How Many Stats Should Affect the Outcome of Your Choices?

I was going for a model where two or three stats were required to pass tests, this seemed like a more realistic way for adapting skills. However, I’ve been playing through some of the hosted / user made demos and it seems that a one stat per choice seems to be the preferred method. Indeed, when reading through other discussions it seems as though some people will choose a choice that sounds akin to choices they previously made that favor one or two stats above all others.

So I suppose my question would is this. Would it be worth my time creating a multiple stat to choice system, if it wouldn’t be appreciated nearly as much as a single stat to choice system?

If I understand your question correctly, I don’t think single stat-per-choice is necessarily the way to go. Nor is it the way people always do it. You can easy have a *choice followed by #options where the result will depend on how two or more stats interact.

For example, I often see people provide that a certain result will happen if stat1 > X and stat2 < Y, or whatever. That’s the beauty of doing a complex game where things all start to come together.

Of course, the purpose of the question might be different at different points in the game. Early on, you can have choices that are expressly designed to set a particular variable to a certain level. So you’ll have the strength question followed by the wisdom question followed by the sexiness question and so on. Then later on in the game you’ll have questions designed not to shape the character, but rather shape the story, in which the outcome of your choice will depend on how those strength, wisdom and sexiness variables all interrelate.

Multiple stat tests just require more work. In my latest game, I may want to present an outcome only to MCs with virtue >= 70 and truth <= 30 and intelligence >= 80. But what about those that don’t fit that minority? I may have to create 5 or more other outcomes, which takes effort.

Players would appreciate highly specific outcomes or branches if it truly adds to the game but I tend to think now in terms of “how many people will uncover that content vs. how much time will it add to development?”

For example, if 5% of your readers reach a section you spent an hour to make, is that worth it?


If it’s the right kind of awesome – yes. :slight_smile: But generally no.

This, definitely. Some games never get past the one-choice one-stat thing, but a lot of them use it early on before going for more complex conditions once the players have got the hang of the game dynamics.

I think limiting yourself to one path or another in advance is a mistake. I tend to mix and match. Sometimes I define choices by a single stat. Sometimes multiple stats, and sometimes by single choices or combinations of choices that people have made earlier. There is no reason to stick to a particular philosophy, and indeed changing the way that the game evolves dependent on the path that a person takes could add to replayability.

I agree with JimD that you should definitely think about possible reward. Definitely reference all possible stats for the big events. These would be your ultimate showdowns or intense character moments. But minor things like “Do you kill the Goblin?” having lots of possible permutations just doesn’t add much to most people’s enjoyment and takes FOREVER to do.

Also, slightly irrelevant, but possibly tangential, I think it’s also important to litter stat choices in the midst of choices that don’t require stats to combat that tendency people have to just auto-choose whatever sounds like their chosen stat. Go deep enough into a game with that mindset and I can almost guarantee that most people aren’t really putting any thought into choices any more, which seems like a bit of a loss for a game based on choice.

I’ve done a little experimenting with this, and while it does heavily depend on how you’re stating things out (are you planning multiple stats being the norm or just a couple of incidents, are you planning on it being two skills both apply to this goal, are you planning on using something more akin to an attribute/skill system as the standard), generally I’d recommend against it.

As @JimD said, using multiple stats will generally lead to fewer people seeing each scene, but the other side of that is true too if you make it a general feature, in that the more complexity in terms of stats will generally lead to more stat building choices, which can slow a reader down as they consider choices against the list of stats.

Sometimes in tests I’ll have a ‘main stat’ that’s needed to succeed, though it’s also possible for a ‘secondary stat’ to make that test a little easier. For example: -

*if ((combat >= 71) or ((combat >= 61) and (kung fu >= 30)))

So, essentially, the basic difficulty for the test here is 71 - but if the player also knows kung fu (and has a kung fu score of at least 30), that difficulty drops down to 61.

Mix and match is probably the best way to go. Use single stats for basic choices at the start but when the decisions needs the MC to be really good at it, then use either a really high stat or a combination of two stats. I think that’s the best way to go about it although it will involve a lot of effort from the writer in the first place to chart out the possible combinations.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think the stat system on Choice of Games makes it inferior to good ol’ choose your own type paperback books or visual novel games.

I wish stats would be a bonus to choices or be a door opener to more choices, rather than forcing you to stack stats and become the only choice you have to make for a decent outcome. As in, each choice you make should be mostly self-contained, independent instances - this way, the choices your make actually matters, instead of being stat dependent and making the game play linear.