How Many Choices Do You Prefer?


#1

While writing I’m always conscientious about the text to choice ratio. I’ve found in most Choice labeled games the pages seem to be very text dense, having 4-5 paragraphs per page if possible. In my opinion this is fine as long as it is all rich and involving text, but as soon as it feels like filler, i.e. the story would still make perfect sense if that portion of it wasn’t there, I start to get disinterested and find it hard to continue reading. This may just be my short attention span kicking in, but I’m curious to get other opinions on this as well.

In the case you don’t feel like writing a response explaining your opinion I’m including a poll, because everybody likes polls, as well, but feel free to do both.

Do you prefer games with few, but meaningful choices here and there or do you prefer being able to choose every single line of dialogue that comes out of your character’s mouth?

  • I don’t like my character saying or doing anything without my involvement.
  • Lots of choices, but autonomy is okay to some extent.
  • I only care about major choices, otherwise I’m just in it for the story.

0 voters


#2

Personally, if an amazing story only has a handful of choices, or maybe two or three very important choices, then I’d rather have that than a decent or normal story with a great amount of choices


#3

I guess I don’t mind having fewer plot-critical decisions if it’s a good plot (with lots of cute boys), but I don’t exactly like being forced to do things without an in-character reason. If this means telling me what the character is going to do, and letting me choose why they’re doing it, that’s fine.

(Also, this probably shouldn’t be in the Works in Progress category. Game Development, maybe?)


#4

I moved it to General.
How do you feel about filler story though? Like when a story branches off on irrelevant information to make the story seem more real?

For instance, in the story maybe your character goes out for drinks with one of their friends and the friend reveals information about their backstory. In this scene there are very few choices to make and the information you get is not necessary for the story to progress and doesn’t even come up later in the plot. Would this scene turn you off from the game or get you more invested?


#5

I voted for the “major choices” option mostly because I think it would be interesting to write a gamebook where there are only 3 or 4 decisions but they are all HUGE and story breaking with significant consequences. Maybe one split at the 1/3 way point, with 2 splits at the 2/3 point, and then four splits towards the end, resulting in 8 different endings.

I think this sort of approach would work best with 1st person (told by a narrator) or 3rd person (where you watch the story unfold and are able to nudge certain actions by the characters for some reason (perhaps you’re a deity watching a tiny human drama, or something like that) because you wouldn’t be making the MC “as your own.”

I compare it to watching an excellent movie, and it’s towards the end, and you’re legitimately torn about what you’d like to see happen, recognizing the pros and cons each way. In the movie, Lost in Translation, who wouldn’t want to “control” the ending where Bob and Charlotte both stay in Tokyo? It would take a very satisfying narrative with very strong characters to pull this off though! No blank slates here!

EDITED TO ADD:

Not to generalize, but I think this would work well with romantic stories. Any good romance is going to have a main character conflicted, usually between a couple of well-formed romantic options, each with their pros and cons. I can see a fun light story where the main character realizes she’s “being read” and implores the reader to “help he out” a few times through the story.

I also have a story in my head where you, the reader, goes to an interactive movie theatre that lets the audience vote at several places in the film, creating branches and different endings. It would be called “Stiff Justice,” an homage to the ultra cheesy action movies of the late 80s/early 90s, It would print money!!


#6

Indeed! I recently read a book about Interactive Fiction, in which all the exemples came from the author’s own fictions, written in third person.
I discarded it, because it wasn’t really the kind of interactive fiction that I was interested in, but I can see the potential.
It would be closer to a novel than most of the games written here, I think.

And it leaves a lot more room for the author, concerning the protagonist.


#7

When I say lots of choices, I don’t mean a lot of pointless choices that don’t make a difference either way. And I’m not talking about the choices that help flesh out your personality and what not, I’m talking about the choices that literally don’t do anything, they’re just there to grab our attention but mean nothing.

As long as the choices have meaning, I’m good. And if the story is nice, I really don’t mind where it goes and I don’t notice the lack of choices sometimes.


#8

I think you’ve just described visual novels to some degree. This is the medium I think works best with the “major choices” perspective.

Games like the ones found here on CoG/Hosted should have more choices otherwise they’re just walls of text dealing critical damage to the reader. Think Fighting Fantasy game books.


#9

I have a short attention span, so I like a lot of choices to break up the text and keep my attention. At the beginning, there should be no more than 3 pages continuously without a choice. If it’s longer, I just click through without reading to see how far the next choice is, loose interest and quit.

I don’t need to choose every line of dialogue, but the speech should reflect me by not cursing or being unreasonably mean. I like choices for major decisions. Like if I had good relationship with RO 1, but I found out they were lying and cheating the whole time, the game shouldn’t act like I still love RO 1 despite this when in reality they’d be dead to me.

Only a few game branching choices only works in visual novels, because the you have the character images, scene changes, expresions, CGs, voice acting and the like to break up the narrative and the MC is usually well defined.


#10

I am a role playing so anything like Eric defend is not a Cog. It is a interactive novel where characters are defined and you barely have nothing to do in it. Normally all are fake ajd leading same place or one is good and all the others are bad. I don’t came here to read a novel. Also only few mayor choices mean no replay value . Just play one or two times and done.


#11

There should be a choice (not necessarily a major one but some choice with some consequence) every few hundred words. This keeps player engagement up. If you follow that guideline, you have a lot of choices to fill.


#12

i think its a balancing act between giving the player a good story wall also giving the player a sense of control over his destiny wall no game gives the player total control over the story the best games give that feeling of success so it does not mater how meany Choices the player can make but the quality of the Choices the player can make

i fond some videos on the subject too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45PdtGDGhac


#13

reading this post did me real good. i’ve been thinking of trying my luck at development of a story, but was quite unsure because i have never been one to write useless information. it made me insecure watching all the big games with huge text pages and know i’m not able to do that. so thanks for writing this.

as to the actual thread, i must say that i do appreciate a game with a lot of *fake_choices. i do like making choices, but understand that it is hard to keep up meaningful choices throughout a long story, so the effort with fake choices is something that kinda makes up for it.


#14

Yes, fake choices break up the flow and let you control why an outcome you can’t control happens. Not every choice has to be a new narrative branch.


#15

Yeah depends on the game. I think more choices leads to more customisation obvs so more replayability and makes it easier to relate to the character, and it can be a bit jarring if some text can go against your head canon mc’s personality where a choice would’ve prevented that. But I do like games with limited choices too, COGs that are more like interactive novels, but will tend to replay them a lot less…Though in the rare case where I can relate really well to an interactive novel character I can prefer that, but that is rare :stuck_out_tongue: .


#16

I don’t like being bombarded with meaningless choices (but, I dislike it less than too little choices) like having to choose the MC’s hair,skin,eye, tongue colors, shoe size, weight, number of moles etc. because it is tedious, doesn’t add to the story, and breaks my immersion because I usually don’t think about my MC’s apperance and they have to be an [insert adjective here] person instead of just a person. And, the choices are often limiting like no white or salt and pepper hair.


#17

Well, it does depend on the style of the game. In most cases, I prefer pretty near total free reign over my character’s decisions. However, some stories have much more set protagonists, where it’s more like we’re guiding a character that already exists, which can be quite interesting as well; in that case, I don’t feel the need for as much input.

Well, this reminds me of one example, which I’ve seen in some CoGs… I don’t like having my character be assumed to drink alcohol. Unless it’s an assumed part of the setting, like an Ancient Roman drinking watered wine. Otherwise, if it has my character out for drinks with friends, I’d distinctly like to be able to choose juice or a soda or water or something.

The same applies to vegetarianism if it’s a setting in which one would reasonably expect a significant number of vegetarians to exist.

Yes, this. I feel like 2nd person lends itself to customization and personal immersion. If I’m reading 1st, or especially 3rd, it feels more like I’m guiding rather than being.


#18

Choices are the reason I play these games. If I wanted a story I would read a book. I have tried a few games with very few choices and I don’t much care for them. Yes, this includes computer games too - I am a very picky gamer, but I am a gamer, more specifically a role-play gamer. So to me, choices - but not false, irrelevant ones - are the point.

Of course, a poorly written game is still a poor game even with many choices that affect thing, but since I am cursed with the Play It Again, Sam curse (re-playing games many a-times) I enjoy most games that offers such a quality.

Me, I need to customise (I love picking my appearance in detail) and ‘be there’, if I end up an observer I tend to quickly lose interest and move on.

And games that tell me ‘hey, look, you love this character’, oh boy, they raise my hackles real quick - yes, Mass Effect, that includes you and your blue space smurfettes… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Now, fakes choices can still have a meaning - such as letting the game know how you feel about something, but a lack of choices equals a lack of interest for me personally. End of rant. :blush:


#19

This is a reeeally big question. There are absolutely, completely, positives and negatives to both sides of the coin.

From my own experience… less choices gives more of a novelistic feel, which I like better to write. Whereas, lots of choices, done right, seems to make a game feel less rail-roaded, as long as they’re dynamic choices, leading to a more interactive play experience and higher replayability. Though I think a deeper story can possibly be crafted with fewer choices, giving the author more time to actually focus on story-crafting, not splitting their time between many splinters of the same story. There are exceptions, but this is my take on it as a generality. I -do- think, though, that the more choices in a game, the longer the game is going to take to write. Unless the choices fully branch the story- that’s different. Assuming the same style of writing, though- the more choices, the more time writing X versions of the same part of the story. Write 3 paragraphs to achieve 1. Or write 3 pages to achieve 1. Or more. Choices are fun for a player, pages of writing are fun for an author. Probably what’s best is to find a balance that makes a CS project both a story, and a game. Not too much one, or too much the other. But, hey, if something is good enough, that intangible ‘good’ quality, anything goes.


#20

I wish I could condition myself to go back to writing 4 or 5 paragraphs per passage since I usually average about 4 to 6 pages per passage. Probably why it takes me forever to finish anything nowadays. Lol.

Personally I prefer it if every choice is meaningful in some way, so if it’s just two choices, that’s actually fine as long as they’re going to change the story up in some major way. Not really a fan of fake choices that don’t have any lasting impact on the story.

More choices is good, but I just have a hard time finding the time to write more than two even if I have the ideas for more than one possibility. Usually I try to get around that by incorporating the unused plot line into another choice later or even parts of it so it isn’t completely discarded (I hate throwing away ideas)

So I’d rather see an author write less choices but are vastly different rather than have a bunch of them and they practically are all the same thing. A recent example of this is something like Fallout 4 where you had four responses and pretty much every time three of those responses were the same but just in a different tone.