So, currently, I have three of these character ‘tokens’–witch, demon, and changeling–all of which will change how they are seen and reacted to, and will each open up scenes/choices.
The earliest the player can get them is right near the beginning with the appearance. I’m thinking of adding another choice where the player can pick if the reputation is actually real or just a rumor.
They can be turned on in certain choices or with a high skill (like nature, lore, or medicine) but I’m wandering if I shouldn’t label those choices or do some sort of ‘hey, you picked this which means people will see you as that, are you sure’ double check thingy?
Just want to see what everyone else thinks about this. Would it ruin any potential surprises if I did warn them?
100% honest opinion I will give you now. If you don’t tell me as a player the dire consequences I would stop playing the game right there. Because it is changing the story a lot, You cant take that choice from the player. It is also a terrible design choice that confuses the players. Imagine a game that picks up a sandwich breakfast makes you be a vampire and eat salad makes you an alien. The player then finds that a trivial choice they thought was flavour has made them be something they don’t want and they couldn’t oppose to it. Games are supposed to be fun, not realistic to point made players play a class they hate.
I think it depends on what you are trying to achieve in your game, if your game is about survival and you have two choices on lead to death one lead to life, you are not going to tell the player hey this one is the death route and this one is the life route…but if it’s about a scene that will lead to something that you don’t know if the player will be comfortable with its good to give them a heads up… for example, flirt vs friendship type of choice…
Or make your choices as explicit as possible, some players don’t like when they make a choice and was expecting something and on the contrary they get something completely different… like don’t trick them like that
I entirely get your point and I’ll keep that in mind. The village loyalty can be effected (affected? Gah!), how the player is treated by their kidnappers, some ‘tokens’ will enable scenes or choices, etc. They can change quite a bit.
Fair. As of now, the choice is regarding eye color but only unnatural colors. The setting is not at all contemporary; it’s more during the time where superstition was rampant. It’s also low fantasy.
I wonder if I can’t get around this by letting players choose if they are alerted or blind when they’re activated? Or maybe just letting them turn it off or on regardless instead of having a certain choice lead somewhere? And on how that reputation is actually viewed by their village? Maybe even have some mild customization there?
What I would do is make before the player choice somehow get the information Like example PC is a teen going to the town magical school
Today’s lesson is about the different types of eyes colours and they affect magic…
Curiously My eyes are black that makes people look angrily as I remember them a demon etc. Something like that for each choice
I feel that and will certainly keep it in mind! I had been playing something that’s currently in WIP and one of the choices I choose was actually a bold flirt. As soon as it happened, my soul screamed ‘oh, god, my meek baby, no!’ Needless to say, it wasn’t what I wanted.
Going by those statement I’d say you could work it into the choice and the following text.
Something like this;
As you look in the mirror you can see why people often notice your eyes first...
#...they are a crimson red.
Some of the more superstitious villagers believe you're a demon...
#...I hope they never find out they are right.
#...I'm not...and it's really annoying to be labelled one by idiots.
#...luckily my eyes are a different colour.
That code isn’t complete but it gives you an idea of what I mean.
If you want to use that as a base feel free. Happy to help
edit: One of the best bits of the above code is it lets people know that crimson eyes are a demonic trait and then lets them decide whether their eyes are because they are a demon or an unfortunate side effect or birth trait while also letting them change their mind as well.
You should hint that some choices might be more far-reaching than others, when the important choices come up. Especially if deciding appearance and other “flavor traits” in most CSGs is not purely cosmetic.
As often is the case, I feel like Emily Short had some interesting and potentially relevant ideas with the “confirmation-required choice” and “track-switching choice” https://emshort.blog/2016/11/05/small-scale-structures-in-cyoa/. Basically to allow the player to make potentially bad decisions but warn them beforehand, and give them opportunities to back out.
This is actually a complex issue.
If your writting is clear enough then the consquences of certain actions should be clear. I don’t always like warnings about consquences as they ruin the immersion in the story.
However i do like tags about stat changes or dialogue choices that affect romance as everyone has a different idea how to flirt or how a certain stat should work. I have gotten frustrated in the past when I’ve failed skill/relationship checks because it has been unclear that the option I’ve selected relates to those particular aspects. But, I draw this back to a lack of clarity in writing.
The problem is that, many times, what a choice actually means and what the player believes the choice means differs greatly. Your MC decides to be nice to someone and, the next thing they know, they’re in a relationship, when all they (and the player) meant to do was to “not be a dick ”
Phrasing matters, and authors often think they’re hinting at what a choice means when it’s not obvious to a player. In some cases, that can be fun–until it screws up your game and you have to restart again. Unlike most video games, where you can save your game whenever you want and reload when you screw up, these CoG games are completely unforgiving and you can pay dearly in the form of wasting hours of your life having to start all over again because you thought a choice meant one thing and, instead, it did something horrible, ranging anywhere from ruining a relationship with an NPC to death.
As someone who avoids games without frequent save points, I have no patience for a text-based game that takes me halfway or more through the story only to have a misunderstood choice (or, worse, accidental click!) force me back to the beginning again. Even when I was younger, I never enjoyed wasting hours of my life on the same BS battles more than once–there’s challenging and there’s wasting my damned time.
So, unless an author absolutely certain they are clear in what a choice means, and have provided enough subtext to give the player some idea of what the results will be, it’s better to give some signal. For those who love the shock value of things and don’t mind wasting their time, maybe provide a toggle for the signals so players can choose how to proceed. Just my opinion, though.
Sign-posting a choice’s consequences is necessary in all but the most base flavor “fake choices”
I’ll give an example from one of my own projects:
One of the earliest choices I have my readers make is to take on the added burden of a companion.
I make sure that the reader understands that this is a burden by showing how this companion can be a burden to the MC. He is coughing, like his father who is dying from consumption (eg Tuberculosis) when the MC meets him and his father.
In the scene before making the decision, the father and the MC talk about how the father is dying from consumption and then how the father hoped you would take his son with you, hopefully allowing him to recover from consumption and survive as he journeys with the MC.
Of course the character might give the MC benefits during the journey that is undertaken, but what is central to the scene is that taking on this companion will have consequences for the MC…
I then give the reader three different occasions to change their mind … all of which has scenes that the reader interacts with this companion to discover more about them and their personality.
I understand you want to add these tokens at the beginning of your game… that is o.k. as long as you signpost what these tokens mean and then allow the reader to change their mind later after learning more about them.
I think it’ll largely depend on what exactly you plan on doing.
People don’t really like spoilers, but at the same time, they also hate it when they make a huge irrevocable choice without any warning and don’t realize it until later.
I call the latter “The Sierra Method” after a series of adventure games back in the 80s and 90s developed by Sierra. These games were infamously hard since it was extremely easy to lose these games based on actions you made 3 hours ago. The games, of course, never told you that your playthrough was now unwinnable.
So you don’t want to do The Sierra Method but you don’t want to spoil things either.
So, what you could do is weave the warning into the story itself to signal that the reader is about to make a monumental choice. (Example: "Commander, if we do this, there’s no going back.)
Another way to handle it is to take a page from Telltale Games and throw in a, “Clementine will remember that” to indicate that a choice will have consequences. In this scenario, you’re telling the reader that a choice will have consequences later on, but it’s ambiguous what those consequences will be.
Speak for yourself. I’m the biggest spoiler whore there is, to the point where, before I purchase a book, I read the last chapter to make sure the ending doesn’t suck and isn’t depressing. I have always hated and will always hate surprises, even good ones. And I know I’m not the only one!