This is an expansion of a discussion that started in the thread for my current WIP, Quite App-Parent. Currently it has a number of scenes that are randomly selected, especially in the early years. For example, in the child’s first year you see two scenes out of five available, and then two out of three or four in many of the others. Some are mandatory, and others are determined by your stats or choices, but at least a dozen won’t be seen on a playthrough (and that’s just so far). A lot of my (completely awesome, I do want to point out) readers and testers have expressed interest in having all the random scenes made available each time you go through. This would beef up playthrough length considerably. But I know the sweet spot in word percentage seen per playthrough is normally considered 20-40%, and this would shoot that to pieces (it’s 31% right now, but would likely double or more with the addition of all randomized scenes).
My inclination upon hearing this was to create a New Story/Game+ option, where you could choose to go through it this way once you’d completed it one time (or choose to go through again as it had been before). Other suggestions include just having that option available at the very beginning instead of only after completing the story, or just avoiding all randomness entirely and unlocking all of those scenes no matter what. I’m trying to determine the value of offering more content versus insuring replay allure.
All that to say this: is it a big deal to stay in that 20-40% sweet spot? Commercially, critically, how much does any of this matter? I want input from everyone, but would especially appreciate some posts from authors who have firsthand reports about how this has positively or negatively impacted you (especially if you have multiple stories to compare and contrast), or even CoG staff members. I’ve also included a poll about my situation in particular as well as the more general question regarding the validity of higher wordcounts. Each potential solution has a lot of valid criticisms and opportunities, and I wanted to get answers from a larger sample size than just my own story’s thread if possible.
- The sweet spot is sweet for a reason: keep in the Golden Range no matter what
- They’re more of guidelines than rules, so say sod it all and lengthen away!
- Keep random scenes random!
- Derandomize everything, make all non-choice-determined scenes available!
- Include the New Game + option regarding randomness, and make 'em work for it!
- Give the choice between random or not at the beginning of the game