How Acceptable are Death Choices: Choices That Result in a Players Death?


#1

My young heroine is out in the country with her family and I was thinking of adding an option somewhere down the line, that she finds a small clutch of baby Zeagga (something akin to a velociraptor) where one of the options will be to stay and play with them. Which would then result in her grisly demise at the claws of their returning parents. I’m probably going to have of few of these “too dumb to live” moments in the early game to prep the player for the more sinister / subtle ones later on, when their political career starts gaining traction.

Game of Choice games are stuck in perpetual Hardcore Mode: Death Equals Restart. So I was curious if too much of it, no matter how obvious, would be seen as a little draconian.

Thoughts?


The Fight for Home (WIP) (UPDATED 7/30)
#2

There are several save systems bouncing around, so I would FOR SURE make use of them if you’re going to do this kind of thing. Otherwise people are just going to get frustrated because most players just assume that all choices will keep the game going, even if they hurt the player somehow, so they’ll inevitably choose a stupid one thinking “how bad can it be?”

A possible idea for you though: give the player a second chance after they trigger one of these murder by death events. Like, instead of having the Zeagga parents show up right after you make the choice, have a small bit about how your player hears thunderous footsteps approaching and considers leaving before whoever it is shows up. That way, a player can get the idea that they may have chosen the wrong thing without actually killing them and forcing them back to the start. Or better still, have the failure occur instantly, but instead of ending the game, work in a way for it to continue with much detriment. So, the Zeagga parents return and you manage to escape but not before they give you a nasty scar/eat your friend/bite off your arm. That’s more fun than “you were an idiot and you died.”

That’s how I think about it anyway.


#3

And if the novel is as long as he says, I want a save system


#4

There is a save system, as @SpaceLesbian explained above.

I think your idea isn’t bad, and as your description implies it would be the only unexpected death scene, I find it perfectly acceptably.

And “too dumb to live” would be a good name for an achievement. :smile:


#5

As others have said … make use of the save system.
And maybe, in the tutorial / first section of the game, mention that choices can have unexpected consequences.


#6

I’m not a fan of choices that end in death. Even with a save function they break immersion, forcing you out of the story and to start again.

How many times are you reading a novel and the protagonist just dies, for doing something stupid? Rhetorical question, I know it happens, I’m sure someone will mention Game of Thrones, but even then the novels generally continue on afterwards with the actual repercussions, generally with a switch of perspective or to a different protagonist. .

If you make the deaths entertaining, then it could be part of the fun of the game. I actually enjoyed the non-standard endings in Slammed! There are some that didn’t feel like a slap in the face but were instead awesome.

But generally speaking I don’t like death as a penalty. I’ve never liked it in any of the roleplaying games I’ve played, and I don’t like it in interactive fiction. I’d rather the player have a chance to learn from their mistakes. Because making mistakes, learning from them, growing as a person, that’s an awesome part of the heroes journey. You can screw up to begin with and that just makes it all the better when you stop screwing up and start succeeding.

Death is cheap. Death is easy. It will frustrate the player, force them to replay, but it teaches the character nothing.

Why even allow the option for the protagonist to die? Why not instead have them escape with a scar, or an injury, or being rescued and thus owe someone else their life, a favour that will be called in at a future
date and cause complications. Or even a hit to a reputation stat, or a common sense stat, or a luck one or something.

I think Waywalkers University 2 actually does a really good job of implementing a character with that sort of injury that effects their entire life, causes problems, makes the game a different experience but which isn’t an unsurpassable obstacle.

I think there’s far better ways to tell a story with consequences without just having deaths everywhere.


#7

I usually hate it when a death forces you to restart the game. That is likely because I am a parent and when I get to play a game it is during baby’s nap time and that makes my time very limited. So when I get a choice that makes my MC die and I have to return to the beginning and spend some of my scarce free time clicking through slides and slides of text just to get back to where I was…I am generally NOT pleased. :stuck_out_tongue: