Information readers know that the mc doesn't know

What do you think about stories that sometimes give the readers information that the mc doesn’t know. Usually in the form of different perspective.
An example: in Dragon racer after you pick your and your dragon’s stats and appearance, you jump in to a scene with the mc’s mother first. Now i know that it doesn’t really spoil anything, but it does ruin the sense of mystery it could have. Because later your parents say you’re adopted. That broke the mc’s heart. He thought his parents doesn’t love him. Now if we didn’t get the mother scene I would be more sympathetic to the mc because he feels deserted. But the fact that i know their mother in fact indeed loved them ruined my immersion a bit.

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Not directly related to your topic – the vid is about prologue, as seen in the thumbnail – but I’ve timestamped it to the relevant point.

The problem lies in how the author trying to set up mysterious tone at the beginning. They wanted to show us readers that something is happening, and this thing will be an important plot point some time in the story. However, due to the plot, the protagonist don’t know of this thing until much later.

This results in us readers knowing what our PC don’t know (in IF); as the video implied, it’s bad.

Of course, author can cut out the scene and, in Dragon Racer’s case, simply start with our character tending the farm at the outskirt. However, as you might imagine, that’s comparably more boring than if we have the mysterious scene.


Btw, go and watch the whole vid. It might be long, but I’m sure you can glean on a thing or two. Besides, 2x playback speed exists.

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I know what you mean. For example, I know Wayhaven Chronicles is the holy grail of HGs and I might get castrated for saying this, but…I absolutely hated how every mystery in the game was ruined because the reader got to see the points of views of the ROs and the villain. And then it kinda felt like a joke when my MC didn’t know a bunch of stuff that was revealed in detail to me, the reader. It upset me so much that I didn’t read more than a couple chapters.

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@Szaal isn’t the point of CoG is you creating your own character. It’s more of a game than a novel. I find that if the reader knows something the character don’t it’s immersion breaking. That’s why my favorite Cog is Choice of Robots and Choice of Magics. In the video he said that prologue could be for setting up information. In Leah (mc mother’s name) scene, she didn’t really give out any useful information except you could say she actually loves her child. The tone didn’t really match as the prologue was read like a dire situation. Leah and Tomasa was panicking and after she went into the house the tone was more depressing. But in the next chapter the tone was very cheery. Yes there was a little bit sadness but not enough to justify the tone in the prologue. Beside shouldn’t the needed information already be given in the description?.
@Samuel_H_Young i wanted to take another example from Wayhaven Chronicles but since i only played the demo I thought it had a deeper meaning. Beside that i 100% agree with you.

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It’s definitely tricky to pull off well. I think Samurai of Hyuga’s perspective snippets do an excellent job at heightening the tension, even if it came at the cost of some mystery. Fallen Hero had a few pseudo-epilogue snippets at the end of the first book that were good teasers of things to come as well. There are probably other books that do it well, but those are the first two that come to mind.

Used sparingly I think they have a place in IF, but they should be approached with caution and careful consideration. I wasn’t a fan of the Wayhaven Chronicles’ perspective jumps for the same reasons already mentioned (though I am eager to see the author’s improvement over the course of the books).

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personally no . I kinda enjoy seeing things from a different point of view then my MC . for a moment , the camera zoom away from us and on someone else .

Even if the game starting giving me a glimpse of the parent , I may know their names and what they did last…but it doesnt take away the pain of finding out your were adopted . Being adopted open all kind of questions and leave a hole in the heart of the mc that can never be filled unless they have an answer .

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Personally though, i don’t really mind it that much. Since i separated myself as the MC and read the different Point of view as myself, and then when the scene back to the MC, i played back again as the MC.

some people might not like the sudden change of point of view, hence why i try to give the reader an option to read or hide the " scenes" that the MC wasn’t supposed to know in my game at the start of the game (which still sitting duck in my laptop at the moment) .

Final Fantasy IX did that pretty well with it’s extra scene too, it’s also pretty much my inspiration to put that option in my game.

Different PoV can work, even if they give stuff away.

Before I go into detail:
Wayhaven isn’t a mystery game to me and I will never understand why the author saw the need to add in an aroace option, knowing the game is not for anyone not interested in romance. If you know your game loses app 75% of contentif the player has no interest in romance have the decency to say the game is not for such players and don’t add in an aroace option ffs.

That said.

If an author can pull off the pov chars learnkng things without learning things, it’s already a big step. This means, character B learns something that seemingly spoilers character A’s plot.
Only for B’s info to be faulty. Be it cause they didn’t get needed context A didnt yet get either, be it B’s source was faulty, or they just outright understood something wrong, which reflects in the narrative.
E.g.:
B finds a drawing A has been looking for, and the text goes like this:

You pick up the page and unfold it. It's the drawing of a hand sketched over the book's text.

Later, on A’s route you’d get the chance to search for the page yourself/look at it if B has it, or ‘just’ get B’s description or continue without the page.
Option 2 would lead to A getting B’s statement about the page.
Option 3 would be a trick option for players who think they dont need to “waste time”
Option 1 (maybe in combo with 2) would lead to A discovering that the hand is a red herring and that the clue/password/etc they were looking for is the (random) word between the hands fingers.

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I think writers add cutaway scenes at a higher frequency than they need it, and I think it can murder tension something awful when it’s added unnecessarily.

If it adds something to the game, a detail that would be cinfusing otherwise, a piece to the mystery that we can mull over, then I’m fine with it. If the writer added it simply to add “mystery” or “tension” or “action” or something that falls into the atmospheric category, then no. I’m not invested (I have no control over the scene, I’m not involved in the scene, and you’re probably spoiling something about the villain that will ruin my ability to make RP choices without metagaming).

I also really hate knowing things MC doesnt, at least for the first play through, because I KNOW it affects my choices. Ruins the fun a bit.

To go off the examples others have mentioned (that I play), Dragon Racer tells us nothing we don’t already learn through MC (save that our MC’s emotional turmoil over their abandonment is largely pointless and we shouldn’t care about it). Wayhaven spoils the villain and what could’ve actually been a neat little surprise (I don’t mind the fluff scenes so much because they’re effectively harmless, but I wouldn’t miss them either)

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I think this realllyyyy depends on how it’s implemented and the game itself.

For example, off the top of my head, a reincarnation game could go both ways. You could open with scenes of the Mc’s past life and then dying as a point of drama or as a hook and then when they’re reborn and run into people they used to know, without knowing it, as it adds more tension for the reader. (Wanting the character to realize it, and the subsequent emotions and drama, or what not when they run into those characters) But you could also do the same plot with the point of tension being the revelation that the Mc is reincarnated, or discovering their past life, in itself in where it would need to remain a mystery for the audience too.

And then it comes to personal preference. I would love a game like the first I mentioned, but others might find it exhausting as the hang up. It comes down to a lot of factors, I’d say!

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Technically, the player always knows things that the characters don’t. They’ve read the game blurb. They’ve read the reviews. They know the game’s genre. They know it’s a game. Sometimes, they’re playing for the second or third time.

But I see what you mean, and I’m inclined to agree. POV shifts from the MC within the game proper leave me pretty cold.

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Not really if the story went meta, I think. Well, I’m probably being too optimistic and delusional, but it’d be a neat surprise if a game has its aspects changed subtly that can only be noticed with the second playthrough.

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Though I understand when it is done well, a scene that show different POV can do wonder in a story, I generally don’t like it. For me, the reason a story is written in 1st or 2nd POV so that the reader/ player can experience what the MC experiences. Take that away then it will disrupt the flow.
Take example my fav IF A Study in Steampunk. If the big reveal regarding one character was shown to the reader, the reader will lose the emotional reaction to it and will react differently. Meanwhile for me as I found out about it as the same time as the MC, my reaction to it aligned with the MC and that made the reading experience so much better as I became emotional invested to it.
People might hate me for this but some authors have the tendency to lay it all out in the open, assuming that the reader needs to know everything to enjoy the story. Meanwhile I love a good ol mystery.

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I think games meant shouldn’t switch points of view. That said, that doesn’t mean there can’t still be dramatic irony (the reader knowing things the character does not).

The best way to go about this is to give significance to objects, as the narrator, that the character may not take note of.

For instance, "Legends say the lost heir of the kingdom has a strange birthmark. Nobody knows what the birthmark must look like, and you’ve honestly started to think the lost heir mustn’t exist.

Speaking of birthmarks, you subconsciously rub your ${birthmark} birthmark."

The reader immediately has a “oh shit, son” moment about the birthmark, whilst the character is still completely in the dark about the significance of their unique markings.

Not every writer has to do this, of course, but it is my preferred form of dramatic irony. Gives some credit to the reader as an intelligent person whilst still leaving some form of conflict and character growth for the character.

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If the medium is interactive, I want to be left in the dark. There’s nothing more frustrating that knowing who the culprit is as a reader, but all the MC can say is “who could it be” while you’re sitting there shaking your screen in frustration.

I think most information should be sprinkled into a story here and there, and that things shouldn’t be stated outright. I’ve always found it much more engaging to be given a trail of breadcrumbs rather than force-fed twenty loaves of bread. I think, at the beginning the reader should depend on the MC’s knowledge of the world so they can slowly catch up without feeling overwhelmed.

As for different POV scenes, I generally don’t like them, but I think they can work if their purpose is right. If the POV reveals the deep dark feelings or intentions of another character, it’s too much. I think a switch should be written in third person limited, as it can be jarring a reader to suddenly find yourself in someone else’s mind.

A video game example that I think does separate POV well is Dragon Age: Origins. It uses different POV’s not to give the player knowledge over the MC, but to confirm information for the player and give the game urgency. When Loghain quits the field at Ostagar it confirms that the choice was intentional, and later we see that the Warden is right to think that Loghain is coming after them. Had the Battle of Ostagar happened with my MC’s POV only, followed by them saying Loghain betrayed the king, I don’t know that I’d fully believe that.

I think a lot of time authors can really underestimate their readers, and as a writer, you have to find that balance between what you reveal and what you keep hidden. Done right, it’s an amazing feeling as a reader when you start to put together all the foreshadowing and hints just before the big reveal or even if you put it together afterward. Done wrong, it can leave the reader feeling betrayed if you haven’t revealed enough, or not engaged if you’ve revealed too much.

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I rather liked Wayhaven’s different POVs and in general, POVs that don’t solely focus on the MC/PC. A reason for that is the authors created a clockwork world with different moving pieces which they want to show the reader/player that it is in fact moving world, with or without the MC present and knowing.

Certainly, done wrong, it’d take away from the story and world, but depending on the genre and what information is given away, it shouldn’t matter much. Like Wayhaven. It’s not meant to be deep in mystery, just have light mystery elements, I believe. I learned enough to want to kick the person’s butt.

Different POVs can also let you learn a little about people and the world that otherwise the MC may not get much interaction with or learn(and us) about through solely their POV, like in Wayhaven. Like the saying, “If a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, did it really make a sound?”

I feel like it can be a great tool in bringing life to a world and the people in it, if done properly.

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Most of the time I don’t think switching to a non-MC perspective is a good idea. Sometimes it can be used to purposefully contrast what we know with what a character doesn’t and reveal more of the story’s world, but often it just ruins the tension and flow of the plot and character interactions. Besides, the MC doesn’t always need to actually know/think about the information for the reader to learn it from their perspective – the actions and dialogue of the other characters the MC interacts with can reveal quite a lot about the inner working of those characters and the world overall that the MC never sees.

I’m against shifts in perspective in interactive fiction. In a CS game, or traditional video game…I honestly can’t think of a time it didn’t detract at least a little from the story, and I can think of several cases where it really hurt my immersion/enjoyment

I agree with this point.

I completely understand how jarring it can be to be ripped from your set perspective to another, but limiting the narrative of a story to one character means that you only ever see that world through a particular lens.

Suppose the protagonist has an antagonistic rival of some sort. Said rival does something terrible; the protagonist suffers in the aftermath; the the protagonist delivers retribution. All of this is very cut-and-dry. However, with a perspective change, the author can give context and better paint why the rival felt their actions were needed or necessary or show how they think — these aren’t things that always get addressed or get addressed well with direct confrontation.

Without the dramatic irony, the player has an understandable bias toward their character, being sympathetic to the prospective from which they interact with the setting. However, with this added dimension, you get to break away from roles of protagonist and antagonist to view the situation in a different light. This also potentially opens up avenues for a wider breadth of responses for the player to explore when directing the protagonist to deal with the rival/antagonist.

I’ll agree that switching perspectives to deliver dramatic irony does hurt immersion, but I think in some cases the trade off is worth it.

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Opinion may differ , but i don’t really endorse the perspective of Wayhaven’s method , because sometimes the reading feel “flat” after we got the detail from other character’s perspective , like after i know who Murphy was , i kind of feel less intrigued when my MC met him in the hospital again, if i didn’t know about Murphy’s , i might enjoy it more by deducing Murphy’s motive when he approach me and take my blood … plus i may have an option on how to deal with this weird guy …

too much “reveal” secret about a RO in their perspective may spoil the intriguing fun as well because we kind of know their real motive and what is actually happening …

one classic example will be the case of an RO like Prodigal … If there is already her perspective on what she “really” thought about MC and what she really felt when performing all those “mischief” against MC, Prodigal won’t left a deep mark on readers … because then we will know whether Prodigal is a true evil villain or just a misguided love-struck lost soul who just fall for the MC… without actual information , the debate on her motives and true personalities was what made Hero Rise and Prodigal memorable for me and some others … the same can say about Black Magic …

and same for Lilith in @aequa 's Curse of the spirit , If Lilith’s perspective of her actions had been reveal as a fact, then she will ultimately lost her charm and mystique as a highly debatable RO for individual MC to interact with her … was her scratch to MC’s hand meant to hurt the MC ? was it a mean to mark MC’s as her own ? or was it a sign of inner struggle of a love-hate relationship ? these are the secrets that made a character memorable without revealing their true feeling and motives , perhaps it could be reveal in the end, but if the revealing is fully based on MC’s interaction ( like what MC could see or hear from MC’s own perspective ) , it will still leave marks for debate and interpretation that will make a story memorable …

Hence , i believe the magic and charm of interactive fiction is ability to fully allow readers to interpret the action of another characters and make their own choice towards them without “knowing” the actual facts of their behavior :slight_smile:

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