plot simply because the MC does something that wasn’t even that stupid. I particularly dislike it when the game forces you to minmax your stats, and then choose the correct option based on your highest stat, before killing you if that stat isn’t high enough. (I might have complained about this on at least one WIP thread, although in that case, it was exacerbated by the fact that none of the options worked, because of choices I’d made long before the checkpoint.)

My own WIP (not that I’m claiming that what I do is the correct way) does have death, either for stupid options, or just for failure, but generally the player is given at least one “wound” per fight before they die. More importantly, after death they get the choice to return to the start of the fight (with the option for death disabled), or to continue with the game as though they had just won (or survived that attack, for one longer fight). This way, there is death, but it doesn’t mean that anyone has to play through the entire game again, just so that they can guess the right option this time.

The only time I can really get behind dying in these games (without the option of returning to a previous checkpoint) is if the player decides, preferably right at the end of the plot, to allow their character to die in some kind of heroic sacrifice.


I was thinking of a game idea where each character in the world is born with powers and the MC’s power is when they die they go back to before they died, so the MC can die but then there’s a checkpoint before they make that choice and each time they “die” it can take a hit to their sanity or something like that.