Examples of making good intrigue in games?

This is something that I actually struggle with. How do you make intrigue based seem exciting? All the actions must be done by players when it comes to devising plans, but you can’t prepare for everything a player a may do or the fact they will overlook an obvious solution without blatantly spelling it out in a way to subtracts all the need for intuition and guile. How do you do it? How can you keep things surprising and interesting when the player is the one devising master plans? Does anyone have an example of games doing this well or major characters in games where the manipulation of the player was actually well executed rather than blatantly obvious?


The only way to manipulate the player without making it obvious is to never state what you’re doing in the text. For example, if you’re guiding players to certain routes based on their stats, never reveal what stats get modified by which choice, and never reveal that they’re succeeding or failing based on their main stat.

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This wouldn’t work for me since I frequently check my stats screen along with the idea above you could have some hidden stats that the player will never see and have a check for those.

I mean there was one game I played where the murderer changed based off your decisions without the player even knowing the player themselfs could become the murderer by leaving snickers(They were hand made and dyed so it didn’t look like snickers) out in which someone in the house who was allergic to chocolate and the dog died and when they died I don’t even know it was my fault until the end of the game. (Forgive me I’m rambling).

A good way i feel like would be giving the player a simple choice, and then later on have that choice which was so small and trival causes something big to happen that wouldn’t have happened if the player didn’t choose that choice. There’s a surprise factor involved and the player may not realise they’re doing it.

And yes I still feel bad for killing that poor dog having that dog didn’t seem important at the time and I think that’s what your looking for I’m not sure.

Who said the stats were on the stats screen? I said “never” for a reason. :wink:

Oooh i see what you did there

So it seems like there’s two questions about intrigue - first, in choice-based games where the player is the main actor, how do you set it up such that they feel clever finding a solution without giving too much away?

In the CoG/HG world, I thought that Highlands, Deep Waters pulled off a mysterious, intriguing atmosphere very well without giving too much away to the player, thus making the player feel clever for having figured things out. Sordwin also pulls it off IMO. Both of these are explicit mysteries where the culprit does not change based on player choices, but the player does not necessarily have all the information they need to make a definitive decision - thus the player needs to actively figure out what’s going on based on the clues that they have. I remember Highlands, Deep Waters in particular having a bunch of red herrings that led me astray my first go-around haha.

The second question seems to be, how does one create games that manipulate the player or have a character that manipulates the player in a subtle manner? I’d imagine that it could be pulled off with a character who feeds the player either false information or has a slanted view of the world that impacts player perception of certain events - alternatively the player character themselves could have an atypical and odd view of the world. Trying to think of a game that did this…maybe Spec Ops: The Line?