So… I’m probably kinda weird in this, but I really like games that don’t assume you’re ok with killing people, and instead actually give you the option to avoid it if possible. I know there’re a lot of different ways of doing this in mainstream games that often are really gimmicky and gamey, but I specifically want to talk about choice games and interactive fiction, because without graphics or conventional styles of gameplay these games can only really create a sense of verisimilitude through their story telling.
Most games have different choices between a more or less violent approach, using various nonviolent means to achieve the same ends. Some even explicitly give the option to avoid killing an enemy combatant should violence occur. What seems to be particularly rare though, is when making a choice determining the life or death of an NPC has actual long term consequences for the story. I can understand why this is the case. If you choose to spare an enemy and then they go on to be a significant character in the story you’re basically writing something that anyone who doesn’t choose that more merciful option would end up missing entirely. It’s a lot more work that will be wasted if people don’t bother to replay your game. On the other hand, this adds massive value for people who do tend to replay games. They go through a second time only to find out that the choice they made actually did in fact have a significant impact on the story.
There’s also of course a middle ground, like in Hero of Kendrickstone where the choice doesn’t ultimately significantly affect the plot but does give you some nice extra dialogue later on.
So yeah, what do people think about this subject. I’m not a writer myself, so I don’t really know how much work goes into these different things. Obviously in an ideal scenario I’d love for the choices I make it games to have a significant impact, after all, if you kill someone then you can’t ever interact with them again, whereas if you don’t you can, and if they’re some desperate bandit robbing people to make a living it’s obviously going to be a very different scenario than a hardened soldier full of conviction or a mercenary sent to assassinate you. But on the other hand if you’re not trying to tell a story specifically about that choice, it’s a lot of extra work to do, I would imagine.