One thing to keep in kind is that updates often break saves, and having to start all over again very often, for very limited new content, is kinda annoying.
Seconded, I have no particular preference for WiP update style.
Whatever is easier for the author will usually end up being better for the reader, atleast in this case. Probably others also.
I’m not sure if it’s okay to put a non-general poll here, but I’m considering changing my WIP title, and the results are pretty split so far (plus I’m sure it’s a little biased).
I’d really appreciate some thoughts from other people who haven’t checked out my WIP (Mommy, We Created a Plot Hole!) before—especially from those who are not interested based on the title. One of the big reasons for the change is that I’m worried that my title is too childish, and I think I may have found a good compromise I’m happy with.
Here’s the poll:
Oh, and here’s a post about my thoughts behind the title change, if you’re interested.
Thanks in advance!
- I prefer to be warned about a branching path.
- I’d rather be surprised.
- No preference.
- Other (Please specify)
Hi! I’ve been playing CoGs/HGs and lurking the forums for a while and recently started writing my own game - in the process I’ve gathered that:
- Stats are good if they’re nuanced, well-incorporated into the game (with real consequences), and allow for unique character building.
- Too many stats are bad (because they prevent the former from happening).
This post on CoG, and this forum thread was also really helpful.
I’m curious to know what personality traits people are most invested in when character-building for a CoG/HG. I’ve also included different angles/phrasings (interested in which ones are preferred by the community)!
(Full disclaimer: I’m also a jungian cognitive functions / Big 5 nerd (alright, you can call it MBTI if you want), so this is a cool topic for me. Obviously there are differences between genres, but I’m curious what people think are the general, “must-have” character-traits (if any).
- Calm vs. Passionate
- Emotional vs. Logical/detached
- Friendly vs. Reserved
- Extroverted vs. Introverted
- Optimistic vs. Pessimistic
- Serious vs. Flippant
- Genuine vs. Sarcastic/dry
- Flexible vs. By-the-book
- Chaotic vs. Lawful
- Modest vs. Confident
- Understated vs. Flashy
- Some other dimension
Not warned as such that it takes you out of the game but signposting that gives you an idea there’s a different path is nice so you know there’s more content there to replay.
Honestly, I think opposed or ‘vs.’ stats are somewhat overrated. A lot of the time a good character displays both extremes in a way that is rarely well represented by the mechanic.
Take for example Emotional vs. Logical/detached (I would argue that ‘detached’ is more appropriate here than ‘logical’, as someone can be emotional while taking logic and reason into account, though this is somewhat adjacent to the actual point I want to make), which as I am typing this is at the top of the list. There are many characters both in fiction and reality who have strong emotions but keep a firm lid on them, or only reveal their emotions to a trusted few. They might be unhealthily repressed or have genuinely come to terms with the way they feel. It’s not clear that one trait defines them more than the other and with the way opposed pairs work, if they actually affect gameplay in any way it will either be that one side is high, causing weird reactions when one tries to act contrary to it, or having the stat hover around the middle, which I find is often coded to simply do nothing or produce an otherwise unsatisfying effect. In some cases that might actually be appropriate, for a character who truly displays neither extreme, but in others it won’t.
That being said, one of my favorite games, Tower Behind the Moon, predominantly features opposed stats. Still, there it’s justified in that more powerful magic is produced by seeking out particular mindsets and habits to the exclusion of their opposites, and even then I still felt there wasn’t really any good reason the wizard couldn’t be both quick and strong other than those traits being an opposed stat.
Thanks for this super interesting reply! I might/might not have gotten carried away with my response.
You make two really good points, on:
Whether binary/opposing stats are an accurate way to represent personality / worldviews in the first place, which is a more real-world psychological/sociological question. I chucked this at the end, feel free to skip this part cause it’s not exactly IF related.
Whether binary/opposing stats have a place in IF/Choicescript games - and how to make use of them in an interesting way.
First off, I totally agree with you in terms of the limited use (and realism) of binaries - especially when it comes to personality. I think that’s why a lot of people take MBTI (Extroversion vs. Introversion, Thinking vs. Feeling) with a pinch of salt.
Generally, I think that there are probably stats that lend themselves better to the opposing stat format than others, and these are generally those that are slightly more mutually exclusive, like you said -e.g. chaotic vs. lawful (preferring to fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants or having a plan, and sticking to it). Agree that it shouldn’t be used for something like quick vs. strong.
(Take this whole next bit with some caution as I’m a newbie choicescript writer)
I was thinking, another consideration when deciding whether or not to include that particular opposing pair stat in the game is probably whether or not characters would treat you differently depending on that trait. Which I think is a harder question to answer.
I think there’s still a case to be made for interesting opposing stats, and I’ve thought of three use cases;
They represent a trade-off of some sort - focusing on one side of the trait/attitude/ worldview rather than another may cause people’s perceptions of you to differ.
I’m revamping the stats I’m using for my college tennis game, and looking ruthlessly at the list, I’d say maybe chaotic vs. lawful may have some practical applications (when coding how lenient coaches/professors are with you) and serious vs. flippant (when coding how your teammates generally interact with you, esp. if there wasn’t an in-game choice/dialogue option directly prior).
They determine what opportunities open up for the player (which maybe(?) is similar to what you were mentioning for Tower Behind the Moon?)
They have a sort of ‘modifier effect’ on other skills in stats checks.
For example, in the tennis game I’m coding, being really emotional could make you play better, with all the fans cheering and with so much on the line (e.g. elevates finesse slightly?) but with the trade-off of also having a higher error rate (chance for your shots to go out or into the net). Being really detached on the other hand could prevent you from really elevating your game when you need to, with the upside of having a lower error rate because you’re less likely to tank the shot because of nerves or over-excitement.
OK! That’s my rambling response - but thanks again for your really thoughtful comment, it definitely sparked some thinking on my part!
Are binaries a good way of thinking about personality (tldr; I think it depends on what the binary is, and how it's set up.)
The Jungian cognitive function theory makes a slightly more nuanced (though still problematic) case that people have ‘natural’ or ‘stronger’ skills in terms of (a) how they view the world / take in information, and (b) how they then act upon that information - not that they are solely logical or emotional, but that one tends to be the basis through which they understand and/or structure the other. OR, one side of the spectrum is more developed and hence tends to be the thing you revert to when push comes to shove/when you’re stressed, when you really need to get the job done. e.g. Someone who is more logical, in a sense, may seek to interpret, understand, and fit their emotions into a logical framework, or may feel more comfortable with a decision made more with logical reasoning than with pure gut feel.
In any case, I think that’s why traits should be seen as a spectrum (as in Big 5), rather than as a binary. And most people would fall closer to the middle of the road for most of these traits than in either extreme. (Moving full circle back to IF applications, I guess maybe it could be alright if the stats only affect gameplay when they’re at extreme ends of the spectrum, which is similar to real life, where people respond to your personality traits if they’re particularly pronounced. E.g. characters’ reaction is A if player’s stat is high, B if player’s stat is low, and C if player’s stat is in the middle. In this way it becomes merely a developer’s tool to conveniently code text.
I think I can get behind the modifier idea. In that sense it’s a little more like a traditional stat since an emotional character is not necessarily ruled by emotion but knows how to channel it, and it’s reasonable (especially in the limited context of a game) that it would be harder to remain detached at the same time. Although I would still contend that in that case it might be better to have two normal stats (maybe ‘Heat of the Game’ and ‘Keeping Cool’ for thematic appropriateness in a tennis setting) that can both be trained if someone wants a character who can be detached when necessary but also get the maximum for exerting themselves. I do think that in real life the best athletes (and more broadly the best at many things) are capable of both. Of course, training both might come at the opportunity cost of increasing other stats.
The modifier idea is also closest to what I was talking about in Tower Behind the Moon. In that case, I think it helped that the character was painted as exceedingly powerful and also that the writing gave me the sense almost that I really was reading or creating a second-hand legend about a great wizard, so it made sense that some traits were emphasized in recounting over others that the character possessed in similar abundance but less prominently (for example, a Quick to Anger wizard could be as clever as a Subtle one at times, or one who preferred Dynamic magic still obviously having a solid grounding in Ceremonial casting. Even a mage who was Light as opposed to Heavy remained evidently more physically powerful than a nonmagical human). As to whether that approach would work in a tennis game, I can’t really say.
I’m not so sure about the opportunities and perception ideas. In general, I think opportunities in choice games are better off being controlled by what the player does, or a stat that represents what they can do. Otherwise it takes away from player agency a bit: ‘Sorry, you’ve been too emotional up until this point, you can’t now be unconcerned about this’. I have seen that in games before and didn’t enjoy it. Unless of course it’s already being treated as more of a modifier as stated above, but that’s slightly different.
Similarly, when it comes to perception, I’m not sure it works well when governing how all characters respond to the MC. What if they are by-the-book when interacting with their professors but know they can get away with a lot more in front of Mother? I think it’s better to base that off of how the MC’s individual encounters with each character went. Maybe it might work as a general kind of ‘reputation’ thing, but even then reputations are generally not so black and white. Two people can have completely different opinions on a particular action.
As an aside, I do agree that chaotic/lawful could actually work, out of all the proposed pairs and perhaps any possible pairs, but for the reasons given above I’m not sure it should govern any game mechanics, and if it didn’t then it would really be nothing more than a less-accurate-than-if-strictly-numerical tally of chaotic vs. lawful actions.
Opposed stats fit very well with the human urge to classify–not to mention that seeing blue and red fight for control of that bar is probably as visually compelling as it gets in a game devoid of images. Even so, at their best I think they still fall short of what well-executed ‘normal’ stats can do.
I can’t really comment on Jungian theory, not really knowing anything about it, but it sounds interesting from what you describe. Maybe I will go find out more.
When reading a fantasy/sci-fi IF, do you prefer the usual skill system (the player choosing their strongest skill at the start, maybe learning another later) or a class system (the player chooses their class [knight, wizard, etc] and having that define most your skills going forward)?
- I prefer the traditional skill system.
- I’d prefer a class system.
- No preference.
- Other (please specify)
Definitely skill system, for greater flexibility in character building.
Since we’re on the subject of skills, what I’d ALSO like was some information on what the skill levels mean in relation to the things I’m liable to face and/or am facing.
Like, cool, I have 50% stealth, what does that mean? Do I expect it to be enough to sneak past a guard? What if the guard looks bored and half-alseep, is it enough then?
Evertree, for example, at one point tells you the difference in effects between magic skill %s.
I tend to prefer emotionally cold and I’ll always go for the strong and silent type. But I definitely want to have options, and if “both” is an option, that’s just even better for me.
I don’t see why the two have to be mutually exclusive. Maybe I’m a wizard so I have high magic skill, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have other natural proclivities or hobbies. Maybe I was always a top student and a serious athlete in my free time before I became a wizard, so I have a more balanced set of secondary skills. Or maybe I was manipulating metaphysical energies when I was still in diapers and all I ever wanted to do was practice magic, so I’m even more powerful than most wizards but I’m at a serious disadvantage when I encounter a problem I can’t throw magic at. So even with class-based skills, there’s still room for some personal variation.
Neither. An RPG style advancement system is ubiquitous, but it’s totally unnecessary. It has nothing to do with fantasy or sci-fi, just something that’s often paired with them. I’d never read an IF because of its mechanics when all I really care about is the story.
I wasn’t suggesting anyone would choose not to read a story solely on account of some of the mechanics. I was just wondering which mechanics would make an interactive story a little more/less enjoyable for people.
I personally like viewing stats, but not being beholden to them. I like full agency, but I wouldn’t want my stats to my invisible regardless of whether they actually impact the story or not.
As a reader/player, do you enjoy short prologue/interlude scenes from a non-PC pov in your games?
Do they generally have a positive impact on your reading experience?
Do they help build tension and excitement, or do they pull you out of the narrative/experience?
- Yes, they are a positive.
- No, they are a negative.
- I do not care/ They are a neutral for me.
Give me an NPC POV all time all the time lol it’s an added bonus for me if I’m romancing that NPC. I also like when some of the infodumps is handled by the NPC instead of a narrative that I have to read in the prologue, but that’s just me
Just make it absolutely clear that you’re doing a POV switch. The SINGLE problem I have with the Golden WIP (besides there not being more of it just yet) is that there’s a POV switch to an NPC and I didn’t realise the MC was no longer in the scene until like two screens in. It signals the other POV switches well.
@CC_Hill You might want to check Golden - it does a lot of POV switches, including to the ROs.
Oh, I never even CONSIDERED you might not use the third person in an NPC’s POV. Definitely don’t do that. If it’s not the MC’s POV, 3rd person, always.
In the specific case that happens in Golden I mentioned, the scene does take place in the third person. It’s just that the scene preceding it involves the MC interacting with that exact NPC, and there’s no way of telling (or, perhaps, I couldn’t tell - I’m not a native speaker, so perhaps one would notice?) the MC is not involved in the scene until several paragraphs in.