Preference between Gameplay and Story

Hi guys, hope you’re having a nice day so far!

So, might be a stupid question, might be not. Here’s the thing, I’ve been working on my story for a while now, I have done some planning for the gameplay as well. I had a few ideas in mind but none quite work and I’m worried it might be overwhelming with how much content I have planned for the story, or maybe even forgotten down the way if I let my focus on the story slip.

My plan is that there’ll be a lot of elements in the story, there’ll be a lot of character-focused scenes. Since I’ve been a fan of Bioware for years, I want to write in-depth romance and I gave a lot of thought for developments of the characters already. A big part affecting the ending will be the romance as well as your relationships with the other characters.

The story is post-apocalyptic science fiction, it takes inspiration from things like Mad Max, Fallout series, Neverland, etc. so there would be fighting scenes and CoG’s standard stats gameplay. It’s unavoidable that more gameplay is required more or less. I’m ranting, so I will just get to the point, would you prefer gameplay over story? Like, do you mind if some parts of the story is shaved down for things like combat, inventory, etc.? And if anyone would be kind to suggest what kind of element can fit into the game if the characters remains in the focus?

I know it’s a bit lengthy but I appreciate anyone who have read this far so thank you for reading! Let me know if you have any question you want to ask in order to understand the situation better!


I say this a lot, but I believe it’s really important: focus on what you want to see! It’s tough writing a game, it takes a lot of time and an unbelievable amount of self discipline. You’ll find the whole process a lot easier if you’re (yourself) passionate about what you’re doing. If you personally want what you’re developing, you’re much more likely to stay committed to the idea. I imagine that whichever way you go, there will always be people who like (and don’t like) what you do. You’ll never please everyone, so just focus on pleasing yourself, at least to begin with :slight_smile:


I echo my opinion with @CJW’s. But personally? I honestly want a great story first, and then followed with a great gameplay.

I mean, I can tolerate bad-gameplay good-story, but not the opposite :raised_hand:t4:


Can only speak for me (barely! :crazy_face:), and I must say I prefer story to having to manage inventory and such. Same with combat, albeit dependant on the execution thereof - the Samurai games have neat combat, whereas the more complex way to wage battle of a few RPG-ish games is not for me.

I do enjoy character focused games,if done right, because it can make the characters feel more alive. Does not fit all games, though, perhaps. It may (or not?) also be easier for the author to follow a story without having to diverge too much to accommodate for numerous paths; instead it is relationships that changes the story more than anything (and, please, not the in the blatantly false Telltale game fashion, ugh).

I don’t mind branching stories at all, but it is the characters that tend to draw me into games (and books).

Hope this was not to vague a rant and that it might help a bit. :sweat_smile:

Edit: Oh yes, what @CJW said.


I believe there’s a market for and interest in both. The Lost Heir and Life of… books as well as Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven are really system heavy and are pretty well-received. But so are games that work off of a handful basic stats without much depth to them. My personal favourites fall somewhere in the middle.

I believe that ultimately it’s most important what works and what fits the story as far as systems go. Life of a Wizard has as many magic-related stats as mundane ones while other games with less of a focus on their magic have a generic Magic stat as one out of a few.

I think of these as adventures first and stories second, so I get a little impatient with long passages, however well written, that do not give the reader some choices to make. Similarly, when I am writing, I get edgy if I realize I have just laid down a long page of scintillating dialog and interesting action…but no choices.

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Oh yes, absolutely this. I want to interact, not read a book. :blush:


My thanks for everyone that replied!

I will keep in mind to do what I prefer instead of worrying too much about it then :heart: I will try to at least keep the fight scenes interactive, maybe have some stats for different methods of dealing with combats and survival. My friend suggests that I should put in an option to skip the combat completely or minimise the gameplay. And of course, I will try to keep the story as interactive as possible!

Again, thanks everyone for checking the thread and helped me with the problem!


GL with your story, then :wave:t4:
Oh, and one more thing. If what you meant by skipping the combat as “let the story auto-combat,” you might want to put yourself in the worse possible scenario when writing the scene. Surely if a player pick this auto-combat option and found themselves died, it’s a bad thing, right?

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Hmm, I would say as long as the story contains lots of different branches and customisable character (for example, different personalities or strength). Then, the actual game mechanism isn’t that important. After all, this is an interactive novel, not a game. You don’t HAVE to include an actual combat system or anything; you just need to create different approaches for each situation base on the player’s preference.

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oops sorry for talking too much

To be honest, Zombie Exodus: Safe Haven is not a good example for this dilemma.

ZE:SH gets it right in both story and gameplay, and that is just plain rare. Even though the mechanics are amazing, nowhere does it feel the story is “shaved down” for the purposes of mechanics, and that will never happen for ZE series.

Great-mechanics, bland-story games can never be as memorable as great-story games, regardless of the latter’s mechanics. Like @Szaal said,


See, I felt Safe Haven lost itself in all the stuff it was keeping track of and all the crafting options and I did feel these were added at the expense of immersion rather than adding to it. Slogging through long lists of inventories and options feels like ‘we now interrupt your gameplay for some fun adventures in accounting’.

But that just goes to show that opinions differ and ultimately, quality will prevail anyway.


Perhaps, but I still stand by my point - the story is never compromised. Going through long lists of inventory maybe reduces the immersion during that particular point, but the story is never “shaved down”, period. The characters feel alive, the world feels alive, it really feels apocalyptic, and the threat of zombies always looms over you. There is just so much attention to detail. The crafting/inventory mechanism never interfered with the Jaime rescue mission or your house burning down. All of that felt so immersive and real, as opposed to Life of a Wizard which was just ->select your best stat, and then a single line describing how you used that best stat. IIRC, an example would be:
“You see enemy ships approaching, how do you deal with them?”
->Use [conjuration]
“I blasted the enemy ships with fire balls.”

In contrast, ZE:SH provides minute details when you are killing zombies. Of how the weapon feels in your hand, how sweat drips down your face - it is all just so real, even though the weapon in question could range from a cleaver to a rifle, and your experience none to advanced, it never feels like the immersion is broken. It just doesn’t say “You use your [weapon] to kill the zombie.”

And that is why, the story never feels shaved down.

Neither Life of a Wizard or Lost Heir can be rightfully grouped with ZE:SH, simply because ZE:SH feels much more real and immersive than either of the two. All three have great mechanics, but the former two just feel too game-y.

My point is that it is really hard to get the story and the mechanics right. IF is not like traditional fiction, especially considering CoG, because it supports so many mechanics. Having just a pure story would be boring, but tolerable. But ZE:SH gets so much right, and is definitely not guilty of putting mechanics first, story second.

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Story.Actually I don’t like difficult cog games.Constant and strict checking of ability bars wears off my patience really fast,especially when I get confused by which ability they are checking


Yeah, the whole min-max, focus-on-one-trait game kills my attempts to play the character I want, as I am forced to play to a specific skill/ability/whatever to be able to even get some options, or even hope to beat the game. I suppose I am more for it when it adds flavour and variation as opposed to completely stopping or even killing you. If that makes sense. :sweat_smile:

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My thanks for the new replies!

I’m thinking about instead of a combat system, the player should be allowed to have different way to approach the fight, like using wits instead of strength or a combination of both. This is something I’m still figuring out but it seems like most people prefer the story over the game mechanic so far, so I will probably not focus on the latter too much.

But, I will at least try to integrate it with the story in an interesting way! At least, that’s what I hope for.


So uh, yes CJW is completely right, but beyond that- make gameplay that serves the story. That’s the best advice I can give, really. For a post-apocalyptic setting combat should probably be hectic and brutal, and even if the gameplay isn’t that solid, if the characters are well-developed and interesting, readers will feel the adrenaline rush as they worry their friends and loved ones might be in danger.

Then you can have slower, strategy gameplay involving managing supplies and taking care of your survivors, with the choices made for the sake of the group leading to challenges between the characters. It occurs to me now
that Choice of Rebels is a great example of what I mean in that regard.

Of course, you should just write whatever you like, because at the end of the day, writing a game like this on your own is very hard and you deserve the “luxury” of writing what you find compelling. After all, even the best game in the world would be horrible to play if I could tell no one who made it cared about at all, and they forced themselves to add features they didn’t like. And now I’m rambling so I’ll stop talking. Hopefully I said something worth considering in all of that.


I like having different approaches to solve problems.That doesn’t contradict with story.I do believe well crafted gameplay can make story more engaging.
I just don’t like it when it becomes the main focus of game or too challenging so I have to make every choice carefully to boost certain ability instead of having fun here and there
Maybe just because I’m a lazy player

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The way I look at it, a mix of both is ideal, but if I had to choose? Well, a good story can make up for a lack of gameplay, but no amount of gameplay can make up for a poor or uninteresting story.

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