Information readers know that the mc doesn't know

If it’s about introducing the world to the reader then I like Fallen Heros approach to it where we can choose to read it or skip it. But about different PoVs, I like seeing/reading the same situation in different characters perspectives. I remember it was one of my favourite thing in The Legend of the Five Rings book series that each book was focusing different protagonist belonging to a different clan and there was a battle which happened in 3 or 4 books and this resulted in me being able to read both the attackers and the defenders perspective which resulted it feeling more in depth than reading just one perspective with one protagonist I could symphatise with. This way it didn’t feel like the battle was entirely a fight between good and evil which can happen if we only get to know one protagonist or characters from the same site.
So I kinda wish more games have it than Wayhaven Chronicles. Also it’s not like we often have the luxury IRL to know what people actually think about us so I liked to read the ROs talking about MC in Wayhaven.
Tho I guess the fact that I don’t mind knowing more than the MC I play is also why I’m not really bothered when I read spoilers, which seems like another unpopular opinion here.


I do not really Care, about me knowing more than my MC. Being a p&p player and dungeon master for me this adds just more fun. I also tend to play a character not me so for me it is always more feeling for a char and not like him. Therefore no Harm done for me either. I can understand that some people dislike this writing style, but I do not mind. There are a lot of other things that I mind a lot more.


I’m really not a fan: it tends to feel like a cop out, like the author is either too eager to reveal their plot twists to us or they can’t figure out how to make the story work organically.

In Redemption Season the switch to supporting characters to make a few decisions and learn things that ultimately aren’t really relevant feels hollow and pointless, both as them and when I switch back to my MC. Champion of the Gods switches point of view back and forth for the only time during a climactic scene, which destroyed the tension and made me think about all the ways it could have been done better instead of the actual fight.

The Wayhaven Chronicles…I don’t know. I didn’t mind the opening scene with Murphy, because it was short and mysterious enough to draw me into the story, but the later ones gave us information that could have been communicated much more interestingly from the MC’s POV. I have mixed feelings about the scenes with Unit Bravo, in that some of what we see is good but most would have been better left out and revealed later, and it’s deeply frustrating to go from having the entire plot laid out to playing as the MC who isn’t allowed to act on any of that information.


I’m actually rather surprised at how everyone is using Wayhaven as an example not to use multiple POVs when it is arguably the POVs that serve its characters so well. It’s not the thing most players are used to, but since it was originally intended as a series of novels, I’d be happy to wager that it’s a holdover from that because multiple POVs are simply standard practice for literature, and like in traditional fiction, what it does is let the reader’s heart go pitter pat pat while watching the ROs fall in love with the MC because Wayhaven is above all a romance series, and hoooooo boy does it succeed in doing that.

Maybe it’s the different demands of romance to other genres, but there isn’t anything inherently wrong with using multiple POVs.
Really, the mystery is there mostly for the MC’s benefit and to make an interesting story, because the crux od the game is getting to know Unit Bravo and choosing one of then to romance. Time and word count are of the essence, so I think giving the ROs POVs was a judicious use of time for characters to get a better feel for Unit Bravo so as to make their choice all the simpler (or harder if you hate yourself and choose the love triangle, lol).

But enough about Wayhaven which I have and would gladly continue to talk about all day, what I want complain about discuss now is the idea that the player mustn’t know more than the Main Character. Why is that so imposed or expected? Is it really wise to depend a story on not knowing the elements of a mystery? Could that not, arguably, destroy the basis upon which many games are made?

In my opinion, character interaction and development should be of ultimate importance. At least with the way I play games, what I really look for is replayability, and I usually replay games to whose character I’ve become attached to (I feel like I used whose wrong but, eh???).

Best example I can think of?

A Study In Steampunk.

Now, you’d think that a mystery game would probably be the worst example to use as I so gleefully pointed out its flaws earlier, but good gosh is this game amazing at immersing me not only in the world of its characters, but in the characters themselves. Maybe I’m just hopelessly in love with Finch (false, he and I are on break for faking his death—oh, hello Alexandra—!), but I don’t think it’s just that.

Finch, Alexandra, Grace, MacTaggart, Woodward—oved half of these people are arguably minor characters but their personality is so strong and well-developed in the time we do see them that I can’t help but replay the game, oh, say once a year? No, seriously. It’s the only standalone game that has ever come out of either mainline or Hosted labels that I replay consistently, and without any promise of a new mystery in the sequels.
The characters and world are just so vibrant—and yet I know every result of every choice, none of the mysteries are a mystery to me. I should, arguably, have no reason to continue playing it, I should arguably be badly immersed because I know so, so much more than the MC, but it’s the characters that pull me back so strongly.

My advice is don’t focus on pigeonholing the player with the MC, even from the first try. Let the player explore and learn about the world you’ve created, the characters that inhabit it. They’ll already know the entire plot by the end of their first playthrough, your goal is to get that second, third, thirteenth playthrough.
If this means revealing information to the reader ahead of time—work with it.

Say the MC’s father was killed by your mentor, but the MC doesn’t. Consider the ways in which you can really tear out the heartstrings of every potential reader until they scream in agony by having the mentor be a wonderful parental figure to the MC for as long as they’ve known them.
From there you can start figuring out what information needs holding, what information should be given.

Say the murder was because the MC’s father was evil, and your mentor is essentially an Obi-Wan figure who was justified but haunted by his actions. The MC doesn’t know why their mentor sometimes looks at them when they think the MC doesn’t notice, the MC only thinks they’re keeping an eye for their stance. The MC doesn’t know the reference to another fight the mentor figure mentioned, and now the mentor figure won’t talk about it, tells the MC he was thinking if someone else.

But the player does.

There are obviously other ways of doing it. Maybe the mentor figure is straight up evil an manipulating the MC. Well, dang, then make the player question what they read at the start. Use the fact that there’s no back button to your advantage because now they have to jump hoops to reread the scene in which you show the mentor killing the MC’s dad (MCdad for short because I suck), add an adversary who vaguely resembles the description of the mentor. Get people wondering and analyzing every interaction.

But above all, make that mentor an insanely well written character because you want people to come back again and again.

But just look at how much potential there is for giving players information that the MC doesn’t!
The dramatic irony is off the charts! Heck, and it doesn’t even have to be used for tragedy. Lots of comedy is born out of ironic elements.

Again, I question the conventional wisdom of only letting the player in on what they need as the MC, but why not play with all of these literary tropes? They’re popular and effective for a reason. Why deny them just because suddenly there’s stats involved? Sure, you’re technically writing a game, but you’re also making charactera and a world to explore, use everything to your advantage, don’t limit yourself because of convention.

These are tools. You don’t have to use every tool in the box, but hey, sometimes a hammer is too big to bang a nail in the tight space. There’s nothing wrong with using the head of a screwdriver sometimes. Use what you need to get the job done.


You know A Study in Steampunk only lets the player know what the MC knows and look how awesome it is when it’s done well. We didn’t get to see the discussion between Finch and our boss or between Alexandra and Callahan but because the writing was good and the characters were strong; we are invested in them. If we know Finch faked his death prior to the reveal, would we (read: I) be as emotional invested as it was when both I and the MC found out he was actually still alive? I doubt it.

Replayability is one thing; playing it again after you finish the game and know the ending is not the same as being tossed all sort of information and not being able to act on it in the first playthrough. If it’s not done well, it frustrates (at least for me) the playing experience. Would I choose to act differently when my MC in the hospital with Murphy if I didn’t know he was the baddy? Most probably yes. But the options weren’t there and we had to pretend that we didn’t know.

Imho, This is where the difference between IF and traditional novel. In IF because author gave certain amount of ‘control’ to the player, information that denies such control should be treated carefully. Also, many people say that Wayhaven Chronicles is romance and not mystery; well it’s marketed as romance mystery so I think the mystery part is as important as the romance. To say it’s romance and not mystery doesn’t justify the mystery part to be neglected (don’t get me wrong, I enjoy wayhaven but I have really high standard on mystery stories growing up being fed on poe, christie and conan doyle).


I’m not the kind to comment often on the forum – nor write a long post (unless on my WIP, ofc) – but I want to address this specific issue as it seems people, on both sides, are lacking the understanding of the topic.

And I simply wanted to answer that, yes, it’s probably wise to found a story on the basis of unknown mystery. And no, it won’t destroy the basis upon which many games are made.

Let me start that switching PoV is a common practice in non-IF writing. I’m not really a novel-reader guy, but I believe I don’t need to mention any example of books that do this. (To be fair, I haven’t read Wayhaven or Study and didn’t plan to anytime soon).

However, switching PoV/character is a rare occurence in interactive form (video games, gamebook, TTRPG, etc.), unless there’s an emphasis on the narrative. Example being Halo series, Assasin’s Creed Revelation, and the recent DMC 5.

Why do I make this comparison? Because interactive medium roots in power-fantasy, self-fulfilling, being the all-powerful chosen one, the game; standard novel tells you specific plot and the reaction and struggle of its characters, the narrative.

The issue here is that when an author is negligent and mix the two without knowing the difference and purpose of each. This results in the reader being, “Well, sucks. I know the holy sword can cut down invincible hellspawn, but can’t do it anyway since my MC doesn’t know it can cut down the invincible hellspawn,” or “I know you can’t kill the Darklord currently, but gotta do it anyway for drama, so the mentor will sacrifice themselves to save my MC sorry ass; instead of running away and hone my skill during exile.”

Imagine both examples in a linear story. And then, imagine them being in an interactive fiction. The experience you’ll get is vastly different. (Well, duh, of course they are. IF and linear are fundamentally different.)

That’s why you need to be conscious of what you’re writing, and why are you putting it in. As I said on some other threads before, be a conscious writer. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do PoV-switch if you’re writing a gamey story, or you should if you’re writing linear; I’m not even sure how I can do them properly myself.

What I’m saying is both cases – PoV-switch on both linear story and IF – are legit method and can give you better result than if you don’t include the PoV-switch, provided you’re being a conscious writer.

Of course, there’s possible discussion on how to implement PoV-switch correctly with that certain finesse, but that’s a topic for another time.


I absolutely agree with you , those who prefer traditional novel’s style may like to know the “actual” happening because for them , it is about reading the story and truthfully don’t want to invest personal deduction of the plot , like wanting to know the purpose or cause and effect of every plot , especially whether A loves B …

For interactive fiction , i do hope for a personal experience of the world around me and how my personal judgement may affect the world , it is more about the feeling of realistic engagement towards an outcome…

if i already know the actual plot or happening , then my choice of action won’t matter because it “may” turn into a “moral argument” … For example , i learn from character A’s perspective that . she is trying to manipulate MC and everyone else all along , and she is the one orchestrate the entire incident to fool MC for her own benefit …

Then MC has a choice about how to react to her … even though i have many choices now ,whether i want to revenge, to forgive her or play along with her, these choices become a moral issue for me since i already know her full perspective … there is no more argument since her role had been fully display … if i still choose to forgive her, then it would ultimately state that i am a “fool” and i might be morally wrong to side with a villain

But if i don’t know character A’s perspective , i don’t know the actual happening … i can still debate with myself that she had been misunderstood , hence i can freely choose the option of siding with her … as in my previous case of Prodigal and Lilith , where i will be more engage on whether i make the right judgement to carry on the story until the end :slight_smile:

Another example i want to make is Love at elevation , about the ex’s perspective … the Ex’s personal perspective on how he/she really feel about the MC and whether he/she was really toxic was never reveal , what we had was option of interacting with the ex based on our own perspective , there weren’t any actual facts or reveals that the Ex is as “bad” as she/he was advertise , hence i can make my own judgement of reconciling with my Ex without remorse , if the Ex’s perspective had been reveal openly, perhaps showing that she is really a bad person … then i simply won’t have the appetite or urge to complete the love interaction with the ex , personally i think love elevation was well written in the sense that just like in real life, it leaves us to interpret and judge the the action of our ex :slight_smile:

1 Like

I feel like there’s a misunderstanding around Wayhaven that is causing these negativity-charged comments.

I think people see the word “mystery” and they immediately think of 'whodunnit’s. But there are other mysteries in the world and other questions to be asked and “Who is the killer?” was never a question established in Wayhaven. We’re not asking “Who’s the killer?” We know who the killer is. It’s Murphy. Who exactly is Murphy (or rather, the killer who’s taken his name), why he’s doing what he’s doing, and why the MC is so important in his plans isn’t clear right away, but Wayhaven established off the bat that “Who’s the killer?” is not the question of the story and I’m just… not sure what the problem is with that?

I also had a completely different reaction to the scene in the hospital than some people seem to have and I think it’s because of that misunderstanding. I had a horrified reaction to Murphy introducing himself that I otherwise would not have if I didn’t know he was the killer. Otherwise he would have just been some guy and I don’t think a replay with hindsight would have given me the same reaction. It was “oh shit” moment like I’m behind glass, watching my MC alone in the same room as a killer who wants to… do something to him? and there’s nothing I could do about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see where that completely falls flat for some people and I would certainly not have called a moment like that good in just about any IF. It really depends on how it’s written and how okay the reader is with dramatic irony. Since I was there primarily for the romance, I recognized right away the question of the book wasn’t “who’s the killer”, and I’m one who tends to be pretty okay with PoV-switches and dramatic irony, I really enjoyed Wayhaven.

Back to ‘it depends on the writing’, so I’m not just focusing on one game here, that’s my general opinion on all PoV-switches and dramatic irony. There were some parts of the PoV-switching in Wayhaven I didn’t care about (mostly to do with the Murphy) but I really enjoyed the swaps to the ROs after a romantic moment because I eat that romance shit up and I love getting to see both sides of my disaster MC and a disaster RO like Adam or Mason just be absolute messes about developing feelings for each other. I think those moments also served to let me, the reader, get to know the character better by letting me get a glimpse as to what’s going on in their minds. Some characters are really hard to read and in a romance series it does well to get even just a sense that the otherwise really stoic character’s heart is indeed beginning to stir and the feelings are probably mutual, so you’re not left hanging with zero payoff (or the hint that there will be payoff)

But I digress. I do not think PoV-switches should be done arbitrarily. Do it if it can only add to the story and/or the characters, don’t do it for shallow mystery and don’t do it just to pad the story for pacing or word count. Although, not everyone will agree on which of those a PoV-switch was done for, no matter how it’s written.

All in all, people have their preferences and sometimes those will not be swayed no matter what, and other times, though they may swing heavily in one direction, they can be swayed on a case-by-case basis. I lean more towards the latter, with my opinion generally being a pretty easy going ‘experiment and take me where you will, I’ll decide if I enjoy it as I go’


I disagree with a lot of your points (respectfully of course!) but I do want to say up front that I agree with you that the writer doesn’t have to 100% always listen to these statements as fact. If you can do something fun with POV switches, if your story is better for it, then do it! There are no hard and fast rules with writing. So long as you understand the weaknesses and strengths of what you’re doing, and use them to accomplish what you want to tell your story.

I have issues with multiple POVs in first person POV books too (it’s what killed my interest in Riordan’s followup series to Percy Jackson and the Olympians, for instance), but as to Wayhaven… It’s not necessarily the romance bits that got me frustrated. Those were fluffy and nice, sometimes (although sometimes it would have been nice to feel more… insecure? Like, I don’t need the romance to be 100% happy-I-know-Adam’s-into-me-always-because-I-see-his-perspective. Sometimes it’d be nice to actually doubt and feel a bit of angst, if only for the payoff later.). But since it’s a romance series, it’s not like them being into you is a super powerful spoiler.

The Murphy scenes are what killed it for me (and for a number of others, from what I’ve seen). Because, well, we knew what the villain was doing the whole time. There was no tension, in say, the scene where the kid goes missing, because we already watched the scene where he’d been killed. There was no emotional impact in the scene where they found his body, because, well, I knew it was coming. So in the station where they’re discussing it, I’m just like “Okay phone call’s gonna come yeah sorry Tina I could promise you we’d find him okay but that’s a lie sorry. when do we get that “twist”” instead of being worried for a missing kid.

Or at the end. Sure, you know from genre that your LI is okay, but there could’ve been more tension to the plot if they didn’t follow up with the scene where the team gets together. You’re kidnapped and worried and is your LI okay? Your friends? Your mother? (Honestly that one was really a missed opportunity. Rebecca does not have the same level of genre plot-armor as the LI does, and you could probably make even the genre-savvy sweat. Especially if you leave on bad terms with her).

Don’t get me wrong, I love Wayhaven to pieces and about 90% of the time I refer back to it as a good example of something that tries its own thing and is better for it. And the switches don’t kill it for me, because it’s romance, not mystery, so the plot really is on the characters mooning after each other (I’m down for this 100%) but frankly, having the plot matter some, and not be 100% tension free would’ve made things better. But the POV switch wasn’t used to build tension, it was used to let you know ahead of time everything that was about to happen. Which… well, I’m playing the game. I’m bound to figure that all out eventually.

I get what you’re saying here, and I agree for the most part with the premise–I reread mystery novels knowing the ending, and on here I’m a chronic replayer (I’ve double-digit save files in ZE:SH, easy)Having something that becomes a miserable slog the second time through, when you know the answers, is a terrible idea (especially since you get to experience only a fraction of IF the first time through).

However: there’s a visceral satisfaction in playing through a game, unraveling the mystery slowly and getting a big reveal and all the feels. And an entirely different feeling when playing through a second time and really seeing all the clues that were left behind. “Oh, that scene makes so much more sense now that I know Billy was in cahoots with the clerk!” I actually get a different kind of nervous on my next playthroughs because I remember all the emotions wrapped up in my first run, and oh gosh MC is gonna be so shocked and miserable.

Also, I kind of do make a distinction between what the game expects us to know at that point in the story, and what I actually for real know. If the game, say, tells me that Billy is the villain in a POV switch scene, and then makes me play an oblivious MC who can’t act the least bit suspicious of him, I’m gonna be upset because now I know things I can’t act on, and the game is essentially forcing me into a bad decision (trusting Billy). Conversely, if I could be suspicious in one of the choices, well, I feel compelled to always take the suspicious choice because otherwise I’ll feel like MC Dumbass. Different if I’m replaying because the game isn’t holding up a sign saying Billy Did It then making me pretend I don’t know that.

And thirdly, there is something to be said for in the moment immersion. These games are written in second or first person–I am in the head of the MC, and I am doing my best to feel everything they do.

To take your Study in Steampunk example (because I love that one too, it’s one of my favs):
I knew Finch was going to fake-die going into the game, because I read the original novels and Sherlock fake-dies, and of course you’re going to have that emotional moment because you don’t leave out the part of the inspirational series that prompted that much emotional turmoil.. I knew it the moment I realized the game was inspired by Sherlock Holmes. That didn’t mean, however, that while we were in the thick of that arc a cutaway scene where we saw Finch doing his Finchly things wouldn’t affect my playthrough. I, the player, may know Finch was alive, but in the moment I was caught in the narration. I was in the head of my Watson, and he was sad and grieving and didn’t think Finch was coming back so he lost his goddamned mind and I didn’t need someone interrupting my moment.

It wouldn’t get me excited because oh boy I can’t wait for MC to know! It would trip me up and frustrate me because now I’m listening to the author yelling “Don’t worry! Finch is fine!!!” in my ear instead of letting me be a sad man trying to work myself to death curing cholera.

I guess what it boils down to is, I don’t think enough people withhold the right information. Using your example, if the twist ends at MC’s father was evil, I don’t want to know that ahead of time. I want to be in the head of the MC, wondering why the mentor is giving me odd looks, and piece it together bit by bit along with the MC as the mentor drops clues and references an old battle and a betrayal… And the first time through, I want to feel it with MC when they find out.

The second time through, sure, how the reveal happened matters less. But the cutaway scene also matters less–I’ll still pick up on the clues and think “Oh, he was doing that because he fought Dad”. But I’ll have missed the first playthrough’s emotional reaction. I’ll have missed that big reveal that made me feel so goddamned hard that I just had to play the game again.

The second example, where you miss out on the evil manipulations, that’s different. That’s using the tool (The POV switches) and playing on our expectations (that the POV is correct and the mentor is a good guy) to misdirect. In that case, when everything becomes clear, we’re in for a treat, because OH didn’t expect THAT! And the aforementioned going back and piecing it together, hyper-analyzing to see where and if we could’ve seen the mentor being all evil.