How many CYOA authors like to hide the "right" answer in phrasing?

Option 1: punch him in the face
Result: he grabs your hand you lose
Option 2: punch him in the gut
Result: he grabs your hand you lose
Option 3: step on his foot
Result: he didn’t see that coming you win!

I got to thinking when I saw kick two similar attacks against downfall and one odd one out. But chose one of the similar and had to restart from the beginning.

Lucid can be bad at this. Example-

You’re in a hostile city! There’s a sneaky man following you!

  1. Stab him with your blade.

  2. Set him on Fire!

  3. Hit him with an elbow strike!

  4. Summon a Demon to kill him.

  5. Crook your finger to your companion to indicate someone is following you.

  6. Turn around and speak to the sneaky man.

Guess which one of these is the best idea.

5 or 6 unless said companion is a particularly stabby character.

It’s 6. I forgot to mention you’re in the City to meet with the Gnomes. Guess who the sneaky man is and why you shouldn’t kill him. Ugh.

Generally speaking I try to speak with sneaky folks following me. It always catches them off guard especially if I’m playing one of my affable characters.

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You know, I’ve been wondering, similiarly, if having a body of choices with only one ‘right’ choice is always going to be annoying to the player.

For example, let’s say you are facing a person with a gun ready to shoot and you have to take them out quickly with a melee attack since you are unarmed. Now the player has three options and two of them, actions that are unlikely to work in real life, will lead to losing the fight.

Say if you, for example, try aiming for the shooter’s face with your bare fist, that would turn out to be a bad idea because the human skull is hard and you’ll probably just end up breaking your hand.

Would that be considered railroading or unpleasant in general if the player has the option of failing by not picking the answer that, realistically, has the most chance of succeeding?

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If you have to have right or wrong choices (with the exception of something like lucid’s example above where there’s a good reason for it), I find sometimes it helps to have them stat dependant and hint to the player what might be a better option to choose:

#Punch him in the face, it’s best to knock him out before he can raise an alarm (Success dependent on speed.)
#Punch him in the gut, you want to disable him, not kill him. (dependent on strength)
#Step on his foot. Hopefully he wont see it coming and you can use the distraction to get away. (dependent on cunning.)
#Sneak past him and try to remain unseen. (Stealth)

So there’s actually multiple “right” answers, but the player needs to be paying enough attention that they don’t say try to pick stealth if that’s their player’s weakest area. (Have to be careful not to overdo these though or set the bar too high for most of them, otherwise you encourage making the same choices over and over just to increase the value of a single stat which can get boring.)


Yeah; it’s less of a choice and more a quiz on the inner thoughts of the author… :expressionless:

Well, if you did it right, you could break their nose, or give them a concussion… :thinking:

So, in conclusion, a player should never be forced to pick a single choice, because then it’s not really a choice. :smile:


Haha yeah, although it still works in my opinion if you do fail at something with the choice you make and get more than a “wrong choice, game over” :slight_smile:


Yeah; I guess my point is that there shouldn’t be any “wrong” choices, even if the MC fails. :thinking:


Oh, to clarify, I didn’t mean fail as in ‘game over’. Even if the player does not ‘win’ that particular situation, I’d see it more as an opportunity for a different outcome.

I feel like success depending on stats can sometimes seem as though it’s much too easy to ‘win’ by just always choosing your highest stat.

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If you choose to attack downfall she beats you regardless there is no way to win but the game continues. There are right solutions. But either way the game continues.

To summarize:
A good author does not ‘hide’ the ‘right’ answer in phrasing. A good author makes it clear (without smacking it in the readers face) which choice would most likely work for the character given the stats.
If there’s only one ‘right’ answer, or if the author pretty much goes ‘you have this stat, so pick this single choice, otherwise game over’ they should rethink if writing CYOAs is really for them (especially if that single answer assumes a certain personality from the character that has frick nothing to do with the stat as such)


I agree, @MeltingPenguins, or even when the author takes obvious choices but flips them deus ex machina and punishes you for what should be the right answer.


I’m curious if this applies to social/relationship choices, as well. If NPCs have a set personality, wouldn’t only certain choices appeal to them vs. other choices? If you have an NPC who’s empathetic and compassionate, would it be all right to have only one response in a conversation that would earn their approval?

NPC: “My father just died!”

  1. “That’s so sad. I’m sorry.” (+ approval)
  2. “How did he die?” (neutral, no approval change, maybe + intelligence)
  3. “Why should I care?” ( - approval)

In this case, the author is really only presenting the player with a “good” or “right” option. Of course, if you want to play as an asshole and don’t care about the character’s approval, then there’s that option, too. But on a normal playthrough there’s an obvious “right” choice? Is that considered railroading?

Well, that’s not fully the kind of choice we are talking about.

We are more talking about choices that all sound as if they’d work, but the author punishes the player for NOT playing the way the author wants.

To go with your example, no matter what the npc is like, imagine the author wants that you play a cold arse.
Thus the last answer would be the ‘true’ one and for some reason give approval.

But in a way, the author is wanting you to play as a socially-adept not-arse, right? :sweat_smile: By rewarding the first choice with the approval instead? :thinking:

Edit: Ah, I see what you mean. “No matter what the NPC is like” is key. It’s all according to the author’s unknowable vision, in that case! You’re right.

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There’s games out there that, as per this example would even have the npc then reveal (without Any hint before) that they didnt like their father or something.


This is why CoG recommends having multiple conflicting goals. This should not be a choice ever presented to a player (in CoG’s game design), since there’s ultimately a ‘correct’ answer. Unless there’s a reason to make the character mad (they’re an enemy and you need them mad at you so they make mistakes), then why even present it to the player?


For role-playing purposes, I suppose? :thinking: I’m not advocating for it necessarily, but I do think some players enjoy choices that essentially define their personality a certain way, granting them the flexibility to be “mean” or what have you without it having an endgame-driven purpose.